The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, September 24, 2017.

Weather Channel: Hurricane Maria, a Category 2 hurricane, is increasingly likely to bring a brush of at least tropical storm-force winds and rain to parts of the East Coast later this week, in addition to its more certain impacts of coastal flooding, high surf, and rip currents."

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.

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."

Speaking of Finland, as we were in relation to Donald Trump's complete lack of concern about Russian aggression, a remark he repeated in front of President Sauli Niinistö of neighboring Finland, because who cares?, the Finnish police procedural "Bordertown," which is streaming on Netflix is pretty good. Not sure if it comes dubbed, but Mr. McCrabbie & I like to listen to languages, so we were fine with subtitles. The "bordertown" borders Russia. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to. -- Prospective Juror, Martin Shkreli trial ...

... Harper's republishes some of the jury selection proceedings in the Martin Shkreli case.

Monday
Sep112017

The Commentariat -- September 12, 2017

Late Morning Update:

Dan Merica of CNN: "Hope Hicks, who was named interim White House communications director in August, will now hold the job on a permanent basis, a White House spokesperson told CNN Tuesday. Hicks, a longtime aide to ... Donald Trump who was one of the first staffers to join Trump's 2016 campaign, became the interim communications director after Anthony Scaramucci ... was ousted from the job in July." Mrs. McC(ynical): It was just within the week that we learned Robert Mueller's team plans to interview Trump & she's had to hire an attorney for the occasion; surely a promotion to a permanent position in a prominent role is Trump's way of hoping to ensure she lies about Trump's involvement in drafting the fake reason for Donnie Jr.'s meeting with Russian operatives.

Jonathan Chait: "Donald Trump's Republican allies have always sought to discredit the Russia investigation by going on offense.... Their first attempt at offense focused on Barack Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice, who Republicans spent days attacking as a sinister 'unmasker,' until the charges against Rice quietly collapsed earlier this month. They have found a new target: the famous dossier on Donald Trump compiled by British intelligence agent turned private investigator Christopher Steele, which they hope to use to discredit former FBI director James Comey.... The dossier, left defenseless, became the 'salacious, unverified Steele Dossier,' the epitome of irresponsible speculation.... But unverified does not mean false. And ... several months of revelations have confirmed a number of Steele's findings.... The FBI reportedly used Steele's reporting in some capacity.... Working from the premise that Steele's dossier is discredited, Republicans hope to attach Comey to it, and thereby sink his reputation. But it's possible their argument will do something else entirely: They might prove Steele was right after all."

*****

Somini Sengupta of the New York Times: "The Trump administration has backed away from some of the most stringent penalties it had sought to impose on North Korea, in an apparent effort to draw Russian and Chinese backing for a new raft of sanctions over the country's nuclear weapons advances. Whether the administration will garner the support of Moscow and Beijing when the new sanctions come up for a vote Monday evening at the United Nations Security Council remains to be seen. More important, it is wholly unclear whether additional sanctions will persuade Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile tests." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... New Lede: "The United Nations Security Council on Monday ratcheted up sanctions yet again against North Korea, but they fell significantly short of the far-reaching penalties that the Trump administration had demanded just days ago. While the sanctions were described in Washington and other capitals as the most extensive yet, in the end they amounted to another incremental increase of pressure on the country, even after it detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear device." ...

... What Trump's Russian Friends Are Doing to Help North Korea. Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "With international trade with North Korea increasingly constrained by U.N. sanctions, Russian entrepreneurs are seizing opportunities to make a quick profit, setting up a maze of front companies to conceal transactions and launder payments, according to U.S. law enforcement officials who monitor sanction-busting activity. Such trade could provide a lifeline to North Korea at a time when the United States is seeking to deepen Kim's economic and political isolation in response to recent nuclear and missiles tests.... The increase in [North Korean] trade with Russia was a primary reason for a series of legal measures announced last month by Justice and Treasury officials targeting Russian nationals accused of helping North Korea evade sanctions.... Russia, with its massive petroleum reserves and proven willingness to partner with un­savory regimes, could provide just enough of a boost to keep North Korea's economy moving, allowing it to again resist international pressure to give up its strategic weapons, the officials said.... The reports of Russian oil smuggling come as Moscow continues to criticize international efforts to impose more trade restrictions on North Korea. Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a joint news conference Wednesday with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, pointedly refused to support new restrictions on fuel supplies for the North." ...

... MEANWHILE, Trump Has Another Secret Meeting with Russian Ambassador. David Badash of the New Civil Rights Movement (Sept. 8): "... the White House has ... tried to hide a meeting Friday between Russia's new Ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, and ... Donald Trump. The meeting was not listed on the president's official schedule, but Russian media reported the event, as Reuters now reports.... Two-and-a-half hours after the Reuters report was published, the White House released a list of eleven foreign ambassadors who presented their credentials to the President [Friday].

