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."

Tuesday
Nov142017

The Commentariat -- November 15, 2017

** NEW. Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: Louis Gohmert "Brought This Chart To An Important Hearing And Everyone Is Very Confused." Mrs. McC: This report is starred not because the post is insightful or important, but because it is hilarious. Before linking to Geidner's post, you might want to read Akhilleus' analysis below, which is what brought this moment of levity to my attention. I can't stop laughing.

Trump Gets Crazier by the Day. Steve Benen: Tuesday "morning, in another press gaggle, Trump said [of President Obama's relationship with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte], 'Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn’t land. And now we have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines, which is really important…. So we’ve accomplished a lot.' Apparently, Trump has convinced himself that Barack Obama, aboard Air Force One, intended to travel to the Philippines, but en route to the country, the American president was not permitted to touch down on Filipino soil.... In the real world, Obama was scheduled to meet ... Duterte in Laos last year, but the Democratic president canceled following a Duterte tantrum. A year earlier, before Duterte took office, Obama visited the Philippines and the trip went smoothly. In other words, Trump has embraced an odd fantasy as if it were true, pointing to an incident that never occurred as evidence of his diplomatic superiority over his predecessor. The Republican president’s difficulties in separating fact from fiction is unsettling, but let’s not overlook the underlying point Trump seems so eager to emphasize: he’s bragging about his chumminess with an authoritarian president accused of mass murder." ...

... ** Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "As passionate as [Trump] was about making friends and negotiating deals in Asia, he was completely uninterested in the more public diplomacy of engaging with its citizens. That’s starkly distinct from his last trip abroad, to Europe, where he used soft power to energize the populist masses in Poland — and effectively so, based on Saturday’s enormous demonstration in Warsaw, where banners called for 'White Europe' and 'Clean Blood.' In the contrast between these two trips, we see the emerging outlines of a Trump foreign policy ideology to match his domestic one: white nationalism.... Trump has a dual foreign policy: He seeks solidarity with white-nationalist forces in Europe, thereby undermining democratic leaders who have been America’s longest allies, and he cozies up with the ruling elite of the rest of the world, even murderous dictators.... If successful, Trump’s foreign policy would create a Europe dominated by right-wing populists intent on controlling borders, while the people of Asia would be ruled by despots untroubled by calls for democratization and eager to cut bilateral trade deals.

We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests. -- Sen. Chris Murphy [D-Conn.], at a hearing Tuesday ...

... Patricia Zengerle of Reuters: "A U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday held the first congressional hearing in more than four decades on the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike, amid concern that tensions over North Korea’s weapons program could lead to war. Senator Bob Corker, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held the hearing as ... Donald Trump wrapped up a 12-day trip to Asia largely dominated by concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.... Corker said the hearing was not intended to target Trump. Democrats made clear they were concerned about Trump." ...

... Fred Kaplan of Slate: "... the results [of the hearing] were fascinating, frightening, and ultimately maddening. Fascinating because not since the Cold War has any public figure wrestled with the strategic and moral issues of a nuclear first strike or the legal question of resisting a presidential order. Frightening because the presence of an unstable, insecure, brimstone-fueled president is what’s reviving this discussion. Maddening because it was clear, by the end of the two-hour hearing, that Congress isn’t going to do a damn thing about the dangers."

 

You’re accusing me of lying about that [meeting with George Papadopoulos, et al.]? I would say that’s not fair, colleagues.... I don’t think it is right to accuse me of doing something wrong. -- Jeff Sessions, in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee

I don’t want to hear in a few days or a few weeks that your answers, Mr. Attorney General, have changed. -- Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) ...

... 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." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update: Fandos & Apuzzo's report is here. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday denied, again, lying to Congress about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. He said he had forgotten about a campaign round-table in which an aide touted his Russian connections and suggested arranging a meeting for Donald J. Trump in Moscow.... Mr. Sessions ... has twice amended his sworn testimony, creating a distraction for the White House and renewing questions about whether the Trump administration is concealing its connections with Russia.... Mr. Sessions sidestepped questions about whether the president’s [urging the DOJ to investigate Hillary Clinton] were appropriate." ...

