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September 9: The New York Times reports that Equifax is doing nothing to protect you if hackers to its system gained access to your personal information. In fact, Equifax has a plan to make money on your misfortune. Reporter Ron Lieber has some suggestions about what you can do to protect yourself from Equifax & its hackers. Equifax is providing no good way to find out if you've been affected; it is apparently just trying to hook as many suckers as it can into getting a "free" account, but you can bet it won't stay free. Read the story if you'd like to feel helpless & enraged.

On Request:

David Remnick of the New Yorker remembers its publisher S.I. NewHouse, Jr.

Janet Malcolm of the New Yorker profiles Rachel Maddow. Mrs. McC: Maddow was right the first time about the canisters.

The New Yorker has links to Lillian Ross's stories here. The New Yorker is subscription-only but allows non-subscribers to read six stories a month, so if you're not a subscriber, you may want to open the page in a private window.

Mrs. McCrabbie: When the Emmy folks are looking to give out prizes next year, they should think Jimmy Kimmel.

Some highlights of the Emmys:

... To watch the whole monologue, go to YouTube & type something like "stephen colbert monologue emmys". There are quite a few pirated copies up right now, but CBS will certainly take them down, so none will be posted here. The Washington Post has some of the transcript here.

Former star of "The Apprentice" finally gets his Emmy:

Kim Weeks in the Washington Post: "Hillary Clinton revealed this week she turned to an esoteric breathing technique popular among yogis to heal from her devastating election loss.... By bringing this kind of breath work into the mainstream, Clinton has introduced the world to a practice that has both proven mental and physical health benefits.... In nadi shodhana, the process of literally alternating breathing between the right and left nostril also helps balance the right and left brain, the right and left lungs, and the right and left sides of the body. Alternate nostril breathing has been shown to slow down a rapid heart rate and to lower blood pressure." ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Okay, I tried it. I can do the left nostril but not the right. That stressed me out.

Hill: "Melissa McCarthy brought home an Emmy this weekend for her memorable impression of former press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live. The actress won an Emmy for best comedy actress on a comedy series at the Emmy’s creative arts awards Sunday, according to the Associated Press. The awards are a precursor to the main show next weekend." Spicer panned McCarthy's impression.

New York Times: "Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, plans to step down from the magazine in December after a 25-year tenure, leaving the role that established him as a ringmaster of the Hollywood, Washington and Manhattan power elite. Mr. Carter’s influence stretched from the magazine and entertainment worlds into finance, literature and politics, where President Trump, a target of Mr. Carter’s poison pen for decades, still bristles at the mention of his name. One of the few remaining celebrity editors in an industry whose fortunes have faded, Mr. Carter — famous for double-breasted suits, white flowing hair and a seven-figure salary — is a party host, literary patron, film producer and restaurateur whose cheeky-yet-rigorous brand of reporting influenced a generation of journalists.... Spy[a magazine Carter co-founded,] took special glee in attacking Mr. Trump, whom the magazine memorably deemed a 'short-fingered vulgarian.' (The insult stuck: just last week, Mr. Trump referred to his 'too big' hands during a visit to Houston.)"

New York Times: "Tronc, the publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, announced on Monday that it had acquired The Daily News, the nearly 100-year-old tabloid that for decades set the city’s agenda with its gossip, sports and city coverage. The deal represents the end of an era for The News, which was long a voice for New York’s working class. It may also signal the end of the political influence of its owner, the real estate magnate Mortimer B. Zuckerman, who often used the paper’s bold, front-page headline — known as 'the wood' — for commentary about candidates and politicians, locally and nationally."

Guardian (Sept. 4): "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting a third child, Kensington Palace has announced. The announcement was made as the duchess was forced to cancel an engagement on Monday because of extreme morning sickness, or hyperemesis gravidarum."

Thursday
Oct052017

The Commentariat -- October 6, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Keep 'em Barefoot & Pregnant. Here's the new lede on Robert Pear's NYT story, linked earlier today: "The Trump administration on Friday moved to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, vastly expanding exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections."

Rachel Bade, et al., of Politico: "Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunch anti-abortion advocate, thought he could withstand the media furor that engulfed him after reports that he’d encouraged his extramarital lover to end her apparent pregnancy. He was wrong.... Murphy’s swift collapse came ... because of ... fears among senior Republicans about a potential wave of negative stories on how Murphy ran his congressional office.... The Post-Gazette had reported on a June 2017 memo in which Murphy’s longtime chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, warned the Pennsylvania Republican that he was mistreating and 'harassing' staff, causing 100 percent turnover. But Mosychuk is a source of controversy herself.... Ex-aides said the combination of Murphy and Mosychuk — who had a close personal relationship, according to GOP lawmakers and staffers — made the situation intolerable.... According to these aides, Mosychuk regularly engaged in brutal verbal abuse of lower-ranking aides, from calling aides 'worthless' and their work 'garbage' to asking derisively, 'Do you or do you not have a fucking college degree?' Ex-staffers said Mosychuk kept white noise machines throughout Murphy’s congressional office so constituents waiting in the front room couldn’t hear her screaming.” And so forth. Mrs. McC: Have we mentioned that Dr. Murphy was supposed to be a mental health expert?

