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 6, 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. ...

     ... Update: It's been 24 hours since I said the site could be down for 48 hours. So now I'm thinking it won't go down at all. We'll see. But don't be shocked if it's down.

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Still Crazy After All These Days. Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "The president on Friday continued to defend his misleading prognostication for the path of Hurricane Dorian, assailing the news media and in the process, digging in and reviving the controversy for a sixth day. 'The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit.' Trump said in a series of tweets. 'They went Crazy, hoping against hope that I made a mistake (which I didn't). Check out maps. This nonsense has never happened to another President,' he continued, complaining that he'd been subjected to 'four days of corrupt reporting, still without an apology. But there are many things that the Fake News Media has not apologized to me for, like the Witch Hunt, or SpyGate!'... Despite Trump's assertion that he'd originally suggested Alabama could be 'grazed or hit,' the nearly weeklong controversy originated in a Sunday tweet that declared Alabama was among a handful of Southeastern states that 'will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.' The National Weather Service almost immediately debunked the president's claim, but he repeated the assertion twice more that day...."

Elizabeth Warren Is Still Doing Her Day Job. Kimberly Atkins of WBU Boston: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren is demanding the State Department disclose its role in Vice President Mike Pence's trip this week to meet with Irish leaders in Dublin, which included a stay at the Trump International Hotel in Doonbeg, some 175 miles away. 'This is only the latest instance in which government officials, companies or special interest groups have patronized the President's hotels - enriching the President and his family - in numerous cases, with taxpayer funds,' Warren wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, obtained by WBUR." ...

     ... Update. Warren Is Not Alone. Kevin Breuninger of CNBC: "House Democrats are investigating Vice President Mike Pence's stay at ... Donald Trump's golf resort in Ireland, as well as Trump's recent promotion of another property he owns as a possible venue for the next G-7 summit. In letters made public Friday, leaders of two Democrat-led House committees requested documents and other information from the White House, the Secret Service and the Trump Organization about the two matters. Both committees raised concerns about possible violations of the Constitution's so-called emoluments clauses, which bar federal officials from accepting payments from foreign governments or profiting beyond their salaries."

Isaac Stanley-Becker of the Washington Post: "Beto O'Rourke's presidential campaign sent letters to major technology companies Friday morning imploring them to do more to root out disinformation ahead of the 2020 election. The pointed appeals, from campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon, came after a conspiracy theory falsely linking the former Texas congressman to the gunman who killed seven people in two west Texas towns on Saturday was allowed to spread on social media this week, garnering thousands of shares.... Among those who amplified the deceptive claim, which appeared to originate on Twitter with the charge that the gunman was a democratic socialist with an O'Rourke sticker on his truck, were Anthony Shaffer, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and member of an advisory board whose mission is to promote President Trump, and Sebastian Gorka, who worked briefly in the White House." Mrs. McC: That figures. The CBS News story is here.

Alex Isenstadt of Politico: "Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Donald Trump's long-shot primary challengers. Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas are expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend, according to three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans. The moves are the latest illustration of Trump's takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which his allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination -- or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him."

Rym Montaz of Politico: "... Donald Trump may have upended the international world order, but it's French President Emmanuel Macron who has turned America First to his advantage. In recent months, Macron has become increasingly active on the world stage. He played a key role in brokering an agreement over EU top jobs, launched a risky diplomatic initiative on Iran, reinvigorated efforts on Ukraine and hosted a G7 summit that at least managed to preserve the unity of the seven, unlike its two predecessors."

A Good Day for Headlines. Nikita Richardson of New York: "Howard Schultz Reminds Nation He Was Running for President by Dropping Out."


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. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... 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 tweets for outdated warnings that might appear to back up Trump's false claim.(Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... The WashPo story has been updated again, with Felicia Sonmez added to the byline: "The White House also issued a statement from Coast Guard Rear Adm. Peter Brown, Trump's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, defending the president's comments about Alabama. The statement prompted some to question the White House's priorities as Dorian was wreaking devastation in the southeast.... On Thursday evening, [Trump] tweeted more maps from last week. Those maps projected that parts of Alabama had at least a 5 percent chance of receiving tropical-storm-force-winds." ...

