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 5, 2019

This site will be down for up to 48 hours. Mrs. McCrabbie: I had to update my DNS settings, which of course I did with my usual technical wizardry. (That is, a GoDaddy techie walked me through every single step.) At any rate, apparently the DNS settings can take up to 48 hours to reset (but possibly much less time), so Reality Chex will be down for the count.

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Fred Imbert of CNBC: "Stocks surged on Thursday after the U.S. and China agreed to meet next month in Washington to discuss trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 436 points, or 1.7%. The S&P 500 climbed 1.4% to around 2,980, led by a 2.5% gain in the financials sector, and traded around 1.6% from its record high. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.7%."

I feel sorry for the president, and that is not the way we should feel about the most powerful figure in this country.... I don't know if he felt it necessary to pull out a sharpie and change the map. I don't know if it was one of his aides believed they had to do that in order to protect his ego.... No matter how you cut it, this is an unbelievably sad state of affairs for our country. If our presidency is not in good shape, then our country is not in good shape. And on one level it's laughable, on another it is exactly why we got to do something different. -- Pete Buttegieg on CNN today

Trump Is Still Crazy. John Wagner of the Washington Post: "As Hurricane Dorian unleashed torrential rains on the Carolinas on Thursday morning, President Trump continued to push his erroneous contention from the weekend that Alabama could have been affected by the life-threatening storm. In his first tweets of the morning, Trump insisted that what he first said in a Sunday tweet was accurate at the time and attacked the news media. 'What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!' Trump wrote." The Hill story is here. ...

     ... Update to WashPo report linked above: "[Trump] later returned to the topic, sharing a tweet in which the Alabama National Guard had said that Dorian was 'projected to reach southern Alabama by the early part of the week.'" Mrs. McC: The National Guard tweet Trump cited was posted August 30 @ 10:11 am, two days before Trump said Alabama would be hit harder than expected. Later that day, the account tweeted, "Models are becoming more consistent with keeping Dorian (and major impacts) east of Alabama next week. There is still some guidance that suggests Dorian could get into the eastern Gulf before turning back to the north-northeast." On August 31, the same National Guard Twitter account tweeted, "Over the weekend, projections for #HurricaneDorian have continually skewed further north and east, leaving Alabama outside the anticipated path." Emphasis added. The August 31 tweet included a weather map showing the storm headed away from Alabama. Your tax dollars are going to staff whose time is devoted to combing Twitterland for outdated warnings that might appear to back up Trump's false claim.

... Adam Raymond of New York has posted #sharpiegate memes that show the world as Trump would prefer it. Funny.

Wait. I Thought Jared Wrote the Peace Plan. Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 in Axios: "White House special envoy for the Middle East peace process Jason Greenblatt will be leaving the Trump administration in the next several weeks to return to the private sector..... Greenblatt is a key member of the White House Middle East 'peace team,' which consists of Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Kushner deputy Avi Berkowitz. In June, the White House rolled out the economic component of its peace plan. It has yet to reveal the political component due to upcoming Israeli elections.... A senior U.S. official said Greenblatt will stay at the White House another few weeks.... The U.S. official said Greenblatt's decision was mainly for persona and family reasons.... most of his assignments and authorities will be transferred to Berkowitz, who was a main player in drafting the White House peace plan and has worked side by side with Greenblatt since January 2017." Mrs. McC: Say, is there is Palestinian person on Jared's "peace team"? This kinda looks like the result is going to be just as effective as the Treaty of Versailles.

Thanks, Betsy! Cory Turner of NPR: "A new report from a government watchdog ... says an expanded effort by Congress to forgive the student loans of public servants is remarkably unforgiving. Congress created the expansion program last year in response to a growing outcry. Thousands of borrowers -- nurses, teachers and other public servants -- complained that the requirements for the original program were so rigid and poorly communicated that lawmakers needed to step in. But ... [99] percent of loan-forgiveness requests under that new Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness ... were rejected during the program's first year, from May 2018 to May 2019. According to the review out Thursday, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Department of Education processed roughly 54,000 requests and approved just 661. It spent only $27 million of the $700 million Congress set aside for the expansion."