*****

Mark Landler & David Sanger of the New York Times: "President Trump has approved a broad strategy to crack down on Iran for its ballistic missile program and support for militant groups throughout the Middle East, according to a senior administration official, although he has yet to formally sign off on 'decertifying' the nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration. Mr. Trump has been expected to withdraw certification of the nuclear deal since he declared at the United Nations General Assembly two weeks ago that the agreement was 'embarrassing to the United States,' and that he had made up his mind what to do about it. But the president has not yet signed a decision memo on the deal itself, the official said. Even if the president takes that step, it would fall short of scrapping the accord because the White House would kick the deal to Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran." ...

... Anne Gearan & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will 'decertify' the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on the White House strategy said Thursday. The move would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran, potentially derailing a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities reached in 2015 with the United States and five other nations. But Trump would hold off on recommending that Congress reimpose sanctions, which would constitute a clearer break from the pact, according to four people familiar with aspects of the president’s thinking." ...

... The Lone Rager Rides Again. Karen DeYoung & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "More than any other issue that has threatened transatlantic cohesion this year, President Trump’s decision to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal could start a chain of events that would sharply divide the United States from its closest traditional allies in the world.... None of the three [allies] — Britain, France and Germany — believes Iran is in violation, and each has said publicly it will not renegotiate the nuclear agreement." ...

... Wherein Trump casually suggests to reporters that he'll soon be taking the country to war with ... some country. ...

... Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post now has a story up on the Josh Marshall post linked directly above: "As President Trump posed for a formal photo with his top military commanders and their spouses in the State Dining Room at the White House on Thursday evening, Trump pointed to the leaders gathered around him and asked the small group of reporters standing before him: 'You guys know what this represents?' 'Tell us,' shouted out one of the reporters unexpectedly summoned to witness this photo session. 'Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,' the president replied. Reporters asked the president what he was talking about, what storm was coming. 'Could be the calm before the storm,' he said a second time."

Brian Stelter of CNN: "President Trump's disregard for a free press just reached a new low: He's urging the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate American news outlets for publishing 'fake' stories.... 'This is the kind of statement one expects to hear from a despot, not from an American president,' said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.... Preet Bharara, one of the former U.S. attorneys who was fired by Trump earlier this year, tweeted this interpretation of Trump's statement: 'POTUS desperately wants to direct who should be investigated & who should be immune. He wants scrutiny for adversaries, amnesty for allies.'" ...

... Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times: "Despite the self-parodic actions of some college students, the greatest threats to free speech in the United States are on the right.... I understand that for a lot of young leftists, it doesn’t make sense to equate what they see as hate speech with the speech of the oppressed. It’s harder for me to understand why they think that if First Amendment protections are weakened, the left — and not, say, the Trump administration — will be allowed to define what is hateful and what is not.... When disputes about free speech are adjudicated not according to broad principles but according to who has power, the left will mostly lose."

Paul Waldman: "Perhaps someday Trump will sit down to write a book detailing his leadership secrets, offering up another trove of penetrating insight and inspiring prose. Until then, here are some tips we can glean from watching Trump's unrivaled performance as president. 1. Force your underlings to praise you in public.... 2. Publicly denigrate the work of your staff, just so they don't forget who's boss.... 3. Encourage high turnover.... 4. The most competent employees can be found in your own family.... 5. When people for whom you're responsible suffer unexpected hardship, take the opportunity to insult them.... 6. Encourage people to find the silver lining.... 7. The public trust is permission to live large.... 8. Absorb criticism with maturity and thoughtfulness, by trying to destroy anyone who criticizes you.... 9. It's all about you." You'll enjoy reading the examples from which Waldman draws his "leadership secrets."

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "The Trump administration is poised to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, vastly expanding exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections. The new rules, which could be issued as soon as Friday, fulfill a campaign promise by President Trump and are sure to touch off a round of lawsuits on the issue. More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate, according to a study commissioned by the Obama administration. Under the new regulations, hundreds of thousands of women could lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under the Affordable Care Act." ...

... So we know Trump and most Republican men hate women who have sex with men other than themselves. But surely Trump will treat his own Iowa farmer-boy/reliable GOP voters better.... Oops, no:

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post: "For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application. Trump’s message in late August was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity...: Tell Iowa no.... In addition to trying to cut funding for the ACA, the Trump administration also is hampering state efforts to control premiums.... And with the fifth enrollment season set to begin Nov. 1, advocates say the Health and Human Services Department has done more to suppress the number of people signing up than to boost it." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Like the presidunce, I have a limited vocabulary. I can't think of words horrible enough to describe him. ...

