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 14, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Jon Gambrell of the AP: "Yemen's Houthi rebels launched drone attacks on the world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field Saturday, sparking huge fires at a vulnerable chokepoint for global energy supplies. It remained unclear hours later whether anyone was injured at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field or what effect the assault would have on oil production. Rising smoke from the fires at the sites could be seen by satellites. The attack by the Iranian-backed Houthis in the war against a Saudi-led coalition comes after weeks of similar drone assaults on the kingdom's oil infrastructure, but none of the earlier strikes appeared to have caused the same amount of damage. The attack likely will heighten tensions further across the Persian Gulf amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers." The New York Times story is here.

Erik Ortiz of NBC News: "'Saturday Night Live' remained silent Friday after the growing furor that one of its newest cast members has a history of racist and homophobic remarks. The controversial comments -- made by standup comedian Shane Gillis in a podcast video uploaded a year ago -- surfaced Thursday on social media, just hours after 'SNL' announced his hiring, and led some fans to demand the long-running sketch comedy show drop him ahead of the new season.... In clips from 'Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast,' which have been removed from its YouTube channel, Gillis and his co-host denigrate Chinatown and Chinese food, speak in caricature Asian accents and make sexist comments about Asian women. Gillis also uses an ethnic slur used to describe the Chinese. Gillis has taken part in other recorded conversations in which he mocks an Asian boy with Down syndrome and uses homophobic slurs...." Mrs. McC: Somehow, I don't think I'm going to find that guy funny.

Alex Horton of the Washington Post: "Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden and once-possible heir to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, was killed in a U.S. counterterror operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, President Trump said Saturday -- more than a month after officials suggested he was killed. Osama bin Laden's son was 'responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups,' President Trump said in a statement released by the White House. His death is a blow to al-Qaeda's leadership acumen, Trump said, and symbolic given the connection to his slain father, who was killed in a Navy SEAL raid on his Pakistani refuge in 2011." The CNN story is here.


Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The nation's top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect ... Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday. Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community's inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and of 'urgent concern.' 'A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the [inspector general] determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never,' Schiff said in a statement.... In addition, Schiff slammed Maguire for consulting the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint 'even though the statute does not provide you discretion to review, appeal, reverse, or countermand in any way the [inspector general's] independent determination, let alone to involve another entity within the Executive Branch.'... The initial whistleblower complaint was filed last month, and Schiff indicated that it was required by law to be shared with Congress nearly two weeks ago."

All the President*'s Scandals

David Shortell of CNN: "The Justice Department said Friday that a request to a federal court from House Democrats seeking access to secret grand jury material underlying special counsel Robert Mueller's report should be turned down because the lawmakers have 'come nowhere close to demonstrating a particularized need' for the information.... Specifically, the lawmakers are seeking the unredacted Mueller report, as well as transcripts of grand jury testimony related to ... Donald Trump's knowledge of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and links between members of his campaign and Russians. Lawmakers also want any grand jury testimony related to Trump's knowledge of any potential 'criminal acts' by him or his associates." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: As Jerry Nadler said on MSNBC Friday night, the DOJ's argument is akin to arguing that prosecutors shouldn't be allowed to give evidence to a jury because the jury hasn't made a decision yet on the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Josh Gerstein of Politico: "A federal appeals court has resurrected the first lawsuit ... Donald Trump faced over claims that his business dealings violated the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause, which bars federal officials receiving payments from foreign governments. On Friday, a panel of the New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, 2-1, that a district court judge erred in 2017 when he dismissed a lawsuit challenging profits Trump has received from foreign officials doing business with his Washington, D.C., luxury hotel and other Trump-branded properties. The suit also took issue with Trump Organization licensing arrangements approved by foreign governments. The new 2nd Circuit decision sharply rejected a ruling two months ago from another federal appeals court, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit, which tossed out a similar emoluments suit filed in Maryland. Second Circuit Judge Pierre Leval said the 4th Circuit and his dissenting 2nd Circuit College Judge John Walker regarded the suits with too much skepticism because they appeared to be politically motivated." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Matt Zapotosky & Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post: "The legal team for Andrew McCabe has asked federal prosecutors in D.C. whether a grand jury had rejected their bid to indict the FBI's former acting director on charges of lying to investigators, pointing to media inquiries and news accounts detailing a series of unusual events in the case." CNN's report is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Morgan Chalfant & Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "The Justice Department inspector general has completed an internal review on whether the FBI complied with the law and its own policies while applying for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page during the 2016 election. Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in a letter to members of Congress on Friday that his office had 'reviewed over one million records and conducted over 100 interviews' in connection with the inquiry and is in the early stages of finalizing its report. Horowitz wrote that he has submitted a draft of the 'factual findings' of the inquiry to the Justice Department and FBI for a classification review, after which the inspector general's office will begin the process of preparing final classified and public drafts of the report.... Horowitz did not provide any details on the findings, nor did he offer a timeline on when a report might be released to the public.... The inspector general disclosed in May 2018, at the request of congressional Republicans, that he would review whether the Justice Department and FBI complied with legal requirements and followed appropriate policies and procedures in applying to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for a warrant related to 'a certain U.S. person,'" that person widely known to be Page.