Zak Budryk of the Hill: "Marianne Williamson chided people who mocked her for a since-deleted tweet in which she argued the 'power of the mind' kept Hurricane Dorian from doing more damage Wednesday. 'Prayer is a power of the mind, and it is neither bizarre nor unintelligent. People of faith belong in the Democratic Party, and will be necessary to the effort if we're to win in 2020,' the Democratic presidential candidate tweeted." Mrs. McC: For some reason, this woman thinks she should be president, which annoys me mostly because her insipid campaign ads often come up when I am searching YouTube videos.


Donald Trump Will Lie about Anything

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Under federal law, requests by states for disaster declarations are made by governors.... 'At the request of Senator Thom Tillis, I am getting the North Carolina Emergency Declaration completed and signed tonight,' Trump wrote in a tweet.... Tillis is a ... Republican up for reelection next year.... North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat. His office requested the federal disaster declaration Monday after issuing a state emergency declaration Friday." ..

Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both. -- 18 U.S. Code sect; 2074 ...

... Even if He Has to Make Something for Show-and-Tell. Allan Smith of NBC News: "After days of claiming without evidence that Alabama was projected to be hit by Hurricane Dorian..., Donald Trump displayed an apparently doctored map in the Ova Office on Wednesday that showed Alabama to be within the storm's path. The map Trump displayed was the same as a model produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week showing the hurricane's projected path cutting through central Florida -- with one key difference. Where the original projection ended, a smaller, black circle that appeared to be drawn in Sharpie was produced to include Alabama in the model."...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The doctored map Trump showed off was dated Thursday, August 29, at 11 am ET. Trump made his comment that Alabama was at risk on Sunday, September 1, when all forecasts were showing that Dorian's trajectory had veered north & would hit or skirt the U.S. East Coast. The National Weather Service in Alabama quickly contradicted Trump's false claim.

Hurricane Map According to Trump.

... Josh Wingate & Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg: "After facing ridicule for suggesting over the weekend that Hurricane Dorian might strike Alabama, Donald Trump showed reporters a map on Wednesday that he personally altered to help prove his point." Emphasis added. ...

... Michael Shear & Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times: "Asked about the marking on the map, Mr. Trump told reporters that he did not know how it got there. I don't know,' he said on Wednesday while insisting that his assertion about the dangers that Alabama faced had been right all along.... The president did not say where he got that information, which is directly contradicted by days of reports from the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, neither of which publicly reported any threat to Alabama from the hurricane." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Watch Trump lying at the end of the video. He adopts that same fake-innocent look he did when he said he didn't know Michael Cohen had paid off Stormy Daniels. The tell that Trump is lying, as Colbert points out, is that Trump says he knows nothing about it, because Trump never admits to ignorance about anything. ...

Brent Samuels & Morgan Chalfant of the Hill: "Trump defends shift of FEMA funds, citing Dorian's change in path.... The president said the shifted funds won't be an issue in responding to Dorian, citing the storm's change in path farther east. 'We're using much less here than we anticipated.... Originally this was going to be a direct hit into Miami,' Trump told reporters during an Oval Office briefing on the hurricane." Mrs. McC: So Trump's "plan" is "I'm feeling lucky," betting that no emergencies arise, & his "justification" is that Miami didn't get hit by this storm. Because border wall before 2020 election. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Allan Smith: "... Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that he had 'no involvement' with Vice President Mike Pence's decision to stay at his golf resort near Doonbeg, Ireland, adding 'people like my product, what can I tell you.'... ... Pressed on whether he suggested Pence stay at the hotel, as the vice president's chief of staff told reporters Tuesday, Trump said he did not.... 'I don't suggest anything. I don't suggest it, nor did I with the attorney general, I never spoke to the attorney general about using my hotel,' referring to reports that Attorney General William Barr has booked a $30,000 holiday party at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in December. 'I have a lot of hotels all over the place, and people use them because they're the best ... ' Trump said."