... Speaking of Horrible Human Beings.... Josh Dawsey, et al., of Politico: "The White House is finalizing a plan to demand hard-line immigration reforms in exchange for supporting a fix on the DACA program, according to three people familiar with the talks — an approach that risks alienating Democrats and even many Republicans, potentially tanking any deal. The White House proposal is being crafted by Stephen Miller, the administration’s top immigration adviser, and includes cutting legal immigration by half over the next decade, an idea that’s already been panned by lawmakers in both parties.... Miller was upset after Trump’s dinner last month with [Chuck] Schumer and [Nancy] Pelosi and has been working since to bring the president back to the tougher stance he took during his campaign."

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has flown on military aircraft seven times since March at a cost of more than $800,000, including a $15,000 round-trip flight to New York to meet with President Trump at Trump Tower, according to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General. The inquiry into Mr. Mnuchin’s air travel, prompted by an Instagram posting by his wife, found he broke no laws in his use of military aircraft but lamented the loose justification provided for such costly flights. 'What is of concern is a disconnect between the standard of proof called for' by the Office of Management and Budget 'and the actual amount of proof provided by Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests,' the inspector general wrote.... Treasury secretaries generally take commercial flights except in extenuating circumstances because of the exorbitant costs of using military planes. For instance, Mr. Mnuchin’s June flight to Miami ... cost $43,725.50. While the flight was approved, the Treasury Department’s travel office sent a note to Mr. Mnuchin’s assistant that a round-trip commercial flight would cost just $688." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: AND of course we mustn't forget the aborted plans for an all-expense-paid European honeymoon. Medlar & I will be paying our federal income taxes today, & we'll be thinking of the portion that we'll be contributing to this multi-millionaire's extravagances. Not to mention contemplating the higher taxes we'll pay in 2018 if the arrogant, self-serving flyboy gets his way on tax "reform." (Of course, his tax own obligation will plummet under his so-called middle class tax plan.)

Homeland Security? Not So Much. Josh Dawsey, et al., of Politico: "White House officials believe that chief of staff John Kelly’s personal cellphone was compromised, potentially as long ago as December, according to three U.S. government officials. The discovery raises concerns that hackers or foreign governments may have had access to data on Kelly’s phone while he was secretary of Homeland Security and after he joined the West Wing. Tech support staff discovered the suspected breach after Kelly turned his phone in to White House tech support this summer complaining that it wasn’t working or updating software properly. Kelly told the staffers the phone hadn’t been working properly for months, according to the officials.... Kelly has since begun using a different [personal] phone..., though he relies on his government phone when he’s inside the White House.... The document triggered concern throughout the West Wing about what information might have been exposed...." Mrs. McC: Yeah, like that time Kelly told a friend Trump was a moron. ...

... Carol Lee, et al., of NBC News: "John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, abruptly scrapped plans to travel with ... Donald Trump on Wednesday so he could try to contain his boss’s fury and manage the fallout from new revelations about tensions between the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to six senior administration officials. Kelly summoned Tillerson, and their ally Defense Secretary James Mattis, to the White House, where the three of them huddled to discuss a path forward, according to three administration officials.... Trump was furious when he saw the NBC News report, which was published shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday. For the next two hours the president fumed inside the White House, venting to Kelly, officials said.... Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, was fuming in Phoenix, where he was traveling, seven officials told NBC News. He and Tillerson spoke on the phone before the secretary’s public appearance on Wednesday morning.... Pence was incensed upon learning from the NBC report that Tillerson’s top spokesman had said he once privately questioned the value of Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.... [R.C. Hammond, Tillerson's] spokesman, publicly apologized for his comments about Pence and Haley, saying he 'spoke out of line about conversations I wasn’t privy to.' The secretary’s refusal to deny that he had called the president a 'moron' in his opening statement and in his responses to questions from reporters stoked Trump’s anger and widened the rift between the two men, officials said." ...

... Gene Robinson: "One of the most appalling aspects of the Trump presidency is the sycophancy he requires of the officials who serve him. Trump demands not just loyalty but flattery, too. He insists that his courtiers treat his pronouncements, however absurd or offensive, as infallible holy writ. Members of his Cabinet have made a humiliating bargain: humor him, suck up to him, and maybe — just maybe — he will leave you alone and let you make policy.... The president loosed a flurry of tweets claiming the whole thing was 'fake news,' culminating in a demand Thursday for a congressional investigation of news outlets whose reporting he does not like." ...

... Jonathan Chait: "Presumably almost everybody who works for Trump considers him a moron.... But the trick of working for a powerful moron is not to say that they’re a moron in front of them or anybody who has an incentive to convey your comments to them. And if you are caught, you probably need to make a convincing denial, so that the president is not left in the awkward position of having a Secretary of State who is publicly known to have called him a moron. This is just the kind of basic principle of diplomacy that ought to be familiar to, say, the United States government’s head diplomat." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump has made speeches where he asserted, "I'm, like, a very smart person.... Wharton School, blah blah." But he's never made a speech where he asserts, a la Nixon, "I am not a moron." I'm looking forward to that.

