October 2018 News Reports

 JIPLogo

Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative October 2018 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

U.S. Elections: Early Voting, Poll Place Info

U.S. Voters: Find your polling location here. (This website is an initiative of the Voting Information Project (VIP), a partnership between state election officials and Democracy Works to connect voters with the election information they need to cast a ballot. Launched in 2008, VIP works with state and local election officials to provide official and up-to-date election information.)

Oct. 31

U.S. Elections 2018

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Trump, a self-styled ‘nationalist,’ turns midterms into a forum on American identity, Matt Viser, Oct. 31, 2018. President Trump escalated his rhetoric on immigration by vowing to end birthright citizenship, a move some experts say would run afoul of the Constitution. Trump’s sharpened tone also creates potential complications for some GOP candidates.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Trump is wrong. He can’t revoke birthright citizenship, George T. Conway III and Neal Katyal, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). George T. Conway III is of counsel at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz [and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway]. Neal Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former acting U.S. solicitor general in the Obama administration.

Donald TrumpSometimes the Constitution’s text is plain as day and bars what politicians seek to do. That’s the case with President Trump’s proposal to end “birthright citizenship” through an executive order. Such a move would be unconstitutional and would certainly be challenged. And the challengers would undoubtedly win.

Trump has long argued that birthright citizenship for the children of parents not legally in the United States should be abolished. “It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” he told Axios in an interview released Tuesday, in which he disclosed his plan for the unilateral action.

But at its core, birthright citizenship is what our 14th Amendment is all about, bridging the Declaration of Independence’s promise that “all men are created equal” with a constitutional commitment that all those born in the United States share in that equality.

washington post logopaul ryan oWashington Post, President Trump said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) “should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 31, 2018. President Trump lashed out Wednesday at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), right, over Ryan’s comments on birthright citizenship, saying he “should be focusing on holding the Majority.”

The extraordinary rebuke from Trump came one day after Ryan pushed back on the president’s remarks on the issue, saying “you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump Effect, Kobach’s Hand, Tester and DeWine Ads: 6 Days to Go, Matt Flegenheimer and Jonathan Martin, Oct. 31, 2018. Trump’s throw-everything-at-the-wall strategy a week before Election Day — particularly a constitutionally dubious call to end birthright citizenship — has brought new headaches for Republicans.

Republican officials have long had two questions about President Trump in the 2018 elections: Could he help when called upon, lending local candidates his #MAGA sheen in conservative ZIP codes? And could he avoid hurting the party’s cause too much everywhere else?

It’s the second one that’s worrying them now. Mr. Trump’s woeful approval rating in many swing districts is an issue, particularly in some suburban areas represented by Republicans where voters are dismayed at his presidency.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Vilification of George Soros Moved to the Mainstream, Kenneth P. Vogel, Scott Shane and Patrick Kingsley, Oct. 31, 2018. A loose network of nationalists has used anti-Semitic imagery to cast Mr. Soros, the billionaire Democratic donor, as the shadowy leader of a globalist cabal. In the process, they have pushed their version of Mr. Soros from the dark corners of the internet and talk radio to the center of the political debate.

Trump Watch

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Mueller probes timing of WikiLeaks release of Podesta emails, Robert Costa, Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). The special counsel investigation is pressing witnesses about longtime Trump ally Roger Stone’s private interactions with senior campaign officials and whether he had knowledge of politically explosive Democratic emails that were released in October 2016, according to people familiar with the probe.

As part of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, appears to be focused on the question of whether WikiLeaks coordinated its activities with Stone and the campaign, including the group’s timing, the people said. Stone and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied being in contact.

On Friday, Mueller’s team questioned Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, about claims Stone is said to have made privately about WikiLeaks before the group released emails that prosecutors say were hacked by Russian operatives, according to people familiar with the session.

Politico, Analysis: Has Mueller Subpoenaed the President? Nelson W. Cunningham, Oct. 31, 2018. A careful reading of court filings suggests the special counsel hasn’t been quiet. Far from it.

These months before the midterm elections are tough ones for all of us Mueller-watchers. As we expected, he has gone quiet in deference to longstanding Justice Department policy that prosecutors should not take actions that might affect pending elections. Whatever he is doing, he is doing quietly and even further from the public eye than usual.

But thanks to some careful reporting by Politico, which I have analyzed from my perspective as a former prosecutor, we might have stumbled upon How Robert Mueller Is Spending His Midterms: secretly litigating against President Donald Trump for the right to throw him in the grand jury.

As a former prosecutor and Senate and White House aide, I predicted here last May that Mueller would promptly subpoena Trump and, like independent counsel Kenneth Starr back in 1998, bring a sitting president before his grand jury to round out and conclude his investigation. What Trump knew and when he knew it, and what exactly motivated his statements and actions, are central to Mueller’s inquiry on both Russian interference and obstruction of justice.

Nelson W. Cunningham has served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York under Rudy Giuliani, general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-Chair Joe Biden, and general counsel of the White House Office of Administration under Bill Clinton.

Politico, Trump denies he’s already in a Mueller subpoena fight, Darren Samuelsohn, Oct. 31, 2018. The special counsel appears to be locked in a legal battle with a mysterious Russia probe target who is fighting a subpoena.

President Donald Trump and his lawyers pushed back in force Wednesday against a Politico op-ed suggesting the president is already locked in a secret subpoena battle with special counsel Robert Mueller.

“No,” the president, shaking his head, told reporters on the White House lawn as he prepared to fly to Fort Myers, Fla., for a midterm campaign rally.

Trump’s remarks echoed those of several current and former members of his personal legal team who swung back against a POLITICO opinion piece written by Nelson Cunningham, a former federal prosecutor who was attempting to decipher a mystery legal battle that appears to involve an attempt to fight a Mueller subpoena.

Cunningham’s op-ed suggested Mueller may have already issued a historic subpoena for the president because of the “unusual alacrity” with which the federal judges weighing the case have considered the issue.

“At every level, this matter has commanded the immediate and close attention of the judges involved — suggesting that no ordinary witness and no ordinary issue is involved,” wrote Cunningham, who worked under then-U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani in the Southern District of New York and later served in the Clinton administration.

abc news logoABC News, Conspiracy theorist becomes key figure as Mueller builds case, Ali Dukakis, Oct. 31, 2018. Self-proclaimed conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi [right] returned to Washington, D.C., again this week for more closed-door meetings with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, and on Friday is scheduled to make a second jerome corsiappearance before the federal grand jury probing Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, ABC News has learned.

Reached by ABC News on Wednesday, Corsi's lawyer, David Gray, declined to comment on the matter.

Corsi, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the controversial far-right media outlet Infowars, is one of at least 11 individuals associated with political operative Roger Stone -- a longtime and close ally of President Donald Trump -- who have been contacted by the special counsel.

Much remains unknown about Mueller’s interest in Stone. But in recent weeks, Corsi has emerged as a central figure of interest to Mueller as he builds his case, sources confirm to ABC News. Corsi, who Stone told ABC News he has known for years, has frequently appeared with Stone on-air for Infowars, where Stone currently serves as a contributor.

Mueller’s interest in Corsi is believed to stem from his alleged early discussions about efforts to unearth then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails. The special counsel has evidence that suggests Corsi may have had advance knowledge that the email account of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, had been hacked and that WikiLeaks had obtained a trove of damning emails from it, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told ABC News.

Trump / 'White Nationalism' / Racial Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump finally gets the shunning he deserves, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 31, 2018. I cannot imagine the families of those killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City jennifer rubin new headshotbombing refusing to meet with President Bill Clinton; or the families of the Sandy Hook children refusing to meet with President Barack Obama; or the families of 9/11 victims refusing to meet with President George W. Bush; or the shuttle Challenger crew’s family refusing to meet with President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

These presidents, whatever you think of their politics, were decent men, in possession of empathy and a deep understanding of the enormity of the office they held.

The bipartisan refusal of federal, state and local officials (including the Republican speaker and Senate majority leader) to accompany Trump to Pittsburgh and, thereby, condone his self-absorbed presidential photo-op was remarkable and, in a way, unifying.

steve kingPalmer Report, Opinion: The real reason the GOP is suddenly trying to finish off its own Congressman Steve King, Bill Palmer, Oct. 30, 2018. For years, the Republican Party leadership has been just fine with the racist, xenophobic rhetoric coming from GOP Congressman Steve King of Iowa [shown at left].

That’s suddenly changed this week, and the GOP leadership is officially branding King as a racist, just one week before the midterm elections. So what’s really going on here?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Kanye West declares “I’ve been used” and gives up on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 30, 2018. It looks like Kanye West has finally figured out what the rest bill palmerof us have known for awhile: Donald Trump and his allies have been using Kanye for craven political purposes. That’s according to an uncharacteristically coherent message posted by Kanye on Twitter this evening, explaining how and why he’s giving up on the whole Trump thing.

The final straw appears to be the “Blexit” stunt by Trump surrogate Candace Owens, centered around merchandise urging black people to abandon the Democratic Party, launched under Kanye West’s name. According to Kanye, he had nothing to do with it, and his name was misappropriated.

Kanye West is – and we don’t say this to be mean – clearly not well. His recent political rants have been painful to watch. Donald Trump has been cruelly taking advantage of a psychologically vulnerable person in the name of race baiting. So it’s a good thing for all involved that Kanye is stepping off the Trump train. We hope he gets the help he appears to need.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. and Britain Seek Cease-Fire in Yemen as Saudi Relations Cool, Gardiner Harris, Eric Schmitt and Rick Gladstone, Oct. 31, 2018. The United States and Britain, Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers, are stepping up their pressure for a cease-fire in the Yemen war, the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.

The calls for a halt to the conflict — by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday night, his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, on Wednesday, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis starting last weekend — came as criticism of Saudi Arabia has surged over its bombing campaign in Yemen and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi writer.

Secret Watergate Filing Released

richard nixon desk archives

President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office (Photo via Wikimedia and the National Record and Archives Administration).

Lawfare, The Watergate Road Map Unsealed, Benjamin Wittes, Oct. 31, 2018. The National Archives [shown at right] has released the famed — and long mysterious — Watergate national archives“Road Map,” which Special Prosecutor sent to Congress in 1974.

For background on the Road Map, and our litigation to get it released, see here and here. This only just happened, and I have not read the document yet. I’m sure that I will have things to say about it once I have had a chance to digest it, as, I suspect, will Stephen Bates and Jack Goldsmith.

For now, the document itself is [here]; redactions, on initial inspection, seem relatively minor. And here is a trove of related material also available from the National Archive.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. archivists release Watergate report that could be possible ‘road map’ for Mueller, Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 31, 2018. One of the last great secrets of the legal case against Nixon is revealed under court order.

U.S. archivists on Wednesday revealed one of the last great secrets of the Watergate investigation — the backbone of a long-sealed report used by special prosecutor Leon Jaworski to send Congress evidence in the legal case against President Richard M. Nixon.

The release of the referral — delivered in 1974 as impeachment proceedings were being weighed — came after a former member of Nixon’s defense team and three prominent legal analysts filed separate lawsuits seeking its unsealing after more than four decades under grand jury secrecy rules. The legal analysts argued the report could offer a precedent and guide for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as his office addresses its present-day challenge on whether, and if so, how to make public findings from its investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including any that directly involve President Trump.

The legal specialists said they and Watergate veterans sought to have the Jaworski report made public because of the historical parallels they see to the current probe and the report’s potential to serve as a counterexample to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report before President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.The 453-page Starr report, written in 1998, deepened partisan divisions when its graphic detail and legal conclusions about Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky were immediately made public by House Republicans, who suffered an electoral backlash.

By contrast, the reputation of Jaworski’s report has fared far better, even as its bare-bones form remained a mystery. The Jaworski report is known colloquially known as the “Sirica road map,” for then-Chief Judge John J. Sirica, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who approved its creation and transmission to lawmakers.

“There were no comments, no interpretations and not a word or phrase of accusatory nature. The ‘Road Map’ was simply that — a series of guideposts if the House Judiciary Committee wished to follow them,” Jaworski wrote in his 1976 memoir, “The Right and the Power: The Prosecution of Watergate.”

The House Judiciary Committee recommended that Nixon be impeached in July 1974. He resigned before that recommendation moved ahead.

Sirica’s modern-day successor, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, on Oct. 11 ordered the disclosure of Jaworski’s report by the National Archives and Records Administration — with limited redactions — in response to petitions by California author and former Nixon deputy Watergate defense counsel Geoffrey Shepard and by Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes; Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard University law professor who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush; and Stephen Bates, a professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, who co-wrote the Starr report with Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh years before his rise to the Supreme Court, as well as other members of Starr’s team.

In a statement, Deana Kim El-Mallawany, counsel for Protect Democracy, which represented the Wittes group, said: “The Road Map is a critical historical precedent for ensuring that the facts uncovered in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation become public and serve as the basis for whatever accountability is necessary. Our democracy depends on it.”

The road map consists of a two-page summary, followed by 53 numbered statements, supported by 97 documents including interviews and tapes, according to information that the National Archives turned over to Howell.

While much of the report’s substance — including evidence of the Nixon campaign’s funding of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters and the president’s role in the subsequent coverup — has long been public, its structure and potential to serve as a template for others remained under seal.

Bates said that as a Starr prosecutor in 1997 he learned that despite the potential for the “road map” to present a legal model for future investigations, such as Mueller’s, it was not publicly available when he asked the National Archives for a copy to study.

“It is one of the only precedents of a report that has had to go through that kind of process [under grand jury secrecy rules] to get to the House for consideration as grounds for impeachment,” Bates said in an interview. “If Mueller could say, ‘We have structured this report the way Leon Jaworski did in 1974, and Judge Sirica approved it,’ that might be persuasive in this case.”

Global Human Rights

washington post logopakistan flag wavingWashington Post, Pakistan’s highest court spares the life of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, Shaiq Hussain, Meagan Flynn and Pamela Constable, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). Pakistan’s highest court has spared the life of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in a long-awaited ruling Wednesday, prompting celebration among human rights activists and countrywide protest by religious parties. Asia Bibi, a mother and farmer, had spent eight years seeking mercy from appeals courts while imprisoned on death row.

The supreme court acquitted Bibi on charges of making “derogatory remarks” about the Muslim prophet Muhammad, ruling that the evidence against her appeared fabricated and insufficient.

If she had been found guilty and not received presidential clemency, Bibi would have been the first person hanged under Pakistan’s strict anti-blasphemy law, which carries a mandatory penalty of death.

“It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant’s name Asia means ‘sinful’ but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King [Lear], ‘more sinned against than sinning,’” Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa wrote in a concurring opinion.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). The Interior ryan zinke lolita zinkeDepartment’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.

Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall, who is serving as acting inspector general, is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke [shown at right with his wife Lolita, a conservative political activist]. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. The individuals did not specify which inquiry had been referred to the Justice Department.

Sports Death Controversy

washington post logoWashington Post, University of Maryland parts ways with football coach DJ Durkin in wake of player’s heatstroke death in June, Rick Maese, Emily Giambalvo and Nick Anderson, Oct. 31, 2018. One day after issuing a stunning endorsement of Durkin, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents faced heightened pressure from both state and federal lawmakers.

Maryland parted ways with football Coach DJ Durkin on Wednesday evening, one day after he was reinstated. Durkin, who had been on administrative leave since Aug. 11 following media reports that outlined a culture of abuse, fear and intimidation that allegedly took place under his watch, was not fired for cause and will be bought out of his contract.

Maryland’s football program and athletic department have been the focus of scrutiny for months, following the death Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old football player who suffered exertional heatstroke at a team workout in late May and died several days later.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Maryland ought to be ashamed, Barry Svrluga (sports columnist), Oct. 31, 2018 (print edition). The University of Maryland’s decision to retain football coach DJ Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans underscores the institution’s misguided response to the death of a football player.

More On U.S. Elections

ny times logoNew York Times, In Florida Rally, Trump Calls Constitutional Citizenship Protections ‘a Crazy Policy,’ Katie Rogers, Oct. 31, 2018. The president told a rapt crowd that “illegal immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” (Legal experts would widely disagree.)

With a somber trip to Pittsburgh to visit victims of a synagogue shooting behind him, President Trump flew to one of his favorite places in the world — Florida — on Wednesday to host another one of his high-decibel political rallies.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump will be in Missouri. Before the week is out, he will hit West Virginia, Montana and Indiana, all part of an 11-rally blitz leading to the midterm elections on Tuesday.

That is fast, even for him.

For Mr. Trump, the next five days feature battleground states where the Republican Party’s hold on the House is in peril and come on the heels of a high-profile Twitter slap at Speaker Paul Ryan, who shot down Mr. Trump’s latest promise to issue an executive order denying birthright citizenship to people born to undocumented immigrants.

andrew gillum oMr. Trump was here to stump for Gov. Rick Scott, who is mounting a challenge against the incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, and for Ron DeSantis, a former Republican congressman facing a tight governor’s race against Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee. On Twitter, Mr. Trump has accused of Mr. Gillum of running one of the most “corrupt” cities in the United States, a point Mr. DeSantis himself tried to hammer home onstage.

“I’m the only guy,” Mr. DeSantis said, “who can credibly say I’m not under investigation for corruption.”

The crowd responded with a chant tailored for Mr. Gillum, right, who has struggled amid investigations into his connections with a lobbyist tied to an F.B.I. investigation, and accepting gifts from an undercover agent: “Lock Him Up.”

Along with denouncing Democrats and journalists, Mr. Trump — and the candidates who model themselves in his image — has made immigration, and fears about it, the cornerstone of efforts to animate Floridians to vote for Republicans.

ny times logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosNew York Times, Democratic Dark-Money Group Floods the Zone With $30 Million, Alexander Burns, Oct. 31, 2018. A structure unknown even to some of those involved, Floridians for a Fair Shake and 13 other groups around the country are funded and coordinated out of a single office in Washington, with the goal of battering Republicans for their health care and economic policies during the midterm elections.

The Hub Project — run by a former Obama administration official and public relations specialist, Leslie Dach, and Arkadi Gerney, a former political strategist for the liberal Center for American Progress — set up an array of affiliate groups around the country, many with vaguely sympathetic names like Keep Iowa Healthy, New Jersey for a Better Future and North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. The Hub Project then used them to mobilize volunteers and run advertising on policy issues against Republican members of Congress many months before the election.

democratic donkey logoMore than a dozen of the targeted lawmakers remain among the most endangered incumbents this year, including Representatives Rod Blum of Iowa, Bruce Poliquin of Maine, Steve Knight of California and George Holding of North Carolina.

The quiet onslaught embodied two of the most important strategic choices by Democrats in the 2018 elections — putting health care and taxes at the core of their message, and using invigorated fund-raising on the left to challenge Republicans even in conservative-leaning areas. Several Democratic operatives involved in the group likened its role to that of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy network funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, during the Obama administration, albeit on a significantly smaller scale.

Mr. Gerney displayed no ambivalence about using undisclosed contributions — traditionally a source of dismay for Democrats — to punish Republicans for last year’s $1.5 trillion tax law and their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We don’t believe in unilateral disarmament,” Mr. Gerney said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrat says conservative group Project Veritas infiltrated her campaign in Va.’s tight 7th District, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 31, 2018. A conservative group that creates undercover “sting” videos infiltrated the campaign of Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat in a tight race with Rep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th District.

The campaign said a young woman working for Project Veritas posed as a Democratic volunteer and spent every day over the past several weeks in Spanberger’s suburban Richmond campaign office, performing basic office tasks — and peppering her office mates with questions that eventually raised red flags.

Campaign staffers on Wednesday confronted her and asked her to leave, a video released by the campaign shows. “Dirty tricks like these are the worst part of politics, and this is exactly what Abigail is running to change,” Spanberger’s campaign manager, Dana Bye, said in an email. “We are proud of the campaign we have run, and wonder if Congressman Brat and his allies can say the same. While others may scrape the bottom of the barrel out of desperation, Abigail and our campaign will remain focused on talking to our neighbors on their doorsteps about the issues that matter to our community — that’s the campaign voters deserve and it’s the campaign that we believe will carry us to victory.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Pittsburgh shooting suspect charged in 44-count hate crime indictment, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, Oct. 31, 2018. Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., was charged in the shooting deaths of 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday. The charges against him could carry the death penalty, though that will be decided later by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat in a tough race in Missouri, slammed “crazy Democrats” on Fox News, Liam Stack, updated on Oct. 31, 2018. Senator claire mccaskill oClaire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat facing one of the country’s toughest re-election races, raised eyebrows on Monday when she distanced herself from leading members of her own party, including two possible presidential hopefuls, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, in a Fox News interview about “crazy Democrats.”

Ms. McCaskill, right, who has been attacked by her Republican challenger, Josh Hawley, as too liberal for Missouri, was asked on Fox about a radio ad that sunnily describes her as “not one of those crazy Democrats.”

When asked who she considered to be crazy Democrats, Ms. McCaskill pointed to liberal activists who have publicly confronted Trump administration officials and other Republican figures in recent months.

Looking Back: Dirty Tricks or Scandal?

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018. At first, she hoped she could remain anonymous.

When The Miami Herald‘s bombshell front-page headline — “Miami woman is linked to Hart; Candidate denies any impropriety” — hit newsstands on May 3, 1987, the 29-year-old woman in question thought her name could be kept out of what quickly spun into the first big political scandal of its kind. Hart, of course, was Gary Hart, the married U.S. senator from Colorado who, at the time, seemed to be coasting toward the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.

The woman, spied by Herald reporters who staked out Hart’s Washington, D.C., home to investigate his reputation for womanizing, was Donna Rice, then a pharmaceutical sales rep and model-actress living in Miami.

Known today by her married name, Donna Rice Hughes spoke exclusively to PEOPLE for the new issue on newsstands Friday, ahead of the Nov. 21 nationwide opening of The Front Runner, director Jason Reitman’s big-screen retelling of the 1987 sex scandal that shut down Hart’s campaign and tarred Hughes, in her words, as a “bimbo, homewrecker, sleaze.”

“The Miami Herald didn’t know my identity. Somebody in the Hart campaign released my name to the media and so within the day the story broke, my name and other things were released,” Hughes, now 60, recalls in an interview at the kitchen table of the D.C.-area home she shares with her husband, Jack, a tech-industry businessman.

See also: The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

Pittsburgh Shooting Followup

washington post logoWashington Post, Pittsburgh shooting suspect charged in 44-count hate crime indictment, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman, Oct. 31, 2018. Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pa., was charged in the shooting deaths of 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday. The charges against him could carry the death penalty, though that will be decided later by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Whitey Bulger Murder Mystery

ny times logoNew York Times, Whitey Bulger’s Fatal Prison Beating: ‘He Was Unrecognizable,’ Katharine Q. Seelye, William K. Rashbaum and Danielle Ivory, Oct. 31, 2018. Boston’s notorious crime boss, a longtime federal informer and a prolific killer, had many enemies. Still, his death, coming within hours of his transfer to a West Virginia prison, immediately raised questions: How was he left so vulnerable?

The inmates who killed James (Whitey) Bulger, Boston’s notorious crime boss, deliberately moved out of view of surveillance cameras in a West Virginia prison before pummeling him with a padlock that was stuffed inside a sock, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday, as investigations began into how such a murder could have taken place in a supposedly secure facility.

Despite the attackers’ efforts to hide, officials said, cameras caught video images of at least two inmates rolling Mr. Bulger, 89, who was in a wheelchair, into a corner where the attack took place. Mr. Bulger was bleeding profusely when he was found by prison authorities at 8:20 Tuesday morning. Guards immediately undertook lifesaving measures, officials said, but he was pronounced dead.

A prison official identified one of the suspects as Fotios (Freddy) Geas, 51, a Mafia hit man from West Springfield, Mass. He is serving a life sentence at the Hazelton penitentiary in West Virginia for the 2003 killing of the leader of the Genovese crime family in Springfield.

Daniel D. Kelly, who has represented Mr. Geas for many years, said in an interview that he had no idea whether his client was involved in killing Mr. Bulger, who was an informant for the F.B.I., a relationship he manipulated as a cover while he betrayed and murdered rival gang members.

Mr. Bulger’s death, within hours of his arrival at the prison, raised numerous questions. Mr. Bulger, a longtime federal informer and a prolific killer over several decades, knew many who would want him dead. But how was he left vulnerable to a beating so forceful that it displaced his eyeballs?

