The Wires

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November 26: Washington Post: "Federal health officials said Monday that only romaine lettuce from certain parts of California is unsafe to eat and that romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled to give consumers information about when and where it was harvested. If consumers, retailers and food service facilities cannot determine whether the romaine was grown outside California, they should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one got sick, according to a lengthy statement from Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. FDA officials said the most likely source of contamination is from the Central Coast growing regions in northern and central California. Romaine lettuce harvested outside those regions 'does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,' the FDA said. Hydroponically grown and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be affected in the outbreak. Romaine from those sources is safe to eat, the FDA said."

... November 20: New York Times: "In a sweeping alert, federal health officials warned people not to eat romaine lettuce anywhere in the country, after 32 people in 11 states fell sick with a virulent form of E. coli, a bacteria blamed for a number of food-borne outbreaks in recent years. The notice, issued Tuesday afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said consumers should not buy or eat any kind of romaine, whether chopped or whole, and restaurants should stop serving it. Anyone who has romaine, the health agency said, should throw it out." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Okay then, guess I'll throw out that romaine. Already ate one head, and I ain't dead yet.

"The Christmas Comet Returneth." New York Times: "Look into the night sky on Sunday [December 16] and you just might see a bright, fuzzy ball with a greenish-gray tint. That’s because a comet that orbits between Jupiter and the sun will make its closest approach to Earth in centuries, right on the heels of this year’s most stunning meteor shower. 'The fuzziness is just because it’s a ball of gas basically,' Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said on Saturday morning.... 'You’ve got a one-kilometer solid nucleus in the middle, and gas is going out hundreds of thousands of miles.' The comet glows green because the gases emit light in green wavelengths. The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the 'Christmas comet,' was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who discovered it in 1948. It orbits the sun once every 5.4 years, passing by Earth approximately every 11 years, but its distance varies and it is rarely this close. As the comet passes by, it will be 30 times farther from Earth than the moon, NASA said.”

By George O'Keefe or somebody.Maybe the Best Gift Would Be a Spell-Check App. Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Way back in November (so Slate has had plenty of time to make corrections), someone named Angela Serratore (hope I spelled that right), wrote a post for Slate, which is featured on its main page now, suggesting gifts from small museum shops. That's a nice thought, but it would have been even nicer if the story had not misspelled Georgia O'Keeffe three times: twice as "Georgia O'Keefe" & once as "George O'Keefe." But never "Georgia O'Keeffe."

Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi leaving the White House Wednesday, Dec. 12, after making mincemeat of Donald Trump.Everybody Loved Nancy's Coat! It's turns out it's from a 2013 Max Mara collection. According to Ana Colón of Glamour, "the Italian fashion house sent out a press release that not only confirmed the origins of Pelosi's coat but also announced that Max Mara would be reinstating the Glamis into its outerwear collection in 2019. 'In a variety of colorways,' no less! A spokesperson for the brand confirmed to Glamour that the decision to bring it back was inspired by Pelosi."

Isabel Wilkerson reports, in the New York Times, on Michelle Obama's book Becoming. It's quite a compelling read.

Reality Chex Bargain. Someone will pay $1 million or more for a letter written by Albert Einstein. You can read it for free. ...

... New York Times: The "God Letter," "written [in German] in 1954 by Albert Einstein ... is being auctioned this week.... He sent the handwritten letter to Eric Gutkind, a German philosopher who had written a book called 'Choose Life: The biblical Call to Revolt' that, apparently, Einstein did not much like.... Einstein wrote dozens of letters in which he mentioned God or Judaism. 'Nobody should read one Einstein letter and think that solves what he thinks about God,' Walter Isaacson, the author of the 2007 biography 'Einstein,' said in an interview.... The letter surfaced in 2008. Until then, it had apparently been in the hands of Gutkind’s heirs (he died in 1965). And it rocketed into the universe of big-money auctions, selling for $404,000 in London.... It will go on the block at Christie’s on Tuesday. Christie’s set a presale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million."

Here's New York magazine's take on A Very Melanie Christmas:

... AND Rhonda Garelick of New York has some thoughts on why Melanie's Red Forest is so empty of holiday cheer.

Chris Hayes reviews this year's White House holiday decor:

So if you'd like to read all about Mika Brzezinski's wedding to Joe Scarborough, Emily Fox of Vanity Fair obliges. It sounds as if it was a very nice ceremony. Except, you know, Mika & Joe.

Kwitcherbitchin. Think things are bad now? They were way worse in 536 C.E. A report in Science explains.

Click on picture to see larger image.

... New York Times: "A celebrated and enigmatic painting of two men and a turquoise pool by David Hockney sold at Christie’s on Thursday night for $90.3 million with fees, shattering the auction record for a living artist and cementing a major broadening of tastes at the turbocharged top end of the market. The price for the 1972 painting, 'Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),' easily surpassed the previous high of $58.4 million, held by Jeff Koons for one of his 'Balloon Dog' sculptures."

Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times reviews Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.

Wednesday
Oct102018

The Commentariat -- October 11, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Jacey Fortin of the New York Times: "For 20 years, the ashes of Matthew Shepard have not been laid to rest. Mr. Shepard's killing in 1998, when he was a 21-year-old college student, led to national outrage and, almost overnight, turned him into a symbol of deadly violence against gay people. Mourners flocked to his funeral that year in Casper, Wyo., but there were also some protesters, carrying derogatory signs. Mr. Shepard's parents worried that if they chose a final resting place for their son, it would be at risk of desecration. Now they have found a safe place. On Oct. 26, Mr. Shepard will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, the neo-Gothic, Episcopalian house of worship that is a fixture of American politics and religion."

