The Ledes

Sunday, July 15, 2018.

New York Times: France won the World Cup, beating Croatia 4-2.


The Wires

Public Service Announcement

July 13: Washington Post: "A salmonella outbreak linked to a popular Kellogg's cereal has infected 100 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The agency is urging consumers to avoid Honey Smacks, a sugary puffed wheat cereal which has been the subject of a recall by the company since mid-June. At least 30 of the 100 have been hospitalized, while no deaths have been reported, the CDC said. 'Do not eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal of any size package or with any "best if used by" date,' it wrote."

Welcome to the Bank:

The Mounties Always Get Their Man -- and Woman -- especially when the pair are the ones mimicking the Keystone Kops. This is real CCTV footage of a young couple who -- allegedly -- tried to use stolen credit cards at an Alberta, Canada, convenience store. The WashPo has more details. These comical suspects, BTW, are not teenagers; they're in their late 20s. Super-size for best viewing. There's an action-movie moment near the end, so don't tune out too soon:

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

... Matthew Dessem of Slate: "The only fly in the ointment is the knowledge that, demographically speaking, this video will make a lot of horrible people happy."

AP: "ABC, which canceled its 'Roseanne' revival over its star's racist tweet, says it will air a Conner family sitcom minus Roseanne Barr this fall. ABC ordered 10 episodes of the spinoff after Barr agreed to forgo any creative or financial participation in it. In a statement issued by the show's producer, Barr said she agreed to the settlement in order to save the jobs of 200 cast and crew members. ABC said Thursday that the new series has the working title 'The Conners' and will star John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and other 'Roseanne' co-stars."

NAFTA No, NAFSA . North American Free Soccer Agreement. Washington Post: "The World Cup is returning to the United States, and this time, Mexico and Canada are along for the wild ride. A North American joint bid won the rights Wednesday to host the 2026 edition of the celebrated soccer tournament, defeating Morocco and bouncing back from an unfathomable U.S. defeat to Qatar in voting for the 2022 event eight years ago. The member associations in FIFA, the sport’s governing body, favored the North American effort, known as the United Bid, in a landslide vote, 134-65."

... Washington Post: "It was Justify’s moment, after all. In a dazzling display of power and durability, the late-blooming colt who didn’t race as a 2-year-old proved Saturday he couldn’t be worn out as a 3-year-old, thundering to victory in the Belmont Stakes to claim a place in history as the sport’s 13th Triple Crown champion. After a 37-year drought in which the feat seemed impossible, Justify became the second horse in four years to achieve it, tutored, like 2015 predecessor American Pharoah, by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1¾ lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski in a 10-horse field, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 1 /2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old. Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid."

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker on "The Americans." Mrs. McC Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the show's finale, & you plan to, see it before reading Gessen's post.

You may want to cut the sound on this video so you don't go nuts before you get to move overseas:

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I found this on a political Website, so that's my excuse. Juliana Gray in McSweeney's: "The Incel Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." It begins,

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou."

Read on. Incels, in case you don't know,  (a portmanteau of 'involuntary' and 'celibacy') are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual," according to Wikepedia.


The Commentariat -- October 12, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Vindictive Twerp Signs Executive Order to Undermine ObamaCare. Robert Pear & Reed Abelson of the New York Times: "President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act. But most of the changes will not come until federal agencies adopt regulations, after an opportunity for public comments -- a process that could take months." Story was reported earlier & kinked below) & updated after Trump signed the order, with the usual fanfare, including once again forgetting to sign the order (he did so after mike pence reminded him). ...

... Amber Phillips of the Washington Post: "... the executive order Trump signed Thursday could be his most significant step yet to sabotage the [ACA]. It will expand the availability of plans that are loosely regulated and don't have to provide essential health benefits, which could pull people off the Obamacare exchanges." ...

... Adam Cancryn of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order directing an overhaul of major federal health regulations, calling it the first step toward fulfilling the GOP's promise to repeal Obamacare. The order is aimed at encouraging the rise of a raft of cheap, loosely regulated health insurance plans that don't have to comply with certain Obamacare consumer protections and benefit rules. They'd attract younger and healthier people -- leaving older and sicker ones in the Obamacare markets facing higher and higher costs.... The administration is also preparing to roll back Obama-era restrictions on short-term health insurance plans, allowing insurers to once again sell stopgap policies which don't cover pre-existing conditions, mental health services and many other costly benefits. Coverage could extend for as long as a year, up from a current three-month limit."

Gardiner Harris & Steve Erlanger of the New York Times: "The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, after years of America distancing itself because of what it called the group's 'anti-Israel bias.'"

Louis Nelson of Politico: "White House chief of staff John Kelly said Thursday that he is not resigning, making a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room to push back against media reports that his relationship with ... Donald Trump has been approaching a breaking point." ...

... Kelsey Tamborrino of Politico: "... John Kelly on Thursday defended ... Donald Trump's periodic public attacks on Republican members of Congress, saying the president 'has a right to defend himself.'"