Oct. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s quiet visit to a grieving Pittsburgh met with hostility, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Mark Berman, Oct. 30, 2018. The White House invited the top Republicans and Democrats in Congress and local leaders. Pittsburgh’s mayor had urged the president not to visit until after the funerals.

djt economist cover aug 19 2017President Trump (shown in a file photo of an Economist cover) visited a grief-stricken Pittsburgh on Tuesday in a trip meant to unify after tragedy, but his arrival provoked protests from residents and consternation from local officials in the aftermath of the synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead.

The hastily planned day trip — which the city’s mayor urged Trump not to make — was executed with no advance public itinerary and without congressional and local politicians. Some had declined to accompany the president, and others were not invited.

Trump did not speak publicly during his brief trip, instead quietly paying tribute at Tree of Life synagogue by laying flowers for the 11 victims and visiting a hospital to see officers who were wounded in Saturday’s shooting. But Trump’s trip to the area so soon after the attack tore open political tensions in the largely Democratic city, as residents angered by Trump’s arrival protested even as the first couple tried to keep a low profile during the solemn, afternoon visit.

washington post logoWashington Post, A mass shooting and a Trump visit expose a divided U.S., Greg Jaffe​, Oct. 30, 2018. Pittsburgh and its suburbs are a reflection of a country so fractured that many in the area are asking whether the president and his most ardent supporters bear some culpability for the tragedy. Others bristle with anger at the suggestion.

Mueller Claims Phony Sex Claims Against Him

robert mueller full face fileThe Atlantic, Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him, Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 30, 2018. The special counsel says a woman was offered money to fabricate sexual-harassment claims.

A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller (right) in the days leading up to the midterm elections — and the special counsel's office has asked the FBI to weigh in.

“When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” the Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told me in an email on Tuesday.

The special-counsel office’s attention to this scheme and its decision to release a rare statement about it indicates the seriousness with which the team is taking the purported plot to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Carr confirmed that the allegations were brought to the office’s attention by several journalists, who were contacted by a woman who identified herself as Lorraine Parsons. Another woman, Jennifer Taub, contacted Mueller's office earlier this month with similar information.

republican elephant logoThe woman identifying herself as Parsons told journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained, that she had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence — which had been hired by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman — “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”

Parsons wrote in her letter that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974, but that she “didn’t see” him much. “When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” she said. The law firm told me on late Tuesday afternoon, however, that it has “no record of this individual working for our firm.”

fbi logoParsons explained that she was contacted by a man “with a British accent” who wanted to ask her “a couple questions about Robert Mueller, whom I worked with when I was a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974. I asked him who he was working for, and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman. I reluctantly told [him] that I had only worked with Mr. Mueller for a short period of time, before leaving that firm to have my first son.”

Surefire Intelligence describes itself as “a private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.” Surefire’s domain records list an email for another pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, Jacob Wohl, who began hyping a “scandalous” Mueller story on Tuesday morning.

Wohl told The Daily Beast that Burkman had hired Surefire to assist with his investigation into Mueller’s past, but denied knowing anything about the firm’s involvement in an alleged plot to fabricate allegations against Mueller when asked why his email address appeared in the domain records. He did not respond when asked by NBC why a telephone number listed on Surefire’s website referred callers to another number that’s listed in public records as belonging to Wohl’s mother.

In an emailed statement, Burkman denied knowing Parsons and called the FBI referral “a joke, mueller wants to deflect attention from his sex assault troubles by attacking me.” He added in a separate email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false.

Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, dangled uncorroborated claims of sexual harassment against a sitting member of Congress, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistle-blowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election.

Synogogue Shooting Aftermath

washington post logorobert bowersWashington Post, Victim’s family, top officials shun Trump visit to Pittsburgh, Moriah Balingit, Avi Selk and Mark Berman​, Oct. 30, 2018. The family of at least one of the 11 people killed at Tree of Life synagogue has turned down President Trump’s offer to meet with them, in part because of comments Trump made after the attack.

Pipe Bombing Hit List

ny times logoNew York Times, Mail Bomb Suspect Had a List of 100 Potential Targets, Officials Say, Alan Blinder and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 29, 2018. Even as the Florida bombing suspect cesar sayoc nypost front page oct 27 2018appeared in court on Monday in connection with more than a dozen explosive devices sent to critics of President Trump, an additional threatening package addressed to CNN was recovered and investigators said that the suspect had prepared a list of about 100 possible targets.

The federal authorities did not publicly name the individuals and news organizations on the list that they believe the suspect, Cesar Sayoc Jr. [shown at right in a New York Post front page] compiled before his arrest on Friday, but law enforcement officials have begun notifying people who appeared on it. The list and the package recovered on Monday suggested that the national turmoil that Mr. Sayoc is accused of unleashing could have lasted considerably longer had law enforcement officials not moved in when they did.

While the authorities issued their private warnings to the possible targets on Monday, postal officials intercepted the 15th suspicious package possibly linked to Mr. Sayoc — this one addressed to the Atlanta headquarters of CNN — and Mr. Sayoc, shackled and dressed in a tan jumpsuit, made an initial court appearance in Miami.

Mr. Sayoc has been charged with crimes that could lead to nearly 50 years in prison and is accused of mailing explosive devices to some of President Trump’s most well-known opponents, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. CNN, which Mr. Trump has routinely condemned, was targeted last week and again on Monday, when postal officials in Atlanta recovered a package intended for the network’s headquarters.

pittsburgh steelers strong than hate logo

A specially redesigned Pittsburgh Steelers logo pays respect to those affected by the horrific and cowardly terrorist attack on The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

washington post logodonald trump flag mouthWashington Post, Congressional leaders decline to join Trump in visit to Pittsburgh after massacre, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 30, 2018. President Trump will visit Pittsburgh later Tuesday to pay tribute to the 11 victims of the mass shooting at a synagogue there — yet he is traveling with no official public itinerary, little planning, and without congressional and local leaders whom the White House invited on the trip.

The White House asked the top four congressional leaders — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mitchell McConnellMcConnell (R-Ky.), left, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — to accompany Trump and first lady Melania Trump to Pittsburgh but all declined, according to three officials familiar with the invitations.

A spokesman for the city’s Democratic mayor, Bill Peduto, said he was invited but will not be appearing with the president. Peduto had urged Trump not to visit Pittsburgh until after the funerals for the victims had concluded, saying, “all attention [Tuesday] should be on the victims.”

Peduto also added: “We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and to be able at the same time draw attention to a potential presidential visit.”

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) was also invited to join Trump in Pittsburgh, but a spokesman said Toomey will be attending previously scheduled commitments in the southeastern part of the state. Toomey has attended a vigil and met with law enforcement officials and Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh since the shooting, spokesman Steve Kelly said. Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), who is scheduled to attend a service in southeastern Pennsylvania when Trump visits Pittsburgh, did not get an invitation from the White House, a spokesman said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, both Democrats, are also not expected to attend with the president. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who represents the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh where the shooting occurred, has not been invited by the White House, according to a spokesman, nor was Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), another Pittsburgh-area congressman, according to a person close to him.

City and local officials, who were not given any advance notice of the White House’s plans before they were announced, are expecting at least two protests to coincide with the funerals. “No one wants him to come here today,” said one person involved in the planning of the events

washington post logoWashington Post, After crises, White House mixes scorched-earth election attacks with calls for unity, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 30, 2018. The fraught balancing act was on display during a briefing in which press secretary Sarah Sanders alternately sought to soothe national divisions and to inflame them. Sanders choked up while decrying the “heinous acts” in Pittsburgh and said that Trump had “risen to that occasion” and helped bring the country together.

Simultaneously, however, she parroted Trump’s scathing indictment of the media as partly responsible for the hateful atmosphere and vowed the president would continue to go after Democrats to highlight “the differences between the two parties.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. agency vows to investigate broadcast report that called George Soros a ‘multimillionaire Jew,’ Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 30, 2018. The segment, aired by Radio and Television Martí in May, described Soros as a “non-practicing Jew of flexible morals.” It also frequently referred to the conservative group Judicial Watch, which has launched an “Expose Soros” campaign.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: President Trump has made 6,420 false or misleading claims over 649 days, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Updated Oct. 30, 2018.  Trump made more false or misleading claims in the seven weeks before the midterms than he did in the first nine months of his presidency.

Trump Anti-Immigrant Moves

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump eyes order to end birthright citizenship, a move many experts say runs afoul of the Constitution, John Wagner​, Oct. 30, 2018. The action would be the most aggressive action yet by a president elected to office pledging to take a hard line on immigration, an issue he has revived in advance of next week’s midterms.

GOP Voter Suppression: Newsworthy?

ny times logoNew York Times, In North Dakota, Native Americans Try to Turn an ID Law to Their Advantage, Maggie Astor, Oct. 30, 2018. Nobody in the squat yellow house serving as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s get-out-the-vote headquarters knew its address. It was on Red Tail Hawk Avenue; they knew that much. But the number was anyone’s guess. Phyllis Young, a longtime tribal activist leading the voter-outreach effort, said it had fallen off the side of the house at some point. Her own home has a number only because she added one with permanent marker.

This is normal on Native American reservations. Buildings lack numbers; streets lack signs. Even when a house has an address in official records, residents don’t necessarily know what it is.

Yet under a law the Supreme Court allowed to take effect this month, North Dakotans cannot vote without a residential address. Post office boxes, which many Native Americans rely on, aren’t enough anymore.

The Republican-controlled state legislature began debating this requirement just a few months after Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, won a Senate seat in 2012 with strong support from Native Americans. That race was decided by fewer than 3,000 votes. Ms. Heitkamp is now seeking re-election in one of the nation’s most aggressively contested elections, and she is trailing her Republican opponent, Representative Kevin Cramer, in the polls. And once again, she is looking to Native Americans for a strong vote: there are at least 30,000 of them in North Dakota.

Supporters of the address requirement say it is needed to prevent voter fraud and has nothing to do with Ms. Heitkamp. Native Americans, noting that state officials have not confirmed any pattern of fraud, see it as an attempt at voter suppression.

But in these final days before the election, their tribal governments are working feverishly to provide the necessary identification, and some Native Americans believe their anger could actually fuel higher turnout.

margaret sullivan 2015 photo

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: Voter suppression is a crucial story in America, but broadcast news mostly shrugs, Margaret Sullivan (shown above), Oct. 30, 2018 (print edition). With the midterm elections a week away, and tensions building daily, a bipartisan rallying cry grows louder: People must get out and vote.

But how possible is that, exactly, for some Americans? In North Dakota, thousands of Native American voters may be prevented from voting next week in a key Senate race because of an ugly technicality that amounts to targeted voter suppression.

In Georgia, hundreds of thousands of citizens were “purged” from the voting rolls in what election-law experts have called the worst disenfranchisement of voters in modern American history.

Yes, voter suppression is alive and well in the United States. But Americans who rely on the broadcast news networks for their information, and they still number in the millions every night, probably don’t know about it.

cbs news logoObsessed with all things Trump — caravan invasion, anyone? — and occupied with breaking news about hurricanes and mass shootings, the networks have almost ignored voter suppression.

With the consequential midterm elections only a week away, the near silence is deafening.

nbc news logo“What is happening to voting rights is fundamental to how we function as a country,” says Robert Greenwald, an independent filmmaker who is trying to fill the gap with a video that explores the problem. “There has been nowhere near enough media attention,” he told me.

Andrew Tyndall, who closely tracks network news for his well-respected Tyndall Report newsletter and website, has a plausible theory about why.

“The network news divisions have not worked out how to cover politics without following the agenda set by President Trump,” he told me by email. “That’s not to say their coverage is pro-Trump, since they will use his agenda to present him in both a positive and negative light. But it does mean that they find it difficult to present politics as being abc news logoabout anything except him.”

Since Labor Day, Tyndall told me last week, the three broadcast networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) together had done only a handful of stories — fewer than 10, all told — on threats to voting rights.

More On U.S. Politics

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Hate Is on the Ballot Next Week, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 30, 2018 (print edition). Don’t let the whataboutists and bothsiders tell you it isn’t. In America 2018, whataboutism is the last refuge of scoundrels, and bothsidesism is the last refuge of cowards.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a wave of hate crimes. Just in the past few days, bombs were mailed to a number of prominent Democrats, plus CNN. Then, a gunman massacred 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Meanwhile, another gunman killed two African-Americans at a Louisville supermarket, after first trying unsuccessfully to break into a black church — if he had gotten there an hour earlier, we would probably have had another mass murder.

All of these hate crimes seem clearly linked to the climate of paranoia and racism deliberately fostered by Donald Trump and his allies in Congress and the media.

So how are Trump apologists dealing with this ugly picture? Partly through denial, pretending not to see any link between hateful rhetoric and hate crimes. But also through attempts to spread the blame by claiming that Democrats are just as bad if not worse. Trump supporters try to kill his critics? Well, some Trump opponents have yelled at politicians in restaurants!

This whataboutism doesn’t stop with equating protests with violence. It also relies on outright lying. This needs to stop, and those who keep practicing bothsidesism need to be shamed. At this point, pretending that both sides are equally to blame, or attributing political violence to spreading hatred without identifying who’s responsible for that spread, is a form of deep cowardice.

Politico, Trump’s Culture Warriors Go Home, Ben Schreckinger, Oct. 30, 2018 (November/December 2018 print edition). They were poised to storm Washington. Then America stopped caring.

steve bannon fileIn February of this year, at the close of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, the pro-Trump blogger Mike Cernovich trekked to the Capitol Hill townhouse that serves as the personal headquarters for former White House adviser Steve Bannon (shown at right). 

republican elephant logoCernovich was there to vent. Seated at the long dining room table where Bannon hosts visitors, he complained that Trump had stopped sticking up for his most loyal supporters. He mentioned some public altercations at which anti-fascist demonstrators had assaulted Trump fans.

After the meeting, Cernovich, a fixture in the capital during the first year of the Trump administration, walked out into the dusk, strolled past the Supreme Court and took out his phone to begin livestreaming to his followers about other subjects. He has not been back to Washington since.

Two years ago, Cernovich was an indefatigable Trump cheerleader, among the most prominent of a small vanguard of Trumpist culture warriors who trolled their way from the fringes of the right-wing internet to real-world relevance. Loosely lumped together as the celebrities of the “alt-right” — a label most of them have since disavowed — they hailed from different corners of the web and professed different views, but they were united by a shared disdain for progressives and establishment Republicans, and a shared faith that the disruptive outsider named Donald Trump could usher in the change they believed America needed.

Once unleashed in Washington, they harbored dreams of taking over the Republican Party and pushing American popular culture sharply rightward. And, at a moment when it seemed that anything was possible in American politics, it looked like this group of fringe web firebrands just might be able to harness the right’s anti-establishment energy into a muscular and profitable movement.

No longer.

Mob Murder?

whitey bulger mugs 1953

ny times logoNew York Times, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Said to Have Been Killed by Inmates in Prison Attack, Danielle Ivory and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 30, 2018. James (Whitey) Bulger (shown above in 1953 mug shots), the South Boston mobster who was captured after years on the run, was killed in a West Virginia federal prison by at least two inmates, according to two Federal Bureau of Prisons employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was not yet public.

Mr. Bulger, 89, had been transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary, Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, W. Va., on Monday and was beaten to death shortly after his arrival, according to the two prison workers. One of workers said that the inmates were thought to be “affiliated with the mob,” but did not know the specifics of the association.

A senior law enforcement official who oversees organized crime cases but was not involved in the investigation into Mr. Bulger’s death, said he was told by a federal law enforcement official that an organized crime figure was believed to be responsible for the killing.

whitey bulger US Marshals Service Mug1One of the prison workers said that Mr. Bulger (shown also at right), who had been serving a life sentence for 11 murders, had been transferred to the Hazelton prison after he had threatened a staff member at the Coleman prison complex in Sumterville, Fla.

A shortage of correctional officers has become chronic under President Trump, leaving some prison workers feeling ill-equipped and unsafe on the job, according to a New York Times investigation published this year. The Hazelton prison in particular has been plagued by violence. The prison has regularly assigned support staff to guard duty since mid-2016, though it recently tried to curtail the practice. Last year, The Times found, the prison had 275 violent episodes, including fights among inmates and major assaults on staff, an almost 15 percent increase from 2016.

Related: Washington Post, Whitey Bulger, Boston crime boss and elusive fugitive, dead in prison at 89, Paul Duggan​, Oct. 30, 2018.

 Khashoggi Murder Case

washington post logorecep tayyip erdogan o presidentWashington Post, Turkish president demands answers from Saudis over Khashoggi killing, Louisa Loveluck​, Oct. 30, 2018. “Now the time has come to solve this,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, who used a parliamentary speech to address the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his chief prosecutor has asked his Saudi counterpart to reveal who ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. government network infected with malware from Russian porn site, Michael Brice-Saddle, Oct. 30, 2018. An employee at the U.S. Geological Survey looked at more than 9,000 pornography Web pages at work and infected the agency's network with malware, prompting calls to bolster security measures. The employee no longer works for the USGS.

Oct. 29

Synogogue Shooting Aftermath

ny times logoNew York Times, Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect Appears in Court; Prosecutors Vow to Pursue Death Penalty, Campbell Robertson, Sabrina Tavernise and Matthew Haag, Oct. 29, 2018. The man accused of killing 11 congregants in a hate-filled attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue appeared in court for the first time on Monday.

robert bowersRobert Bowers, right, appeared before Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell in the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh in a wheelchair, handcuffed and wearing a blue sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, surrounded by United States marshals. The judge listed an overview of the 29 criminal charges against him and asked him if he understood them. “Yes,” he replied.

The charges included obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs — a hate crime, which can carry the death penalty, a sentence that federal authorities said Sunday they intended to pursue. He also faces state charges.

Mr. Bowers was flanked by two public defenders representing him and declined to have the judge read the full criminal complaint and the penalties should he be found guilty. He was ordered held without bail and his next hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Earlier on Monday, two Jewish groups called on President Trump to back down from what they said was inflammatory rhetoric that seemed to be encouraging the most radical fringes of American society. The victims of the attack, beloved members of one of the country’s vital Jewish communities, were mostly in their 70s and 80s.

washington post logoWashington Post, As worship began, a gunman brought evil to a Pittsburgh sanctuary, Lenny Bernstein, Kyle Swenson, Gabriel Pogrund and Steve Hendrix, Oct. 29, 2018 (print edition). It was obvious to SWAT officers entering Tree of Life synagogue that a high-powered rifle had been used to kill elderly congregants. A hunt, and a perilous shootout, followed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, GOP reject allegations that incendiary rhetoric fueled climate of violence, Robert Costa and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 29, 2018 (print edition). The partisan brawl that erupted reflected a relatively new front in the country’s political divide just ahead of the midterm elections.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump and his Republican allies remained defiant Sunday amid allegations from critics that Trump’s incendiary attacks on political rivals and racially charged rhetoric on the campaign trail bear some culpability for the climate surrounding a spate of violence in the United States.

Trump, who has faced calls to tone down his public statements, signaled that he would do no such thing — berating billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer, a target of a mail bomb sent by a Trump supporter, as a “crazed & stumbling lunatic” on Twitter, after Steyer said on CNN that Trump and the Republican Party have created an atmosphere of “political violence.”

Later Sunday, Trump lashed out again on Twitter, this time at the media: “The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country.”

dana milbank Customwashington post logoWashington Post, Humor: Hasn't Trump Suffered Enough? Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 29, 2018. House on pipe bombs and Pittsburgh: 'First thing' media did was 'condemn the president.' Eleven Jews are dead in Pittsburgh, gunned down during Shabbat services allegedly by a man who shared President Trump’s paranoia about a migrant caravan. Pipe bombs were sent to more than a dozen of Trump’s favorite political targets, including the homes of two former presidents, Democratic leaders and CNN.

But let us not lose sight of the real victim here: Donald Trump.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hadn’t given a briefing in nearly a month, so she had a lot of time to build up grievances before Monday afternoon’s session. She emerged half an hour late with a scowl, and read a written statement containing the requisite denunciations of the attack in Pittsburgh and affirmations of Trump’s affection for Jews.

the attack in Pittsburgh and affirmations of Trump’s affection for Jews.

But when the questioning got going, it became clear that she was rather less animated by the pipe bombs and the synagogue massacre than by perceived attacks on Trump by the media.

The Pittsburgh killings and the pipe bombs are not the first time the president has been so viciously victimized. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he said last year. And that was before he was victimized by the very ungrateful people of Puerto Rico after his heroic response to the hurricane there.

Global News

German Flag

washington post logoAngela MerkelWashington Post, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ready to step down as leader of her party, Griff Witte and Rick Noack​, Oct. 29, 2018. The decision by Angela Merkel (shown at right in a file photo) would not automatically result in her leaving as chancellor. But it offers the clearest indication to date that her time at the helm of Europe’s largest economy is running out.

New York Times, Germany Without Angela Merkel? Unthinkable? Think Again, She Says, Katrin Bennhold and Melissa Eddy, Oct. 29, 2018. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been a seemingly invincible figure in German politics. In office 13 years, she has been Europe’s most powerful leader, a presence so synonymous with stability Germans call her Mutti, or Mother. So it was a familiar sight on Monday to see her live on television, until she asked Germans to do something far less familiar, and “get ready for the time after me.”

The chancellor said she would step down as leader of her conservative party in December and would not seek re-election in 2021. That means Ms. Merkel may remain on the political scene for months to come. But few observers believe she could hang on until the end of her term, speculating that new elections could be held as early as next year.

The chancellor’s decision now makes clear that neither she nor her country are immune to the forces that have reordered politics across the Continent — the cratering of the political center; the rise of populist forces; the blowback from the migration crisis; and a redrawing of the political fault lines away from the historical left-right divide toward a battle between liberal pro-European values and their nationalist polar opposite.

washington post logoWashington Post, Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil’s presidential election, Anthony Faiola and Marina Lopes​, Oct. 28, 2018. The 63-year old populist renegade rode a wave of voter rage to victory, marking South America’s most dramatic shift to the right since the end of the Cold War-era military dictatorships.

jair bolsonaro brazilJair Bolsonaro, right, a former army captain, bested leftist Fernando Haddad in Sunday’s runoff, winning nearly 56 percent of the vote, according to official results with 92 percent of the ballots tallied.

brazil flag wavingHis win adds Latin America’s largest nation to a growing list of countries – from the United States to Hungary to the Philippines – where staunch right-wing nationalists have scored victories at the ballot box.

Bolsonaro ran a Trump-style campaign that made heavy use of social media, and promised to renegotiate the terms of trade deals, put economics before environmental preservation and bring an iron fist to fighting crime. He demonized opponents and polarized the nation with his history of denigrating women, gays and minorities.

Democracy Now! Commentary: lenn Greenwald on Bolsonaro: Brazil Has Elected “Most Extremist Leader in the Democratic World,” Host: Amy Goodman interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil resident, former New Yorker and one of the founding editors of The Intercept, Oct. 29, 2018.

Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro has been elected Brazil’s next president, marking the most radical political shift in the country since military rule ended more than 30 years ago. Bolsonaro, a former Army officer, openly supports torture and dictatorships, has a history of making racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments, and has threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents.

brazil flag wavingHe defeated Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party with 55 percent of the vote. His ascendance to power is leading many to fear the future of democracy in Brazil is in danger. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept, in Rio de Janeiro. He says that Bolsonaro is “by far the most extremist leader now elected anywhere in the democratic world.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to Brazil, where a far-right former Army officer who openly supports dictatorships and torture has been overwhelmingly elected president.

Bolsonaro campaigned on a promise to end corruption and crack down on crime, but many fear the future of democracy in Brazil is in danger. For decades, Bolsonaro has openly praised the country’s former military dictatorship, once saying the dictatorship should have killed 30,000 more people. He also has a history of making racist, misogynistic, homophobic comments, has spoken in favor of torture, has threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents. He has also encouraged the police to kill suspected drug dealers, once told a female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape. He also said he would rather hear that his son had died in a car accident than learn that his son is gay. On Sunday night, Jair Bolsonaro claimed he would help liberate Brazil.

Jair Bolsonaro directly benefited from the jailing of the former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been leading all presidential polls earlier this year. He has been in jail since April on what many consider trumped-up corruption charges to prevent him from running for president. Bolsonaro will be sworn in January 1st, 2019.

Just moments ago, President Trump tweeted, “Had a very good conversation with the newly elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won his race by a substantial margin. We agreed that Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else! Excellent call, wished him congrats!”

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think it’s really important to put it into its proper context. For a long time, the Western media was referring to him as “Brazil’s Trump.” That’s how he was marketing himself. The reality is much different. He’s by far the most extremist leader now elected anywhere in the democratic world. He’s far closer, as we’ve discussed before, to Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, or even General Sisi, the dictator of Egypt. A journalist, Vincent Bevins, based for a long time in Brazil and now in Indonesia, has made the argument that he’s far more extreme than Duterte.