     ... Jake Tapper of CNN: "A White House source told CNN on Thursday that Trump personally directed [Coast Guard Rear Adm. Peter] Brown to issue the statement. Brown reports to national security adviser John Bolton but Bolton did not ask Brown to release the statement....

     ... More from Tapper's report: "Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts had just finished his 3 p.m. live shot on Thursday when ... Donald Trump beckoned him into the Oval Office. The President had one argument to make, according to an internal Fox email Roberts sent about the meeting provided to CNN. 'He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone,' Roberts wrote.... Roberts' analysis of the meeting was that the President was 'just looking for acknowledgment that he was not wrong for saying that at some point, Alabama was at risk -- even if the situation had changed by the time he issued the tweet' on Sunday morning, in which he said the state 'will most likely be hit.' The President also provided Roberts with graphics to make his points.... A White House aide familiar with the Oval Office meeting with Roberts said that Trump also voiced his displeasure about Fox News anchor Shepard Smith's skeptical reporting about the Alabama map. The President summoned Roberts 'to hit back at Shepard Smith,' the White House aide said." ...

... Justin Baragona of the Daily Beast: "... Fox News anchor Shepard Smith took the president to task on Thursday afternoon for his days-long obsession of insisting he's right over obviously inaccurate information. 'Why would the president of the United States do this?' Smith wondered aloud. 'He decries fake news that isn't and disseminates fake news that is. Think China pays the tariffs. The wall is going up. Historic inauguration crowds. The Russia probe was a witch hunt. You need an ID to buy cereal. Noise from windmills causes cancer. It's endless!'... Smith would then bring on White House correspondent John Roberts, who gave the White House's latest explanation for how Trump ended up sharing an outdated and altered hurricane map, stating that the map had been left in the Oval Office after a briefing and had been written on by someone during the meeting." Mrs. McC: Uh-huh. ...

     ... Update. Toluse Olorunnipa & Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post: "It was Trump who used a black Sharpie to mark up an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map, which he displayed during an Oval Office briefing on Wednesday, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.... As Hurricane Dorian battered the Carolinas with torrential rain and wind Thursday, President Trump remained fixated on sunny Alabama -- a state he falsely claimed was in the storm's crosshairs long after it was in the clear. For a fourth straight day, Trump's White House sought to clean up the president's mistaken warnings to Alabama from Sunday, seeking to defend Trump's tweets by releasing statements, disseminating alternative hurricane maps and attacking the media."

... Greg Sargent of the Washington Post: "Again and again, government officials have wheeled into action in an effort to make Trump's lies, errors and obsessions into truths, in some cases issuing 'official' information explicitly shaped or doctored to do so.... This has happened at least seven times: In January 2017, after the media reported on Trump's paltry inaugural crowd size, resulting in enraged but preposterous pushback from Trump, he dispatched then-press secretary Sean Spicer to tell multiple lies buttressing his stance.... After Trump repeatedly alleged widespread fictitious voter fraud in 2016, the White House set up an official commission to 'study' the issue...." And so forth. "Some time ago, Dana Milbank noted that in multiple cases such as these, government officials are using federal resources in vain attempts to turn the president's lies into truth.'" ...

... digby sees an ominous ulterior motive: Trump "made a simple slip of the tongue, and he knows it and his advisers know it.... He (and his cronies) are not letting this go because it enables them to test how powerful his ability is to manufacture truth is to his base.... Learning how many people continue to believe Trump no matter documentary evidence to the contrary will provide the GOP a good idea of how much they can capitalize on Trump's lies in the upcoming campaign. A lot of people actually believe that whatever he says has to be true simply because he said it. If that number is high enough, it doesn't matter whether Trump actually loses the election. He will simply declare himself the winner and they will never, ever accept the Democrat as the legitimate president.... As I see it, this is not a joke, this is not mental illness, and this is not 'having to be right.' This is deliberately capitalizing on a simple mistake in order to quantify Trump's capacity to set the truth terms of the public discourse even in the most absurd circumstances. It is very, very ominous." ...