Trump Embraces Another Corrupt, Authoritarian "Leader." Washington Post Editors: "PRESIDENT TRUMP has made a habit of embracing authoritarian rulers he regards as friendly, without regard for their subversion of democratic norms or gross human rights violations. Yet his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House on Tuesday sets a new low. Not only is Mr. Najib known for imprisoning peaceful opponents, silencing critical media and reversing Malaysia's progress toward democracy. He also is a subject of the largest foreign kleptocracy investigation ever launched by the U.S. Justice Department. U.S. investigators have charged that Mr. Najib and close associates diverted $4.5 billion from a Malaysian government investment fund for their own uses, including $730 million that ended up in accounts controlled by the prime minister. Justice first filed civil suits seeking the freezing of some $1.7 billion in assets in the United States.... President Barack Obama golfed with the prime minister and flattered him with the first visit by a U.S. president to Malaysia in nearly half a century."

Alexander Burns of the New York Times: "Florida emerged from Hurricane Irma on Monday as a landscape of blacked-out cities, shuttered gas stations, shattered trees and flooded streets, while the now-weakened storm kept sweeping northward. Major streets remained underwater in cities from Miami to Jacksonville, with even more roads snarled by debris. As many as nine million Floridians lost electricity at some point during the storm, and the chief executive of a major utility, Florida Power & Light, said that it could take weeks to restore full service. Officials were still assessing Irma's impact in the Florida Keys, which may have borne the worst of the storm. After a survey of the islands, Gov. Rick Scott told reporters that he had seen crippling damage there, including countless overturned trailers and many boats washed ashore. Recovery in the Keys would be a 'long road,' he said." ...

... Update: Scott Pruitt Is Still a Phony Prick. Lisa Friedman of the New York Times: "Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, says it is insensitive to discuss climate change in the midst of deadly storms.... 'To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced,' Mr. Pruitt said to CNN in an interview ahead of Hurricane Irma, echoing similar sentiments he made when Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas two weeks earlier. 'To use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to this people in Florida,' he added.... For scientists, drawing links between warming global temperatures and the ferocity of hurricanes is about as controversial as talking about geology after an earthquake.... Ben Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Miami..., said he believes failing to discuss climate change hurts Florida and the entire country.... President Trump has derided climate change as a hoax. Mr. Pruitt has declared that carbon dioxide emissions from cars, power plants and other sources are not the primary contributor to global warming, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. The E.P.A. has removed many mentions of climate change from its website and is rolling back regulations aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Science, & reality in general, are still left-wing conspiracies as far as wingers are concerned. See also Jonathan Chait's post, linked yesterday. Anyway, I'm more than happy to have Pruitt remind folks I'm "insensitive." Update: As MAG pointed out in yesterday's thread, actually Pruitt is a "real prick." I stand corrected. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Gene Robinson: "No rational U.S. administration would look at the devastation from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and seek to deny climate change. At present, however, there is no rational U.S. administration. We have instead a president and an Environmental Protection Agency chief who refuse to acknowledge the obvious.... As deniers frequently point out, no individual weather event can be definitively blamed on climate change. But the World Meteorological Organization released a statement concluding that 'the rainfall rates associated with Harvey were likely made more intense by anthropogenic climate change.' And regarding Irma, the WMO cited models showing that 'hurricanes in a warmer climate are likely to become more intense.' There are established linkages between a storm's severity and factors such as sea levels, ocean temperatures and the position of prevailing currents such as the jet stream. Global warming has altered all of those parameters. This is precisely the moment when scientists at the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, NASA and other agencies ought to be laser-focused on climate change." ...

... Paul Krugman: "... thanks to Trump's electoral victory, know-nothing, anti-science conservatives are now running the U.S. government. When you read news analyses claiming that Trumps deal with Democrats to keep the government running for a few months has somehow made him a moderate independent, remember that it's not just Pruitt: Almost every senior figure in the Trump administration dealing with the environment or energy is both an establishment Republican and a denier of climate change and of scientific evidence in general.... Today's right-wing intellectual universe, such as it is, is dominated by hired guns who are essentially propagandists rather than researchers.... When people like [Rush] Limbaugh imagine that liberals are engaged in a conspiracy to promote false ideas about climate and suppress the truth, it makes sense to them partly because that's what their friends do.... We are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea -- the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world. And this willful ignorance is deeply frightening. Indeed, it may end up destroying civilization." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Robinson & Krugman think they're so smart, but they both failed to figure in the scientific impact of fossil-fuel industry campaign contributions. These contributions tend to require climate-change denial, or as Gloria insisted in yesterday's thread, global-warming denial. So gas up, people (uh, unless you live in Florida or parts of Houston where fuel-carrying trucks can't get thru flooded streets & neither can you). And clean coal forever! Blast those mountain tops. As Rand Paul said once, "I don't think anybody's going to be missing a hill or two here and there." Flattening a hill or two, after all, & reclaiming the land makes it more attractive for real-estate development.

Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter: "Pope Francis has questioned ... Donald Trump's commitment to pro-life values, suggesting that his administration's recent decision to end a program protecting undocumented young people from deportation is contradictory.... The pope said he is especially worried about young people who become detached from their roots and lose hope in the future.... Francis also said during the press conference that political leaders have a moral responsibility to follow scientists' recommendations and reduce carbon emissions in order to stem the effects of climate change. The pope said that whoever denies that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet 'needs to go visit the scientists and ask them.'" Mrs. McC: Francis is somewhat confused about the effects rescinding DACA would have on families, but it will certainly break up families. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Anita Kumar of McClatchy News: "A major construction company owned by the Chinese government was hired to work on the latest Trump golf club development in Dubai despite a pledge from Donald Trump that his family business would not engage in any transactions with foreign government entities while he serves as president. Trump's partner, DAMAC Properties, awarded a $32-million contract to the Middle East subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation..., according to news releases.... The companies' statements do not detail the exact timing of the contract except to note it was sometime in the first two months of 2017, just as Trump was inaugurated and questions were raised about a slew of potential conflicts of interest between his presidency and his vast real estate empire." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Brandon Carter of the Hill: "Several of President Trump's lawyers advised him earlier this summer that White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner should step down from his role over potential legal complications with the ongoing Russia investigation, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sources familiar with the matter told the Journal that some of Trump's lawyers were concerned about Kushner, who had several meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, and brought those concerns to Trump himself. Press aides to Trump's legal team allegedly even went so far as to draft a statement explaining why Kushner was leaving the White House. The statement, meant to be issued by Kushner, blamed a toxic political environment for turning Kushner's meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign into an attack on Trump.... The president's lawyers also expressed concern over Kushner's federal disclosure forms, which the senior adviser has updated multiple times since his initial filing, adding more than 100 names to a list of foreign individuals he has had contact with." Trump & his own top lawyer disagreed with the attorneys' concerns; Trump thought Kushner had done nothing wrong. ...

     ... Update: Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post now has a story up on the proposed Kushner ouster. "In a statement Monday night, White House lawyer Ty Cobb blamed the disclosure of the internal debate on former White House staffers seeking to tarnish Kushner.... 'Those whose agendas were and remain focused on sabotaging him and his family for misguided personal reasons are no longer around,' said Cobb, who was brought aboard in July to specialize in the Russia inquiry. 'All clandestine efforts to undermine him never gained traction.'" Leonnig suggests the person with "misguided person reasons" was Steve Bannon, though Trump's lawyers would not confirm that.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd.

Paul Waldman: "... this past weekend, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press all responded to Trump siding with Democrats over a relatively minor procedural matter -- whether to increase the debt ceiling for a three-month period, as they wanted, or an 18-month period, as Republicans were pushing for, as part of an agreement that included aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey and a bill to keep the government functioning -- in nearly the same way. Trump was showing that he's a true independent, unmoored from party loyalty.... The idea that Trump has governed as an independent is utterly laughable. While it's true that he arrived in office without the complement of ideological and partisan commitments most presidents carry with them, he has governed like the hardest of hard-right Republicans." ...

... Digby in Salon on "the Big Bipartisan Deal of last week that has the mainstream media exclaiming once again that Trump has made a pivot, this time to being an 'independent' in the mode of Teddy Roosevelt. This is all because he agreed to raise the debt ceiling and pass an emergency relief package with the help of Democrats.... It's utter nonsense.... Trump may not act like a Republican president. But he doesn't act like a Democratic or an Independent president either. He doesn't act like a president at all. It's long past time for the media to stop trying to fit him into some familiar groove that they can understand. While he's busy with his weird demagogic performance art, his administration is working as quickly as possible to enact the most racist, most right-wing Republican agenda in history. He is fine with that, as long as he gets the credit."

AND Somebody is Drugging Trump  -- Alex Jones. Travis Gettys of the Raw story: "Alex Jones admitted ... Donald Trump seems mentally impaired in the evening, but he floated a wild conspiracy theory to explain it away. The Trump-backing broadcaster claimed Monday on his 'InfoWars' radio program that 'high-level sources' had confirmed a plot to control the president through sedative drugs -- although Jones never explained who was doing that, reported Media Matters.... 'The president needs his blood tested by an outside physician he trusts.... I've talked to people, multiple ones, and they believe that they are putting a slow sedative that they're building up that's also addictive in his Diet Cokes and in his iced tea, and that the president by 6 or 7 at night is basically slurring his words and is drugged,' Jones said. '...I've talked to people that talk to the president now at 9 at night.... It's known that most presidents end up getting drugged.'" The same thing happened to Ronald Reagan, Jones said.