Murder Okay Because Jobs, Defense Contractor Profits. Jonathan Chait: "Asked about the apparent murder [by Saudis of journalist Jamal Khashoggi] last night on Fox News, President Trump expressed the requisite disapproval he musters for events that do not anger him in any visceral way but which he is expected to condemn ('It would not be a positive. I would not be happy at all.') But when asked if the United States should retaliate by withholding future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Trump immediately pumped the brakes. 'Well, I think that would be hurting us,' he said. 'We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before. Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems, and everybody's wanting 'em, and frankly I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.'... So Trump's case against punishing Saudi Arabia for murdering a journalist is that we can't afford to reduce the profits our defense companies make from selling them weapons. And of course this is perfectly consistent with Trump's conviction that American foreign policy should be run almost literally like a mafia family...." ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump said serving in the White House has cost him billions. He called the rhetoric of former attorney general Eric Holder 'dangerous.' He said he could work with Democrats on rebuilding the country's infrastructure if they take control of the House. And he asserted that Hillary Clinton should have been taken off the campaign trail and jailed. All that -- and much more -- came in a freewheeling 45-minute phone interview with the hosts of 'Fox & Friends' on Thursday morning. In a session reminiscent in style of his early days as a presidential candidate, Trump also said he considers it possible that the New York Times actually made up an op-ed that it said was authored by an anonymous senior member of his administration." Mrs. McC: Farther down the page, Wagner explains the Holder reference, which predictably has made Right Wing World crazy but is no big deal. Bullies really can't handle it when their victims fight back.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "... appallingly but predictably, Trump published a falsehood-riddled article in USA Today about 'Medicare-for-all.' Glenn Kessler of The Post deconstructed Trump's op-ed, writing that 'almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.' The president, he wrote, 'chose to ignore the facts in service of a campaign-style op-ed.' And USA Today let him get away with it.... After Trump's piece created a backlash, the paper's editorial page editor, Bill Sternberg, offered an unsatisfactory and puzzling explanation. 'We see ourselves as America's conversation center, presenting our readers with voices from the right, left and middle,' Sternberg said in a statement.... The statement is nonsensical, because adherence to facts has no right, left or middle." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Incredibly, even though Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements as president, major news organizations' social media feeds continue to inject his unadulterated lies into the political bloodstream without clearly informing readers that they are just that -- lies.... By broadcasting forth Trump's lies in tweets and headlines -- while declining to inform readers that they are just that, and while burying the truth deep within accompanying articles -- the organizations that Trump regularly derides as 'fake news' are themselves spreading a species of fake news.... 'When people see stuff on social media, what they often see is only the headlines,' [Craig] Silverman[, the media editor of BuzzFeed News,] said. 'If you are restating claims that are false or misleading in headlines, you are spreading misinformation.'... [The media's failure to call out Trump's lies] misleads readers and viewers not just in each particular case. Importantly, it also misleads them more broadly about the truly sinister and deliberate nature of Trump's ongoing campaign to obliterate the possibility of shared agreement on facts and on the news media's legitimate institutional role in keeping voters informed."

Lucien Bruggeman of ABC News: "... Melania Trump told ABC News ... she believes she is one of the most bullied people in the world." Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead. Also, do see his comment in today's thread to put Melanie's plaint in the context it deserves. Mrs. McC: So Melanie's anti-bullying campaign is really about ... her? Hard to believe, I know.

The White People's Tax Law. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "The tax cuts that President Trump signed into law last year are disproportionately helping white Americans over African-Americans and Latinos, a disparity that reflects longstanding racial economic inequality in the United States and the choices that Republicans made in crafting the law. The finding comes from a new analysis of the $1.5 trillion tax cut using an economic model built by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a liberal think tank, and released in a joint report with Prosperity Now, a nonprofit focused on helping low-income Americans attain wealth and financial stability. It is the first detailed analysis of the law to break down its effects by race." Mrs. McC: Man, now I'm so glad I'm white -- except, um, I happen to be one of the blue-state, white-loser people: my taxes are rising this year even tho my income is not. This makes me suspect that the GOP tax cut was intended to benefit red-state white people more than blue-state white people & minorities. Perfect, huh?

*****

Late-ish this morning, I linked a story (below) by Adam Liptak on Supreme Court oral arguments. I recommend your reading it. -- Mrs. McCrabbie

Nahal Toosi of Politico: "... Donald Trump’s desire to maintain strong ties to Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest test yet: allegations that Riyadh ordered the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist who had been living in the United States. Calls are mounting for the Trump administration to find out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.... The fury has grown after a Washington Post report [linked below] that U.S. intelligence knew of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, raising questions about whether the administration failed to warn the journalist.... Former officials and analysts ... are dismayed by what they say is a milquetoast response so far by the Trump team. On Tuesday evening, a group of foreign policy figures attended a dinner with a senior White House official with responsibility for the Middle East. The official kept stressing that the U.S. had significant long-term interests in Saudi Arabia.... When asked about Khashoggi, the official said the U.S. is still trying to get information about what happened, a statement many in the audience found absurd given that Khashoggi disappeared a week earlier and detailed reports had emerged in the media. The official said nothing about the administration being prepared to hold the Saudis accountable for what happened." ...

... Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "At the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Riyadh agents allegedly kidnapped, killed and dismembered a dissident journalist.... In China, the head of Interpol was abducted and imprisoned by authorities in Beijing while his wife was reportedly threatened with death back home in France. And in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities last week expelled four Russians who were caught with espionage equipment.... These and other brazen operations in recent months illustrate the hands-off posture taken by President Trump toward many authoritarian leaders -- particularly those he views as allies or potential allies who have treated him kindly.... The president has appeared hesitant -- and at times even reluctant -- to forcefully challenge the leaders of such countries accused of abuses. He has praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin as partners, dropped his previous criticism of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's human rights violations and has spoken approvingly of the harsh law enforcement tactics employed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. ...

... Grace Segers of CBS News: "A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, triggering an investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post who has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. The Turkish government has claimed that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, on the orders of the Saudi government. The letter, written by Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Patrick Leahy, called for Mr. Trump to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the president to impose sanctions on a person or country that has engaged in a human rights violation. [By law, t]he investigation is triggered by a letter to the president from the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker and Menendez, respectively." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Note that Trump now is required under the Magnitsky Act to order this investigation; let's see if he orders the same sort of "limited-in-scope" "investigation" the White House ordered on Bart O'Kavanaugh. ...

... A Reckoning for the "Hidden Genius." Mark Landler, et al., of the New York Times: "For President Trump, who has made Saudi Arabia the fulcrum of his Middle East policy, the possible murder of a Saudi journalist in Turkey is a looming diplomatic crisis. For Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, it is a personal reckoning. More than anyone in the Trump administration, Mr. Kushner has cultivated Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman -- whose family may have played a role in the disappearance of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi -- elevating the prince into a key ally in the Arab world and the White House's primary interlocutor to the kingdom. Mr. Kushner championed Prince Mohammed, 33, when the prince was jockeying to be his father's heir; had dinner with him in Washington and Riyadh, the Saudi capital; promoted a $110 billion weapons sale to his military; and once even hoped that the future king would put a Saudi stamp of approval on his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. While the fate of Mr. Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia and a columnist for The Washington Post, remains unclear, allegations that he was killed on the orders of the royal court have thrown Mr. Kushner's grand bet on Prince Mohammed into doubt." ...

