The Wires

Public Service Announcement

July 27: NBC News: "If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000." The article provides info on how you can claim your share of the restitution fund. Mrs. McC: I might give it a crack. I know my personal info was compromised during the period of the Equifax breach, but I'm not sure Equifax was the source of the breach. So I might give this a crack. 

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


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

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

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”


The Commentariat -- May 27, 2019


"Dr. Marvin Schwalb passed away on April 10, 2019 in Livingston. Dr. Schwalb was a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry - New Jersey Medical School for over 45 years and served as the Associate Director of the Institute of Genomic Medicine before retiring. Marvin is survived by Karen, his wife of 56 years, his daughters, Robin, Heidi and Abby, and his sister Karen. He was predeceased by his brother, Bruce. He was an avid painter, hobbyist, collector and traveler." -- Levine Memorial Chapel

Dr. Schwalb was a valued commentator here on Reality Chex, and we have missed him. Thank you to Akhilleus for informing us of his death.


Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Of Course Trump Was an Embarrassing Guest. Annie Karni & Katie Rogers of the New York Times: At a joint press conference with Donald Trump, Japan's PM Shinzo "Abe declared that the friendship and alliance had been further cemented by a day on the golf course, inside the sumo arena and at a robatayaki dinner with their spouses. He said that he and Mr. Trump were 'completely on the same page' on issues like trade and North Korea. But Mr. Trump, after praising Japan's hospitality and ancient culture, as well as Mr. Abe's friendship, made it clear that he was there to put America, and in some cases his own grievances, first. During the 40-minute news conference, Mr. Trump again shrugged off North Korea's recent tests of short-range ballistic missiles, which, if fired at Japan, could kill thousands of civilians.... The president also bristled upon mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a hallmark of the Obama administration from which Mr. Trump withdrew the United States early in his presidency.... Additionally, Mr. Trump continued to nurse domestic grievances in front of his Japanese guests, taunting his Democratic enemies and reprising his denunciation of the special counsel's Russia investigation.... The president refused to back down from a Twitter post a day earlier in which he took aim at Joseph R. Biden...."

Luke Barnes of ThinkProgress: "More than seventy former senior national security officials, including retired admirals, generals and ambassadors, have written an open letter to President Donald Trump urging restraint towards Iran as tensions ratchet up again in the Middle East. The letter ... was first published on the website War on the Rocks and was coordinated by the American College of National Security Leaders[.]" --s

AFP: "As nuclear explosions go, the US 'Cactus' bomb test in May 1958 was relatively small -- but it has left a lasting legacy for the Marshall Islands in a dome-shaped radioactive dump.... The US military filled the bomb crater on Runit island with radioactive waste, capped it with concrete, and told displaced residents of the Pacific's remote Enewetak atoll they could safely return home. But Runit's 45-centimetre (18-inch) thick concrete dome has now developed cracks. And because the 115-metre wide crater was never lined, there are fears radioactive contaminants are leaching through the island's porous coral rock into the ocean. The concerns have intensified amid climate change. Rising seas, encroaching on the low-lying nation, are threatening to undermine the dome's structural integrity." --s

Melissa Eddy of the New York Times: "Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria and his caretaker government were ousted from power on Monday with a no-confidence vote in Parliament as the ramifications of a secretly filmed video added to the political disarray in a European country normally known for stability. After about three hours of debate, a simple majority of lawmakers stood up in a demonstration of their withdrawal of trust from Mr. Kurz, 32, making him the first Austrian leader in more than seven decades to be removed from power by his peers in Parliament. The removal of Mr. Kurz, just 17 months after he became chancellor, came despite a gain of 8 percentage points for his conservative People's Party in the European Parliament elections."

Olaf Storbeck of the Financial Times (May 22): "A software glitch at Deutsche Bank has for almost a decade prevented some potentially suspicious transactions from being flagged to law enforcement authorities, Germany's biggest bank has discovered.... Concerns about Deutsche's internal controls were heightened this week when the New York Times reported that the bank decided not to report to regulators potentially suspicious transactions on the accounts of Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner that were flagged by an employee in 2016 and 2017." --s (Mrs. McC Note: The link is at the word "glitch" in the text. If you're not an FT subscriber, you can't get there from here.)


Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, 'agree' in their negative assessment of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Sunday. Ms. Sanders, in an interview on NBC's 'Meet the Press,' also defended the president's approach to efforts to denuclearize North Korea and deflected questions about whether Mr. Trump's declaration of 'treason' had predetermined the outcome of a review of the Russia investigation's roots. On Saturday, Mr. Trump seemed gratified that North Korea's state media had described Mr. Biden, the Democratic candidate he views as the biggest threat to him in 2020, as a 'fool of low IQ.' 'North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me, Mr. Trump wrote as he was traveling in Japan. 'I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me, & also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Biden a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that’s sending me a signal?'" ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Trump originally wrote "Swampman Joe Bidan a low IQ individual." I wonder if Low IQ Joe can spell "Trump." It's quite something when the POTUS* insults an American statesman while on foreign soil, misspells the statesman's name while questioning his intelligence, and does this while expressing confidence in the little dictator who has repeatedly threatened Japan, the country the big dictator was visiting. Who said you couldn't get a lot into 280 characters? Nitwit.

Renato Mariotti of Politico: "In the space of three days this week, two federal judges ruled decisively in favor of Congress' right to subpoena ... Donald Trump's personal financial and business records. The speed of the decisions -- unusual in complex federal litigation -- demonstrates a significant flaw in the administration's 'fight all the subpoenas' strategy. More importantly, it suggests that Trump's strategy of categorically fighting all congressional subpoenas will undermine his ability to stonewall Congress in subsequent cases.... Trump's argument is doomed to fail in the courts because the Constitution gives the House the 'full power of impeachment' and it could not exercise that authority without investigating presidential wrongdoing.... Trump's team no doubt believes that once its initial arguments fail, it will advance more nuanced arguments that seek to protect only a limited subset of material from disclosure. But as any experienced litigator knows, a judge's impression of a party's position is influenced by the history of the litigation. Because Trump's lawyers have not even paid lip service to our constitutional system at the outset, judges will be less inclined to take their arguments seriously later on."

Jill Lepore of the New Yorker in a New York Times op-ed: "'I'm a nationalist, O.K.?' President Trump said at a rally in Houston last year. 'Use that word.' Please do not use that word. But please do use the word 'nation' -- the nation of the Gettysburg Address, 'a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal' -- and please do use the word 'liberalism,' which is what Lincoln meant by that proposition.... Nationalism is an abdication of liberalism. It is also the opposite of patriotism. To confuse nationalism with patriotism is to mistake contempt for love and fear for valor."

Chris Wallace Is So Mean:

     ... In case you were wondering, Lindsey Graham's response makes no sense. He compares apples to apples & says he likes oranges. Big Fat Ugly Oranges. ...

... Let's see what Lindsey's former best friend thought of Trump. ...

... A Cold Day in January. Kevin Robillard of the Huffington Post: "Sen. John McCain repeatedly compared ... Donald Trump to a dictator during Trump's inaugural address, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic White House contender and friend of the late Arizonan, told a crowd of voters [in Des Moines, Iowa]. Klobuchar ... said she sat next to McCain, one of Trump's most outspoken Republican critics, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the inaugural address, which became known for its blunt expression of Trump's authoritarian populism and invocations of 'American carnage.' '... John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation,' Klobuchar said. '...He knew because he knew this man more than any of us did.'"

Carl Hulse of the New York Times: "It is quite a testament to the current state of the Senate that a successful veteran lawmaker of two decades believes he can accomplish more by quitting than by trying to stick it out another six years. 'This place is definitely broken,' said Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico and a longtime advocate of government reform who surprisingly announced in March that he would not seek a third term in 2020 in his solidly blue state. In assessing his political future, Mr. Udall said he had become convinced that he could do more to advance his progressive ideas on climate change, war powers and a comprehensive electoral overhaul by skipping another two years of relentless re-election fund-raising." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: And a special shout-out to Johnny & the Dwarfs for that brilliant Citizens United decision. Congress could do something about the runaway campaign corruption that was already rampant before the Supremes wrongly decided the mild campaign finance reforms they killed with Citizens United. They won't, largely because, as much as most members hate the process, they know dialing-for-dollars favors incumbents. Also, it's clear that even if members set rules that precluded them from raising even a single dime, outside interest groups would take up the slack, continuing the "free-speeching" of political campaigns that the Supremes enshrined. As long as the Court insists a dollar is a unit of speech, U.S. politics will remain not just corrupt, but essentially corrupt.

Peter Wade of Rolling Stone: "Rep. Duncan S. Hunter (R-CA) told a crowd at a border event this weekend that while he served as a Marine, he took photos of the bodies of dead combatants. Hunter, who appeared at the event with his former congressman father, admitted to this while defending Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who is accused of taking photos with the body of a slain combatant, but also of killing innocent, unarmed people. Hunter served in the United States Marine Corps in both Iraq and Afghanistan." ...

... Bianca Quilantan of Politico: "Gallagher, a special operations chief, faces homicide charges after being accused of committing crimes in Iraq in 2017; he is set to stand trial in June.... Hunter said he 'absolutely' would love to see Trump pardon Gallagher.... [Hunter] was reelected in November 2018 while being under indictment on charges of misusing campaign funds." Mrs. McC: So we're pretty surprised Hunter is advocating for one more immoral thing.