Dear Dingbat News "Analysts": No, Donald Trump Is Not Bipartisan. Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker: "A vivid example of the right-wing hegemony in the Trump Administration will be on display today, when the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity convenes for the second time. It is difficult to imagine a more cynical enterprise than this commission, which Trump appointed after he claimed (falsely) that the casting of illegal votes last November accounted for his loss of the popular vote, which Hillary Clinton won by a margin of nearly three million. Trump named Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who has been the nation's leading advocate for restrictions on voting rights, as the vice-chair of the commission. (Vice-President Mike Pence is the chair.) Kobach will preside at today's meeting, which will convene in Manchester, New Hampshire.... In-person voter fraud -- cases of people intentionally voting in elections in which they are not entitled to participate -- is a miniscule, if not nonexistent, problem in the United States. The real agenda [of the commission] is to make it harder for Democrats to vote and thus to make it easier to Republicans to win elections."


Robert Pear
of the New York Times: "Back in March, when President Trump released the first draft of his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, he asked lawmakers for deep cuts to one of their favorite institutions, the National Institutes of Health -- part of a broad reordering of priorities, away from science and social spending, toward defense and border security. Six months later, Congress has not only rejected the president's N.I.H. proposal; lawmakers from both parties have joined forces to increase spending on biomedical research -- and have bragged about it.... In identical language, the House and Senate bills explicitly prohibit the Trump administration from changing the formula used for decades to calculate and pay indirect costs."

Craig Timberg of the Washington Post: "Key lawmakers on Monday demanded a detailed accounting of the security systems of Equifax, a leading credit-rating agency, following a hack that gave criminals access to sensitive information of up to 143 million American consumers in one of the most troubling corporate computer breaches ever disclosed. A sternly worded letter from the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee included a list of 13 questions intended to illuminate the murky circumstances surrounding the breach, including what data was exposed, how the hack was detected and whether the company has systems adequate for detecting and thwarting such intrusions."

Another Super-Scrooge Prize for the GOP. Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post: "Once again, [Republicans have] found an innovative way to punish the poor and simultaneously increase budget deficits -- all with one nifty trick! To pull off this impressive twofer, they would put every American applying for the earned-income tax credit (EITC) through a sort of mini-audit before getting their refund. This would both place huge new burdens on the working poor and divert scarce Internal Revenue Service resources away from other audit targets, such as big corporations, that offer a much higher return on investment.... Troubling language in the budget resolution committee report proposes decreasing 'improper' EITC payments by requiring verification of all income before benefits go out. The language ... appears to refer to a Heritage Foundation proposal that would require the IRS to 'fully verify income through a review of Form W-2, Form 1099, business licensing or registration, and relevant invoices' before dispensing any refunds.... As noted in a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, conducting mini-audits of all 28 million EITC claimants would be an astonishingly laborious task, both for tax filers and for the IRS.... At a time when Republicans are flogging tax simplification, this would make tax preparation infinitely more complicated. Unless, of course, the goal is to discourage poor people from applying for the EITC in the first place." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: You can't tell me that Republicans & so-called conservatives -- like the great thinkers at the Heritage Foundation -- aren't purposely cruel to low-income Americans. This is one more way they plan to separate the haves from the have-nots. The haves -- people like them with incomes too high to earn EITC credits -- will get any tax refunds due them timely; the have-nots will have to jump through hoops to get their Treasury checks.

Congress Set to Protect "Our Outdoor Heritage." Dana Milbank: "On Tuesday, a House panel takes up the 'Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2017,' which promises 'to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting.' Among these recreational enhancements: Allowing people to bring assault guns and other weapons through jurisdictions where they are banned. Rolling back decades-old regulations on the use of silencers [a/k/a the 'Hearing Protection Act' & the 'Destruction of Records' provision]. Protecting the use of armor-piercing bullets. Easing importation of foreign-made assault rifles. Protecting the practice of baiting birds with grain as they migrate and then mowing them down. The House Natural Resources Committee was to have had a hearing on the bill in June, before the baseball-practice shooting that seriously wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) led to its cancellation. But the National Rifle Association was not to be denied. In a statement last week, the gun lobby's director applauded the revival of the bill, which, he said, 'will protect America's hunters and recreational shooters and help preserve our outdoor heritage.'" Mrs. McC: Read on. This is INSANE.

Aaron Blake of the Washington Post: "Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) became the fourth co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 'Medicare for all' health-care bill Monday. In doing so, he joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). What do those four senators have in common? Well, they just happen to constitute four of the eight most likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominees, according to the handy list I put out Friday. And another senator in my top 8, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), last month came out in favor of the idea of 'Medicare for all' -- though not this specific bill (yet). This is about as far from a coincidence as you can get. And it suggests the dam is breaking when it comes to the Democratic Party embracing government-run health care, also known as single-payer."

Bryan Schott of UtahPolicy.com: "Sources tell UtahPolicy.com that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is preparing to run for Senate in 2018 if Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to retire.... So far, Hatch has not made up his mind as to whether he'll run for an eighth term in 2018. He has previously said he was planning on running as long as his and his wife's health holds up." Mrs. McC: I'm pretty sure Steve Bannon can come up with a raging winger alternative to Romney. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Lydia Wheeler of the Hill: "The Supreme Court on Monday granted the Trump administration's request to temporarily lift restrictions on the president's travel ban. In a one-page order signed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court temporarily blocked the part of last week's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that barred the government from prohibiting refugees that have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program from entering the U.S. Kennedy said that part of the decision is stayed pending the receipt of a response from the state of Hawaii. That response that is due by noon on Tuesday. The Supreme Court's decision came less than two hours after Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall filed a request for a stay." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Dave Weigel of the Washington Post reviews Hillary Clinton's What Happened. ...