I think that the key thing to understand about Bolsonaro is that he really comes not from this modern “alt-right” movement of the type of Donald Trump or Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen, but the Cold War far right that carried out enormous atrocities in the name of fighting domestic communism, which is what Bolsonaro believes his primary project to be. He recently vowed to cleanse the country of left-wing opposition, which he sees as a communist front.

And so, the threat and the ideology is far more extreme than anything in the democratic world. But the dynamics as far as why he won are quite similar, in that it was driven not by a sudden far-right ideology conversion on the part of this population in Brazil, but anger and desperation and hopelessness about the failures of the establishment class.

washington post logoWashington Post, Indonesian plane carrying 189 crashes into sea minutes after takeoff, Stanley Widianto, Shibani Mahtani and Ainur Rohmah​, Oct. 29, 2018. A Lion Air passenger plane that took off Monday from Jakarta crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff with 189 people on board, all of whom are feared dead in Indonesia’s worst air disaster in recent years.

Over 12 hours after the crash, no clear explanation had surfaced about what had caused the crash. Skies were clear. The plane was almost brand new, having flown just 800 hours. The aircraft’s pilot had asked to return to Jakarta’s airport shortly after takeoff, and his request was cleared by air traffic controllers. The plane then lost contact with controllers and plunged into the sea from 3,000 feet.

angela merkel vladimir putin recep tayyip erdogan emmanuel macron oct. 28 2018

Presidents Angela Merkel of Germany, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Emmanuel Macron of France (left to right) meet in Istanbul on Oct. 28, 2018 for a summit on Syria.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Analysis: Istanbul Summit on Syria Was a Success but Caveats Remain, Melkulangara Bhadrakumar (Former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service), Oct. 29, 2018. The four-nation Turkey-Russia-Germany-France summit on Syria on October 27 in Istanbul had an impressive outcome. All participants – each with own interests – has some ‘takeaway’ from the summit, which itself is a measure of the success of the event. This is also important because the participants now have a reason to work together. Such an outcome can be interpreted in the following ways.

american flagFirst and foremost, a major regional conflict impacting international security was addressed without US participation. A sign of our times?

Second, participants didn’t quarrel over President Bashar Al-Assad’s “fate.” The debate becomes pedantic today in terms of ground realities. The Syrian nation should decide on its future. That’s also been Assad’s demand.

Third, some serious thought has been given to the journey towards a Syrian settlement – ceasefire, drafting of new constitution followed by elections under UN supervision. Four, the participants snubbed the US-Israeli plan to balkanize Syria into “spheres of influence” and have also squashed the Israeli dreams of getting international legitimacy for its illegal occupation of Golan Heights as part of any settlement.

Five, Germany and France have become amenable to the Russian demand pressing the urgency for rendering humanitarian aid to Syria and help in reconstruction. (US made this conditional on Assad’s removal.) We’ll have to see how it pans out, but the summit also stressed the importance of return of Syrian refugees (which is a key issue for European countries.)

syrian flag wavingSix, the participants recognized that the remaining terrorists in Syria must be destroyed – although, significantly, they also supported the Idlib ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.

The bottom line is that it is the post-war Syrian order that is under discussion now.

Generally speaking, Russia and Turkey are in command as of now. Syria is somewhere at the top of Erdogan’s priorities. Erdogan will expect the Americans to throw their Syrian Kurdish allies under the bus. Yesterday, Turkish army bombarded Kurdish positions east of Euphrates.

Trump, Fear-Mongering, Media

washington post logoWashington Post, White House prepares large troop deployment to deter migrant caravan, Dan Lamothe and Nick Miroff, Oct. 29, 2018. U.S. officials caution that the final number of troops heading to the border has not yet been determined. The additional personnel would join roughly 2,000 National Guard troops assigned to the border since April, and the combined force would be the largest deployment there in at least a decade.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Moore releases footage of mail-bomber suspect Cesar Sayoc at Trump rally, Alex Horton​, Oct. 29, 2018. President Trump has denied that he inspired Sayoc, but footage released by the filmmaker depicts a fervent supporter at a rally in Florida in 2017.

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Trump’s Attacks on the News Media Are Working, Jim Rutenberg, Oct. 29, 2018 (print edition). He was at it again. At 3:14 a.m. on Friday, President Trump was awake and tweeting.

“Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing,” he wrote, “yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

He tapped that one out as federal authorities were investigating the 12 pipe bombs mailed to the billionaire George Soros, Democratic politicians, Robert De Niro and CNN. Hours later, Mr. Trump’s tweet was national news.

“President Blames Media For Attempted Bombs,” read the onscreen chyron on “Good Morning America” as an ABC News correspondent, Jonathan Karl, briefed the anchor George Stephanopoulos on the president’s latest digital sortie from the still-dark White House lawn.

So began Day 645 of a presidency that has made denigrating the news media one of its identifying features.

djt man in high castle nazi salutes wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: This is a real-life "Man in the High Castle" drama, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 29, 2018 (Subscription required). Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer, has studied the Trump family extensively, including in the latest of Madsen's 16 books, "Trump's Bananas Republic."

In the television adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, The Man in the High Castle, which has, as its premise, how Americans fare in an alternate history where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan win World War II, American John Smith becomes the SS Obergruppenführer for Nazi-occupied America. The television series has turned out to be so popular, Amazon Prime has extended it to a third season.

There is a reason why The Man in the High Castle, both the novel and the TV series, is so popular. Donald Trump has, in effect, become an Obergruppenführer over the United States.....We are all now bit players in an increasingly Nazified world. And that is why the upcoming November 6 mid-term election is the most important election in the history of the United States.

Khashoggi Murder Case

Future of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: The Saudis Will Get Away with Murder, Jacob G. Hornberger, Oct. 29, 2018. In my article “Don’t Be Surprised If Saudis Get Away with Murder,” I detailed the U.S. national-security state’s kidnapping and assassination of Gen. Rene Schneider in 1970. The point I made is that the power to assassinate comes with any nation whose government is founded on the concept of a national-security state. That includes the United States, where the military and the CIA wield the omnipotent, non-reviewable power to assassinate people who they deem to be threats to “national security.”

Given that the U.S. national-security state got away with murder in the case of Gen. Schneider, what are the odds that there will be a different outcome in Saudi Arabia? Sure, there might be some underlings who have to fall on their swords as a sacrifice to the greater good, but the chance that higher-ups in the Saudi regime will be held accountable for the murder is virtually nil.

Medical Research Fraudster?

ny times logoNew York Times, He Promised to Restore Damaged Hearts. Harvard Says His Lab Fabricated Research, Gina Kolata, Oct. 29, 2018. For Dr. Piero Anversa, the fall from scientific grace has been long, and the landing hard. Researchers worldwide once hailed his research as revolutionary, promising the seemingly impossible: a way to grow new heart cells to replace those lost in heart attacks and heart failure, leading killers in the United States.

But Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, his former employers, this month accused Dr. Anversa and his laboratory of extensive scientific malpractice. More than 30 research studies produced over more than a decade contain falsified or fabricated data, officials concluded, and should be retracted. Last year the hospital paid a $10 million settlement to the federal government after the Department of Justice alleged that Dr. Anversa and two members of his team were responsible for fraudulently obtaining research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“The number of papers is extraordinary,” said Dr. Jeffrey Flier, until 2016 the dean of Harvard Medical School. “I can’t recall another case like this.”

Dr. Anversa’s story has laid bare some of the hazards of modern medical research: the temptation to embrace a promising new theory, the reluctance to heed contrary evidence and the institutional barriers to promptly stopping malfeasance. Even after three independent researchers were unable to reproduce his findings in 2004, Harvard hired him in 2007 and his lab continued to churn out studies upholding his theory.

Oct. 28

Gunman Kills Jews At Synogogue

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 11 killed, 6 wounded in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Deanna Paul, Avi Selk and Amy B Wang​, Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). Suspect had history of anti-Semitic comments online, officials say

The suspect, identified by authorities as Robert Bowers, 46, attacked the synagogue during morning services. A gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday-morning services in what the Anti-Defamation League called "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

robert bowersLaw enforcement officials said Robert Bowers (right and below, as portrayed by the New York Post) — a 46-year-old man with a history of making anti-Semitic statements online — surrendered to police after a gun battle and is expected to face hate crime charges.

The 11 people killed were all adults, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said at a news briefing.

“It’s a very horrific crime scene," Hissrich told reporters earlier in the day. “One of the worst that I’ve seen. And I’ve been on some plane crashes.”

The suspect interrupted a baby-naming service at about 10 a.m, Pennsylvania’s attorney general told the Associated Press. Witnesses told police he burst in shouting anti-Semitic slurs and began firing.

KDKA reported that police confronted the suspect near the synagogue entrance. Witnesses said one officer was wounded in an initial firefight, and two more were shot when they tried to corner the gunman upstairs.

Gab, a social media platform that has attracted many far-right users, released a statement on Saturday, saying the company had suspended an account that “matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name" and turned the messages over to the FBI.

An unverified image of the deleted account shows a stream of anti-Semitic messages leading up to the shooting.

“Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist,” the user “Robert Bowers” posted after a rally this week in which Trump invoked both terms to declare himself a nationalist.

Trump has repeatedly slammed “globalists” in his public rhetoric, despite warnings that the term is understood to mean Jews in anti-Semitic circles. That’s evidently what it means to the Gab user “Robert Bowers,” whose messages suggest disillusionment with the president.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great Again

“There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k--- infestation,” the user wrote, using a slur for Jews.

For weeks, “Robert Bowers" was enraged by the national Jewish group HIAS’s efforts to hold Shabbat services for refugees, according to the archives messages.

“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people," the user wrote hours before the shooting. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Suspect Was ‘Pretty Much a Ghost,’ Trip Gabriel, Jack Healy and Julie Turkewitz, Oct. 28, 2018. Robert Bowers, the man accused of gunning down 11 congregants in a virulently anti-Semitic rampage at a Pittsburgh synagogue, was an isolated, awkward man who lived alone and struggled with basic human interactions, neighbors and others who knew him said on Sunday.

robert bowers pittsburgh killer oct 28 2018 pos cover“He was in his own little world,” said Jim Brinsky, 46, a friend from childhood.

Mr. Brinsky said he and Mr. Bowers, 46, grew up together but that he never met Mr. Bowers’s parents and got the impression that Mr. Bowers had a difficult home life. As teenagers, he said they built pipe bombs and blew up watermelons and trees as pranks.

They drifted apart by the time they got to Baldwin High School, where Mr. Brinsky said Mr. Bowers wore a camouflage jacket and drifted alone through the halls. Mr. Bowers is not listed in any activities or sports in his 1989 junior-class yearbook, and he does not appear in the next year’s book as a senior at all. It is unclear whether he graduated.

“He was pretty much a ghost,” Mr. Brinsky said.

His next-door neighbors also described him as a man who was barely there. In the shabby one-bedroom ground-floor apartment where he had lived for about a year and a half, Mr. Bowers made such an insubstantial impression on his next-door neighbor, Kerri Owens, that she forgot his name soon after he introduced himself. Mr. Bowers said he worked as a truck driver and needed the apartment primarily to store his stuff, Ms. Owens said.

washington post logoWashington Post, American Jews’ worst fears become reality with synagogue massacre, Joe Heim and Samantha Schmidt, Oct. 28, 2018. As threats increased, as online abuse grew more vicious, as the defacing of buildings with swastikas became more common, the possibility of violence loomed over Jewish communities in the United States.

Trump Role

washington post logoWashington Post, Critics say Trump fosters toxic environment for political violence he denounces, David Nakamura, Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has denounced recent attacks and called for national unity. But his critics accuse him and the GOP, in a cynical pursuit of political power, of going beyond partisan political talk into demagoguery of racial minorities, foreigners and prominent Jewish political figures.

washington post logoWashington Post, Commentary: How much responsibility does Trump bear for the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh? Julia Ioffe (correspondent for GQ Magazine and currently at work on a book about Russia.) Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). Political rhetoric matters, and he has had some unfortunate things to say about Jews.

More on MAGAbomber

cesar sayoc jr trump rally no credit

Pipe bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. at a Trump rally

ny times logoNew York Times, Bomb Suspect Found an Identity in Rage and Resentment, Jack Healy, Julie Turkewitz and Richard A. Oppel Jr., Oct. 28, 2018 (print edition). Cesar Sayoc Jr. was a volatile nobody desperate to become a somebody.

cesar sayoc nypost front page oct 27 2018He styled himself as a bodybuilder, entrepreneur, member of the Seminole tribe and exotic-dance promoter in the status-hungry beachfront world of South Florida. In reality, Mr. Sayoc (shown as portrayed by the New York Post on Oct. 27), a fervent supporter of President Trump who has been charged with mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, was a bankrupt loner who spewed anger and spent years living in and out of a van, according to court documents and interviews with people who knew him.

He went on racist, anti-gay tirades at the Fort Lauderdale pizza shop where he worked as a night-shift deliveryman in 2017, telling his manager, a lesbian, that she and other gay people along with Democrats should all be put onto an island and then “nuked.” At a reunion event in 2015 with his college soccer team, he browbeat former team members with racist, sexist conspiracy theories.

And when Mr. Sayoc’s mother and sisters urged him to seek mental-health treatment, he furiously repelled their efforts and told his mother he hated her, said Ronald Lowy, a lawyer for the family who also represented Mr. Sayoc in a 2002 case in which he threatened to bomb an electric company cesar sayoc trump inaugural copy IMG 3909during a dispute over a bill. He refused to even listen when his mother reminded Mr. Sayoc that he was Filipino and Italian, not Seminole, Mr. Lowy said.

“He had tremendous anger slowly boiling up, and resentment, and felt ‘less than,’” Mr. Lowy said. “He lacked an identity. He created a persona.”

Mr. Lowy said that Mr. Sayoc’s family members were Democrats and that Mr. Sayoc seemed to have no outspoken partisan views during the 2002 case. But he said that Mr. Trump’s angry rhetoric and his appeals to the “forgotten man and woman” during the 2016 campaign seemed to strike a deep chord with Mr. Sayoc, whose father had abandoned the family when he was a child.

“He was looking for some type of parental figure and being a loner, being an outcast, being the kind of person Trump speaks to, I think he was attracted to Trump as a father figure,” Mr. Lowy said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sayoc made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates, echoed pro-Kremlin views, Craig Timberg and Tony Romm, Oct. 28, 2018. The now-deleted Facebook account belonging to Sayoc, shown at right at a Trump rally, the man charged with sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, discussed his “Russian brothers” and posted video links aligned with Russian views on the Syrian war.

U.S. Politics

Axios, Sneak Peek: Scoop — Inside Trump's last-minute road trip, Jonathan Swan, Oct. 28, 2018. President Trump is adding an 11th rally to his final six-day blitz leading into the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Trump will be ending his campaign swing, on election eve, in the pivotal Senate state of Missouri, according to a source with direct knowledge of Trump's plans.

Alexi McCammond got her hands on fresh details — dates and specific locations — of the Trump political team's schedule ahead of the midterms. The locations and dates we cite here, the big picture details of which were first reported by Bloomberg, are based on internal White House planning and could change.

• Oct. 31: Fort Myers, Florida
• Nov. 1: Columbia, Missouri
• Nov. 2: Huntington, West Virginia and an undisclosed location in Indiana
• Nov. 3: Bozeman, Montana and an undisclosed location in Florida
• Nov. 4: Macon, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee
• Nov. 5: Fort Wayne, Indiana and Cape Girardeau, Missouri
• Another rally, on a date we haven't established: an undisclosed location in Ohio

Why this matters: In his final blitz, Trump is going to Trump country within Trump states. Not a single competitive House seat lies within these locations. Between the lines: The Cook Political Report's elections analyst Amy Walter told me the schedule, developed by White House Political Director Bill Stepien, is a "very strategically smart tour" and also appears to her to basically "concede the House."

Election Rigging

washington post logoWashington Post, Russian disinformation on Facebook targeted Ukraine well before the 2016 U.S. election, Dana Priest, James Jacoby and Anya Bourg | Frontline PBS, Oct. 28, 2018.  Activists, officials and journalists from countries who reported abuses years earlier say Facebook took little or no action, according to an investigation for a new documentary.

WhoWhatWhy, Polling Site Closures in Texas Threaten Upcoming Midterm Election, Lindsay Bennett, Oct. 28, 2018. Last-minute polling closures across the Lone Star State may prevent minority and low-income voters from casting their ballots in the critical 2018 Texas midterm election.

Crime, Guns, Records Breakdown

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. criminal database missing 750,000 cases dating to 2000, Tom Jackman, Oct. 28, 2018. Failure to enter defendants’ fingerprints keeps convictions out of state records that are used for gun and background checks and crime scene investigations.

As staff members of the Virginia State Crime Commission were reviewing the state’s Central Criminal Records Exchange, they made a stunning discovery: The state court system had recorded about 11 million convictions dating to 2000, but the criminal records database showed only about 10.2 million convictions. More than 750,000 records were not in the system maintained by the Virginia State Police, including more than 300 murder convictions, 1,300 rape convictions and 4,600 felony assault convictions.

This is the database that courts and police use to check a person’s prior record, often to determine what charge or sentence is appropriate. It’s a database that state police in Virginia, and around the country, use to determine whether someone is eligible to buy a gun. It’s what state agencies and employers check to see if someone has a conviction that might disqualify them from working at, say, a child-care center. It’s also the repository for fingerprints that investigators use when trying to match a print at a crime scene to a possible perpetrator.

“What I can discern is there is confusion and breakdowns,” said state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), chairman of the crime commission, “and these need to be resolved. The list of the offenses is pretty staggering.”

Trump Ridcules Pipe Bombing Target

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump mocks Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer, the target of a pipe bomb, as a ‘stumbling lunatic,’ Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane, Oct. 28, 2018. In a tweet, the president lashed out at the billionaire liberal activist, who was one of the prominent Democrats to be sent mail bombs last week.

President Trump on Sunday lashed out at billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer, ridiculing him as a “stumbling lunatic” days after Steyer was targeted by one of more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of the president.

Trump’s tweet came shortly after Steyer accused the president and the Republican Party of creating an atmosphere of “political violence” in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Polling Site Closures in Texas Threaten Upcoming Midterm Election, Lindsay Bennett, Oct. 28, 2018. A little-known provision in the Texas Election Code allows polling locations to be switched with hardly any notice — and voting rights advocates fear that it could be used to disenfranchise low-income voters. That provision is particularly concerning this year, as this type of issue could constitute a tipping point in the hotly contested race between Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Texas officials can change — or close — polling locations up to 72 hours before an election. The provision was part of a sweeping law that Lone Star State Republicans pushed through in 2013. They did so after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision freed the state from the obligation to get federal approval for changes to its voting procedures.

Related: 5 Years After ‘Shelby County,’ Democracy Has Suffered

Texas took full advantage and put in place provisions in the Texas Election Code allowing these last-minute closures. In recent years, Republicans have increasingly focused on shutting down polling locations. Although there have been some efforts at the county level to address voting obstacles, most minority and low-income voters in Texas remain vulnerable.

In 2016, the state closed more polling locations than any other state in the country with a total of 403 closures, according to a report from the US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). Much less publicized than these closures, however, were the last-minute changes to polling locations.

Experts say this tactic primarily affects African American, Latino, and low-income voters because of limited time and access to polling locations. According to the USCCR, most of these polling closures occurred in counties with a long history of Voting Rights Act violations.

The populations affected by poll closures or changes are more likely to support Democrats. With Texas in the middle of a Senate race that is tighter than most in recent memory — and that could hand control of the Senate to the Democrats if O’Rourke manages to upset incumbent Cruz — the outcome could hinge on turnout.

Texas has the fifth lowest voter turnout in the nation and experts agree that any threat to voting rights will only reduce the state’s abysmal numbers.

A possible solution down the road, according to Dianne Trautman, a candidate for Harris County Clerk, is the Countywide Polling Place Program. The Countywide Polling Place program permits certain Texas counties to allow voters to cast their ballot at any polling location in their county. This program would allow voters to vote at any voting location on Election Day, just as they can during early voting, thereby eliminating much of the inconvenience caused by polling closures and changes.

Trautman noted that the program, which is currently being used in 52 of the 254 counties in Texas, has helped increase voter turnout.

Media Criticismchuck todd meet the press logo

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd is shown in a promotional graphic for the long-running NBC News show

Media Matters, Commentary: Chuck Todd and Meet The Press sanitize Erick Erickson's garbage, John Whitehouse, Oct. 28, 2018. Meet the Press runs with garbage, pro-Trump media push conspiracy theories about the MAGA bomber, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories spread.

Meet the Press hosted radio host Erick Erickson to talk about civility and the need for conservatives to believe in facts. This is like asking a wolf about how to keep sheep alive.
Erickson has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories. Erickson also goes to absurd lengths to protect conservatives in the face of reported facts. He endorsed reported pedophile Roy Moore for a Senate seat until the very end, on the basis that Moore was "the only one standing" against "the left." He dismissed concerns about one of President Donald Trump’s cabinet members flying in private jets because he "needs to be protected." When Erickson is on Fox or on the radio, he's more than happy to defend Trump's behavior toward the mainstream press.

And then there's just the ugly. He wrote a book warning of a "leftist-homosexual mafia" and argued in 2017 that gay men in bars who wear certain clothing are asking to be assaulted. Erickson has also endorsed the horrific practice of anti-LGBTQ "conversion therapy," a practice more akin to torture than therapy. He also compared members of the LGBTQ community to terrorists.

Erickson is an unrepentant sexist. He said of the Women’s March, "I feel sorry for all the ham and cheese that won't get made into sandwiches while all those women are marching." He's argued that "the male typically is the dominant role" and that women should stay home while men bring " home the bacon."

He called Trump's Muslim ban "brilliant politics." Erickson shot up a copy of The New York Times when the paper published an editorial on gun violence, and he blamed Obama for mass shootings. When Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was briefly jailed for contempt of court for not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Erickson warned of a civil war. In 2009, Erickson asked at what point people in Washington state might "beat [their state representative] to a bloody pulp for being an idiot."

Needless to say, none of this came up on Meet The Press, with host Chuck Todd only offering a brief nod to “some people” who say Erickson pushes conspiracy theories. Instead, Erickson was portrayed as a reasonable conservative interested in the facts.

More Media News

cenk uygur andrea edney noel st john

Cenk Uygur, founder of The Young Turks, talks with Club President Andrea Edney (Photo courtesy of Noel St. John).

National Press Club, Host and founder of The Young Turks blasts mainstream media, touts role of digital media in progressive movement, Kristina S. Groenning, Oct. 28, 2018. Cenk Uygur, host and founder of progressive digital news outlet The Young Turks, delivered a blistering attack on the mainstream media Friday at the National Press Club.

Uygur railed against what he described as a mainstream media beholden by corporate money to the status quo, in contrast to digital media outlets.

“I don’t think it has a liberal bias, I don’t think it has a conservative bias, I think it has an establishment bias,” Uygur said of the mainstream media. Referring to CNN, he said, “Why are they in favor of the status quo? They don’t want to rock the boat. It’s their boat. If you’re a multibillion dollar corporation you do not want change. You just don’t want it.”

Specifically calling out Wolf Blitzer, Uygur said, “His problem is he does have a perspective and he might not even know it. His perspective is the status quo is awesome - so Hillary Clinton is acceptable, Jeb Bush is acceptable, Bernie Sanders is not acceptable, Donald Trump is not acceptable - it oozes out of every broadcast.”

Uygur claims that the mainstream media’s establishment bias has led to inadequate and unfair coverage of progressives. “Progressives – they’re either to be dismissed and ignored or derided – Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, almost all of them,” he said. Yet establishment candidates “already have coverage. They already have power. You don’t need to shower them with more. But you do,” Uygur added.

If the media wants to be more fair and accurate in its coverage, Uygur believes it should place greater emphasis on candidates with large numbers of small non-corporate donors and volunteers. “If you saw how many volunteers Ocasio-Cortez had, if you saw how many small donors she had, you would’ve had a pretty good idea that she was gonna win. That’s how we knew. She got almost no coverage in the mainstream press. We had done thirty-four videos about her - before the election.”

Uygur also faults traditional media for sacrificing truth at the expense of maintaining neutrality, stating “[n]eutrality is not objectivity. It is the wrong standard. If you call everything 50/50, you will equate the lies and truth, and that gives lies an enormous advantage.”

He specifically recalled coverage by The New York Times of Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes that failed to cite any of his calls for violence, instead meagerly asserting that McInnes had a “nerd aesthetic.”