... 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. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... It's Not Perjury if the Attorney General Says It. Cathleen Decker of the Los Angeles Times: "U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions angrily denounced accusations that he had intentionally misled members of Congress about any Russian interference in the presidential campaign.... [Rep. Hakeem] Jeffries [D-N.Y.] noted that Sessions had set a tough standard on false statements in the past — voting to remove then-President Clinton from office after he was impeached on charges of perjury in the 1990s. During that time period, Jeffries said, Sessions spoke of his earlier prosecution of a police officer on the same charge. The congressman also reminded Sessions that he had suggested to Fox anchor Lou Dobbs that Hillary Clinton was guilty of perjury when, in a conversation with the FBI about her email server, she said that she did not recall the answers to some questions." ...

... Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied knowing that former national security adviser Michael Flynn lobbied on behalf of Turkey and allegedly discussed with Turkish officials the possibility of kidnapping of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric [Fethullah Gulen] while serving on the Trump campaign. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) grilled Sessions on his awareness of Flynn’s Turkey dealings in a taut exchange during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing Tuesday.... NBC has reported that Trump administration officials asked the FBI to conduct a new review of the Gulen situation after inauguration, but that the FBI denied it because Turkey provided no new evidence to bolster its case." Mrs. McCrabbie: JeffBo ran Trump's national security team, but apparetly his "team" kept him out of the loop on what-all it was doing. ...

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "Meetings he had with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Campaign-related conversations he had with the Russian ambassador. Shutting down campaign aide George Papadopoulos after Papadopoulos suggested then-candidate Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin get together. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he couldn't remember any of these events — that is until the media or Robert S. Mueller III's investigation remembered them for him. That's the key takeaway from Sessions's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. What is typically a routine check-in between Congress and the head of the Justice Department got political real fast, largely because of Russia. Here are four takeaways from Sessions's nearly day-long hearing. 1. Sessions is not helping clear up questions about the Trump campaign's Russian involvement.... 2. Sessions doesn’t seem that keen on a special counsel looking into Hillary Clinton’s affairs..... 3. Sessions sides with Roy Moore’s accusers.... 4. Sessions is suspicious of WikiLeaks." ...

... 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." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Peter Baker of the Washington Post: "President Trump ... [made his instructions clear via Twitter]: The Justice Department should investigate his defeated opponent from last year’s campaign. However they were delivered, Mr. Trump’s demands have ricocheted through the halls of the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now ordered senior prosecutors to evaluate various accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed. Mr. Sessions has made no decision, and in soliciting the assessment of department lawyers, he may be seeking a way out of the bind his boss has put him. At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, he pushed back against Republicans impatient for a special counsel. But if he or his deputy ultimately does authorize a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter post-Watergate norms intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals.... With his job potentially on the line, Mr. Sessions has been put in the difficult position of absorbing his president’s ire while safeguarding the department’s traditional independence." ...

... New York Times Editors: "What better way [for Republicans] to distract from the investigation [by] ... Robert Mueller, than to call for a criminal investigation of the president’s defeated opponent?... Meanwhile, Mr. Sessions spent most of Tuesday’s hearing as he has all the others he’s sat through this year — by not recalling things that one would think most people would.... His explanation for his poor memory was that he couldn’t be expected to remember every detail from 2016, since the campaign 'was a form of chaos every day, from Day 1.'”

... 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. (Also linked yesterday.)


Jason Leopold, et al., of BuzzFeed: "The FBI is scrutinizing more than 60 money transfers sent by the Russian foreign ministry to its embassies across the globe, most of them bearing a note that said the money was to be used 'to finance election campaign of 2016.'... The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000.... It is not clear how the funds were used.... After discovering the $30,000 transfer to the embassy in Washington, Citibank launched a review of other transfers by the Russian foreign ministry. It unearthed dozens of other transactions with similar memo lines.”

Dana Milbank provides all the information you need to come to the conclusion Milbank does: Donald Trump, Jr. is as dumb as a post. Junior is so stupid, he's funny. ...