... Here's a review by Jennifer Senior of the New York Times. ...

... Sabrina Siddiqui & David Smith of the Guardian write a joint book report.

... NEW. Audio & a written transcript of Clinton's interview with NPRs' Rachel Martin is here.

Beyond the Beltway

Sheila Kaplan & Jack Healy of the New York Times: "Floodwaters in two Houston neighborhoods have been contaminated with bacteria and toxins that can make people sick, testing organized by The New York Times has found. Residents will need to take precautions to return safely to their homes, public health experts said. It is not clear how far the toxic waters have spread. But Fire Chief Samuel Peña of Houston said over the weekend that there had been breaches at numerous waste treatment plants. The Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday that 40 of 1,219 such plants in the area were not working.... Water flowing down Briarhills Parkway in the Houston Energy Corridor contained Escherichia coli, a measure of fecal contamination, at a level more than four times that considered safe."

Way Beyond

Nick Cumming-Bruce of the New York Times: "The United Nations' top human rights official accused Myanmar on Monday of carrying out 'a textbook example of ethnic cleansing' against Rohingya Muslims, hundreds of thousands of whom have crossed into Bangladesh since late August to escape a military crackdown. Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said the military's 'brutal' security campaign was in clear violation of international law, and cited what he called refugees' consistent accounts of widespread extrajudicial killings, rape and other atrocities. Mr. al-Hussein said the crackdown 'resembles a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return,' noting that Myanmar had progressively stripped its Rohingya minority of civil and political rights for decades.... Some [criticism] has singled out Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the elected civilian government, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her resistance to the military dictatorship. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi does not control Myanmar's military, but she has yet to criticize its crackdown on the Rohingya." ...

... Nicholas Kristof (Sept. 10) of the New York Times calls Suu Kyi "chief apologist for this ethnic cleansing, as the country oppresses the darker-skinned Rohingya and denounces them as terrorists and illegal immigrants. And 'ethnic cleansing' may be an understatement. Even before the latest wave of terror, a Yale study had suggested that the brutality toward the Rohingya might qualify as genocide."

News Ledes

Weather Channel on the results of Hurricane Irma: "More than 6.7 million people in Florida are without power as of Monday afternoon. At least nine deaths have been reported in the U.S. Water is rising in the downtown area of Jacksonville as the winds switch to the south, prompting a flooding emergency.... A flash flood emergency was declared for downtown Jacksonville Monday as Irma continued to batter Florida with damaging winds, heavy rain and storm surge. Martin Senterfitt, emergency management director for Morgan County, said a 'humanitarian crisis' is looming in the middle and upper Florida Keys." ...

... The Miami Herald's liveblog has 13 million Floridians without power. Mrs. McC: The Weather Channel 6.7 million, tho it doesn't say so, could be an estimate of the number of power company customers without power rather than the number of people. A customer can represent any number of people or even a negative number of people. That is, there may be a number of people living in a home that represents one customer. At the same time, one person may be a customer at more than one location.

Reader Comments (16)

@Marie: Any word about the conditions of your home in Ft. Myers?

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD Pepe: I'll answer you privately.

Marie

September 12, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

What's funnier than the thought of Mittens (The Rat) Romney inflicting his economic royalism, robotic speech patterns, and presumptions of unearned superiority on the American public once again?

Blue nose Ted Cruz "Liking" Twitter porn! Yes, Ted (or someone) "liked" a quickie porn clip that showed up on his Twitter feed. Internet hilarity ensued. "Thanks for watching, Ted!" writes the producers of this instant classic. Regular readers may recall that Ted, at least publicly, frowns on manual stimulation, shall we say, to the point of trying to outlaw sex toys in Texas (probably took exception to those blow up dolls with his likeness attached to the facial area). Hey, what happened to the usual blather about freeedom? I guess not if one is contemplating unauthorized sex, especially the kind unlikely to ever result in Biblical style begetting. Ted's disavowal of, um, personal sex acts seems to be a new thing according to his college roommate. Ewww.

Anyway, my favorite part of this latest attempt to keep that smarmy puss in the public's eye, is the fact that he, or some disapproving staffer, let it be known, sometime later, that Ted, in fact, did NOT like this particular porn clip.

He prefers his porn with lots of spanking. Probably whips and chains too.

Thanks for sharing, Ted! See you next election!

http://gizmodo.com/ted-cruz-likes-porn-video-on-twitter-while-his-staff-im-1803771759

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Pro-life Trump:

Cut funding for medical research
Climate change denial
Ruin lives and families of Dreamers

Thank you Pope Francis for reminding us that life exists after birth.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

What's the matter will Hillary? It's her sense of entitlement & apparent lack of empathy for nearly everyone who is Not-Hillary. Ironically, that's exactly what's wrong with Trump. It's the main reason both she & Trump have such low approval ratings. It's hard to root for a person who has knocked you. And Hillary has knocked almost everyone who is Not-Hillary.

