The Wires

Public Service Announcement

New York Times (September 22): In March the Department of Justice described criminal cases involving nearly $700 million lost [to fraud] in the previous year by about two million people. The ones hit hardest by this kind of fraud are over 70, and they experience an average loss of $41,800, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports.... Some of the newer tactics for defrauding older people focus on Social Security, grandparenting and employment searches." ~~~

~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I have received a number of calls recently warning me I was about to lose my Social Security card, an eventuality that is highly unlikely. I have always just hung up on these automated calls, but yesterday, I decided to bite. When the "real person" came on the phone, he identified himself as a Social Security officer, certainly breaking the law right there. "Really?" I said. "How are you going to prove you're a federal government official and not a scammer?" He immediately hung up. Maybe this gang of crooks will stop calling me (tho probably not).

New York Times: "Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have both won this year’s Booker Prize, it was announced at a ceremony on Monday, after the judges for the literary award rebelled against its rules. 'We were told quite firmly that the rules state you can only have one winner,' Peter Florence, the chairman of the Booker judges, said at a news conference. But the 'consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners.' Evaristo, who won for her novel 'Girl, Woman, Other,' is the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. 'I hope that honor doesn’t last too long,' she said in her acceptance speech. Atwood, who won in 2000 for 'The Blind Assassin,' was considered a front-runner this year for 'The Testaments,' the sequel to her 1985 dystopian classic, 'The Handmaid’s Tale.'”

We are amused:

The Hollywood Reporter has a list of this year's Emmy Award winners.

The End of the Amtrak Dining Car. Washington Post: "Amtrak says it is reinventing its dining service on long-distance trains, killing the traditional dining car to create more 'flexible' and 'contemporary' dining options. The carrier says the change, starting this fall on the one-night routes east of the Mississippi River, is driven by the desire to save money and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table. With the transition, Amtrak is doing away with the traditional onboard kitchen, switching to serving prepackaged meals and easing restrictions on the traditional serving times. The change allows the railroad to cut costs associated with cooking aboard and keeping up with the white-tablecloth service that was once known to rival high-end restaurants and clubs." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I realize many of you are too young to have experienced this, but once upon a time, traveling by train & plane was glamorous. People dressed up to travel, and those who had train roomettes dressed for dinner. My then-husband & I once had a roomette when we traveled from Juarez to Mexico City, & the experience was absolutely fabulous; so was the cuisine in the dining car. Now, it's sensible to dress in the most comfy clothes in anticipation of getting squished into a teeny "economy class" airline seat. The photos accompanying the WashPo story show people wearing casual dress in the white-tablecloth dining room, & the men are too gauche to remove their billed caps. P.S. to American tourists: nobody more messes up a photo of an historic site than a bunch of yahoo sightseers ambling around in their sloppy travel outfits. Then:

CNN: "The US Navy has finally acknowledged footage purported to show UFOs hurtling through the air. And while officials said they don't know what the objects are, they're not indulging any hints either. The objects seen in three clips of declassified military footage are "unidentified aerial phenomena," Navy spokesperson Joe Gradisher confirmed to CNN.The clips, released between December 2017 and March 2018 by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, appear to show fast-moving, oblong objects captured by advanced infrared sensors.In footage from 2004, sensors lock on a target as it flies before it accelerates out of the left side of the frame, too quickly for the sensors to relocate it. Two of the videos, both from 2015, contain audio from US fighter pilots attempting to make sense of what they're seeing."

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.


The Commentariat -- September 17, 2019

Afternoon Update:

According to exit polls, MSNBC reports, Netanyahu is not doing well.

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Trump administration is expected on Wednesday to formally revoke California's legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, in a move designed by the White House to strike twin blows against both the liberal-leaning state that President Trump has long antagonized and the environmental legacy of President Barack Obama. The announcement that the White House will revoke one of California's signature environmental policies will come while Mr. Trump is traveling in the state, where he is scheduled to attend fund-raisers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.... Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, wrote in an email: 'California will continue its advance toward a cleaner future. We're prepared to defend the standards that make that promise a reality.'" The Reuters report is here.