... Junior Implicates Dad. John Cassidy: "... Trump, Jr.,’s campaign activities have created a real problem for him and his father, and a public-relations disaster for the White House.... Just fifteen minutes after WikiLeaks sent Trump, Jr., a message suggesting that his father should tweet out a link to a WikiLeaks search tool, Trump tweeted, 'Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!'... On October 7th, just five days earlier, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the National Intelligence Director had issued a joint statement, saying, 'The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.' Referring directly to WikiLeaks, the statement went on, 'These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The fact that U.S. intelligence agencies had previously warned that the WikiLeaks e-mail dumps were gifts from the Russian government implications Donald Senior even if Junior had not corresponded with WikiLeaks. BUT, as Marshall Cohen of CNN outlines in this timeline, candidate Trump had plenty of other avenues to know that Russia had hacked the DNC & John Podesta e-mails. George Papadopolous found out in April 2016, & he was in contact with senior campaign officials. Jared Kushner & Paul Manafort knew as early as June 2016, as did Cambridge Analytica, which had employees inside the Trump campaign, the New York Times reported the Russian connection in July 2016, (and the next day Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton's server), Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks & Russian hackers in August 2016 & predicted WikiLeaks dumps. I'm betting Bob Mueller & his team are smart enough to put together these contacts, as well as other connections the public don't know. There is a lot of damning information to implicate the presidential candidate in a conspiracy with Russian goverment actors.

Rex Hires KGB to Guard U.S. Embassy & Consulates. Andrew Higgins of the New York Times: "To make up for the loss of security guards axed in the Russian-mandated staff cuts, Washington has hired a private Russian company that grew out of a security business co-founded by Mr. Putin’s former K.G.B. boss, an 82-year-old veteran spy who spent 25 years planting agents in Western security services and hunting down their operatives. Under a $2.8 million no-bid contract awarded by the Office of Acquisitions in Washington, security guards at the American Embassy in Moscow and at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok will be provided by Elite Security Holdings, a company closely linked to the former top K.G.B. figure, Viktor G. Budanov, a retired general who rose through the ranks to become head of Soviet counterintelligence." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: This is astounding. We now have the KGB protecting U.S. secrets from the KGB. AND the way Rex "punishes" Russia for expelling hundreds of U.S. State Department employees is to hire Putin's operatives to replace some of them. As Rachel Maddow noted last night, it isn't just that Russia interfered in the presidential election; Russia is now entwined with the Trump administration.

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 (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Remember that Donald Trump places more faith in Vladimir Putin than in U.S. intelligence agencies. Are we to assume then that the agencies regularly brief Trump on international flare-ups with video games? Hey, they might work for President ADD.

 

CEOs Burst Gary's Bubble. Wherein Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn is surprised to find out -- directly from CEOs themselves -- that they don't plan to invest more if their tax bills go down. Heather Long of the Washington Post reports. ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: The other day I said in the Comments section that wealthy people who opposed the GOP tax bill were not the same wealthy people who are on Republicans' speed-dials. Here's a guy -- who probably is at least relatively wealthy -- who proves me wrong. Steve Goldmacher of the New York Times: "Steve Louro, a Republican donor who hosted an event for Donald J. Trump at his Long Island home last year, abruptly quit his post as regional finance chairman for the state’s Republican Party on Tuesday over objections to the Republican-led tax bill advancing through Congress. 'The bill that’s going to get passed is not going to take care of the American people. It’s a disgrace,' Mr. Louro said in a phone interview. He had resigned from his post as a fund-raiser via email earlier in the day, he said. 'The Republican Party took control of the government against all odds, and the bottom line is' they messed up, he said, using an expletive. 'It’s a disgrace. It’s going to hurt a lot of middle-class Republicans.'” ...

... Senate to Take Another Shot at ObamaCare. Thomas Kaplan & Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "Senate Republicans have decided to include the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most people have health insurance into the sprawling tax rewrite, merging the fight over health care with the high-stakes effort to cut taxes. The move to tuck the repeal of the so-called individual mandate into the tax overhaul is an attempt by Republicans to solve two problems: math and politics. Repealing the mandate, a longstanding Republican goal, would save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. That would free up money that could be used to expand middle-class tax cuts or help pay for the overall cost of the bill, which can add no more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years. It could also help secure the votes of the most conservative senators, enabling lawmakers to pass the bill along party lines.... Democrats said the mandate repeal would underwrite tax cuts for the rich at the expense of people who buy insurance on the individual market." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: "Democrats said"? Democrats said that because it's true. Why not report a fact as a fact rather than as a partisan talking point? Thanks again for your devotion to he-said/she-said "journalism," boys. ...