Moreover, she makes clear she is not kidding when she does so. It's not just her "tone," either. I've heard plenty of female politicians speak in angry or aggressive tones, & I haven't found them in the least off-putting. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, does so quite often. Kamala Harris has no fear of talking over men who interrupt her or of sticking it to officials called before the Senate for questioning. But when these women -- any many others -- speak out, they are not demeaning millions of innocent women or black Americans they way Clinton has done -- with relish.

She has no idea how people hear her words. When she said in early 2008 (or late 2007) that she would win the presidential nomination, I hadn't decided how to vote. But her willingness to dismiss a number of worthy opponents made me decide to vote for Not-Hillary. There are ways to express optimism for your own chances without degrading your opponents as superfluous nonentities. Hillary wasn't able to do that because, ironically again, she was too honest about her real feeling -- that her opponents were superfluous nonentities.

Hillary Clinton wasn't a bad candidate because of her policies or because of her "baggage" or because of her gender. She was a bad candidate because she didn't try to hide her firm belief that -- in a country that probably boasted at least a couple of hundred people qualified to take on the top job -- the presidency was her due & hers alone.

September 12, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Juan Cole: ON 9/11 HOW WE HYPED TERRORISM AND SLIGHTED THE REAL THREAT..

which is toxic carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

"I guess in part because we are primates, the challenge of those 19 terrorist masterminds put all our alpha males into confrontational mode––with snarling of teeth and the aiming of deadly blows."
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/911-slighted-real-threat-climate-change-hyped-terrorism/

I remember how Susan Sontag was severely criticized for suggesting we deal with 9/11 as a criminal act. What was done instead has put us in an endless war without end. Bannon's calling out all the Bush architects of the Iraq catastrophe is one of the few things I agree with. He was on Rose last night for a whole hour––I almost fell asleep. He reminded me of someone who had just discovered something like existentialism and was touting it excitedly to an audience of devout Baptists. But I can see how he teamed up with Trump––a big bear of a man that exudes an air of confidence in himself and his ideas, something that Trump pretends to have, but doesn't.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Had a conversation with a conservative friend the other day who quoted something Milton Friedman supposedly said to justify his one-note analysis of human motivation.

According to her, Friedman took the liberal Phil Donahue mightily aback when he said people were all the same whether they were in government or business, making the claim that self interest motivated everyone, everywhere to the same degree. Phil, according to her, couldn't come up with a response.

What Friedman said is of course hogwash. They call it public service for a reason, and very few businesses exist to provide it. Not even credit agencies.

This latest from Bloomberg:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-07/three-equifax-executives-sold-stock-before-revealing-cyber-hack

More awesomeness brought to all of us by the capitalism that cares.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

While we were (are) sleeping...

With all the hoopla surrounding the Little King's momentary lapse into something vaguely reminiscent of rationality, to wit, his homey clog dancing with Chuck and Nancy, one would think we all of a sudden had a normal person in the White House. Don't even think about it.

And while the press is focused with laser intensity on the Potemkin presidency, on high heels in Houston and lies everywhere else, the dogs of war he has let loose are crying havoc across the land. This past week we've had a look into the dank, dark, decrepit head and heart of one Scott Pruitt, well-known prick. Other pricks abound. Sessions, for one. Kris Kobach for another (more on him later today as he schemes to make it illegal for Democrats to cast a vote). Ignorance and incompetence swirl about the nation like dozens of mini unnatural disasters.

One most people hardly think of, but that could have (like an EPA that has disavowed its core mission) disastrous consequences, is the storm of intolerance and religiosity that has settled in at the CIA. To quote an eye-opening report in Foreign Policy, under Trumpy and his Christianist attack dog, Mike Pompeo, the new and very much not improved CIA features More White, More Male, and More Jesus.

Under far right-wing Christian hater, Pompeo, the CIA has dismantled efforts by the previous director to expand the agency's human resources by emphasizing the importance of diversity in the ranks. Diversity, schmersity, says Pompeo. What we need are more white men who quote the Bible.

"Michael Weinstein, a former Air Force officer who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says he has been seeing increasing complaints from those inside the intelligence community. Weinstein’s foundation, which focuses on preventing religious pressure from creeping into the military, also has clients in the intelligence community, mostly from the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

According to Weinstein, agency employees don’t want to go public with their complaints because of fear of retribution or being labeled as 'leakers.' They don’t typically file formal complaints within the government. But certain things are making them especially uncomfortable, such as officials signing off with the phrase 'have a blessed day.'

That’s something 'straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale,' Weinstein said."

To which Pompeo might reply, "What's wrong with that?"

Aside from the misogynistic values of such a thought, what's wrong with that is plenty. Here's why.

