The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, June 17, 2018. "Gunfire blasted through a celebrated community event in Trenton early Sunday morning leaving one person dead and 22 injured, police said. The 24-hour Art All Night event is meant to honor local artists and held at the historic Roebling Wire Works building on South Clinton Avenue. The shooting erupted shortly before 3 a.m. Authorities said the shooting did not appear to be a targeted incident but a dispute between individuals that eventually led to an exchange of gunfire with police.... One of the suspected shooters is dead, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri. The 33-year-old man is believed to be shot and killed by police, Onofri said. A second suspect is in police custody. Neither has been identified."

Read more here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Times: "A thousand-year-old English castle echoed with the exhortations of an African-American bishop and a gospel choir on Saturday, as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, an American actress, nudging the British royal family into a new era. Ms. Markle, who has long identified herself as a feminist, entered St. George’s Chapel alone rather than being given away by her father or any other man, a departure from tradition that in itself sent a message to the world. She was met halfway by Prince Charles, her future father-in-law and presumably the future king of Britain. Prince Harry, who is sixth in line for the throne, has long called on Britain’s monarchy to draw closer to the daily life of its people. But the most extraordinary thing he has done is to marry Ms. Markle, an American actress who is three years his senior, biracial, divorced and vocal about her views. Their choices at Saturday’s wedding, many of them heavily influenced by black culture, made it clear that they plan to project a more inclusive monarchy.” ...

Serena Williams, at the When Harry Wed Meghan rites.... Anthony Lane of the New Yorker attended the nuptials & reports back: "Love, as warmly recommended by the preacher, held sway. The sole unpleasantness that crossed my path took the form of a burly fellow wearing a fascinator, with ripped jeans and mirrored shades: not an outfit that I will soon forget." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you are wondering what a "fascinator" is, so was I. There were hundreds of them worn to Windsor Saturday. It's a ridiculous thing that otherwise sensible women attach to their heads. We are not fascinated.

Shorter Wedding:

This is the WashPo's live coverage of the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. You can supersize it:

The Guardian is posting updates re: the wedding of Britain's Prince Harry & American actor Meghan Markle. "The Queen has announced the titles given to the married couple. Prince Harry, or to give him his formal title, Prince Henry of Wales, has been made Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel.So he will be His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and, once married, Meghan Markle will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex."

Josephine Livingstone of the New Republic reviews The President is Missing: "... there’s an ickiness to this book, and it lies in gender politics. It’s just not possible to engage with Bill Clinton as a public figure without thinking about his relationship with the 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky. America is undergoing a revision of its original interpretation of that incident, one in which people newly recognize her youth and her vulnerability. Wrong was done by her, and that is more widely understood. Clinton can’t expect readers not to think about that. And yet during the publicity tour for the book, he has responded to questions about Lewinsky with great churlishness. To boot, the book ends with the revelation that the villain all along was feminism." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This novel needed a woman's review. As for Livingstone's note about #MeToo revisionism, I was horrified by Bill's abuse of Lewinsky in real time. And I was equally horrified by Hillary's attempts to get her husband out of the jam of his own making. I didn't understand why I was nearly alone among liberals in what I found to be obvious abuses of power, but I now see it was blind partisanship, of a quality & quantity not different from stupid Trumpbot loyalty. I never thought Clinton should have been impeached; I thought he should have resigned.

Ha Ha. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker reviews the newly-published novel The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson. "Writing, like dying, is one of those things that should be done alone or not at all.... Bill Clinton, who can write, has hooked up with James Patterson, who can’t, but whose works have sold more than three hundred and seventy-five million copies, most of them to happy and contented customers for whom good writing would only get in the way." Lane runs down the plotline of this thriller, & he says the story includes "no sex'" even tho there as sexy female assassin (of course there is) who is after the fictional president. Lane goes out of his way to diss Patterson's writing. "Somehow, 'The President Is Missing' rises above its blithely forgivable faults. It’s a go-to read." Mrs. McC: Tho not by me.