... So ... Brett Samuels of the Hill: "Vice President Pence's office issued a statement late Tuesday saying President Trump did not direct Pence to stay at his resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, a shift from remarks offered by the vice president's top aide.... 'At no time did the President direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort and any reporting to the contrary is false,' the vice president's office said. Earlier on Tuesday, Pence chief of staff Marc Short told reporters ... aboard Air Force Two ... that Trump had not requested or commanded that Pence stay at his property, but that he suggested it." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: The statement is a non-denial denial. As Samuels writes, pence's staff "shifted" the story; they didn't change it. There's a difference between "suggest," as Short had put it, and "direct," even when the "suggestion" comes from the boss. Of course Trump is a different kind of boss, & Pence seems to value beyond all else keeping this boss happy. The veep's official statement still "suggests" Trump was lying when he claimed he had "no involvement" in pence's decision to stay in Trump's resort. ...

... Miriam Lord of the Irish Times: "The hospitable hosts buttered up their important guest [mike pence] and made a big fuss of his family. And he told them they were wonderful and that he loved them. He even said a special prayer for everyone and then, just before he left, he turned around and kicked them where it hurts ... [when] he delivered a very strong endorsement of Boris Johnson and Brexit.... As Pence read from the autocue and Irish eyes definitely stopped smiling, it was clear he was channeling His Master's Voice." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Olivia Beavers
of the Hill: "The head of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for documents related to allegations that President Trump promised pardons to officials who carry out orders connected to construction of a wall at the southern border that could be illegal. Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asked Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan in the subpoena to provide documents related to two meetings in March and April of this year between Trump and DHS officials where the topic of pardons reportedly came up, giving him a deadline of Sept. 17."

Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times: "Gregory B. Craig, one of Washington's most prominent Democratic lawyers, was acquitted on Wednesday of a felony charge that he lied about work he did seven years ago for the Ukrainian government. The jury returned the verdict after just hours of deliberation. It was a blow to the Justice Department's effort to more aggressively crack down on foreign influence in Washington and a vindication of Mr. Craig's high-risk strategy of taking the case to trial." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Craig, 74, is the only Democratic appointee to be charged in a series of cases stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Shortly after the verdict, Craig's defense team denounced the decision to prosecute the veteran Washington lawyer and suggested some impropriety.... 'Why, after the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York rejected this prosecution, did this Department of Justice decide it had to hound this man and his family without any evidence and without any purpose, the defense lawyer asked.... Taylor declined to say why he thinks the prosecution went forward, but Craig's allies have grumbled for months that he was targeted in an effort to even the scales politically and to push back against perceptions that Mueller's operation was solely focused on allies of ... Donald Trump." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Time to catch up on our 1990s Nickelodeon shows. Video starts @4:20 minutes in; watch it to about 5:00 minutes in:

     ... There always was something funny about that guy's personal finances. Via Rachel Maddow.

** Trump's Own Administration Finds He is Traumatizing Children. Colleen Long
, et al., of the AP: "Migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered post-traumatic stress and other serious mental health problems, according to a government watchdog report Wednesday. The chaotic reunification process only added to their ordeal.... The children, many already distressed in their home countries or by their journey, showed more fear, feelings of abandonment and post-traumatic stress symptoms than children who were not separated, according to a report from the inspector general's office in the Department of Health and Human Services." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Mexico Children of U.S. Military Will Pay for the Wall. Betsy Woodruff, et al., of the Daily Beast: "During the 2016 election, Donald Trump repeatedly pledged that, as president, he would get Mexico to pay for the construction of his much-promised wall along the U.S. southern border. On Tuesday, his administration revealed that it would be paying for the wall instead by diverting funds meant for the construction of elementary schools, hazardous waste warehouse facilities, and fire stations, among other Department of Defense initiatives. The revelation came in the form of a list of projects that DOD sent to Capitol Hill that it says it will now be putting on hold as the president transfers funds from that department to wall construction. All told, DOD pinpointed more than $1 billion in mainland priorities that it was now shelving, in addition to $1.8 billion in foreign-based projects, and nearly $700 million in projects based in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands -- all U.S. territories.... The final list may hurt territories, which have no electoral votes, the most -- particularly Puerto Rico, which has been a persistent source of agitation for the president. The island will see over $400 million in funding for military projects there deferred." The report reproduces the list.

