The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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."

Friday
Oct062017

The Commentariat -- October 7, 2017

Late Morning Update:

Mike Allen of Axios: "President Trump telephoned Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday in an effort to revive health-care legislation, Republican sources said. Trump was seeking 'a path forward on health care,' a GOP source said." ...

... Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "... Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Saturday he told President Trump that Democrats would be open to stabilizing the health-care system, but that another push to repeal and replace ObamaCare was 'off the table.' 'The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that's off the table,' Schumer said in a statement on his call with Trump on Friday, news of which the president confirmed in a tweet. 'If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs, Schumer added."

Most Depressing Op-ed of the Day. Doug Sosnik in a Washington Post op-ed: "More than half of Americans don’t think Donald Trump is fit to serve as president, yet he has a clear path to winning reelection. If Trump isn’t removed from office and doesn’t lead the country into some form of global catastrophe, he could secure a second term simply by maintaining his current level of support with his political base." Sosnik is a Democratic strategist.

A Demented World of Their Own. Derek Hawkins of the Washington Post: "Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) still seems swayed by the 'false flag' theory of the white supremacist violence [at Charlottesville]. In an interview with Vice News that aired Thursday night, Gosar suggested that the rally was 'created by the left' and carried out by an 'Obama sympathizer. The congressman also brought up a thoroughly refuted claim that [George] Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who survived Nazi occupation during World War II, had collaborated with the Third Reich, prompting a strongly worded condemnation from a Soros spokeswoman. Gosar’s remarks also drew a stream of criticism on Twitter. 'Will other Republicans rebuke him,' asked Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. 'If not, is this a party to which one can belong?' 'That drip-drip-drip of anti-Semitism,' wrote science writer Steve Silberman.”

*****

Our Coy Warmonger. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "President Trump on Friday kept the public wondering about his cryptic warning regarding a 'calm before the storm.' 'You’ll find out,' Trump told reporters at the White House when asked what he meant by his comment. The president left many people scratching their heads after he offered mysterious remarks before a Thursday dinner with military leaders.” ...

... Eric Levitz of New York: 'On Friday, reporters once again asked Trump to clarify his remark. Once again, the president replied, 'You’ll find out' — only this time, while winking. Moments later, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump’s 'calm before the storm' prediction was 'extremely serious,' and that the president was definitely not just 'messing with the press.'...  Meanwhile, several White House aides told the New York Times that they had no idea what Trump was referring to Thursday night.... Arms-control expert Jeffrey Lewis has warned that if Kim Jong-un has reason to believe that the U.S. might be on the verge of making a first strike against his regime, then he has an incentive to 'go first, if he is to go at all.'” ...

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I hate to find myself agreeing with Chris Cillizza, but I guess every responsible person would agree with this: On Trump's remarks at the Thursday night dinner with top generals: "... Trump didn't have to say anything. Reporters shout questions at these photo-ops all the time. Presidents ignore them all the time. So he did this on purpose. He wanted to say this -- so he did. And then he did it again!... As a reality TV star and producer..., the goal is always to stoke drama, always do everything you can to keep people watching.... Cliffhangers are the best way to do that.... The stakes of a reality TV show are roughly zero. The stakes of diplomacy with rogue nations pursuing nuclear weapons are incredibly high. What's not clear at the moment is whether Trump understands that difference." ...

... John Bowden of the Hill: In Puerto Rico, "Vice President Pence reportedly dodged questions from reporters on Friday about President Trump's remark about a 'calm before the storm,' referring questions to the White House."...

...Juan Cole: "Trump is a blowhard and you can’t pay too much attention to his bluster or you’d never get any sleep. But what is worrying is that Trump’s poll numbers are cratering in a way unprecedented for any modern president...The conjuncture of these two pieces of news– Trump making cryptic but dire threats and Trump’s astonishing unpopularity–creates the threat of a wag the dog scenario. Americans rally around the flag when the US goes to war, and presidents know this...Trump is having the kind of fall from grace politically that typically tempts presidents into some sort of military action. And that is why we should take his “calm before the storm” threat seriously." --safari...