Corey Lewandoski is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee beginning at 1 pm ET. The Hill has a livefeed here. ~~~

~~~ Nicholas Fandos & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "After initially stonewalling Democrats' questions, Mr. Lewandowski appeared to abruptly change strategies, confirming the details of a key episode from the Mueller investigation -- and even providing new information that wasn't in the special counsel's report. Under questioning by Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, Mr. Lewandowski said he never relayed the message because he went on a beach vacation with his children.... Mr. Lewandowski began his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee with remarks that sounded more like a campaign speech than testimony in a congressional investigation.... Given that he has been considering a run for the Senate from New Hampshire for the last several weeks, Mr. Lewandowski and his allies see the hearing as an opportunity to promote his allegiance to Mr. Trump in a way that could benefit him politically.... During a break that he requested, he tweeted out a link to a website for a new super PAC that was created today, 'Stand With Corey.'... Almost immediately, Mr. Lewandowski made clear he intended to do whatever he could to slow down the proceedings, including demanding that Democrats read him the section of the Mueller report about which they were questioning him." This is a liveblog & may be updated. ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: I listened to the first half hour of the "hearing" but had to turn it off because Lewandowski was so obnoxious. I thought Nadler should have held Lewandowski in contempt. Update: Joyce Vance called Lewandowski "one of the smarmiest witnesses I've ever seen on the stand," and Vance, a former prosecutor, no doubt has heard a lot of smarmy witnesses.

Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "American intelligence analysts and military investigators are examining a missile guidance mechanism recovered in Saudi Arabia that may provide clues as to the missile's origins and flight path, as they continue gathering information to make the administration's case that Iran was responsible for last weekend's attack against Saudi oil facilities. Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials. And, perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites, including at least one mostly intact cruise missile recovered from the area...."

Daniella Diaz & Gregory Krieg of CNN: "It had been hours since Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrapped her speech here in Manhattan, but ... Warren stuck around deep into the New York night on Monday, taking photos with each person who'd waited in line -- a process that took nearly fives times as long as the candidate spent delivering an impassioned anti-corruption address to the thousands who filled the park.The Warren 'selfies' -- the photos she takes with voters, framed and snapped by a campaign aide as other staffers hustle supporters through, handling their bags and phones, so Warren can take as many photos as quickly as possible -- have become a political phenomenon. It's one that manages to be both savvy and kitschy, exhausting and exhilarating.... A Warren aide told CNN on Tuesday that she took about 4,000 'selfies' after her New York rally and has now, since kicking off her campaign last winter, posed for more than 59,000 of them in all.

Douglas Martin of the New York Times: "Sander Vanocur, the television newsman who became familiar to American viewers as a prominent White House correspondent during the Kennedy administration and as a tough questioner in presidential debates, died on Monday night in a hospice facility in Santa Barbara, Calif."

Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times: "Cokie Roberts, the pioneering broadcast journalist known to millions for her work with ABC News and NPR, died on Tuesday. She was 75.... Ms. Roberts started her radio career at CBS, then began working for NPR in 1978, covering Capitol Hill. She joined ABC in 1988. Her three decades at the network included anchoring, with Sam Donaldson, the Sunday morning news program 'This Week' from 1996 to 2002.... Michelle and Barack Obama, in a statement, called Ms. Roberts 'a trailblazing figure; a role model to young women at a time when the profession was still dominated by men; a constant over 40 years of a shifting media landscape and changing world, informing voters about the issues of our time and mentoring young journalists every step of the way.'" Roberts' ABC News obituary is here. ~~~

~~~ Update. Then There Was This. I never met her. She never treated me nicely. But I would like to wish her family well. She was a professional, and I respect professionals.... Never treated me well, but I certainly respect her as a professional. -- Donald Trump, on Air Force 1

Thanks, Donald, for demonstrating why I like to be polite or noncommittal about the deceased, even when I didn't like them when they were alive, at least in the days immediately following news of their deaths. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Hey, Right-to-Lifers/Climate Deniers. What About This? Morgan Gstalter of the Hill: "Air pollution has the potential to travel from a pregnant woman's lungs to the fetal side of the placenta, according to a new study. Researchers at Hasselt University in Belgium in a study reported in Nature Communications found sootlike black carbon, a type of particle pollutant, on placentas donated by new mothers. The placenta is a temporary organ that acts as a natural barrier between a mother and the fetus during pregnancy."

Matt Wilstein of the Daily Beast: "Sean Spicer Has Most Embarrassing 'Dancing With the Stars' Debut Ever, Period.... Spicer was paired up with season 25 champion dancer Lindsay Arnold, who described her partner as dancing at a 'pre-pre-school level,' adding, 'He definitely isn't natural at it.'" Mrs. McC: Seinfeld's puffy shirt was less ridiculous. ~~~

~~~ Uh, Jesus Made Him Do It. Joe Concha of the Hill: "Former White House press secretary and current 'Dancing with the Stars' contestant Sean Spicer on Tuesday implored viewers on Twitter to vote for him to 'send a message to #Hollywood that those of us who stand for #Christ won't be discounted.' Spicer made the call after his viral debut on Monday night that included him performing to a Spice Girls song while wearing a neon puffy shirt."

North Carolina. Meagan Flynn of the Washington Post: "Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins learned one of his deputies had a tape of him making 'racially offensive' comments, prosecutors say. So the North Carolina lawman encouraged another man to kill the officer, according to a felony indictment revealed late Monday night. 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him,' Wilkins allegedly told the would-be shooter in a 2014 recorded phone call about a plan to kill former deputy Joshua Freeman. The plot was not carried out. Wilkins is charged with two felony counts of obstruction of justice charges for his failure to arrest the unnamed person or report the threat on Freeman's life, and for also allegedly giving the man advice about how to get away with the killing. Wilkins has been sheriff of the small county in northern North Carolina, where the biggest town is home to about 8,400 people, since 2009 and was most recently reelected in 2018. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who brought the charges, told the News & Observer that Wilkins is still the sheriff." Slate has a story here.


Richard Pérez-Peña, et al., of the New York Times: "President Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to be responsible for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But Mr. Trump also said he would 'like to avoid' a military conflict with Tehran and reiterated his interest in diplomacy. Asked at the White House whether Iran was behind the attack, Mr. Trump said, 'It's looking that way.' But he stopped short of a definitive confirmation. 'That's being checked out right now,' he added. Mr. Trump warned that the United States has fearsome military capabilities and is prepared for war if necessary. 'With all that being said, we'd certainly like to avoid it,' he added. 'I know they want to make a deal,' he said of Iranian officials, whom he has been trying to draw into talks over their nuclear program. 'At some point it will work out.' Mr. Trump's comments came shortly after a Saudi government statement said that, 'Initial investigations have indicated that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian weapons.'" This is an update of a story linked yesterday afternoon. ~~~