Gerry Shih of the Washington Post: "China said Thursday its trade representatives will fly to Washington in early October to resume negotiations with the United States, raising the possibility that both sides might arrest a recent deterioration in the bilateral relationship that has cast a shadow over the world economy. China's top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, agreed to the October visit in a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, China's Commerce Ministry said in a statement. It added that 'serious' mid-level discussions will begin in mid-September to prepare for the October visit." ...

... Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Times: "The United States and China will hold trade talks in Washington early next month, officials from both countries said on Thursday, but new tariffs will make it difficult to find a way to end their economic clash." The South China Morning Post story is here.

Demetri Sevastopulo of the Financial Times [Mrs. McC: subscriber-firewalled]: "Four days before the US imposed sanctions on an Iranian tanker suspected of shipping oil to Syria, the vessel's Indian captain received an unusual email from the top Iran official at the Department of State. 'This is Brian Hook.... I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo and serve as the US Representative for Iran,' Mr Hook wrote to Akhilesh Kumar on August 26, according to several emails seen by the Financial Times.... [T]he Trump administration was offering Mr Kumar several million dollars to pilot the ship ... to a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the US. To make sure Mr Kumar did not mistake the email for a scam, it included an official state department phone number. [This] ... was not an isolated case. Mr Hook, who heads the state department's Iran Action Group, has emailed or texted roughly a dozen captains in recent months in an effort to scare mariners into understanding that helping Iran evade sanctions comes at a heavy price.... Washington is also warning ports around the world that they are putting themselves at risk by accepting Iranian ships, partly because of the threat of US sanctions[.]" --s ...

** Everything the Trump Regime Does Is Stupid. John Schwartz of the New York Times: "The Trump administration plans to significantly weaken federal rules that would have forced Americans to use much more energy-efficient light bulbs, a move that could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The proposed changes would eliminate requirements that effectively meant that most light bulbs sold in the United States -- not only the familiar, pear-shaped ones, but several other styles as well -- must be either LEDs or fluorescent to meet new efficiency standards. The rules being weakened, which dated from 2007 and the administration of President George W. Bush and slated to start in the new year, would have all but ended the era of the incandescent bulb invented more than a century ago. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output of at least 25 large power plants, enough to power all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to an estimate by the The Natural Resources Defense Council." The CBS News report is here. ...

     ... More from the Ignoramus-in-Chief. Mrs. McCrabbie: Here's one stupid policy that cannot be directly attributed to Trump (unless he forgot about an order he might have issued to Rick Perry months ago, which is a possibility). If you watch the Colbert video, you'll see a clip in which a reporter asks Trump about the rationale for the anti-environment change in policy. Trump seems to know ... nothing about it -- but of course he pretends he does, first asking the reporter to repeat the question, then claiming there will be a "report" coming out about the excellent rationale for significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Actually, there will be no "report." There will be filing in the Federal Register to prevent the energy-saving rules from going into effect and a proposal inviting comments.

Juliet Eilperin & Steven Mufson of the Washington Post: "... Joe Balash — who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands before resigning from Interior on Friday — is joining a foreign oil company that is expanding operations on Alaska's North Slope. Balash, who had served as the Interior Department's assistant secretary for land and minerals management for nearly two years, confirmed in a phone interview Tuesday night that he will begin working for the Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search, which is developing one of Alaska's largest oil prospects in years.... Balash declined to disclose his specific role and said that while he would oversee employees who would work with the federal government on energy policy, he would abide by the Trump ethics pledge [Mrs. McC: hahahahaha] barring appointees from lobbying their former agencies for five years." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Paul Blest of Splinter: "If you want a good example of the 'swamp' in action..., you needn't look any further than Joe Balash.... This is what normal, everyday corruption looks like: a game of musical chairs in which everyone gets a seat, so long as you're willing to do the bidding of industry. Congrats to Joe Balash!" (Also linked yesterday.)