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

Jill Colvin of the AP: "On Thursday, [mike pence] ... met with embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at No. 10 Downing Street, where the vice president tiptoed through the Brexit fury that has engulfed the region. Wrapping up a week in Europe, Pence spent about a half-hour with Johnson, whose determination to lead Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 faces intense opposition from lawmakers.... The Brexit drama was mostly a whisper as the two exchanged pleasantries and Johnson cracked jokes that largely went over the heads of members of the traveling U.S. delegation.... Pence largely stuck to script..., saying the president had asked him to assure Johnson that 'the United States supports the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union.' The vice president said Trump also wanted him to convey that the U.S. 'is ready, willing and able to immediately negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.K.' once it leaves the EU, which he predicted could multiply trade between the nation three or four times. 'Fantastic,' Johnson responded.... The exchange glossed over the long and arduous process involved in negotiating a free trade deal, although Johnson did make note that 'you guys are pretty tough negotiators.'"

Jim Tankersley, et al., of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a long-awaited plan to end federal control of two mortgage giants that had been bailed out by taxpayers during the 2008 financial crisis and return them to the private sector. The administration's 49 recommendations to overhaul America's housing finance system are unlikely to find an eager audience in Congress, which has been deeply divided on the issue and is now consumed with other fights in the run-up to the 2020 elections. But the proposal could accelerate the administration's attempts to privatize the mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which continue to play an outsize role in the housing market. Together, the two entities collectively backstop a little less than half of the nation's $11 trillion mortgage market." The CNBC story is here.

James Hohmann of the Washington Post: Wednesday "night, the Pentagon finally released to the public a list of the 127 construction projects that stand to lose funding to free up $3.6 billion for 175 miles of fencing and other barriers on the southern border. These are spread across 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries. Here are some of the most notable projects that Trump is raiding: 1) Puerto Rico will lose out on more than $400 million of planned projects.... 2) Another $770 million is being diverted from projects that have been approved to help American allies deter attacks from a revanchist Russia. This is the bulwark of the European Deterrence Initiative.... 3) Nine of the projects on the list involve renovating or replacing schools for the children of U.S. troops. 4) Utah will lose $54 million.... 5) ... GOP senators who supported Trump's emergency declaration didn't get spared.... 6) In the long term, the greatest damage from the diversions could be the fundamental break that it represents with the founding fathers' conception of the separation of powers." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has republished Hohmann's story.

... Raleigh News & Observer Editors: Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) "had a bad political day Wednesday.... But as with many Tillis difficulties, most of the blame is his." First, he accepted undeserved credit for asking Donald Trump to declare a state of emergency for North Carolina. Then, "Late in the afternoon, news broke that $80 million worth of construction projects at North Carolina military bases were being cut to shift funds to building the president's wall on the Mexican border.... Tillis announced in February that he would vote against the president's effort to circumvent Congress and pay for the wall by declaring a national emergency at the southern border. Three weeks later, he backed down and gave his blessing and vote to the president's overreach. Now that decision will doubly haunt him.... Don't trust this president. Donald Trump will not hesitate to burn anyone -- including people who've previously helped him -- to get a political victory. And also -- when you buy political favor in exchange for your principles, the bill is always more than you thought it would be."

** Adam Serwer of the Atlantic: "... Trump has successfully made the U.S. government more like a branch of the Trump Organization, where the only real principle is fealty to the boss. Once upon a time, executive branch leadership encouraged the FBI to prosecute such organizations, rather than imitate them.... The president has successfully purged [FBI] officials he perceives as hostile to the agency, at least one of whom is facing prosecution.... The ongoing reality-show-style fight between [James] Comey and Trump seems petty, but the great significance of the IG report is that it establishes that bureau officials' highest loyalty should not be to the Constitution or to the public but to the boss.... The sanction Comey received was absurd: The IG concluded that Comey, fired by a president who was publicly seeking to cripple an investigation into a foreign hacking and disinformation campaign that helped put him in office, should have kept silent. That standard would not only incentivize presidential corruption, but establish that government officials who witness such corruption should not warn the public but adhere to a mafia-like Omerta."