...Reuters via the Guardian: "North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile which it believes can reach the west coast of the United States, according to a Russian lawmaker who has just returned from a visit to Pyongyang...In Washington, a US official said that there had been indications that North Korea could be preparing for a missile test on or around 10 October, the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Korean Workers party. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not disclose the type of missile that could be tested and cautioned that North Korea in the past has not staged launches despite indications that it would." --safari

Juan Cole lists 5 signs that your President might be a fucking moron. --safari: Cole's being generous only listing 5....

...Seth Meyers lambasts our "fucking moron". --safari

Today in Administration Bigotry: the Right to Discriminate Rule. Dominic Holden & Zoe Tillman: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed federal agencies and attorneys on Friday to protect religious liberty in a broad, yet vague, guidance memo that critics fear could give people of faith — including government workers and contractors — a loophole to ignore federal bans on discrimination against women and LGBT people. The guidance says the government cannot unduly burden people or certain businesses from practicing their faith, noting, 'The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.' The policy does not create new law, but rather interprets how the government should construe the Constitution and existing federal law. It comes on the heels of the Justice Department weighing in on a religious liberty case, in which lawyers under Sessions argued in a brief to the US Supreme Court that a Christian baker had a First Amendment right to deny a gay couple a cake for their wedding.” ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Sarah Bailey of the Washington Post: "Sessions articulated 20 sweeping principles about religious freedom and what that means for the U.S. government — among them that freedom of religion extends to people and organizations; that religious employers are allowed to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs; and that grants can’t require religious organizations to change their character. ... [The guidelines triggered] an immediate backlash from civil liberties groups who asserted the nation’s top law enforcement officer was trying to offer a license for discrimination.... They could have a broad negative impact, permitting religious groups to impinge on the rights of LGBT people and others, said civil liberties advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Federation and others.... The most immediate effect seemed to be on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate. On Friday, the Trump administration issued a rule — which the ACLU said it would sue over, but groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said they support — allowing a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives, such as birth control pills, on religious or moral grounds." ...

This is a direct attack on women’s rights. The Trump administration is using the guise of religious liberty to carry out their ideological agenda to deprive women of basic reproductive health care. -- Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights ...

... Keep 'em Barefoot & Pregnant. Here's the new lede on Robert Pear's NYT story, linked yesterday: "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." ...

... of Mother Jones: "The ACLU, along with at least three other organizations, announced today that they will file a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rule gutting Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Trump’s rule ... greatly expands the type of employers that can opt out of covering birth control as part of their insurance plans. Previously, only religious organizations were exempt from the mandate and they needed to file paperwork in order to qualify, which in turn trigged separate contraception coverage for employees. Now, any employer can claim a religious or moral objection to the mandate and choose to opt out. These employers also no longer need to file paperwork or notify the government, and separate contraception coverage will not be trigg[er]ed. Moreover, insurance companies themselves can now opt out, as can higher educational institutions that arrange insurance for their students. The administration’s move would affect an estimated 62.4 million women who have free birth control coverage through the Affordable Care Act benefit, according to the National Women’s Law Center." ...

... It's All Hilarious. Kaili Gray of Shareblue: "Donald Trump has utterly failed to deliver on his threat to repeal Obamacare and harm the millions of men and women who have health care because of it. So he’s going to punish women directly instead.... Asked by Fox Business Network correspondent Blake Burman to respond to the millions of women who will lose their access to basic health care because of the Trump administration’s vengeful decision, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s response was appalling. She laughed — laughed — and then dared to suggest anyone who disagrees with the decision does not support the Constitution the way Donald Trump does.... in between her chuckles, Sanders also stated something that is simply untrue. The Supreme Court has not validated this decision even once, let alone 'many times over.'” ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Unfortunately, the Supremes will very likely give their high-holy blessings to everything Sessions & Trump do to curb the rights of women, gays & minorities. No wonder Sarah is chuckling. I hope she gets pregnant & is caught sneaking into an abortion clinic. ...