Trump Snake-Oil Salesman Becomes Fish-Oil Salesman. Caleb Ecarma of Mediaite: "Former White House assistant Seb Gorka once suffered from debilitating lower back pain, but he is now miraculously 'pain free' after taking a job hawking fish oil supplements -- and you, too, can be rid of your bodily aches for a small subscription price of $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Gorka, who was ousted by the Trump administration in 2017, lost his contributor gig at Fox News in March and has now moved onto the role of spokesperson for Relief Factor, a health and wellness company that sells an over-the-counter pain reliever with a main ingredient of fish oil." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Gorka's most recent known White House performance was picking what became a shouting match in the Rose Garden with Playboy's White House reporter Brian Karem. The White House, with Trump's approval, then suspended Karem, based partially, they said on what turned out to be a non-existent written witness statement from a Secret Service agent. Tuesday, a judge ordered the White House to return Karem's press pass.

Zack Budryk of the Hill: "A Labor Department employee who resigned after being accused of making anti-Semitic social media posts he said were sarcastic will be reinstated, according to the Daily Caller, citing a senior department official. Leif Olson, a senior policy advisor for the Wage and Hour Division, announced his resignation 18 days after Bloomberg Law reported on a 2016 Facebook post in which Olson and a friend sarcastically invoked anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in reference to then-House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) resounding defeat of a primary challenger."

The Nihilists Who Love Trump. Thomas Edsell of the New York Times: The winner of the best paper award at the American Political Science Association meeting last week "argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to 'chaos incitement' and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.... The authors describe 'chaos incitement' as a 'strategy of last resort by marginalized status-seekers,' willing to adopt disruptive tactics.... [Social media allow] the transmission of a type of information that portrays 'political candidates or groups negatively' and has 'a low evidential basis.'... The intense hostility to political establishments of all kinds among what could be called 'chaos voters' helps explain what Pew Research and others have found: a growing distrust among Republican voters of higher education as well as empirically based science...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Presidential Race 2020

Elana Schor & Ellen Knickmeyer of the AP: "Top Democratic presidential contenders talked tough Wednesday on cutting climate-damaging emissions from oil, gas and coal, turning their focus to global warming in a marathon evening of town halls that gave the candidates a chance to distinguish themselves on a topic of growing importance to their party's liberal base. The lengthy climate conversations promised to hand Republicans ammunition for next year's general election fight by emphasizing one common element in the Democrats' climate change plans: their overwhelming -- and overwhelmingly costly -- scope." Mrs. McC: Seems like a stupid criticism to me; what's more "costly" than people getting chronic illnesses & dying and the planet eventually dying, too?

... Umair Irfan of Vox: "CNN host[ed] a seven-hour marathon of interviews with 10 presidential candidates about climate change on Wednesday ... as part of its climate crisis town hall.... That a major television network would devote so much time to a single issue is a sign of how important climate change has become for Democrats and how successful activists have been in elevating the issue. Climate change has rocketed up the list of concerns for primary voters, with some polls showing climate change as the number one issue and other indicating that strong majorities want robust climate action from the White House." --s ...

... Akela Lacy of the Intercept: "The day after Joe Biden participates in CNN's climate forum in New York, the former vice president will head to a high-dollar fundraiser co-hosted by a founder of a fossil fuel company."

Michael Crowley of the New York Times: "President Trump heads into the closing months of the year before he faces re-election without a clear policy agenda and with an uphill path to achieving any major new accomplishments before he faces voters.... A crucial factor [in his failure] is a president whose fleeting attention span, impatience with policy details and appetite for personal feuds and news media controversies make for a limited interest in traditional legislating and regulating." Crowley lists numerous policy matters on which Trump has done little or nothing. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: But the main problem, which Crowley doesn't mention, is that Trump's actual policies -- as opposed to his lies about them -- are unpopular, counterproductive, stupid and/or cruel. He claims he's an environmentalist, but he doesn't accept climate science & his administration has done more to damage the environment than any since Reagan. He opposes even minimal gun control laws. He promised cheap, comprehensive health insurance; he doesn't even mention that now. His one accomplishment -- the "middle-class tax cut" -- went to the rich, exploded the deficit (his Treasury Secretary said it would pay for itself) & was hardly "rocket-fuel for the economy," as Trump claimed. He promised a massive infrastructure program; it was actually a boondoggle for investors & private contractors. He promised trade wars were easy to win; a year after he started his trade war with China, there still no accord in sight. And so forth.