Dan Friedman of Mother Jones: "With Congress mulling legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia for its attack on the 2016 American election, an important Russian bank [-- Vnesheconombank, known as VEB --] connected to Vladimir Putin's government has turned for help to a well-positioned lobbyist in Washington: a Trump insider and former Republican House member named John Sweeney. In August Sweeney signed a whopping contract to lobby on behalf of this bank to stave off sanctions from the US government.... An early Trump backer, Sweeney led Trump's successful primary campaign in New York. Sweeney served on Trump's presidential transition team, helping to vet potential senior national security and intelligence officials, ambassadors, and political appointees for multiple agencies.... A December 13, 2016 meeting between ... the bank's chairman ... and Jared Kushner was scrutinized as part of ... Robert Mueller's investigation.... The exact purpose of the meeting remains unclear. VEB claims the meeting was purely business-oriented, related to Kushner's real estate work. Kushner told Mueller's office it was diplomatic."

Justin Rohrlich of Quartz: "US Border Patrol deputy chief Scott Luck will be celebrating his retirement later this month with a private party at president Donald Trump's lavish golf resort in Virginia, according to a flyer for the event.... A source with access to the Washington, DC building within which Border Patrol headquarters is located said the flyers are hanging on the walls of the office. One insider at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Border Patrol, questioned not only the optics of holding the gala dinner for Luck at a property owned by the president but also the $75 cost to attend. An announcement for the event was sent out to employees via official government email.... Last year, the Border Patrol Foundation, a nonprofit that honors Border Patrol agents who have been killed in the line of duty, moved its annual dinner from the Marriott to the Trump International Hotel in DC. Luck was a keynote speaker at the event." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie BTW: In case you didn't know it -- I didn't until last week -- the Constitution includes a "domestic emoluments clause" a/k/a "presidential emoluments clause" in addition to the now-better-known foreign emoluments clause. Article II, Section 1, Clause 7: "The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them."

Josh Gerstein: "A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit filed by the parents of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich against Fox News over its role in an alleged scheme to falsely link Rich to the disclosure of DNC emails to WikiLeaks. A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Friday that a lower-court judge was wrong to dismiss the suit in which Joel and Mary Rich alleged they were targeted by Fox, its reporter Malia Zimmerman and a wealthy Texas money manager, Ed Butowsky, in a bizarre scheme to drag the Riches' murdered son into an international controversy over hacked Democratic emails."

Barr Completes the Politicization of the DOJ. Katie Benner of the New York Times: “The Justice Department will present one of its most prestigious awards to the lawyers who worked on the highly contentious Supreme Court nomination process of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Next month, Attorney General William P. Barr will present the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service to those who worked 'to support the nomination' of the judge, according to an email reviewed by The New York Times.... Typically, the distinguished service honor, the department's second highest, is given to employees who worked on significant prosecutions, rather than on judicial nomination processes."