... New York Times Editors: "Under the guise of protecting religious freedom and moral sensibilities, the Trump administration is making it harder for women to get access to birth control. On Friday, it rolled back an Obama-era rule requiring most employers to provide their employees with birth control coverage without co-payments. The mandate, established under the Affordable Care Act, has helped millions of women avoid unwanted pregnancy by eliminating out-of-pockets costs for contraception.... The Trump administration says, with no evidence whatsoever, that its new rules will have no effect on 'over 99.9 percent of the 165 million women in the United States.'... President Trump’s assault on the birth control mandate is like his broader attack on the Affordable Care Act, filled with spite, based on falsehoods and fueled by vindictiveness toward his predecessor. And both will hurt millions of people.” ...

... Gail Collins: "How can you fight against both abortion and contraception? There are only two possible explanations. One is that you’re a hypocritical politician trolling for right-to-life votes without any personal convictions whatsoever. The suddenly retiring congressman from Pennsylvania, Tim Murphy, would appear to fit into that category.... Let’s call the second category Many Variations on the Little Sisters of the Poor. They’re people of sincere religious conviction, trying to impose their own personal theology on Americans who don’t share it. Some of them claim, with no scientific backing, that birth control involves fertilized eggs being expelled from the uterus and is therefore abortion. Others just believe that it’s immoral for a woman to have sex without accepting the possibility of pregnancy."

Today in Administration Bigotry (Part II): Fomenting Fear. Matt Shuham of TPM: "In August, the FBI’s counterterrorism division published a report warning law enforcement across the country of a new threat. It called the threat “Black Identity Extremism.” It appears to be an invented label, Foreign Policy reported. The publication revealed the existence of the counterterrorism memo Friday and briefly posted the actual document on its website before removing it. According to the FBI, 'it is very likely some BIEs are influenced by a mix of anti-authoritarian, Moorish sovereign citizen ideology, and BIE ideology.'... Counterterrorism and homeland security experts interviewed by Foreign Policy expressed skepticism at the new label. Michael German, a former FBI agent turned Brennan Center fellow, said: 'Basically, it’s black people who scare them.'" --safari: An important step in Making America Great (for white men) Again.

Ken Dilanian of NBC News: "Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence operative who authored a 35-page dossier alleging that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, has been in talks with the Senate Intelligence Committee about speaking to its leaders, three sources familiar with the situation told NBC News. In a development first reported on 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on Thursday night, the sources disputed the characterization of the situation by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the intelligence committee. Burr said this week that Steele had flatly declined the committee's offer to speak to him, and the committee thus had 'hit a brick wall' in its attempts to investigate the dossier.... [Two sources] said that one of the sticking points was Steele's unwillingness to discuss who underwrote his work." ...

...Julian Borger of the Guardian: "Nine months after its first appearance, the set of intelligence reports known as the Steele dossier, one of the most explosive documents in modern political history is still hanging over Washington, casting a shadow over the Trump administration that has only grown darker as time has gone by...The fact that Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators has far-reaching implications...But as every passing months bring more leaks, revelations in the press, and more progress in the investigations, the Steele dossier has generally gained in credibility, rather than lost it." --safari...

... Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast: "... the [Senate] Judiciary Committee is not, in fact, running a Trump-Russia investigation — at least, not a full-fledged one. A staffer for [chair Chuck] Grassley, speaking on the condition of anonymity..., told The Daily Beast that the committee is instead engaged in routine oversight of the Justice Department — though under extraordinary circumstances.... Grassley has primarily used his bully pulpit to rip an opposition-research firm and the FBI.... The Grassley staffer told The Daily Beast that the Judiciary Committee’s investigators are focused on the FBI.... Besides suggesting that the FBI could be responsible for the Trump/Russia troubles, Grassley has also dedicated significant resources into investigating Fusion GPS, an opposition-research firm that compiled the so-called Steele dossier." ...