“To soften right wing fascists like that is despicable,” Uyger proclaimed. “You [the media] are not anywhere near liberal. You’re not anywhere near objective. All you want is neutrality at the expense of the truth,” he added.

By contrast, Uygur contends that digital media platforms like The Young Turks are “in the business of truth.” One example is its lack of hesitancy to report right wing conspiracy theories as lunacy, he said, adding “[w]e’re not worried about, hey are my ratings gonna go down if I insult or offend Republicans.”

Uygur noted that The Young Turks is free of corporate influence, because it is funded by its audience - “they’re our boss, instead of giant sponsors or donors.”

Midst unleashing his assault on the mainstream media, Uygur made a point of interjecting that “[w]e’re not the right wing. We don’t call you the enemy of the people. We want you to do a better job. We want you to get to the truth.”

Wrapping up the event, Andrea Edney, Club President and journalist of nearly twenty-five years, came to the defense of her colleagues in the mainstream media, stating “[a]ll of the reporters and editors I know work so hard to get it right. Objectivity is incredibly important. It is incredibly important to have a fair and unbiased standard of reporting. I just want to recognize here, that the reporters and editors working for newspapers and TV work really hard to get it right.”

fdr npc 1933 president raymond brandt right former pres theodore tiller

FDR receives his Club membership card from President Raymond Brandt prior to the black-tie dinner in 1933. Former Club President Theodore Tiller of The Washington Times is on the left.

National Press Club, NPC in History: FDR gets his Club membership card, Gilbert Klein, Oct. 28, 2018. For its 25th anniversary bash on May 29, 1933 – the Silver Jubilee – the Club invited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to be the guest of honor at the black-tie event less than three months after he was inaugurated.

As was customary, the Club wanted to present the new president with his membership card. Every president since Woodrow Wilson had been a Club member – and they all paid their dues, like any other member (a tradition that lasted through President Kennedy).

As you can see from the accompanying photo, Roosevelt accepted the special silver-engraved membership card while standing up, something painful for him to do as he tried to hide his disability. The braces on his legs are clearly visible at his shoes, and he seems to have a firm grip on the arm of Club President Raymond Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Roosevelt was still standing, supporting himself on the back of a heavy chair, when a short British Pathe news clip recorded his quips.

“One of the speakers mentioned he was only a partway member because he wasn’t sure whether the check he drew was good or not,” Roosevelt said in his famously patrician voice. “I am not that far advanced in membership as that because the only complaint I have against the new secretary of the treasury is that I have had no salary to date and have drawn no checks.”

According to The Washington Post story the next morning, as part of the membership ceremony, FDR was “assigned” by Frank B. Lloyd, who was what we now call the membership secretary, to “cover” the White House.

The president was described as “the most promising cub reporter that ever came out of Hyde Park.” He was charged with the duty of being extremely courteous to his fellow newspapermen, “to report not only on the detailed doings of the President, but also to provide his fellow correspondents with carbon copies of every presidential pronouncement, and to be fully and frankly responsive to their inquiries.”

“The pass word of the tribe, Mr. President,” Mr. Lord told him, “is ‘whatduyeno?’ and the response is ‘nuthin, whatduyeno?’”

This is another in a series provided by Club historian Gil Klein. Dig down anywhere in the Club’s 110-year history, and you will find some kind of significant event in the history of the world, the nation, Washington, journalism and the Club itself. Many of these events were caught in illustrations that tell the stories. The video of Roosevelt speaking that evening can be found here.

Oct. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls shooting a ‘wicked act of mass murder,’ Seung Min Kim and Katie Zezima, Oct. 27, 2018. The president said anti-Semitism must be condemned and confronted, and suggested the incident had “little to do with” gun laws.

Palmer Report, Opinion: You can draw a straight line from today’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting to Donald Trump’s antisemitic remarks yesterday, Bill Palmer, Oct. 27, 2018. We’re often told not to politicize tragedies, particularly right after they happen. But those admonishments typically come from those who know they’re on the wrong side of it, and therefore don’t want any discussion about it. And in a week which saw a Trump supporter driving around in a Trump van trying to murder Trump’s political enemies, all bets are off.

So I’ll just say it: Donald Trump murdered the Jews who died in a Pittsburgh synagogue this morning. He might as well have pulled the trigger himself.

hillary clinton twitterYou can draw a straight line from today’s shooting to two things Donald Trump said yesterday. First, he basically laughed off the fact that one of his biggest supporters had been arrested for trying to murder prominent Democrats. He played it up for fun. He yelled around about “Crooked Hillary” yesterday, even though Hillary (shown left on her Twitter photo) was one of the bomb targets. He couldn’t have sent a more clear signal to the alt-crazies out there that this kind of violence – so long as it’s aligned with his agenda – is just fine with the “President” of the United States.

Trump also said something more specific yesterday. During a televised White House event he made a point of railing against “globalists.” On the far right, that’s code for Jews. Want proof? After Trump said the word “globalists” his supporters in the room began yelling out the name of George Soros, a prominent Jew who’s blamed by the alt-crazies for pretty much everything going on in the world. Then they chanted “lock him up” about Soros. Then Trump repeated it: “lock him up.” His message couldn’t be more clear: Jews like Soros should be punished just for being Jews like Soros. This reinforced what Trump said last year about: there were “very fine people on both djt ad jail clintonsides” of the pro-Nazi and anti-Nazi debate.

Sure enough, a guy opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue today. Then, by all accounts, he told police that he was looking to kill as many Jews as possible. We’ll see if this guy was specifically a Donald Trump supporter or not – but that doesn’t even matter. The point is that the President of the United States confirmed yesterday that he has no problem with people carrying out political or ideological violence in general, and then he announced that Jews should be punished.

Trump isn’t just to blame for this violence; he’s giving these people instructions.

Bombing Plot Against Democrats

cesar sayoc muscles trump sign

Alleged mail bomber Cesar Sayoc Jr. at a Trump rally

ny times logoNew York Times, Cesar Sayoc’s Path on Social Media: From Food Photos to Partisan Fury, Kevin Roose, Oct. 27, 2018. By the time he was arrested, Mr. Sayoc appeared to fit a familiar profile of a modern extremist, radicalized online and sucked into a vortex of partisan furor. Twitter was warned at least once about Mr. Sayoc’s threatening behavior, but failed to act.

Until 2016, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr.’s life on social media looked unremarkable. On his Facebook page, he posted photos of decadent meals, gym workouts, scantily clad women and sports games — the stereotypical trappings of middle-age masculinity.

But that year, Mr. Sayoc’s social media presence took on a darker and more partisan tone. He opened a new Twitter account and began posting links to sensational right-wing news stories, adding captions like “Clinton busted exposed rigging entire election.” On Facebook, his anodyne posts gave way to a feed overflowing with pro-Donald Trump images, news stories about Muslims and the Islamic State, far-fetched conspiracy theories and clips from Fox News broadcasts.

maxine waters cnnBy the time he was arrested in Florida on Friday, charged with sending pipe bombs to at least a dozen of President Trump’s critics, Mr. Sayoc appeared to fit the all-too-familiar profile of a modern extremist, radicalized online and sucked into a vortex of partisan furor. In recent weeks, he had posted violent fantasies and threats against several people to whom pipe bombs were addressed, including Representative Maxine Waters (right), a California Democrat, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

His vehicle, a white van plastered with right-wing slogans, came to resemble a Facebook feed on wheels.

“He went from posting pictures of women, real estate, dining and cars to posting pictures of ISIS, guns and people in jail,” said Jonathan Albright, the research director for Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “It’s a remarkable change.”

cesar sayoc van

Van of bombing suspect Cesar Savoc, plastered with decals vilifying liberals and Democrats to whom he is accused of sending pipe bombs

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Enough with the false equivalence already, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 27, 2018. On a day when Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric and vicious lies resulted in one of his own biggest supporters being arrested for trying to murder fourteen prominent Democrats, one might expect to hear pundits saying the obvious: Trump is the problem here. It couldn’t be any more clear. There are very few days with an absolute right and an absolute wrong, but when one side is trying to blow the other up, it’s indeed one of those rare days. Yet we’ve spent the past 24 hours hearing a staggering amount of false equivalency in bad faith.

The false equivalency argument comes in two parts. The first premise is that liberals annoying Republican politicians in restaurants is somehow the same thing as Trump supporters trying to murder Democratic politicians. The second premise is that the Trump supporter sending these bombs is the same thing as the Bernie steve scaliseSanders supporter who shot Republican Congressman Steve Scalise (shown at left). These are both absurd, for different reasons.

The first one is obvious. If you chant unpleasant things at a Republican politician who’s trying to eat dinner, that’s a First Amendment matter. You have a right to do it, and the restaurant owner has a right to kick you out for it. No one’s safety is in danger. At worst, some might consider it to be in bad taste – but that’s at worst. So what does this have to do with a guy trying to blow up the Obamas and Clintons? Nothing, of course.

The second one requires a bit more thought. It’s true that a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to assassinate Steve Scalise. But here’s the thing: Bernie Sanders had nothing to do with it. Bernie never once falsely accused Scalise of being a criminal, or suggested to his followers that violence was the way to settle these kinds of disagreements. The shooter decided entirely on his own that Scalise was somehow Bernie’s enemy, and that violence was the solution.

djt maurice symonette trump rallyThank God that Scalise survived – but the whole thing had nothing to do with Bernie Sanders or his support base. This was just one crazed guy who completely failed to understand what Bernie was even talking about, and acted on something that only existed in his depraved mind.

Contrast that with the fact that Donald Trump [shown in a file photo at a rally with acquitted murder suspect Maurice Symonette, aka "Michael the Black Man," with a poster supporting Trump] has falsely accused Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Maxine Waters, and James Clapper of various felonies – and he did this while encouraging violence toward the left in general. When this Trump supporter decided to try to blow up the people Trump had been viciously and falsely accusing of crimes, he understood exactly what Trump was saying.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cesar Sayoc was ‘someone lost’ — but then he ‘found a father in Trump,’ family attorney tells CNN, Amy B Wang, Matt Zapotosky, Annie Gowen and Sari Horwitz, Oct. 27, 2018. When Cesar Altieri Sayoc was arrested Friday, accused of sending at least 13 mail bombs in recent days to prominent critics of President Trump, a glimpse of the Florida 56-year-old’s white van seemed to offer the most immediate insight into his motivations.

The van’s windows were blanketed with pro-Trump decals, alongside images of prominent Democratic figures that were unflattering, at best, or literally in the crosshairs of a red target, at worst. Other stickers blared “Dishonest Media” and “CNN sucks.”

cesar sayoc trump inaugural copy IMG 3909On Twitter, Sayoc (shown at a pro-Trump gathering in Washington, DC) trafficked conspiracy theories and ranted about liberal billionaire George Soros, former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and others whose politics were out of line with his.

But nearly two decades ago, when Miami attorney Ronald Lowy first met Sayoc to represent him during some legal troubles, Lowy said Sayoc struck him as an insecure man, “like a 14-year-old in an adult’s body,” who was obsessed with bodybuilding and nightclubs — and who had no interest whatsoever in politics.

Lowy told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday that Sayoc’s father had abandoned the family when Sayoc was young and that, in his opinion, Sayoc had struggled with identity issues as a result.

“This was someone lost,” Lowy told Cooper. “He was looking for anything, and he found a father in Trump."

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCADespite his former political apathy, Sayoc quickly latched onto Trump (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) as he emerged on the political stage and ultimately became president, said Lowy, who is now representing Sayoc’s family members.

“It’s my opinion that he was attracted to the Trump formula of reaching out … to these types of outsiders, people who don’t fit in, people who are angry at America, telling them that they have a place at the table, telling them that it’s okay to get angry,” Lowy told Cooper.

Heavy, Cesar Sayoc’s Nationality: Suspect Was Immigrant’s Son, Jessica McBride, Oct. 27, 2018. Cesar Sayoc, who stands accused of sending a string of packages with explosive devices to top Democrats, is the son of a Filipino immigrant and his Brooklyn-born wife.

cesar sayoc heavy with tieThe arrest of Sayoc (shown at right) has some people wondering more about his nationality and biography.

Sayoc, 56, of South Florida, is a registered Republican who plastered his van and social media accounts with pro Donald Trump and Republican rhetoric, trashing many of the same Democrats who received packages. He now stands accused of multiple federal crimes after fingerprint and DNA evidence led authorities to him. He was such a fervent Trump supporter that he filled his social media accounts with photos and video from Trump rallies, some showing him wearing a Make America Great Again hat. You can see those photos and videos here.

What’s known about Cesar Sayoc’s nationality? Here’s what you need to know:

The naturalization record of Sayoc’s father

Cesar Sayoc refers in multiple social media posts to the Seminole tribe. However, that tribe says he is not a member. “We can find no evidence that Cesar Altieri, Caesar Altieri, Caesar Altieri Sayoc, Ceasar Altieri Randazzo (Facebook) or Julus Cesar Milan (Twitter) is or was a member or employee of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, or is or was an employee of Seminole Gaming or Hard Rock International,” Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said, according to Rolling Stone.

Rather, Sayoc was born to a father who moved to the United States from the Philippines. The Sayoc surname is most commonly found in the Philippines (second density for the surname is in the United States).

Cesar Sayoc, the package suspect, was born in Brooklyn, New York.

Sayoc’s mother is from Brooklyn and his father, Cesar Sayoc Sr., was from the Philippines. The Miami Herald reports that his father was an immigrant from that country and “was naturalized in 1970 in North Miami Beach.” Heavy has obtained Sayoc’s dad’s naturalization record from Ancestry.com, which you can read above.

The immigration record says the father, who spelled his name Ceasar Sayoc, came from Manila and was living in North Miami Beach. He arrived in the United States in 1956, the record states. Ancestry records indicate Sayoc’s father died in 2009 and received a social security number in California. The Miami Herald reports that this Ceasar Sayoc is believed to be the suspect’s father. There is a divorce record for Sayoc’s parents on Ancestry.

In the immigration records, Sayoc’s mother indicated she was born in Brooklyn, New York and was a citizen. Her nationality is not given. The parents met while attending beauty school, according to the record from Ancestry.com. Florida corporation records show Sayoc’s mother has run several businesses in Florida.‌

On LinkedIn, Sayoc painted quite an elaborate tale about his family background, but not all of it checks out. However, he does claim to have relatives from the Philippines.

The suspect also wrote on LinkedIn that he was a “Promoter, booking agent Live entertainment, owner, choreographer.” His cousin, who declined to be identified, told NBC News that Sayoc was a “lost soul” whose brain was affected from taking steroids.

The cousin told NBC that Sayoc worked as a dancer and bouncer at strip clubs, telling the network, “He’s always been a little bit of a loose cannon. He’s always been a lost soul. Too many steroids in his day. That stuff will melt your brain.”

U.S. Politics: House Spending

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Rushing to Save House Seats From Onslaught of Democratic Money, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Oct. 27, 2018. The G.O.P. is rushing to fortify the party’s defenses in conservative-leaning districts they thought were secure but may now be at risk. The party’s traditional advantage in outside spending has been reversed: Democratic organizations are outspending their G.O.P. counterparts on advertising, about $85 million to $53 million.

As the 2018 midterm campaign enters its final full week, House Republicans are rushing to fortify their defenses in conservative-leaning districts they thought were secure, pouring millions of dollars into a last-minute bid to build a new firewall against Democrats.

Republicans, in defending a 23-seat majority, are likely to lose a handful of open or Democratic-tilting seats as well as another dozen suburban districts that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, according to political strategists in both parties. But now Republican officials are increasingly concerned about Democratic incursions in some of the remaining 30 competitive districts on the House map where the Republican candidates thought they had an edge.

For the final two weeks of the election, Democratic campaigns and outside groups are on track to substantially outspend Republicans, strategists on both sides say. Democrats are set to spend $143 million on television advertising in House races, compared with $86 million for Republicans, according to one analysis by a Democratic strategist tracking media buys.

World Crisis Radio, http://tarpley.net/trump-hooverized-by-ongoing-stock-market-implosion/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Trump Hooverized by Ongoing Stock Market Implosion, Host: Webster G. Tarpley, Oct. 27, 2018 (74:02 mins. Ominous S&P Double Top Emerges; S&P Now in Correction Territory at 2659; A Dive Below 2580 Would Unleash “The Sum of All Fears”; FBI’s Bombing Suspect Cesar Sayoc Is Disturbed Pro-Trump Fanatic; His Van a MAGA Shrine Plastered with Scurrilous GOP Propaganda; Cop: “His Motive Was on His Van”; FBI Quickly Covered Paranoid Display Embarrassing to White House; GOP Line of Killer Cuts to Health Care, Lies, Hysteria, and Vote Suppression Shows Need to End One-Party Rule; Congressional Democrats Lead by 10% on Eve of Landmark Vote; Beware GOP “Drive for Five” to Use Republican Lite Hogan to Make Maryland the New Kansas Disaster

Inside Washington: Immigration

llewellyn king photo logo

White House Chronicle, Commentary: Walking Toward Hope on the Southern Border, Llewellyn King, Oct. 27, 2018. Llewellyn King, shown above, is executive producer and host of "White House Chronicle" on PBS. If you want to come to the United States illegally, the worst point of entry is along the southern border. If the U.S. Border Patrol doesn’t get you, the gangs that prey on the hapless might; if not, you have a good chance of dying of heat prostration and lack of food and water in the desert.

The smart ones, the conniving illegals, aren’t the destitute walking in blazing heat for a rendezvous with Border Patrol agents and then lord knows what, but those who fly in with student visas, tourist visas and other travel documents and disappear into the shadows.

The people in what is loosely called a “caravan” now walking toward the border have been failed by the societies that bore them. They live in fear of murder, fear of repeated rape and other violence, and fear of starvation. They live in their own circle of hell.

But they aren’t alone. There are many millions more in the failed and failing states, war-ravaged and drought-plagued, in Africa and the Middle East, trying to find a new home. Their exodus is a trickle today but will be a torrent tomorrow and a flood later.

The hopeless are on the march and they threaten to engulf some nations, like tiny Malta, an island in the Mediterranean and a European Union member state.
Europe is struggling with a flood of desperate people who cross the Mediterranean from North Africa in overloaded rafts and boats, risking drowning to reach Malta, Greece or Italy: places where they hope for food, shelter and safety.

Illegal immigration is a global problem. No country has a solution and no country deals well with it.

There is no grand solution at hand, but there are small things that can be done. For us, the first might be to stop worsening conditions in the countries that are generating the flows of people toward the border. Two things would help: Don’t cut off foreign aid, exacerbating economic conditions, and don’t cut off the flow of expatriate earnings, which is so important in those countries. In other words, stop the deportations.

Inside the CIA: Key Whistleblower Dies

washington post logoWashington Post, Victor Marchetti, disillusioned CIA officer who challenged secrecy rules, dies at 88, Matt Schudel, Oct. 27, 2018. Victor Marchetti, a high-ranking CIA officer who victor marchetti family photogrew disillusioned and co-wrote a best-selling book in the 1970s about the agency’s inner workings, resulting in a legal battle over wether the CIA could censor the writings of its past employees, died Oct. 19 at his home in Ashburn, Va. He was 88. He had complications from dementia, his son Chris Marchetti said.

Mr. Marchetti, shown in a family photo at right, joined the CIA in 1955, after a college interview with a mysterious figure who had two missing fingers. Mr. Marchetti thought he had found his spiritual and professional home.He rose in the agency’s ranks, with laudatory performance evaluations. He became an intelligence analyst who specialized in Soviet military affairs and by 1968 was executive assistant to the CIA’s deputy director, Rufus Taylor.

A year later, Mr. Marchetti resigned for “personal reasons.”

“Sitting up there I began to see how it’s all pulled together, the interplay with the rest of the executive branch of the government,” he told The Post. “The agency is the most romantic segment of the intelligence community, but I began to lose faith in it and its purpose, in intelligence in general.”

In 1971, he published a novel, The Rope-Dancer, which portrayed an inept “National Intelligence Agency” whose director was a spy for the Soviet Union. The CIA grew concerned victor marchetti john marks cia cult coverthat Mr. Marchetti had gone rogue.

At the time, revelations were emerging about clandestine wars, secret airlines and CIA ma­nipu­la­tion of international rebellions and coups. With his inside knowledge, Mr. Marchetti wrote a nonfiction manuscript, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” with former State Department intelligence officer John D. Marks . They described what they considered an agency that had too much money and not enough supervision.

“He was a man deeply offended by what he perceived to be wrong,” Marks said Saturday about Mr. Marchetti. “He showed great courage in standing up for what he believed.”

CIA officers are required to sign an agreement that any books or articles they write about espionage, whether fact or fiction, must be cleared by the agency beforehand. When Mr. Marchetti and Marks submitted their book to the CIA for review, it came back with demands that 339 passages be removed for compromising national security.

The authors and their publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, supported by the legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit. They charged that the CIA was improperly imposing “prior restraint” before publication and therefore violating the First Amendment right of freedom of the press.

“The agency’s attempt to muzzle Marchetti was one of the first maneuvers to put a curtain of secrecy in front of itself,” historian John Prados, the author of several books about the CIA, said Saturday in an interview. Mr. Marchetti and his legal team argued that much of the information in the book was already on the public record or was absurdly benign — frank churchsuch as descriptions of wood-paneled offices.

Over time, the CIA’s lawyers relented on about half of their suggested changes. When the book was published in 1974, it contained 168 blank sections marked with the word “Deleted.” (By the time a federal judge in Virginia further reduced the number of deletions to 27, the book was already in production.)

The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence became a best seller. In 1975, CIA Director William E. Colby admitted the agency had violated its charter by spying on U.S. citizens — one of whom was Mr. Marchetti. The same year, a Senate committee led by Frank Church (D-Idaho), left, investigated abuses by the CIA. Marks and Mr. Marchetti’s book “gave the Church Committee a road map that this is what the CIA does,” Prados said.

War Clouds: Europe, Russia, The Ukraine

Strategic Culture Foundation via SouthFront, Commentary: Azov Sea Resolution Adopted: European Parliament Takes Another Swipe at Russia, Alex Gorka, Oct. 27, 2018. The European Parliament (EP) has adopted a resolution calling for tougher sanctions from the European Union (EU) against Russia, should the situation in the Azov Sea continue to deteriorate.

The document states that the Kerch bridge was built illegally, therefore the EP welcomes the council’s decision to impose restrictive measures against the companies involved in its construction. It suggests the creation of the position of special envoy on Crimea and the Donbass region in order to monitor the development of events there. And it warns about wider security implications that directly affect the EU. It demands that Russia “immediately end the intensive and discriminatory inspections of vessels and to consider, if necessary, appropriate countermeasures.”

They are doing everything to goad Kiev into taking a confrontational approach and turning the Azov Sea into a flashpoint with a showdown expected at any minute.

Oct. 26

cesar altieri sayoc

 washington post logoWashington Post, Bomb suspect charged with 5 federal crimes; fingerprints and DNA tie him to devices, as one more package found, authorities say, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 26, 2018. Records show Cesar Sayoc, 56, shown above in a booking photo, has a lengthy criminal record. Sayoc had a 2002 arrest for a bomb threat cesar altieri burlesque show manager IMG 3911and others for larceny and fraud. After the Friday arrest, FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel could be seen in news footage draping a blue tarp over what was believed to be his van in a South Florida parking lot.

A man in Florida with a lengthy criminal record was arrested and charged Friday in connection with the suspected mail bombs sent to high profile figures, authorities said. (A sample envelope and pipe apparatus shown by authorities is at left.)

cesar sayoc pipe bomb evidenceThe arrest came on the same day law enforcement responded to three more devices — in Florida, New York and California — pushing the total number of packages found by authorities to 13. All of the devices were sent to people who have criticized or clashed with President Trump, and while none have detonated, officials have been on high alert and worried about whether more could be delivered.

The suspect has been identified as 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc. State records show he had a criminal record dating back decades, including a past arrest for making a bomb threat. He had posted an online resume at right promoting experience as a "Promoter, booking agent Live entertainment owner, choreographer."

Sayoc was charged with transporting explosives across state lines, illegally mailing explosives, threatening former presidents and others, threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officials, according to charging documents. He faces up to 58 years in prison, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference announcing the charges.

democratic donkey logoFBI Director Christopher Wray referred to the 13 explosive devices recovered so far as “IEDs,” an acronym for improvised explosive devices. He said investigators were able to trace Sayoc after finding a fingerprint on an envelope containing a bomb sent to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and that DNA found on two of the devices matched a sample previously taken from Sayoc during an earlier arrest.