Charlie Savage of the New York Times: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to take the position in court cases that transgender people are not protected by a civil rights law that bans workplace discrimination based on sex. The move was the Trump administration’s latest contraction of the Obama-era approach to civil rights enforcement. The dispute centers on how to interpret employment protections based on 'sex' in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In December 2014, the attorney general at the time, Eric H. Holder Jr., ordered the Justice Department to view 'sex' as encompassing gender identity, extending protections to transgender people. But in a two-page memo to all United States attorneys and other top officials, Mr. Sessions revoked Mr. Holder’s directive. The word 'sex' in the statute, Mr. Sessions said, means only 'biologically male or female,' so the Civil Rights Act does not ban 'discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Here again, Congress could fix this. But it won't. BTW, let's not assume JeffBo is a smarmy little bigot. Maybe he is just taking advantage of the opportunity to write "sex" in an official document.

Hope You Can Read Spanish. Jenna Johnson: "As of Wednesday, half of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water and 5 percent of the island had electricity, according to statistics published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its Web page documenting the federal response to Hurricane Maria. By Thursday morning, both of those key metrics were no longer on the Web page. FEMA spokesman William Booher noted that both measures are still being reported on a website maintained by the office of Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, www.status.pr. According to that website, which is in Spanish, 9.2 percent of the island now has power and 54.2 percent of residents have access to drinking water. Booher said that these measures are also shared in news conferences and media calls that happen twice a day, but he didn't elaborate on why they are no longer on the main FEMA page." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I thought Republicans' idea of being a "real American" required fluency in English (not that the POTUS is particularly fluent), but gave no demerits for speaking English only. Nice to know the Trump administration is encouraging "real Americans" to learn Spanish!

Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "President Trump on Thursday nominated Andrew R. Wheeler, a coal lobbyist with links to outspoken deniers of established science on climate change, to help lead the Environmental Protection Agency. In announcing Mr. Wheeler, a former aide to Senator James M. Inhofe, to be deputy administrator of the agency, the White House tapped an experienced legislative hand reviled by environmental activists but hailed by industry as having the know-how to dismantle Obama-era fossil fuel regulations." Mrs. McC: Hey, not as bad as nominating a gerbil who has never been outside a climate-controlled lab. But close.

Evan Perez, et al., of CNN: "Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter.... CNN has learned that the FBI and the US intelligence community last year took the [Christopher] Steele dossier more seriously than the agencies have publicly acknowledged.... The intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, and the FBI took Steele's research seriously enough that they kept it out of a publicly-released January report on Russian meddling in the election in order to not divulge which parts of the dossier they had corroborated and how. This contrasts with attempts by ... Donald Trump and some lawmakers to discredit Steele and the memos he produced."

Wonders Never Cease. New York Times: "The National Rifle Association on Thursday endorsed tighter restrictions on devices that allow a rifle to fire bullets as fast as a machine gun — a rare, if small, step for a group that for years has vehemently opposed any new gun controls.... On Capitol Hill, support appeared to grow for a ban on the bump stock devices, either through regulation or legislation, as Republicans — who for decades have rejected any form of gun restrictions — began increasingly to speak out. Several leading Republicans, including Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, have raised serious questions about the devices. In the House, Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, has drafted a measure banning bump stocks, which he said he planned to introduce on Thursday. He said his office had been 'flooded' with calls from dozens of fellow Republicans who wanted to sign on." ...

... Oh, Not So Wonder-ful. Rachel Bade, et al., of Politico: "The National Rifle Association on Thursday called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review whether 'bump stocks' — similar to the devices used in Sunday's Las Vegas shooting massacre — comply with federal law. 'The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,' NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director Chris Cox added in a joint statement. The move by the influential gun lobby, which often stifles any legislation that might be interpreted as curbing Second Amendment rights, is designed to head off a messy gun control debate in Congress. Officials with the group have told Capitol Hill Republicans and Trump administration officials they would prefer a new rule or regulations from ATF, rather than hastily cobbled together legislation." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So the idea here is to squelch legislation, after all, & to urge the ATF to "review" the sale of bump stocks. Even if the ATF soon decides bump-stock sales do not comply with current law, the agency would be issuing a regulation, & regulations are usually easier to change than are laws. Also, by asking anonymous ATF personnel to "review" its regulations, the NRA is getting its paid Congresscritters off the hook on what, for many of them, would be a controversial vote.

... Lorraine Woellert of Politico: "The firing range at the National Rifle Association headquarters, like many ranges across the nation, bans the use of bump fire systems such as the one used by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, according to firearms experts. Bump stocks increase the speed at which bullets are fired and cause the entire weapon to move back and forth in the shooter’s grip. While the devices are said to convert semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic ones, they also decrease accuracy and are less safe, the experts say." ...

... Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times: "Sales of the firearm accessory that the Las Vegas gunman used to modify his rifles jumped this week, causing some companies to sell out of the so-called bump stocks even as Walmart and Cabela’s stripped them from their websites. The products — conversion kits that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, similar to an automatic weapon — were once relatively obscure specialty items aimed at gun enthusiasts who own semiautomatic rifles. But since the massacre on Sunday, when the gunman fired on a music festival crowd from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing dozens and injuring more than 500, interest in the accessory has surged. Officials said that 12 of the rifles found in the gunman’s suite were outfitted with bump stocks." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Every person who buys a bump stock should be put on the terrorist watch list, & armed ATF & FBI agents should pay a call on each one of them. ...