The CIA is in the business of information. Who has information? You can run all the computer models you want, fly all the drones you have, blow up shit 'til the Fourth of July gives up and goes home. What you really need, and what Bush and Cheney went out of their way to dismiss, is human intelligence. Eyes and ears on the ground, in the street. In the living rooms. In alleys. And some white bread, manly man, Jesus honker from Kansas is not going to get you that in Lebanon or Kampala. If you're in need of someone who has a handle on the local gay culture, especially in places where LGBTQ populations are largely hidden, you're not going to find that person in Mike Pompeo's daily Bible study group (held in government buildings under taxpayer largesse, by the way).

The more diversity in the ranks of the CIA, the more access we'll have to the thought processes and histories and cultures out there. Restricting your knowledge base to what a southern Baptist, gay basher from Alabama knows is probably not going to guarantee the best intelligence, not to mention our ability to get inside the various Islamic terror cells. Is some Mike Pompeo looking guy gonna be able to interpret and understand intercepted communications from any of these sources? And do you think people who CAN do that are gonna run to work for a guy who asks if they've accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior?

But that's all of a piece with the way Little King Trumpy is remaking our world. Making the world more white, more male and more Christianist fanatical, more stupid, and far less safe.

Have a blessed day, kids.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@PD Pepe: Like you, I'm skeptical of your friend's recollection of the Friedman-Donahue exchange. Donahue was never at a loss for words; your friend probably just didn't like his response to Friedman's assertion & chose to forget it.

While we all do work in our own self-interest to some extent, the degree to which we put our own needs above those of others (or to the detriment of others) is obviously multi-varied. And it can change from time to time. Is (1) a Doctors without Borders doctor showing the same degree of self-interest as a (2) Park Avenue dermatologist? Most people would say no. But if (1) got sick while serving others, might she show a level of self-interest by returning to her home country for her own medical treatment? Well, sure, but to me that kind of self-interest is hardly comparable to (2)'s long-term devotion to her money-making practice.

September 12, 2017 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Ken,

Friedman's simplistic, almost childish answer to human motivation is a perfect example of how falling into the trap of the many various one note isms guarantees an incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable world view.

Take any of these various philosophies based largely on a single premise, constructivism, absurdism, anarchism, fatalism, even capitalism (perhaps especially capitalism) and you may find an EZ to understand theory, but you lock out the multiplicity of human experience and understanding of ways of being in the world. As you say, the simple rebuttal to Friedman's expostulation of the essential nature of self interest, is the instinct to altruistic behavior clearly demonstrated in places like Florida and Houston during natural disasters.

The best (and by best, I mean, most useful and authentic) philosophies seek to explore the varied aspects of human nature. Rather than providing simple answers, they try to ask the best questions, importuning their adherents to live an examined life.

Interestingly, one of the most simple (but very much not simplistic) one note philosophies often touted by the Right but hardly ever followed, is the advice to love your neighbor as yourself. Not a bad worldview, but not easy to do, as you can see by the tens of thousands of daily examples in right-wing world of people who espouse just this philosophy but would be drummed out of Wingnut World if they ever followed through on it.

And here's the other thing. Friedman's point about self-interest might be supported by the most basic biological instinct: self preservation. But then how do you account for altruism? How do you account for people going to war? Running into burning buildings? Putting their lives on the line, jeopardizing their reproductive success for an idea or belief that you could help others by doing so.

Sorry, Miltie. It's clear that self interest is a premiere feature of the right-wing weltanschauung, especially when considering paradigms of the species such as the Trump clan. But it's not that simple (or dull) for most humans.

It's funny too, if you do a search for "Phil Donahue, Milton Friedman", you get a long list of wingnut sites wildly celebrating Friedman for "destroying" that liberal cuck Donahue, thus demonstrating beyond any question, the pinched, meager, paucity of their own desiccated thought processes. That's desiccated. As in sick.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

One other quick thought about Friedman and his "cuck" spouting winger supporters.

If self-interest were all, there would be no United States of America. I'm pretty sure that not a one of the Founders who advocated revolution and separation from the crown were under any delusions that, had the war gone badly, as they had every reason to believe it would (and DID, for quite a long time), they all would have been hung as traitors. Where's the self-interest there? Sure, they stood to gain something if they won, but they were trying to prove a philosophical point as much as gain economic well being.

Nathan Hale's last words were not "I wish I had been more concerned with my own self-interest."

So smoke on your pipe and put that in, cuckies. If self-interest were all, you'd be singing "God Save the Fucking Queen". Dopes.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

On Floods, and Both Sides Do It.

I know a while back I abjured any further reading of Our Miss Brooks, but after espying the title of his latest piece of dung, I gave in.

So the hook, "Harvey, Irma, Jose...and Noah" is what did it. I thought I could guess what this was about but it was even worse than I expected.

I expected something like "God, Noah, do what I tells ya, everyone saved, obey and don't be a hippy and you'll be saved."