... Amy Harder of Axios: "Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary for President Barack Obama, is suspending his involvement advising Saudi Arabia on a proposed city mega-project until more information is made available regarding the disappearance -- and possible assassination -- of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.... Moniz said he was invited to join an international advisory board for the development of NEOM, whose cost is estimated to be around $500 billion.... 'In particular, I have been asked to offer guidance on achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Success with this vision will have global implications for a low-carbon future,' Moniz said.... In awkward timing, the board was announced Tuesday...." ...

... Assassinating Dissidents Is Bad for Business. Dan Primack of Axios: "If the Turks are right ... it could have repercussions for some of the world's largest prospective financial deals. Aramco's IPO: The largest IPO in history was supposed to take place in 2018, but Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Bloomberg that the delay should not be misinterpreted as a cancellation.... SoftBank Vision Fund: MBS said in that same interview that the Saudi Public Investment Fund plans to commit another $45 billion or so to SoftBank's next Vision Fund. Both of these deals are, in part, predicated on beliefs in MBS as a reformer." ...

... More on Khashoggi's disappearance & probable assassination linked under Way Beyond.

Lauren Egan & Jonathan Allen of NBC News: "... Donald Trump directly accused Hillary Clinton of engaging in a conspiracy with Russia to affect the 2016 election during a campaign rally [in Erie, Pennsylvania,] Wednesday night. 'There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia,' Trump said, just after his supporters had chanted 'lock her up' about Clinton. 'There was a lot of collusion with them and Russia and lots of other people.'... He offered no evidence of his claim." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "When President Trump mocked a Democratic senator at a midterm election rally the other night, the crowd responded with one of his supporters' favorite chants from his own campaign two years ago. 'Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!'... Mr. Trump smiled and soaked it in. Then he assailed the Democrats for becoming 'an angry left-wing mob.'... A master of divide-and-conquer campaigning... Mr. Trump hopes to convince the public that his opponents are the ones who are 'totally unhinged.'... In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump denied that he bore any responsibility for the current incivility.... His messages at his latest rallies include inherent contradictions. Upset at the allegations made against Justice Kavanaugh, he lately has extolled due process, even as he bathes in 'lock her up' chanting about opponents who have never been charged with a crime. He has talked about the presumption of innocence but says he is '99 percent' sure Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, leaked a letter accusing Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault, basing his conclusion not on evidence but on her 'body language' in denying it." Mrs. McC: Baker uses terms like "contradictions" & "projection"; true enough, but the underlying fact is that Trump is an irredeemable sociopath. ...

... Olivia Nuzzi of New York gets an impromptu private meeting with Trump, Kelly, Pompeo, pence, Sanders & pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers. Trump, of course, did almost all the talking, while his lackeys piped up just to back his boasts. BTW, Trump thinks Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee is "a judge at the Senate committee." Nuzzi's report is a study in what a pathetic, preening buffoon Trump is. The report is proof that a reporter need not waste energy on analysis when writing only what happened is critique enough.

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "President Trump wrote an opinion article for USA Today on Oct. 10 regarding proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans -- known as Medicare-for-All — in which almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Zoe Tillman
of BuzzFeed News: "A California man who pleaded guilty to selling fraudulent bank account numbers -- information that special counsel Robert Mueller's office says was used to finance Russian election interference efforts -- was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison followed by six months of home detention. Richard Pinedo, 28, wasn't accused of knowingly helping Russian companies and individuals accused of orchestrating campaigns to influence the 2016 presidential election. But his fraud scheme nevertheless landed him in the middle of the special counsel's investigation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "A deceased Republican activist who tried to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton's private server also met with former national security adviser Michael Flynn in 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. In emails previously described by the newspaper, the operative, Peter W. Smith, claimed that he was using his ties to Flynn's son and consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group, to try to secure access to the missing emails. The new Journal article provides the first concrete indication of just how far back Smith's relationship with Flynn went."

Natasha Bertrand of the Atlantic: "In a motion to dismiss a new lawsuit accusing ... Donald Trump's campaign team of illegally conspiring with Russian agents to disseminate stolen emails during the election, Trump campaign lawyers have tried out a new defense: free speech. The lawsuit, filed last month by two donors and one former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails, thereby violating their privacy. But the Trump campaign -- represented by [attorneys] of the law firm Jones Day -- responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can't be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks's publication of the DNC emails. Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign's 'right to disclose information -- even stolen information -- so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.' The motion's language seems to further an argument made by Trump and his allies...: namely, that collusion, even if it involved the coordinated release and exploitation of a candidate's emails during the presidential election, is not a crime." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Matt Zapotosky & Josh Dawsey
of the Washington Post: "President Trump talked recently with Jeff Sessions's own chief of staff [Matthew Whitaker] about replacing Sessions as attorney general, according to people briefed on the conversation, signaling that the president remains keenly interested in ousting his top law enforcement official.... On a long list of indignities that Sessions has endured from his boss, Trump's discussing replacing him with his own top aide stands out.... In the Trump administration, top officials at the Justice Department have learned to work as if every day could be their last. That has never been more true than in recent weeks." Read on to learn what-all Trump likes about Whitaker. ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "Shortly after Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to investigate possible coordination between President Trump's campaign and the Kremlin, he was drawn into a tense standoff in which Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe each urged the other to step aside from the case, according to people familiar with the matter. At the time of the confrontation in mid-May 2017, tensions were running high at the FBI and Justice Department, and between Rosenstein and McCabe.... The previously unreported episode involving Mueller, Rosenstein and McCabe ... underscores the deep suspicion between senior law enforcement officials who were about to embark on a historic, criminal investigation of the president. That mistrust has continued to this day, with defenders of each offering conflicting accounts of exactly what was said and meant in the days surrounding Mueller's appointment." The story details more petty spats between Rosenstein & McCabe. Mrs. McC: I continue to suspect that McCabe was fired for political reasons. ...