Congressional Races 2020. Nicholas Fandos of the New York Times: "Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, a Republican mainstay who found his way to the center of many of Washington's most divisive political debates over the past four decades, said on Wednesday that he would not run for re-election next year.... The announcement adds to what appears to be a growing exodus of House Republicans this summer that promises to change the character of the chamber for years to come, regardless of whether the party wins back control next year. Sixteen lawmakers, including Mr. Sensenbrenner, have said they intend to retire or seek another office in 2020. Just hours earlier, Representative Bill Flores of Texas, said that he, too, would not seek re-election, citing a commitment to term limit himself. And more lawmakers are expected to follow suit. By contrast, Democrats have seen few retirements so far, though on Wednesday, Representative Susan A. Davis, 75, Democrat of California, said she would not seek re-election in her solidly blue district of San Diego." CNN's story is here.

New York Times Editors: "Three state judges on a North Carolina trial court just did what a majority on the United States Supreme Court said was impossible only a few months ago -- apply well-established legal standards to strike down some of the most egregious partisan gerrymanders in the country. The state court judges' 357-page ruling applies to the North Carolina state legislature, the General Assembly, which now has two weeks to come up with new, fairer maps for state legislative districts. It also sends a broader message to the justices in Washington, and to state judges everywhere: See? Protecting democracy from self-interested, power-hungry politicians isn't so hard after all."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Afghanistan. Siobhán O'Grady & Sayed Salahuddin of the Washington Post: "Afghan officials expressed concerns over a pending U.S.-Taliban deal this week, as the militant group claimed responsibility for the second deadly explosion in the capital in less than three days. At least 10 people were killed and more than 40 injured on Thursday morning when a car bomb exploded in a heavily fortified area of central Kabul, close to Afghan security offices. Plumes of smoke could be seen rising over the capital as casualties were transported to a nearby hospital. The Taliban said in a statement that it had targeted a convoy of foreigners. But no foreign convoy can be seen in footage circulating on social media, which appeared to show a van entering a crowded traffic circle before detonating."

Canada Acts While U.S. Dawdles. Alexander Panetta & Mark Scott of Politico: "Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election rattled America's next-door neighbor so badly that Canada spent the last three years developing the most detailed plan anywhere in the Western world to combat foreign meddling in its upcoming election." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

U.K. Stephen Castle of the New York Times: "Prime Minister Boris Johnson was battered again on Wednesday as lawmakers from his own party and the opposition pressed ahead to stop his plan for leaving the European Union without an agreement. Having won control of the legislative agenda on Tuesday night, lawmakers moved quickly on a bill that would rule out Mr. Johnson's plan for a withdrawal by the end of next month even if there is no deal, which many say would cause chaos. On Wednesday afternoon, by a vote of 327 to 299, they pushed the bill through a second stage in the two-step process. The bill now goes to the House of Lords, which must give its assent. After a night of extraordinary theater in Parliament, Mr. Johnson confronted on Wednesday a bleak scene scattered with the remnants of his Brexit policy, raising the possibility that the issue could destroy his premiership just as it had the two previous Conservative prime ministers, but more rapidly." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Guardian's liveblog is here. After the House of Commons voted down his Brexit "plan," Johnson called for a general election October 15 -- which requires a 2/3rds majority -- but the Commons rejected the motion. The AP report is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Even Boris's Brother Quit. BBC: "Jo Johnson, younger brother of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is quitting as an MP and minister, saying he is 'torn between family loyalty and the national interest'. The business minister and Tory MP for Orpington tweeted that there was an 'unresolvable tension' in his role. Mr Johnson voted Remain in the 2016 EU membership referendum, while his brother co-led the Leave campaign."

