The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, September 15, 2019.

New York Times: "Juanita Abernathy, who helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott and took part in other pivotal protests at the outset of the civil rights era alongside the Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, her husband and a leader of the movement, died on Thursday at a hospital in Atlanta. She was 88."

Public Service Announcement

September 5: Washington Post: "State and federal health officials investigating mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping have found the same chemical in samples of marijuana products used by people sickened in different parts of the country and who used different brands of products in recent weeks. The chemical is an oil derived from vitamin E. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the oil in cannabis products in samples collected from patients who fell ill across the United States. FDA officials shared that information with state health officials during a telephone briefing this week, according to several officials who took part in the call." The NPR story is here.

New York Times: "A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled 'America' by its creator, Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday [September 14] from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.... The artwork is based on a common Kohler toilet and was created by a foundry in Florence. The work’s value was not disclosed, but [Guggenheim artistic director Nancy] Spector described it as 'millions of dollars’ worth of gold.'... The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered. Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet had been plumbed to the building, so the theft 'caused significant damage and flooding.' He said the police believed a 'group of offenders' using at least two vehicles was behind the theft." the Hill's story is here.

Modern Art. CNN: "Hillary Clinton's emails ... have become art -- and the former secretary of state herself went to take a look.The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee looked through printed copies of her emails and sat at a replica of the Oval Office's Resolute Desk during a visit Tuesday to an art exhibit in Venice, Italy, titled 'HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails,' according to the exhibit's creator and curators. 'Hillary Clinton spent an hour yesterday reading her emails at my exhibition of all 62,000 pages of them in Venice,' American poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith tweeted Wednesday. 'She is pictured here at a replica of the Oval Office Resolute Desk, stacked with her emails.' Francesco Urbano Ragazzi -- the collective name for two men who are working as the exhibit's curatorial team -- told CNN that Clinton came in for a private tour of the exhibit Tuesday morning."

... Related Washington Post story here.

     ... Thanks to NJC for the lead.

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":


Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”


The Commentariat -- September 12, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

** Matt Zapotosky & Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe's legal team has been notified that the Justice Department authorized prosecutors to seek an indictment against him for lying to investigators, according to two people familiar with the matter, though it remains unclear whether McCabe will be charged. McCabe's team was notified of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen's decision in a message Wednesday, which said, 'The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney's Office's decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to theUnited States Attorney's Office,' one person familiar with the matter said. McCabe's team was told last month that line prosecutors had recommended charges, and later, that D.C. U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu had endorsed that decision, a person familiar with the matter said.... The notification comes as a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus -- an indication its members would likely be asked soon to consider bringing charges. But the panel left with no immediate signs of an indictment -- a sign they might have balked, been asked to return later or filed a determination under seal.... McCabe authorized the FBI to begin investigating President Trump and has long been a target of the commander in chief's ire." The USA Today story is here. Politico's story is here.

Tracy Jan of the Washington Post: :The Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development found no evidence of misconduct against Secretary Ben Carson in a $31,000 furniture order to replace a dining room set in his secretarial suite, according to a copy of the investigation obtained by The Washington Post. The investigation was launched more than a year ago following accusations that Carson had violated federal appropriations law in 2017 by ordering furniture worth more than $5,000 without notifying congressional appropriators. 'We found no evidence indicating that either Secretary or Mrs. Carson exerted improper influence on any departmental employee in connection with the procurement,' the 14-page report said. HUD officials had obligated $31,561 in agency funds to buy new dining room furniture for Carson's office suite in December 2017 and failed to notify congressional appropriations committees, as required by law, the inspector general said. But Carson ultimately canceled the order in March 2018 following media reports about the large purchase order.... Candy Carson declined to be interviewed during the inspector general's investigation." The Hill's story, based on a Fox "News" report, is here. ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: Of course the IG found Doc Ben innocent. He said it was his wife's fault. "Carson insisted that he had the furniture order canceled 'immediately' after finding out about it...." Even though, uh, internal emails cast doubt on this story, which Ben Carson told to a House committee.