Courtney Kube
of NBC News: "... Donald Trump's plan to pay for his proposed border wall by taking funds from more than four dozen Air Force military construction projects poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces, according to a report compiled by the U.S. Air Force.... The report, obtained by NBC News, details the importance of each of the 51 military projects chosen by the Trump administration to lose their funding, including construction of a new gate to address a growing security concern at an overseas U.S. base [in Turkey and] projects to build facilities to safely store more than $1 billion in munitions overseas...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Steve Benen of MSNBC: "The president said on Wednesday he had five leading contenders to replace John Bolton at the post. He upped that number yesterday, telling reporters during a brief Q&A there are now 15 people on his list. 'A lot of people want the job. And we -- it's a great job. It's great because it's a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump. And it's very easy, actually, to work with me. You know why it's easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don't have to work.'... First, when Trump said 'a lot of people' want to serve as the next national security adviser, that's almost certainly not true. He used nearly identical language after firing Defense Secretary James Mattis, and that was because the White House was struggling to find a new Pentagon chief at the time. He felt the need to lie to obscure the embarrassment.... Second, the fact that Trump described the White House national security adviser as basically a do-nothing gig in which someone simply watches the president make decisions says a great deal about how things work -- or fail to work -- in the current West Wing.... The president who doesn't read intelligence briefings and ignores national security experts seems oddly proud of the idea that his national security advisers 'don't have to work.' Not to put too fine a point on this, but shouldn't they have to work?... Finally, the idea that people find it 'fun' and 'easy' to work for Trump is belied by all kinds of evidence. The Washington Post had a striking report this week on the president's 'sometimes Kafkaesque management style.'"

People said what's with the lightbulb? I said here's the story. And I looked at it, the bulb that we're being forced to use, number one to me, most importantly, the light's no good. I always look orange. And so do you. The light is the worst. -- Donald Trump, Thursday ~~~

~~~ Cheeto Man. Rebecca Tan of the Washington Post: "... according to professional photographers and makeup artists, energy-saving lightbulbs are probably not to blame. It is true that bulbs have different light temperatures, but the effect this has on someone's complexion is typically not very significant, said Jocelyn Augustino, a D.C.-based freelance photographer.... If bulbs were responsible for casting a warm glow, anything white in a photo of the president -- including the background, a white shirt, or even his teeth -- should also be orange.... 'You can see that even when his teeth are white, his skin is orangey-red,' [portrait photographer Tamzin] Smith said. 'It's definitely not the lighting.' The president's skin tone, said makeup artist Jason Kelly, is more likely the result of artificial tanning and an overapplication of bronzer, a type of powder or cream designed to give a tanned look."

The New American Diplomacy. Connor Mannion of Mediaite: "... Donald Trump reportedly does have a 'favorite dictator,' having called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that to a crowd at last month's G-7 Summit. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump called out to a large crowd 'Where's my favorite dictator?' while waiting to meet el-Sisi at the multinational summit. Officials told the Journal that they were stunned but believed the president made the comment jokingly. It's unclear if el-Sisi heard Trump."

Nancy Cook of Politico: "At a mid-August fundraiser in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Ivanka Trump was asked to name the personality traits she inherited most from her parents. Without much of a pause, Trump told the crowd of roughly 120 high-end donors that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman. And her father? He passed onto her his moral compass, she said, according to two event attendees." Mrs. McC: Yeah, I think we sorta knew that, but it's still surprising to learn that Ivanka has admitted it. Thanks to Ken W. for the link. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

I'm sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar. -- Judith Nathan Giuliani, on Rudy ~~~

~~~ Soap Opera Break. Sarah Nir of the New York Times: "Last spring, divorce proceedings began for the Giulianis [--Rudy & Judy --] after 16 years of marriage, setting off a rancorous battle that, like most everything Mr. Giuliani touches, demanded attention. In caustic legal proceedings this summer, the separated couple has battled over things as prosaic as her kitchen renovations and as rarefied as his splurges -- $7,131 on fountain pens and another $12,012 on cigars.... A primary issue is Mr. Giuliani's current income. His wife believes that Mr. Giuliani left his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, in 2018, a month after the divorce was filed, and chose to work for President Trump pro bono in order to reduce any future alimony.... Swirled into the current divorce proceedings is more scandal-ready fodder: intimations of Mr. Giuliani's involvement with yet another woman." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

"National Tragedy." Samuel Gilbert of the Guardian: "Construction of a 30ft-high section of Donald Trump's border barrier has begun in the Organ Pipe Cactus national monument in southern Arizona, a federally protected wilderness area and Unesco-recognized international biosphere reserve. In the face of protests by environmental groups, the wall will traverse the entirety of the southern edge of the monument. It is part of the 175 miles of barrier expansion along the US-Mexico border being funded by the controversial diversion of $3.6bn from military construction projects.... According to CBP, in the 2019 fiscal year there have been 14,265 apprehensions in the Tucson sector, where the Organ Pipe wall is going up, compared to 51,411 in the nearby Yuma sector of Arizona and over 205,000 in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.... 'What is being proposed is bulldozing one of the most biologically diverse regions of the entire United States,' said Amanda Munro of the Southwest Environmental Center. 'Walling off these precious places would be a colossal mistake and a national tragedy.'" --safari: We're sacrificing our national biosphere for Donald Trump's vanity, and it's sickening.