Here's a Guardian interview of Harry & Meghan:


The Commentariat -- September 14, 2017

Afternoon Update:

Deal or No Deal? Sophie Tatum, et al., of CNN: "President Donald Trump is moving closer to a deal with Democrats that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. But the parameters of any deal ... are up in the air as the White House and Congress grapple with the impact of a Wednesday dinner between Trump and Democratic leaders. The bombshell developments, which were first announced by Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi and reiterated by Trump himself Thursday morning, were met with immediate outrage from conservatives and put pressure on the President's Republican allies in Congress. A deal would be the second major Trump-Pelosi-Schumer pact this month, following the agreement on the debt ceiling and government spending." -- Akhilleus

Paid to Lie. Callum Borchers of the Washington Post: "Sean Spicer claims it was his job to say whatever President Trump told him to say. 'That's what you sign up to do,' the former White House press secretary said Wednesday on ABC's 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' late-night show. Revisiting his memorable briefing-room debut -- a tirade against the media in which he falsely claimed that Trump's Inauguration Day crowd was the largest in history Spicer basically admitted that he was willing to lie for Trump.... 'Look, your job as press secretary is to represent the president's voice,' Spicer replied, 'and to make sure that you are articulating what he believes, [what] his vision is on policy, on issues and on other areas that he wants to articulate. Whether or not you agree or not isn't your job.'.. .But do 'other areas' include matters of fact? Whether Trump's crowd was the biggest ever is not a matter of opinion. It is objectively true or false -- and it happens to be false. What Spicer is saying here is that he believes his job was not merely to defend political decisions with which he disagreed but to make false statements, if asked to do so by the president." ...

     ... Akhilleus: The job description for the entire Trump administration. Liars all. And is this how Spicer will be introduced in his new gig as motivational speaker? "And now, please welcome that well known paid liar, Sean Spicer! Yeah, big round of applause for Sean."

It's All GREAT! Emily Tillet of CBS News: "[President] Trump, joined by First Lady Melania Trump, arrived at the Fort Myers area where he thanked first responders and is later slated to speak in the Naples area after he receives additional briefings on recovery efforts in the region. Vice President Mike Pence and a White House delegation of cabinet officials also joined the president on the trip. Mr. Trump tweeted early Thursday morning that he would be visiting the area to see 'our GREAT first responders and to thank the U.S. Cost Guard, FEMA etc.' He called the impacts a 'real disaster' and said that were was 'much work do.'" ...

     ... Akhilleus: Well, no one has ever accused Donald Trump of not having a way with words. Describing the devastation of Irma as a "real disaster" and talking about "GREAT first responders" will no doubt rival Churchill's most powerful speeches of WWII. But as usual, Trump cannot resist putting his own spin on the truth, at one point saying that "power is being restored rapidly...great job!", implying imminent restoration of power. According to a story in yesterday's NY Times, power restoration will take weeks not days. According to Robert Gould of Florida Power and Light, "This is going to be a very, very lengthy restoration, arguably the longest and most complex in U.S. history..." But rather than say exactly that, Trump's choice is to grandstand. He hungers for applause even when there's no crowd.

War Games, Russian Style. Staff Reuters: "Russia accused the West on Thursday of 'whipping up hysteria' over large-scale military exercises currently underway in eastern Europe and denied charges that they were being conducted with a lack of transparency. The exercises ... started on Thursday and will last until Sept. 20. They are being conducted on military ranges in Belarus, western Russia, Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad and in the Baltic Sea. 'We reject complaints of these exercises not being transparent,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters. 'We believe that whipping up hysteria around these exercises is a provocation.'... But NATO officials say the drills will simulate a conflict with the U.S.-led alliance intended to show Russia's ability to mass large numbers of troops at short notice in the event of a conflict. Amid allegations about Moscow's aggressive ambitions from its post-communist neighbors, Russia's defense ministry has said that it does not intend to use the drills as a springboard to attack Lithuania, Poland or Ukraine." ...

     ... Akhilleus: Putin holds war games in which Russia demonstrates how quickly it could invade a NATO country but says that there's no reason to worry. It's like Tony Soprano showing a new shop owner in town pictures of all the guys he's had beaten up then complaining if the guy overreacts. And not for nothin' but how much will you bet me that, had this occurred on Obama's watch, a certain orange haired man now strangely living in the White House, would rip him as being weak for not immediately massing troops on the border of Belarus in response to this display of military aggression?