~~~ Martha Raddatz & Katherine Faulders of ABC News: "... Donald Trump and senior administration officials met at the White House on Monday to discuss how to respond to the attack on a Saudi oil facility that the U.S. has blamed on Iran, according to three senior administration officials.... Saudi military spokesperson Col. Turki al-Malki said on Monday that initial investigations show Iranian weapons were used in the attack and that those weapons were not launched from inside Yemen." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

The Saudis want to fight the Iranians to the last American. -- Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a leaked cable to the French foreign minister, 2010

If the President wants to use military force, he needs Congress, not the Saudi royal family, to authorize it. -- Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), in a tweet ~~~

~~~ Peter Baker & David Sanger of the New York Times: "... over the weekend, President Trump promised to wait for Saudi Arabia to tell him 'under what terms we would proceed.' His message on Twitter offered a remarkable insight into the deference Mr. Trump gives to the Saudi royal family and touched off a torrent of criticism from those who have long accused him of doing Riyadh's bidding while sweeping Saudi violations of human rights and international norms under the rug.... Whether, and how, to commit forces is one of the most critical decisions any American president can make, but Mr. Trump's comment gave the impression that he was outsourcing the decision.... The notion of the United States doing the bidding of the Saudis has a long, bristling history." ~~~

~~~ Megan Specia of the New York Times: "Iran has dismissed the possibility of a meeting between the country's president, Hassan Rouhani, and President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week, the country's state-run news media reported on Monday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

The Orange Menace is directly and personally responsible for much of what's happening with Iran and Saudi Arabia right now. -- Akhilleus, in yesterday's Comments thread (read his whole post) ~~~

~~~ Tyler Rogoway of the Drive: "... there was some really shoddy and downright reckless reporting over the weekend on the Saudi oil infrastructure attacks.... [T]his is not unguided artillery here, it can maneuver dynamically to approach a target from a direction that its targeters find most advantageous -- either for kinetic effects, survivability, or deniability reasons.... With that in mind, the attacks could have come from any vector-based on impact information alone -- Iraq, Yemen, Iran, or even a boat in the Persian Gulf.... Welcome to the murky world of unmanned warfare.... America's adversaries are all too aware of this game-changing potential and the lack of defenses to counter it in any robust manner.... Considering how omnipresent this threat has become, we are lucky a couple busted up oil production facilities were the only result of such an eye-opening attack." --s

Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "... the regular visits [to Donald Trump's Turnberry golf resort in Scotland] from Air Force crews on layovers from Prestwick Airport have become a major facet of the life of the resort.... Rather than being restricted to single-night refueling stops, some visits last multiple nights, expanding the known dimensions of the relationship between the president's luxury resort and the U.S. military.... While crews were spotted here this summer, one longtime staffer said that they more frequently show up in the winter low season, and stay at the lodges -- more spacious, freestanding structures downhill of the main hotel, which looks out over the seashore.... Earlier this summer, according to a staffer, a group of Saudi royals stayed at the resort for about a week at the tail end of extended travel, bringing a party of 25 people and more than a hundred pieces of luggage." Emphasis added.

Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "The White House on Monday blocked two more former aides to President Trump [-- Rob Porter & Rick Dearborn --] from testifying in House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, but cleared a third witness, Corey Lewandowski, to appear publicly on Tuesday and answer limited questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president.... The White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, wrote to the committee late Monday, saying that Mr. Lewandowski would be free to discuss his work on the Trump campaign and matters that have already been made public by Mr. Mueller, but not any other additional communications he may have had with Mr. Trump after the election. As senior White House aides, Mr. Porter and Mr. Dearborn were 'absolutely immune' from congressional testimony, he said in another letter." CNN's story is here.

William Rashbaum & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump's accounting firm to demand eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns, according to several people with knowledge of the matter. The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president's tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose. The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney's office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election." The NBC News report is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