It was only Sunday, but contributor Patrick had already found the headline of the week (see commentary below): "Owners of Noah's Ark replica suing insurer over flood damage"

"Fakebook." Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Kara Swisher of the New York Times: "So, Fakebook it is. This week, unlike YouTube, Facebook decided to keep up a video deliberately and maliciously doctored to make it appear as if Speaker Nancy Pelosi was drunk or perhaps crazy.... [What] the incident shows is how expert Facebook has become at blurring the lines between simple mistakes and deliberate deception, thereby abrogating its responsibility as the key distributor of news on the planet.... No other media could get away with spreading anything like this because they lack the immunity protection that Facebook and other tech companies enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 was intended to spur innovation and encourage start-ups. Now it's a shield to protect behemoths from any sensible rules.... By conflating censorship with the responsible maintenance of its platforms, and by providing 'rules' that are really just capricious decisions by a small coterie of the rich and powerful, Facebook and others have created a free-for-all with no consistent philosophy."

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times writes about two former grad students at the University of Chicago who will be granted Ph.D.s decades after they left the university. Neither woman could complete her work because male professors discriminated against her.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Europe. Steven Erlanger of the New York Times: "Populists and nationalists seeking to make inroads in the European Parliament elections did not do as well as many traditionalists feared, exit polls indicated on Sunday. But if those polls bear out, the gains made by the populists and nationalists -- combined with a strong performance of Green parties -- appear to have continued the weakening of Europe's traditional mainstream parties.... The polls in France also suggest a difficult time ahead for President Emmanuel Macron of France, who has presented himself as the champion of European integration and a counterpoint those who wish to weaken it. In his own country, the exit polls showed his slate for the Parliament being defeated by the National Rally party of Marine Le Pen, one of the continent's leading critics of the European Union. The defeat appeared to be by only a small margin, but it would be enough to deal a symbolic blow to the young president." ...

... Here's the Guardian's liveblog of results. ...

... Great Britain. Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "An insurgent Brexit party and reinvigorated Liberal Democrats have delivered a harrowing night for the Conservatives and Labour at the European elections, prompting profound soul-searching at the top of both major parties. Nigel Farage's Brexit party humiliated the Conservatives in their rural heartlands but also made sweeping gains in cities such as Cardiff, Leeds and Sheffield, as well as in Hillingdon, the home of Boris Johnson's seat where the Tories were pushed into fourth. The night also confirmed an extraordinary revival of the Lib Dems, who overtook the Tories in Theresa May's Maidenhead seat and came first in Jeremy Corbyn's north London home of Islington. By the early hours of Monday, the Brexit party had gained 28 seats, with the Lib Dems in second on 15 seats, Labour held 10, having lost seven so far, the Green party held seven, a gain of four, and the Tories were pushed into fifth place, with just three seats."

Germany. Shaun Walker of the Guardian: "Germany's government commissioner on antisemitism has suggested Jews should not always wear the traditional kippah cap [yarmulke] in public, in the wake of a spike in anti-Jewish attacks. 'I cannot advise Jews to wear the kippah everywhere, all the time, in Germany,' Felix Klein said in an interview published Saturday by the Funke regional press group. The remarks were criticised by the Israeli president as representing a 'capitulation' to antisemitism.... Antisemitic attacks are on the rise in a number of European countries...."

Reader Comments (9)

Am in a beloved vacation spot for the week with two out of three of our kids and the two little grands, but checking things periodically. I am so sorry to read of the death of our Marvin. He was very insistent that the imperial tRump was a sick cookie and listed all the symptoms numerous times. He was a great resource and probably a great guy. How sad when the best of us go before, and these horrible monstrous people appear hale and hearty, free to damage us all every damn day. Wishing he was still with us—

May 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

@ Jeanne: What a lovely tribute to "our Marvin" and I join you in expressing my sadness on hearing of his death. He obviously made a positive contribution in his lifetime. He will be sorely missed.

Two days ago I wrote that "today is the Fourth of July" and later realized the mistake. The fact that I confused that celebratory holiday with Memorial Day tells me I am slowly becoming bonkers myself after being bombarded day after day with endless shit storms from all fronts. Yesterday Akhilleus found Dowd's column worth reading but after reading it myself I thought she was saying what we have been saying forever and a day. It has taken her two years of Trump to realize that her"Barry" which she constantly raked over the coals was maybe the best we've had in years.

And speaking of decent presidents: Ben Fountain writing about empathy expressed by certain political figures says that the rich, the powerful and the comfortable would be little troubled by a Bloomberg or a Howard Schultz president, both generous givers to society, and both appear, like many, to lionize Lincoln but overlook just how radical and stubborn Lincoln was.The abolition of slavery was hardly a triumph of consensus politics. Consensus had happened a decade earlier with the Compromise of 1850 and it was a moral and political failure.