Goodbye Cassini. Mika McKinnon of Astronomy: "After 13 years and hundreds of orbits around Saturn, Cassini is in its final fall towards the gas giant. Before the dawn breaks [Friday], the spacecraft will be vaporized. Now, we reflect on Cassini's many triumphs, and stand vigil to witness the spacecraft's last moments, pushing the boundaries of what engineering can do one final time. NASA's Cassini spacecraft launched on October 15, 1997, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It slung around Venus, Earth, and Jupiter, using the gravitational potential of each planet to redirect its path during its seven-year journey to Saturn.... Today, Cassini takes its final photograph, calls home with its last pre-packed data, and transitions to continuous real-time transmission to squeeze science out of every last final second before destruction. At 12:58 p.m. Pacific time on September 14, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft will look around Saturn's system for the final time." -- Akhilleus

And Hello Bridenstine! Christian Davenport of the Washington Post: "If confirmed, Jim Bridenstine would be the first NASA administrator in the post-Apollo era who wasn't yet born when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. He's a politician and a Navy aviator, not a rocket scientist, whose credentials have already been criticized by Florida's two U.S. senators. And the congressman's comments expressing skepticism about the role humans have played in climate change have sparked controversy. But in the days since President Trump announced that Bridenstine was his pick to lead the space agency, the 42-year-old conservative Republican House member from Oklahoma has lined up some key support from members of Congress and industry groups." ...

     ... Akhilleus: "Support builds for Bridenstine?" Of course it does! Trump looks at science denier Bridenstine as "good for business", meaning the plan of turning NASA into a wholly owned subsidiary of various for profit corporations. There's nothing wrong with making money, but NASA's mission from the beginning has been much more aligned with scientific discovery. Technologies invented for space missions have likely expanded profitable undertakings on planet Earth. But under a Trump appointee, it's unlikely any more pure science missions like Cassini will get off the drawing board. And look for another essential part of NASA's core mission to crash and burn, the careful observation and study of climate change here on Earth. So farewell Cassini, and farewell to a lot more, potentially.

Ethics, Schmethics. Darren Samuelson of Politico: "The U.S. Office of Government Ethics has quietly reversed its own internal policy prohibiting anonymous donations from lobbyists to White House staffers who have legal defense funds. The little-noticed change could help President Donald Trump's aides raise the money they need to pay attorneys as the Russia probe expands -- but raises the potential for hidden conflicts of interest or other ethics trouble. 'You can picture a whole army of people with business before the government willing to step in here and make [the debt] go away,' said Marilyn Glynn, a former George W. Bush-era acting OGE director who worked in the office for 17 years." ...

     ... Akhilleus: So Trump gets the OGE to reverse itself on whether or not anonymous donors can help pay for the mountain of upcoming legal bills for all Trumpy administration persons of interest in the Russia-Collusion probe. Pretty much everyone has lawyered up. That's a lot of anonymous donations. Why even bother with a fucking ethics office? Trump is just going to change the rules to suit himself, or ignore ones he doesn't like. Why bother? Might as well dispense with it altogether. And once again, when a survivor of the Bush Debacle is appalled, how bad must things really be?


Maggie Haberman & Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times: "Democratic leaders on Wednesday night declared that they had a deal with President Trump to quickly extend protections for young undocumented immigrants and to finalize a border security package that does not include the president's proposed wall. The Democrats, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, said in a joint statement that they had a 'very productive' dinner meeting with the president at the White House that focused on the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. 'We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that's acceptable to both sides,' they said. In its own statement, the White House was far more muted, mentioning DACA as merely one of several issues that were discussed, including tax reform and infrastructure. It called the meeting ... 'a positive step toward the president's strong commitment to bipartisan solutions.' But the bipartisan comity appeared to have its limits. In a tweet, Sarah Huckabee Sanders ... disputed the Democrats' characterization.... 'While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,' she wrote. Mr. Schumer's communications director, Matt House, fired back on Twitter: 'The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.'" ...

... So Then. Robert Costa of the Washington Post: "Staunch conservative allies of President Trump have erupted in anger and incredulity after Democrats late Wednesday announced that the president had agreed to pursue a legislative deal that would protect thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation but not secure Trump's signature campaign promise: building a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border." ...