Emily Holden of the Guardian: "The Trump administration is finalizing plans to allow oil and gas drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that has been protected for decades. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will offer leases on essentially the entire 1.6m-acre coastal plain, which includes places where threatened polar bears have dens and porcupine caribou visit for calving. Drilling operations are expected to be problematic for Indigenous populations, many of which rely on subsistence hunting and fishing. The Democrat-controlled House just hours earlier passed legislation to protect the area, but Republicans in the majority in the Senate are highly unlikely to approve the bill." --s

Sam Stein of The Daily Beast: "As Washington D.C. institutions go, Public Citizen rates among the more anodyne.... The group is known for its liberal-minded crusades on such unglamorous topics as campaign finance reform and consumer safety. But for some period of time over the past few years, Public Citizen found its website being categorized as -- well -- porn by an internet filtering service used by a major government agency. Since April, Public Citizen has been in litigation with the Department of Education over what it claims to be a violation of its First Amendment rights. At issue was a truly bizarre and unexpected revelation that took place earlier in the year when officials with the group visited the department to discuss separate matters. Attempting to access their own website from the Department of Education's WiFi network, Public Citizen attorneys realized they were being blocked from doing so, with a note popping up that said accessing was 'in violation of your Internet usage policy'.... [T]he Department's web filtering company was categorizing them as an 'advocacy organization' -- which they are -- and, for some inexplicable reason, advocacy organizations were being placed under the 'adult/mature content' categorization, right alongside porn and gambling." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So Betsy DeVos thinks good-government groups are porn? It does make sense, if in a bizarre way.

Presidential Race 2020

Jonathan Chait writes a depressing assessment of the state of the Democratic race. He thinks Biden is the only centrist candidate who has a chance of winning the nomination, & Biden is as retro as the vinyl he plays on his record-player. "Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have dropped out of the left-wing arms race and begun positioning themselves as heirs to the Obama style of optimism and uplift. But ... the fact that both Harris and Booker are trying to squeeze into the same political space increases the probability that neither will achieve escape velocity.... If Biden isn't up to this, he needs to collapse soon enough for another mainstream liberal Democrat like Booker or Harris to take his place. Yet it's at least as easy to imagine he will stay in the race, locking down the party's center, while Sanders and Warren continue to try to outflank each other on the left. There's still some time for the race to change. At the moment, the most dire scenario looks disconcertingly real."