Here's a cheery story to distract you from all this rot: Matthew Diebel of USA Today: "Scientists working in and around Yellowstone National Park say that the supervolcano sitting under the tourist attraction may blow sooner than thought, an eruption that could wipe out life on the planet.... The researchers, The New York Times reported, have determined that the supervolcano has the ability to spew more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash -- 2,500 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980 -- an event that could blanket most of the United States in ash and possibly plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter." Mrs. McC: Maybe this is Mother Nature, aiming to beat Trump to the apocalypse.


After First Ignoring Puerto Rico, Trump Vows to Abandon It. Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "President Trump on Thursday warned that this administration's response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico cannot last 'forever.' 'We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!' Trump wrote in a series of tweets. He added that the island territory's existing debt and infrastructure issues compounded problems. His tweets come at a time when only about 10 percent of the island's 3.4 million residents have electricity, Puerto Rico's government said Tuesday." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Its' a wonder he didn't claim the papertowel toss had become Puerto Rico's favorite sport since he invented it. ...

... Richard Wolffe of the Guardian: "Federal officials privately admit there is a massive shortage of meals in Puerto Rico three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) say that the government and its partners are only providing 200,000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than 2 million people. That is a daily shortfall of between 1.8m and 5.8m meals.... The scale of the food crisis dwarfs the more widely publicized challenges of restoring power and communications. More than a third of Puerto Ricans are still struggling to live without drinking water." --safari ...

... The Future of Trump's America Is Currently on Exhibit in Puerto Rico. Manuel Roig-Franzia & Arelis R. Hernández of the Washington Post: "It has been three weeks since Hurricane Maria savaged Puerto Rico, and life in the capital city of San Juan inches toward something that remotely resembles a new, uncomfortable form of normalcy.... But much of the rest of the island lies in the chokehold of a turgid, frustrating and perilous slog toward recovery.... Eighty-four percent of the island is still without power, according to the governor's office.... Roughly half of Puerto Ricans have no working cellphone service, creating islands of isolation within the island and cutting off hundreds of thousands of people in regions outside the largest metropolitan areas from regular contact with their families, aid groups, medical care and the central government.... [There] are worries about outbreaks of diseases such as scabies and Zika, which is transmitted by mosquitoes breeding in standing water. Just 63 percent of the island's residents have access to clean drinking water, and only 60 percent of wastewater treatment plants are operating.... doctors are seeing worrying numbers of patients with conjunctivitis and gastritis brought on by contaminated water and poor hygiene.... With electrical and cellphone outages complicating commerce, large swaths of the island -- and even many spots within the biggest cities -- are cash-only zones, as if credit cards never existed." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In fairness to Trump, we are witnessing a Randian future that many Republicans embrace. One of Trump's most prominent right-wing critics, Rand Paul, must be seeing his libertarian wet dreams come true in the Puerto Rican dystopia: a small percentage of "deserving" people are living comfortable lives in isolated pockets of the land, while the rest of us undesirables scrape by without the government services every developed nation has come to expect.

Trump's Junk Insurance Plan. Robert Pear & Reed Abelson of the New York Times: "President Trump, after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress, will act on his own to relax health care standards on small businesses that band together to buy health insurance and may take steps to allow the sale of other health plans that skirt the health law's requirements. The president plans to sign an executive order 'to promote health care choice and competition' on Thursday at a White House event attended by small-business owners and others.... Democrats and some state regulators are now greeting the move with increasing alarm, calling it another attempt to undermine President Barack Obama's signature health care law. They warn that by relaxing standards for so-called association health plans, Mr. Trump would create low-cost insurance options for the healthy, driving up costs for the sick and destabilizing insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act.... The Trump administration ... wants to make it easier for small businesses to buy less expensive plans that do not comply with some requirements of [ObamaCare]. ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Think of it as health insurance for Trump University alums.

Cliff Clavin Is Still Running the Country:

What to Do When the Moron Has Another Temper Tantrum. Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: In July, "President Trump ... was incensed by the arguments of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others that the landmark 2015 [Iran nuclear] deal, while flawed, offered stability and other benefits. He did not want to certify to Congress that the agreement remained in the vital U.S. national security interest and that Iran was meeting its obligations. He did not think either was true. 'He threw a fit,' said one person familiar with the meeting. '... He was furious. Really furious.'... So White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and other senior advisers came up with a plan -- one aimed at accommodating Trump's loathing of the Iran deal as 'an embarrassment' without killing it outright. To get Trump, in other words, to compromise.... Under [an] expected announcement [this week], Trump will declare the deal is not in the U.S. national interest while stopping short of recommending renewed nuclear sanctions." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Whether you like them or not, you do have to appreciate the lengths to which Trump's top international policy gurus go to appease Trump while still averting international catastrophe. ...

