The Ledes

Monday, November 20, 2017.

New York Times: "The Argentine Navy disclosed on Monday that the crew of a missing submarine had been ordered to return to its home port on Wednesday after reporting a battery failure. The revelation was the first official confirmation that the Navy had known since Wednesday — when the submarine vanished — that the vessel was contending with equipment malfunction and might have the lost the ability to propel itself.... A multinational effort is underway to try to locate the submarine and its 44-member crew, amid mystery about what happened to the vessel.... The disclosure about mechanical failure is likely to add to fears that the crew has been lost."

New York Times:"Della Reese, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series 'Touched by an Angel' and became an ordained minister in real life, died on Sunday night at her home in Encino, Calif. She was 86."

New York Times: "Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century..., died on Sunday in Kern County, Calif. He was 83 and had been behind bars for most of his life."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, November 19, 2017.

Tennessean: "Country Music Hall of Famer, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and Grand Ole Opry member Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida...."

New Yorker: Thomas Hargrove, a retired journalist, is developing an algorithm to solve serial murders. Interesting & not a bit nutty. Hargrove's research suggests that the number of serial killers still out their doing their jobs is much greater than police departments realize (or will admit -- serial killers are bad for local tourism). Also too, the percentage of murders that get solved has dropped precipitously in the last half-century.

Donaldo da Trumpo. Guardian: "On Wednesday, a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting sold for $450.3m, rocking the art world.... On Thursday, that same art world was given a reality check, when a sketch by the less celebrated Donald Trump sold for just $6,875 at an auction in Los Angeles. Trump’s untitled piece, which depicts the Manhattan skyline, barely cleared its minimum price of $5,000.... The president took on his project in 2009 for a charity event. Trump seems to have used either pencil or ballpoint pen for the piece, which measures 8in x 5in. The sketch shows what appear to be skyscrapers, alongside something representing the Empire State Building. Nate D Sanders, the auction house handling the sale, presented the sketch in a 15in x 18in frame, along with a signed photo of Trump."

New York Times: "After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s 'Salvator Mundi' sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s 'Women of Algiers,' which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015. The buyer was not immediately disclosed." ...

... New York Times critic Jason Farago calls the painting "a proficient but not especially distinguished religious picture from turn-of-the-16th-century Lombardy, put through a wringer of restorations.... The painting, when purchased at an estate sale in 2005 for less than $10,000, was initially considered a copy of a lost Leonardo, completed around 1500 and once in the collection of Charles I of England. [Some experts still think it's a copy.] Over time, its wood surface became cracked and chafed, and it had been crudely overpainted.... Cleaned by the conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting now appears in some limbo state between its original form and an exacting, though partially imagined, rehabilitation."

A D.C. Hotel for Liberals. Bloomberg: Eaton Workshop will open an anti-Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., late next spring. It's the "world’s first politically motivated hotel, the flagship for a global brand that’s built around social activism and community engagement."

Mike Isaac of the New York Times, in an article written in all tweets: "On Tuesday, [Twitter] said nearly all of its 330 million users would now be able to tweet with 280 characters, the exact total in this paragraph.... The only Twitter users who will remain at 140 characters are those who post in Japanese, Korean or Chinese, the company said. Those languages have alphabets that typically allow for the expression of more thoughts in fewer characters...."

Travel Advisory. New York magazine: "Oh Good, Southwest Airlines to Host Live Country-Music Concerts on Flights."

Monday
Nov132017

The Commentariat -- November 14, 2017

Late Morning Update:

Nicholas Fandos & Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times are live-updating Jeff Sessions' testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. His memory is not too good. The reporters call it "selective recall." ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he has 'always told the truth' in describing his knowledge of Trump campaign contacts with Russians — though he acknowledged he now recalls an interaction with a lower-level Trump adviser [George Papadopoulos] who has said he told Sessions about contacts who could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin." The WashPo is carrying live video on its front page. ...

... JeffBo Says Something Sensible. Kyle Cheney & Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw cold water Tuesday on Republicans clamoring for the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel to investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pressed Sessions on why it had taken the Justice Department months to hint, as it did Monday, at the prospect of considering a special counsel to probe years-old matters connected to Clinton. Jordan said he thought evidence unearthed in the last year about how FBI decided not to charge Clinton over her handling of classified information at the State Department appeared to be enough to warrant a special counsel. "'Looks like' is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,' Sessions responded." ...

... Kyle Cheney: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he has 'no reason to doubt' the women who have accused Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct. 'I have no reason to doubt these young women,' he told the House Judiciary Committee." Mrs. McC: Pardon my math, but the "young women" are in their 50s.

Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "Volvo has pulled its advertisements from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News after his coverage of sexual misconduct allegations made against Roy Moore. Volvo is the latest advertiser to pull its ads from "Hannity" in the wake of the prime-time host's coverage of Moore, the Alabama GOP Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Keurig and Realtor.com both said they were pulling their ads in recent days." Mrs. McC: And we're all very sorry for Sean.