The Problem Wasn't the "Record Player." Jeff Greenfield in Politico Magazine: "The post-debate commentariat pounced on [Joe Biden's] 'record player' comment, noting that it suggested a lack of familiarity with more modern-day devices.... It was viewed mostly as a proxy for his age, a self-inflicted wound from a candidate stuck somewhere in the 1970s technologically. But by Friday morning, attention had begun to shift to the broader and far more culturally fraught implications of what Biden was saying: Did he mean that black parents depended on an army of white people with degrees to help them raise their kids?... Biden's lead in the polling rests in substantial measure on his enormous strength in the African-American community." ~~~

~~~ ** Jamil Smith of Rolling Stone: "Democrats need an antiracist nominee against a racist like Donald Trump. The third debate confirmed that the former vice president isn't up to the task." Smith sums up Biden's response to a moderator's question: Biden was "a) first appearing to treat the mere mention of an old segregationist quote of his as ridiculous, then b) responding to a question about repairing the legacy of slavery by saying that the government needs to have teachers go into the homes of kids in poor schools to teach the parents how to raise those children.... It's the kind of paternalistic racism that has so long existed in both liberal and conservative circles, and was on Thursday night spilling out of the mouth of the former vice president on the campus of an HBCU [a predominantly black university].... I should mention that there is a c): Biden never truly gave the question any serious consideration.... He chose to ... proselytize about record players in the homes of poor families of color who need the teachers to raise their kids for them. Who chooses to do that in a party that needs black voters to win?... [Biden] can trumpet his Obama associations all he wishes, but after that debate, it comes across merely as the 'I have a black friend' excuse.... If defeating Trump in 2020 is as important to Biden as he so often claims, he should end his campaign and remove himself from contention for president." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: Both Greenfield & Smith publish the Q&A in this exchange in full, and it's worth reading the particulars. Although Smith alluded to it, neither explored something I found jarring in Biden's response: the assumption that black people are poor & uneducated. That was much closer to true when Biden entered politics, but today there is a huge black middle- and upper-middle class. (Joe could ask his black friends Barack & Michelle.) Automatically assuming black = poor is a very white thing to do. And incorrect.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: "The question isn't merely whether Biden has the stamina for a grueling campaign, or whether Biden will be able to handle debates with Trump. It's also whether Biden or indeed other Democrats are prepared for the massive onslaught of absolutely brutal and distortive attacks that Trump and his propaganda apparatus will wage on this particular front -- attacks that you can be certain will include all sorts of shamelessly propagandistic media manipulation and outright disinformation tactics.... The episode at the debate that raised all the concerns about Biden's long-term fitness did actually happen: Biden's answer to a question about slavery really was a rambling mess that detoured into strange comments about record players.... Worries about Biden's age and stamina are not unreasonable, given all we've seen."

Frank Bruni of the New York Times argues that even though Elizabeth Warren did not have her most effective debate night, she demonstrated why she has nowhere to go but up. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "Moments after Democrats took the debate stage on Thursday night, President Trump delivered a rambling and disjointed 68-minute speech accusing the news media and the 'radical left' of wanting to destroy America.... Intended as counterprogramming to the 10 Democratic candidates debating in Houston, the president's speech hit virtually every one of his usual political lines as he careened between prepared remarks, ad-libbed attacks and boasts about his record." (Also linked yesterday.)

ABC & Republicans Thought This Was a Good Idea. Grace Segers of CBS News: "A dramatic ad targeting Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aired during the third Democratic debate on Thursday, comparing Ocasio-Cortez's support for democratic socialism to the brutal Khmer Rouge communist regime in Cambodia. The ad shows a picture of the young congresswoman bursting into flame to reveal a picture of a pile of skulls. The narrator of the ad, onetime Republican congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, is the daughter of Cambodian immigrants. 'This is the face of socialism and ignorance,' Heng says in a voiceover as the picture of Ocasio-Cortezburns.... The ad was produced by New Faces GOP, a newly created Republican super PAC.... Ocasio-Cortez immediately slammed the ad, saying: 'Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren't racist.' '... What you just watched was a love letter to the GOP's white supremacist case,' Ocasio-Cortez wrote in another tweet.... 'GOP's message: No policy, no facts, just displays of violence + corporations like @ABCNetwork & Sinclair who amplify them. They profit from burning my likeness on TV. But who pays for heightened security? Who answers the phones for the threats resulting from a violent, false ad?' Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Friday morning." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

~~~ Aris Folley of the Hill: "Twitter users pushed the 'BoycottABC' hashtag into the social platform's top trending items on Friday after a Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate aired an ad from a GOP super PAC that showed a photo of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) being set on fire." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Dom Phillips
of the Guardian: "Brazil's environment minister, Ricardo Salles, will meet a rightwing US advocacy group that denies climate change, just four days before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Salles will meet representatives from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) at the headquarters of the US Environmental Protection Agency on 19 September.... The meeting was immediately condemned by environmentalists, who said it showed that the government of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, had no commitment to fighting the climate crisis. News of the meeting emerged a day after Brazil's foreign minister questioned the scientific proof for global warming in a convoluted speech in Washington. Addressing the Heritage Foundation, Ernesto Araújo said 'there is no climate catastrophe' and described efforts to fight climate change as a plot to destroy national sovereignty." --safari: I'm beginning to think we need a new moniker for "Axis of (Climate) Evil" to name and shame bad actors, with the US first on the list.

Kate Taylor of the New York Times: "... a federal judge in Boston sentenced [actor Felicity] Huffman to 14 days in a federal prison on Friday. She was the first parent to face punishment in a scheme in which nearly three dozen wealthy people are accused of using lies and bribes to smooth their children's way into prestigious colleges.... Judge [Indira] Talwani also imposed a $30,000 fine, supervised release for a year and 250 hours of community service." ~~~

     ~~~ David Matthews of the New York Daily News: "Following Felicity Huffman's conviction in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, lawyers for the actress requested she spend her two-week sentence at a minimum-security, cushy northern California prison. The Federal Bureau of Prisons will make the ultimate decision...."