... David Corn of Mother Jones: "At a packed press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) ... provided a progress report on his panel’s investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal.... Burr tried to make some points that appeared designed to limit ... Donald Trump’s political vulnerabilities.... First, Burr declared that ... he could confidently state that the Russian meddling in the 2016 election resulted in no changes to the vote tallies.... And second, Burr said that Russia’s use of Facebook ads during the presidential campaign seemed 'indiscriminate' and not designed to help a particular candidate.... Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.), a feisty member of the intelligence committee, says both assertions are bunk. Wyden pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security has noted that its assessment that there was no finagling with the vote count was made with only 'moderate confidence.'... Wyden also said that Burr erred in declaring that the Russian Facebook ads—some of which targeted swing states — did not favor a presidential candidate. (Presumably Wyden has seen or been briefed on the content of the ads.) 'That’s one reason why the ads need to be released to the American people,' Wyden remarked, 'so Americans can make up their minds.'”

Celeste Katz of Newsweek: "Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still cleaning up after Hurricane Maria — and some say Vice President Mike Pence is still cleaning up after Donald Trump. Pence headed to the storm-devastated islands Friday to comfort victims and promise lasting government help with recovery. He donned cowboy boots and an empathetic mien while on a mission that exemplified the marked contrast between his style and that of his boss … yet again. 'What you're seeing is the difference between a professional, retail politician who understands the personal touch and a celebrity billionaire who's been largely removed (and remains that way) from citizens,' political consultant Reed Galen summed up for Newsweek." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'd say pence is rehearsing for his 25th Amendment debut. Good work, Mr. Acting President in Waiting.

Jonah Shepp of New York writes a useful piece on how Rex Tillerson has been busy undermining Trump's insane, dangerous "foreign policy" plans.

Brady Dennis of the Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general acknowledged plans Friday to expand its inquiry into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel habits, marking the latest Trump Cabinet member to face scrutiny from his own agency for taxpayer-funded trips. The move came after recent disclosures that Pruitt had taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000 to fly him to various parts of the country, according to records provided to a congressional oversight committee and obtained by The Washington Post." Mrs. McC: And what about that $25,000 phone booth?...

...Swamp Creatures. Natasha Geiling of ThinkProgress: "The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump has officially nominated Andrew Wheelera former coal lobbyist, to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Until recently, Wheeler was a registered lobbyist for Murray Energy; he de-registered as a lobbyist on August 11...As deputy administrator, Wheeler would oversee offices and programs charged with regulating the coal industry." --safari

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?

Cameron Joseph of TPM: "Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore’s top supporter is a hardline Confederate sympathizer with longtime ties to a secessionist groupMichael Anthony Peroutka ... has given Moore, his foundation and his campaigns well over a half-million dollars over the past decade-plus. He’s also expressed beliefs that make even Moore’s arguably theocratic anti-gay and anti-Muslim views look mainstream by comparison. Chief among them: He’s argued that the more Christian South needs to secede and form a new Biblical nation." Read on --safari: I say let 'em take Alabama, fill it with their fundamentalist brethren, and then build a giant, beautiful wall around it. A see-through wall, of course. 

Boeing in Bed with the Moron. Clive Irving of The Daily Beast: "[T]he Commerce Department’s latest and enlarged proposal that a 300 percent tariff should be slapped on every one of the 75 Bombardier C Series jets ordered by Delta Airlines is effectively locking the Canadians out of the U.S. market...[T]he move would jeopardize the whole project and immediately sour relations between America and two long-standing allies whose economies are interdependent with ours: Canada and Great Britain..." --safari

Milo Yiannopoulos uses 'Kristall' (in reference to Kristallnacht) and 'LongKnives1290' (in reference to The Night of the Long Knives and the year King Edward I expelled the Jews from England) as his passwords. He has to be reminded repeatedly by a generally sympathetic editor-in-chief, Alex Marlow, not to 'flirt with okay-ing Nazi memes,' do podcasts with white supremacists, or make Holocaust-oven jokes. He does karaoke while Richard Spencer and other white supremacists give him the Nazi salute.... The Mercer family is completely behind this ideology and so is Steve Bannon. That’s clear from the email threads that BuzzFeed obtained. Together, they turned Milo into a sensation. And when they had to fire him for making comments sympathetic to pedophilia, that didn’t prevent them for quietly supporting him and helping him plan for the next phase of his career[.]... The thing that really hit home for me, though, was the part of the article that described the editorial process Breitbart used when working on their feature piece: An Establishment Conservative’s Guide To The Alt-Right. Since I have an editorial role at the Washington Monthly, I am accustomed to the practice of sending around drafts of articles to people both on and off the official editorial staff. And I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of working in an organization where article drafts are sent out to white nationalists for comment and annotation." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Let's hope the FBI has Bannon, the Mercers & Breitbart in its sites. Meanwhile, we must "never forget" that these are Trump's people. ...