Inside the packages sent to three of the potential targets — former president Barack Obama, below right, former CIA director John Brennan and Waters — were a picture of each person with red "X" marks on them, according to the criminal complaint, filed by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

A suspicious package addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) found Friday at a Sacramento mail facility is also suspected to have been sent by Sayoc, a law enforcement official said. An aide to Harris said her office was told the package was similar to the others that had been sent to public figures. Tom Steyer, a major Democratic donor, also said Friday that a suspicious package mailed to him was intercepted in California; it was not immediately clear if that package was linked to the others.

Palmer Report, Commentary: Donald Trump gives utterly horrible speech after FBI arrests Trump supporter for sending bombs, Bill Palmer, below right, Oct. 26, 2018. This morning, the FBI bill palmerarrested Cesar Sayoc for sending bombs to numerous prominent Democratic political figures. Based on the propaganda on his van and his social media pages, Sayoc is a huge supporter of Donald Trump. Moments after the arrest, Trump held a pre-scheduled event at the White House. He gave a brief and generic statement condemning the bomber, but before long, Trump and his audience dissolved into incendiary rhetoric.

george soros uncreditedDuring his televised speech, Donald Trump lashed out at “globalists” which prompted some people in his audience to begin yelling the name of George Soros (left) – who was targeted by the bomber – while also chanting “lock him up.”

To be clear, Trump’s supporters were calling for Soros to be locked up, not the guy who tried to kill Soros. Donald Trump then repeated the “lock him up” remark himself. Again, this came after the FBI arrested a Trump supporter for sending these bombs.

That’s right, after one of Donald Trump’s own supporters was arrested for trying to murder George Soros and other liberals, Trump’s response is that he wants Soros to be imprisoned. It’s clear that Trump has no intention of taking responsibility for his own rhetoric, and if anything, he’s ramping up that rhetoric.

The Atlantic, Why the Mail Bomber Wasn’t Charged With Terrorism, Kathy Gilsinan, For domestic actors without international connections, the First Amendment and other civil-liberties protections make it tough to do so.

Donald Trump condemned a spate of attempted mail bombings this week as “terrorizing acts.” And his Justice Department today charged a suspect with five federal crimes, including interstate transportation of an explosive and threats against former presidents.

Announcing the charges against Cesar Sayoc of Florida, Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized the mailings, which were directed at prominent critics of Trump, as “political violence” — which is a common way of describing terrorism.

cesar altieri sayocSo why wasn’t Sayoc (shown at right in a mug shot) charged with terrorism?

There’s a popular perception that investigators are quicker to label violent crimes by Muslims “terrorism” than they are, say, right-wing extremist violence. This perception is well founded, and the approach is morally inconsistent, but the reasons aren’t necessarily related to racism.

In the United States, the most frequently used terrorism-related charge, by far, is for providing “material support” to a foreign terrorist organization. Support can mean anything from offering money or advice to showing up in person to help a group that is on the State Department’s designated list of terrorist organizations.

These days, the organization at issue tends to be ISIS. Modern terrorism in the United States is largely a homegrown phenomenon; even most of the actors charged with ISIS-related offenses in the U.S. are American citizens or permanent residents. But in the eyes of the law, the connection to an international terrorist group, even if it’s only rhetorical or ideological, matters a great deal.

For domestic actors without such connections, the law — and the intelligence community’s investigative powers — runs up against First Amendment and other civil-liberties protections. The U.S. government does not formally designate domestic terrorist organizations. So it may not be illegal to give money to a domestic extremist group like Aryan Nations, even if some members commit violence.

“The First Amendment protects the right of people to associate with each other,” said Mary McCord, a former acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department who is currently a professor at Georgetown Law. “And it certainly protects the right for people to express their points of view, political or otherwise.”

“We don’t worry about that with foreign terrorist organizations because foreign terrorist organizations don’t have First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution,” McCord said.

In effect, whether a suspect gets formal “terrorism” charges or not, the justice system still allows for harsh punishment. Sessions noted that if convicted, Sayoc could face up to 50 years in prison. But the political discussion remains acute and divisive.

“Often the question really is one that focuses just on the policy side, whether or not we want to think of this as terrorism, or whether it feels like terrorism,” said Matthew Olsen, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, which coordinates terrorism-related intelligence across the government.

Either way, with the count of mailed explosive devices now at 13 and a suspect in custody, the terror has spread, and so have the politics.

cesar sayoc michael symonette IMG 3908

Bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc poses with "Michael the Black Man," variously known as Michael Symonette and Michael Israel, at a "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) rally for Trump (file photo). See Washington Post story, excerpted below, on "Michael the Black Man," a religious cult member acquitted of two murders in Florida and a frequent presence at Trump rallies positioned behind the president by rally organizers to show racial diversity on television screens while the president speaks. Separately, news reports state that Sayoc worked many years as a bouncer and / or promotions worker in the strip club scene in the Miami area.

washington post logoWashington Post, Who is Sayoc? Here’s what we know about the suspect, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Mark Berman​, Oct. 26, 2018 (print edition). Cesar Altieri Sayoc is believed to be the owner of a white van plastered with names and photos of prominent Democrats and media figures, several of them framed by shooting targets.

Next to the pro-Trump stickers plastered all over the white van authorities believe belongs to Cesar Sayoc are the names and photos of dozens of prominent Democrats and media figures — former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former first lady Michelle Obama, former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta E. Lynch, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, filmmaker Michael Moore, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.

Authorities on Friday arrested Sayoc and identified him as a suspect in the sprawling mail-bomb scare that included at least a dozen suspicious packages sent to political and media figures, including many pictured on the van.

republican elephant logoSayoc, a 56-year-old registered Republican, lives in Aventura, Fla., near the facility from where many of the packages were mailed, authorities said.

Sayoc, who was previously known to law enforcement officials, has been arrested nearly a dozen times in Florida, including a 2002 arrest for making a bomb threat. His criminal record in the state extends to the early 1990s, starting with his arrest for larceny at the age of 29, according to state records. Other charges of larceny, grand theft and fraud would soon follow across the southern part of the state.

In the 2002 bomb threat case, Sayoc pleaded guilty to the felony without a trial and was sentenced to probation, the records show.

According to Miami-Dade County jail booking records, Sayoc called Florida Power and Light and threatened to blow up the local electric utility. Sayoc said “it would be worse than Sept. 11″ and also threatened something would happen to the FPL representative he was talking to if the utility cut his electricity.

FBI logoHe declared bankruptcy in 2012, according to a court filing that said he lived with his mother at that time.

A lawsuit in which Sayoc was deposed said he had been a manager at a strip club called Stir Crazy for 35 years. In that same deposition, Sayoc claimed he was also a pro wrestler, a Chippendales dancer, a professional soccer player in Milan, and an arena football player in Arizona.

See related 2017 story on MAGA supporter "Michael the Black Man."

washington post logoWashington Post, The strange story of that ‘Blacks for Trump’ guy standing behind POTUS at his Phoenix rally, Katie Mettler and Lindsey Bever, Aug. 23, 2017. At a number of political rallies over the past year, a character calling himself “Michael the Black Man” has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and prompting widespread fascination.

He holds signs that scream “BLACKS FOR TRUMP” and wears a T-shirt proclaiming with equal conviction that “TRUMP & Republicans Are Not Racist.”

Almost always, he plugs his wild website, Gods2.com, across his chest.

And so it was Tuesday night before a crowd of Trump supporters in Phoenix who had come to watch another show. There was the president, whipping up the wildly cheering crowd, and then there was Michael the Black Man, chanting just beyond Trump’s right shoulder in that trademark T-shirt.

The presence of Michael — variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel — has inspired not only trending Twitter hashtags but a great deal of curiosity and Google searches. Internet sleuths find the man’s bizarre URL, an easily accessible gateway to his strange and checkered past.

barack obama smile HRThe radical fringe activist from Miami once belonged to a violent black supremacist religious cult, and he runs a handful of amateur, unintelligible conspiracy websites. He has called Barack Obama (right) “The Beast” and Hillary Clinton a Ku Klux Klan member. Oprah Winfrey, he says, is the devil.

Most curiously, in the 1990s, he was charged, then acquitted, with conspiracy to commit two murders.

But Michael the Black Man loves President Trump.

It’s unclear whether the White House or Trump’s campaign officials are aware of Michael the Black Man’s turbulent history or extreme political views.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a Washington Post query about Michael the Black Man by saying, in a Wednesday-morning email: “You would have to contact the campaign.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Man Arrested in Connection With Pipe Bombs Sent to Trump Critics, William K. Rashbaum and Alan Feuer, Oct. 26, 2018. Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Trump.

cory booker official profileIt was not immediately clear who had been taken into custody, but the arrest took place in Florida, two law enforcement officials said. The arrest came only hours after the mysterious spate of pipe bombs spread further on Friday morning as federal authorities said that they had found two more of the explosive devices: one addressed to Senator Cory Booker, left, and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.

cnn logoThe package addressed to Mr. Clapper was meant to be delivered to the New York offices of CNN, where he works as an analyst, but was intercepted at a mail facility in Midtown Manhattan, police officials in New York City said. The package addressed to Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, was found in Florida, which two people briefed on the matter have said has become a focus of the intense, nationwide investigation into the bombs.

ny times logojames clapper oNew York Times, Two More Bombs Found, Addressed to Cory Booker and CNN, Oct. 26, 2018. Two more explosive devices were intercepted today: One was sent to Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., right, the former director of national intelligence. The package sent to Mr. Clapper was addressed to CNN’s offices in New York.

Saudi Murder Probe Pressure

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Virginia and Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

The Guardian, Erdoğan tells Saudis: show us where Jamal Khashoggi's body is, Bethan McKernan, Oct. 26, 2018. Turkish president also says Riyadh needs to name ‘local cooperator’ who helped dispose of body. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has made fresh demands on Saudi Arabia to disclose the location of Jamal Khashoggi’s body and identify who ordered his killing, in a sign that Ankara is willing to keep up the pressure on the beleaguered kingdom.

Eighteen men arrested in Saudi Arabia “must know” who killed the journalist and where his remains were taken, Erdoğan said in parliament on Friday, adding that the person who “gave the orders” for the alleged murder must be brought to justice and the suspects extradited for trial in Istanbul.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileRiyadh’s changing accounts of what happened have been “comic”, the president said, calling them “childish statements … not compatible with the seriousness of a nation state.”
“Who gave that order? If you want to eliminate the suspicion [about you], the key question is these 18 people,” Erdoğan said. “You know how to make people talk,” he added, in a reference to the powerful Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right. “But if you cannot make them talk, then hand them over to us. This incident happened in Istanbul. Let us put them on trial.”

Erdoğan also urged the Saudis to identify the “local collaborator” whom they say disposed of Khashoggi’s remains. His pointed remarks come after he spoke to the heir to the Saudi throne for the first time on Wednesday about cooperating in the evolving diplomatic crisis.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, As midterms near, Trump relaunches an angry, nativist appeal to core supporters, Matt Viser and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 26, 2018. The Central American caravan provides the president with a new spin on an issue he has used to close every election since he entered the presidential contest: immigration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump considering plan to ban entry of migrants at southern border, deny asylum, Nick Miroff, Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 26, 2018 (print edition).  With the president's attention fixed on the migrant caravan moving through Mexico, the White House is weighing whether to shut the border to Central Americans and deny them the opportunity to seek asylum, according to administration officials.

Election Rigging

nsa official logoWired, Commentary: I Bought Used Voting Machines on eBay for $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming, Brian Varner, Oct. 26, 2018.  Brian Varner is a Symantec special projects researcher on the Cyber Security Services team, leading the company's CyberWar Games and emerging technologies development. He previously worked at the National Security Agency as a tactical analyst.

In 2016, I bought two voting machines online for less than $100 apiece. I didn't even have to search the dark web. I found them on eBay.
Surely, I thought, these machines would have strict guidelines for lifecycle control like other sensitive equipment, like medical devices. I was wrong. I was able to purchase a pair of direct-recording electronic voting machines and have them delivered to my home in just a few days. I did this again just a few months ago.

If getting voting machines delivered to my door was shockingly easy, getting inside them proved to be simpler still. The tamper-proof screws didn’t work, all the computing equipment was still intact, and the hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.

My aim in purchasing voting machines was not to undermine our democracy. I'm a security researcher at Symantec who started buying the machines as part of an ongoing effort to identify their vulnerabilities and strengthen election security. In 2016, I was conducting preliminary research for our annual CyberWar Games, a company-wide competition where I design simulations for our employees to hack into. Since it was an election year, I decided to create a scenario incorporating the components of a modern election system. But if I were a malicious actor seeking to disrupt an election, this would be akin to a bank selling its old vault to an aspiring burglar.

Vote Suppression / Law

alliance for justice logo

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomAlliance for Justice, Commentary: The Court v. Democracy, Bill Yeomans (right), Oct. 26, 2018. The American people will have the opportunity to vote in less than two weeks in midterm elections that may prove the most consequential in decades. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of qualified voters will face barriers established by Republican state officials, and millions more will have the impact of their votes diluted by partisan gerrymandering. The effect of all of this will be exacerbated by the distorting flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of dark money into elections. Republicans stand to benefit. In each instance, their advantage was enabled by the Republican-appointed majority of the Supreme Court.

For decades, Republicans have operated on the principle that they prosper when fewer people vote. The Republican base has become older, whiter, and smaller as the overall population has become more diverse. Republicans’ ace-in-the hole has been that older and whiter voters generally turn out in higher percentages than younger, poorer, and more diverse voters. That effect is exaggerated in midterm elections. Without a presidential contest, interest is low and Republicans over-perform, as they did in taking the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

As the Republican demographic disadvantage has grown and the party’s base has consolidated around its older, white core, Republicans have understood that they must find ways to shrink the electorate by carving out Democrats without cutting their base. They have adopted a phony voter fraud mantra to justify a range of voter suppression measures, including the adoption of photo ID requirements, and strict rules requiring purging voters for non-participation or slightly inconsistent registration information. They have also shortened periods for early voting, eliminated pre-registration for 17-year olds, and changed and eliminated polling places. These measures disproportionally burden poor and minority voters in the service of combating voting fraud that nobody has been able to identify.

How can such obviously anti-democratic voter suppression measures be legal? Occasionally, they’re not, but far too often Republican legislators and administrators are successful in defending them or can stay one step ahead of litigation. That’s largely because of two disastrous Supreme Court decisions, in which the Roberts Court ensured that the law would accommodate these shenanigans blocking access to the ballot.

U.S. Economy / Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Economy Grew at 3.5% Rate in Third Quarter, Nelson D. Schwartz, Oct. 26, 2018. The U.S. economy is on track for its fastest annual growth since 2005 as the G.D.P rose at a 3.5 percent rate in the third quarter.

#MeToo: Homeless Women

washington post logoWashington Post, Personal Commentary: Homeless women are the sexual assault survivors no one talks about. Here’s my story, Lori Yearwood, Oct. 26, 2018.Within months, the writer lost her house, her family and business, and wound up, traumatized, on the streets of Salt Lake City. She spent two years enduring brutality as a homeless woman before she found the strength to pull herself out.

Tech Morality

Moon of Alabama, Commentary, Autonomous Cars And Moral Decisions - Should Only The Well-Behaved Survive? b, Oct. 26, 2018. While lots of companies in Silicon Valley work on self driving cars many people remain skeptical of these. The introduction of such cars raises technical, legal and most importantly moral problems. Autonomous cars depend on sensors to have situational awareness. Sensor can fail. They can be spoofed by weather phenomenons or willful attacks. Autonomous cars need an immensely complex software to make decisions.

All self-driving cars will have bugs. Their software is extremely complicated and it will have errors. They will receive updates with more errors and unpredictable consequences. Even Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world, recently screwed up a regular Windows 10 update. It deleted user data on the local disk and in the 'cloud' where it was supposed to be safe. Who will be guilty when an autonomous car bluescreens and causes an accident?

Media News

Overseas Press Club, Experts Discuss Current Risks and Rewards of Video Journalism, Chad Bouchard, Oct. 26, 2018. Over the last two decades, newspapers and other traditional print media have been under increasing pressure to provide video and multimedia content. But in today’s era of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, viral distribution, and manipulated content, video storytelling comes with many pitfalls. On Oct. 18, a panel of experts gathered for a panel to present a “Video 101” seminar on perils and best practices of using video footage.

“Video is an essential part of storytelling, and of any news organization’s content mix,” said OPC Secretary Paula Dwyer of Bloomberg News, who moderated the panel. But she added that print journalists who are expected to shoot video now have to learn new skills because “the technology differs, the way you tell the story is different, ethics involved are different, the framing of the story is different.”

Oct. 25

Top Democrats, Media Receive Suspected Bombs

washington post logoWashington Post, Suspected explosives sent to Biden, De Niro as investigation into pipe bombs expands to 10 packages, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 25, 2018. Numerous pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of President Trump.

joe biden oAuthorities investigating a wave of pipe bombs mailed to prominent figures across the country said Thursday that they have found 10 similar packages, including two sent to former vice president Joe Biden, right, and another mailed to the actor Robert De Niro.

These latest packages set off new alarms amid a sprawling investigation into explosive devices mailed to a string of politicians — including former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — who have all criticized President Trump. Like the others, the packages sent to Biden and De Niro were intercepted before reaching their intended targets and did not detonate. They also prompted a further surge of law enforcement activity as the effort to find the culprit or culprits, along with any other possible explosives, expanded farther across the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Potential explosives sent to Obama, Clinton and CNN spur search for other devices, Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.​, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). The devices sent to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York and former president Barack Obama in Washington are thought to be the work of the person who sent a similar device to liberal philanthropist George Soros, two law enforcement officials said.

Roll Call, Capitol Police Investigate Another Suspicious Package; Senate Staff Warned of Mail Threats, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters was apparent intended target.

newsweek logoNewsweek, Maxine Waters: Trump Should 'Take Responsibility' for Bomb Threats, He's Been 'Dog-Whistling' to Supporters, Ramsey Touchberry, Oct. 25, 2018. Democratic Representative Maxine Waters has a message for her California constituents and the American people after a series of mail-bomb threats on Wednesday, two of which were addressed to her: President Donald Trump should take responsibility for the kinds of “violence we’re seeing” and “I ain’t afraid” of threats.

maxine waters cnnThe congresswoman (shown in a file photo) spoke to the online news outlet Blavity shortly after learning about the first package containing an explosive device that had her name on it.

The other intended targets were mostly prominent Democrats who have criticized Trump in the past, including the Obamas, the Clintons, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Vice President Joe Biden. Billionaire Democratic donor George Soros and actor Robert De Niro were also targeted.

Waters has been on the receiving end of the president’s personal attacks in recent months. In June, Trump tweeted that Waters was “an extraordinarily low IQ person” who should “be careful what you wish for Max!”

The president was responding to Waters call for public harassment of Trump administration officials in the wake of the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated migrant children from their parents (the policy was eventually stopped).

Spies Spy On Trump Via Unsecure Phone?

ny times logoNew York Times, Chinese and Russian Spies Are Listening to Trump’s Personal Calls, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that spies are routinely eavesdropping.

donald trump flag mouthBut he has refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

Mr. Trump’s use of his iPhones was detailed by several current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements. The officials said they were doing so not to undermine Mr. Trump, but out of frustration with what they considered the president’s casual approach to electronic security.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump denies report of frequent use of unsecure iPhones, allowing spies to listen, John Wagner, Oct. 25, 2018. The New York Times reported that President Trump’s aides have warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure and that Russian spies are eavesdropping on the calls. Trump tweeted that the story was “soooo wrong.”

china flagPresident Trump on Thursday denied a report that he often calls friends to gripe or solicit advice on his unsecure iPhones, allowing Chinese spies to listen in and gain valuable insights into how to deal with the U.S. administration.

“The so-called experts on Trump over at the New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it,” Trump said in a predawn tweet. “I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!”

Judge Blocks Georgia Vote Suppression

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia candidates for governor Stacey Abrams, the Democrat, and Republican Brian Kemp, who as secretary of state has been undertaking controversial measures to restrict voting.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Georgia officials to stop tossing absentee ballots over signatures, Amy Gardner, Oct. 25, 2018 (print edition). The ruling is a win for voting rights activists, who said that a spike in absentee ballot rejections in suburban Gwinnett County amounted to voter suppression.

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Georgia election officials to stop summarily tossing absentee ballots because of mismatched signatures, delivering a crucial win to voting-rights advocates — and to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — less than two weeks before Election Day.

The ruling resulted from two lawsuits filed earlier this month after election officials in a single Atlanta suburb, Gwinnett County, rejected hundreds of absentee ballots with signature discrepancies, missing addresses or incorrect birth years.

The plaintiffs, including the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Coalition for Good Governance, argued that allowing nonexpert election officials to judge the validity of signatures without giving voters the chance to contest the decisions amounted to unconstitutional voter suppression.

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May agreed, and she ordered Secretary of State Brian Kemp to instruct all local election officials to stop rejecting absentee ballots over the mismatched signatures. Instead, such ballots will be marked “provisional,” and the voter will be given the right to appeal the decision or confirm his or her identity. Kemp and the Gwinnett County election board were named as defendants in the suit.

The issue had prompted a fiery outcry from Abrams, who accused Kemp, also her Republican opponent, of trying to suppress the minority vote. Gwinnett County, the state’s second-largest county, has undergone a demographic transformation in recent years, moving from 67 percent white in 2000 to 62 percent nonwhite last year. Democrats have sought to mobilize the new residents in support of their efforts to turn the state blue.

Mueller Probe

nbc news logoNBC News, Mueller has evidence suggesting Stone associate knew Clinton emails would be leaked, Ken Dilanian and Anna Schecter, Oct. 25, 2018  Special counsel Robert Mueller's office has obtained communications suggesting that a right-wing conspiracy theorist might have had advance knowledge that the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman had been stolen and handed to WikiLeaks, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

jerome corsiMueller's team has spent months investigating whether the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, right, learned before the public did that WikiLeaks had obtained emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers — and whether he passed information about the stolen emails to Donald Trump associate Roger Stone, multiple sources said.

An author and commentator, Corsi is considered to be the founder of the so-called Birther movement of people who believed Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen, a lie that Trump used to help propel his presidential candidacy. In 2017, Corsi became the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for InfoWars, a web site run by Alex Jones, whose inflammatory lies about the 2014 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have gotten him banned from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Corsi no longer works there.

NY Fraud Claims Against Trump Foundation

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge in Trump charity lawsuit appears skeptical of president’s arguments for dismissal, David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 25, 2018. A lawyer for President Trump on Thursday asked a New York state judge to throw out a lawsuit alleging that Trump violated charity laws — arguing that any mistakes made at the president’s charity were too minor to merit such a case.

But Judge Saliann Scarpulla appeared to be skeptical of their arguments, saying that the Donald J. Trump Foundation was still required to comply with all charity laws, including several that New York’s attorney general alleges the foundation broke.

At the hearing in state court in Lower Manhattan, Alan Futerfas, a private attorney for Trump and his three eldest children, said it was wrong for New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood to accuse them of “waste” at the foundation. None of the Trumps, he said, had ever used the charity’s money to pay for dinner, a vacation home or travel.

Saudi Murders Most Foul

djt mbs file

President Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (File photo)

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump, Will Money or Morals Prevail With the Saudis? Carol Giacomo, Video by Taige Jensen and Japhet Weeks, Oct. 25, 2018. For the United States, doing nothing about the premeditated killing of Jamal Khashoggi is not an option.

The horrific killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a United States-based journalist for The Washington Post, has galvanized American and international outrage against Saudi Arabia to an extent unheard-of since Sept. 11. In the video above, we suggest some ways the United States can make clear its extreme revulsion at the crime and pressure the kingdom’s leaders into telling the whole truth and ensuring accountability for the perpetrators. All signs point to the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as the main man behind the murder; only 18 security and intelligence underlings have been arrested.

Weeks of absurdly shifting explanations have shredded Riyadh’s credibility. After first claiming ignorance about how Mr. Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, the Saudis said that he left the facility alive and well after a short visit, that he might have been the target of a “rogue” operation by its intelligence service and that he had been killed accidentally in a brawl that broke out as a team of Saudi agents was inviting him to return to the kingdom. Finally on Thursday, the Saudi prosecutor said “new evidence” indicated the murder had been “premeditated.”

Strategic Culture Foundation, Commentary: Khashoggi Wasn’t the Only Murder Victim of Mohammed bin Salman, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 25, 2018. Wayne Madsen, author of 17 books, is a syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst.