... Why Tillerson Called Trump a Moron. Courtney Kube, et al., of NBC News: "... Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation's highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room. Trump's comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s.... The July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a 'moron.'" (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: This decline [in the nuclear arsenal] was the product of deliberate policy, and mandated by disarmament treaties.... And, anyhow, America already has enough atomic firepower to end most -- if not all -- human life. From the perspective of a status quo nuclear superpower, the value of an international norm against proliferation would seem obvious. But not from the perspective of our commander-in-chief. As Trump examined the chart's downward slope, none of these considerations flickered in his mind.... NBC News' dispatch suggests that Trump's advisers talked him down from this illegal and exorbitantly expensive request.... Earlier in his term, Trump reportedly asked his military advisers three times, in an hour-long meeting, why the U.S. doesn't make greater use of its nuclear weapons.... On Tuesday night, Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reported that a 'very prominent Republican' had told him that he and his colleagues ... that if Trump ever 'lunged' for the nuclear football, chief-of-staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson afternoon at about 11:15 pm ET when I realized I'd dropped the link. Oops.) ...

Another day, another casual threat from the president of the United States to abuse the powers of his office in order to stymie reporting that he doesn't like. -- Matt Yglesias ...

... Threats of a Moron. Peter Baker & Cecilia Kang of the New York Times: "President Trump threatened on Wednesday to use the federal government's power to license television airwaves to target NBC in response to a report by the network's news division that he contemplated a dramatic increase in the nation's nuclear arsenal.... Mr. Trump objected to the report in two messages on Twitter later Wednesday and threatened to use the authority of the federal government to retaliate.... 'Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a "tenfold" increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!... With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!' The comments immediately drew criticism that the president was using his office to undermine First Amendment guarantees of free speech and free press. And, in fact, the networks themselves -- and their news departments -- do not hold federal licenses, though individual affiliates do. 'Broadcast licenses are a public trust,' said Tom Wheeler, who until January was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, appointed by President Barack Obama. 'They're not a political toy, which is what he's trying to do here.' In suggesting that a broadcast network's license be targeted because of its coverage, Mr. Trump once again evoked the Watergate era...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump is not lying here & neither were the NBC reporters. I have no doubt the NBC report is accurate. Neither do I think Trump has any idea what he said during this particular rant. He doesn't really understand any of this, but somewhere in the shallows of his brain, he figured out he "lost" the argument. He cannot handle instances where he is a loser. So he puts it out of his mind. He no longer knows he had a fit insisting on something patently stupid & dangerous. As frequent contributor Martin S. has pointed out, it is possible for two mutually exclusive POVs to be "true" -- if one of the parties is demented. ...

... Inae Oh of Mother Jones: "Trump's threat to use the federal government to shut down critical media follows his recent suggestion of creating 'equal time' for conservatives to level the playing the field against late-night TV hosts who mock him. It's unclear how Trump's suggestion would work, as only television stations are subject to FCC licensing, not the networks." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: Trump's Twitter habits "expose just how predisposed is the president toward gutting the First Amendment, and just how little he understands how it works." Wemple goes on to explain what-all Trump would have to do to "challenge their license." It's an impossible task, & even if he & his minions by some magic made it happen, MSNBC -- which of course is not a broadcast channel so the FCC doesn't regulate it. And could become the most popular site on the Internet, with many a spinoff. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "... now it's clear that Bob Corker's remarkable New York Times interview -- in which the Republican senator described the White House as 'adult day care' and warned Trump could start World War III ... brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is 'unstable,' 'losing a step,' and 'unraveling.'... According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, 'I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!' (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision.... Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn't impeachment, but the 25th Amendment -- the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, 'What's that?'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

Juan Cole: "In Johann von Goethe's play 'Dr. Faust,' a man eager to taste of all human experience makes a bargain with Mephistopheles, i.e. with Satan, signing his soul away in blood for his intellectual and emotional thrill-seeking. Mephistopheles is [Bob] Corker's Trump. Trump promised a wild ride, but a ride to the heart's desire of conservatives -- a hierarchical society with the rich firmly on top and further enriched by the hour through the abolition of graduated taxes. He will fulfill his vow. But alongside these startling and unprecedented triumphs for the billionaires in the class war, Mephistopheles/Trump offers something else.... Corker now thinks Trump's volatility and ill-considered Tweet storms threaten us with World War III.... And what will be the value of those tax cuts if Trump's adventurism spook the markets or attracts dramatic violence down on our country?" --safari ...

... Bari Weiss of the New York Times, in an op-ed: "... Eminem's 'The Storm,' a scathing four-minute attack on the 'kamikaze that will probably cause a nuclear holocaust,' which he debuted at the BET Awards on Tuesday night, has already overshadowed all of these previous anti-Trump musical efforts. It's made major news headlines. It's already garnered 8.7 million views on YouTube. And there have been some two million tweets about the performance, with praise pouring in from stars including LeBron James and Ellen DeGeneres." Eminem knows the "song" is costing him some of his base of "conservatives." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I think it's great that Eminem is putting his mouth where his money is & standing up for laudable principles. But to those who have argued that white men can't rap, in this case at least they're right. I know there's no accounting for taste, but I've never heard such a gawd-awful lack of rhythm & rhyme. I'd have to guess that Eminem is what redneck kids this musical talent is. They're wrong about everything else, too, so they're consistent.