But no, it was more like Noah: weak follower. Abraham: strong leader. Shit happens. Like floods (there's also the usual faux academic drivel about flood stories, zzzzzzzzzzz) and other bad stuff.

Moral? Don't be weak (Obama?). Be strong (Confederates). And all will be well. Individuals are needed to step up to do the hard work. Oh, and they can do something, something, something, with "collective institutions" whatever the fuck that means. What's he talking about here, the Red Cross? The Boy Scouts of America? What?

So basically, both sides are to blame when bad shit happens, but usually one side does it better. And it's the side that relies on Strong Individuals. Not guv'mint weenies who give in to "...lemming-like partisan obedience."

There is not a single mention of how the real serious work of clean up and restoration will be propelled by government assistance. FEMA, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, none of them are doing shit, apparently. The "Strong Individual" Texas Manly Men who denied assistance to those with New York attitudes came crawling on their knees for billions to help with Harvey. No mention of that either.

Also, no mention of the cause of the recent floods. They just "happen", ya know, like in the Bible. Maybe god was pissed because people are hacking Ted Cruz' website and pretending (wink, wink) he likes porn. Biblical scholars haven't gotten around to ascribing the Noah flood to global warming so we can't talk about that.

So what can we learn from the floods, asks Miss Brooks?

The same thing we learn from everything else he writes. Nothing. Something, something, individuals, both sides, god, be strong, something, something, academic bullshit, something. And don't ask for too much for the hated guv'mint.

Unless you're drowning.

(No link, because fuck that.)

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

All right. I took the bait and clicked over to Brooks. He really does use the words "lemming-like partisan obedience" though he doesn't seem to realize that those words describe Republican behavior for the last several decades, and the previous eight years especially.

They have the truthful talking point that Obamacare was passed without a single Republican vote, which is true, but the bill itself had plenty of Republican input.

The more recent Repeal/Replace debacle shows that they have no actual ideas. Just lemming-like partisan obedience.

Strong individuals, my ass.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

NiskyGuy,

My man!

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

The Little King is not just an incompetent racist asshole, he is a vicious, violent, racist, misogynistic asshole.

Here is an excerpt from Terry Gross's program, "Fresh Air" prior to her interview with Katy Tur, one of Trump's more visible targets of abuse and hatred during his run to the (now disgustingly tarnished) White House. Honestly, how do Queen Melania and Princess Ivanka process this sort of thing? Do they think, oh, well, that's just some liberal news slut out to get Donnie-Dad and she deserves it? Is that what they think? Christ, what a whack job psychological cluster-fuck horror show.

"Tur was working at a rally on Dec. 7, 2015, in Mount Pleasant, S.C., when suddenly Trump called her name and pointed at her from the podium: 'Katy Tur, she's back there. Little Katy ... what a lie it was ... what a lie she told,' she recalls him saying.

Then, Tur says, 'The entire place turns and they roar as one ... like a giant, unchained animal.' Men stood on chairs to yell at her, and she began to fear for her safety. She smiled and waved in an effort to defuse the situation. Later, the Secret Service escorted her to her car."

What sort of man directs outrage and mad anger of thousands of "unchained animals" toward a woman whose only crime is reporting what he says? What sort of man points at a woman in the crowd and whips up the fury of knuckledragging, women hating creeps who blame their mom, sister, girlfriend, wife for everything wrong with their lives, into such a fury that professional armed guards are required to escort her to safety?

There are plenty of Americans who have gotten past this ignorant, puerile, whiny-baby, woman-hating bully being president. I'm not one of them. And never will be.

Anyone who's thinking that this prick has somehow become a more moderate, even keeled "leader" is so wrong as to require an intellectual D-Day invasion to turn them around, and even then, they wouldn't be happy about it.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

One more thing about Katy Tur's book on the abomination of covering the Trumpy campaign.

People.com's headline about Tur's book describes it as her "dishing" on covering the 2016 campaign.

This is just one of those insulting euphemisms that you hardly ever see applied to men. Have you ever seen a headline referring to Jonathan Chait or Philip Rucker "dishing" about their time on the campaign trail? Hell no.

The term smacks of gossipy nattering. It's reminiscent of that song from the Music Man, that paints the local women as prattling ninnies: "Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep..."

And speaking of musicals, Larry Hart's famous line from "The Lady is a Tramp" mentions that the eponymous lady doesn't "dish the dirt with the rest of the girls" meaning she doesn't truck in brainless chit-chat. I realize that People is not a political or serious news outlet, but c'mon.

Everyone and his brother is out bashing Hillary Clinton over her new memoir of that same campaign, but when she brings up the different standards to which women are held, she is right on the money, and not just the candidates. It's bad enough for a misogynistic weasel like Trump to demean Tur as "little Katy", but then to have her serious complaints further disparaged by a major media outlet describing her as "dishing" on the campaign is salt in the wound.

Jesus, I'm glad I'm not a woman. Hat's off to you ladies, putting up with this kind of bullshit.

September 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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