Alex Isenstadt & Josh Dawsey of Politico: "Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s most prominent megadonor, is publicly breaking with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon over his efforts to oust Republican incumbents in 2018. 'The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts,' said Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman. 'They are supporting Mitch McConnell 100 percent. For anyone to infer anything otherwise is wrong.'”

Shaun Walker of the Guardian: "Russia’s defence ministry said...the Americans refuse[d] to carry out a joint operation to strike Isis fighters leaving Abu Kamal but also allowed them to regroup on coalition-controlled territory...The allegations are extremely grave, but may be harder to take seriously given the “irrefutable proof” offered in the form of photographic accompaniment...[O]ne photograph [is] apparently a screenshot from the promo for a mobile phone game called AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron...[T]he other four of the five photographs appear to be taken from 2016 footage released by Iraq’s ministry of defence...Soon after people noted the dubious origin of the photographs, the defence ministry deleted its tweets, and removed the photographs from the corresponding Facebook posts." --safari

*****

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure-dome decree …

... Oh, the Humanity! Charles Pierce is full of the spirit of the season in his analysis of "The Adventures of Marco Polo Donaldo Trumpo": "According to the Beeb [BBC], the folks in the nations he visited looked at the departing Air Force One very much like Les Nessman’s on-the-spot report of the great Thanksgiving giveaway."

     ... "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." ...

... Okay, that was fun, BUT the real effects of Trump's buffoonery & thug-hugging are not so hilarious. ...

... ** Susan Rice, in a New York Times op-ed: "President Trump’s recently concluded trip to Asia ... left the United States more isolated and in retreat, handing leadership of the newly christened 'Indo-Pacific' to China on a silver platter. The trip began with solid performances in Japan and Korea.... But in China, the wheels began to come off his diplomatic bus. The Chinese leadership played President Trump like a fiddle, catering to his insatiable ego and substituting pomp and circumstance for substance.... President Trump’s last stops in Vietnam and the Philippines proved the most problematic.... President Trump’s lighthearted embrace of a self-proclaimed killer, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, was the nadir of a high-stakes trip that set back American leadership in Asia. But it was, perhaps, the perfect if unintended coda to the president’s 'Make China Great Again' tour." ...

... New York Times Editors: "Authoritarian leaders exercise a strange and powerful attraction for President Trump. As his trip to Asia reminds us, a man who loves to bully people turns to mush — fawning smiles, effusive rhetoric — in the company of strongmen like Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.... At home, Mr. Trump’s determination to arrogate power unto himself has seriously weakened the State Department and the cadre of professional diplomats that is central to successful international problem-solving. It has effectively sidelined people like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It has left to other nations the important tasks of pursuing goals like climate change and the Iran nuclear deal. In major ways, he is dealing America out of the game." ...

I think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do or what might come out as a result of these investigations. -- Former CIA Director John Brennan on CNN's "State of the Union," Sunday

... Juan Cole: "Brennan gave three possibilities, that Trump is easily manipulated by flattery, or easily cowed, or compromised. The first is true but can’t account for the obsequiousness of Trump’s behavior toward Putin. The second is not true – Trump is like an enraged bull rampaging around an arena trying to gore everyone in sight. His typical response to attempts to make him back down is to explode. So what Brennan is really saying is that there is actually only one possible explanation for Trump’s creepy and peculiar relationship to Putin. Kompromat."

Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Monday challenged congressional Republicans to use tax reform to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate and slash the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans to 35 percent, potentially throwing up new hurdles for legislation moving in Congress. Neither the House bill nor the Senate version under consideration repeals the individual mandate or proposes a top rate that is as low as Trump suggested on Monday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: "For months, the White House has pledged that its tax plan will not benefit the rich — or, at least, that it won’t do so intentionally. Then, the House and Senate unveiled tax bills that deliver the lion’s share of their benefits to the idle superrich, while raising taxes on a broad swath of middle-class households. The bills would also eliminate deductions that benefit veterans, indebted students, and people who suffer from rare diseases — while preserving loopholes that enrich hedge-fund managers and owners of golf courses.... So: The populist president looked at legislation that increases the tax burden of half of all families with children — even as it allows the heirs of multimillion-dollar estates to avoid paying all capital gains taxes on their inherited assets — and concluded: This bill really needs to do more to increase the post-tax income of millionaires, and reduce the number of Americans with health insurance.... Here he is, bucking the congressional leadership … by calling for an even more regressive tax-cut plan." Emphasis added. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "... this isn’t just ordinary class warfare; it’s class warfare aimed at perpetuating inequality into the next generation. Taken together, the elements of both the House and the Senate bills amount to a more or less systematic attempt to lavish benefits on the children of the ultra-wealthy while making it harder for less fortunate young people to achieve upward social mobility. Or to put it differently, the tax legislation Republicans are trying to ram through Congress with indecent haste, without hearings or time for any kind of serious study, looks an awful lot like an attempt not simply to reinforce plutocracy, but to entrench a hereditary plutocracy." Mrs. McC: Instead of calling the bill "Cut, Cut, Cut!" as Trump wanted, why not call it "Ivanka, Ivanka, Invaka!" to convey a more accurate & compelling image of the true beneficiaries.