~~~ Darren Samuelsohn in Politico Magazine: "A document Hillary Clinton helped write nearly a half century ago has returned from the dead to threaten the man she couldn't vanquish in 2016. The bizarre, only-in-D.C. twist centers on a congressional report penned by a bipartisan team of young attorneys that included Hillary before she was a Clinton and written in the throes of Watergate.... [Lawmakers then] had little understanding of how to try and remove Richard Nixon from the White House. So they tapped Clinton and a team of ambitious staffers to dive into the history of impeachment, stretching back to the 14th century in England[.]... The resulting document became a centerpiece of the congressional push to drive [Nixon] from office.... Republicans [resurrected the memo in the late 1990s] to bolster their unsuccessful bid to oust Clinton's now-husband, President Bill Clinton. Then it faded from public conscience -- again.... [Today,] the 45-year-old report has become a handbook House Democratic lawmakers and aides say they are using to help determine whether they have the goods to mount a full-scale impeachment effort against ... Donald Trump...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Natasha Bertrand of Politico: "A cavalcade of Obama-era national security leaders have committed to testify on behalf of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should he face trial over allegations that he misled officials about leaks to the media. The lineup, detailed in a legal analysis from McCabe's legal team, the substance of which was provided to the Justice Department, includes a string of former senior officials.... McCabe's lawyers said the testimony of these witnesses won't be limited 'solely to character evidence' -- they'll also serve 'as fact witnesses, to testify about the many critical and highly sensitive national security and law enforcement they worked on with Mr. McCabe.'... McCabe's ex-boss, however -- former FBI Director James Comey -- has said he could be a witness against him, based on testimony Comey gave to an internal watchdog that appeared to contradict McCabe's version of events.... It's still unclear, however, whether the grand jury convened in McCabe's case has actually returned an indictment."

Maxwell Tani & Asawin Suebsaeng of the Daily Beast: "Following his acrimonious departure from the White House, former National Security Adviser John Bolton has insisted that he will have his 'say in due course.'... According to two people with knowledge of the situation, Bolton has already expressed interest in writing a book on his time in the Trump administration, and has been in contact in recent days with literary agents interested in making that happen. 'He has a lot to dish,' one of the sources said, adding it was not clear if Bolton had settled on an agency yet." Mrs. McC: Yo, John. Revenge is a dish best served right before the November 2020 election.

Matt Stieb of New York: "... the Secret Service is currently bidding for two jet skis in order to protect the Trumps at-play down in Florida. 'The First Family is very active in water sports,' the memo reads. 'Several family members along with their guest[s] participate in open water activities for which USSS Special Agent Rescue Swimmers are responsible.' -- the site where contractors can bid on state contracts -- notes that they're also looking for a trailer to house the two Kawaski toys that the federal government intends to purchase in the ballpark of $9,999 to $15,299. At least Secret Service won't have to rent jet skis anymore, as they've been doing up to this point on their own dime."

They'e All Crooks, Ctd. Eric Lipton & Michael Forsythe of the New York Times: "The House Oversight and Reform Committee asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday to turn over documents related to communication with her family's shipping company as the panel stepped up an investigation into whether any actions taken by Ms. Chao amount to a conflict of interest. The request by the committee in the Democrat-controlled House relates to actions Ms. Chao has taken that potentially benefited Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company owned by her family. Foremost has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government to help build ships that Foremost has purchased from government-owned shipyards there. The actions by Ms. Chao -- including joint public appearances since she became transportation secretary in 2017 with her father, James Chao, who founded the company, and a planned trip to China to meet with government officials there along with her father -- have led House investigators to question if she is using her office to try to benefit her family's financial interests." Politico's story is here.

Lauren Fox, et al., of CNN: "Days before Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, a Democratic senator [-- Chris Coons (Delaware) --] urged the FBI to reach out to a witness who had key information about alleged misconduct by the nominee while at Yale, according to a letter obtained by CNN.... An aide familiar with the letter told CNN that the FBI acknowledged receipt of Coons' letter at the time, but the senator never heard more beyond that.... The letter comes as The New York Times reported over the weekend that the Times had interviewed more individuals who had corroborated the allegation of Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate who alleged Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her at a dorm room party. The Times also reported that there was another previously undisclosed allegation raised by Max Stier, a Yale classmate who told the Times that he had witnessed Kavanaugh engage in another, similar incident. [[CNN confirmed that the witnessed referenced in Coons' letter was Stier.] CNN is not reporting any details of the accusation and has not independently corroborated the account." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ~~~

~~~ Kyle Cheney of Politico: "The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with 'impeaching the president' to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday. 'We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that's going to take up our limited resources and time for a while, Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer." ~~~