... Patrick Caldwell of Mother Jones: "While not as far-reaching as the health care bills Republicans considered earlier in the year, this new plan would be a massive shock to the country’s health insurance system. The CBO recently estimated that ending the individual mandate’s financial penalties would save the government $338 billion over the next 10 years. But an extra 4 million people would lack insurance in 2019, rising to 13 million by 2027. And insurance would be more expensive for the people who stick around to buy it on Obamacare’s exchanges, with premiums going up about 10 percent, according to the CBO. Still, the cost savings would help one group of Americans. Fifty percent of the benefits from the proposed tax cuts in the bill would to the top 5 percent of earners in 2027."

Senate Race

Deirdre Shesgreen of USA Today: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday did not rule out trying to expel Roy Moore if the Alabama Republican wins a U.S. Senate seat in that state's special election next month. 'He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate,' the Kentucky Republican told reporters on Tuesday. 'And we’ve looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.'” In the video that accompanies the report, McConnell sidestepped the question of whether or not he also believed the women who accused Trump of sexual abuse. ...

... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post: "... if you believe the women accusing Roy Moore..., why did you ignore the women who accused presidential candidate Donald Trump? If you’re troubled by Moore’s alleged behavior, why were you so nonchalant about Trump’s?... Notwithstanding Trump’s creepy interest in barging into beauty-pageant dressing rooms to ogle young contestants and his even creepier comments speculating about how he might have dated Ivanka Trump if she weren’t his daughter, Trump, unlike Moore, faces no allegations of improperly pursuing teenagers, including those beneath the age of consent." ...

     ... Mrs. McC: Marcus reprises two accusations that Trump attacked women who didn't know him: one by a woman who just happened to be sitting next to him at a nightclub & another by a woman who had come to see him on business; in other words, women who could not have seen the attacks coming.

... Donald Judd, et al., of CNN: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he spoke with ... Donald Trump from Vietnam about the Roy Moore situation, and will have 'further discussions' with him when the President returns."

... Jake Novak of CNBC: "The accusations against Moore and the nature of those allegations couldn't have come at a better time for McConnell, whose top priority is and has always been consolidating his personal power in the Senate. Politically, this works out well for McConnell because the news broke a few weeks after Moore defeated Senator Luther Strange in the Alabama special election primary. Strange was the candidate McConnell backed in the race, and the loss was a blow to his personal political fortunes. But now, Moore looks just like the unpredictable non-establishment approved candidate McConnell said he was all along.... In politics, even horrific allegations of sexual assault and preying on underage victims only seem to elicit politically-centered responses." ...

... Brandon Carter of the Hill: "The Republican National Committee (RNC) has cut fundraising ties with GOP Senate hopeful Roy Moore. The new Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings follow allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore by five women, two of whom accused him of sexual misconduct with them when they were minors. New documents filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission show the RNC is no longer listed alongside other groups involved in the joint fundraiser." ...

... Cameron Joseph of TPM: "As national Republicans ramp up the pressure to force Roy Moore to drop his Alabama Senate campaign, the small group of local GOP power players who will ultimately determine Moore’s political fate are taking reluctant steps towards deciding whether to cut him loose. The 21 members of Alabama’s Republican Party central steering committee are the only ones who can pull Roy Moore’s nomination and potentially block his path to the Senate. After days of mounting allegations that their Senate nominee had sexual contact with teenage girls while he was in his 30s, two Alabama GOP sources tell TPM they’ve finally decided to hold a meeting later this week to hash out whether they can stand by his side." ...

... All in the Family. Molly Olmstead of Slate: Roy Moore's wife Kayla Moore "has been spreading misleading endorsements from religious leaders as well as falsehoods and fake stories, including the claim that the Washington Post paid the accusers to come forward." ...