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker demonstrates how Trump escalates his Twitter rants into using the power of the government to squelch the rights of the objects of his wrath. It is apparently working with his attacks on NFL players. And his initial fake"policy-setting" tweet against transgender military personnel eventually did become policy.

Daniel Samuelsohn of Politico: "Donald Trump's lawyers are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller, according to a senior White House official, as part of a wider posture of cooperation with the special counsel's Russia probe. If Mueller doesn't request an interview by Thanksgiving, Trump's lawyers may even force the issue by volunteering Trump's time, the official said. The White House believes such an interview could help Mueller wrap up the probe faster and dispel the cloud of suspicion over Trump." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Are these lawyers delusional, or what? Don't they know that Trump will lie under oath when he thinks it's in his best interest? Since Trump doesn't know what evidence Mueller has to contradict the Fantasy World of Donald Trump, Trump is almost certain to lie, probably repeatedly. It's true that Trump's lawyers will be sitting down beside him, & they can -- to an extent -- instruct Trump not to answer certain questions, but there's a limit to that. They can also object to every question after "State your name for the record" in hopes a judge will throw out each particular Q&A. But in a deposition, inquisitors can "fish," & they will. Trump would be sitting on a liar's landmine. It's bound to explode.

Eric Levitz: "When African-Americans' basic civil liberties and the freedom of individual cops to 'fight crime' as they see fit have come into conflict, the Trump administration has prioritized the latter.... Still, there is a limit to the Trump administration's fealty to the police. And when the financial interests of gun manufacturers have been at odds with the safety of American cops, the White House has sided with the arms merchants.... The Brady Handgun Prevention Act stipulates that when a gun dealer runs a background check, and finds that a would-be customer is a 'fugitive from justice,' they can't sell that person a gun.... The FBI has argued that anyone with an outstanding warrant is a fugitive, at least for the purposes of the Brady law. The ATF has insisted that only people with outstanding warrants who have crossed state lines to avoid prosecution are fugitives. Earlier this year, the Trump Justice Department took the ATF's side...." ...

... Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Six months after the U.S. Department of Justice issued a memo redefining who is a fugitive from justice -- and cannot have a gun -- more than a half a million names have been dropped from a national law enforcement data base used to determine who may purchase a firearms and or obtain a carry permit, according to FBI records provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.... The policy change came about with little publicity and other events coming out of the Trump Administration dominated the news. Just as the new policy defining a fugitive took effect..., Donald Trump quietly signed into law a bill blocking the Social Security Administration from reporting to a national background check database the names of about 75,000 people who received government benefits because of mental illnesses so severe they cannot handle their own finances." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Like many a politician, Trump is a whore. On any issue, he sides with the group he thinks will do him the most good. But why is Sessions doing this? Presumably, as AG, he's not receiving campaign contributions. He's 70 years old, so he may not run for public office again. Maybe he's just an addict -- a habitual whore who can't break a dangerous habit.

Eliana Johnson, et al., of Politico: "The White House announced on Wednesday that ... Donald Trump will nominate Kirstjen Nielsen to run the Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen served as White House chief of staff John Kelly's top aide during his time as DHS secretary and moved with him to the West Wing as his principal deputy chief of staff when he was appointed in July, leaving the Cabinet post vacant.... 'She would be the first person to run the department who has actually worked there,' a person close to the administration said earlier on Wednesday." Mrs. McC: As Gabe Sherman speculated in the piece linked above, Nielsen's appointment could be a harbinger of Kelly's White House exit.

Joseph Cox
of The Daily Beast: "The National Security Agency's hackers have a problem. Last week, multiple outlets reported that its elite Tailored Access Operations unit -- tasked with breaking into foreign networks -- suffered another serious data breach.... Now, multiple sources with direct knowledge of TAO's security procedures in the recent past tell The Daily Beast just how porous some of the defenses were to keep workers from stealing sensitive information -- either digitally or by simply walking out of the front door with it. One source described removing data from a TAO facility as 'child's play.'" --safari

Robert Faturechi of ProPublica: "A group of House Democrats introduced a bill on Wednesday that would require federal officials to disclose any potential conflicts of interest before they implement significant changes in U.S. regulations. The lawmakers said the legislation is intended to alert the public if those involved in the decisions, including the president and his top advisers, would personally profit from revising or replacing the rules..... Though ProPublica and the Times have identified nearly three dozen deregulation team members with potential conflicts, a full vetting of industry connections has been difficult because some agencies have declined to provide information about the appointees -- in many cases, not even their names..." --safari: Sounds great, except it'll never pass, or you could just update your conflicts of interests as they out, using the Kushner playbook.

** Washington Weasels. Frank Rich: "It's a watershed moment that even when the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee invokes World War III, it is not enough to get the Vichy Republicans in Washington to speak up. The senators who remain silent while privately nodding in agreement with Corker don't seem to understand the urgency of the situation. Someone should tell them that the tax cuts they are holding out for will not be honored in the event of nuclear Armageddon." Rich also discusses Steve Bannon's Senate plans & Harvey Weinstein's enablers.