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 personal 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. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jonathan Chait: "One of President Trump's most absurd personnel moves was appointing his real-estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt as special envoy to the Middle East. Greenblatt had no serious foreign policy experience, a fairly serious drawback when the task involves resolving one of the most famously intractable foreign policy challenges in the world.... Axios reports most of Greenblatt's responsibilities will be transferred to Avi Berkowitz.... A 2017 Business Insider profile ... describes Berkowitz as '[Jared] Kushner's 28-year-old protégé,' which is one of the funnier thumbnail résumé descriptions you'll ever see.... He's a 29-year-old Jared Kushner friend who graduated from law school in 2016 [and went on to become Kushner's administrative assistant].... And now he is reportedly in charge of diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians!" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Berkowitz's appointment insults both Israel & the Palestinians. It just screams, "You pesky people are inconsequential to us. We are literally putting the coffee boy in charge."

Tom Krisher & Ellen Knickmeyer of the AP: "The Trump administration is moving forward with a proposal to revoke part of California's authority to set its own automobile gas mileage standards, a government official said Thursday, confronting a state that has repeatedly challenged the administration's environmental rollbacks. The Environmental Protection Agency was preparing paperwork for the White House for the move, meant to help the administration set a single, less rigorous mileage standard enforceable nationwide, according to the official, who is familiar with the regulatory process and spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.... Donald Trump has pushed for months to weaken Obama-era mileage standards nationwide and has targeted California’s decades-old power to set its own mileage standards as part of that effort."

Kate Sullivan of CNN: "The president of United Mine Workers of America said Wednesday that the coal industry is not 'back,' despite ...Donald Trump's claims. Cecil Roberts said at an event in Washington that his message to Trump and others running for president in 2020 is: 'Coal's not back. Nobody saved the coal industry.' He said coal-fired plants are closing all over the country, calling it a 'harsh reality.'... More coal-fired power plants have closed under Trump than during former [President] Obama's first term, largely because of free-market forces."

Thanks, Betsy! Cory Turner of NPR: "A new report from a government watchdog, first obtained obtained by NPR, 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 (TEPSLF) 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." (Also linked yesterday.)

Anthony Adragna of Politico: "The Trump administration violated federal laws when it tapped entrance fees to keep the nation's national parks open during the 35-day shutdown earlier this year, according to a legal opinion from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. GAO said the Interior Department moved money between accounts without authorization from Congress, in violation of federal law. The agency must report the violation to Congress, identify the officials responsible for it and explain steps it will take to prevent similar violations. It said any subsequent actions in the future would be 'knowing and willful violations,' subjecting officials to penalties. Interior did not cooperate with GAO's investigation, according to the report.... 'The Secretary of Interior seems to think the rule of law doesn't apply to the Trump administration,' Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee, said in a statement.... Her Senate counterpart, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), said: 'Their assurances at the time that their actions were legal have proven false, and there should be consequences for this violation.'"

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 372.68 points, or 1.4% to 26,728.15. The S&P 500 climbed 1.3% to close at 2,976, led by a 2.1% gain in the tech sector, and closed around 1.7% from its record high. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.75% to 8,116.83." " (Update to a story linked yesterday.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "With each passing week it becomes ever clearer that Donald Trump's trade war, far from being 'good, and easy to win,' is damaging large parts of the U.S. economy.... But Trump has an answer to his critics: It's not me, it's you. Last week he declared that businesses claiming to have been hurt by his tariffs should blame themselves, because they're 'badly run and weak.'... Some of Trump's most consequential actions involve his frantic efforts to dismantle environmental regulation. Unlike tariffs, this may at first sound like something business would want. It turns out, however, that many businesses want to keep those regulations in place.... Aside from the tax cut, however, it's becoming increasingly clear that Trumpism is bad for business. Or more precisely, it's bad for productive business.... The big complaint business has about Trump's trade war isn't just that tariffs raise costs and prices, while foreign retaliation is cutting off access to important markets. It is that businesses can't make plans when policy zigzags in response to the president's whims.... To be fair, however, some kinds of business do thrive under Trumpism -- namely, businesses that aren't in it for the long run, operations whose strategy is to take the money and run."