~~~ Ian Millhiser, now at Vox: "The bar for removing Justice Brett Kavanaugh by impeachment is so high as to be insurmountable. But there may be another way.... In 2006..., [conservative] law professors Saikrishna Prakash and Steven D. Smith, [lay] out a road map for, well, how to remove a federal judge without resorting to the impeachment power. It argues that a provision of the Constitution stating that federal judges and justices 'shall hold their offices during good behaviour' is widely misunderstood.... The thrust of Prakash and Smith's argument is that an official who is appointed during 'good behavior' may keep their office indefinitely, but that an official who misbehaves may be removed through an ordinary court proceeding.... Misbehavior, they argue, was understood broadly by English courts and by early Americans. It can include 'conviction for such an offense as would make the convicted person unfit to hold a public office,' but also may include much lesser offenses.... Suppose that prosecutors showed that a justice perjured himself at his confirmation hearing...." ~~~

~~~ Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Aaron Rupar of Vox goes over the New York Times' missteps in the book excerpt the paper published Saturday night on Bart O'Kavanaugh's waving dick. Mrs. McC: What Rupar doesn't cover was what authors Robin Pogrebin & Kate Kelly told Lawrence O'Donnell Monday night: the sentence the paper added in an editor's note Sunday, stating that the victim of of the second assault at Yale didn't recall the incident was in the original excerpt the writers submitted to the Times. Because that original sentence also included the name of the alleged victim -- & the Times didn't want to ID the victim -- some hairbrained editor decided to eliminate the whole sentence, which does provide crucial context. I don't know how much the Times pays its editors, but it's safe to say, not enough. As Rupar concludes, even without knowing about how the omission occurred, The story "is a big deal. But because of foreseeable, avoidable missteps, the Times ended up transforming what should've been a controversy about the newest member of the nation's highest court into one that's partially about itself." ~~~

~~~ Gillian Brockell of the Washington Post: "Only one other justice has ever been impeached, and it was more than 200 years ago." His name was Samuel Chase, and his nickname was "Old Bacon Face," on account of his reddish-brown complexion. "In 1776, Chase signed the Declaration of Independence representing Maryland. By the 1780s, he had moved to Baltimore, where he rose through the ranks as a judge. President George Washington nominated Chase to the Supreme Court in 1796. At the time though, the highest court in the land had little to do, so justices still served on lower courts. And those lower courts are where Chase's problems arose. While presiding over the 1800 sedition trial of Thomas Cooper, Chase railed against Cooper during his instructions to the jury, seeming to act more as a prosecutor than a judge. Before a treason trial in Philadelphia, he showed defense attorneys his opinion before the trial had even taken place. He later sentenced the man to death. (President John Adams pardoned him.) At a sedition trial in Richmond, he sat a juror who said he had already made up his mind that the defendant was guilty.... In 1803, before a Baltimore jury, Chase denounced the Democratic Republicans for overturning [a] law ... that had created lower courts.... When [then-President Thomas] Jefferson found out about it, he sent a letter to a congressman friend of his strongly suggesting that -- cough cough, hint hint -- only Congress could do something about Chase. The next year, the House voted 73-32 to impeach him, charging that he 'tend[ed] to prostitute the high judicial character with which he was invested.'... Though majorities [in the Senate] found Chase guilty on three of the eight articles, none passed the two-thirds threshold." ~~~

Senate Race 2020

~~~ Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is facing fresh attacks from Democrats after a newly surfaced allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh put his contentious confirmation back in the public spotlight.Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, her most prominent opponent for reelection next year, posted a photo of Collins and Kavanaugh to Twitter on Sunday with a link to her fundraising page. 'I'm tired of hoping that Susan Collins does the right thing when she has shown time and time again that she puts Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell ahead of Mainers. If you're with me, please make a contribution to our campaign today,' she wrote.... Collins at the time [of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings] called the investigation 'very thorough' and reviewed copies of FBI interviews before delivering her speech [announcing she would vote for Kavanaugh]. Now her opponents are accusing her of relying on a slipshod review of the allegations in determining her vote." A USA Today story is here. ~~~

~~~ Ella Nilsen of Vox: "With Collins up for reelection in 2020, the moderate Maine senator is already in the political fight of her life, and Brett Kavanaugh is a huge factor. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently moved its appraisal of Collins's race from 'lean Republican' to a toss-up, citing a number of polls showing Collins losing ground and the emergence of a strong Democratic challenger.... [Sara] Gideon's name recognition statewide pales in comparison to Collins, according to a July AARP poll conducted by pollster Fabrizio Ward. That poll showed Collins leading Gideon 52 percent to 35 percent, and just 28 percent had an opinion of Gideon -- showing the majority of the 600 likely voters polled didn't know who she was."

Presidential Race 2020

Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times: "Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts brought her ascendant presidential campaign to New York City on Monday night, unspooling a forceful argument for attacking corruption in government in a defining speech of her White House bid. Addressing thousands of supporters in Washington Square Park..., Ms. Warren pressed her case to bring sweeping change to an economic and political system she views as fundamentally tilted to favor the wealthy and powerful. She spoke near the site of the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, which killed 146 garment workers, most of them women. The fire spurred a push to improve workplace safety, which Ms. Warren harnessed as a parallel for the far-reaching change she wants to pursue as president. And once again, she urged Democrats to embrace her call for fundamental change -- not the kind of incremental approach favored most notably by Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and the primary race's front-runner." The Daily Beast story is here. ~~~

Trump Thinks All Hispanics Are Indios. Jeanine Santucci of USA Today: "At his Monday evening campaign rally in New Mexico..., Donald Trump touted his support among Hispanic voters, and pointed to a member of his campaign's Hispanic Advisory Council, saying 'Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?' Speaking about Steve Cortes, Trump said 'He happens to be Hispanic, but I've never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do.'" Mrs. McC: Guess I'll put this in my file labeled, "Donald Trump Is So Dumb, He ..." and I should cross-reference it in my files, "Donald Trump Is So Offensive, He ..." and "Donald Trump Is So Racist, He ...".

Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair: "The drumbeat of negative headlines is causing Trump to lash out. 'He cares a lot about polls. I've never seen anyone who cares more, frankly,' said a former West Wing official. A prominent Republican close to the White House told me: 'You can't even share one little negative thing with him. If you give him a poll number that's down, he'll just go nuts. No one wants to share any bad news.'... Trump and his advisers are debating various Hail Mary strategies that might reset the campaign. One idea being pushed by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, which was first reported by Axios, would be to dump Vice President Mike Pence from the ticket and replace him with former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley. 'They threaten Mike every week that they're going to take him off the ticket,' a Republican in touch with Pence's camp told me.... 'Trump sees him as a good Christian man, but in Trump's mind he thinks that means Mike's weak,' the Republican close to the White House said." --s

Republican Sarah Longwell in an NBC News opinion piece: "In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump complained that the primary process was rigged against him (it wasn't). Now it's President Trump's turn to do the rigging. South Carolina canceled its first-in-the-South presidential primary, and Kansas, Arizona and Nevada are following suit. Republican leadership in these states say that there's plenty of precedent for incumbent presidents not holding primary contests. That's true, but there's no precedent for canceling a primary when there are already three announced GOP challengers: former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, former Illinois representative Joe Walsh and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick argues that these men aren't 'legitimate' challengers, but it's hard to make the case that two former governors and a former congressman shouldn't be considered legitimate."

Paul Krugman: "Elections are supposed to have consequences, conveying power to the winners. But when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P. does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn't spoken.... The House, by law, has ... the right to be informed of what's going on in the executive branch, such as complaints by whistle-blowers, and the right to issue subpoenas demanding information relevant to governing. The Trump administration, however, has evidently decided that none of that matters.... And under William Barr, Justice has effectively become just another arm of the G.O.P. This is the context in which you want to think about the latest round of revelations about Brett Kavanaugh.... Both Kavanaugh's background and the circumstances of his appointment suggest that Mitch McConnell went to unprecedented lengths to create a Republican bloc on the Supreme Court that will thwart anything and everything Democrats try to accomplish.... The real chasm between the [Democratic presidential] candidates is ... in ... the extent to which they understand what they're facing in the modern G.O.P. The big problem with Joe Biden, still the front-runner, is that he obviously doesn't get it.... Which raises the question: Even if Biden can win, is he too oblivious to govern effectively?"

Sam Biddle
of The Intercept: "The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.... Between August 4 and August 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook -- roughly $16,500 per day -- reaching a peak of over $29,000 on August 18.... Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated." --s

SNL Fires Racist. Audrey McNamara of the Daily Beast: "Saturday Night Live on Monday announced that it will no longer bring Shane Gillis aboard as a new cast member for its 45th season, after unearthed video showed him making overtly racist jokes.... 'We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days. The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard,' [SNL said in a statement.]"

Way Beyond the Beltway

Brazil. Dom Phillips of the Guardian: "Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a lucrative business largely driven by criminal networks that threaten and attack government officials, forest defenders and indigenous people who try to stop them, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch." --s

Israel. Chaim Levinson & Amos Harel of Haaretz: "Israel's National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat met with the head of the Central Elections Committee to prepare him for the possibility of postponing the general election slated for Tuesday due to a military operation.... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aborted last week plans for an unusual military move in the Gaza Strip.... The dramatic discussion over a potential military action began Tuesday night. A few hours earlier, Netanyahu had gone through a disturbing experience: Gaza-based Islamic Jihad operatives fired a Katyusha rocket at the southern city Ashdod, where he was speaking at a campaign rally." --s

Russia. Guardian: "A gas explosion has sparked a fire at a Russian lab that houses viruses ranging from smallpox to Ebola, authorities have said.... The site housed biological weapons research during the Soviet era and is now one of Russia's main disease research centres.... Russian authorities insisted that the room where the explosion occurred was holding no biohazardous substances and that no structural damage was caused. The smallpox virus survives in two places on Earth: at Vector and at another high-security laboratory, at the US Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta." --s

Reader Comments (21)

A couple of things:

SCOTUS Associate Justice Abe Fortas resigned in 1969 under pressure of inquiries and accusations related to his ethical behavior. Abe played the violin and viola poorly but enthusiastically. He was a friend of many musicians, and a great patron of chamber music. His life did not end with his service on the high court.

The Congressional Report on Impeachment (February 1974) which RC thoughtfully links at

is well worth reading. It's < 30 pages, the writing and argumentation are lucid, and the print is legible [the whole doc includes another ~30 pages of documentation, citation, and references -- probably not necessary for RC readers.] Impeachment was included by the Founders as a Constitutional remedy for actions damaging or subversive to the organic framework of the American polity. It is instructive to see how our 18th century Framers thought and spoke about these matters. In my view, we should return to that level of discourse, and rule out of order any who do not.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Howard


Your remark regarding "level of discourse" prompts me share a personal triumph. Just finished six months of off and on reading of a long biography of Harold Ickes, which I have mentioned here before.