... So Then. Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times: "President Trump said in a Twitter post on Thursday morning that no deal had been struck with Democrats on protections for young undocumented immigrants, contradicting what Democratic leaders had said after a dinner with the president on Wednesday night. 'No deal was made last night on DACA,' Mr. Trump said.... Mr. Trump has sent mixed messages on the program. He has said he would end it, then he gave Congress time to come up with a legislative solution after he was widely criticized in the media for his decision to end DACA. Mr. Trump has also said he has said he would reconsider the matter if Congress failed to act, even as his own attorney general called the program unconstitutional." Mrs. McC: Somebody lied. I wonder who.

The rich will not be gaining at all with this [tax] plan. I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are. -- Donald Trump, Wednesday

Yeah, and Medlar & I are almost finished building the Trump McTaj Towers in Moscow, which we've financed with futures on our Trump middle-class tax cut. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ...

... Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "President Trump is doubling down this week on his bid to remake the tax code.... But he is bringing to the game a relatively weak team -- a chief economic adviser whom he has openly disparaged and a Treasury secretary whose counsel he has dismissed -- and is promoting quick passage of a new tax code that has yet to be written as members of his party bicker over the details. The urgency was evident on Wednesday, as Mr. Trump urged Congress to 'move fast,' and Republican leaders seemed ready.... Democrats have said they will reject any package that they see as skewed toward the rich, especially if it repeals the estate tax, as the president wants."

Yamiche Alcindor & Glenn Thrush of the New York Times: "Tim Scott, the lone black Republican in the Senate, delivered a pointed history lesson on America's 300-year legacy of racism to President Trump on Wednesday in response to what he called Mr. Trump's 'sterile' response to the riots in Charlottesville, Va., last month. The president invited Mr. Scott, a conservative from South Carolina who had expressed disgust with Mr. Trump's equivocal reaction to the white supremacist protests that left one woman dead, to the Oval Office for what Mr. Trump's staff described as a demonstration of the president's commitment to 'positive race relations.'... When a reporter asked the senator after the meeting if the president had expressed regret, a pained look flashed on Mr. Scott's face. He paused for a few seconds and replied, 'He certainly tried to explain what he was trying to convey.'... White House officials emailed reporters a photograph of Mr. Trump listening intently as Mr. Scott made a point.... The White House misidentified him as Tom Scott." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Not their fault. They were thinking of Uncle Tom, who "is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more." ...

... Nolan McCaskill of Politico: "... Donald Trump will 'absolutely' sign a joint resolution by Congress condemning white supremacists, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday. The House and Senate this week passed legislation condemning last month's fatal white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The joint resolution, which urges Trump to 'speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy,' heads to the president's desk."

Grumpy Trumpy. Mike Allen
of Axios: "Behind the scenes in the West Wing, President Trump continues to rant and brood about former FBI Director Jim Comey and the Russia investigation that got him fired.Trump tells aides and visitors that the probe now being run by special counsel Bob Mueller is a witch hunt, and that Comey was a leaker. So White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was reflecting her boss's moods when she attacked Comey at length from the podium yesterday.... The Mueller investigation is hitting ever closer to home for Trump, and he's using the tools of his office to try to undermine the special counsel's future findings." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Manu Raju of CNN: "The Justice Department is preventing Senate investigators from interviewing two top FBI officials who could provide first-hand testimony over the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the latest sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be investigating the circumstances around the firing, officials tell CNN. The previously undisclosed turf war comes as the Senate judiciary committee has not yet given assurances to the special counsel's office that it could have unfettered access to the transcript of the interview it conducted last week with the President's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., saying that the full Senate must first authorize the release of the information to Mueller's team." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Carol Lee, et al., of NBC News: "Michael G. Flynn, the son of ... Donald Trump's former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, according to four current and former government officials. The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father's lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, three of the officials said.... Several legal experts with knowledge of the investigation have told NBC News they believe [Robert] Mueller, following a classic prosecutorial playbook, is seeking to compel key players, including Flynn [the Elder] and [Paul] Manafort, to tell what they know about any possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia. Mueller has brought onto his team a federal prosecutor known for convincing subjects to turn on associates." ...