Presidential Race 2020

Zack 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. (Also linked yesterday.)

Tom LoBianco in Yahoo! News: "... behind the scenes, tensions have been mounting among Trump, Pence and their top advisers ever since the GOP's resounding losses in the 2018 midterms. In the weeks afterward, Trump asked aides about replacing Pence on the ticket, and he asked again for their thoughts on Pence during his August vacation at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., according to Trump advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about private discussions with the president.... The relationship between their political teams has soured greatly in the past year, according to a dozen Trump and Pence aides and Republican advisers familiar with the dynamic. In particular, rumors that Kushner and Ivanka Trump wanted to consider replacements for Pence -- specifically trying to find a woman running mate to help win back the suburbs in 2020 -- have worried the vice president's camp, according to Trump and Pence campaign advisers who spoke on background for this story."

Benjamin Hart of New York: Marianne Williamson got in a spat with Erica Jong & Jong's daughter Molly Jong-Fast when the feminists took issue with Williamson's assertion that "millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a creative use of the power of the mind." Mrs. McC: Williamson & her fans may be using the "power of their minds" to boost her chances of becoming president (and to make her less annoying), but it's not working. ...

... Zack Budryk: "White House hopeful Marianne Williamson's past controversial comments on health issues are coming under intense scrutiny from disability advocates who are worried that she is popularizing unproven stigmas..., including expressing concerns about mandatory vaccinations and appearing to link the use of anti-depressants to the suicides of some celebrities, will gain acceptance amid the attention being devoted to the 2020 race.... Williamson became known through her 13 books and from when she was Oprah Winfrey's spiritual adviser." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Another reason to be thankful wacky Oprah decided not to run. Oprah might have really screwed up the race.

Senate Race 2020

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said at a recent town hall that lawmakers should discuss fixing Social Security 'behind closed doors,' prompting a wave of criticism from liberal and advocacy groups.... '... we need to sit down behind closed doors so we're not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future, [Ernst said].... Ernst, who is running for reelection in 2020, made the remarks Saturday, according to a video posted by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge.... '@SenJoniErnst's plan to privatize Social Security is so toxic, she wants to keep it a secret to avoid "media scrutiny,"' the super PAC said in a tweet." ...

... Ed Kilgore of New York: "I'm sure that Ernst will claim she didn't mean what she said, or that the solutions she had in mind might involve giving Social Security beneficiaries more money or Starbucks gift cards. But anyone even vaguely familiar with Republican thinking on 'entitlement reform' knows the drill: The GOP is terrified of intense public hostility to conservative schemes to 'save' Social Security by reducing benefits (usually by privatizing them and then cutting them over time), and needs Democratic 'cover' to get 'er done.... As Iowa Starting Line pointed out, Ernst has in the past expressed interest in privatizing Social Security.... But even if you are gullible enough to believe that she is looking at Social Security with anything other than bad intent, the 'behind closed doors' comment is a terrible look for her."

Zak Cheney-Rice
of New York: The Republican party has "pursued an agenda dedicated, in large part, to demonizing immigrants from Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East, while extolling the virtues of those from Europe; curtailing voting rights and seeking to reduce political representation for black and Hispanic people, for the express purpose of winning elections; and criminalizing abortion and reducing affordable health-care options in states where maternal and infant mortality rates are worse than in many less developed economies, especially for black women and children. They've advanced their cause by uniting behind a president, Donald Trump, who spouts racism and xenophobia as a matter of routine.... Racism has been fundamental to American conservatism, and the GOP in particular, since the mid-20th century realignment of the parties -- even as its purportedly defining tenets have proven to be negotiable, from small government to antagonism toward autocrats to reduced deficit spending.... It's been apparent since the Nixon administration that the Republican Party would collapse without support from racists.... The [conservative] movement's racism problem is not the result of a hijacking or a coup, but of popular will. There are no innocents among today's Republicans."