Much very remarkable in its 850 plus pages but wha gave me pause to marvel time and again was the exquisite use of language displayed by so many of the men (mostly men) who appeared in the book. These men, in stark contrast to so many in high office today, really did have the best words. Maybe more to the point, they took pride in learning and deploying them in their reams of personal letters, their speeches and in their official documents and correspondence. The actually thought about things.

While facility with language does not guarantee fine thinking, I am convinced that without it good and useful thinking is very hard to come by. For the people in Ickes' orbit, that facility was part of their culture. Today, generally it is not, and while there are exceptions, those exceptions certainly don't inhabit or even circle the current White House or the Pretender's cabinet, and I have to believe the thinking their speech exhibits is on a par with the level of their language.

BTW, a young Abe Fortas worked directly with Ickes for a time, while Ickes was Interior Secretary.

One of the many ironies the book presented to me as a gift: If it had not been for Ickes' proudly progressive politics, there would have been no Grand Teton National Park, and the Jackson Hole area the Cheneys, whose politics would destroy it, now like to call their home.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

With oil prices spiking and the Middle East Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran growing hotter by the minute, now would be a REALLY good time for Democrats to start selling the wonderful, planet-saving benefits of renewable energy.

Don't think we'll see any wars any time soon with people bombing wind mills and solar panels, but it'd be way less costly to rebuild and the reverbating effects would be close to nil.

With renewable energy prices competing with fossil fuels across the board, switching only a quarter of taxpayer subsidies to renewable R&D wouldn't only be a transformational change to limits climate heating effects, but it would shield the global economy from severe oil shocks.

That we can't summon the political will to fet this done ASAP is condemning future generations to the worst possible scenarios. Why is no one making this argument?

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

The Orange Menace is directly and personally responsible for much of what's happening with Iran and Saudi Arabia right now. -- Akhilleus


Anyone who didn't see this as the all-too-predictable, inevitable outcome of the decision to unilaterally abrogate the Iran nuclear treaty, while none of our ostensible allies were consulted (and all of whom refused to go along), is delusional.

Just out of curiosity.......

When did Saudi Arabia join NATO? Why is it necessary for us to go to war on their behalf?

Well..... The President made that clear. "Saudi Arabia pays cash."

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub


You have it right.

I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that since WWII and its Korean aftermath, yea verily, even to a degree in the Vietnam mess, the U. S. military has been used almost exclusively (maybe with the exception of the NATO Balkan bombing campaign) as mercenaries on behalf of American corporate interests.

Among his many other accomplishments as the Great Clarifier of American values, the Pretender's "cash only" foreign policy has made our position in the world very clear: Because money is what it's all about, all notions of humanity or morality passe, relics of an older, simpler* time, everything is for hire or sale, our military along with our gold toilet seats.

Our debasement is complete.....

.... *and the irony is that translating all value and values into dollars and cents is the greatest simplification of all, therefore so appealing to those who don't wish to think.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

"Our debasement is complete....." Ken

Or in the words of the non-leader of the free world (and could we put that to music?) :

"In the history of––––––any history."

This morning I feel like giving up–-throwing in that old used towel and just be concerned about what to cook for dinner tonite. When I read a sentence like this:

" [Today,] the 45-year-old report has become a handbook House Democratic lawmakers and aides say they are using to help determine whether they have the goods to mount a full-scale impeachment effort against Donald Trump...."

To help determine???? whether or not they have the goods?????

Chicken cutlets with backed Squash? Ot maybe...

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD Pepe: Yeah, I think we sometimes have to take zone-out days just to maintain some measure of mental equilibrium. Some mornings I'll wake up & think, "Maybe this isn't happening." The Trump/GOP takeover of what used to be a functioning -- if sometimes badly-functioning -- democracy is so out of whack it doesn't seem real.

September 17, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

The House can't investigate impeaching Kavanaugh because they're all tied up pretending to maybe impeach the Presidunt*, but not really cuz he's "self-impeaching". All those endless hearings of empty seats and being told "no" and whining into microphones and writing strong letters on Very Serious Stationary is really taxing and besides they have legislation to write that will never get passed but the American public totally knows they're trying to pass it and will reward them mightly.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari


We have, on occasion, referenced George Orwell's famous essay on politics and language. Does a facility with language translate to, or encourage, critical thinking? Orwell seems to think so. Language, he suggests, corrupts thought even as poor thought processes, lazy thinking, corrupt one's writing.

I am often struck by the wonderfully written letters from political figures of the past such as Washington and Lincoln. Lincoln's are almost unsurpassed for finely wrought expressions that mirror a thoughtful and rich inner life.