Senate Race:

** Roy Moore's "Foundation for Moral Law" Is a Huge Scam to Fill the Moore Family's Pockets. Shawn Boburg & Robert O'Harrow of the Washington Post: "Former Alabama judge Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, once said publicly that he did not take a 'regular salary' from the small charity he founded to promote Christian values because he did not want to be a financial burden. But privately, Moore had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He collected more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years. When the charity couldn't afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for back pay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity's most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala., mortgage records show. He holds that note even now, a charity official said. A Washington Post review of public and internal charity documents found that errors and gaps in the group's federal tax filings obscured until now the compensation paid to Moore.... The charity has employed at least two of Moore's children, although their compensation is not reflected in tax filings. Moore's wife, Kayla, who is now president, was paid a total of $195,000 over three years through 2015." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This has to be a big blow for other contenders for this year's National Hypocrisy Award. Part of the joke is that Moore can say with a straight face that he wasn't lying. After all, secretly skimming the bulk of a "charity"'s annual take is not a "regular salary." Moore may think that any scam that accrues to his benefit is by definition "moral," but federal prosecutors should employ some man-made law to deprive him of that misperception. If that happens, you can bet most of the scammees will set up a Roy Moore defense fund. There's a sucker born every minute.

Jamiles Lartey
of the Guardian: "Over half of all police killings in 2015 were wrongly classified as not having been the result of interactions with officers, a new Harvard study based on Guardian data has found. The finding is just the latest to show government databases seriously undercounting the number of people killed by police."--safari

Julie Bosman & Niraj Chokshi of the New York Times: "The Boy Scouts of America announced plans on Wednesday to broadly accept girls, marking a historic shift for the century-old organization and setting off a debate about where girls better learn how to be leaders. The decision was celebrated by many women, but criticized by the Girl Scouts, which said that girls flourish in all-female groups."

Double Date. Sweet.

Megan Twohey of the New York Times: "On Tuesday, [Harvey Weinstein's] brother and co-founder, Bob Weinstein, and the company's president, David Glasser, told concerned employees in a video conference call that they were ... unaware of payments made to women who complained of unwanted touching, sexual harassment and other over-the-line behavior.... Soon after, Bob Weinstein and three other members of the rapidly dwindling board issued a statement saying that new allegations ... had come as 'an utter surprise' and that any 'suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false.' But interviews and internal company records show that the company has been grappling with Mr. Weinstein's behavior for at least two years. David Boies, a lawyer who represented Mr. Weinstein when his contract was up for renewal in 2015, said in an interview that the board and the company were made aware at the time of three or four confidential settlements with women.... Lance Maerov, the board member who handled the contract negotiations, acknowledged in an interview that he had been told of settlements, but said that he had assumed they were used to cover up consensual affairs." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Really, Lance? What was it that prevented you from asking for details -- as if you didn't know some of those details already? Anyhow, based on Bob & Dave's remarkable (and totally credible claims of) naïveté, you might think that any country bumpkin could run a major Hollywood studio.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast: NBC News spiked Ronan Farrow's story detailing multiple charges by women that Harvey Weinstein had sexually abused them. A few said he raped them. The New Yorker published the story Tuesday. Now, Farrow & some media critics on the one side & NBC News on the other are engaged in a they-said/they-said dispute about why NBC News wouldn't publish Farrow's report. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'm not buying big media outlets' claims -- NYT one day, NBC News the next – that they spiked stories on Weinstein because the stories weren't fully-reported. When a reporter hands an editor a potential blockbuster that needs work, the editor gets the work done, either by the reporter who developed the story or by a more experienced reporter. It happens every day twice a day at big news outlets. ...

... Update. Yashar Ali & Lydia Polgreen of the Huffington Post further detail how NBC News killed Farrow's story. Here's one pretty sordid detail: "NBC News President Noah Oppenheim ... related to Farrow what Weinstein's lawyers had said in complaint to NBC: that Farrow had a conflict of interest because Weinstein had helped revive the career of Farrow's estranged father, director Woody Allen. Weinstein's representatives would later use a similar line of attack when the story landed at The New Yorker. The magazine, known for its rigorous vetting process, saw no conflict of interest." ...

... More in Hypocrisy News. Erica Werner of the AP: Breitbart News is hammering Democrats for their connections to Harvey Weinstein while accidentally forgetting to report on Brietbart chief Steve Bannon's business deal with Weinstein.