... Josh Dawsey of Politico: "... Michael Flynn actively promoted a private-sector scheme to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the Middle East known informally in the transition as the 'Marshall Plan.' But he did not publicly disclose that backers of the plan had paid him at least $25,000. Flynn communicated during the transition with the backers of the for-profit plan, billed as a way of strengthening ties between the U.S. and Arab allies looking to develop nuclear power capability. Meanwhile, the Trump adviser expressed his support for the plan with people inside the transition -- and discussed its merits with others beyond Trump Tower, according to sources within and close to the Trump team at that time. Flynn's consulting work for the company has been previously reported, but not the extent of his involvement during the Trump transition, nor the full amount he was paid for it." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Week: "Michael Flynn pushed a controversial nuclear plant project in the Middle East during his brief White House tenure, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The plan, which once involved Russian companies, proposed the construction and operation of 'dozens of nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East.'" ...

... Manu Raju & Marshall Cohen of CNN: "House Democrats sent special counsel Robert Mueller what they say is evidence that former national security adviser Michael Flynn failed to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East to explore a business deal with the Saudi government and a Russian government agency. The Democrats allege the retired Army lieutenant general broke the law by omitting the trip, according to the letter they sent to Flynn's former business partners requesting more information about his overseas travels and contacts. The letter was sent by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the oversight committee, and New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee. No Republicans from the two GOP-led committees signed onto the letter...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... David Graham of the Atlantic: "The White House's decision to hire the elder Michael Flynn despite a series of red flags, and an explicit warning from [President] Obama not to do so, raises serious and troubling questions about the Trump administration's hiring process and about the president's claims to hire the best people.... Flynn apparently had few reservations about where he was receiving income, as long as he was receiving it.... Flynn has mixed his work in government and his private-sector work.... Trump might not be in the same sort of trouble that Flynn is right now, but the former aide offers a cautionary example." ...

... Chris McDaniel & Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed: "... Donald Trump's personal attorney and confidant, Michael Cohen, is scheduled to speak next week with investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting. Cohen has been subpoenaed by lawmakers investigating Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. He is expected to speak with investigators on Sept. 19." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Tommy Christopher of Independent Journal Review (IJR): "On Tuesday, NBC News reporter Katy Tur released her big 2016 campaign book, 'Unbelievable,' coincidentally the same day that Hillary Clinton's 'What Happened' hit shelves and e-readers. Tur was Trump's absolute favorite media punching bag, and an anecdote from the book could help explain why. In the book, Tur reveals that Trump forced an unwanted kiss on her just before a November 11, 2015, appearance on Morning Joe. The details are pretty gross.... Just prior to that section in the book, Tur also recounts a married senior Trump staffer making pretty clear advances on her. If her displeasure at Trump's kiss was as obvious as it sounds, and/or if Tur's unwillingness to play around got back to Trump, it could go a long way in explaining why she became his favorite target. Or maybe being a woman was enough." See also Akhilleus's commentary in yesterday's thread on Trump's siccing his followers on Tur. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

What First Amendment?

Kiran Raj & Paul O'Brien in a Washington Post op-ed: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that the Justice Department would review his agency's media guidelines, reportedly looking to make it easier to obtain information from members of the media in leak investigations. This includes more aggressively going after unauthorized disclosures of classified information. Such a move is unnecessary for successful prosecutions, and it could have long-term negative consequences on the free press." Mrs. McC: Yeah but, it's wrong for fake news reporters to go nosing around for facts when the Trump administration's counterfactual propaganda is so felicitous. ...

... MEANWHILE. Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed: National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster "has directed government departments and agencies to warn employees across the entire federal government next week about the dangers and consequences of leaking even unclassified information.... [McMaster's] memo, dated Sept. 8, signals a potentially dramatic expansion of the previous administration's war on leaks.... The McMaster memorandum itself likely would be seen as a type of such a 'controlled unclassified' document, as it is marked: 'UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO [For Official Use Only].'"

Kelly Swanson of Vox: "White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that ESPN commentator Jemele Hill's tweets calling ... Donald Trump a white supremacist were a 'fireable offense' at a press conference on Wednesday.... ESPN responded to Hill's tweets in a statement Tuesday, saying, 'The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the President do not represent the position of ESPN. We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.' The tweets have not been deleted, and Hill still works for ESPN. Following Sanders's comment, many on Twitter expressed horror at the idea that the White House would encourage ESPN to fire someone for criticizing the president."