"Lock Her Up!" Michael Schmidt & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Ten days after President Trump said that he was frustrated with the Justice Department for not investigating Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, the Justice Department told Congress on Monday that senior prosecutors were looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate them. The prosecutors will examine reports of misconduct at the Clinton Foundation and the Obama administration’s 2010 decision to allow a Russian nuclear energy agency to acquire much of the United States’ uranium, among other matters, according to a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee from a senior Justice Department official on Monday.... The decision to examine those matters raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the special counsel’s investigation into his presidential campaign. It also comes at a tenuous time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Mr. Trump has hinted to advisers he may want to fire." Senior prosecutors will report directly to JeffBo. ...

... Matt Zapotosky of the Washington Post: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns — including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post. The revelation came in a response from the Justice Department to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who in July and again in September called for Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate concerns he had related to the 2016 election and its aftermath. The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging, but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency. Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B. Comey, asking for a second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.... President Trump has repeatedly criticized his Justice Department for not aggressively probing a variety of conservative concerns. He said recently that officials there 'should be looking at the Democrats['] and that it was 'very discouraging' they were not 'going after Hillary Clinton.'” ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Now this would be the very definition of a political witch hunt -- Trumped-up accusations, so to speak, & a president & his attorney general -- who are supposed to maintain an arm's-length distance from one another (for this very reason) -- collaborating on a plot to undermine & possibly bring charges against the top people in the opposition party. The only way JeffBo can extricate himself from this mess is to find no cause, as he did when the DOJ "investigated" the Clinton e-mail saga earlier this year. The only way Trump can extricate himself -- oops! there's no way.

** Frank Rich of the New Yorker: "For many, if not most, Americans, the only pleasure to be had from Donald Trump’s presidency is to imagine his premature eviction from the White House.... Once Trump exits — whenever and however he goes — then what? It’s a continuing liberal blind spot to underestimate the resilience of Trumpism, which, if history is any guide, will easily survive both the crack-up of the GOP and the implosion of the Trump presidency. Whether Trump lasts another three weeks, another three years, or another seven years, our troubles won’t be over when he’s gone. They may well get worse." Read on. --safari

Eileen Sullivan & Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Trump nominated a pharmaceutical executive to be the next secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. The nominee, Alex M. Azar II, served as a deputy at the department under former President George W. Bush. Until January, he was the head of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s United States division. Mr. Trump made his announcement in a Twitter post while traveling in Asia. Mr. Trump said Mr. Azar would be 'a star and lower drug prices!'” Mrs. McC: Right, because there's nothing a drug company executive wants to do more than lower drug prices. Donald Trump thinks your stupider than he (actually) is. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)...

... Joanna Purpich & Sam Stein of The Daily Beast: "[I]f there is one trend that has defined this current president’s staffing decisions, it has been his proclivity to turn to men when filling out key posts. Since he assumed office, Donald Trump has sent 480 nominations to the U.S. Senate for positions in the judicial branch and executive branches. Of those, The Daily Beast found, 387 were men — constituting just over 80 of all of Trump’s nominees. The trend goes across government, though it is truly accentuated in certain fields." --safari: Yeah, but, fear not egalitarians, Ivanka's on the case!

Sharon Lerner of The Intercept: "Massive conflicts of interest no longer stand in the way of confirmation to the Environmental Protection Agency’s highest posts.... Yet Michael Dourson, the industry scientist Trump nominated to head EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, may be unable to clear even this low bar.... Resistance to his nomination is coming from red states that have been directly harmed by chemicals Dourson has defended on behalf of industry.... Dourson was responsible for setting a state standard for [the chemical] PFOA that was thousands of times higher than the EPA’s current safety level.... Dourson has worked on behalf of industry to defend dozens of chemicals that have contaminated the water and air of Republicans, as well as Democrats." --safari

Matt Apuzzo & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "One of President Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees did not disclose on publicly available congressional documents that he is married to a senior lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office. The nominee, Brett J. Talley, is awaiting a Senate confirmation vote that could come as early as Monday to become a federal district judge in Alabama. He is married to Ann Donaldson, the chief of staff to the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. Mr. Talley was asked on his publicly released Senate questionnaire to identify family members and others who are 'likely to present potential conflicts of interest.' He did not mention his wife.... Democrats have strongly criticized the nomination of Mr. Talley, a 36-year-old who has never tried a case and who received a rare 'not qualified' rating from the American Bar Association. His nomination advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday on a party-line vote.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In fairness to Talley, he's probably too dumb to know that it's a conflict when your wife works in the White House & you may be adjudicating matters that have an impact on administration policies. As he was filling out the questionnaire, he probably put his pen in his mouth, furrowed his brow, looked at the ceiling & decided, "Nah, you can't say you have a conflict with your own wife. That would look like you & your wife didn't get along or something. And, hey, we're great. Hell, I probably wouldn't of been nominated if not for little Annie putting in a good word." Really, you want to cut these bozos some slack for stupid. ...