... Tim Egan describes the poorly-worded Second Amendment as "the cancer in the Constitution." "... the Second Amendment became a cancer because lawmakers stopped making laws to match the technological advances of weaponry. They did it to appease a lobby of gunmakers. And that cowering to a single special interest shows how the cancer has spread to the democracy itself, making it nearly impossible for majority will to be exercised. A majority of Americans — indeed, a majority of gun owners — want laws to keep lunatics and terrorists from committing mass homicide. But what is the response of our elected officials? I’ll let President Trump explain. As he told the N.R.A. after the election, 'You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you.'” ...

... ** It Isn't Just the Second Amendment. It's the Whole Constitution. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, Norm Ornstein & Thomas Mann: "Why does our political system make it impossible even to consider solutions to gun violence? After the massacre in Las Vegas that has so far taken nearly 60 lives and left more than 500 injured, the first reaction of the many politicians who carry water for the gun lobby was to declare it 'premature' to discuss measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands.... But something else is at work here. As we argue in our book, 'One Nation After Trump,' the United States is now a non-majoritarian democracy. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, that’s because it is. Claims that our republic is democratic are undermined by a system that vastly overrepresents the interests of rural areas and small states. This leaves the large share of Americans in metropolitan areas with limited influence over national policy. Nowhere is the imbalance more dramatic or destructive than on the issue of gun control."

Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "A senior House Democrat said Thursday that it’s time for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and two top lieutenants to prepare to step down and make way for the next generation of lawmakers in her caucus. The comments by Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.), who as vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus ranks fifth in the 194-member body, are the most explicit by a senior congressional Democrat and a member of the California congressional delegation about Pelosi’s political future."

Adios, Timbo. Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Rep. Tim Murphy said Thursday that he will resign from Congress this month, a day after the eight-term Pennsylvania Republican announced that he would not seek reelection amid a personal scandal.... Murphy’s decision to resign within weeks, rather than remain in Congress for an additional 15 months, came amid pressure from top Republican leaders to remove himself as a distraction as the GOP House tackles a major tax bill and other legislative priorities. 'I’ve spoken with Tim quite a bit the last couple of days,' [Speaker Paul] Ryan said at a news conference shortly before Murphy’s resignation was announced. 'I think it’s appropriate that he moves on to the next chapter of his life. And I think he agrees with that.'... The resignation of Murphy, a clinical psychologist, comes after a news report claimed that the married Republican had asked a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair to get an abortion.” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: You see how civilized & polite & all Ryan is? Instead of yelling "You're fired," as would the Moron-in-Chief, Ryan shows a guy the door while urging him to "move on to the next chapter of your life." Sweet. Anyhow, so long, Tim, you despicable, misogynistic hypocrite.

Greg LaRose of the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "A federal judge in Virginia has thrown out the most substantial charges against former congressman William Jefferson of New Orleans and ordered 'his immediate release' from prison while his new sentence is determined. He is five years into a 13-year term for corruption, but seven of the 10 charges against him have been thrown out on appeal. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of Virginia issued the order Wednesday (Oct. 4).... The most damning evidence investigators found in the case were bundles of cash totaling $90,000 kept in a refrigerator at Jefferson's home in New Orleans.... Jefferson's lawyers exhausted their first avenue of appeal, getting one of his convictions removed, but they renewed their efforts full force following the Supreme Court's 2016 ruling in the United States v. McDonnell. The case involved former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who had been convicted on a federal bribery charge for accepting gifts from a businessman who was seeking help to promote his company. Justices ruled that it was difficult to define that what McDonnell did in response to the gifts comprised an 'official act.' Federal prosecutors chose not to retry McDonnell, leading to a flood of new appeals from convicted politicos. Jefferson's new appeal was based on the same argument as McDonnell's, and Ellis agreed with most of its points."

Beyond the Beltway -- Men Behaving Badly Edition

Sarah Parvini, et al., of the Los Angeles Times: "After the dean of USC’s medical school resigned last year amid long-running complaints about his drinking and boorish treatment of colleagues, university leaders assured students and faculty that his successor would be worthy of respect. The man USC chose, however, had a black mark on his own personnel record: A finding by the university 15 years ago that he had behaved inappropriately toward a female medical school fellow. USC formally disciplined the dean, Dr. Rohit Varma, in 2003 following allegations that he sexually harassed the young researcher while he was a junior professor supervising her work.... As The Times was preparing to publish a story disclosing the case, USC announced Thursday afternoon that Varma was no longer dean." Mrs. McC: USC should take a look at who-all they're putting on their search committees.

Brad Schrade of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "A south Georgia grand jury indicted Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby on Tuesday for sexual battery, false imprisonment and violation of oath of office after he ordered a school-wide search of hundreds of high school students. Deputies allegedly touched girls’ vaginas and breasts and groped boys in their groin area during the search at the Worth County High School April 14. Two of Hobby’s deputies were also indicted Tuesday in connection with the case. The controversial search drew national attention because of its scope and how deputies conducted it under the guise of a drug search that produced no drugs or arrests."

Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey of the New York Times: "An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed [sexual harassment] allegations against [film producer Harvey] Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company. During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.... In public, he presents himself as a liberal lion, a champion of women and a winner of not just artistic but humanitarian awards." ...

... Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter: "On the heels of The New York Times' bombshell exposé published Thursday about 'decades of harassment' on the part of Harvey Weinstein, the mogul's attorney Charles Harder says he's preparing a lawsuit against the paper.... Harder is perhaps most famous as the lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in the litigation that brought down Gawker."

News Ledes

Washington Post: "After killing at least 22 people in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, intensifying Tropical Storm Nate is on a collision course with the northern U.S. Gulf Coast. Southeast Louisiana, including vulnerable New Orleans, lies in the path. The storm, which is predicted to strengthen into a hurricane, should make landfall between late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Damaging winds and flooding threaten the region from roughly Morgan City, La., to Pensacola, Fla."

Washington Post: "The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last month, the first decline in six years. But the unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.2 percent. Analysts had been expecting job growth to slump in September after the one-two punch from the hurricanes. But this was worse than expected."

New York Times: "In a year when threats from nuclear weapons seemed to draw closer, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to an advocacy group behind the first treaty to prohibit them. The group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a Geneva-based coalition of disarmament activists, was honored for its efforts to advance the negotiations that led to the treaty, which was reached in July at the United Nations."

Reader Comments (14)

The War President*

This is exactly like Trump:

"Boy oh boy, somebody's really gonna get it!"

"Who, Mr. President, who?"

"I'm not tellin'"

"Can you give us a hint?"

"No."

"Are you going after Iran? ISIS? Who?"

"You'll find out."

"Just a hint?"

"No. Now go away."

Just like Trump. It's also exactly like a six year old. A six year old who has nuclear weapons. And can launch them whenever he feels like it. Now go away. He has to finish building his Lego ICBM silo. It's gonna be soooo cool!

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: You're giving Trump wa-a-a-ay too much credit. I don't think there's a chance he has now or ever has had the capacity or attention span to build even a simple Lego structure.

BTW, you did me a huge personal favor yesterday in one of your comments. It wouldn't be of interest to anyone else, so I'll let you know what it was in a private e-mail. If others are curious, you could call Donnie Jr. or Jared to connect you with some Russians to hack my e-mail accounts.

October 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Wendy Sherman has said that if Trump messes with the Iran deal there will be catastrophic consequences. She stressed once again the hard work that went into that agreement––the endless meetings they had on negotiations: "Obama was in every meeting–-he knew the machinations of this plan inside and out." Now we have this buffoon who wants to destroy not only this agreement but anything else that has Obama's foot prints.

Because Trump is operating on a tinker toy mentality (I agree with Marie–-legos way too difficult) his "Wait and see" phrase has been something he has done from the get-go. It gives him a sense of power, especially over the press with whom he belittles and hates because they "got his number." MAG said yesterday, I think, that "Moron" was too good for him even though he does display moronic tenancies; perhaps in time we won't have to stress out about labels or anything else Trump wise. Perhaps sooner than later ––as the man himself says–-"you'll see, as time goes bye"–––oh, yeah!

As for the IRA bending over slightly, it's only like that French lady who threw out the cake crumbs. A Bump Stock ban? Yowsa! We'll see serious gun control when the Democrats GET CONTROL of the house and the senate ––we'll surely get gun control "as time goes bye."

Won't we?

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Kneecapping the Iran nuclear deal is surely a wet dream of Vlad's, but my blame will fall squarely on McConnell and Ryan, with a powerful assist from FoxNews. The strategy of inserting the word "disastrous" in front of every policy, agreement, and piece of legislation has rendered the entire Republican population incapable of rational thought.

Pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, worsen our relationship with allies by about five steps. Send our military to make war on Iran or North Korea, turn us into a true pariah state. The cost of the first is huge. The cost of the second is incalculable.

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

The NRA's posture from Wayne LaPierre is merely putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound as that canard expression implies. Oh, yeah, banning the Bump Stock is such a yuge concession for the gun lobby! Not. This sudden concern is merely some self-serving PR that hides behind a fear that OMG they'll be coming after our AK-47s next.

@AK: your new MAGA acronyms as defined in yesterday's post are way too brilliant. You do have the best words, but I think for the intended audience you'll probably need to dumb it down to some simpler, in-your-face, and mostly one or two syllable words.
(Perhaps something like Many Amoral Grifters Around)

Trump wants his own war so badly.
Trump wants his own war to look presiduncial*
Trump wants his own war to strut on some battleship deck.
—(Oops! but won't be "airdropped" like Bush.)
Trump wants his own war, mostly a parade.
Trump wants his own war to cover his backside
..............(see Mueller investigation).
Trump wants his own war because he's not getting
—anything else accomplished.
Trump wants his own war (fill in blank)___________.