Trump, on the other hand, who communicates in a kind of barren, simplistic semaphore of ugly cliched tweets, offers readers a window through which they can see an equally barren soul, an inner life of grudges, hatred, self-admiration, and blissful ignorance which such as Kellyanne Conway would have us believe demonstrates some kind of authentic, regular guy genius.

They don't. One of the things we all learn as nascent writers is to consider your audience. Trump's tweets frequently sound like someone talking to a dog. "Democrats BAD for OUR country. Bad, bad, bad." Does this mean Trump thinks his base is some kind of pack of hounds? Very likely. They certainly bay like one.

This sort of writing doesn't just indicate poor thought processes, it indicates almost no thought at all.

The famous American intolerance for intellectuals and critical thinking has at long last helped create an entire race of thoughtless, spineless, amoral politicians almost all of whom slaver over every idiotic tweet from their little king.

Is there a contemporary Harold Ickes out there? Very likely. But it's almost a lead pipe cinch that he doesn't have an R after his name. This isn't to say that Republicans are incapable of good writing and critical thought. But if they're still Republicans after three years of the monkey king, then they've turned off critical thought processes, which is even worse than not having any in the first place.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@safari: regarding Saudi oil price spike, I wish this were true. Turns out the American oil industry desperately needs a price increase to save it from bankruptcy. I guess they haven't figured out how overproduction impacts price and revenue yet. Check out Yves piece in Naked Capitalism.

Since 2007 the world has more than doubled oil production. I doubt we will be seeing scarcity in supply driving price increases like in the early 1970s, at least in the short term. Fossil fuel use is a convenience genie that will be impossible to squeeze back into the bottle entirely. It does no good for democratic candidates and climate activists to envision the total elimination of fossil fuel use - as if by legislative action - tomorrow (or even within 12 years). The world economy is built on this energy source. It will take time to tool up and more the alternatives into every little place where oil currently dominates. And yes, there isn't enough time to save the pristine planet from 8, or 9, or 10 billion hungry consumers.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeriscope

I have not heard much mention of the deal Iran renewed with China just a couple of weeks ago. Here's a Juan Cole article about it. China's involvement in Iran complicates any actions that Trump may take. And it could be one reason that Iran was bold enough to make the strike.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

Wonder how many lies Lewandowski has told so far. Or if he's answered anything with something besides lies and belligerence, a Trump specialty.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Driving other countries like Iran into China's (and Russia's) orbit.

And this:

Plus Pakistan, the Philippines and others.

More brilliant diplomacy from the Pretender.

He's a heck of a deal-maker, for China anyway.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

AK-- that is exactly how I feel about the eternal getting-their-ducks-in-a-row that we hear from "thoughtful" Democrats. They are so sorry about wanting to do something right but having to figure out if they will be out of a job in November if they actually DO it. So many heroes in the party. I don't even listen to their crap anymore. It simply doesn't matter to them that if this man is not impeached, no one need fear anything they do or say ever again. So Moscow Mitch, the Russian Resting Bitch Face will not bring it up in the Senate-- at least it will be on the record in the House. No, Nancy Cautious, there is no problem with dividing the country over this-- it's already been done since...well, we could go all the way back, but it really got ugly when Obama was the candidate. The old ways do not matter anymore. Either do something or face oblivion. And yeah, Beer-Rapist needs to go, too.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Haaretz and CNN both reporting that exit polls are showing that Netanyahu has failed to gain a majority.

This Jew is cautiously thrilled.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

@Bea McCrab: Me, too! I turned off the hearing with Lewandoski within minutes, whadda an obnoxious pr**k.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG


This cradle Catholic is right there with you, dude. Here's hoping Bibi is bye-bye.

I read that he's been doing desperate Facebook live presentations in which he wails that only Arabs and evil liberals are against him--of course he doesn't mean Palestinians--they have no right to vote (natch). He means Arab citizens of Israel, which, surprisingly--to me, at any rate, number about 20% of the population. In making such references, Bibi wants his base to think "terrorist" "anti-Semite" "criminal", and "anti-Israeli". I'm guessing that as younger Israelis become voters, such propaganda will be less effective.

I wonder how much the candidacy of Avigdor Lieberman, coming at him from the right, played a role in diminishing Bibi's vote totals. If so, you can bet your boots (an especially serious bet for those of you in snowier states, but a bet I'd take any day of the week) that drooling Trumpians here in the US, seeing the Bibi disvestiture by Israeli voters, will push for fewer and fewer primaries that allow even the most minuscule of challenges to what they hope is the holy--and permanent--canonization of the Orange Menace.

And hey, if Israel can boot their right-wing demagogue, there's every possibility that we can do the same if enough decent people show up to vote.

Mazel tov, Israel! You go, Benny Gantz!

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Best headline I've read in a very long time from Ha'aretz:

"Kahanist party wiped off political map"

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSchlub

The picture at the top of the NYTimes page is Netanyahu giving his crowd a right-hand salute. Signed, Confused

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

10:37 pm. They changed the picture.

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

Is (Are?) The New York Times as culpable as Facebook for sowing discord in the world?

September 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy
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