     ... UPDATE: I highly recommend your reading Akhilleus' report, in today's thread, on Talley Ho. Among Talley's other fine attributes, apparently he's a ghostbuster or something.

Carol Leonig & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post: "President Trump’s eldest son exchanged private messages with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign at the same time the website was publishing hacked emails from Democratic officials, according to correspondence made public Monday. Donald Trump Jr. did not respond to many of the notes, which were sent using the direct message feature on Twitter. But he alerted senior advisers on his father’s campaign, including his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to two people familiar with the exchanges. In the messages, WikiLeaks urged Trump Jr. to promote its trove of hacked Democratic emails and suggested that President Trump challenge the election results if he did not win, among other ideas. They were first reported by the Atlantic and later posted by Trump Jr. on Twitter. WikiLeaks, which bills itself as an anti-secrecy group, was described in April by CIA Director Mike Pompeo as a 'non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you read the Atlantic piece, by Julia Ioffe, you'll find that Junior did not reply often, but neither did he didn't rebuff WikiLeaks (presumably featuring Julian Assange on keyboard), nor did he report the correspondence to law enforcement officials -- as far as we know. One interesting passage: “'Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,' WikiLeaks went on, pointing Trump Jr. to the link wlsearch.tk.... Trump Jr. did not respond to this message. But just 15 minutes after it was sent, as The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau pointed out, Donald Trump himself tweeted, 'Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!'” So if the question is, "Did Donald Trump himself knowingly collaborate with WikiLeaks to disseminate info hacked by Russian operatives that damaged the Clinton campaign?" the answer appears to be, "Yes, he did."...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "[I]f real, the messages shed light on WikiLeaks’ role in the election, the Trump campaign’s relationship with the organization, and what other campaign officials knew.... While WikiLeaks bills itself as a neutral proponent of transparency, the 2016 election made it quite clear that wasn’t the case.... WikiLeaks suggests that the campaign should let them leak Trump’s tax returns.... [I]t would help make WikiLeaks appear less anti-Clinton – thus aiding their efforts to undermine her.... 'If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,' WikiLeaks wrote.... If someone in the Trump campaign was directing the leaks, it appears Trump Jr. didn’t know about it (or wasn’t dumb enough to let the WikiLeaks Twitter account know that he knew)." --safari

Fred Kaplan of Slate: "For the first time in over 40 years, Congress is holding hearings on Tuesday about the president’s authority to launch nuclear weapons. The reasons for the revived interest should be clear.... Everyone knows that the president’s powers include the ability to blow up the world, but few have explored — in part because they’d rather not know — the degree to which the president can do this on his own.... Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, a member of the committee holding hearings on Tuesday, has drafted a bill requiring the president to obtain a declaration of war from Congress before launching a nuclear first-strike.... Another step, proposed by many nuclear strategists, would be to get rid of the land-based ICBMs. They are likely to be the targets of a nuclear strike; and because they are vulnerable, a president would have to decide very quickly whether to 'use them or lose them.'”

Thomas Moriarty & MaryAnn Spoto of NJ.com: Jurors in the corruption case of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are deadlocked. "Seven of the 16 jurors and alternates in the trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez raised their hands when U.S. District Judge William Walls on Monday morning asked whether they'd heard or read anything about the case, prompting the judge to take them into his chambers individually to get more details. The inquiry came after defense attorneys in the trial noted that widespread news coverage of an excused juror's public statements may have tainted the remaining members of the panel.... After questioning the four seated jurors, Walls said he found no reason to declare a mistrial."

International Embarrassment. Mark Hand of ThinkProgress: "[T]he Trump administration’s delegation to the United Nations’ climate conference in Bonn, Germany, is using the talks to promote the U.S. coal industry.... Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for cities and climate change, said Monday that 'promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.'" --safari

Senate Race

Sean Sullivan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Senate Republican leaders on Monday waged an urgent campaign to pressure GOP nominee Roy Moore to withdraw from the Alabama Senate race amid allegations of sexual misconduct, declaring him 'unfit to serve' and threatening to expel him from Congress if he were elected. But Moore showed no signs that he was preparing to step aside.... The fusillade from Senate Republicans started Monday morning in Louisville, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) called on Moore to end his run.... Later, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) issued a written statement going further. 'If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him,' Gardner said." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Don't kid yourself into believing these invertebrates suddenly sprouted backbones. They were against Roy Moore from the git-go. ...