... Jon Swaine of the Guardian: "Roy Moore challenged the scope of an Alabama law that protects rape victims while serving as the most senior judge on the state’s highest court, according to a review of records. As chief justice of Alabama’s supreme court, Moore twice argued that the state’s 'rape shield' law should not prevent alleged sex offenders from using certain evidence about their underage accusers’ personal lives to discredit them. The cases were among 10 between 2013 and 2016 where Moore dissented from the court’s majority and sided with alleged offenders...." Mrs. McC: What a surprise. ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ha Ha Ha. Betsy Woodruff, et al., of the Daily Beast: "The rightwing blog The Gateway Pundit pushed a single-sourced rumor from an anonymous Twitter account, @Umpire43, claiming that one of Roy Moore’s accusers was offered $1,000 by The Washington Post to go public with her claims. That rumor quickly made its way to InfoWars and the top of r/The_Donald, the most active pro-Trump community on the web. The pro-Trump cable station One America News Network even aired the news, citing a 'report.' But the source for that viral accusation is a serial fabulist who has been using the identity of a Navy serviceman who died in 2007, records show. Umpire43, also known as Doug Lewis or DJ Lewis, has repeatedly invented stories in the past — particularly about his own background." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: While we're all worried about the fake news Russia & other foreign entities generated, we should bear in mind we have popular "news" sources in the U.S. who push fake news every day. These home-grown fake-news outlets have millions of regular viewers, listeners & readers. And I do want to distinguish here between fact & opinion. These sources don't just interpret factual events or data; they make up fake ones. Some of these outlets have gained a modicum of legitimacy, like this guy.  ...

... 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. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update. Fleeing Advertisers Move Hannity. Brandon Carter: "Fox News host Sean Hannity is calling on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (D) to prove he did not engage in sexual misconduct with teenage girls or exit the Senate race. '... Between this interview that I did and the inconsistent answers; between him saying "I never knew this girl" and then that yearbook comes out - for me, the judge has 24 hours,' Hannity said Tuesday night. 'You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies that I just showed,' Hannity continued. 'You must remove any doubt. If he can’t do this, Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.' Hannity’s comments follow several advertisers pulling their ads from Hannity’s in the wake of his coverage of Moore.” ...

... AND Rush Limbaugh knows why Roy Moore used to sexually abuse girls & young women: “Did you know that before 1992, when a lot of this was going on, that Judge Moore was a Democrat? Nobody said a word. When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately-aged girls — he was a Democrat.” 

Congressional Creep List. M.J. Lee, et al., of CNN: "Be extra careful of the male lawmakers who sleep in their offices -- they can be trouble. Avoid finding yourself alone with a congressman or senator in elevators, late-night meetings or events where alcohol is flowing. And think twice before speaking out about sexual harassment from a boss -- it could cost you your career. These are a few of the unwritten rules that some female lawmakers, staff and interns say they follow on Capitol Hill, where they say harassment and coercion is pervasive on both sides of the rotunda.There is also the 'creep list' -- an informal roster passed along by word-of-mouth, consisting of the male members most notorious for inappropriate behavior, ranging from making sexually suggestive comments or gestures to seeking physical relations with younger employees and interns." ...

... Blair Guild of CBS News: "A congresswoman revealed Tuesday morning that she is aware of two congressional members currently in office who have sexually harassed staffers. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, did not name either member, but noted that one is a Democrat and the other, a Republican."

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.'” (Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

Jim Schultz of the Redding Record Searchlight: "Five people are dead, including the suspect, in a mass shooting at and around a school some 15 miles southwest of Red Bluff, [California,] where at least another 10 victims have been hospitalized — some of them children. Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston, who called the incident a 'bizarre and murderous rampage,' confirmed two children were shot and wounded, but said children were not among the dead. Johnston said one child was shot at the school, while a second child was in a car with his mother when the gunman opened fire. The child's wound was not life-threatening, but the mother's injuries are, he said.... [The rampage] ended in a shootout with two sheriff's deputies. The deputies, who weren't injured, found the gunman dead inside a car, and they also found the semiautomatic rifle and two handguns they say he used." ...

... Stella Chan, et al., of CNN: "A gunman killed four people in a remote Northern California community on Tuesday morning, but a much bigger death toll was averted when the killer was unable to break into an elementary school. The staff at tiny Rancho Tehama Elementary School west of Corning moved quickly when they heard gunfire nearby just before classes were set to begin, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said. Doors were locked and students dashed inside and hit the floors underneath desks and tables."