David Freedlander of New York: Manhattan DA Cy "Vance, first elected in 2009, is running for a third term in November without an opponent from any party on the ballot after winning the Democratic primary without opposition in September. In the last couple of weeks Vance has come under withering criticism, first from a ProPublica/WNYC investigation into a decision not to prosecute Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump for misleading prospective buyers about their Trump Soho property, and then after The New Yorker revealed that Vance declined to prosecute Harvey Weinstein for allegedly sexually assaulting 22-year-old model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez even though Gutierrez came forward with a recording of Weinstein discussing the assault. In both cases, lawyers for the accused made sizable donations to Vance's campaign, with Trump personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz giving Vance a $32,000 check on the heels of a private meeting with the district attorney, and Weinstein lawyer David Boies donating $10,000 after Vance dropped the investigation into his client. Vance has since returned the Trump money, and denied that the fundraising had anything to do with the decision to not prosecute, saying that neither case had enough evidence to prove criminality.... Marc Fliedner, a civil-rights lawyer who lost a Democratic primary this fall to become Brooklyn district attorney, has announced a write-in campaign to challenge Vance." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Vance's father, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, was a principled man & must be spinning in his grave.

Beyond the Beltway

Margaret Hartmann: "Two days after police revised their timeline for the shooting in Las Vegas, which left 58 dead and hundreds injured, a hotel maintenance worker said he told hotel dispatchers to call the police before the mass shooting started. Originally, police suggested that gunman Stephen Paddock stopped firing on concertgoers ... when he saw hotel security guard Jesus Campos in his hallway. Campos, who took a non-fatal shot to the leg, was credited with protecting a maintenance worker as Paddock fired dozens of shots into the hall..... This week police said Campos was actually shot about six minutes before Paddock began firing on the crowd.... On Wednesday the hotel maintenance worker, Stephen Schuck, revealed that he told hotel dispatchers to call the police as well. Like Campos, Schuck was responding to a report of a jammed fire door.... [There is an audio recording of Schuck's call.] On Wednesday, the AP reported that when the hotel called police Paddock had already started firing on concertgoers."

Way Beyond

Kate Hodal of the Guardian: "Nine of the top 10 most difficult nations for girls to be educated are in sub-Saharan Africa. Afghanistan, which has the highest level of gender disparity in primary school, is the only non-African country to make the list, ranking in fourth place.... [M]ore than 130 million girls worldwide fail to attend school every single day of the year." --safari

Sarah Boseley of the Guardian: "Childhood obesity is soaring across the world, increasing more than tenfold over the past four decades, putting many millions at risk of poor health and an early death, according to the biggest ever analysis of the data. Alongside the report, and also Monday's story in the Guardian revealing that the global cost of obesity will be $1.2tn by 2025, the World Health Organisation is calling for every country to act.... The new data from Imperial College London ... shows that in 1975 there were five million obese girls, but by last year there were 50 million. The number of obese boys has risen from six million to 74 million in the same period." --safari

News Lede

Los Angeles Times: "As the death toll from 16 wildfires raging in Northern California climbed Wednesday, thousands more residents in Calistoga and elsewhere were ordered to flee their homes and firefighters raced against the setting sun to douse smoldering hot spots before devilish winds returned to breathe new life into the blazes. During searches of destroyed homes, authorities found more bodies, bringing the number of dead to at least 23, fire officials said. The loss of life, along with the estimated 170,000 acres and 3,500 structures already burned, ranked the fires as some of the most destructive in state history."

Reader Comments (19)

If Trump had his druthers he'd shut down every news outlet that doesn't curry to his advantage. Here is the story about how Sinclair Broadcasting puts a partisan spin on trusted ( one hopes) local news. Ajit V. Pai, the guy who Trump installed as FCC director is happy as a clam and busy as a beaver installing propaganda on local stations. It has the stink of Putin's modus operandi sans the clams and the beavers.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

My local news station is now Sinclair-owned. Within months of the takeover, nearly all of the old guard news team (many of whom had fled to that station after their old new home had cratered) had "retired" or been let go. They heavily promote Sharyl Atkisson's program, as well as programming from the "Job Creators Network" (can't make this shit up), featuring "Boris"! (none other than Boris Epshteyn, he of shady Russia ties to the current regime). I weep.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRockygirl

PD and Rockygirl,

Sinclair Broadcasting is the perfect example of what Trump might try to do to local television news, or I guess now it should be "news".

Sinclair struck a deal back in 2016 with the Trump campaign. This is straight up and down bribery. Here's how it worked. Sinclair and the Trumpies worked out an arrangement to give Trump a big boost at all their local stations. That's a lot of visibility. Back in '16 Sinclair owned 172 stations including in battleground states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that put Trump over the top.

The deal gave Sinclair access to Trump campaign officials and the Big Man himself. Local stations were forced to run these extended pieces of almost pure propaganda. There's no other way to put it. If you've ever seen any of these things, you'd be amazed. They resemble, at least the ones I've seen, campaign ads. But they're put forward as straight news packages. No tough questions, plenty of barbs directed at Clinton, but hagiographic treatment of the Orange Headed Baboon:

"Journalist David Zurawik, who has covered local television for roughly thirty years, said [on CNN]: 'They come as close to classic propaganda as I think I’ve seen in thirty years of covering local television or national television. They’re outrageous! Whatever the White House says, you know, President Trump believes there was voter fraud and he sets up this commission to get data from the states and the states rightfully push back because it’s very intrusive data — Boris Ephsteyn’s piece on it ends with, the states should cooperate with President Trump.'"