     ... BTW, I hope many of you got to read David Atkins' post, linked yesterday, on why evangelicals are sticking with Roy. I found it illuminating.

... Jonathan Martin & Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times: "An Alabama woman accused Roy S. Moore on Monday of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, the fifth and most brutal charge leveled against the Republican Senate candidate. Senate Republicans are now openly discussing not seating him or expelling him if he wins the Dec. 12 special election. The new accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, told a packed news conference in New York that Mr. Moore attacked her when she was a teenager and he was a prosecutor in Etowah County, Ala. Ms. Nelson was represented at the news conference by Gloria Allred, a lawyer who has championed victims of sexual harassment. 'I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch,' Ms. Nelson said, growing emotional as she described the assault, which she said happened one night after her shift ended at a local restaurant, where she was a waitress." ...

... Margaret Hartmann: "Moore adamantly denied her allegations, saying ... that he does not even know Nelson.... 'I never did what she said I did. I don’t even know the woman. I don’t know anything about her. I don’t even know where the restaurant is or was.' [Which is a teeny bit unbelievable because] Nelson presented a copy of her yearbook in which the then-30-year-old Moore wrote: 'To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A.' Below his name, he wrote the date and 'Olde Hickory House,' the name of the restaurant he now claims he has no knowledge of.... [As Josh Barro notes,] 'Roy Moore's signature from that 1977 yearbook matches Roy Moore's signature on his US Term Limits pledge this year.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: What was that thing about "thou shalt not bear false witness"? Didn't Roy have it engraved in stone someplace?

... Sheryl Stolberg: "Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said Monday that Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, 'should step aside' and that he believes the women who have accused Mr. Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers. 'I believe the women, yes,' Mr. McConnell said at a news conference in Louisville. Mr. McConnell also said that encouraging a write-in candidate to run in the Dec. 12 special election is 'an option we’re looking at.' Mr. Moore, a judge who was twice removed from the state’s high court, first for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court grounds, then for refusing to accept gay marriage, responded defiantly. He showed no sign of leaving the race ahead of Alabama’s Dec. 12 special election date.... At 2:30 p.m. Monday, New York lawyer Gloria Allred, who has made her name by championing victims of sexual harassment, will publicly introduce a new woman accusing Mr. Moore of sexual impropriety.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Charles Bethea of the New Yorker: "This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people — including a major political figure in the state — who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the [Gadsden] mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. [Gadsden is the seat of Etowah County.] ...

     ... Anna Vollers of AL.com writes a similar story, with some of the same sources. ...

... Jessica Contrera of the Washington Post: "The photos of teenage girls began appearing on Twitter Thursday night. First, a smiling, ponytailed 14-year-old looking into the camera. Then, another 14-year-old, this one posing for a school-style photo. Soon, there were photos from Katie Couric, Alyssa Milano and Sarah Silverman — all showing what they looked like when they were 14. 'Can’t consent at 14. Not in Alabama. Not anywhere,' wrote attorney Catherine Lawson, the first woman to tweet a photo of her 14-year-old self with the hashtag #MeAt14. Lawson and the others on Twitter were responding to allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, first reported in The Washington Post." See the pix & commentary at #Me@14." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Dahlia Lithwick & James Sample in Slate: "... the idea that it might be the alleged molesting of multiple teenage girls and women that could prove disqualifying for Moore, rather than his decadeslong contempt for the law, the courts, and the Constitution, tells us how very far we have strayed from our legal moorings at this moment in history. Roy Moore ... is revered ... for his long-standing performance of figurative — and literal — contempt for any legal ruling or norm with which he disagrees.... He was never fit for a seat in the U.S. Senate in the first place. That the Republican Party still fails to see this will forever be to its shame. It shouldn’t take child molestation allegations to realize that lawlessness is not a credential." ...

... Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times: "In this #MeToo moment, when we’re reassessing decades of male misbehavior and turning open secrets into exposes, we should look clearly at the credible evidence that Juanita Broaddrick told the truth when she accused [Bill] Clinton of raping her."


President George H.W. Cop-a-Feel. Aric Jenkins
of Time: "Roslyn Corrigan was sixteen years old when she got a chance to meet George H.W. Bush, excited to be introduced to a former president having grown up dreaming of going into politics. But Corrigan was crushed by her encounter: Bush, then 79 years old, groped her buttocks at a November 2003 event in The Woodlands, Texas, office of the Central Intelligence Agency where Corrigan’s father gathered with fellow intelligence officers and family members to meet Bush, Corrigan said. Corrigan is the sixth woman since Oct. 24 to accuse Bush publicly of grabbing her buttocks without consent.... Corrigan said the incident happened while she was being photographed standing next to Bush.... Her mother, Sari, said Corrigan told her about the encounter as soon as Bush stepped away." Several other people, including Corrigan's ex-husband, told Time that Corrigan had told them about the incident over the years." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Bush, who joked about it with some of the other women he groped, seemed to think ass-grabbing is hilarious & harmless. No, actually, it's physically aggressive & demeaning. You can see in Sari Corrigan's response that VIPs like Bush get away with it (while many ordinary men do not) because women realize they're comparably powerless & could suffer repercussions if they object. Yes, some mothers would read the POTUS the riot act in a roomful of their husband's colleagues, but most would not. Bush's (alleged) little joke hurt two women -- a 16-year-old & her mother.