Way Beyond

Zimbabwe’s military said early Wednesday that it had taken custody of President Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, in what increasingly appeared to be a military takeover in the southern African nation. After apparently seizing the state broadcaster, ZBC, two uniformed officers said in a short predawn announcement that 'the situation in our country has moved to another level.' While denying that the military had seized power, they said that Mr. Mugabe and his family 'are safe and sound, and their security is guaranteed.'”

Adam Baidawi & Damien Cave of the New York Times: "A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples. Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots."

Reader Comments (16)

The real fake news “story” about the WaPo offering a woman money to defame that nice Roy Moore has been given the Trump Treatment. Moore supporters (aka Satan’s testicle cleaners) are now going on TV and giving interviews where they use the “some people are saying” and “it’s been reported that” scam artist techniques perfected by the traitorous little king, to imply both distance from the lie and, at the same time, a certain amount of authenticity. Funnily enough, the tweeting liar who came up with this idea has had a hard time keeping his own story straight. It seems he can’t remember exactly how many Purple Hearts he’s won. Let’s see now, was it six, or only five? He’s such a brave patriot it’s hard to remember. Sort of like Jeffbo. Those Confederates! So busy trying to save the country they can’t keep all the lies straight.

November 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Decades ago, when Steve Martin had a stand-up act, he used to tell this joke (paraphrased): "How to get a million dollars & not pay any taxes on it. First, get a million dollars. Then, when the IRS comes around & asks why you haven't paid any taxes on it, say, 'I forgot.'"

Back then, "I forgot" was a punchline. Now, Jeff Sessions thinks it's appropriate to trot out during sworn testimony to "explain" why he previously made untrue statements under oath.

And that's no joke.

November 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Lotsa meta- going around.

Last week we had meta-faking. Now Sessions says he didn't lie to Congress.

Seems like meta-lying to me.

Truly unreal, Twilight Zone, beyond the back of beyond stuff.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Although it’s no surprise that Trump would have selected such an outrageous liar for attorney general, it is surprising that this person would stamp his feet and demand that everyone believe one of the more fantastical fabrications from a campaign filthy with them.

In many other circumstances Sessions’ selective memory could be given a pass, but not in this one, unless he had been unconscious during several instances and there’s photographic evidence that that’s not the case in at least one of them.

Heres what I mean: it’s not as if someone, during a strategy meeting, suggested the Trumpy campaign see if they could get an endorsement from the DAR. I could buy someone forgetting that. But someone suggests that the campaign reach out to an antagonistic foreign government—and not just any antagonistic foreign government, but the fucking “Evil Empire”—to see if they could help your guy win, and you forget?? Do you think the guys in the room when Kennedy said “Hey, let’s land a man on the moon” forgot about that later? Because this is moon landing territory. Audacious, outrageous, dicey, and never been done before type of stuff.

Not only that, but Sessions heard about this idea at least twice, that we know about. And the second time it was Carter Page talking to him about actually going to Russia to ask for their help in winning an American presidential election. It’s not as if Page told him he was thinking of flying to Oklahoma to see if the American Bullriders Association could lend a hand. Russia. Fucking Russia! But he forgot? Not even remotely possible or believable.

Maybe a self absorbed tyro like like Young Jared wouldn’t immediately realize what an astounding suggestion that was, but little Jeffrey is a Reagan era Confederate. He probably has “Kill a Commie for Christ” tatooed across his ass. Plus, as a former senator he must be more than slightly aware of our history with the land of the czars. It’s not like Papadopoulos was talking about Luxembourg.

He is, without a doubt, one of the biggest liars to appear before a congressional committee. And this is a guy who has previously declared that anyone saying “I forgot” should be reckoned a perjurer and dropped down the nearest well.

There is no dearth of repulsive snakes in the Trump shit swamp, but Sessions stands out like a six eyed hooded cobra driving an orange getaway car.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The person I kept my eye on during the Session's hearing was his missus. At certain points she rolled her eyes as if she couldn't help herself from displaying, "Oh, my god, there he goes again with his 'I don't recall' business. Of course I may have misread the eye rolling––she may have been exasperated at the questions themselves. Nevertheless, she appears to be someone who keeps her little man in tow––a "don't mess with me" persona, plus she's bigger than he.