Thanks, GOP! Jeff Fox of CNBC: "The U.S. government&'s red ink for fiscal 2019 swelled past the $1 trillion mark in August, the first time that level has been eclipsed in seven years, the Treasury Department reported Thursday. The total shortfall rose to nearly $1.07 trillion, thanks to a difference between revenue and expenses of more than $214.1 billion in August. The government last saw that large of a fiscal deficit in 2012, when the gap was nearly $1.1 trillion. During his presidential campaign..., Donald Trump promised economic growth that would easily take care of the tax cuts and new spending he planned. His 2017 tax break for corporations and individuals has helped contribute to a deficit that has grown from $584.6 billion in 2016.... As the deficit has grown so has the national debt, which is now at $22.5 trillion, up 13% since Trump took office."

Joan Biskupic of CNN: "Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote against ... Donald Trump's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but only after changing his position behind the scenes, sources familiar with the private Supreme Court deliberations tell CNN." Mrs. McC: Don't kid yourself; Roberts is still an elite-white-guy-confederate jurist, but -- as Biskupic lays out -- he dislikes it when a shady Cabinet member lies about why he made his policy decisions.

Rebecca Shabad & Alex Moe of NBC News: "The House Judiciary Committee took a big step Thursday morning in its ongoing investigation into whether to recommend the filing of articles of impeachment against ... Donald Trump, passing a resolution that set procedures and rules for future impeachment investigation hearings. The resolution passed along party lines, 24-17." Update: The New York Times story is here.

Sad News. Yamiche Alcindor of PBS News: "Gregory Cheadle, the black man ... Donald Trump once described at a rally as 'my African American,' is fed up. After two years of frustration with the president's rhetoric on race and the lack of diversity in the administration, Cheadle told PBS NewsHour he has decided to leave the Republican party and run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representative as an independent in 2020. Now, the 62-year-old real estate broker, who supported the Republican approach to the economy, said he sees the party as pursuing a 'pro-white' agenda and using black people like him as 'political pawns.' The final straw for Cheadle came when he watched many Republicans defend Trump's tweets telling four congresswomen of color, who are all American citizens, to go back to their countries, as well as defend the president's attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and his comments that Cummings' hometown of Baltimore is 'infested.'" Mrs. McC: And it took Cheadle only three years to catch on.

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies. The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it. Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit. Environmentalists say Mr. Trump's push to loosen clean-water regulations represents an assault on the nation's streams and wetlands at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared his commitment to 'crystal-clean water.'" The CBS News story is here. ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: Trump's "commitment" to "crystal-clean water" is what I mean by Trump's assault on the language. He isn't merely overturning the meaning of the phrase; he's making it altogether meaningless. "Crystal-clean" then can mean "pure" and "pristine" and "rife with carcinogens" and "filthy." When words have no meaning, everything he says is "true." This is different from an ironical reversal when you say, for instance, "I love it!" when both you & the listener know you're being facetious, and from black code language, which originated in slave days as a subversive means to communicate without raising white suspicions (where, for instance, "cool" means "hot").

Jeff Stein, et al., of the Washington Post: "A team of Trump administration officials toured a California facility once used by the Federal Aviation Administration this week as they searched for a potential site to relocate homeless people, according to three government officials.... President Trump has directed aides to launch a major crackdown on homelessness in California, spurring an effort across multiple government agencies to determine how to deal with sprawling tent camps on the streets of Los Angeles and other cities, officials said.... It ... remains unclear how the federal government could accomplish getting homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles, or what legal authority officials would use to do so.... Some administration officials expressed skepticism that the federal government wanted to get in the business of operating a large homeless shelter in Los Angeles." ~~~

     ~~~ Jack Crosbie of Splinter summarizes the WashPo report & comments on it.

<>Will Steakin & Rachel Scott of ABC News: "... Donald Trump's campaign intends to counter-program the Democratic primary debate hosted by ABC News and Univision with an ad blitz that includes two full-page newspaper ads and flying a massive banner in the air tha blasts socialism just before candidates take the stage."

Daniel Lippman of Politico: "The U.S. government concluded within the last two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cell-phone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C., according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel's behavior, one of the former officials said.... The devices were likely intended to spy on ... Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates -- though it's not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful. President Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Why, it was just the other day we learned that Trump "has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of foreign intelligence from covert sources... [because] spies can damage relations with their host countries and undermine his personal relationships with their leaders." So Israel can spy on him, but he opposes spying on Israel because then Bibi might not like him.


Presidential Race 2020

The third Democratic debate is tonight, beginning at 8 pm ET & airing on ABC & Univision. The 10 top-rated candidates -- that is, those who qualified under the DNC's rules -- will appear at this single-night debate.