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Staffers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette were surprised to learn April 15 that, along with the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news, came a monetary award of $15,000. The newspaper was honored with a Pulitzer for its coverage of the shooting deaths of 11 people and the wounding of seven others Oct. 27 at the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill.... PG Publisher John Robinson Block had a suggestion -- donate the prize money to Tree of Life to help it repair its bullet-riddled temple.... On Aug. 29, in the Post-Gazette newsroom on the North Shore, the newspaper's executive editor, Keith Burris, presented a $15,000 check to Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and Samuel Schachner, president of the congregation."

Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald: "An American Airlines mechanic was arrested Thursday on a sabotage charge accusing him of disabling a navigation system on a flight with 150 people aboard before it was scheduled to take off from Miami International Airport earlier this summer. The reason, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in Miami federal court: Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani, a veteran employee, was upset over stalled union contract negotiations. None of the passengers and crew on the flight to Nassau were [was!] injured because the tampering with the so-called air data module caused an error alert as the pilots powered up the plane's engines on the runway July 17, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed in Miami federal court. As a result, flight No. 2834 was aborted and taken out of service for routine maintenance at America's hangar at MIA, which is when the tampering with the ADM system was discovered during an inspection. An AA mechanic found a loosely connected tube in front of the nose gear underneath the cockpit that had been deliberately obstructed with some sort of hard foam material."

Caitlin Cruz of Splinter: "A Bunch of Grocery Stores Realize People Don't Want Guns as a Part of the Shopping Experience." Cruz goes on to list drugstore & supermarket chains who have respectfully asked customers to park their firearms elsewhere before entering their establishments. Thanks to Ken W. for the link. Mrs. McC: So I'm wondering if it's okay to pack heat at CVS's drive-up window where I usually pick up my prescription meds.

Beyond the Beltway

Texas. Jake Bleiberg & Paul Weber of the AP: "Investigators looking for how a Texas gunman obtained an assault-style rifle used in a Labor Day weekend rampage despite failing a background check have searched the home of a man they believe was involved in the 'transfer' of the weapon, a federal law enforcement official said Thursday.... The official said federal agents are investigating whether the Lubbock man has been manufacturing firearms but that there have been no arrests."

Way Beyond

Heather Stewart of the Guardian: "Opposition parties have agreed to reject Boris Johnson's attempt to trigger a snap election for a second time on Monday, making it increasingly unlikely a poll will be held before 31 October. Jeremy Corbyn held the latest of a series of discussions with fellow opposition leaders on Friday morning, at which they agreed not to allow an election to take place until after a delay to Brexit has been secured."

News Ledes

New York Times: "The economy added 130,000 jobs [in August]. Analysts on Wall Street had been expecting a gain of 160,000 jobs, according to Bloomberg.... The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent. That is close to a 50-year low, and a reflection of how strong the labor market has been recently[.]... The American economy turned in a decent performance last month as businesses grew more cautious about hiring. About 25,000 of the jobs added were temporary positions for the 2020 census." ...

... CNBC: "Job growth continued at a tepid pace in August, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by just 130,000 thanks in large part to the temporary hiring of Census workers, the Labor Department reported Friday."

Weather Channel: "Hurricane Dorian is lashing North Carolina and southeast Virginia with torrential rain, storm surge flooding, high winds and tornadoes and is headed for a brush of southeast New England tonight before slamming into Atlantic Canada this weekend. Dorian's maximum sustained winds have diminished, making it a Category 1 hurricane. Regardless of the intensity change, the hurricane's flooding impacts will likely be similar." The Weather Channel's front page is here. ...

     ... The Raleigh News & Observer's main story on the hurricane is here. The paper's front page, with links to related stories, is here. Stories are firewalled, as far as I can tell, so open in a private window. ...

... New York Times liveblog: "Hurricane Dorian pounded much of the Carolina coast with heavy rain and strong winds early Friday, spawning small tornadoes and causing widespread power losses and flooding. The storm, which was downgraded to Category 1 early Friday, was centered about 25 miles east of Cape Lookout, N.C., as of 5 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. The center said Dorian's core was 'brushing' the coast of North Carolina as it moved northeastward up the East Coast at about 14 miles an hour. The center's models indicated that the eye of the storm, about 45 miles in diameter, could touch land on the Outer Banks of North Carolina Friday morning." ...