... Nicholas Fandos & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "The F.B.I.'s former top lawyer told congressional officials in private testimony last week that he had taken seriously a suggestion by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to secretly tape conversations with President Trump but viewed it as too risky and unlikely to deliver meaningful information. F.B.I. officials dismissed the idea within days, according to James A. Baker, then the bureau's general counsel, but his testimony shows that F.B.I. leaders played out its potential ramifications before rejecting it. Mr. Baker's account contradicts Mr. Rosenstein's denial of a New York Times article last month that said he suggested recording the president and discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office. It also undermines an assertion provided by the Justice Department from a law enforcement official ... [who] said [Rosenstein] was being sarcastic." However, Baker was not at the meeting where Rosenstein supposedly proposed recording Trump. Baker testified that he learned of Rosenstein's remarks from either Andrew McCabe or former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So this is still a he-said/he-or-she-said standoff. While this Times story provides some cover for the earlier linked Times story that received a good deal of criticism (including from me, as I recall), it doesn't do much more than name another player. It's not too comforting to know that the guys involved in these squabbles are (or were) the top people protecting the country from, well, worse people.


What $25MM in Campaign Donations Will Get You. Justin Elliott
of ProPublica: The morning after he dined at the White House with Trump, Kushner & Rex Tillerson, Sheldon Adelson "attended a breakfast in Washington with [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe and a small group of American CEOs, including two others from the casino industry." Japan has recently legalized casinos, & Adelson wanted a big piece of the action. "Adelson and the other executives raised the casino issue with Abe, according to an attendee.... During a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that weekend, Trump raised Adelson's casino bid to Abe, according to two people briefed on the meeting.... Trump told Abe he should strongly consider Las Vegas Sands for a license.... The president raising a top donor's personal business interests directly with a foreign head of state would violate longstanding norms.... [Adelson's] reputation as an Israel advocate has obscured a through-line in his career: He has used his political access to push his financial self-interest.... Not only has Trump touted Sands' interests in Japan, but his administration also installed an executive from the casino industry in a top position in the U.S. embassy in Tokyo. Adelson's influence reverberates through this administration.... Adelson has spent the Trump era hustling to expand his gambling empire. With Trump occupying the White House, Adelson has found the greatest political ally he's ever had." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Matt Zapotosky & Josh Dawsey
of the Washington Post: "President Trump talked recently with Jeff Sessions's own chief of staff [Matthew Whitaker] about replacing Sessions as attorney general, according to people briefed on the conversation, signaling that the president remains keenly interested in ousting his top law enforcement official.... On a long list of indignities that Sessions has endured from his boss, Trump's discussing replacing him with his own top aide stands out.... In the Trump administration, top officials at the Justice Department have learned to work as if every day could be their last. That has never been more true than in recent weeks.

Mrs. McCrabbie: I would be a pretty horrible person if I picked on 8-year-olds. But, but what if the 8-year-old grew up to be a guy who saw fit to imprison 8-year-olds and separate them from their parents? So... Nikki Fiske, third-grade teacher, as told to Benjamin Svetkey of the Hollywood Reporter: "Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk -- he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue -- we didn't have glue sticks in those days -- and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.... He had such strange personal habits. He was a loner and isolated and off by himself all the time." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


** Revenge of the Kavanaugh. Adam Liptak
of the New York Times: "A Supreme Court argument on Wednesday over the detention of immigrants during deportation proceedings seemed to expose a divide between President Trump's two appointees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. The question in the case was whether the federal authorities must detain immigrants who had committed crimes, often minor ones, no matter how long ago they were released from criminal custody. Justice Kavanaugh said a 1996 federal law required detention even years later, without an opportunity for a bail hearing. 'What was really going through Congress's mind in 1996 was harshness on this topic,' he said. But Justice Gorsuch suggested that mandatory detentions of immigrants long after they completed their sentences could be problematic. 'Is there any limit on the government's power?' he asked. Justice Stephen G. Breyer pressed the point, asking a lawyer for the federal government whether it could detain 'a person 50 years later, who is on his death bed, after stealing some bus transfers' without a bail hearing 'even though in this country a triple ax murderer is given a bail hearing.... Justice Kavanaugh [said] the 1996 law put no time limits on the detentions it required." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So Neil Gorsuch, who argued a worker was obligated to literally freeze to death in his truck if his boss told him to do so, is more sensible & compassionate than Bart O'Kavanaugh. And isn't it rich that a guy whose defenders said it was ridiculous to punish a man for his "youthful indiscretions" (i.e., attempted rape) now says that a person who stole bus transfers 50 years ago should be detained without bail? Oh no, never mind. We're talking about riffraff immigrants, not Elis.

Devlin Barrett & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "FBI Director Christopher A. Wray defended his agents' handling of a background investigation into then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, saying that it was 'limited in scope' and followed standard procedures. Wray was pressed at a Senate hearing by Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) about how much direction FBI agents received from the White House when they conducted a supplemental background investigation into claims by a California professor that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her.... Harris then asked if the FBI examined whether Kavanaugh may have misled Congress in his public testimony. 'That's not something I could discuss here,' Wray said.... He could not answer whether White House counsel Donald McGahn played a role in discussions between the White House and the FBI about the investigation, saying only that he was told the FBI's Security Division coordinated the effort with the White House Office of Security." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

** Frank Rich: "The Republican war against women began well before Donald Trump ran for president -- at least as far back as 1992, when, in the aftermath of the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas debacle, the likes of Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, and Phyllis Schlafly jawboned the GOP into adopting a misogynistic religious-right policy agenda at the Republican National Convention in Houston. The perhaps inevitable byproduct, a quarter-century later, was Trump, who as a candidate was fully embraced by his party.... No one should be surprised that, once elected, Trump would nominate a likely sex offender to the Supreme Court, where Kavanaugh will help fulfill the long-held GOP dream of rolling back Roe v. Wade, among other egregious ideological goals that will chip away at the rights of all Americans except white men.... Let's face it: even if someone had unearthed a crystal-clear photo or video of Kavanaugh exposing himself to Ramirez, the Senators of the 'grab 'em by the pussy' party..., that narcissistic moral fraud Susan ... Collins included, would still have voted to confirm him."