Beyond the Beltway

Florida for Sale. Steve Contorno of The Tampa Bay Times: "Three Duke Energy lobbyists were to join Gov. Ron DeSantis in mid February [for a round of golf], a precious opportunity for the utility to get face time with Florida's new governor weeks after he took office. Internal documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times reveal that Duke's lobbyists didn't just request the governor's time. They were supposed to pay for it, too.... Days after the golf outing, Duke made a $75,000 donation to the Republican Party of Florida, which Wiles described in a memo as 'interchangeable' with DeSantis'political committee.... Other documents reviewed by the Times established prices donors could pay to interact with DeSantis or his wife, Casey. Golf in a foursome? $25,000. Golf one-on-one with DeSantis? $100,000. A 10- to 15-minute meeting? $25,000. A dinner event? $150,000. One hour of an "intimate and high dollar" gathering? $250,000." --s

Reader Comments (7)

So are we to understand that this president* can take much needed funds from more than four dozen Air Force** military construction projects in order to build an unnecessary wall in a federally protected wilderness that is a Unesco-recognized international biosphere reserve? I find this preposterous! Is this really going to happen? Is there nothing we can do about it? Of course we can't look to the Justice Dept. which no longer operates non-politically––it used to be a body of integrity; no longer, Barr has besmirched it.

** Are these some of the same Air force folks who frequented Trump's fancy feast of a hotel in Thornberry?

Please watch this video and listen to an interview with someone who puts the Climate deniers to shame–-or should. This plucky young lass is a climate activist who speaks for the youth of this world who worry for their future. Greta Thunberg is amazing and wonderful.

September 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD Pepe: I missed linking this 9/12 Politico story by Bryan Bender & Natasha Bertrand: "The U.S. Air Force has lodged crews at President Donald Trump’s Scotland resort up to 40 times since 2015, a figure that is far higher than previously known.

"The tally represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched after POLITICO reported last week that an Air National Guard crew stayed at Turnberry in March. Congressional Democrats have also been investigating military stays at the property, but have yet to receive any information from the Pentagon."

September 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

A dollop of hope this morning.

“The nation's top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect ... Donald Trump or senior White House officials..."

--From the "Politico" story above.

Oh, be still, my heart!

You go, Adam!

September 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The John Sweeney in the Friedman piece is a real piece of work. He was one of the primary Floriday vote-count disrupters in 2000. He lost his House seat to Kirsten Gillibrand, in part because of drunk driving incidents. Not a nice guy, but probably a great Bro.

September 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

Considering what we know (and think of all that we don't) of the extent and depth of the corruption in the Pretender's White House and in his entire administration, top to bottom, it is a mystery to me that there have not been more loud and angry resignations, more whistleblowing, more tell-all reports from former government appointees and employees.

Their absence worries me on three fronts.

First, corruption in government is now so common it has become passe, as inevitable as gravity and therefore something either unnoticed or shrugged off as the accepted way of the world.

Second, more effective burying of dead bodies, as in the Cheney report, is taking place than is ever reported.

Or there's so much effective bullying going on in the bowels of our mafia-inspired government that people are frightened for their lives.

Whatever the case, with little fanfare the Pretender and his legal (and illegal?) team have already managed to build an informational wall that effectively keeps the public largely in the dark.

One further thought.

Now that legislation allowing the president to declare national emergencies at whim or that allowing the classification of darn near anything for any reason is obviously being used against internal political opposition, not foreign threats, I wonder if any of those who granted the executive such extraordinary, undemocratic powers had the wit to see this coming.

September 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I'm intrigued by the DNI withholding potentially explosive info., but I'm sorely disappointed that Schiff took TWO FUCKING WEEKS after the original deadline to sit down, write a letter, and do something about it.

It feels like there are two time portals going on at once between the non-brainwashed American public and the Democratic House. We live under the thumb of Dementia Donny praying every day that something slows the onslaught of horrors. The House Dems let every deadline blow by and then wait two weeks to do something about it, driving us all insane, as if time were not of the essence.

September 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@safari: I'm not sure Schiff knew about the whistleblower's complaint until quite recently. If DOJ kept the complaint secret, how would Schiff know, unless somebody at DOJ of within the intel community -- maybe the whitstleblower -- leaked it to him?

September 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

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