" ... Mrs. McCrabbie: "Democrats said"? Democrats said that because it's true. Why not report a fact as a fact rather than as a partisan talking point? Thanks again for your devotion to he-said/she-said "journalism," boys." YES! this drives me crazy.

And what a shock to learn we have so much hanky panky going on in our congressional halls and it's not just women who experience this, but men––just like in the military only there it appears it's more than a tongue in the mouth and a grab of the buttocks. Old Daddy Bush now joins the list of men behaving badly––I shudder to think how Barbara is reacting––she of the "I never mince words, I say what I think most of the time."

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Where's Republican Representative Joe Wilson when you need him?
Remember him? He's the one who shouted "you lie" when
President Obama said that undocumented workers wouldn't be
covered under the Affordable Care Act.
Someday all this lying will hopefully come back to bite certain
politicians in the arse. Time will tell.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

Re the new security guard contract at U.S. facilities in Russia (NYT link above), it will probably turn out that many of the guards that were previously on the USG's direct-hire rolls have been hired by that Russian contractor and rented back to the embassy and consulates. The contractor will have shucked off those guards who were "unreliable" (from the Russian DSB's point of view), and those who were senior (i.e. higher-paid). The contractor also probably hired the guards at lower salaries and benefits than they had as direct hires. That's pretty standard in such conversions. Then the contractor makes profit off those reduced costs and the markup. USG pays more, guards get less, DSB-connected contractor gets money for nothing plus DSB gets slightly more influence over the individual guards.

This may be a paradigm for what the current administration has in mind for the whole State Department. Shuck off a lot of career employees and replace them with connected contract firms. It seems to be happening. And it ALWAYS costs more.

What the USG really gets out of such arrangements is the ability to fire people more easily (i.e., when an individual contractor is a "problem", the contract employer can terminate him/her at will -- see the story of the Virginia bike lady who flipped off DiJiT's motorcade last month.)

If you can fire people more easily, you can also intimidate and suborn many (not all) of them more easily. Net-net: higher cost, lower ethical standards in your government service.

As DiJiT said, he thinks Putin did the US a favor by making us reduce staffing -- he thinks he's saving costs. What an idiot.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Sessions and Mike Pence have good reason for all those "I don't recall"s & "I didn't find out till the press reported it"s. Anybody associated with the presidential campaigns who wasn't on a mission to the moon break, as Akhilleus says, was aware of Trump's admiration for Putin (and other dictators) & of his urging Russian hackers to breach the Clinton server. People like Sessions & Pence also certain knew that Mike Flynn was a Strangelovian character without scruples as were many of Trump's other buddies, like Roger Stone & Paul Manafort.

Not mentioned in Marshall Cohen's timeline, which I linked above, were the activities of Peter Smith, who was attempting to get the "lost Clinton e-mails" from Russia, who was in contact with Flynn, & who died somewhat mysteriously shortly after he spoke to the Wall Street Journal of his efforts to incriminate Hillary Clinton & his connections to Flynn.

Sessions & Pence know that Trump & a number of people close to him are implicated in the Russian hacking scandal, & they know that criminal activity played a part. They have every reason to highlight their ignorance & forgetfulness of the parts of the plot in which they too may be implicated.

Sessions & Pence, who are both honorable men in their own minds, know damned well they let their high-and-mighty morals slip in hooking up with a gang of thieves on the theory that the ends justified the means. Now they can't find any way out but to pretend they had no idea of what-all was going on under their turned-up noses.

November 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

ATTENTION: All you poor and lower middle class people who have been able to enjoy the first healthcare you've ever had in your lives thanks to President Obama and the Democrats. The new guy, president* Trumpy and the Republicans are taking it away because the president* and his rich pals need more money. Yes, yes, a lot of you will die or suffer greatly, but don't bother complaining. The Mercers and Kochs and Trumps all need new vacation homes somewhere and will be passing on their ill-gotten gains free of charge to their lazy mooching kids.