** Ann Marimow & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court. The allegations center on whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during his Senate testimony, according to people familiar with the matter. Last month, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked Roberts to refer the complaints to another appeals court for review after determining that they should not be handled by judges who served with Kavanaugh on the D.C. appellate court.... It is unclear what will come of the review by the 10th Circuit. The judiciary's rules on misconduct do not apply to Supreme Court justices, and the 10th Circuit could decide to dismiss the complaints as moot now that Kavanaugh has joined the high court.... The Denver-based appeals court is led by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, the former solicitor general of Colorado who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I am surprised. I expected Roberts to toss the complaints in the shredder. But it does seem likely that Tymkovich -- an arch-conservative -- will just dismiss the complaints now that Bart has his new job, where he is a prince to whom the rules do not apply. (On the other hand, Tymkovich was also on Trump's Federalist Society-generated short list for the high court, so if he's as petty as most of our "leaders" seem to be, maybe he'll lean on the unqualified guy who beat him out.) If Kavanaugh skates, it will be on a sadly ironic note: one of the objections to Kavanaugh was his elitist sense of entitlement -- "I went to Yale, for Pete's sake! How dare you people question me." -- & now he really is entitled to do pretty much whatever he likes. ...

... Lee Moran of the Huffington Post: "Don't expect to find any flattering biographical information about newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on his namesake website domain. Instead, visitors to BrettKavanaugh.com are invited to click on links to resources for survivors of sexual assault. Kavanaugh ... failed to secure his name's URL and it was scooped up by Fix The Court, a judicial reform organization. The site also links to the websites of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the End Rape on Campus organization and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Katie Benner of the New York Times: "A Chinese intelligence official was arrested in Belgium and brought to the United States to face espionage charges, Justice Department officials said on Wednesday, in a dramatic escalation of the Trump administration's effort to crack down on Chinese spying. The extradition on Tuesday of the officer, Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director in a regional office of China's Ministry of State Security, was the first time that a Chinese intelligence official was brought to the United States to be prosecuted. He tried to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation, according to law enforcement officials."

John Wagner & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) remains unbeatable in her home state despite her opposition to Brett M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination -- a view at odds with President Trump." Mrs. McC: The Sly Turtle is just trying to discourage Murkowski from changing parties.

Mattathias Schwartz in New York: "In October 2016, senior staff in the Obama White House discussed what they should do if Hillary Clinton won the November election and Donald Trump refused to accept the result as legitimate. They had cause to be worried.... 'It wasn't a hypothetical,' Ben Rhodes, Obama's senior aide and speechwriter, told Intelligencer. 'Trump was already saying it on the campaign trail.' The Obama White House plan, according to interviews with Rhodes and Jen Psaki, Obama's communications director, called for congressional Republicans, former presidents, and former Cabinet-level officials including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, to try and forestall a political crisis by validating the election result. In the event that Trump tried to dispute a Clinton victory, they would affirm the result as well as the conclusions reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russian interference in the election sought to favor Trump, and not Clinton." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The plan was ridiculous. When a toddler wails because he can't have something he wants, reasoning with him will have no effect.

Matt Phillips of the New York Times: "Stocks suffered their steepest drop in eight months on Wednesday, as investors continued to digest rising interest rates and previously high-flying tech shares tumbled amid growing tensions with China. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index dropped 3.3 percent, bringing the broad equity benchmark down 4.4 percent for the month. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a key measure of borrowing costs, inched up to more than 3.24 percent during the trading day before declining. Wednesday's tumble marked the fifth-consecutive daily decline for the S. & P. 500, the longest string of down days since November 2016, according to research from Bespoke Investment Group. And the day's drop was the sharpest since a market sell-off in February. Then, like now, concerns about nascent inflation, rising interest rates and the potential for the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy drove the selling."

Reed Abelson of the New York Times: "The Justice Department's approval of the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna on Wednesday caps a wave of consolidation among giant health care players that could leave American consumers with less control over their medical care and prescription drugs. The approval marks the close of an era, during which powerful pharmacy benefit managers brokered drug prices among pharmaceutical companies, insurers and employers. But a combined CVS-Aetna may be even more formidable. As the last major free-standing pharmacy manager, CVS Health had revenues of about $185 billion last year, and provided prescription plans to roughly 94 million customers. Aetna, one of the nation's largest insurers with about $60 billion in revenue last year, covers 22 million people in its health plans."

Duh. Henry Fountain of the New York Times: "Scientists are increasingly confident of the links between global warming and hurricanes. In a warming world, they say, hurricanes will be stronger, for a simple reason: Warmer water provides more energy that feeds them. Hurricanes and other extreme storms will also be wetter, for a simple reason: Warmer air holds more moisture. And, storm surges from hurricanes will be worse, for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the storms themselves: Sea levels are rising. Researchers cannot say, however, that global warming is to blame for the specifics of the latest storm, Hurricane Michael, which grew to Category 4 with sustained winds of 155 miles an hour, as it hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. Such attribution may come later, when scientists compare the real-world storm to a fantasy-world computer simulation in which humans did not pump billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "'One of the most preposterous hoaxes in the history of the planet,' scoffed Rush Limbaugh of Palm Beach. Gov. Rick Scott's administration went so far as to bar some agencies from even using the term 'climate change,' according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (Scott denied this). Myopic Floridians have plenty of company. President Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax 'created by and for the Chinese.' Senator James Inhofe, a Republican of Oklahoma, 'disproved' climate change by taking a snowball onto the Senate floor and noting that it was chilly outside; using similarly rigorous scientific methods, he wrote a book about climate change called 'The Greatest Hoax.'... Al Gore helped make climate change a Democratic issue, and the Koch brothers helped make climate denial a litmus test of Republican authenticity. Tribalism took over, and climate skepticism became part of the Republican creed. So polls show that today climate denial is far greater in the United States, home to the greatest scientific research in the world, than in just about any other major country."