     ... Update: "Hurricane Dorian ... whipped the coast of North Carolina with heavy rain and wind on Friday morning, after making landfall on the Outer Banks. The center of the Category 1 storm passed over Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks at 8:35 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.The storm is now moving quickly northeast and heading away from land, but the Outer Banks endured hurricane-force winds and rapidly rising water levels."

... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Ever since yesterday afternoon, when Dorian's eye was a good 1,000 miles from my house, it's been overcast here -- because of Hurricane Dorian, according to the weathermen. I don't mind, but I do hope the people of Alabama are enjoying their sunny day.

     ... Update: Oh, my mistake. Trump just put out a new map:


New York Times: "Robert Mugabe, the first prime minister and later president of independent Zimbabwe, who traded the mantle of liberator for the armor of a tyrant and presided over the decline of one of Africa's most prosperous lands, died on Friday. He was 95."

Reader Comments (12)

I wonder what would happen to a hardcore Trump supporter if they were required to read (in good faith, actually trying to understand reality) RealityChex for just one day. Would they burat into a fit of rage against reality as a cover for their stupidity, or would they have a Revelation moment and start a groggy road to recovery?

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Something that seems to be lost on the Orange Menace (among many other vitally important pieces of information that never get through the ratty rug combover), is that while he continues to rant and rave about a state that never got so much as a drop of rain, millions of Americans in other states are still being battered along the real world path of the hurricane.

But never no mind. As with everything else, it’s all about little donnie and his poor bruised ego. I’d say Digby might have a point about Fatty testing to see how much bullshit his base can fit in their mouths at once except for the fact that his never ending demands that everyone acknowledge the absolute verity of his version of the world smack more of desperation than strategy.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

My favorite headline of the morning:

No s- - t, Sherlock, as the saying goes.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

“The Trump administration violated federal laws when it tapped entrance fees to keep the nation's national parks open during the 35-day shutdown earlier this year, according to a legal opinion from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office."

I get it. This was a violation, but the multi-billion dollar wall fund raid isn't?

What's wrong with calling a government shutdown a "national emergency," too?

Tbat seems to work.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

I think Digby gives Fatty much too much credit: I agree with Akhilleus––this buffoon simply cannot admit he's wrong––about ANYTHING! Others have said he creates these kerfuffles to deter attention away from other matters that are being scrutinized. The fact that we are still trying to analyze his "new fresh hells" is laughable: It should be crystal clear by this time the guy is a crook and a scam artist and has been riding roughshod over our government from the very beginning. The test will be how this government deals with it–-how strong IS our democracy or do we continue to blow smoke rings and complain. It's no long tick-tock––the hands stopped working quite awhile ago.

The one shining example today of that ray of sunshine that we desperately need is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story posted above: Warms the heart.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@Akhilleus & PD Pepe: I agree with you that all this folderol about Alabama is just the product of raging narcissism and that Trump is not clever enough to cogently articulate the kind of strategy digby envisions. But I think he knows it intuitively; ergo, his 2016-campaign-days assessment that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. He knows his character doesn't matter to his base. He may or may not know -- as Thomas Edsall laid out yesterday -- that the base loves the chaos his lies, laziness, ignorance & incompetence cause.

digby may be right about some of Trump's advisors, though. Some, like Jared & Ivanka, probably thing Trump should behave better, but others, as digby says, may be more Machiavellian & want to test the limits of the Dear Leader's ability to propagandize Americans into a Trumpian view of reality. It's worth our considering, anyway.

September 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


The idea that Trump advisors are happy to weaponize his ignorant tantrums and attacks on the real world is more than a possibility. I have no doubt that evil pricks like Stephen Miller love diving into Trump's black pool of a brain to see what sort of malice can be furthered along through Fatty's sludgy synapses as he's grieving about his brilliance going unrecognized.

And buttressing that likelihood is the ubiquitous assistance of Trumpbots infesting the media who gladly help the Orange Menace by recasting his stupidity as some form of genius. We're not talking about Boccaccio's story of the imbecile who falls into a pile of shit and comes up with a gold ring on his finger, in this case, it's Trump falling into a pile of shit and his many acolytes and media shills SAYING he came up with a gold ring. And not only that, but he fell into the shit on purpose, to, ya know, "fool" his many enemies.