Mnuchins' Plan to Honeymoon on Your Dime Foiled. Justin Fishel
, et al., of ABC News: "Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested use of a government jet to take him and his wife on their honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy earlier this summer, sparking an 'inquiry' by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, sources tell ABC News. Officials familiar with the matter say the highly unusual ask for a U.S. Air Force jet, which according to an Air Force spokesman could cost roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, was put in writing by the secretary's office but eventually deemed unnecessary after further consideration of by Treasury Department officials. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview with ABC News that Mnuchin's request for a government jet on his honeymoon defies common sense. 'You don't need a giant rulebook of government requirements to just say yourself, "This is common sense, it's wrong,'" Wyden said. 'That's just slap your forehead stuff.'"

More of the "Best People." Suzy Khimm of NBC News: "... Donald Trump's nominee for the No. 2 spot at the Federal Emergency Management Agency withdrew from consideration on Wednesday after NBC News raised questions about a federal investigation that found he had falsified government travel and timekeeping records when he served in the Bush administration in 2005.... [Daniel] Craig came under scrutiny by the Inspector General for allegedly exploiting his position as FEMA's director of recovery for personal gain.... At the time, the agency was giving $100 million contracts to private firms for temporary housing of Katrina victims, and the report said that Craig was seeking employment with those firms.... After he left FEMA and became a lobbyist for a Miami-based law firm, Akerman Senterfitt, working on behalf of a client that secured more than $1 billion in FEMA contracts as part of the Katrina relief effort...." Investigators "concluded there was insufficient evidence that Craig had violated conflict-of-interest laws...."

David Remnick of the New Yorker reviews Hillary Clinton's new book. "She lost because of the tactical blunders of her campaign. She lost because she could never find a language, a thematic focus, or a campaigning persona that could convince enough struggling working Americans that she, and not a cartoonish plutocrat, was their champion. She lost because of the forces of racism, misogyny, and nativism that Trump expertly aroused. And she lost because of external forces (Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, James Comey) that were beyond her control and are not yet fully understood.... Clinton's memoir radiates with fury at the forces and the figures ranged against her, but it is also salted with self-searching, grief, bitterness, and fitful attempts to channel and contain that fury." Remnick interviewed Clinton for his report.

Elaine Povich of the Washington Post: "Pete V. Domenici, a Republican lawmaker from New Mexico who became a leading voice on budget and energy policy during six terms in the Senate..., died Sept. 13 at a hospital in Albuquerque. He was 85." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

... Pete Domenici was a pariah in my family. My parents lived in New Mexico & both were active environmentalists. Domenici was a friend of miners. My father used to write funny but insulting letters to him, & I'm sure my father treated Domenici with the same wry disregard when they met. One of the times my mother & a colleague went to see him, a secretary went into Domenici's office to tell him they were waiting. Domenici didn't look their way but the door to his office was open & he could see them. He groaned & said loudly -- meaning for my mother & her friend to hear -- "Oh, they're just a couple of little old ladies in tennis shoes." -- Marie Burns

Renae Merle of the Washington Post: "A federal judge on Wednesday revoked the $5 million bail of Martin Shkreli, the infamous former hedge fund manager convicted of defrauding investors, after prosecutors complained that his out-of-court antics posed a danger to the community. While awaiting sentencing, Shkreli has harassed women online, prosecutors argued, and even offered his Facebook followers $5,000 to grab a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair during her book tour.... 'This is a solicitation of assault. That is not protected by the First Amendment,'... said U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.... Shkreli ...was taken into custody immediately after the hour-long hearing."

Beyond the Beltway

Neil Reisner, et al., of the New York Times: "Florida was still staggering to its feet on Wednesday, and millions of people across the Southeast were facing days or weeks without power in temperatures that, in the Fort Lauderdale area, climbed to as high as 92 degrees in recent days.... The Hollywood Police Department opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of ... eight residents [of a nursing home with no working air conditioners] ... and investigators from the state attorney general's office were also involved. Gov. Rick Scott ordered a moratorium on admissions at the nursing home.... State officials, utility executives and the Rehabilitation Center spent Wednesday trading blame over why and how its patients were left to endure such conditions, even though state and federal regulations require nursing home residents to be evacuated if it gets too hot inside."