Beyond the Beltway

Jesse McKinley & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "The operator of a limousine company at the center of an investigation of the crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people was arrested Wednesday and charged with criminally negligent homicide, according to the State Police. Nauman Hussain, the son of a Shahed Hussain, the owner of Prestige Limousine, was taken into custody by the State Police during a traffic stop on a highway in the Albany area." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

David Kirkpatrick & Malachy Brown of the New York Times: "A Turkish newspaper close to the government has published a list of 15 men it says formed a hit squad of Saudi government agents the Turks suspect of killing and dismembering a prominent critic inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. While Turkey has not leveled the charges publicly, two Turkish officials speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the government considers the men to be Saudi operatives who flew last week to Istanbul in pursuit of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident. Mr. Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the consulate on Oct. 2. One of the men on the list published by the newspaper, Sabah, is an autopsy expert at Saudi Arabia's internal security agency, according to the two Turkish officials. Another appears to be a lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force. The officials, citing confidential intelligence, said all worked for the Saudi government." ...

... Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan. The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi's disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.... The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Search-and-rescue teams rushed on Thursday to reach communities that Hurricane Michael leveled, hoping to find survivors of the powerful storm after its rampage through the Florida Panhandle and beyond left buildings collapsed and splintered, hospitals damaged, roads and water systems compromised and more than a million homes and businesses without electricity. Although it was clear by afternoon that the storm had caused widespread damage, some areas remained largely cut off, and the authorities were trying to deploy rescuers by helicopter and boat.... At least six people have died, and with the death toll expected to rise, the Panhandle and counties to the north were a vast, staggered disaster zone."

New York Times: "More than 40 miles above Earth and hurtling toward space faster than a rifle bullet, a [Russian] rocket carrying an American astronaut, a Russian cosmonaut and hundreds of tons of explosive fuel failed less than two minutes after liftoff on Thursday, forcing the crew to make a harrowing but safe emergency landing. The capsule parachuted to Earth about 12 to 15 miles outside Zhezqazghan, a small city in central Kazakhstan, and neither of the crew members was injured, both the Russian and American space agencies said."

New York Times: "Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the continental United States, slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, unleashing a trail of destruction across 200 miles that splintered houses, peeled off roofs and stirred up a terrifying surge of seawater that submerged entire neighborhoods and sent boats careening down city streets. A storm that was initially forecast to arrive as a tropical storm instead amped up to furious intensity, hitting landfall just after midday near the small seaside community of Mexico Beach, 100 miles southwest of Tallahassee, with winds topping 155 miles per hour. Images from there showed swaths of shattered debris where houses once stood and structures inundated up to their rooftops...."

Reader Comments (24)

Just completed an interview with the director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition.

Used this "Public Citizen" report as a skeleton for our discussion, (which BTW did not follow PC's take in all respects), but thought that what PC had to say might be of interest to RC'ers who have time on their hands, wish a distraction from the latest dumb thing that emerged from the Pretender's piehole, or want to know more about the new NAFTA.

My opinion: Not a lot of improvement for American workers and consumers, but a smart political document in that it did nothing for the environment, food safety or prescription costs (they will go up, not down is my guess, even in Canada) but tossed enough breadcrumbs to workers to promote some cracks in the coalition, here and nationally.

https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/nafta-text-analysis.pdf

October 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Just read the Nuzzi interview. Still shaking my head.

Don't know why exactly but it reminded me of a long-winded scene- stealer who slipped into an act of "Waiting for Godot"and wouldn't leave.

October 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Something to keep an eye on now that kavanaugh is on the Supreme
Court. Knowing next to nothing about law, I'm not sure I
understand the connection between these two cases, but I'll bet
the president* will be able to figure an angle when it comes to
the double jeopardy part, meaning if he pardons one of his
bootlickers for federal crimes, they then cannot be tried for that
crime by a state.
https://www.quora.com/How-does-Gamble-vs-US-no-17-646-
relate-to-over-turning-Roe-v-Wade

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

"There was a lot of collusion with them and Russia and lots of other people.'...

Remember to listen to his bestest bigly words. Donny Diapers is projecting again.

Mueller I hope your paying attention.
LOTS of collusion with Russia and LOTS of other people (ie Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE...)

Maybe the aides need to limit his time in front of microphones with his dementia setting in.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentersafari

WoPo: Trump likes Dina Powell for U.N. post, but she could face some resistance within the White House.

She seems attractive enough!

Then you watch people cheer when the potus lies to them,you are seeing classic tribalism. I wonder if low IQ relates. New American tribe: trumpylie!!!!

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

@Ken: I, too, just finished reading the Nuzzi interview. She captured his sinuous, spiraling syntax by actually taping him which when reading it rather than listening to him is like the Wonderland Jabberwocky that Alice had to deal with. And such a pity that he has to constantly try and convince himself and others of his GREATNESS and one wonders if, in the dead of night, he realizes what a scum bag, what a fake he really is. My guess is no–-because as Frank Rich described Susan Collins as "that narcissistic moral fraud" we could slip that same scarf tightly around the neck of Mr. Wonderful.

As for Olivia herself––me wonders whether he granted her such an exclusive because she is a most attractive woman––maybe he thought he could bullshit her and charm her at the same time? Pretty women––easy prey? Just a thought.

I'll read your P.C. report later, Ken. Thanks for posting it.

The Saudi situation is most distressing and most interesting. How is Jared––Niki calls him a genius–-going to deal with his best Bud, the infamous MBS and how is his father-in-law going to handle this. Could we finally get limits or actually no more weapons' selling to Saudi's so they can kill more Yemen citizens that they claim they aren't targeting but they are–-with our weapons!

"The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream sour, to misanthrophy and rage."
From Franzen's "Freedom"

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD Pepe: I agree with you about the reason Nuzzi got that "exclusive" -- and really extraordinary -- interview. Nuzzi is beautiful AND blonde. I'm sure there's a reason Sarah Sanders looked & sounded so "serious" and sat in on the meeting.

October 11, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@safari wrote: "LOTS of collusion with Russia and LOTS of other people (ie Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE...)"

Yeah, that's definitely a clue Mueller's team needs to follow.

October 11, 2018 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Marie: thanks for the heads up on Liptak's piece: WOW! that is so intriguing. We may just find this new S.C. with less brotherly love than we thought.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@Marvin Schwalb
As it happens, David Pakman discussed this very topic on his show this week. Seems there's a new report out that appears to show a relationship between low performance on a test of cognitive ability and support for Trump. Here's one of several links you can find on Google:

https://psmag.com/news/trumps-appeal-to-the-cognitively-challenged

I have to admit I felt the warm glow of confirmation bias as I read it, and I'm just fine with that: there's far too little in the news these days that can bring anything but disgust or despair (or both) to anyone who thinks, or who cares about other people, other species and Mother Earth. It's hard to be hopeful.