Sinclair execs beg off such descriptions of the quid pro quo with Trump, but the Trump insiders were unusually straightforward about the deal:

"Donald Trump's campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives Friday in Manhattan."

"Better media coverage"=forced carriage of propaganda.

And the quo to go along with that quid?

Trump's FCC head, Ajit Pai, changed ownership rules to help Sinclair.

"Sinclair Broadcast Group is expanding its conservative-leaning television empire into nearly three-quarters of American households — but its aggressive takeover of the airwaves wouldn’t have been possible without help from President Donald Trump's chief at the Federal Communications Commission.

Sinclair, already the nation’s largest TV broadcaster, plans to buy 42 stations from Tribune Media in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, on top of the more than 170 stations it already owns. It got a critical assist this spring from Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who revived a decades-old regulatory loophole that will keep Sinclair from vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership.

The change will allow Sinclair — a company known for injecting 'must run' conservative segments into its local programming — to reach 72 percent of U.S. households after buying Tribune’s stations. That’s nearly double the congressionally imposed nationwide audience cap of 39 percent."

Soooooo.....nothing funny about that, is there? A Confederate news organization is now in 72% of US markets. Just imagine the hew and cry had Clinton worked out a deal to get help from a gigantic liberal leaning television chain, then as soon as she was in the White House, changed the rules to allow that group to far outstrip previously mandated ownership limits. But Trump does it? No prob.

And why is this a big deal? People don't trust the media anyway, isn't that right? Well, sort of. They don't trust the national media. But local news is a different animal. According to a recent Gallup poll, viewers trust levels in local news are almost double that of national outlets.

So, yes it matters a great deal. Sinclair has out-foxed Fox in its connection to voters and its unabashed, unapologetic quid pro quo propaganda coverage of President* Lying Blowhard. The same anchors telling viewers about local planning board decisions and the grand opening of a new soccer complex on the outskirts of town are pushing Trump propaganda and playing it as straight news. This is some insidious shit. This is fake news baked into mom's brownies.

And don't think Trump doesn't see the possibilities of a national network of many television groups all dedicated to his re-election. Maybe he can't go after NBC the way he promised, but he sure as shit can get his FCC to clamp down hard on local affiliates that don't treat him like the king.

If you live in a Sinclair market, find another channel to watch.

Better yet, renew your library card.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

As a reader, I am really uncomfortable with your blithe and sweeping disparagement of rednecks. You may want to think about that.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersparrowhawk

In addition to his political observations, Frank Rich also called out the movie world deniers. "Anyone in show business who says he or she is shocked, shocked by the Weinstein revelations is lying."

Hollywood is home to gossip raised to an art form. I strongly doubt that those professing to be unaware...or only heard 'vague rumors' knew full well this went beyond mere cocktail party innuendo.

"Weinstein’s behavior toward women was no secret. It was so widely known in Hollywood circles — and comparable circles in New York, where he was based — that Seth MacFarlane got a laugh when he made a joke about it on the 2013 Oscar telecast: “Congratulations” — he said of the actress nominees — “you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”

As to why NBC passed on the Ronan Farrow piece, it was an interesting read (on CNBC, I think) which had a photo of the NBC exec Noah Oppenheim who presented the 'not ready' excuses. It was even a bit eerie, with his chinny chin chin stubble — physically he resembles a younger Weinstein. Not saying he is! That aside, there's gotta be a bunch of industry execs who are sweating out this story...hoping their shenanigans don't become public fodder.

Also over on CNBC, in a Squawk Box interview, it was noted that we can't have federal government keep subsidizing the states, "...that's a major loophole that we're trying to close in simplifying taxes." said Steve Mnuchin "savior of the Middle Class"

Oh, yeah that and then this: ...he did say the administration is steadfast on the 20 percent corporate tax rate. The U.S. levy is the highest in the world at 35 percent, (...which no damn corporation ever pays at that rate !)

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

...and another thing!

Considering other ways local news can help to propel illegitimate ideas into the zeitgeist, I was thinking of something I had heard recently on a local newscast here in my very red state. An anchor was getting ready to introduce a package on Trump's attack on voting rights (he didn't call it that, though), and here's how he did it. "President Trump has put together a commission led by Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach to investigate voter fraud."

Did you catch it?

Now, you would certainly hear something like that on Fox, but no respectable news outlet would let that kind of copy go out over the air (shit, at least I hope not!) without the addition of the word "alleged". First, there is zero proof of widespread voter fraud of the type Trump is claiming, so any such declaration would have to be modified by an adjective like alleged. I'd go with "bullshit" or "completely unproven", but that's me.

But smaller, local stations let stuff like that go all the time. And what it does is give the imprimatur of Local News to the idea that there is no doubt that voter fraud exists and that it probably requires a national commission to extirpate the fraudsters. Just one word can make a big difference in how information is communicated and interpreted.