But, as you've always known in your hearts, the rich win and the poor lose, no matter how hard Democrats tried to make your lives better. In the Age of Trump, don't even think you have a chance. The game, like the last presidential election, and quite a few elections elsewhere around the country, is not on the level.

But hey, thanks for playing.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

You Can't Get There From Here (unless you're an idiot)

In these days of miracles and wonders, as Paul Simon once put it, leave us not neglect to mention the yeoman work of one Louie Gohmert (Moron) Texas.

Strenuously taxing the energy of one of his two brain cells to the absolute limit of quantum fatuity, Rep. Louie has developed a chart, well, it looks like a chart, to wingersplain the Uranium One "scandal".

Get a gander at this thing. It looks more like an Alex Jones fever dream in which he tries to demonstrate that Obama, as World Head of Al Qaeda, had recruited the Newtown parents in an effort to raise 60's Weathermen from the dead and send them out to meet with the aliens who helped plot 9/11 for Planned Parenthood so they could pilot the black helicopters and take all the Baby Ruth bars on the planet to Zimbabwe as a treat for Robert Mugabe (now under house arrest).

And it almost succeeds!

But, as you might expect, some smartypants rational person on Twitter came up with his own version of the Gohmert chart to explain something much more important but in far less grandiose (and eloquent-y) fashion. This is good.

Anyway, in case you get lost, I was able to uncover the first draft of the by now famous Gohmert Uranium One chart. This is definitely what ol' Louie must have had in mind from the outset.

(*sigh*) Aren't you just a tiny bit nostalgic for the good old days of "I know you are, but what am I?" and "Fuck me? Fuck you!"

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Forrest,

I only hope to be there to see it.

By the way, that poltroon, Joe Wilson, is still alive and spitting lies. As you might expect, in a congress run by assholes and loonies, Wilson has been given a prominent place among the morons and creeps. He's on the House Republican Policy Committee, which meets once a month to suck the helium out of party balloons and read Breitbart stories to one another.

He's also an assistant whip, which was a problem for ol' Joe, because he thought the whip part was real. He must have looked a sight showing up on the first day dressed like Indiana Jones carrying a bull whip. Hey, at least he had a nice hat.

Poor Joey.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Patrick,

Word from Foggy Bottom is that the new embassy "security" personnel are being hired and supervised by Whitefish's Moscow office. They're paying ex-KGB operatives $125/hr. but charging Rex and Donald $783.45 per hour.

Solid gold toilet seats, extra.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Well, kids, I have to say, of all the folderol and lies and treasonous bullshit I've been reading about today, I have to say that in some ways, the worst, most frightening report has to do with the little king's delusional belief in Obama almost landing in the Philippines, but turning around at the last second and going home. This crackpot, easily disproved fairy tale is clearly something this imbecile believes, which makes me wonder what other unhinged stuff is floating around under the orange dome.

His fable about Obama and the Philippines reminds me of scenes from two films, one a comedy, the other a tragedy, which pretty much sums up the Trump Era.

The first is Chico Marx's explanation of how he flew to America ("We get-a this a-close, when whadda you think? We run outta gas and have to go back."). The second is Major Amberson's descent into senility and madness in Welles' "Magnificent Ambersons".

Marie's right. This stuff is no joke.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Ak, Indiana Jones? I heard people saying that he showed up wearing his transvestite dominatrix duds.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Unwashed,

Oh, geez, don't get me going.

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Prez Cut and Paste

"Mr. President! Another mass murder shooting. We have to say something."

"Jesus, hold your horses, asshole, I'm watching Hannity call me the greatest ever. What's this about another mass murder? Didn't I just tweet some bullshit somewhere else about a mass murder?"

"Yes, Mr. President. That was last week, in Texas. This is in California."

"Fuck sake, can't they spread it out a little more? Call Wayne and have him tell his people to give me a breather now and then. Well, okay, look, I sent a blah, blah, god bless, blah, blah, thoughts and prayers to those yokels in Texas. I'll just cut and paste that message and send it to these idiots in California."

"Mr. President! You forgot to change the name of the town!"

"Who cares? LOOK! Hannity just said I'm better than Obama! Yessss!"

Are you tired of winning yet?

November 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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