So yesterday on NPR, I listened, gape-jawed, to some hack from the wingnut Hudson Institute, Rebeccah Heinrichs, who writes for something called "Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy" (Nukes for Jesus?) opining on the Orange Menace's blatantly idiotic (and treasonous, if done by anyone else) tweet of a top secret military satellite image of an Iranian missile base. According to this person, it was a sign of Trump's genius. He did it on purpose to let everyone marvel at the power of Donald Trump. He wants the world to know that he is watching and he can nuke them at any time, but he is showing restraint, as a great leader might. She described Trump's treasonous action as "pretty sporty".

Unbelievable. If Trump ran a red light going 90 mph in a school zone and killed a bunch of kids, people like this Heinrichs person would line up to declare that the Glorious Leader knew that those kids would all grow up to be terrorists and murderers and he was taking action before that could happen.

So nothing he does, no matter how ignorant, or criminal will be allowed to stand as evidence of his incompetence or greed. Everything will be covered up or retconned, as they say in the comics industry.

He will be lauded as a genius by his fawning lemmings, all of whom seek to gain something by his continued presence as a figure of dangerous incompetence and narcissistic whim. While he diddles with his Sharpie, they race toward the goal of unimpeded confederate control of the country.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Thanks for reporting the scariest news of the day: that is, the rationale coming out of an ostensibly-educated person -- the Nukes for Jesus (great rebranding, BTW) lady -- for Trump's revealing intelligence secrets without aforethought. Genius! On the other hand, President Obama did wear a tan suit to a summer-time press conference.

September 6, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Ah yes...the Tan Suit Scandal. Halcyon days they were, me hearties, halcyon days.

Wingers could have a cow over a tan suit, but thievery, thuggishness, transparent thimblerigging, and thunderous treason by one of their own? along now, nothing to see here.

But Geeeez! That tan suit! Impeach his black ass.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Here's a WaPo article on one of my pet subjects, that the danger in assault weapons is caused by the high energy in the rounds and that the problem of mass shootings should address that. The writer doesn't say that this ammo should be prohibited, rather says that guns' lethality should be gauged by their ability to employ such high energy ammo and controlled accordingly

Fine. But first, ban the ammo for civilians (and cops) and give them a substitute low-energy round that will fir their toys. The second amendment doesn't protect your right to maximum penetrating power and tissue damage.

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Spontaneous greetings & thanks to all from the thick Time & Space I’m inhabiting.

While I’ve (thankfully!) zero interpersonal knowledge of our Despot-In-Chief (DIC = hard “C” if you please), my instincts suggest a being with inherently low functioning intellect. Someone who operates primitively á la “I hunger”, “I need” therefore “I take” with impunity. I have my doubts that he gives consideration (aforethought or after-the-fact) to any outcomes of his impulses.

I believe (?) it is P.D. Pepe (above) who has offered (re: Digby) that much undeserved substance and meaning is attributed to his words & deeds. I concur.

Perhaps far-fetched, yet I “feel” this analogy, with gargantuan apologies to the genius of Peter Sellers & what I’ve found a gorgeous interpretation of Jerzy Kosiński’s “Being There”:

While Sellers’ character (“Chance The Gardener”) was achingly innocent and well meaning, he was misconstrued and elevated into someone else entirely (“Chauncey Gardiner”) per the needs and self-reflections of others. If a somewhat stretched analogy (and, clearly, absent any innocence and well meaning), I find the elevation (and its evolution) of Fearless Leader to be of like cloth: what he says & does is left for self-serving interpretation.
Whatevuh. ;)

A very belated get-well/glad-you’re-now-well shout out to Mrs. B.McC. With gratitude to her & RC’s bright contributors when able to partake.

@Patrick - Yes. Yes. And Yes!


“Sometimes paranoia’s just having all the facts.”
William S. Burroughs

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHattie

. . . much substance and meaning ARE attributed . . .

But but, but - ya see, my Uncle was from London and . . .

(likely other missteps. sigh.)

September 6, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHattie
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