@PD: Think it might have been Gloria who objected to calling the moron a moron, but she did go for fucking moron, which according to another comment I read elsewhere (WaPo) that indicated adding the adjective as enhanced phrasing. (Enhanced, do like putting it that way!)

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Trump's issue with Iran is the same as the ACA. We have make sure the black guy who was POTUS looks wrong about everything. The idea that Obama is smarter than the moron-in-chief is not tolerable.
NYT:U.S. Shed Jobs Last Month as Hurricanes Roared Through.
Obama's fault!! Not just the jobs, the hurricanes.

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Mrs. B.,

Glad I could be of service. Whatever it was, I'm glad.

PD,

I think you meant the NRA but your inclusion of the IRA brings up an interesting point. The IRA, a true terror organization which started as the military incarnation of a desire among those committed to Irish republicanism for independence and freedom from a domineering foreign government--something far more important than being able to strut into a Taco Bell with guns hanging off you, intimidating moms and little kids--actually did bend. More than bend. They sat down at a table and worked out a peace agreement. With people they truly hated. They got it done.

This is something the NRA will never do. That bump stock thing is a sop. It gives them and their lackeys in congress the chance to declare that comity has been achieved. Well, not true comity. More like comedy. So what we have here is the example of a terror organization operating underground for almost a century, involved in bombings, killings, gun running, money laundering, political assassinations, and blowing up half of London, that is more reasonable than the National Rifle Association.

NiskyGuy,

"Disastrous", as you suggest, is a catch-all descriptive applied by Confederates to any and all things Obama. When Trump moved his fat ass into the White House, he described the wallpaper in the Oval Office as disastrous. They are as predictable as they are petty.

MAG,

Thanks. It's not often I can say "I just don't have the words" but it's happened frequently in this Age of Trumpy. But you're right. Dumbing down is sort of a function of state when dealing with the little king. So how 'bout this: My Aching, Ginormous Ass.

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

More alternative facts from the Confederacy

This morning on NPR, I listened slack-jawed as Steve Inskeep interviewed Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moron) about the NRA.

Naturally, Cole had only the most amazing, wonderful, great things to say about all those fine fellows at the NRA, exemplary Americans, all. And bump stocks? Why, he's never heard of those things. The idea. What about other gun controls? Oh, never. What we need to be doing, says Cole, is work on those sick, crazy people. Mental health. That's the ticket. Oh, says, Inskeep? Of course, says Cole. But, you know, we've already done a lot of work in that area. A LOT.

Here I was hoping (against hope it turned out) that Inskeep would say something like "Oh, yes. I remember now. You all voted to make sure mentally ill people could purchase firearms! Good job!"

Realizing that this was a dry hole, Inskeep moved on to the ACA and outlined several of the more egregious and blatantly obvious ways Trump is trying to hamstring that plan. He brought up states such as Iowa, which asked Trump if they could please, pretty please, try to fix their health exchanges, to which the little king flat out said "no". Then Inskeep came round to Cole's state, Ohhhhhh-klahoma, where officials in that state have told Trump that they've figured out a way to keep residents on the ACA AND save money. They had a deadline for his answer. He never got back to them. Surprised?

Given those blatant examples of perfidy and sabotage, Inskeep asked Cole if, in his opinion, such outrageous maneuvering was a sign that Trump wanted the ACA to fail.

You can guess his response. I'll translate from the original Confederate: "Lie, lie, lie, lie, wink, wink, nod, nod, lie some more."

Of course Trump's not doing that! Never in life! How can you say such things? The president wants GREAT, the best, healthcare for ALL Americans! He'd never do a thing like that.

It's like seeing a man running through a parking lot, throwing open the hoods of cars and yanking out the spark plug wires. You see a bystander and ask if they thought that, perhaps, the man was attempting to ensure that the cars won't start. Then hearing the bystander reply that, it was most likely true that that man was simply trying to improve the performance of the cars.

Do they ever get tired of lying?

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@ Mrs. McC, since you're at a loss for words to describe our presidunce I'll give it a try. How about: a pustulating piece of puerile prepuce?

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

Their Favorite Things

I'm tempted to add a link to that Rodgers and Hammerstein song, "My Favorite Things", you know, "Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels..." (then again, I'd probably, in a moment of weakness, choose the John Coltrane version; oh, what the hell, here ya go) when thinking about My Favorite Constitutional Things.

To good ol' Kellyanne, who is becoming a sort of Cruella Devil of the Trumpy World, the most important thing in the Constitution, "the bedrock" as she put it the other day, isn't due process under law, the right to vote, the structure of government, the right not to be enslaved, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Nope. Can you guess what her favorite thing is?

The right to shoot people.

Because, why not?

"Holsters with big Glocks and bags full of bump stocks,
Teaching some lessons with my Smith and Wessons,
Sweet sounding bang-bangs and M1s in slings,
These are a few of my favorite things..."

So, okay, I could let it go at that, but let's drill down a bit on this claim and see if it makes any sense at all.

I get that the argument would be that we need guns to free ourselves and stay free. The founders were thinking of Great Britain, no doubt. But they were mostly thinking of a "well ordered militia" which would require weapons.