Beyond the Beltway

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Sam Levin of the Guardian: "Journalists working for Facebook say the social media site’s fact-checking tools have largely failed and that the company has exploited their labor for a PR campaign. Several fact checkers who work for independent news organizations and partner with Facebook told the Guardian that they feared their relationships with the technology corporation, some of which are paid, have created a conflict of interest, making it harder for the news outlets to scrutinize and criticize Facebook’s role in spreading misinformation. The reporters also lamented that Facebook had refused to disclose data on its efforts to stop the dissemination of fake news.... 'I don’t feel like it’s working at all. The fake information is still going viral and spreading rapidly,' said one journalist who does fact-checks for Facebook."

Renée Feltz of The Intercept: "[I]nestimable tons of moldy debris have to be mucked out as [Houston] rebuilds. Much of the work is being done by undocumented immigrants, who make up half of the Texas construction workforce, according to some estimates. But even as their labor is in high demand, many are silently enduring abuse as they fear deportation...Post-Harvey, Houston has become a perfect storm for worker exploitation. Texas leads the nation in construction industry deaths, and workers in the state lose the most money to wage theft. But confronting abuse on the job now carries an added risk for undocumented workers, thanks to a new state law that allows police to report anyone in their custody to immigration officials." --safari

**Republican Dreamland. Kansas City Star: "Kansas runs one of the most secretive state governments in the nation, and its secrecy permeates nearly every aspect of service, The Star found in a months-long investigation. From the governor’s office to state agencies, from police departments to business relationships to health care, on the floors of the House and Senate, a veil has descended over the years and through administrations on both sides of the political aisle...In the past decade, more than 90 percent of the laws passed by the Kansas Legislature have come from anonymous authors...Kansas became the first state to fully privatize Medicaid services in 2013, and now some caregivers for people with disabilities say they have been asked to sign off on blank treatment plans — without knowing what’s being provided...The state, they say, seems hellbent on keeping information from the public." Read on for many more examples. --safari

Way Beyond

Natahsa Geiling of ThinkProgress: "For the first time in three years, global carbon dioxide emissions are back on the rise, illustrating that while the world has taken some crucial steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the work is far from over...[a]ccording to figures released on Monday by the Global Carbon Project " --safari: And coal barons raise a toast!

Reader Comments (10)

My cup overfloweth this morning amid the plethora of "stuff" to read and digest. Frank Rich started me off and his closing paragraph spells out accurately, I think, what we have witnessed these last years, but it's demographics have always been with us:

"... in 2016 Amanda Taub reported in Vox on recent academic studies finding that Americans with authoritarian traits (a need for order, fear of outsiders, the desire for a strong man to preserve the status quo) are “a surprisingly large electoral group” that aligns with “right-wing populism."

Rich's prognosis for this country is dire, but for the invasion of "little green men" from another planet (as Reagan envisioned) what will tie this country together in a knot of some kind of equal semblance of sanity. It's a daunting question that begs for answers.

Then safari's link to his state of secrecy: Kansas––Brownback territory––closed door manipulations with many fingers pressed to closed mouths–-shhhh!

"The culture that stifles transparency has become ingrained...there's something about once that culture sets in...it's really difficult to move out of."

And in Alabama a good part of their culture cottons to good ole boys like Roy Moore whose sexual proclivities with young girls don't make one whit of a difference in their support of this despicable human being. I have yet to read why Evangelicals support him but I bet they are white.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The Real Reason Brett Talley Should Scare You.

So this Talley fellow, a callow, inexperienced (as in NO experience) legal dabbler is now set to become a federal court judge. For life. Wouldn't that be like promoting a third year medical school student to head of surgery at Mass General? Don't worry, if Trump thought he could get something out of it and he was in charge of Mass General, it would happen.

But aside from his total inexperience, he does have a few things going for him.

His wife works in the White House. Oops. He didn't mention that? Sooorrrrry. Oh, he also does not believe that gays have rights. A BIG plus for Trump and other Confederate bigots. Oh yeah, he also wrote a blog post about joining the NRA directly after the Newtown mass murder of children. Because, why not? Sounds entirely reasonable, right? Don't know why I didn't think of that myself. Oh, wait. I did. I thought it was repulsive and stupid. But never mind, we're talking about this jamoke now, not me. But even more interestingly? He's a ghost hunter. I am not even kidding. A ghost hunting, horror novelist, creator of legendary classics like "That Which Should Not Be!" and "The Fiddle is the Devil's Instrument. And other stuff..."