On a brighter note, I've just finished filling in my ballot (as a senior, I vote absentee) with relish, due to the strength of the progressive Democratic ticket in our state. Not only is it progressive from the top down, but it's virtually all progressive WOMEN. There's also a delicious note of, oh, I don't know...irony perhaps(?) in that, on the non-partisan portion of the ballot, for the two open seats on the Michigan Supreme Court, which is currently Republican/radical right, we have two excellent progressive candidates, one whose name is vaguely Hobbitish (Bagenstos) and one who is both progressive and a woman...named Megan...wait for it...*Cavanagh*. So I got to vote for the good one!

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRose in MI

The MOST Bullied Person. IN THE WORLD!

Guess who?

Melanie Trump.

Ah, you knew it all along, didn't you?

According to poor Melanie, no one on the entire planet is more bullied than she is. Not immigrants and their families languishing in her husband's jails, or mothers who have had their babies ripped out of their arms by his agents, not the Rohingya, not people in Syria being gassed by one side and bombed by the other, not Yemenis where 130 children and babies die every day, most from starvation, because they're caught between warring militias, neither of whom can win.

Nope. They're all pretenders to the throne of Most Bullied.

It's Melanie.

Isn't this a bit like a wealthy socialite complaining to the caterers that the caviar is not chilled to the right temperature while 100 floors below, homeless people are scrounging in her dumpster for scraps of moldy bread?

(And not for nothin', but if she's whining about people saying mean things about her, it might help if she didn't leave the house every day with a "Kick Me, I'm Stupid" sign taped to her ass.)

This amazing revelation about the mountains of bullying poor Melanie suffers comes during an interview she gave to ABC News while she was visiting shithole countries where, I suppose, the natives have it just dandy. Everything they want. No one bullying them. Not like poor, poor Melanie.

And...hold on a sec--I need a hanky--sniff, sniff....She's SO concerned for Barron because mean people can go to places like Twitter and say horrible, insulting things. And they can even (sotto voce) *lie*! OH! The humanity!

Does she ever even bother to listen to herself?

Apparently she's been living in a Skinner Box. More like a Trumper Box, where nothing intrudes but bullshit. The real world isn't even a dream for these people. It doesn't exist.

In that same interview comes more proof of the depths of stupidity to which these people descend. Talking about that poor Bart O'Kavanaugh, Melanie scolded those evil bitches for telling tales without producing a shred of evidence. She instructed all women who have been raped or sexually assaulted that if they're going to open their mouths about it and try to ruin a good man they "need to have really hard evidence"
.

But that's the point, isn't it? A point she either can't or won't get. A point that people like her husband and Bart and other sexual predators (or just plain assholes) rely on to escape the consequences of their criminal actions.

Often there is very little evidence to go on, which is why things like investigations are required. Stories need to be examined carefully and assessments made, which is why none of the R traitors in the Senate wanted Bart to come within shooting distance of an FBI interrogation. And what, pray tell, does Melanie mean by "hard evidence"? Fingerprints? DNA? Video? A battery of first hand witnesses? A note signed by god? What?

Even better, Melanie's "hard evidence" interview is airing even as her dolt of a pussy-grabbing husband is screaming out all sorts of crazy bullshit claims, all without the tiniest molecule of evidence.

These people need to get the fuck out of the White House and slink back to the upside down planet they came from.

Then poor Melanie will only be bullied by her husband. But hey, she can wear her "I Don't Care" jacket any time she wants.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Rose in MI,
Thanks for the reference. Says it all. My wish is that Trump take the test. I did. Since there are 4 possible answers, he will score 25%.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

The Liptak piece makes clear what most of us have believed all along. Bart O'Kavanaugh is no great legal mind. He is no Solomon, no great thinker or juridical philosopher. He's a hack. A right-wing knee jerk reactionary for whom justice is a thing reserved for rich, white men who vote Republican. Everyone else can go fuck themselves.

Expect more of the same.

And I'm not sending up any skyrockets about Gorsuch's apparent interest in true justice. What he's doing is laying the groundwork for future Democratically controlled governments ("Is there any limit on the government's power?"), meaning that he is, at the very least, thinking of something more than what is most expedient when dealing with dirty immigrants. If it were up to Kavanaugh, apparently, it'd be life in prison, throw away the key for jaywalking while brown, even if it happened fifty years ago.

His hackiness will bubble up on a regular basis for years, like a sunken ship that leaks oil continuing to slime the surface of the water for decades.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Just had time to read through that Nuzzi piece.

Jeeee-zus. What cycle am I in? as my mother used to wonder when confronted with baffling bullshit.

Ken said it was like "Waiting for Godot", more like waiting for Godot to shut up. It sounded like listening to someone who had just opened a pound of pure cocaine and immediately snorted enough for an instant rhinoplasty. On and on and on and on, repeating the same things over and over. (Remember all that sniffing Trump used to do during the campaign and the debates? Maybe he really does enjoy blasts of the South American marching powder.)

A few other observations. One, Trump clearly never learned proper etiquette ( I know, shocker, right?). When introducing people, you don't just say, "Hey, this is Olivia". I'm not gonna get all Emily Post here, but it almost seems like he had no idea what her last name was. "Sarah, go get me that Olivia chick, the cute blonde from New York Magazine." "Hey, John, c'mere, this is Olivia."

The other day I mentioned the embarrassing transparency of the lie that Trump was floating about how he knew all about Nikki Haley's plan to bolt six months ago. Here he mentions that, but he says, "I knew it six months, a year, well, six months ago." Maybe he thought a year sounded better but he retreated to the phony six months time frame. A small thing, but just one of the myriad lies he tells all the time. This guy lies with every breath.

And this bullshit about all these people just casually strolling by, stopping in to talk to Nuzzi (gang up on her?). What a load of crap. I don't work with people who have to deal with matters of national and international concern, but we keep pretty busy. Never in my professional career anywhere have I seen a raft of top echelon people all show up in the boss's office to shoot the shit in the middle of the day, unplanned. It doesn't happen. People are too busy. A couple of people running into each other in a hallway is one thing, but this? Please.