But that's not at all what Kellyanne and her Confederate pals mean now. They mean gun shows and semi-automatic weapons and high capacity clips and Las Vegas and Newtowne.

But here's the thing. When the Constitution was written, we were already free. Sure, we'll keep the militia on hand in case of emergencies, but now we've got a country to organize and run. We are going to try something that's never been done before, at least not on this scale. We're going to try to create an actual democracy. A democratic republic. But we're also going to try to address the sort of tyrannical actions we were used to under King George, unreasonable searches, seizures, being held indefinitely without trials, then manifestly unfair trials if we ever get one. We want people to be able to vote, and later, to let women vote. And, once we got rid of slavery, to allow blacks and other minorities to vote as well. We want a government structured with checks and balances and we want to be able to address problems with our plan in the future, ergo, being able to amend our constitution.

But to Kellyanne, these are all piddling things. They are not the "bedrock".

What's most important is the ability to have a gun--no, LOTS of guns-- so you can cap some sumbitch who's all up in your shit.

Is this....just a bit fucked up?

You bet. Look, I don't have a problem with people owning guns. But how about some common sense? The Second Amendment is NOT the bedrock of the Constitution. It's an AMENDMENT. And not even the most important one. That would be....you got it....the FIRST AMENDMENT. The one her boss is going after with a sledgehammer.

Look, people have always had, or have been able to get their hands on, weapons. All through history. I don't recall any chapter in Livy or Tacitus or Thucydides or Herodotus where the ancients got together and said "Shit. What we need are more and better ways to kill people!"

NO. The purpose of the Constitution was to create something that people had hardly ever had before. A truly representative government that would serve the people, not the crown, or the pope, or some other hooligan head-man schmucko.

We had weapons. We didn't have democracy.

But what do Confederates think is most important? Something we've had since early hominids were braining each other with rocks.

Well, after all, I guess that IS their favorite thing. It's not a surprise that the Flintstones, that "modern stone age family" lived in Bedrock. There was Fred and Wilma, and Barney and Betty....and Kellyanne.

Enjoy the Coltrane.

(Trivia time: By the way, listen to McCoy Tyner's chord pattern, the alternating major and minor chords as he lays that carpet under Coltrane's lines. Ray Manzarek, keyboardist of the Doors, says that this riff was the essential inspiration for "Light My Fire". Listen to both. It's pretty cool. Then go buy a gun and shoot someone. Just for fun. Hey, it's the Bedrock!)

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Unwashed,

Good one. You left out pestilential.

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

One more thing about the gun nuts.

They claim that we need guns to be safe. More guns, more safety.

If that were so, we'd be one of the safest countries on earth. Are we?

Hell, no.

Yeah, we're safer than El Salvador, Venezuela, and Guatemala, but "Safer Than El Salvador" doesn't look all that inspiring on NRA gift t-shirts.

In fact, places where guns are heavily regulated are far and away much safer than the US.

Normally you'd have to say, "Well, there goes that idea" but not Confederates.

Then again, they're not normal.

But anyway, "Safer Than El Salvador!"

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Democrats Intent on Losing: Jesus!

"The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster."

"One Art"- Elizabeth Bishop

Bishop knew a lot about losing. So do Democrats.

Bishop learned from her losses. Can Democrats? I dunno.

Charlie Pierce relates some amazing stories of Democratic victories in the most unlikely of places and races (a black socialist named Chokwe Lumumba winning a mayoral race in fucking Jackson, MI!!).

But the DNC, fearful and fidgety and fucked up as ever, isn't sure we should, ya know, support a Democratic candidate in Alabama.
Doug Jones. A guy with a sterling record, a guy who successfully prosecuted KKK racist pig assholes who blew up little girls in a church, going against a loony-tune homophobic, theocratic religious nut, Roy Moore, whose sole public service highlights were being kicked off the Alabama bench, twice. "Oh my, how ever could we beat this guy?" they whine. Are you kidding? A box of Cheerios should beat this guy. But Democrats, terrorized by the millisecond of darkness left by their own shadows, are shaking in their boots over a guy who makes Nazis look like stand up citizens.

It's like wondering whether Columbus had a shot. Was it easy? No. But it wasn't anywhere near impossible. Still, we have a pile of Democrats waving their handkerchiefs in defeat. Against a guy whose brainpower couldn't light a Christmas bulb for three seconds.

Jesus, we need to come out, guns blazing (so to speak) against these peckerwoods. If we lose, fine. But it won't be because we didn't try.

Mid terms are months away and we're still in a daze wondering how Hillary could have possibly lost.

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@AK: NRA instead of IRA––whatever was I thinking––but you put your finger on it I think––memories linger in the old brain regarding Irish foment mit guns and glory.

Your reference to Cruella, connecting her to Kellyann is exactly right–-I can picture her running down the White House lawn chased by hundreds of Dalmatians eager to take a bite.

Your comments re: Dems being mealy mouthed about the fight for the Alabama race I hope will take a different turn. And yes, did we not learn anything from the last election?????

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe
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