They Persist. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "Former Vice President Joe Biden's lead in the Democratic primary has been cut in half, according to a new poll out Wednesday, and while Biden still maintains his grip on front-runner status, the CNN poll shows Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders incrementally creeping up on him. The CNN poll shows a drop of 5 percentage points in support for Biden in the past three weeks, to 24 percent from 29 percent. The national survey of Democratic primary voters also saw Warren jump Sanders for second place, though the two are still within the margin of sampling error at 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively."

** Adam Liptak
of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to bar most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the legal fight plays out in the courts. The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned order, said the administration may enforce new rules that generally forbid asylum applications from migrants who have traveled through another country on their way to the United States without being denied asylum in that country. The court's order was a major victory for the administration, allowing it to enforce a policy that will achieve one of its central goals: effectively barring most migration across the nation's southwestern border by Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and others. Mexican migrants, who need not travel through another country to reach the United States, are not affected by the new policy.... Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, saying the court's action will 'upend longstanding practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution.'" The AP story is here. ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: When one of the Supremes thinks a truck driver has an obligation to freeze to death if his supervisor tells him to do so, we can't expect his confederates to shut down other forms of persecution.

The Plot Thickens. Mulvaney's Fingerprints Found at the Scene. Peter Baker, et al., of the New York Times: "The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump's claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters' position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president's warning.... The White House had no immediate comment on Wednesday, but [a] senior administration official said Mr. Mulvaney was interested in having the record corrected because, in his view, the Birmingham forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been forecasts showing possible impact on Alabama." The Hill summarizes the NYT story. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

     ~~~ ** New Lede: "President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events." ~~~

~~~ Andrew Freedman, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump told his staff that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needed to deal with a tweet that seemed to contradict his statement that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama as of Sept. 1, in contrast to what the agency's forecasters were predicting at the time, senior administration officials said. This led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue, the officials said.... Mulvaney then called Ross but did not instruct him to threaten any firings or make any punitive threats, officials said. He simply told Ross that the agency needed to fix the matter immediately, leading to a new statement that was issued Friday, Sept. 6. The New York Times reported some elements of these events earlier Wednesday." Mrs. McC: The WashPo broke the news of Trump's involvement several hours before the Times nailed that down. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

     ~~~ Suspected AlabamaGate "Mastermind" Professes Innocence. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump denied that his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was acting on his orders when Mulvaney reportedly directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to pressure a federal agency to rebuke scientists who had contradicted Trump's hurricane claims. 'No, I never did that -- I never did that,' Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday, dismissing the entire scandal as 'a hoax by the fake news media.'... On Wednesday, House Democrats piled on when they announced an investigation into reports that [NOAA] had come under pressure by Ross to issue a statement disavowing the NWS Birmingham tweet. Democrats on the House Science Committee and its oversight subcommittee on Wednesday

Sheila Kaplan of the New York Times: "Trump administration officials said on Wednesday they want to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, at a time when hundreds of people have been sickened by mysterious vaping-related illnesses. Sitting in the Oval Office with Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner, President Trump acknowledged that there was a vaping problem, and said, 'We're going to have to do something about it.' Mr. Azar said that the F.D.A. would outline a plan within the coming weeks for removing most flavored e-cigarettes from the market." The Politico story is here.

Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Wednesday savaged former national security adviser John Bolton one day after unceremoniously dismissing him via Twitter -- blasting his hawkish ex-aide's hard-charging brand of diplomacy and partly blaming him for launching the Iraq War. In a winding assessment of his tenure atop the White House's National Security Council, delivered to reporters assembled in the Oval Office [for the vaping photo spray], Trump alternated between vicious criticism of Bolton and an insistence that they had maintained a warm working relationship." ~~~

I have five people that want it very much. I mean, a lot more than that would like to have it. But there are five people that I consider very highly qualified, good people I've gotten to know over the last three years, and we'll be announcing somebody next week. -- Donald Trump, on the search for a fourth national security advisor ~~~

~~~ Kylie Atwood, et al., of CNN: "Just one day after ... Donald Trump dismissed national security adviser John Bolton, administration officials are discussing the possibility of replacing Bolton with his chief rival, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Under this scenario, the country's top diplomat would absorb the national security adviser role and do both jobs, according to a senior administration official and a source familiar with the possibilities. That would make Pompeo the second person in history to have both jobs at the same time. The first, Henry Kissinger, was already President Richard Nixon's national security adviser when he was appointed secretary of state in 1973, and filled both roles for two years." ~~~