And don't think this is a mistake either. Even if it's sloppy news writing (which it is), it then reflects the personal views of the writer rather than standing on its own as information that viewers can judge for themselves. In that way, it serves more as ad copy than news. No decent ad exec would want a spot that said "Here's a claim for this product. But we'll leave it up to you." No. They want to say "This shit is amazing. Try it, you'll see how awesome it is!"

Introducing a package about Trump's voter fraud commission by saying he's investigating voter fraud is pretty much the same thing. You're selling a product. In this case, snake oil.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


If you're referring to my comment on Sinclair Broadcasting, at no time did I use the word "rednecks" nor did I mean that. I used the word Confederate once (I think), by which I mean far right-wing affiliations which encompasses groups and individuals who are far from "rednecks". I can't recall using that term at all in any comments here or elsewhere. If I did, it would have to have been in a very specific, directed manner, rather than blithely and sweeping. I try not to be overly blithe with anything. These are serious issues.

And if you're going to be critical of my points (which is perfectly fine, I can use some straightening out now and then, and plenty of commenters have done so in the past), please don't include words I have not used, nor insinuated, in my original comment. Thanks.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@sparrowhawk: Don't give a flying fuck about your discomfort. "Those people" chose to be ignorant, racist, xenophobic bigots. I'm not rethinking a thing. I have lived among them. I got it right the first time.

Also muscle shirts. Yeeew! Otherwise, they're very fine people.

October 12, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Jeff Foxworthy just said, "Dang, there goes my whole comedy routine and book sales!"

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Oops. I thought the reference was to my comment. Sorry.

I'll leave it to Mrs. McC.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Time to cue up a little Trae.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

@unwashed: Trae is delusional. A redneck is by definition not a liberal.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Bea, in other words - a true oxymoron.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Libertarian hopes and wishes.

Up above, in an earlier comment, Marie made the point, about Trump's casual dismissal of the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, that the ongoing jeopardy in that US territory represents the exact outcome promised by the sort of Randian Libertarianism so dearly admired by such as Rand Paul and Paul Ryan: them that gots, gets. Them that don't, gets got. If you were lucky enough to be born into wealth and good connections, you'll be taken care of, if not, you're on your own because the state, such as it is, don't owe you jack.

This isn't just a clever throwaway line. This is a 100% true picture of the sort of world these people hope and pray for. Hungry? Fuck off. No power? Here's a battery. Cold? Here are two sticks you can rub together, as long as they didn't come from your neighbor's tree. That would be stealing!

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Sparrowhawk: I'm uncomfortable with your discomfort. Would you prefer "the great unwashed" or "noble middle America?" You sound like the apologetic Dems who feel that Hillary didn't feel the pain of these excellent people adequately, so they send out countless news crews to talk to them... The result? The yahoos talk like aggrieved ignoramuses and haven't read anything beyond People magazine in years, and wear their MAGA hats with pride, cuz the Presidunce DOES feel their pain... Yup, they're rednecks. Feeling sorry for them or affirming their views is useless. I suggest you find another blog.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

I know this is difficult, but try to understand that Trump really believes his healthcare executive order will be better than the ACA. It's a TRUMPorder. That is all that is needed for perfect.
P.S. Bet he never read it.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

How is the Trump Executive Order different from all those Obama executive orders he screamed about for years? At least Obama's healthcare bill was passed by congress, it wasn't made up by an ignorant fat man while sitting on the toilet who thinks healthcare means taking care of a sprained knee.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleis

@unwashed: Your comment to Bea: You betcha!

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Just can't figure it out. There are so many possibilities.

Received this this afternoon from one of our Washington Senators, Maria Cantrell:

"I am appalled.

A plan announced by the Environmental Protection Agency to reverse clean water safeguards that will pave the way for a large-scale gold and copper mine, called the Pebble Mine, at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The decision was reached just after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with the mining company CEO.

The EPA’s plan to reverse clean water safeguards is egregious and inconsistent with science and inconsistent with basic logic.

THE SCIENCE IS CLEAR: The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay would risk ruining the world's most valuable sockeye salmon fishery that so many workers and family-wage jobs depend on.

After three years of in-depth scientific analysis and peer review, over one million public comments, and eight public hearings, an assessment found that the Pebble Mine would have devastating and permanent negative impacts on Bristol Bay."

Maybe it's science and reason that's the real "deep state."

Or maybe there aren't enough natural* disasters to keep the Pretender occupied. Or maybe he's already bored with hurricanes--he certainly seems to be with Puerto Rico's-- and wants to go onto something else, so he's directed his EPA to create some disasters of its own.

Or maybe he's preparing for the predicted (I'm predicting it) economic slowdown when the Obama era magic carpet ride is over and his loony infrastructure plans remain in the cocked hat where they belong. Maybe someone has whispered in his ear that the only way to keep employment high is to make certain we'll have to clean up, not just after hurricanes in the south and east and fires in the west, but everything else it's in his power to wreck.

* I find this "natural" thing increasingly hard to identify when dealing with the consequences of the global warming we're doing to ourselves.

BTW, I'm appalled, too, but I'm getting used to it.

October 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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