Yahoo! News has a documentary film that provides a "firsthand account of the drama that unfolded during Oct. 7-9, 2016, from the release of the infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape to the second presidential debate — and everything in between."

(Way) Beyond the Beltway

How Convenient. Jon Henley of the Guardian: "The current prime minister of Iceland [Bjarni Benediktsson] sold almost all his remaining assets in a major Icelandic bank’s investment fund on the day the government seized control of the country’s collapsing financial sector at the peak of the 2008 crash...While he denies any wrongdoing and the Guardian has seen no evidence he broke any laws, the revelations could be embarrassing: Benediktsson faces elections on 28 October after his coalition collapsed last month over an alleged attempt to cover up a scandal involving the prime minister’s father and a convicted child sex abuser...The leaked documents...suggest he enjoyed a privileged relationship with Glitnir, close enough to raise questions about a possible conflict of interest between his roles as an MP and as one of the bank’s most valued clients." --safari

News Lede

New York Times: "Hurricane Nate, the 14th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, gained strength on Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico and was speeding toward this low-lying stretch of coast, threatening to come ashore somewhere between New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., as a Category 2 storm, forecasters said. The governors of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, and counties along the coast issued curfews, ordered evacuations and braced for winds that the National Hurricane Center said could reach up to 105 miles an hour."

Reader Comments (12)

Deny women contraception. Result? Serious increase in abortions.
Makes perfect sense.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Rex John Tillerson got his name from two Hollywood actors who played cowboys: Rex Allen and John Wayne. We are now at a point where this Secretary of State might very well be hanging up that diplomatic hat and head into the sunset. But until then the story of Tillerson, Exxon, and the U.S's role in the world has been taken up by Dexter Filkins in this long, in-depth piece that is as fascinating as it is informative.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/16/rex-tillerson-at-the-breaking-point

Pssst: Rex's favorite book? Atlas Shrugged! Ayn (rhymes with "mine") must be pleased as punch knowing she has penetrated into so many hearts and minds, but she's pissed she never got the royalties she deserved––her rubles in purgatory are running out.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

This quote from a NJ Star Leger says it all. "Obama supporters", not contraception, women, constitution. It's all about Obama. And the 'right to life' for only 9 months.

"Although we will no doubt hear all kinds of hysterical rhetoric from Obama supporters, this rule restores fairness and religious liberty to all Americans," Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

PD,

You don't know how depressing it is to hear that Tillerson is such a big fan of that mooching, intellectually dishonest, second rate scribbler. Even the so-called adults in this administration are, intellectually and morally, adolescent fantasists who see themselves as put upon by the undeserving masses. It's not that I'm hoping to find that someone in Tillerson's position has a thing for Kant or loves to read Jane Austen or Herodotus or Iris Murdoch, but Ayn fucking Rand? Again? Jesus. Haven't any of these people developed a mature, original intellectual curiosity? Or do they all prefer Archie comic books? Next Secretary of State: Jughead.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Akhilleus,

But Rand could be a decent storyteller. If she had not been, millions of her books would not have sold and continue to sell. Aside from their literary quality, the problem with her writing, and it is with too many of her fans, is that the simplistic ideas (good, bad--white and black hats) that work well enough to move a plot line along are sheer constructs, not to be confused with the far grainier reality in which we live. Rand, in other words, whether she intended to or not, wrote fantasy, political potboilers, which her simple-minded adherents have adopted whole cloth.

Of course, the theme of unbridled self-interest she built her stories around is very attractive to those whose own self-seeking knows no ethical bounds. For much of the Right, t

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Marvin,

Denying women contraception will almost certainly lead to more abortions. And worse. Because Confederates want nothing more than to be all up in women's business, especially what goes on in the bedroom, and to punish them for having sex without permission just "for fun", they are removing the possibility of safe and legal abortions wherever they can, thus pushing women caught in that vise to the sorts of dangerous, life-threatening decisions that were the natural way of things before Roe v Wade (another reason wingers so hate that decision, taking life altering choices away from men and churchy types and Jesus and giving them to --horrors!--women.