     ~~~ Steve Holland of Reuters: "Three top aides to former national security adviser John Bolton submitted their resignations on Wednesday, a day after Bolton and ... Donald Trump parted ways. Garrett Marquis, Bolton's top spokesman, Sarah Tinsley, his communications director, and scheduler Christine Samuelian all resigned in what an administration source called an amicable fashion." ~~~

     ~~~ One Bolton Sidekick Who Did Not Resign ... Eliza Relman of Business Insider: "After ... Donald Trump announced that he had fired his national security adviser, John Bolton, on Tuesday, the White House named Charles Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser, to temporarily fill the key post.... Civil rights groups have raised alarms about Kupperman's association with the right-wing Center for Security Policy (CSP), a DC-based think tank that has long promoted anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, including that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government. Kupperman, 68, served on CSP's board from 2001 to 2010.... Kupperman is a longtime adviser to Bolton and reportedly aligns with the outgoing official's hawkish orientation toward foreign policy and intervention." Mrs. McC: I'd guess Kupperman's bigotry was what made Trump decide to keep him around for awhile.

Lee Moran of the Huffington Post: "... Donald Trump drew ire on Twitter Wednesday morning with the way he marked the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Trump shared a photograph of himself and first lady Melania Trump, their backs to the camera, with the caption: 'We Will Never Forget.' However, it wasn't his first post of the day. That honor went to a rant about China and his trade war. Critics on Twitter also called out Trump's now-canceled plan to meet with Taliban leaders close to the anniversary of 9/11, and recalled his history of making insensitive and untruthful statements about the attacks. 'Except when we invited the Taliban over for a photo op,' tweeted attorney George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and a frequent Trump critic." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

~~~ And Then ... Chris Cillizza of CNN: "Once Trump got to the Pentagon to lay a wreath at the site of the memorial to those lost when a plane hit the building 18 years ago, he quickly turned the subject to himself.... It's striking the extent to which the President of the United States -- speaking to a group of victims' families -- looked inward. Yes, he talked about what he was doing that day. What he was watching on TV. What he thought had happened. But then, his latest drama on how he decided to cancel the talks with the Taliban."

Erin Banco & Asawin Suebsaeng of the Daily Beast: "... Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal. Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron's plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump's conversations with the French leader.... Ironically, during his time in office, President Barack Obama followed a not-dissimilar approach to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table, throttling Iran's economy with sanctions before pledging relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in the Iran nuke deal that President Trump called 'rotten' -- and pulled the U.S. out of during his first term." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Also ironically, not only did Trump repeatedly criticized President Obama for the "rotten deal," but he also said, "The Democrats and President Obama gave Iran 150 Billion Dollars and got nothing...," and other assertions to that effect. The claim is false. For one thing, "The deal ... lifted a freeze on Iran's assets that were held largely in foreign, not U.S., banks. And, to be clear, the money that was unfrozen belonged to Iran."

Karen d'Uva & Meg Cunningham of ABC News: "Yujing Zhang, the Chinese woman detained in March for trespassing at Mar-a-Lago -- ... Donald Trump's Florida country club -- was found guilty of lying to federal agents and for entering a restricted area.... On March 30, she was mistakenly allowed in by Mar-a-Lago staff. In addition to the purported trespassing, prosecutors alleged that she lied to Secret Service officers as she was let through the checkpoints. She was only discovered when a receptionist realized her name was not on the access list for the club.... When Zhang was detained, investigators said they found several electronic devices on her and in her room at a local hotel, purportedly including a device to detect hidden cameras."

Up at the Big House. Adam Reiss of NBC News: "The former personal attorney for ... Donald Trump has entered into an agreement with New York City prosecutors to provide information about the president's business operation, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News Wednesday. The Manhattan District Attorney's office is investigating the possibility that the Trump Organization falsified business records, the source said. Representatives from the District Attorney's office met with [Michael] Cohen on Aug. 20 at Otisville Prison, in upstate New York, where he's serving a three-year sentence, according to the source."