Israel. AP: "An Israeli news station has aired recordings [from 2017] of the prime minister shouting at a senior Cabinet minister and trying to intervene in regulations governing television broadcasting. The audio clips published on Monday come just two weeks before Benjamin Netanyahu seeks re-election in a do-over vote after failing to secure a parliamentary majority in April. He also faces possible indictment next month for corruption charges...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Ledes

New York Times liveblog: As of 12 noon Thursday, "Hurricane Dorian weakened to a Category 2 storm. It is about 50 miles east-southeast of Charleston, S.C., with winds of up to 110 m.p.h.... Hurricane Dorian was pounding much of the Carolina coast with heavy rain and strong winds on Thursday, spawning small tornadoes and causing widespread power losses and flooding. By Thursday morning, the Category 2 storm was about 50 miles from Charleston, S.C., as it continues its creep up the East Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. And while the eye of the storm has so far remained offshore, the center's models show it could possibly make landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Friday." ...

... Washington Post: "Powerful Hurricane Dorian is unleashing its full array of hazards on the Carolinas just days after causing a humanitarian crisis in the northwestern Bahamas and then zagging around the Florida Peninsula. The high-end Category 2 storm has already flooded parts of downtown Charleston, S.C., with a combination of storm surge and rainfall runoff, prompting a flash-flood warning through mid-morning there, in addition to a storm-surge warning."

... Weather Channel: "Hurricane Dorian is now unleashing its siege of storm surge flooding, rainfall flooding and high winds as it tracks near the coasts of South Carolina, North Carolina and southeast Virginia through Friday. Dorian's maximum sustained winds increased to the 115-mph threshold required to regain Category 3 status. Despite that, its damaging impacts are likely to remain the same as it hammers this part of the Southeast coast." The Weather Channel's front page, with links to related stories, is here. ...

... The Miami Herald front page links to numerous hurricane-related stories. The paper is providing free, unlimited access to all of its stories as Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida. ...

... "The [Washington] Post has removed article limits on coverage of Hurricane Dorian to make these stories available without a subscription."

Reader Comments (13)

So no general election in G.B.

Oh, the cruelty!

Looks like the House of Commons wants to watch Boris twist in the wind while they sit back and enjoy the show.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

In defense of the low IQ dementia patient in the White House, we need to take into account that he has ZERO critical thinking skills. His entire life has been built on the power of images.

Does anyone think he could understand that landmass SLOWS down a hurricane? Certainly not. He surely saw a giant round blob over Florida and his eyes continued the trajectory, from Alabama to Kansas. This pretty well explains #sharpiegate, where he snidely drew in the extended line because obviously the hurricane is like a bulldozer and just plows through with no other criteria to take into account.

We should be grateful he wasn't tweeting out hurricane warnings for Iowa.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

A friend from Fort Myers, which is on the southwest coast of Florida, phoned me yesterday. When, after a longish conversation in which he never mentioned the hurricane, I asked him how hard Fort Myers had been hit by rain and wind from Dorian. Not at all, he said. So ... Alabama?

September 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Such fun to watch Fatty getting caught in his own parallel universe: He gets that "look"–-"I have no idea who could have drawn that extra boob-like line on the map." When asked about the lightbulbs I'll bet my favorite punch bowl he had no idea what that was about but his stock answer is always "We're looking into it."

"Dealing with this president and his administration is like riding a rubber ducky into alligator infested waters."
––Michael Steele

And listening to survivors from the Hurricane tell of actual shark infested waters and seeing dead bodies floating on the surface is heartbreaking. Will this change the conversation on climate change? Elizabeth Warren, I understand, was the champion in the CNN program last night in which the candidates discussed the issues revolving around Climate.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Lost in Trump's alternate universe of hurricanes that go wherever he wants them to (and is that Sharpie extension of Dorian's "path" the most embarrassing thing you've seen in a long time? Oh, who am I kidding? Trump embarrasses himself worse than that three times every day before Egg-zecutive Time is over), is the claim by the administration's new Official Liar, Stephanie whatshername, who stated in a press release to CNN (this from the NBC report linked above) that Trump was told about the hurricane hitting Alabama in a "briefing" at Camp David and was told that the "focus shouldn't be on the track of the hurricane".