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump and his family, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, are siding with Saudi Arabia’s bizarre explanation for the murder of Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate-General in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

Khashoggi was not the first victim of the Saudi regime hunted down and murdered.

Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud, who has lived in exile in Germany since 2004 and is a critic of the MBS regime, reported in an interview with the DPA German press agency that, in late September 2018, one of his relatives met with Saudi embassy officials in Cairo. The Saudi interlocutors told the relative that they knew Prince Khaled was short on funds and that they wished to "help him."

Khaled was lucky. In January 2016, Prince Sultan bin Turki, who lived in Paris, planned to fly from Boston to Cairo to visit his father. The MBS government provided a private jet for the prince. However, instead of Cairo, the plane flew Sultan to Riyadh, where he was dragged off the plane by security agents and he was never heard from again.

In late 2015, Prince Turki bin Bandar, who lived in Paris, was visiting Morocco. The Moroccan authorities arrested Prince Turki and extradited him to Saudi Arabia. He has not been heard from since.

Trump, using language similar to his defense of his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, said the Saudis should be considered innocent until proven guilty. In an interview with the Associated Press, Trump said, "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent . . . I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned."

It was strange for Trump to liken Kavanaugh to the Saudis. The Saudi government has never been known to tell the truth about its involvement in assassinations and terrorist events, including the 9/11 attack in 2001 on the United States and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing.

Justice System: Presumption of Guilt?

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Commentary: Why No Presumption of Innocence at Gitmo? Jacob G. Hornberger, Oct. 25, 2018. During the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Trump emphasized the importance of the principle of the presumption of innocence. When people began accusing Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of having orchestrated the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump, referring back to Kavanaugh, chastised people for, once again, forgetting about the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Okay, so let’s assume for argument’s sake that Trump has suddenly become an ardent defender of the civil-liberties principle of the presumption of innocence.

Such being the case, a question naturally arises: Why has Trump permitted the U.S. national-security establishment to continue using the principle of the presumption of guilt for people it has incarcerated in its prison center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? During the entire two years that he has been in office, Trump has failed to issue an order to the Pentagon and the CIA to adopt the presumption of innocence principle at Gitmo.

What gives with that? Why express a commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence for his two friends, Kavanaugh and bin Salman, but not extend that commitment to the people who have been jailed at Gitmo under the presumption that they are guilty of terrorism?

In fact, one of the dark ironies of the Pentagon-CIA “judicial” system at Gitmo is that it more closely resembles the “judicial” system in Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a brutal dictatorial regime, than the judicial system here in the United States.

Senator Accuses Kavanaugh Accusers

washington post logoWashington Post, Grassley refers Avenatti and Kavanaugh accuser to Justice Dept. for a criminal probe, Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck, Oct. 25, 2018. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday referred lawyer Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick — one of the women who accused now-Supreme Court michael avenatti sketchJustice Brett M. Kavanaugh of misconduct — to the Department of Justice for a criminal probe, alleging that they made “materially false” statements to Grassley’s committee as it investigated the allegations.

Swetnick said in a September affidavit that Kavanaugh attended a 1982 house party during which she says she was gang raped — an accusation Kavanaugh vehemently denied and said was from the “Twilight Zone.” Grassley said he is asking the Justice Department to look into whether Swetnick and Avenatti, right, potentially conspired to give materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional investigation.

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot“When charlatans make false claims to the committee — claims that may earn them short-term media exposure and financial gain, but which hinder the committee’s ability to do its job — here should be consequences,” Grassley (shown screaming at Democrat Pat Leahy of Vermont) wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI director Christopher A. Wray. “These laws exist to ensure there are.”

Avenatti responded to the news of the criminal referral on Twitter, calling it “ironic” that Grassley is “now interested in investigations.” He appeared to be speaking on behalf of himself and Swetnick.

“He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life,” he tweeted, referring to the Supreme Court. “We welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh’s lies and conduct. Let the truth be known.”

Later, Avenatti argued that the referral was good for him and Swetnick because it could bring to light more details about Kavanaugh’s past conduct.

“Maybe if Grassley was actually a lawyer that knew something about the law, he would realize what he has done. He just opened up Pandora’s box as it relates to Justice Kavanaugh’s conduct. It is Christmas in October!” Avenatti tweeted.

#MeToo Cases: Google

ny times logoNew York Times, Google Shielded Executives Accused of Misconduct. One Got $90 Million Exit Deal, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner, Oct. 25, 2018. Google gave Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a hero’s farewell when he left the company in October 2014.

“I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Larry Page, Google’s chief executive then, said in a public statement. “With Android he created something truly remarkable — with a billion-plus happy users.”

google logo customWhat Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, said he coerced her into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to two company executives with knowledge of the episode. Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible, said the people, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing confidentiality agreements. Mr. Rubin was notified, they said, and Mr. Page asked for his resignation.

Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The last payment is scheduled for next month.

Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.

The New York Times obtained corporate and court documents and spoke to more than three dozen current and former Google executives and employees about the episodes, including some people directly involved in handling them. Most asked to remain anonymous because they were bound by confidentiality agreements or feared retribution for speaking out.

DC Quadruple Murder Verdict

washington post logoWashington Post, Daron Wint found guilty of murdering 3 members of D.C. family and their housekeeper, Keith L. Alexander and Spencer S. Hsu​, Oct. 25, 2018. The city was riveted in 2015 by the slayings of married couple Sav­­vas Savopoulos, 46, and Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, 10; and the family’s housekeeper, 57-year-old Veralicia “Vera” Figueroa.

More On Saudi Murder of Khashoggi

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi Arabia, in latest reversal, says Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 25, 2018. Last week, Saudi authorities said journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed accidentally in a fistfight at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Khashoggi Drama -- A Deal Has Been Made But Will It Hold? b, Oct. 25, 2018. A preliminary deal has been made between the Turkish president Erdogan and the al-Saud clan in Saudi Arabia. The case of Jamal Khashoggi, right, killed in Istanbul by bodyguards of the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, will be closed for now.

jamal khashoggi western suitOver the last 36 hours, since Erdogan's speech proved Saudi culpability, there have been no more damaging leaks about the case from the usual Turkish sources. During a podium discussion at yesterday's investor conference in Riyadh Mohammad bin Salman denounced the “heinous crime” committed against Jamal Khashoggi. He praised the "unbreakable relations" with Turkey and lauded Qatar's economic durability.

The comments came after a phone call between MbS and Erdogan. The negotiations proved to be difficult. The Saudi King sent the governor of Mecca and Medina to make a deal:

Prince Khalid al-Faisal returned home from Ankara with a bleak message for the royal family. “It is really difficult to get out of this one,” Prince Khalid told relatives after his return, one of those family members recalled this week. “He was really disturbed by it.”

Early rumors spoke of a Saudi offer of $5 billion to burry the case. That was not enough.https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/10/khashoggi-drama-a-deal-has-been-made-but-will-it-hold.html#more

Facebook Censorship?

facebook logoConsortium News, Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media ‘Just the Beginning,’ Warns Top Neocon Insider, Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague, Oct. 25, 2018. At a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media, report Gray Zone's.Oct. 24

'Apprentice' #MeToo Trump Case Proceeds

washington post logoWashington Post, While Stormy Daniels publicly battles Trump, Summer Zervos’s defamation suit against him quietly advances, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 25, 2018. Three days after adult-film star Stormy Daniels’s libel case against President Trump was dismissed in federal court, the lawyer for another woman suing Trump for defamation argued to a panel of New York appellate judges why they should allow her case to proceed.

summer zervos“The president does not stand above the law,” Mariann Wang, an attorney for former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos (shown in a file photo), said last week during a little-noticed hearing in Manhattan.

“He is also a human being who engaged in unofficial conduct and acts that hurt my client very seriously. We have — she has — the right to bring this action.”

Amid the focus on Daniels’s conspicuous and ugly battle with Trump, Zervos’s case has quietly advanced as a possibly more serious legal threat.

Trump’s lawyers are attempting to block her suit by arguing that the president is immune from such lawsuits in state court, a constitutional law dispute that could produce new precedent if it rises to the Supreme Court.

So far, Zervos’s case has overcome multiple efforts by Trump’s attorneys to kill or stall it in New York state. Lawyers for Zervos have started gathering pretrial evidence — including written answers from Trump — and may get the chance to depose him in the coming months.

Terror Shooting In Kentucky

gregory bush scott utterback courier journal via ap pool

Gregory Bush is arraigned on two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment on Oct. 25, 2018, in Louisville, Kentucky. Bush fatally shot two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store Wednesday and was swiftly arrested as he tried to flee, authorities said Thursday (Scott Utterback / Courier Journal photo via AP pool).

WDRB-TV (Louisville), Accused Kroger shooter has history of mental illness and racist comments, Jason Riley and Marcus Green, Oct. 25, 2018. In one complaint from 2009, Bush's father said his son got angry and said, "Tonight might be black death."

The man charged with shooting and killing two people at a suburban Louisville Kroger on Wednesday has a history of mental illness, made racist threats and repeatedly called his ex-wife the N-word, according to court records.

Jeffersontown police are not speculating on whether race was a motive in the killing of 69-year-old Maurice Stallard and 67-year-old Vicki Lee Jones, both of whom were black. The alleged shooter, 51-year-old Gregory A. Bush Sr., is white.

However, Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers told reporters Thursday afternoon that Bush tried to enter the predominantly black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown about 10 minutes before the Kroger shooting.

A church member sitting in the parking lot saw Bush trying to get inside by pulling on doors and banging on them. He was also caught on the church's surveillance video.

More U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, In Florida, Gillum-DeSantis gubernatorial debate descends into a personal brawl, Tim Craig, Oct. 25, 2018. The final debate in the Florida governor race devolved into an extraordinary, highly personal brawl on Wednesday night when Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum traded accusations over race and ethics in a showdown that revealed two candidates who really seem to dislike each other.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosAt different times during the hour-long debate, DeSantis suggested Gillum would allow child molesters to roam Florida communities, while Gillum, who is seeking to become Florida’s first black governor, accused DeSantis of being supported by neo-Nazis.

Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, also charged that DeSantis, a former congressman, was “disqualified” to lead the state because he can’t be trusted to tell the truth. DeSantis in turn said Gillum was a liar and the corrupt mayor of a crime-ridden city.

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Small County Bucks Kemp, Will Audit Midterms, Timothy Pratt, Oct. 25, 2018. Morgan County to Audit Absentee Ballots, Touchscreen Machines. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp has resisted all attempts to make the results of the upcoming midterms more secure and verifiable, even turning down assistance from the Department of Homeland Security before the 2016 elections. Now one small county has decided to go it alone and develop a plan to offer residents more confidence that their votes will be counted correctly come November 6.

Morgan County — which is about 60 miles southeast of Atlanta — may be the last place you’d expect to see efforts to deal with vulnerabilities of the state’s touchscreen voting machines. The county is home to some 18,000 people spread across 355 square miles. It is also the site of the Cotton Gin Festival, held each November in the town of Bostwick.

Last Thursday, the county’s Board of Elections and Registration voted 3–2 to perform a two-part audit on the midterms, hoping to help verify election results. They will recount some of the absentee mail-in ballots — and compare tapes containing each voting machine’s tally with the county server’s results produced at the end of the election.

Real Clear Politics, Is Trump Transforming Midterms With Arena-Size Rallies? Adele Malpass, Oct. 25, 2018. One of the new dynamics in this midterm election is President Trump reprising the rallies that helped fuel his victory in 2016. While it’s common for presidents to campaign during midterms, arena-size crowds at rallies all over the country is a new phenomenon, and these events have proven to be a powerful way to communicate with, and excite, base voters.

The big question, however, is whether Trump’s supporters will turn out on Nov. 6, because it’s one thing to go to an energy-filled rally, another to find time on Election Day to go a polling place and put an X beside a candidate that isn’t nearly as motivational as the president.

Donald Trump Pointing Finger Gage Skidmore DMCAIn 2016, Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) had the ability to fill arenas in multiple states on the same day, but some in the media played down the importance of rallies even after he won the election. In response, White House aide Kellyanne Conway said in a post-election analysis: “The size of rallies matters.” Recently, the president echoed that point in a tweet:

A quick comparison reveals Trump’s appearances have generated much larger crowds than those of prominent Democrats. In Nevada last weekend, the president hit the campaign trail with a rally in Elko County, which drew 8,500. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Democratic Senate candidate Jackie Rosen in Las Vegas -- before an audience of about 500. Former President Obama was also recently in the state, but only 2,000 people attended his event in the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s 18,000-seat arena. On Monday, Trump held a rally in Houston where 100,000 people requested tickets even though the Toyota Center there can accommodate just 18,000.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump held a whopping 323 rallies in almost 40 states. Since his inauguration in 2017, he has held nearly 50 more, with eight to 10 more expected before Election Day. “The rallies motivate the base, create excitement and momentum,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster. “Trump needs to get the 63 million voters who supported him in 2016 to turn out for him in the midterms. If he can do that, then the Republicans will control the House.”

There’s also a subsidiary benefit of these events to the GOP and the president: Trump’s 2020 campaign recently announced that it had raised a $106 million war chest, with 98 percent of it coming from low-dollar donors. Some of that likely comes from those attending rallies, who provide their email and cellphone information to obtain a ticket. This creates a useful database for the Trump campaign and is critical to get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day. Jennifer Kruse, who attended the Houston rally, said she has already “received text messages from the campaign, a robo call from Lara Trump and a reminder to vote early.”

And each person who attends a rally is potentially a force multiplier as they recount the experience to their friends and relatives either directly or through social media. It’s hard to measure this impact until votes are counted, but the size of the rallies is an indication of something potentially powerful afoot in the 2018 election dynamics.

Adele Malpass is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She was formerly chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party and money politics reporter for CNBC.

Oct. 24

barack obama smile HRPalmer Report, Opinion: Here’s how to fight back against the bombs sent to President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2018. We’re in the middle of a still-unfolding and profoundly disturbing situation which can only be described as a terrorist attack against the United States. Based on the reporting thus far, bombs have been mailed to President Obama (shown at right), Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Brennan, Eric Holder, and other prominent Democratic figures. Even as we wait for more details, one thing is abundantly clear: how we fight back against this.

When people resort to violence against political officials, it’s clear that they’re trying to subvert democracy. Someone out there doesn’t want Democratic politicians to hold office, or doesn’t want Democratic politicians to remain alive, or wants Democrats to be afraid to go vote.

So if you’re a Democrat, the solution is simple: go vote. Seriously, vote. The best way you can fight back against an attack on democracy is to exercise the rights you’re given in a democracy.

Roll Call, The Coincidence of Bomb Recipients, Trump and Far-Right Rhetoric, John T. Bennett, Oct. 24, 2018. White House ducks questions about president’s win-at-all-costs polarizing approach

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump supporters go berserk at rally after Democrats are targeted with bombs, Bill Palmer, Oct. 24, 2018. Today we saw an unmistakable attempt at assassinating Donald Trump’s most frequent Democratic political targets, as someone sent mail bombs to everyone from President Obama to Hillary Clinton to Maxine Waters. Trump’s response to the terrorist attack has been weak and generic at best, and his refusal to cancel his planned political rally tonight has been widely criticized.

Now the rally itself is quickly dissolving into precisely what one might have expected.Trump supporters at the Wisconsin rally are already chanting “Lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton, just hours after someone tried to murder her, according to MSNBC. Things are apparently so in danger of getting out of control at the rally, even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – a man without a spine – has felt compelled to meekly ask the crowd to dial it back. Trump himself has yet to speak at the event.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘We have a serious problem’: Paul Volcker is worried about something worse than inflation, Heather Long, Oct. 24, 2018. The former Fed chairman said he is aghast at how Americans no longer trust in government, media, science or about anything else. He chastised President Trump for exacerbating the problem.

Trump Trivializes Saudi Murder

jamal khashoggi son sahal with mbs

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, widely suspected of ordering the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, greets the victim's eldest son Sahal Khashoggi, who is forbidden to leave Saudi Arabia. (Saudi government photo and video. Analyst's column excerpted below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President and Saudi Prince Escalate Battle Over Khashoggi Killing, David D. Kirkpatrick and Carlotta Gall, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). For the strongmen of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the dispute over the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is personal and political. Their competing stage shows on Tuesday were the latest salvos in an increasingly high-stakes battle that no longer appears to leave either one room for retreat, pitting against each other two American allies who have each aspired to be the leader of their region.

recep tayyip erdogan o presidentPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, shown at left in a file photo, swept into Ankara’s wood-paneled Parliament on Tuesday to level his most direct attack yet against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, accusing his government of planning the “savage murder” and mutilation of the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

mohammed bin salman al saudHours later, Prince Mohammed, shown in a file photo, bounded into the gilded conference hall of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh to a standing ovation from scores of oil executives, bankers and other businessmen who had risked association with scandal over the killing of Mr. Khashoggi for a chance to profit from the kingdom’s vast wealth.

“More people, more money,” the crown prince told reporters, pronouncing the event a success despite the withdrawal of dozens of speakers and the pleas of many businessmen for him to spare them embarrassment by calling it off.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Saudis engaged in ‘worst coverup ever’ as U.S. imposes penalties, Kareem Fahim, Tamer El-Ghobashy, John Hudson and Chico Harlan, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). Turkey’s president said the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “planned” and called for the extradition of the Saudi suspects.

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi crown prince calls Khashoggi killing ‘heinous crime,’ Kevin Sullivan and William Branigin, Oct. 24, 2018. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made his first public comments on the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an appearance by the prince at an investment conference in Riyadh.​

CraigMurray.com via Southfront: Commentary: Khashoggi, Erdogan and the Truth, Craig Murray (shown at left, author, broadcaster and former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan craig murray new2002-2004), Oct. 24, 2018. The Turkish account of the murder of Khashoggi given by President Erdogan is true, in every detail. Audio and video evidence exists and has been widely shared with world intelligence agencies, including the US, UK, Russia and Germany, and others which have a relationship with Turkey or are seen as influential.

That is why, despite their desperate desire to do so, no Western country has been able to maintain support for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, right. I have not seen the mohammed bin salman al saudvideo from inside the consulate, but have been shown stills which may be from a video. The most important thing to say is that they are not from a fixed position camera and appear at first sight consistent with the idea they are taken by a device brought in by the victim.

There are many things to learn from the gruesome murder other than the justified outrage at the event itself. It opens a window on the truly horrible world of the extremely powerful and wealthy.

The first thing to say is that the current Saudi explanation, that this was an intended interrogation and abduction gone wrong, though untrue, does have one thing going for it. It is their regular practice.

bbc news logo2The Saudis have for years been abducting dissidents abroad and returning them to the Kingdom to be secretly killed. The BBC World Service often contains little pockets of decent journalism not reflected in its main news outlets, and here from August 2017 is a little noticed piece on the abduction and “disappearance” of three other senior Saudis between 2015-17. Interestingly, while the piece was updated this month, it was not to include the obvious link to the Khashoggi case.

The key point is that European authorities turned a completely blind eye to the abductions in that BBC report, even when performed on European soil and involving physical force. The Saudi regime was really doing very little different in the Khashoggi case.

jamal kahshoggiIn fact, inside Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi (right) was a less senior and important figure than those other three abducted then killed, about whom nobody kicked up any fuss, even though the truth was readily available. Mohammed Bin Salman appears to have made two important miscalculations: he misread Erdogan and he underestimated the difference which Khashoggi’s position as a Washington Post journalist made to political pressure on Western governments.

Big Typhoon Hits U.S. Territories

washington post logoWashington Post, Extreme Category 5 typhoon makes devastating landfall in Northern Mariana Islands, Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 24, 2018. “My sister just lost her whole house on Saipan," a Guam photographer told the Post. Supertyphoon Yutu, tied for the strongest storm this year, slammed into the U.S. commonwealth with weather agencies predicting catastrophic destruction.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our island is disappearing but the president refuses to act, Anote Tong and Matthieu Rytz, Oct. 24, 2018. Anote Tong was the president of Kiribati from 2003 to 2016. Matthieu Rytz is a filmmaker and visual storyteller.

The Republic of Kiribati — a nation of islands and atolls in the central Pacific — is facing annihilation. The rising ocean has broken through freshwater ponds on some islands, threatening numerous communities. Some villages are already gone.

And yet, while we’ve long known the dangers global warming poses to low-lying island nations like Kiribati, the world may not realize that Kiribati is also grappling with climate denialism, even as it faces the reality of being wiped from the map by 2100. The current president, Taneti Maamau, believes that while climate change is real, it is not man-made. Consequently, Maamau has announced his government’s official intention to “put aside the misleading and pessimistic scenario of a sinking, deserted nation.”

That also means putting aside those, like ourselves, who dare to speak the inconvenient truth. In December 2017, we hosted a local screening in Kiribati for our documentary, “Anote’s Ark,” about the destruction of our ancestral lands, calling for bold action from the international community. The government arrested the filmmaker, Matthieu Rytz, also one of the authors of this op-ed, and kicked him out of the country. Meanwhile, the UN ambassador and former president Teburoro Tito tried —unsuccessfully — to block our film’s premiere at Sundance.

Another Dirty Trick?

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Caravan October Surprise? Russ Baker, Oct. 24, 2018. A caravan of hopeful migrants is slowly moving toward the US, and it’s making many Americans nervous. But what they should really be worried about is the possibility that cynical outside interests use the highly controversial spectacle to unleash a disastrous, violent event. One that could alter the election landscape at the last minute — an “October Surprise.”

You may be familiar with the term. It refers to planned disruptions intended to give one candidate or party a leg up in elections by delivering a surprise body-blow to the opposition.

America has a long history of October Surprises, and it’s not unreasonable to consider that one may be coming this year.

Facebook Spreads Phony Immigrant Scare

washington post logoWashington Post, How a six-year-old photo of a bleeding policeman is being used to stoke fears about the migrant caravan, Craig Timberg, Aaron C. Davis and Andrew Ba Tran, Oct. 24, 2018. The image is shocking: A Mexican policeman in riot gear bleeds profusely from gashes on his head. The culprits, according to posts spreading virally on social media, were members of the migrant caravan making their way north toward the U.S. border — and delivering violence along the way.

An early version on Facebook on Sunday says beneath this image, “And WE are supposed to believe these are just poor, helpless refugees seeking asylum??? I am 100% behind POTUS deploying our military to protect our border and keep them out.”

But the post — shared by tens of thousands including Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist who is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — is misleading in key ways, starting with the photograph itself. It’s not from any incident related to the migrant caravan that has emerged as a potent flash point in the intensifying midterm congressional election.

9/11 Disclosure Advances

9/11 Truth Action Project, U. S. Senate Calls For Declassification of ALL 9/11 Documents; Senate Resolution 610 Adopted Without Objection, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2018. At the end of September 2018, the United States Senate called for declassification of all "documents related to the events of September 11, 2001" and "that the survivors, the families of the victims, and the people of the United States deserve answers about the events and circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States." While non-binding, this sense-of-the-Senate resolution (S. Res, 610) places the United States Senate firmly in the position of supporting the call that many in the 9/11 Truth Movement have sought for years.

While S. Res. 610 is not the call for the new 9/11 investigation that Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (among others) have been seeking, this resolution highlights how the full story of 9/11 continues to be withheld – not only from the people of the United States, but to the family members and even the members of the United States Senate. The enactment of this Senate Resolution illustrates what the 9/11 Truth Movement has been saying for years – that critical information is still being withheld from the people of the United States. We can use this official pronouncement by the Unites States Senate to ask others to join us in calling for the release of all the documents – and analysis – performed during the investigations.

richard blumenthal portraitSenator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), right, notes in his comments from the floor that, "... 17 years after this national tragedy, the appropriate declassification – releasing these documents – poses no threat to our national security, and there is no reason for the Federal Government to resist their requests. These files have been kept secret for too long."

A companion resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, H. Res. 663, has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where it is awaiting action – action that an awakened citizenry can help bring about.In this election cycle, the people of the United States have the opportunity to ask all candidates for public office to firmly commit themselves to supporting these resolutions as well as additional legislation that wields the force of law into the process of declassifying 9/11 related documents.

Media News

jumpei yasuda japanese reporter

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), RSF relieved by Japanese reporter’s release after three years as hostage in Syria, Staff report, Oct. 24, 2018. RSF is relieved to learn that Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, shown above, has been released after being held hostage by an armed group in Syria for more than three years.

Yasuda began covering the Middle East in 2003 and was kidnapped for the first time in Iraq in 2004 when he was held hostage for three days. An armed Islamist group kidnapped him in Syria in June 2015, when he was investigating fellow Japanese journalist Kenji Goto’s murder by Islamic State.