Now I'm not saying he's not good at this. Apparently the first work mentioned was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, a pretty big deal in the horror fiction arena. But the ghost hunter part is a bit weird. And obsessive. According to a WaPo article, Confederate Rob Portman, one time presidential hopeful from Ohio, for whom Talley once wrote speeches, Mr. Horror Novelist kept trying to insert words like "hobgoblin" into those speeches. Weird? Like you read about.

Now don't get me wrong. We all have friends, probably, who have odd hobbies or obsessions. I have an old musician friend who can tell you the string gauges (size of the strings) used by pretty much any famous guitarist you can name. He'll tell you that Hendrix liked the very thin strings (.009-.038) but that Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughn liked 'em big and fat (.013-.052). And I'm sure there are federal judges with weird hobbies too.

The difference? They've set foot in a courtroom. BEFORE they became judges.

But this might not be as big a detriment as it seems. Here's how I'd handle it if I were a lawyer coming up before Judge Talley. First, I'd use the word "hobgoblin". Like, a lot. Second, I'd invoke the Rhys-Bedloe legal maneuver to completely set aside any opposing argument. What, you say? There is no such courtroom maneuver? You're right. But he doesn't know that. Also, I'd go for the "Liar, liar, pants on Fire" defense if backed into a corner. Oh, make that "Liar, liar, hobgoblin pants on Fire". This guy will have to employ a dozen people with real courtroom experience to tell him what's what and what's reasonable and what's bullshit in a court of law.

And finally, here's what good ol' Chuck Grassley has to say in support of Talley's nomination:

"Mr. Talley has a wide breadth of various legal experience that has helped to expose him to different aspects of federal law and the issues that would come before him."

"Various legal experience?" Sounds like he's had a few parking tickets fixed and helped get a cousin out of a "Speeding in a School Zone" violation. But maybe that's the point. If the idea is to install a wingnut rubber stamp bigot who'll simply rule in favor of your side every time out of the paddock, you have your man. And maybe THAT's what should really scare us. It's Trump's idea of justice: "Heads I win, tails you lose." I mean, do you really WANT someone who thinks about stuff like precedence and justice? Fuck no.

And not for nothin' but I think if I were ol' Chuck, or any other Confederate jabroni, I'd refrain from using the word "expose" when talking about any pol from Alabama.

The Age of Trump marches on.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So Roy (Touch me there, Little Girl) Moore is suing the Washington Post? Or thinking about it? Goody! Can't wait. Got my popcorn ready to go.

Wasn't this guy a supreme court something, something? He must be aware that if sued, the Post and their lawyers will pull out all the stops, including bringing in former employees from the Gadsden Mall, where Moore used to lurk, harassing teenage girls, to testify that they finally banned him from the place (see Marie's link, above) for chasing after underage girls.

They'll bring in the women, and then, dollars to donuts, a dozen more women will show up with stories of their own. This is not the sort of nasty shit that happens a couple of times and then that's it. The fact that more stories about Poppy grabbing teenagers by the ass are coming out is proof of that assertion. Molesters don't all of a sudden think "Well, crap. This is no way to behave. Time to be a good boy and stop this lewd behavior". Oh, wait. There are some who do that. The ones in prison.

But, fine, legal suits mean discovery and discovery means more degradation and humiliation for Roy Moore, so by all means, bring that suit, Roy-boy.

You can't trump stupid. Or should that be you can't stupid trump? Oh, wait, You CAN stupid trump. He does it to himself. And he did this to himself as well. If not for recruiting Jeff Sessions into his happy band of marauding bigots and nincompoops, the GOP would not now be scratching their eyes out about what to do with this latest avatar of right-wing ideology.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

One more thing about Roy Moore and his lies about his reprehensible behavior. I grew up in the city. I've never lived in a small, rural area. I do now. It's a huge difference. But even in the city, in certain neighborhoods, you learn whom to stay away from and whom you can trust, until they prove untrustworthy. But in a city, a lot of that streetwise information is off limits to many. Not in a small town. I've found that out. Everyone knows everything. Or most things (there are always those deep dark family secrets that smack of gothic tales of yore). I've gone into a repair shop and been told I'd get my car in a couple of weeks. When I mentioned that my wife grew up here and her dad is so and so, everything changed. Oh! You can have it day after tomorrow. Now that can cut both ways, of course. If I had run, unknowingly, into someone who didn't care for her dad, it might be "You'll have to go somewhere else."