Say what? So the track of the storm doesn't matter??? What's more important than where a huge storm is going to hit? Whether or not Fatty will have enough Doritos to ride it out?

When the earlier track indicated that Trump's gaudy dude ranch, Marred a Lago, might be whacked, it was the worst storm in history and time to call out the National Guard. But as soon as it veered away (to mash other people's homes) it was, "ho-hum, time to play some golf".

But even though the Official Liar's claim tried to pooh-pooh the storm track, she was, in effect, making a sideways admission that her moronic boss was, well, a moron. "Don't worry about the track of the doesn't matter anyway..."


But, hey, now that Trumpy has discovered that he can change reality (at least in his own mind) with his widdow Sharpie, he's on to other things. Like this.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

That lightbulb report will probable come out at the same time as DiJiT's busing plan, right in the middle of infrastructure week.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

@Akhilleus: Ha ha. And this.

September 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Digging deeper into the Pretender's brain. Two thoughts.

NPR has more on this, posted today, but the administration's bottom line is indeed old fashioned Republican frugality. Spend on those who don't need it. Stiff those who do.

Loan forgiveness for public servants and congressionally authorized aid to Ukraine, two instances. Keep the money; don't spend it.

But when it comes to a Wall, that's another story. Who needs schools?

Which leads to the other thought.

A little research reveals that Alabama did get mention in an early Dorian forecast, and the Pretender probably did hear something about it.

But he didn't listen carefully to its tentative nature or to any followup reports, all of which excluded Alabama. Mindful of his Alabama base he wanted it to know Big Daddy was going to take care of them, so Alabama got mention in a twitter babble long after later forecasts excluded it from the projected storm track. Then he was stuck with what he'd said and had the same choice we wall do when we're wrong.

Admit it or lie about it. He took the obvious course. It's the way his brain works. Alway has, always will.

But more interesting to me is the sloppiness it reveals about his thinking. Not only does he lie as a matter of course to others, but his intellectual laziness means he's always lying, in the sense of not being able to distinguish fact from fiction, opinion from fact, to himself. Nor is he interested in doing so for a couple of reasons. Sometimes facts don't serve his purpose and determining what those fact are is often too much work.

Though he has no heart, he is alive and his his synapses do fire. But because he is so intellectually and morally lazy this very stable genius' brain is the mess we see and the mess he's inflicting on the country every day.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken Winkes: Yes, if you look at the nearly-week-old map Trump held up during show-and-tell, you can see where Alabama could have been in the eye of the storm. But the map dates from early Thursday, & by Friday, all models were showing the storm turning north. It wasn't until Sunday, two days later, that Trump told Alabamians that Dorian could be even worse for them than expected. Inasmuch as he was supposed to be getting hourly updates on Dorian even while on the golf course (according to the White House), it makes no sense for him to have made the claim late Sunday morning.

As you suggest, I would guess that his feeble, selfish mind grasped one of those early models and morphed into a picture of himself tossing paper towels at grateful Alabama base voters -- an image that could not dislodge itself as new information hourly contradicted it.

I'm glad Mayor Pete feels sorry for Donald, because I don't, and probably somebody should.

September 5, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Had Dorian made landfall near Mari Lago I was fantasizing that that an official Puerto Rican aid delegation would arrive at the resort with cases of paper towels to donate, and of course they all would be wearing the ever fashionable "I don't care do you ?" jackets...but alas, it was only a dream.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeriscope

A dream, perhaps, but a pretty funny one. Maybe San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, could bounce a couple of rolls off Fatty’s bloated noggin.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Know it's been said many times before in many ways but the market's gyrations, the tweet-prompted ups and the downs, are yet another indication that there's a whole lot of money floating around looking for a home.

And since only about half the country is invested in the market, all that homeless money is a clear sign that the haves really are the ones that have--and they're not sharing.

No wonder we just gotta do something about that infernal capital gains tax. It's obviously still too high.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The ugly sound of counterterrorism advisor Peter Brown falling on his sword:

Certainly raises my confidence in our counter-terrorism flunkies.

September 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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