​#MeToo Priest Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia attorney general launches investigation into Catholic clergy sex abuse, Michelle Boorstein and Laura Vozzella​, Oct. 24, 2018. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced Wednesday that his office is running an “ongoing investigation” into the state’s two Catholic dioceses and whether there has been any sexual abuse and coverup. The announcement comes a day after D.C.'s top prosecutor made a similar announcement.

In a late morning news conference, Herring said the probe was launched in response to a massive Pennsylvania grand jury report released this summer, and not with specific knowledge of unreported abuse or a coverup in Virginia. However, he told reporters, after reading the report: “Like so many Americans … I felt sick.”

Wife Accuses Nationalist In #MeToo Claim

washington post logoWashington Post, White nationalist Richard Spencer accused of physically abusing wife throughout their marriage, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 24, 2018. White nationalist Richard Spencer’s wife, Nina Koupriianova, accused him of physically, emotionally and verbally abusing her over the course of their eight-year marriage, according to documents and exhibits filed in court as part of their divorce proceedings.

richard spencer CustomKoupriianova said the abuse, which she documented in the form of transcribed conversations, emails, photographs and even a chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, continued throughout the course of their eight-year marriage and included incidents that occurred while she was pregnant.

Spencer, right, is perhaps the most prominent white nationalist from the crop of racially motivated extremists who came into public view during the 2016 election and events such as the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Often quick to return a reporter’s phone call or email, Spencer has been readily covered by the media as the public face of the loose collection of political ideologies revolving around racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and racial purity that make up the so-called alt-right.

Crime, Courts

The Hill, FBI arrests leader of neo-Nazi gang who fled to Central America, Avery Anapol, Oct. 24, 2018. The FBI has arrested a white nationalist figure who fled the U.S. earlier this month, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Authorities have charged 28-year-old Robert Paul Rundo with conspiracy to commit violence and incite riots, according to a criminal complaint.

Rundo is the leader of the Rise Above Movement, a violent neo-Nazi gang based in Southern California. Three other members of the group were also arrested and named in the filing, which was unsealed Tuesday.

Rundo fled the U.S. earlier this month for Mexico and then Central America, according to The New York Times. He was brought back to the U.S. on Monday, sources told the Times.

Members of the Rise Above Movement have been connected to violent acts and protests in California and elsewhere. According to the Department of Justice, the four attacked two journalists and a group of counter-protesters at President Trump's rally in Huntington Beach, Calif., last March.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘In the service of whim’: Officials scramble to make Trump’s false assertions real, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, Oct. 24, 2018 (print edition). From a nonexistent tax cut to unproven claims about a migrant caravan, the machinery of government whirs into action to reverse-engineer evidence for the president’s claims.

Oct. 23

Saudi Murder Most Foul

Moon of Alabama, Analysis: How Will Caligula Fall?, b, Oct. 23, 2018. The king and the clown prince [sic] of Saudi Arabia ordered a son of Jamal Khashoggi to appear in front of them so they could express their condolences for the murder of his father. This is an attempt by the King Salman to show that his son Mohammad bin Salman is innocent of ordering the premeditated murder of Khashoggi.

The audience for the pictures (and video) is the Saudi public, which seems unconvinced. But the act is also an insult, as Khashoggi's body has not been found and remains unburied.

The gaze is telling. Sahal Khashoggi is the oldest of the four children of Jamal. Three of them live in the United States. Sahal is banned from leaving Saudi Arabia. Alastair Crooke explains why the Khashoggi murder, while not unusual, has this large effect:

"When a single additional, undifferentiated, snowflake can touch off a huge slide whose mass is entirely disproportionate to the single grain that triggers it. Was Khashoggi’s killing just such a trigger? Quite possibly yes – because there are several unstable accumulations of political mass in the region where even a small event might set off a significant slide. These dynamics constitute a complex nexus of shifting dynamics."

Crooke sees three traditional strategic positions that already reached tipping points and are likely to change due to this event: the U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, Turkey's role in the Middle East, and Israel's strategic defenses.

On the U.S.-Saudi relations side, it is likely Congress, not the White House that will push the issue. There will be another Senate vote next month to end U.S. complicity in the war on Yemen. It is now likely to pass.

Al Jazeera, Trump: Saudi handling of Khashoggi killing 'worst cover-up ever,' Staff report, Oct. 23, 2018. US President Donald Trump has criticised Saudi Arabia's handling of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying authorities staged the "worst cover-up ever."

Asked by a reporter in the White House how the Khashoggi killing could have happened, Trump said on Tuesday: "They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups."

saudi consular service cropped

washington post logojamal khashoggi western suitWashington Post, Erdogan: Saudi team planned ‘brutal’ killing of Khashoggi, Kareem Fahim, Oct. 23, 2018. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, right, was a “planned” and “brutal” murder and called on Saudi Arabia to extradite 18 suspects to Turkey to face justice for the crime.

Erdogan’s highly anticipated comments, during a speech to his ruling party in Ankara, the Turkish capital, contradicted Saudi accounts that Khashoggi was killed when an argument inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul escalated into a fistfight.

recep tayyip erdogan mohommed bin salban july 2017 presidency press service pool via apThe Turkish leader, shown at right with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year in a government photo, did not directly accuse the Saudi leadership of involvement in the killing but strongly indicated that the Saudi investigation, which has resulted in the arrests of 18 people so far, had not reached high enough into the kingdom’s ruling circles.

Erdogan did not address the most explosive allegations that have surfaced during the investigation — notably that Khashoggi was dismembered after he was killed. And he did not turkey flagpresent any of the evidence Turkey had gathered so far, including audio recordings investigators are said to possess that captured the moments when Khashoggi was killed.

But the president provided the most detailed timeline yet of the days and hours leading up the murder on Oct. 2. He said a team of Saudi agents who were dispatched to Istanbul had carefully prepared for Khashoggi’s death.

washington post logoWashington Post, Journalist’s slaying forces Saudi allies to take a more critical look at crown prince’s record, Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 23, 2018. The Khashoggi case has brought new attention to Mohammed bin Salman’s record of crushing dissent.

ny times logomohammad bin salman cropped fileNew York Times, Saudi Crown Prince Gets Standing Ovation Despite Khashoggi Crisis, Alan Rappeport, Oct. 23, 2018. Investors from around the world gathered in Riyadh for a conference, but the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s role in the murder loomed large. Bankers kept their name tags obscured behind ties. Many tried to keep a low profile and avoided talking to the news media.

But those hoping to escape any tarnish from attending Saudi Arabia’s global investment conference in the wake of a dissident journalist’s killing were foiled when the crown prince himself, Mohammed bin Salman (shown right in a file photo), appeared at the summit meeting and received a standing ovation.

The unannounced appearance of Prince Mohammed, who is suspected of playing a role in the killing of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, highlighted the risk facing American businesses that chose to attend an event aimed at bringing together prominent global executives. The crown prince is now scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday morning about building the region into a global economic powerhouse.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Far-Reaching Threats of a Conservative Court, Eric Posner (professor at the University of Chicago Law School), Oct. 23, 2018. Will the Supreme Court wipe out the government protections that have shielded Americans from abusive business practices since the New Deal?

With the start of the Supreme Court’s new term, many people are wondering whether the conservative majority, which has taken a further step to the right with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, will overturn Roe v. Wade.

But that’s not where the action is. As two cases argued before the court this month illustrate, the real question is whether it will undermine the system of government that has protected the public from abusive business practices since the New Deal.

The two cases might seem esoteric, and far removed from government protection of workers and consumers. Gundy v. United States involved a challenge to the attorney general’s extension of sex-crime-registration law to offenders convicted before the law was enacted. Nielsen v. Preap involved a government policy that deprived certain unauthorized immigrants of some procedural protections against deportation.

Liberals might root against the government — the immigration and sex offender policies are harsh. But they should be careful what they wish for. The conservative majority can, and most likely will, rule against the government using broad theories that would also eat away at the constitutional foundations of the New Deal system, which is essential for protecting health and safety, the environment and much else.

epa general logoSince the New Deal, Congress has authorized regulatory agencies to make policy by issuing regulations. These agencies are now a familiar part of our government. They include the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is currently aiding hurricane victims in Florida. Agency regulation became necessary as the problems of a modern industrialized nation overwhelmed the regulatory capacities of states, local governments and Congress itself.

The New Deal agencies initially encountered resistance from the Supreme Court, which was then, like now, a reactionary institution that frowned on novelty. For one thing, when agencies issue regulations, they make law, which was the traditional prerogative of Congress. Moreover, the agencies were mostly overseen by the White House, which is not supposed to make law. And Congress also gave many regulatory agencies some autonomy — protecting staff from removal, for example — that seemed to infringe on the president’s authority to supervise the executive branch.

By the 1980s, half a century after the New Deal, a political and legal consensus in favor of the administrative state had solidified. Left and right argued about how much regulation was needed, of course, but no one doubted the constitutional foundations of the administrative state — not even Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading conservative lawyer of the past half century and an academic expert on administrative law before he ascended to the bench.

But Brett Kavanaugh is a skeptic. And so are Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court, and Clarence Thomas, who was appointed back in 1991. The views of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito are less clear, but their judicial opinions point in the same direction.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Donald Trump Is Lyin’ Up a Storm, Editorial board, Oct. 23, 2018. Is there an election coming up, or something?

With Republicans struggling to keep their grip on Congress, President Trump is dialing up the demagogy. At campaign rallies and on social media, he’s spewing dark warnings about a Democratic mob clamoring to usher in an era of open borders, rampant crime, social chaos and economic radicalism.

As is so often the case, Mr. Trump is not letting reality interfere with his performance.

Supreme Court Pioneer

sandra day oconnor cspan 2012 screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Sandra Day O’Connor says she is withdrawing from public life because of dementia, Robert Barnes​, Oct. 23, 2018. The retired Supreme Court justice (shown in a 2012 C-SPAN screenshot0, who was the first woman to serve on the high court, wrote in a letter that she wanted to “be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts.”

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who became the first female justice in 1981 and then one of the court’s most influential members, announced Tuesday that she suffers from dementia and is “no longer able to participate in public life.”

sandra day oconnor oIn a letter released by her family, O’Connor, 88, said she wanted to “be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts.”

She added: “How fortunate I feel to be an American and to have been presented with the remarkable opportunities available to the citizens of our country. As a young cowgirl from the Arizona desert, I never could have imagined that one day I would become the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

O’Connor, shown at right in an official photo, was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan, who was fulfilling a campaign pledge to name the first female justice. She served for a quarter-century, leaving to take care of her husband, John, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

O’Connor, who was born in El Paso, Texas, lives near her home in Phoenix.

One of her last interviews was in 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. She said she did not agree with the strategy of Republican senators to keep the post open until after the presidential election.

DC Launches #MeToo Priest Probe

washington post logokarl racineWashington Post, D.C. attorney general launches investigation of clergy sex abuse in Washington archdiocese, Peter Jamison and Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 23, 2018.  D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, right, said Tuesday that his office has begun an investigation of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the archdiocese of Washington, the latest in a string of state-level law enforcement officials now looking into the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse complaints.

The investigation, announced by Racine at a regularly scheduled breakfast among the District’s elected officials, will bring scrutiny to Catholic leaders who have cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullcome under intense criticism in recent months.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, left, resigned this month as Washington’s archbishop amid an uproar over a Pennsylvania grand jury report that depicted systemic abuse across the state’s Catholic Church, including in Pittsburgh, where Wuerl had been a bishop. Wuerl’s D.C. predecessor, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was removed from ministry in June following allegations that he had sexually abused a teenager decades ago while serving as a priest in New York.

Racine has limited power to prosecute crimes in the District, where felony cases are handled by the U.S. attorney’s office. However, he is opening the investigation under his authority to enforce D.C. law governing nonprofit organizations, as well as District law regarding the mandated reporting of sexual abuse.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoDemocratic-Republican Campaign logosWashington Post, Poll: Democrats hold statistically insignificant lead in battleground House districts, Dan Balz and Scott Clement​, Oct. 23, 2018. A Washington Post-Schar School poll also found sharp divisions in views about sexual assault accusations after Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The overwhelming majority of the districts surveyed — 63 of the 69 — are currently represented by a Republican in the House. Collectively these battleground districts voted strongly for Republicans in the 2016 election. The fact that the margins today are where they are illustrates the degree to which the GOP majority is at risk but also the fact that many individual races are likely to be close. Democrats need to gain a net of 23 seats to take control of the chamber.

washington post logowilbur ross headshot oWashington Post, Wilbur Ross won’t have to answer questions about adding a citizenship question to 2020 Census, Supreme Court says, Robert Barnes and Tara Bahrampour, Oct. 23, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration had asked the high court to block questioning of the commerce secretary, right, as part of a lawsuit filed by several states, including New York, and civil rights groups.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Intensifies G.O.P. Effort to Use Race and Immigration to Sway Election, Alexander Burns and Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 23, 2018 (print edition). President Trump’s unsubstantiated charge about a migrant caravan was an escalation of messages aimed at stoking fears ahead of Nov. 6. He has not been alone in seeking to divide the electorate: A number of G.O.P. candidates are using a similar strategy.

ted cruz oPalmer Report, Opinion: Analysis Donald Trump and Ted Cruz rally lands with a thud, Bill Palmer, Oct. 23, 2018. It was supposed to have been the most newsworthy political rally of the entire 2018 election. Donald Trump was holding a campaign rally in support of his fellow Republican and fellow creepy weirdo Ted Cruz, right, after Trump had previously attacked Cruz’s wife and accused Cruz’s father of killing JFK. But the rally ended up being a whole lot of nothing, and no one seemed to care.

Trump White House

Las Vegas Sun via OpEdNews, Investigation of Inauguration Slush Fund: Where Did the Money Go? We Still Don't Know, Robert Weiner with Jared Schwartz, Oct. 23, 2018. There is no day that defines the institution of the Presidency more than the inauguration. From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address to JFK's first, inauguration day is a celebration of peaceful transfer of power. Yet according to FEC filings and reporting by OpenSecrets, of the $106 million raised, more than double the amount by either of Obama's inaugurations, it is still almost entirely unclear how most was spent.

A presidency begun under dubious financial circumstances is an administration created in suspicion, and clearing that suspicion up is crucial to protecting the presidency. U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) has introduced the Inaugural Committee Transparency Act in Congress, which would require a public record of where inaugural committee funds go. The Inaugural Committee Transparency Act is a logical, narrowly drawn bill to counteract any misuse of campaign funds.

This legislation would be a key step to make sure that presidential administrations are free from corruption at their outset. Greg Jenkins, who organized George W. Bush's inauguration, told Rolling Stone that "they had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did. So there's the obvious question: Where did it go? I don't know."

The New York Times indicates that $25 million went to Hargrove Inc., a company that traditionally manages inaugurations. $26 million was paid to WIS Media, a firm owned by a friend of the First Lady, which was created six weeks before the inauguration. A little over $10 million went to three other event-planning companies, and $5 million went to charity, leaving a total of $40 million entirely unaccounted for.

Both the obvious ethical problems posed by giving $26 million to a family friend and the unaccounted millions demand congressional investigation and action. How can tens of millions of dollars go missing, right at the start of a presidency, and not trigger any congressional investigation?

These issues are being swept under the rug because congressional Republicans, who now run investigations, have neither the will nor, by choice, the independence from the administration, to do what a co-equal branch should do: investigate and legislate.

ny times logoNew York Times, When Kelly and Lewandowski Argued Outside the Oval Office, Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers, Oct. 23, 2018 (print edition). A confrontation john kelly o dhslast year between the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, right, and Corey Lewandowski, an informal adviser to President Trump, turned physical.

Climate Change / Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Young People Are Suing the Trump Administration Over Climate Change. She’s Their Lawyer, John Schwartz, Oct. 23, 2018. If all goes as planned, Julia Olson will deliver her opening argument on Monday in a landmark federal lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of 21 plaintiffs, ages 11 to 22, who are demanding that the government fight climate change. It is a case that could test whether the judicial branch has major role to play in dealing with global warming, and whether there is a constitutional right to a stable and safe climate.

But as of now, less than a week before the trial is scheduled to start in Federal District Court in Eugene, whether the young people will get their day in court is still an open question. On Friday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. granted a Trump administration request to put a brief hold on the proceedings to consider government filings that could derail the case.

The lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, is the most visible case for Ms. Olson and her nonprofit organization, Our Children’s Trust. The group is involved in similar legal actions in almost every state, and other climate suits around the world.

Wall Street Political Corruption Scandal?

david sirotaGuardian, Investigation: How California public employees fund anti-rent control fight unwittingly, David Sirota, right, and Andrew Perez, Oct. 23, 2018. Documents reveal Blackstone is quietly funneling investors’ money into its campaign against Proposition 10.

When San Francisco’s local government endorsed a state ballot initiative to permit rent control measures earlier this month, it appeared to be a victory for housing rights advocates in a city where stratospheric prices have sown social unrest and class animosity. The measure has found similar support from other California cities and unions representing public employees who can’t afford to live in cities where they work.

Those advocates, however, may be unwittingly financing the opposition to the rent control measure. Documents reviewed by Capital and Main and MapLight reveal a private equity giant with ties to Donald Trump has boosted the campaign to defeat Proposition 10 with money taken from real estate investments funded by California public employees and the state university system.Advertisement

Campaign finance records show entities controlled by the private equity giant Blackstone have been among the biggest sources of cash for opponents of the ballot measure. More than $5.6m has come from a Blackstone holding company and four of its investment funds.

But unlike typical corporate political donations, the Blackstone contributions didn’t come from the firm’s executives or corporate treasury. Instead, they came from pools of capital from investors, which include dozens of state and local pension systems, and public university endowments. The move has been described as the equivalent of mutual fund executives taking money out of customers’ accounts to make political contributions.

In effect, Blackstone’s maneuver means the opposition to the rent control initiative is being bankrolled by everyone from San Francisco municipal workers to university employees to public school teachers – all of whose retirement savings are in the Blackstone funds that have been tapped for the Proposition 10 fight.

#MeToo Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, #MeToo Brought Down 201 Powerful Men. Women Are Nearly Half of Their Replacements, Audrey Carlsen, Maya Salam, Claire Cain Miller, Denise Lu, Ash Ngu, Jugal K. Patel And Zach Wichter, Oct. 23, 2018. A New York Times analysis shows that the #MeToo movement shook, and is still shaking, power structures in society’s most visible sectors. In the year preceding the Weinstein report, fewer than 30 high-profile people made the news for resigning or being fired after public accusations of sexual misconduct.

Global Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, China Opens Giant Bridge Linking Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland, Austin Ramzy, Oct. 23, 2018. At 34 miles, it’s the world’s longest sea bridge, crossing the Pearl River Delta with sections of bridge, artificial islands and a four-mile tunnel. Critics of the project say its goals are more political than economic, aiding efforts by China’s central government to bind the former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau more tightly with the rest of the country.

Other Threatened Journalists

National Press Club, Award-Winning Journalist To Judge Who Denied Him Asylum: "I Must Implore You For My Life," Lindsay Underwood, Oct. 23, 2018. After eight hours of waiting outside an immigration courtroom, journalist Emilio Gutiérrez-Soto on Monday had an opportunity to make a personal appeal to the judge who last year ordered him deported to the country where he has been threatened with death. The hearing was delayed when Gutiérrez's attorney discovered that the judge had not read or seen crucial evidence on the journalist's behalf.

"I must implore you for my life," Gutiérrez told Judge Robert Hough, adding that he was also appealing for his son, Oscar, who fled to the United States as a teenager with his father after the veteran Mexican journalist's exposés of military corruption made him the target of death threats.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Brazil: Newspaper attacked after reporting illegal funding that benefited presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, Staff report, Oct. 23, 2018.  One of jair bolsonaro brazilBrazil’s leading dailies, the Folha de São Paulo, has been under heavy attack since reporting on October 18 that far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro benefited from illegal funding. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regards the attacks as a serious press freedom violation and deplores the toxic climate for Brazil’s journalists since the election campaign began.

The October 18 article in the Folha de São Paulo claimed that businessmen have been illegally funding a WhatsApp disinformation campaign designed to get Brazilians to vote for Bolsonaro, right, in the presidential election, the second round of which is to be held on October 28.

According to the report, WhatsApp has been used to bombard voters with millions of automated messages, most of them smearing the Workers’ Party and its candidate, Fernando Haddad. Such private sector funding of an election campaign is illegal in Brazil and the country’s electoral tribunal, the TSE, has opened an investigation.

WhatsApp, which had already used spam detection software to delete thousands of accounts suspected of spreading false information during the campaign, announced that it had launched an internal investigation and was ready to take “all necessary legal measures” to prevent the automated spread of misinformation.
Dubbed “Bolsonaro’s No. 2 account,” the affair has had a big impact in Brazil, angering Bolsonaro and his supporters. “The Folha de São Paulois Brazil’s biggest fake news source,” the candidate said in a video sent to his supporters on October 22. Addressing the newspaper, he added: “You won’t get any more government advertising if I’m elected (...) Venal press, my condolences.”

Patrícia Campos Mello, the veteran Folha de São Paulo reporter who wrote the story, has been attacked and threatened on social networks by Bolsonaro’s supporters and forced to block public access to her Twitter account. She also received anonymous calls threatening her and her family.

Oct. 23

philip giraldiThe Unz Review, Opinion: The White Helmets Ride Again, Philip Giraldi, Oct. 23, 2018. Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., shown at right below, is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

I am often asked to explain why countries like Iran appear to be so aggressive, involving themselves in foreign wars and seeking to create alliances that they know will provoke the worst and most paranoid responses from some of their neighbors.

My response is invariably that perceptions of threat depend very much on which side of the fence you are standing on. Saudi Arabia and Israel might well perceive Iranian actions as aggressive given the fact that all three countries are competing for dominance in the same region, but Iran, which is surrounded by powerful enemies, could equally explain its activity as defensive, seeking to create a belt of allies that can be called upon if needed if a real shooting war breaks out.

The United States and Israel are, of course, masters at seeing everything as a threat, justifying doing whatever is deemed necessary to defend against what are perceived to be enemies. They even exercise extraterritoriality, with Washington claiming a right to go after certain categories of “terrorists” in countries with which it is not at war, most particularly Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Israel does likewise in its attacks on Lebanon and Syria. Both Tel Aviv and Washington have regularly crossed the line drawn by international legal authorities in terms of what constitutes initiating a “just” or “legal” war, i.e. an imminent threat to use force by a hostile power. Neither Israel nor the United States has really been threatened by an enemy or enemies in the past seventy years, so the definition of threat has been expanded to include after-the-fact as with 9/11 and potential as in the case of Israel and Iran.

The “which side of the fence” formulation has also had some interesting spin-offs in terms of how so-called non-state players that use violence are perceived and portrayed. Nearly all widely accepted definitions of terrorism include language that condemns the “use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants to provoke a state of terror.”

syrian white helmetsThere are two notable groups that should be universally condemned as terrorists but are not for political reasons. They are the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), Iranian dissidents that are based in Paris and Washington, and the so-called White Helmets who have been active in Syria. MEK is particularly liked by Israel and its friends inside the Beltway because it retains resources inside Iran that enable it to carry out assassinations and sabotage, and if it is only Iranians that are dying, that’s okay.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So, the National Holocaust Museum, which is taxpayer funded, has given an apparently prestigious award to a terrorist group, something which could have been discerned with even a little fact checking.

Oct. 22

Saudi Killing

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey’s President Vows to Detail Khashoggi Death ‘in Full Nakedness,’ David D. Kirkpatrick, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition). Turkish officials have been leaking lurid details for weeks about the assassination and reported dismemberment of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashogg in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

recep erdogan with flagBut President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, keen to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia, has until now mostly held his tongue.

turkey flagOn Sunday, Mr. Erdogan broke his silence, promising that within 48 hours he would remove the lid completely from what his spokesmen are now calling a Saudi cover-up. “We will reveal it,” he said in a televised speech. “It will be revealed in full nakedness.”

With international outrage at Mr. Khashoggi’s killing increasingly focused on the potential culpability of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr. Erdogan appears to sense an opportunity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Germany halts arms deals with Saudi Arabia, encourages allies to do the same, Rick Noack, Oct. 22, 2018. "Arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

washington post logogina haspel screenshotWashington Post, CIA director flies to Turkey amid controversy over Khashoggi killing, John Hudson, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey​, Oct. 22, 2018. CIA Director Gina Haspel, right, departed for Turkey on Monday amid a growing international uproar over Saudi Arabia’s explanation of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to people familiar with the matter.