Crossing the Old Sod in Style. Matthew Chapman of RawStory: "On Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) discovered, via a search of government records, that the government spent nearly $600,000 in limousines to ferry Vice President Mike Pence and his fellow travelers across Ireland. The cost was so expensive because although Pence was officially visiting Dublin, he insisted on staying at ... Donald Trump's property in Doonbeg -- on the other side of the island." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Josh Kovensky of TPM: "Where in the world is Rudy Giuliani? With news that three House Committees are investigating the Trump attorney's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to look for dirt on Joe Biden, it's a question worth asking.... TPM has gathered reporting on Giuliani's foreign adventures since taking office, consolidating them in one map that reveals the extent of his global peddling." Includes map. --s (Also linked yesterday.)

After Dorian, U.S. Makes Travel from Bahamas Harder. Brianna Sacks of BuzzFeed News: "US policy had previously allowed Bahamians to travel to the US using only a passport and evidence of a clean police record if they were traveling on a flight or ship directly from the Bahamas. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security released updated information about visa restrictions, which tightened rules for those arriving by sea. 'Bahamians arriving to the United States by vessel must be in possession of a valid passport AND valid travel visa,' it reads. CBP insists that the rules are simply a clarification of established policies and procedures and that port directors still have the discretion to evaluate people arriving on a case-by-case basis. But a Baleària Caribbean staffer told BuzzFeed News that the company guidelines for Bahamians coming over to the US for a short visit -- before the hurricane it ran ferries between Freeport and Fort Lauderdale multiple times a week on the 2.5-hour trip -- said no visa was required." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: This is the "kick 'em when they're down" policy, which is so popular with confederates that the Supremes just made it federal law with regard to asylum-seekers.

Justin Baragona of The Daily Beast: "During a Monday morning Fox News appearance, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland reacted to the Trump administration's scuttled peace talks with the Taliban by suggesting the United States shouldn't be concerned with 'civilian deaths' in Afghanistan in the future, calling for a large-scale bombing campaign if any Americans are killed 'anywhere in the world.'... McFarland's desire to see Afghanistan civilian deaths comes on the heels of Fox News contributor Joey Jones calling for the execution of detainees any time an American soldier is killed overseas. 'The first thing I would do today, is every time one of our soldiers dies overseas during these talks, I would go down to Guantanamo and I would execute a Taliban captive,' he said during a Fox & Friends appearance on Saturday." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post: "The Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for Steven Menashi, one of ... Donald Trump's most controversial nominees for a lifetime seat on a U.S. appeals court. It didn't go that well. Neither of his home-state senators from New York supports his nomination, so Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced Menashi. And the nominee spent most of his time angering Republicans and Democrats by refusing to provide details about what he's worked on in his current role as a White House legal adviser (yes, Trump nominated one of his own aides to be a federal judge).... Dozens of protesters clogged the walkways and led loud chants as the hearing was underway.... Progressive groups are opposed to Menashi's nomination because of his long record of opposing and undermining equality for communities of color, women and LGBTQ people. As CNN reported, Menashi has complained about 'gynocentrists' participating in Take Back the Night marches, accused the Human Rights Campaign of having 'incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard' for political benefit, and claimed that a Dartmouth fraternity wasn't being racist when it held a 'ghetto party' attended by white partygoers wearing Afro wigs and carrying toy guns. He has also denounced women's marches as sexual assault, opposed the 'radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe v. Wade,' and spread the Islamophobic myth that Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines in 1913 with bullets dipped in pig fat." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: To give you an even better idea of the quality of Trump's judicial nominees, Rachel Maddow pointed out that Trump tapped this bigoted little turd to fill the Appeals Court seat formerly held by Thurgood Marshall.