I can't imagine that in a relatively small area in Alabama, that everyone didn't know the assistant district attorney, and that stories weren't flying around about his predilection for young girls. He's trying to bulldoze his way out of the latest accusation from a woman who reports that, when she was 16, he tried to force her into a sexual act. This is attempted rape. I don't care how he and his Bible beater supporters try to frame it. He now claims not to know that woman or the restaurant she worked in, but OOPS, he signed her high school yearbook and included the name of that establishment. And, by the way, but what adult male, not related to a young girl, or who was a VERY close family friend, signs (especially back then), "Love, Roy Moore" in a HIGH SCHOOL YEARBOOK?!

This guy is a fucking pervert but his evangelical pals will still vote for him. No matter what. So he may get elected.

But worse, for us, and the nation, embarrassed and inconvenienced Confederates are planning on not seating him if he does get elected senator. What then? Does the governor get to select some other Confederate whack job? Someone not quite as toxic but who will vote the party line anyway?

This is all Trump's doing. He would fuck up a winning lottery ticket.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

All you need to know about Jeff Sessions' latest appearance before Congress.

1. Jeff Sessions lies.

2. Jeff Sessions says he always tells the truth.

3. See 1.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The David Atkins pieces (there are two--see Marie's link from yesterday) in the Washington Monthly uncover the background and underpinnings (way, way under) of Roy Moore's rape habits. It's disgusting and loathsome.

Even worse, when you consider a culture that condones child molestation in favor of patriarchal and Biblical control, is the GOP's courting of these people for a couple of generations. Certainly all Christians don't believe this, probably not even all conservative Christians, but hard core evangelicals have been the driving force in this unholy alliance.

Highly authoritarian religions tend also to have a strikingly opaque system of controls so it's no surprise that Kansas, the Petri dish of Confederate droppings, has adopted a secretive, recondite culture of closed door decision making. Look at how Trump's commission on vote suppression is working. Secret, "unofficial" meetings which lock out the small handful of Democrats appointed to the commission and make determinations in darkened rooms. Furtive, backroom decisions and meetings allow wingers to enjoy their sense of "inherent authority".

And where is Kobach from?

Kansas.

And another devotee of this cult of control, secrecy, and sexual predation?

Trump.

No wonder he loves Moore.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So happy that the little king wants to increase assistance to those poor, poor Richie Riches. The poor dears, they only want what everyone wants, billions, tax free to their kids and a reduction of their own taxes by almost half.

But...but....wouldn't that increase income inequality? Like, by a shitload? Trumpy sez NO, but Fortune sez...

"The richest 1% now owns more than half of all the world’s household wealth, according to analysts at Credit Suisse. And they say inequality is only going to get worse over the coming years, with millennials having a particularly tough time."

But that's not what that nice Paul Ryan sez. He sez we get a big pile of money delivered to our door every week. That mythical family of four will get their $1,200 dollars! Yay. That'll be (let's see, divided by 12, 4 into 25 goes...divided by 7...) less than a dollar a day!

Hurray! We're rich!

Meanwhile, Mr. Hedge Fund Manager, the guy Trump claims to get nothing?

Millions.

But if Trump and his Richie Rich pals own most of the wealth on the planet, what about everyone else?

"Looking at the bottom of the wealth distribution, 3.5 billion people—corresponding to 70% of all adults in the world—own less than $10,000. Those with low wealth tend to be disproportionately found among the younger age groups, who have had little chance to accumulate assets, but we find that millennials face particularly challenging circumstances compared to other generations".

At the fin de siecle, one percenters owned "only" 45.5%. Now they own more than half. So much for Trump claims that things are getting better for those at the bottom and worse for people like himself. He lied again. What a shock!

Anyway, sooooorrrryy poors. You lose again. And you kids, quit yer whining and go out and make money like Trump and his kids.

Inherit it. Then wait for a supine Confederate congress to hand you even more undeserved income.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

More champagne toasts at the NRA today. Yippee! Another exponent of FREEEEEDOM out in California.

More bodies. More toasts. The latest NRA Hall of Famer even shot kids, but I'm sure that was a hoax. We'll wait to hear about it from Gun Knobber Nightly News. Very likely, it was Obama in a white guy mask.

Anyway, bottoms up. No one among Confederates controlling congress will care.

Another round of Thoughts and Prayers©, bartender, and make mine a double.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Which is the more destructive AG?

One who flat out lies?

Or one who can't remember shit (CRS disease, as we've all heard it called)?

Back to knaves or fools--or as they go by another name, Repugnants....

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

You take your children/child to school and go about your day. It never enters your mind that your children/child could be in harms way by some crazed lunatic who comes into that school, guns blazing and shoots as many as he can before shooting himself. This serene scenario was yesterday–-now this country is fraught with sick fucks whose sign off in death is to kill as many others as possible with those big guns that makes one feel powerful and loaded with hate. This latest shooting in California, as Akhilleus reports, is one more for the road, bottoms up, $$$ in the NRA coffers, and yes, more thoughts––and what was the second thing? Oh, yes, prayers––always the prayers.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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