But as much progress as we've made, we still run into misogynistic douchebags like the president, that asshole congressman who demanded his mistress get an abortion, and even big names in sports like Cam Newton who, last week, smirked and told a female reporter that he thought it was "funny" to hear a woman talking about pass routes. As if that's the sole domain of men. He apologized, but only because he had to, but don't think for a minute that there aren't a lot of men out there pissed that a manly man football star had to "knuckle under" to some uppity broad and her feminazi supporters. I can imagine that more than a few women were smacked around last week by their drunken boyfriend or husband after seeing Newton apologizing for dissing a "girl".

But back to Trump's decision to cut women off from contraception. We'll leave aside the rank hypocrisy of his background as a serial philanderer and sexual abuser. As you suggest, there will be consequences to this action. There always are. Often we suffer the result of unintended consequences. But this is different. These consequences are intended. What they aren't are well thought out.

If you position yourself as pro-life, it's amazingly inconsistent to deny contraception. Especially since the outcome will be more abortions, and more unsafe and potentially deadly back-room abortions. I suppose in their minds, it's okay, because it's only the "dirty sluts" who will suffer. But this is indicative of the essential problem of so much of what slithers out of Right Wing World. The inconsistent thinking, the inability to think things through clearly and develop a rational and consistent world view, all point to a kind of ideological mad house where decisions are made, not based on a uniform world view, but off the cuff to support ideological hot buttons.

So, Iran:Muslim. Muslim:bad. Deal with Iran:Bad.

The realpolitik outcome of this deal with Iran aren't even considered. It's bad and that's that. Muslim, bad, deal, bad.

The Las Vegas shooter was white and rich and probably grew up Christian. So after the massacre he's not a terrorist. He's not a spawn of the devil. He's a sick individual who needed help. Had this guy had a beard and a name like Ahmed, the public discourse would be entirely different right now. We'd be talking about rounding up every Muslim within a thousand miles of Nevada.

So banning contraception is the exact worse thing that should be done if your goal is to keep the number of abortions down. But that's not really their goal, is it? Because they also want to ban all abortions. They want to inflict as much suffering as possible on women who have sex without their permission, especially out of wedlock. They want to force those women to have babies. But as soon as those babies are born, they're supposed to get a job immediately and fend for themselves because they also want to ban assistance to unwed mothers AND their kids.

It's an evil, hateful, spiteful, fearful, soulless world on the right.

So I guess their intellectual inconsistency is the least of our problems.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

(cont.) -hose who style themselves thinkers--let's call them the thoughtful deplorables--Rand is made to order. Her fiction justifies the worst within us. That's why these so-called thinkers are eager to clothe themselves in the raiment of Rand's thought.

I'm not surprised to read that Tillerson is a fan. What could be more natural for a man who worked his entire life to become head of a fossil fuel behemoth which lied to the public for years about the immense harm his industry was doing to the planet than to see himself and his struggles personified in one of Rand's heroic figures?

Rand makes all the bad he has done, good.

She was not a writer of fine literature and certainly not much of a thinker, but she was an accomplished propagandist who could tell a good story. And especially during the Cold War she had (and apparently still has) a ready audience in bright youth on the cusp of maturity and the not-so-bright and not-so-nice who are old enough to know better but conveniently choose not.

I wonder if Tillerson the Texan thinks Louis L' Amour wrote non-fiction.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Ken,

I don't disagree that her storylines improbably affect many people. I tried "Atlas Shrugged" when I was about 15. I hated it. It was dense, convoluted, two dimensional, repetitive, and....well, weird. Now, I don't have anything against weird. I read "Tristram Shandy" right around the same time, and man, that was out there. But it was fun and you could tell Sterne was having a blast. He wasn't sticking it to the reader or trying (like Rand) to hypnotize them into unthinking morons, willing to go to the mattresses for his "genius". He invited the reader in so we were all in on the jokes together. It was a great read. Weird, yes. But great.