Andrew Sorkin of the New York Times: "In a direct and urgent call to address gun violence in America, the chief executives of some of the nation's best-known companies sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging an expansion of background checks to all firearms sales and stronger 'red flag' laws.... The letter -- which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives -- is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.... The letter signers on Thursday include the leaders of Airbnb, the Gap, Pinterest, Lyft, the Brookfield Property Group and Royal Caribbean. Missing from the list, however, are some of America's biggest financial and technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, some of which debated internally whether to sign the letter." CNN's story is here. Mrs. McC: Mark Zuckerberg & Jamie Dimon are skeert of the NRA??

David Kay Johnston of DCReport: "While White House reporters investigate who added a Sharpie line to a hurricane map, a huge global story is developing that bodes badly for the economic welfare of Americans for decades to come. China is using Trump's gratuitous trade war to expand its economic, diplomatic and military influence. And it is succeeding, diminishing America's influence, especially in the Western Pacific and India. The long-term cost to America in lost opportunities and ultimately diminished economic growth will be catastrophic.... Trumpian efforts to decouple the world's two largest economies has become a hot topic in Asia. The simple truth is that China no longer needs America to buy its goods." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Lee Fang of The Intercept: "In recent years, Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist megadonor to Republicans and libertarian causes, has carefully recalibrated his public image, releasing a variety of statements to assert that he supports immigration and opposes President Donald Trump's blatant scapegoating of undocumented immigrants and foreigners. At the same time, however, Koch's sprawling political network's in-house technology company has mined consumer data to motivate Republican voters with dehumanizing messages that depict immigrants as an invading army of criminals and potential terrorists." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Emanuel Stoakes of the Guardian: "Leaked communications suggest that the UN's migration agency is censoring itself on the climate crisis and the global compact on migration, following pressure from the US government." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Jan Hoffman of the New York Times: "Purdue Pharma and its owners, members of the Sackler family, have tentatively reached the first comprehensive settlement with lawyers representing thousands of municipal governments, tribes and states nationwide that are suing the pharmaceutical industry for the devastation resulting from the opioid epidemic. The company is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy imminently. The settlement, which was described by two people involved in the negotiations, involves the dissolution of Purdue Pharma as it now exists, the formation of a new company that will continue to sell its signature opioid, OxyContin, with the proceeds going to a public beneficiary company that will pay the plaintiffs. Purdue Pharma also will donate 'rescue' drugs, several of which are in development, for addiction treatment and overdose reversal. The Sackler family will pay $3 billion in cash over seven years. The settlement does not include a statement of wrongdoing." The Washington Post story is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) CNN's story is here.

Brandon Ambrosino in Politico Magazine: "One day after Politico published a piece in which Jerry Falwell Jr. denied visiting a Miami Beach nightclub in July 2014 and alleged that any images showing such were 'photo-shopped,' a new trove of photos showing Falwell at the club has been released. Seth Browarnik, the owner of World Red Eye, a photography company that documents Miami's bustling nightlife scene, says he was unaware how many photos he had of Falwell until Falwell alleged that his site's images were manipulated -- prompting Browarnik to explore his photo archive to prove otherwise. On Tuesday, Browarnik published the newly unearthed photos on his website,, along with a strongly worded 'rebuke' of Falwell's claim of photoshopping." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Beyond the Beltway

North Carolina. Lateshia Beachum of the Washington Post: "While North Carolina Democrats were remembering the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, their Republican colleagues took advantage of their absence and voted to override the governor's budget veto Wednesday morning. North Carolina House Republicans called for a 'surprise vote' while Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and many House members were attending a 9/11 memorial event, Cooper said at a news conference.... House Democratic leader Darren Jackson told reporters that he told his caucus members they didn't need to be in attendance, and that state Rep. David Lewis (R) gave Jackson his word that there would be no votes, according to the News and Observer." The CBS-17 Raleigh-Durham report, also linked yesterday afternoon, is here. ~~~