So back to empathy touted not only by the rich guys who think they could be great presidents but by Mayor Pete and Booker and I guess others–-but here's where Ben Fountain takes this empathetic message that I found interesting:

"Perhaps only radical empathy can [reimagine the promise of America] do that, a leap of fellow feeling so profound that it shatters the boundaries of identity. Lincoln made the leap, and was accused––a charge still current in certain quarters––of being a traitor to his race, just as later radical empathist, Franklin Roosevelt, would be called a "traitor to his his class" for the national reinvention known as the New Deal.'

The question lays open to those who will be willing to earn that honorable title.

May 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Thanks for the update on Dr. Marvin Schwalb. His thoughtful perspective and graciousness were not lost on this audience.

May 27, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercitizen625

@PD Pepe: It wasn't Akhilleus but NJC who linked Dowd's column. Don't worry about mixing up the holidays; a youngish, extremely sharp person has been sending me notes all month dated "April."

May 27, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Yesterday while speaking to someone about the large field of Democratic candidates this person said, "...I'd like to see de Blasio get it." Huh? Say what, I mentioned all the negativity surrounding de Blasio responding with" one thinks he has a chance, he's the lowest in the polls."

Today I spotted this piece in New York magazine this morning: "I Tried to Find a New Yorker Who Wants de Blasio to Be President. It Wasn’t Easy." by Eve Peyser What a lighting rod among his constituents! ...but, riffing on Beto O'Rouke's line, ",I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it.”

Gotta say, de Blasio is a picture perfect looking President!

On another note, sorry to learn about Dr. Schwalb's passing. His contributions were always well written and he made his points about the orange one's mental state from the beginning. He was not visible here for some time, so we might have suspected something going on. I often wonder about Barbarossa...sometimes contributors just seem to fade away. Alas.

May 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Oops! Forgot the link for the de Blasio piece " “Nobody in NY wants him as President... "

May 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Twenty four Democratic candidates are out there giving credence to their opposition by spewing nonsense.
Hannibal Lecter's voting rights are not something to champion.
Free. Free, chills the blood of those middle Americans that are at least making enough income to survive. They know that the poor can't pay more and wealthy will not and they will. Affordable health care for those that need it and a plan to achieve it is needed. An efficient plan will, over time, evolve into a plan welcomed by every one
Instead of free, affordable higher education should be available. Two percent, thirty year loans for enrolling at approved non profit schools would cost the government nothing and make the loan burden light.
Newt and the Repubs made a lot of hay with their Contract With America. All their people flooding the media with the same message was a winner.
Smart Democrats could spend their efforts talking about the things Americans want that are not happening and pointing out that these things are on the Democratic Agenda.
Smart Democrats would get the Idiot Trump off the front page and point out the failures of the Congress and the Administration belong to the Senate. Attack the enablers.
Ignore the diversions, the Repubs are weak on issues, bring fire on health care, DACA, reproductive rights, fair taxation. tax avoidance and evasion, infrastructure and safety net items. Promise to rejoin the Paris Accords.
Will Rogers said," I don't have a party, I'm a Democrat." We could change that you know.

May 27, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

@carlyle: What Rogers actually said, at least according to the Internets, is “I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat.” But your point is well-taken. Every party is potentially organized, but the Democratic party has not been very well-organized since Rogers made the remark, probably in he 1930s.

However, there is a serious downside to "organization." Democracy is messy, & the Democratic party traditionally has been far, far more into democracy than the GOP. In 2016, Democrats did get "organized, " & the DNC tipped the scales in Hillary Clinton's favor, discouraging qualified candidates from opposing her. Result: the Democrats ended up with a candidate so weak & unpopular that she got a run for her money from a fringey candidate -- Bernie Sanders -- & in the general, got beat (in the Electoral College anyway) by a completely unqualified con man.

May 27, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Even as a sporadic Chex-er, I so enjoyed Dr. Schwalb’s concise - and oh-so-accurate - psychoanalysis of The Dumpster. I feel for his family, friends and colleagues. And know that losing a longtime hubby ain’t no easy thang.

@ MAG Re: << Gotta say, de Blasio is a picture perfect looking President! >>

As a lifetime Noo Yawkuh, Our Man DeNauseo talks big, delivers nada and passes the buck. To say he’s been a disappointment for Dems is a behemoth understatement. Please don’t be fooled by his (physical) stature, nor those fab haircuts of his. The dude cleans up nicely. :)

Honoring those, past and present, voluntary or conscripted, who have served their country - here and abroad - in ways that most of us could not begin to fathom.
Rest In Peace

May 27, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Hattie
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