I do have to say that one of my "guilty pleasure" movies has always been "The Fountainhead". I never read the book (I gave up after Atlas), but I loved the cast. Yes, Gary Cooper is good, but Raymond Massey and especially Patricia Neal, are so much fun to watch. And the story is uber weird. I mean, almost to the point of hallucinatory. I distinctly recall the first time I watched it thinking "Who the fuck greenlighted this thing? This is weeeeiiiirrrdd." Plot lines jump around in such an arbitrary manner, it's like the writer is saying "Okay. This happens, we'll set things up to go in this direction. But then....THIS happens! Out of the blue, with seemingly no narrative support.

But it's stupid and fun weird. It's like watching a dog talk. It's pretty unbelievable but you can't look away because you're not likely to see it again.

That being said, your assessment of the impact of her weird stories is right on the money. It's one thing to read along with a whacko story line purely for the fun of it. It's another thing to adopt the basis of that story as a rule book for your life. You could do worse than to adopt the arch, darkly comic position Sterne takes in "Tristram", a stance at once serious about getting the most out of life but not very serious about unquestioning obeisance to authority.

In a funny way, Rand, who seems as if she's saying "Fuck Authority" is, actually saying "OBEY ME".

And a lot do.

Stupidly and reflexively. Just look at Paul Ryan. And Rand Paul. And now Tillerson. Christ.

(These jamokes all wish--upon a star, I would guess--that America could be just like an Ayn Rand book. Life would be wonderful! And it's true that many books have attempted, literarily, to describe, in shorthand, life in a certain place and time. Think of Kafka. Think of Borges. Now think of what life would be like in America if it were based upon the philosophy and style of some other books. How about "Last Exit to Brooklyn"? How about "Heart of Darkness"? I see that wingers are quick to dismiss dark comparisons between a book like "Handmaid's Tale" and the political direction in America.

But then Trump, a president who believes he can do anything he wants to a woman, kills assistance for contraception...

...and there we are.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

How do we elect these people? "Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who survived Nazi occupation during World War II, had collaborated with the Third Reich" Hello! Soros was 3 years old when the Holocaust began and all 0f 14-15 when the war was over!

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Marvin,

Well, you know how precocious liberals are. Soros probably came up with the plans for Kristallnacht when he was 8 and texted Himmler about an idea for the Final Solution when he was 10.

Let's not even consider the extreme unlikelihood of an adolescent Hungarian Jew helping Nazis eliminate his own people. Nothing stands in the way of wingers who have what they believe is a great dirty story to hang on liberals. Especially if they're Jews.

Trump is closer to Nazis than Soros. A lot closer. And Bannon? He'd have been in Hitler's inner circle.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Left generally seem to be the worst politicians and wordsmiths. We must stop calling it, and letting others call it, birth control. The pharmaceuticals in particular are medications, hormone therapies. Fertility management is only one aspect of their utility. Words Matter! The non pharmaceutical devices should be easily accessible, one shouldn't even need a medico for many. We'll need permission to buy lemons next.
The main point of this debate is and should be privacy in the medical relationship. Who wants their employer knowing what goes on in their doctor's office? Why does any employer think they have the right to know what prescriptions are being written for an employee, and for what specific conditions? Let's just publish everyone's medical records. For crying out loud, where does the right to privacy begin and end?And why are women particularly subjected to this invasion? If a woman needs hormone supplements to control endometriosis no one else should be informed any more or less than if that medication is being used for fertility management, or for all the times frumpy is treated for erectile dysfunction. The surreal anti ACA ad Cons ran with Uncle Sam in a surgery with a woman in stirrups really applies and Dems should run that ad, with the addition of a few Tim Murphy's, Ted Cruz's and fat donny.
Employers, governments, bishops, mind your own damn business!

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Fave books of politicians, compare and contrast - Chancellor Merkel's most influential books, according to The Guardian. The Economist (that I can't seem to link, Sept 9 - 15, titled "The livin' is easy"), adds Chris Clark "The Sleepwalkers", which I've read and highly recommend.

October 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGloria
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