Julia Manchester of the Hill: "Democrats flipped state House seats in New Hampshire and Oklahoma on Tuesday, replacing Republicans in two districts ahead of the 2018 midterm elections." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Reader Comments (14)

Do any of you helpful and youthful editors, commentators and readers remember the dollar a year men and women from WW II?

“In 1941, as war planning began, high-ranking executives flocked from the private sector to Washington, essentially volunteering to work for entities like the Office of Production Management and the Office of Price Administration. In a time of national conscription, Victory Gardens, and Rosie the Riveter, executives were expected to pitch in their expertise and time. ..... By helping to transform the U.S. consumer economy into the "arsenal of democracy," these executives—and hundreds of others—contributed significantly to victory. “

In 2017, with US volutary military forces overextended because of ongoing engagements in the Middle East and Afghanistan and because of threats form North Korea, a cabinet secretary reportedly inquired last month about a military plane for his honeymoon.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIslander


If you're trying, in some adorably out of touch way, to cast the slightest scintilla of criticism (and it had better be bespoke criticism: none of that off the rack plebeian whining, if you please), you should understand all the sacrifices Secretary and Mrs. Munchkin make. Why, whatever could be wrong with having one of their servants from the Air Force fly this gallant pair to some romantic hot spot in Europe, somewhere free of those bothersome little people, of course?

Besides, what's the use of being a one million dollar a year man (such a pittance!) if you can't have those little people pick up the tab now and again? Such a bother.

Hmmm...for the next trip, maybe on one of those delightful harrier jump jets, I'm thinking Armani for him and Givenchy and Jimmy Choos for her. Public service can be soooo tiresome. They must be allowed on occasion to set aside all the sacrificing.

(As an aside, just think of all the caterwauling in the right-wing echo chamber if an Obama cabinet member and her new husband honeymooned in Europe. Fox would go 24/7 with tales of how elitist it was, with full screen graphics screaming about how the good ol' US of A wasn't good enough for these pretentious traitors.)

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAlhilleus

You can chalk this one up under "Capitalism is Awesome"

Trade a chocolate bar for a rainforest? Deal.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Deny. Deny. Deny.

Donald Trump Denies He Made A Deal With Dems On Immigration “No deal was made last night,” he said. (according to HuffPost story...and elsewhere!)

Looks like wearing a wire might be a prerequisite/protection to any meeting/conversation with this President.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Hello Democrats, you can't make deal with Trump. His face goes 'about' and 'about' and 'about'..............

And I am pretty sure this was a unique event, Congress passes a law ordering the POTUS to not be a hate monger.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarvin Schwalb

Yesterday Akilleus brought back something he had written about Libertarianism. Today I'm doing the same except this refers to health care and a little bit of history on our country's dealing with it.

I was reading about Dr. Sara Josephine Baker who, during the early twentieth century,revolutionized health care, especially for mothers and babies living in the squalid tenements in New York City. Her efforts were so successful that in 1910 she and other reformers drafted a bill to create a nationwide network of home visiting programs and maternal and child health clinics. BUT the AMA, backed by powerful REPUBLICANS averse to spending money on social welfare claimed the program was tantamount to Bolshevism.. Here is the transcript of the AMA's position cited by a New England doctor before a congressional committee:

"We oppose this bill because if you are going to save the lives of all these women and children at public expense what inducement will there be for young MEN [Italics mine] to study medicine?"

Senator Sheppard, the chairman, stiffened and leaned forward:"Perhaps I didn't understand you correctly," he said. "You surely don't mean that you want women and children to die unnecessarily or live in constant danger of sickness so there will be something for young doctors to do?"
"Why not? said the New England doctor, who did at least have the courage to admit the issue: "That's the will of God, isn't it?"

Along these same lines in 1971 a civil rights group drafted the
Comprehensive Child Care and Development Act which would have created a nationwide system of high quality day care, preschool and home visiting programs. It passed both houses of Congress BUT RIGHT WING Republicans using language similar to that used in the AMA argument above, pressured Nixon to veto it. He did.