~~~ Rep. Deb Butler (D) did show up & -- oh, I don't know -- seemed to object to the Republicans' trick:

~~~ Raleigh News & Observer Editors: "North Carolina's Republican legislative leaders -- not actually leaders, but connivers -- are beyond shame. In a stunning display of contempt for democracy, House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, called a surprise vote to overturn Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the state budget just after a session opened at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Democratic lawmakers and the media had been told by Republican leaders that there would be no vote in the morning. Most Democrats were absent. Enough Republicans, aware of the secret plan, were there.... With only 64 of the House's 120 members present, the vote to override passed 55-9.... This is a case of breaking faith with the people of North Carolina.... Not only was the House vote dishonest, it was carried out by a Republican majority that courts have repeatedly found to have gained seats through illegal gerrymandering. It was an illegitimate majority acting in an unethical way."

Way Beyond

Japan. Justin McCurry of the Guardian: "The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will have to dump huge quantities of contaminated water from the site directly into the Pacific Ocean, Japan's environment minister has said -- a move that would enrage local fishermen. More than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water has accumulated at the plant since it was struck by a tsunami in March 2011[.]" --s (Also linked yesterday.)

U.K. BBC News: "Boris Johnson's suspension of the UK Parliament is unlawful, Scotland's highest civil court has ruled. A panel of three judges at the Court of Session found in favour of a cross-party group of politicians who were challenging the prime minister's move. The judges said the PM was attempting to prevent Parliament holding the government to account ahead of Brexit. A UK government appeal against the ruling will be heard by the Supreme Court in London next week." (Also linked yesterday.)

Reader Comments (6)

Today, among so much other noise, this administration is refusing to give temporary protective status to the devastated people of the Bahamas, while actually separating their fucking families bc of paperwork nonsense at the cost of the taxpayer and the continued mental anguish of the kids. Meamwhile, the Supreme Court just signed the death sentence of countless asylum-seekers who won't be welcomed into the "land of the free".

These policies will lead directly to the death of numerous innocent civilians, their only crime being born in the wrong place at the wrong time, and our Republican neighbors and colleagues are cheering on this human meat grinder as the blades spin faster and sharper and the whote nationalist movement grows ever stronger.

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Safari––the injustice of this move is––yes, I'm going to use this word again–-shocking! We have gotten used to the cruelty of this administration but had some hope that the S.C. would not give sanction––obviously that is not the case. We are still waiting what will happen to those disabled children who received letters informing them they would be deported in 33 days. There was a hearing yesterday on this with no answers forthcoming.

It doesn't happen often but when a person looks exactly like their persona it's startling. Steven Menashi looks exactly like a fat, white, fleshy pig feeding at the trough. To bring this despicable man up for a lifetime on the bench is––I'm going to use that word again––shocking! To even have this bloke part of the administration is––oh, wait! I'm thinking "normal" here and we are so far from normal it makes me crazy.

Bless Deb Butler! Another episode of underhanded and cruel maneuvers by Republicans.

" ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Also ironically, not only did Trump repeatedly criticized President Obama for the "rotten deal," but he also said, “The Democrats and President Obama gave Iran 150 Billion Dollars and got nothing...,” and other assertions to that effect. The claim is false. For one thing, “The deal ... lifted a freeze on Iran’s assets that were held largely in foreign, not U.S., banks. And, to be clear, the money that was unfrozen belonged to Iran.”

Trump has repeated this falsity many, many times and YET no one apparently has told him it is FALSE!

I'm going to take a shower and wash my hair–-unfortunately I cannot, like Mary Martin, wash that guy right out of my life.

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Read "The Daily Beast" article on the potential Iran deal again this morning. Thought I might have missed something when I referenced it yesterday PM. This morning I have two further, more detailed thoughts about it.

This "we'll have to see what happens" (another microcosm of the entire Pretender foreign policy nightmare) deal would do nothing but bring the situation back to the status quo ante (before) the tough Pretender walked away from the arrangement, saying it was such a bad deal. What's the gain, beyond some language about Iran promising to engage in talks with other countries in the Middle East? And maybe more practically, I'm guessing that Iran's nuclear development has taken such a giant step forward since the Pretender left in a huff that it will not be easy to stuff all those newly created isotopes back in the bottle.

About the financial arrangements: I understand that the new deal would use Iran's own money to back up the 15 billion in credit extended. Whether they would take it or not without a further sweetener I don't know, but I would think that in any such negotiation the harmed party (Iran) would wish/demand compensation from those who did the harm (us) and getting some of your own money back wouldn't suffice.

And tho' I didn't explain it yesterday when I said American taxpayers would be picking up the tab, I was thinking that in addition to any outright grants that might be neccesary to lubricate the negotiations, we would be lending Iran money that we ourselves had borrowed and on which we are paying interest.

It would be another case of the Pretender extending largesse that isn't his.

What a shambles this man makes of everything he touches.

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I am thinking that someone in the "administration" has a large clipboard or has it mastered on his smartphone that every time a cruel or unusual "policy" is planned and executed, that person comes up with something MORE cruel, unusual or illegal to do tomorrow. You gotta admit, the presidunce, with his henchmen, outdoes himself every single day. There is a Nazi playbook amongst these "people." I spend every day jawdropped like PD-- it's like we all have a disease that is going to kill us before 2020. It's a veritable mushroom cloud with all of the fallout it brings. Hello, Nancy Pelosi? Are you already embalmed?

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

I'm thinking a counter-banner (the battle of the banners?) that features dirty, polluted rivers, streams and wetlands, labeled capitalism and outlined by a border of the Pretender's ugly, scowling puss might make the appropriate point.

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Sounds like we know what to expect now for election day 2020.

Pascale and Jared and going to recruit an army of MAGA mouth breathers across the country to fly banners over every major city screaming "SOCIALISM IS BAD!" "DEMON RATS LOVE RAPISTS!" "VOTE DEAR LEADER!!" "BUY TRUMP!!"

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari
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