Truly, the guy sounds demented. He brags about all his accomplishments, greatest ever. She asks, quite rightly, how he's measuring this. He seems stunned by the question. What? What do you mean how? It's all right there. Right there on the paper. She meant, of course, what is he measuring his accomplishments against to be able declare himself the greatest ever. It's like talking to an imbecile. An imbecile with nuclear weapons and the power to start wars.

And this whole kabuki extravaganza was designed to convince a reporter that John Kelly isn't being fired? They don't have anything better to do? And leave us not forget that totally weird last image of Kelly and Ayers practically smooching for Nuzzi's benefit. Christ almighty guys, have some self-respect. Isn't this fucking guy a four star? Hanging around Trump has turned him into a babbling sycophant.

PD was close in her Wonderland comparison, but this was much worse, because Alice's adventures took place in a fictional book.

This shit is real. Real weird. And real scary.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

AK-- one of the best images ever: that of the villainous Bart O' Disgusting as a sunken oil tanker oozing crap in the ocean for eons--

So truuuuuuuuuue! Also, for those who don't follow Pete Souza on Instagram, he quipped that Weaselface is 46-1-- I rather like that as it implies he is "less than" almost anything or anyone else.

I missed this, but apparently the Orange Blowhole is recommending his little lickspittle Nunez for some kind of military honor...not knowing it IS a military honor, not for civilians, and for jumping in and out of bushes to get to Trumpieville that night long ago...gaaaccchhhh.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

My favorite part of the Nuzzi (how do you pronounce that? Nutsy?) transcript was her judgment that DiJiT doesn't know how to fire Kelly, because when he wants someone fired he has Kelly do it ... but when he tells Kelly to get lost Kelly just ignores him. Sounds true.

But why would Kelly WANT to stay?

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Poor bullied Melanie! So much wasted sympathy has been spent in the past on thinking what the life of this "poor" woman must be like having to live and put up with someone like Trump. Seems to me like they're a perfectly matched pair.

As for USA Today's 'fact-checking' on the Trump piece what a journalistic disgrace. But then who has ever viewed this publication as one with high standards. Its mid-80's introduction on newsstands with color and graphics simply gave it the cache of a semi-serious comic book. Any time I see a story with a link to USA Today ...it is one I don't bother to click.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Wonder why Melanie feels bullied?

I don't.

She's married to and occasionally lives with the Pretender, aka the Bully-in-Chief.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

MAG,

You may recall the handy (and appropriate) nickname applied to USA Today when it first appeared: McPaper.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Oops. Make that Melania.

See I got right in line with others and Americanized? Mrs. Pretender's name.

When she checked RC, hope she didn't take it as some kind of bullying.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

So I see that polling, for what it's worth, shows the GOP drastically improving their numbers as of late. The Senate looks like a goner, the House who knows. Hopefully it's just a temporarily euphoria after so many #beers for Bart.

But one thing I definitely learned after the last election is I was giving the American electorate way too much credit in their moral standings. Cretins abound.

So here's a scary thought: maybe the average American just doesn't give two fucks about Trump breaking norms, the lack of "check and balances", the decay of distant institutions that sound important but don't seem to affect them any. Maybe they like the entertainment. Maybe Derp is more attractive than governing my facts. Maybe they feel an odd pleasure hearing how he insults all the minorities but not them. Maybe they like feeling like part of a social movement in a hyper-individualistic society. Maybe he could fire Sessions and Mueller and they'd be more concerned with Dominos or Pizza Hut.

I hope I'm wrong, but I've so little faith in the decision-making of our fellow citizens...all I can be sure of is if we do manage to put a check a Drumpf, it'll be thanks to women and minority voters. My fellow white males are still idle, scratching their ashes and sipping kool-aid.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Ken,

"Melanie" is not an Americanization of Melania Trump's name, it's a Trumpinazation. The little king couldn't even get his own wife's name straight in some idiotic tweet in which he called her "Melanie".

If Melania thinks our referring to her as Melanie is bullying, she needs to take it up with Fat Boy.

Fat Boy called her Melanie in a tweet back when she was in hospital for something or other: "Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House," Trump mewled. "Melanie is feeling and doing really well. Thank you for all of your prayers and best wishes!"

And thank you, fatso, for inviting so many people to make fun of your wife whom, if you gave more than a passing shit about, you would not have MISSPELLED her NAME! Asshole.

Funnily enough, I've seen many attacks against commenters using the name "Melanie" as if it was invented by some evil liberal cabal. Most, if not all, of these whiners seem to have no idea that this nom de moron came from her idiot husband, who has no problem ripping and blaming others for using the name he invented.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Safari,

I am sick at the thought that you may be correct.

I'm calling it the Florence Effect (in the short run).

So, at this point, we're hearing that Hurricane Michael is a historic storm, the like of which has not been seen on the American mainland for 100 years or more. That puts it ahead of Florence. But we don't need to think too hard to realize that the media attention to Florence was on a par with VE day. Michael is much different. I will give you a hundred dollar bill for every breathless media mention of Michael that beats out the astonishing coverage of Florence.

So, how does this connect to the Small Fingered Orange Fat Boy living it up in the White House?

Easy.

It's a case of Media Burn. After His Fatness was elected, we had an overload of reports about collusion and treason and stupidity and arrogance (all of which are right on).

But after a while, it becomes redundant and people decide to ignore the even more egregious evidence of Trumpian malfeasance and treason after the initial burst of media attention.

In a way, it becomes a validation of Fat Boy's claim that he could shoot someone at high noon in Times Square and suffer no consequences.

He's done worse than that. And no one gives a shit.

It's the Florence Effect. Once we, as media consumers, are force fed story after story about a horrible thing, even if the next event proves to be far worse, too many of those media consumers give it a shoulder shrug.

Trump understands this implicitly.

And here's something worse. After the Kavanaugh cluster fuck, it's entirely possible that Democrats will ask "What does it matter?" and Confederates will say "Aiiiieeeee! Some nigger bitch will be the next Supreme Court justice!!! Let's all get out and VOTE!!!"

Democrats need to show up on election day.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Akhilleus,

Point taken. Was kidding about the Americanization, but wholly forgot who originated the Melanie misnomer. Thanks for the reminder. Now I don't have get on my old knees and seek forgiveness.

October 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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