Ak: When I saw that you were writing about WestWorld, (yesterday) I almost fell off my chair. Just last week I mentioned that film to the mister––both of us remembering how we were intrigued by it and Yul Brynner's performance never forgotten. Robotic terror fer sure.

My guess, and it's a long shot, is that Ms Huckabee Sanders is gonna shoot her mouth off one too many times and will have to resign. She appears to have stepped into territories (read Justice Dept) that are inappropriate for press secretaries to comment on. Sarah is always so sure––"Of course he never said that, why would you even think such a thing?"

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe


Christ, don't give the Little King any ideas. He's paranoid enough already. He'll have a couple of his Russian goons, on loan from his boyfriend Putie, pat down visitors looking for wires and recording devices when they visit the throne room. He might have little Jeffbo stationed outside handing everyone copies of the new Rules, warning of lengthy jail terms and water boarding for passing inside information, like plans for the king to give himself a 98% tax cut.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


Yup Brynner certainly was scary, but nothing compared to the Confederare robots in the federal courts and in congress.

Regarding the health and welfare bills you call to mind, Republicans may turn up their noses at efforts to help those less well off, but they have never been shy about putting the full power of the federal government behind any plan that purports to make life easier for the rich and powerful. We shall see when the king releases his tax "reform" plan just how closely the current versions of Republican robot monsters mirror earlier models. The truly scary bit is how difficult, bordering on impossible, it seems for people who truly do need healthcare, to see that most of these people wouldn't break stride to step over their bodies if they dropped dead in the street before them.

And about SHS, my thoughts exactly. When a press secretary starts opining on who should be prosecuted, and coming out with snide, smartass comments about her boss's former rival, I've had about all I can take. She'll slip up one of these days and she'll write her own book about "What Happened", then, like Spicer (and her daddy) go on the grift.

There's not a one of these people, as my mum used to say, worth the powder to blow them to hell.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

So Graham of "The Atlantic" faults the Pretender's hiring process.

Didn't vet Flynn well enough and hired him despite all the red flags, he says.

Call me naive, but I'm guessing Flynn was hired not despite but precisely because of all his Russia connection.

There was that Moscow tower thing, Mr. Graham. Remember?

And an entire cabinet of incompetents, crooks and saboteurs?

You don't achieve such a high average by accident.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

If Democrats want to grab the brass ring in the next presidential election they might want to heed John Judis who tells us "I argued that demographics favored the Democrats. I was wrong." And I think he may very well be right as rain on this:


September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe


You are exactly right about the Little King's thinking when choosing his courtiers and his viziers. Trump would never hire a by-the-book straight arrow. He hates those people. He looks for conniving corner cutters like himself. He wants sycophants who won't care if he breaks a few laws, skirts a few ethical requirements, or pins the amorality needle.

He WANTS people like that. People who don't give a tinker's damn for doing things the right way. Thus, he gets people bereft of the sort of experience necessary to turn wish lists into public policy. This is why Bannon was such a failure. This is why he is regularly embarrassed on the Hill. When you have a guy who knows more about his wife's wardrobe selection and choice of transportation than he does the congressional budget jungle, and walks into a high level meeting to discuss the debt ceiling with members of congress, and instead of laying out a well thought out plan begs them to "do it for me", then you're in big trouble. Trump's used to being able to order his flunkies around. "Do what I'm tellin' ya!" That doesn't fly in official Washington.

So the Flynn convulsions began not because Trump picked a good guy who could be relied upon to steer the administration on the straight and narrow. He was hired because he seemed to be just sleazy and underhanded enough to feel comfortable flouting national security laws, exactly what he was supposed to be overseeing!

This is about as upside down and backwards an administration as one could dream up. And you're right. That's no accident. That.Was.The.Plan.

And still is...

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

It's entirely possible that SHS is a robot. Her her face has the exact same range of expression as Yul Brenner in "Westworld"; she uses limited and repetitive forms of speech; she seems to have no physical spontaneity, etc. etc. And she'll say anything her programmer master tells her to say. So much less of a problem that all too human Sean Spicer.

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

I'm rewriting the presidents* tax statement because, as we all know,
he always states the opposite of what he means:
"The middle class will not be gaining at all with this [tax]plan.
I think the wealthy will be pretty much getting what they [I] want."
Donald Trump, Wednesday

September 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris
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