Intelligence officials are increasingly skeptical of the Saudi account and have warned President Trump that the idea that rogue operators flew to Istanbul and killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi without the knowledge or consent of Saudi leaders is dubious, a White House official said.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Arms and the Very Bad Men, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 22, 2018. Trump’s rationale for going easy on Saudi Arabia is a shameful lie. A few days ago, Pat Robertson, the evangelical leader, urged America not to get too worked up about the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, because we shouldn’t endanger “$100 billion in arms sales.” I guess he was invoking the little-known 11th Commandment, which says, “On the other hand, thou shalt excuse stuff like killing and bearing false witness if weapons deals are at stake.”

O.K., it’s not news that the religious right has prostrated itself at Donald Trump’s feet. But Trump’s attempt to head off retaliation for Saudi crimes by claiming that there are big economic rewards to staying friendly with killers — and the willingness of his political allies to embrace his logic — nonetheless represents a new stage in the debasement of America.

Saudi Clout In DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Saudis’ Washington influence machine: How the kingdom gained power through fierce lobbying and charm offensives, Tom Hamburger, Beth Reinhard and Justin Wm. Moyer, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition).  In 2017, Saudi payments to lobbyists and consultants in Washington more than tripled over the previous year, public filings show.

The strength of the Saudi operation is now being tested amid a global condemnation of the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — a death the kingdom belatedly acknowledged last week.

More on Saudi Murder Most Foul

saudi consular service cropped

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Khashoggi Drama - A Deal Is No Longer Possible -- Erdogan Demands That MbS Goes, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2018. The Khashoggi saga continues to influence Middle East policies. On Friday, the Saudi regime admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its consulate in Istanbul. Since then they have changed their story twice.

Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi clown prince and effective ruler, does not seem to have any good media advisors. By not sticking to one story, all further Saudi accounts will immediately come into doubt.

The Saudis originally claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate. We now know why they felt safe to make that claim. CNN has a new Turkish story of a decoy which was send out to make it look as if Khashoggi left. They provide pictures to prove it. While Khashoggi was half bald, the decoy in Khashoggi's cloth[ing] seems to have full hair.

Khashoggi was a personal friend of Erdogan. He was a columnist at the Washington Post, the CIA's most favored news outlet. Mohammad bin Salman is an enemy of both. Neither the neocon opinion editor of the Post, Fred Hiatt, nor Erdogan have any love for the Saudi clown prince. They would of course raise a ruckus when given such a chance.

They will pile on and air the Saudi's dirty linen until MbS is gone. Years of lobbying and tens of millions of dollars to push pro-Saudi propaganda have now gone to waste.

The affair is damaging to Trump. He built his Middle East policy on his relations with Saudi Arabia. But he can not avoid the issue and has to call out MbS over the killing.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed is Mohammad bin Salman's mentor and partner in crime in Yemen. MbZ is smarter than MbS -- and will be more difficult to dislodge.

The Riyadh administration must dethrone Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at once. It has no other choice. Otherwise, it is going to pay very heavy prices. If they fail to quash the trap set up targeting Saudi Arabia through bin Zayed, they will be victims of Trump’s “You won’t last two weeks” statement, and the process is going to start to work in that direction.    ...    This duo must be taken out of the entire region and neutralized. Otherwise they are going to throw the region in fire.

jamal khashoggi mustafa al madani

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why it’s so important that Jamal Khashoggi’s body double had a fake beard, Bill Palmer, Oct. 22, 2018. So much for the Saudi Arabian government’s latest claim that it didn’t intend to kill Jamal Khashoggi, and his death just sort of happened. That claim – that nothing was premeditated and that things got out of hand when a fistfight broke out – wasn’t exactly going over well to begin with. But now video footage reveals that so much planning went into Khashoggi’s murder, the Saudis even invoked a body double with a fake beard.

After the Saudis murdered Jamal Khashoggi inside their consulate in Turkey, they tried to fool the Turkish government by sending a body double out the front door disguised as Khashoggi. They went so far as to dress the guy in Khashoggi’s clothes and glasses, but screwed up by failing to have him wear Khashoggi’s shoes – and everyone spotted it after CNN aired the footage today. Okay, so they’re not very good at this – but where did they get the fake beard?

Do foreign consulates normally keep fake beards lying around, just in case the need arises? The fact that the Saudis had this on hand, and that it just happened to match Jamal Khashoggi’s thick goatee, strongly suggests that this was indeed premeditated. They wouldn’t have had the beard on hand unless they were planning to impersonate Khashoggi – and they would only have needed to do that if they were planning to kidnap or kill him.

Not only is this sounding more premeditated all the time, it’s sounding more and more like the kind of sophisticated plan that these Saudi government henchmen wouldn’t have even tried to pull off unless they had the approval of the Crown Prince. This just keeps getting more horrific.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Trump’s claim of jobs from Saudi deals grows by leaps and bounds, Glenn Kessler, Oct. 22, 2018. President Trump is not very precise with numbers, but this is getting ridiculous. He gets citing U.S. jobs supposedly at risk if arms sales are cut off with Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But not only has the purported number of jobs from a highly tentative arms deal with the Saudis kept climbing day after day, but in the course of few minutes, he appeared to go from 600,000 jobs to 1 million.

“It’s $110 billion. I believe it’s the largest order ever made. It’s 450,000 jobs. It’s the best equipment in the world.”

— President Trump, in remarks to reporters, Oct. 13, 2018

“So now if you’re talking about — that was $110 billion — you know, you’re talking about over a million jobs. You know, I’d rather keep the million jobs, and I’d rather find another solution.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Trump withdraws U.S. from third-oldest international organization, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 22, 2018. The neocon foreign policy of Donald Trump took a drastic turn toward greater international isolation for the United States when the White House announced the American withdrawal from the 144-year old Universal Postal Union (UPU), the world's third-oldest international organization.

Video Shows Syrian Rebel Killing Sister

SouthFront, Turkish-backed 'Moderate Rebel' Executes Own Sister After Finding Out Her Unmarried Affair, Staff report from social media, Oct. 21, 2018 (graphic video, 58 secs.). A member of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) executed his own sister because she had allegedly had an unmarried affair with a Turksih officer in the Syrian city of Jarabulus, according to a video released by the pro-Turkish Syrian news agency STEP NEWS.

This incident once again revealed that real face of the so-called “democratic opposition” to the “bloody Assa regime” in Syria. Such incidents are not something uncommon for the “rebel-held” areas in northwestern Syria. However, they are often ignored by the mainstream media because they are in contrary to the maisntream narrative on the conflict.

Last time, such thing gained a wide media attention during the Aleppo battle in 2016 when Nour al-Din al-Zenki, which had received TOW missiles from the US, filmed an execution of the young boy accused of being a pro-Assad spy. Currently, Nour al-Din al-Zenki is operating in northwestern Syria as a part of the Turkish-backed “opposition force.”

U.S. Politics

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s comfort zone this year: Smaller venues and rapturous fans in places where he remains popular, Jenna Johnson, Oct. 22, 2018. The president has mostly stayed away from the suburban battlegrounds that will determine control of Congress in November.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Generic Democrats in Midwest faring better than more fiery liberals in Sun Belt, James Hohmann, Oct. 22, 2018. Michigan governor’s race shows the left’s willingness to rally behind anyone with a “D” after their name in 2018.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Dave Brat, an economist, borrowed heavily from former Fed chief in academic paper, Laura Vozzella, Oct. 22, 2018. Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va) often touts his status as the “only PhD economist in Congress” to suggest he has special insight into the nation’s economy.

republican elephant logoBut his academic background is under scrutiny amid revelations that a paper he wrote as a Randolph-Macon College professor borrowed heavily — and exactly — from one co-authored by former Fed chief Ben Bernanke.

Brat’s paper was a critique of Bernanke’s, so he quoted from the original piece. But instead of summarizing Bernanke’s writing in his own words, or using quotation marks to quote him directly, Brat simply seemed to cut and paste.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Obamacare has finally won, Paul Waldman, Oct. 22, 2018. The political tide has emphatically turned. 

A full eight years after it became law, and almost two years after Barack Obama left office, Obamacare is finally winning. Because the law is so complex, judging its substantive success is complex, too.

It brought coverage to tens of millions of Americans, for instance, though large gaps remain. But as a political matter, what for so long was a problem for Democrats has become a problem for Republicans.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump administration eyes writing transgender people ‘out of existence,’ a reckoning for a transgender Republican, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Oct. 22, 2018. Jordan Evans, believed to be the lone openly transgender elected Republican, said she was "distraught" over news that the Trump administration might seek to define transgender people out of existence.

Environment: U.S. Gulf

washington post logoWashington Post, A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history, Darryl Fears, Oct. 22, 2018. For years, Taylor Energy and federal officials had kept quiet about it.

Media News

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Arms and the Very Bad Men, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 22, 2018. Trump’s rationale for going easy on Saudi Arabia is a shameful lie. A few days ago, Pat Robertson, the evangelical leader, urged America not to get too worked up about the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, because we shouldn’t endanger “$100 billion in arms sales.” I guess he was invoking the little-known 11th Commandment, which says, “On the other hand, thou shalt excuse stuff like killing and bearing false witness if weapons deals are at stake.”

O.K., it’s not news that the religious right has prostrated itself at Donald Trump’s feet. But Trump’s attempt to head off retaliation for Saudi crimes by claiming that there are big economic rewards to staying friendly with killers — and the willingness of his political allies to embrace his logic — nonetheless represents a new stage in the debasement of America.

Press Freedom / Libel Law

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Revenge of the Right-Wing Snowflakes, Michelle Goldberg, Oct. 22, 2018. Angry men go to court to silence their critics. One minor sordid subplot of the Trump era has been the ugly custody battle between Jason Miller, senior communications adviser on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and A.J. Delgado, a former Trump campaign surrogate.

jason miller aj delgadoMiller and Delgado (shown at left) started an affair during the presidential race; Delgado became pregnant while Miller’s wife was pregnant as well. Now Miller and Delgado are involved in a vicious custody battle over their son, which Delgado chronicles on her Twitter feed.

For all its squalor, this is a story of public interest. It’s reportedly the reason Miller didn’t become White House communications director, instead signing on to defend Trump as a CNN contributor.

So it was news when Delgado claimed, in a court filing, that Miller had made a previous girlfriend pregnant and then put abortion-inducing medication in her smoothie. In September the website Splinter, part of Gizmodo Media, reported on the filing, noting that Miller denied the allegations.

In response, Miller made an aggressive legal move that’s becoming more common on the right, suing the report’s author, Katherine Krueger, and Gizmodo Media for $100 million. When Krueger’s boyfriend, a co-host of the cult left-wing podcast Chapo Trap House, called Miller a “rat-faced baby killer” in a tweet, Miller added him to the suit.

There is an air of dark absurdity about this saga. Miller is unlikely to prevail, because there are broad protections for journalists to report on claims made in legal filings, whether or not they are true. But it’s still worth taking seriously, because it’s part of a mounting conservative assault on free speech.

Mueller Probe

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Mueller examines conflicting accounts as scrutiny of Roger Stone and WikiLeaks deepens, Carol D. Leonnig, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, Oct. 22, 2018 (print edition). Investigators are poring over the Trump adviser’s public comments and alleged private assertions that he made in 2016 suggesting he had a way to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, people familiar with the probe said.

While outwardly quiet for the last month, Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have been aggressively pursuing leads behind the scenes about whether Stone was in communication with the online group, whose disclosures of emails believed to have been hacked by Russian operatives disrupted the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the special counsel probe.

Stone, who boasted during the race that he was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has said since that his past comments were exaggerated or misunderstood. Both he and WikiLeaks have adamantly denied they were in contact.

Trump On Migration

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Plans to Deter Migrants Could Mean New ‘Voluntary’ Family Separations, Miriam Jordan, Caitlin Dickerson and Michael D. Shear, Oct. 22, 2018.
Facing a surge in migrant families entering the United States and with the midterm elections two weeks away, the Trump administration is weighing an array of new policies that it hopes will deter Central Americans from journeying north.

Each of the policies, which range from a new form of the widely criticized practice of family separation to stricter requirements on asylum, would face significant legal and logistical challenges. But the White House is applying strong pressure on federal immigration authorities to come up with a solution to secure the southwest border.

The Border Patrol apprehended 16,658 people in family units in September — a record figure, according to unpublished government data obtained by The New York Times. The total number of families that entered the country in the 2018 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, exceeded 100,000 for the first time in recent history.

Scammers Hit DC

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. wired nearly $700,000 to scammers posing as city vendor, officials say, Peter Jamison, Oct. 22, 2018. The hacker created a bogus email address by altering a single letter in the domain name of a construction firm working on a facility for the homeless. Federal authorities are investigating, and additional security precautions are being taken.

Oct. 21

caravan mexico file photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Migrant Caravan Continues North, Defying Mexico and U.S., Maya Averbuch and Kirk Semple, Oct. 21, 2018 (print edition). In open defiance of the Mexican and American governments, thousands of Central American undocumented migrants, most of a caravan that has been heading toward the United States for more than a week, resumed their journey on Sunday in southern Mexico. Some are shown above in a file photo.

mexico flag1The Mexican government, which has been under pressure by President Trump to stop the group of thousands of migrants from Central America, had ordered them to submit to processing.

But thousands chose instead to move on — part of a group of people who had been stopped at the Mexican border this week after having traveled for several days, most from their homes in Honduras.

American Thinker, Migrant Caravan Points Way to GOP Midterm Success, Brian C. Joondeph, Oct. 22, 2018.  Caravan refers to, “A group of travelers, as merchants or pilgrims, journeying together for safety in passing through deserts or hostile territory.” Conjuring up images dating back to biblical days of people braving hardship during their travels, the media has coopted the term for political benefit to describe a horde of illegal immigrants heading to the U.S. just ahead of a major election.

They are neither merchants nor pilgrims. I doubt they are facing severe hardship during their journey as most of their basic needs are being met courtesy of wealthy benefactors.

The current caravan is a group of four- to seven-thousand Hondurans, traveling from Honduras to the United States. Google Maps shows the distance between San Pedro Sula, the large city in Honduras where the march started, and Brownsville, Texas, the most logical border city, as about 1,408 miles, a 500-hour trek on foot.

Fox News screenshot

Assuming generously that the caravan walks 10 hours a day, it will take the group 46 days to reach the U.S., long after the upcoming midterm election. It’s also safe to assume that they are riding most of the way, on trucks or busses.

Interestingly, the caravan consists primarily of military-aged men, as opposed to women and children, as this photo from the Daily Mail demonstrates. Women and children are few, and mainly being used as photo props. The migrant hordes entering Europe from the Middle East were also primarily young men.

What the media is surprisingly incurious about is who is paying for this journey. Thousands of adults and children on a 45-day trek, need food, water, bathroom facilities, first aid, and other services that all cost money. The New York Times was all over the false story of United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley ordering extravagant new drapes, but they are uninterested in funding of this enormously costly caravan.

Withdraw From Nuclear Deal

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP lawmakers criticize Trump’s decision to withdraw from nuclear arms treaty, Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 21, 2018. President Trump’s weekend announcement that he would pull the United States out of a nuclear arms control treaty alarmed members of his own party, who criticized the decision and worried that other international pacts to control proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons also might be upended.

bob corker closeup“I hope we’re not moving down the path to undo much of the nuclear arms control treaties that we have put in place,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting that he had heard that the Trump administration wanted to pull out of not only the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty but also New START.

republican elephant logo“I think that would be a huge mistake,” said Corker, shown at rightin a file photo.

Trump told reporters Saturday night that his administration would “terminate” and “pull out” of the INF Treaty, a strategic arms reduction pact that President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev struck in 1987. Russia has long been accused of violating the treaty, prompting calls from some defense hawks in the United States to end U.S. participation. Many also argue that the treaty is obsolete because it doesn’t restrict China’s nuclear arsenal.

Gender Justice

ny times logoNew York Times,Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration, Erica L. Green, Katie Benner and Robert Pear, Oct. 21, 2018. The Trump administration is considering a legal definition of gender as immutable and fixed at birth, the most drastic in a series of moves against transgender people.

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

Oct. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America’s Elections Could Be Hacked. Go Vote Anyway, Editorial Board, Oct. 19, 2018 (print edition). The system’s vulnerabilities are real, but please do not stay home. Will November’s election be hacked? A quick sampling of news stories over the past couple of years offers little comfort.

In the months before the 2016 presidential election, Russian hackers tried to infiltrate voting systems in dozens of states. They succeeded in at least one, gaining access to tens of thousands of voter-registration records in Illinois.

ron wydenIn April, the nation’s top voting-machine manufacturer told Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, right, that it had installed remote-access software on election-management systems that it sold from 2000 to 2006. Senator Wyden called it “the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.”

At a hacking convention last summer, an 11-year-old boy broke into a replica of Florida’s state election website and altered the vote totals recorded there. It took him less than 10 minutes.

WhoWhatWhy, Understanding the Devastating Impact of Shelby County v. Holder, Staff report, Oct. 20, 2018. In 2013, the US Supreme Court delivered a devastating whowhatwhy logodecision that would lead to a host of state voter suppression law, with which Americans continue to struggle today as they head to the polls.

'Since the Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 with the Shelby County v. Holder decision, state lawmakers have been stacking the deck against minority voters.

Chief Justice John Roberts said of the ruling that “the conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.”

Well, guess what — they’re back. And much of the US was not paying attention when states with a history of racist election laws passed bill after bill that made it more difficult for some Americans — usually people of color and demographics most likely to support Democrats — to vote.

WhoWhatWhy is doing its utmost to shine a light on these shady discriminatory actions: the shuttering of polling stations, reduction of early voter opportunities, and the introduction of voter ID requirements.

The Atlantic, Letter to the Editor Opinion: Gary Hart Was Not Set Up, James Savage, Oct. 20, 2018. A journalist who reported on Gary Hart’s downfall in 1987 pushes back on the notion that the candidate’s Monkey Business incident may have been staged.

I was the Miami Herald’s investigations editor who helped report and edit the 1987 stories that uncovered Gary Hart’s relationship with Donna Rice and prompted him to quit his presidential campaign.

I believe from my personal knowledge of the facts that The Atlantic’s article contains serious factual errors.

The article’s conspiracy theory suggests that William Broadhurst deliberately maneuvered Hart into potentially damaging press exposure by arranging for him to spend time on the yacht Monkey Business and have his picture taken with Donna Rice sitting on his lap.

The truth is the late Mr. Broadhurst did everything short of violence trying to prevent the Herald’s investigations team from publishing the first story about the scandal.

I believe the Atlantic story also implies that Donna Rice was somehow involved in a conspiracy to embarrass Hart. I am convinced from my firsthand knowledge of how the Herald learned about Hart’s plan to meet with Ms. Rice that she did not have any involvement in any plan to embarrass Hart.

Atlantic author James Fallows replies: The details of the Miami Herald’s handling of the Gary Hart–Donna Rice case were explicitly not the topic of my article. The literature on the topic is too vast and contradictory to set out, even in a magazine article many times longer than the one I wrote.....what the Herald did was not the topic I was discussing. The news my article conveyed is what might have happened before anyone at any newspaper got involved.

See also: People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018.

Oct. 19

Business Insider, The Interpol chief who vanished in China is feared dead after even his wife hasn't heard from him in weeks, Alexandra Ma, Oct. 19, 2018. The Interpol president who vanished in China last month is likely dead under Beijing's watch, his wife has said.

Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national who previously worked in the country's security services, disappeared after traveling to his native country on September 29. His wife Grace, with whom he lives in France, said she had not heard from her husband since then. And she's not hopeful about his fate.

She told the BBC on Friday: "I think it is political persecution. I'm not sure he's alive. They are cruel. They are dirty," she added, referring to Chinese tactics to silence people.

Oct. 18

YeniSafak, One of 15 Saudis that targeted Khashoggi dies in suspicious car accident, Staff report, Oct. 18, 2018. Claims are circulating that Meshal Saad M. Albostani, who visited the consulate while Khashoggi was still inside, could have been silenced.

Meshal Saad M. Albostani, one of the 15 suspects who were inside the Saudi consulate when missing journalist Jamaal Khashoggi entered, has died in a suspicious traffic accident. Claims are circulating that Albostani, who is a lieutenant of the Saudi Royal Air Forces, could have been silenced. There is no information about the details of the accident that left Albostani dead.

Oct. 17

Media News

Brookings Institution, Book Launch: "Enemy of the people:" A book discussion with Marvin Kalb and Dan Rather, Oct. 17, 2018. The American press has long been an institution seeking to uphold the integrity of our democracy. Past presidential administrations may have criticized the media at times, but the Trump administration has elevated such attacks to unprecedented levels, declaring the press as being an “enemy of the American people.”

As President Trump fuels the “fake news” fire and a general distrust of journalists, the power of the press is weakening in some segments of society. In his new book, “Enemy of the People,” award-winning journalist and warns that this trend poses serious threats to the health of our democracy.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, Kalb debuted his book at Brookings and was joined by veteran journalist Dan Rather for a discussion about its main themes. The two journalists explored how Trump has delegitimized the American press and why we should fear for the future of American democracy.

Editor's Note: Audience member Karl Golovin, a retired special agent of the U.S. Customs Service and 9/11 responder in 2001, asked Kalb and Rather during Q&A to address the lack of news coverage regarding how World Trade Center Building 7 could possibly have collapsed at near free-fall speeds more than seven hours after two other Trade Center buildings had collapsed and without being hit by an airplane. They ducked his question, which he he posed during a segment beginning at the 30:57 minute-mark on the video here.

 Oct. 16

U.S. Politics

gary hart donna rice monkey business

Model Donna Rice and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, a Colorado senator taking a cruise on a yacht named Monkey Business.The photo, allegedly a political dirty trick set up against Hart, was taken during the campaign by Rice's friend Lynn Armandt and provided to the news media

The Atlantic, Was Gary Hart Set Up? James Fallows, Oct. 16, 2018. November 2018 issue, What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?

In the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the presidency, the political consultant Lee Atwater learned that he was dying. Atwater, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the Republican National Committee, had suffered a seizure while at a political fund-raising breakfast and had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In a year he was dead.

Atwater put some of that year to use making amends. Throughout his meteoric political rise he had been known for both his effectiveness and his brutality. And in a private act of repentance that has remained private for nearly three decades, he told Raymond Strother that he was sorry for how he had torpedoed Gary Hart’s chances of becoming president.

“There were a lot of people on the dock, people getting off their boats and wandering up and down on the wharf,” [Gary] Hart told me. “While I was waiting for Broadhurst and whatever he was working out with the customs people, I sat on this little piling on the pier.”

donna rice hughes Hart said that Donna Rice’s friend and companion on the boat, Lynn Armandt, was standing a short distance away. “Miss Armandt made a gesture to Miss Rice, and she immediately came over and sat on my lap. Miss Armandt took the picture. The whole thing took less than five seconds, with lots of other people around. It was clearly staged, but it was used after the fact to prove that some intimacy existed.”

What are we to make of Strother’s late-in-life revelation of Atwater’s deathbed confession?

See also: People, 31 Years After Gary Hart Sex Scandal, Donna Rice Hughes Can Feel PTSD from Old Media Firestorm, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Oct. 31, 2018.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What if the Republicans Win Everything Again? David Leonhardt, Oct. 19, 2018. The end of Robert Mueller’s investigation. The loss of health insurance for several million people. New laws that make it harder to vote. More tax cuts for the rich. More damage to the environment. A Republican Party molded even more in the image of President Trump.

These are among the plausible consequences if the Republicans sweep the midterm elections and keep control of both the House and Senate. And don’t fool yourself. That outcome, although not the most likely one, remains possible. The last couple of weeks of polling have shown how it could happen.

alliance for justice logo

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomAlliance for Justice, Opinion: The Captured Court, Bill Yeomans, right, Oct. 19, 2018. In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation, Supreme Court justices have taken to public fora to assert the independence of the Court and to assure the public that the Court is not a political institution. Most prominently, Chief Justice Roberts distinguished justices from officials in the political branches, noting that “they speak for the people” while the justices “do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution.”

As aspiration, Roberts’ comment shines, but in current context, it is a distraction from the stark reality that the Court is a political institution. It has been captured by the sustained effort of the Republican Party to distort the third branch of government into an instrument to promote a right-wing political agenda. While the justices will not decide cases in the language of partisan politics, the conservative majority will repeatedly reach results that match Republican political goals. The conservative justices were selected by political officials and confirmed through a highly partisan political process because they were reliable votes for those results. The product is a political institution.

The roots of the drive to reshape the Court to serve conservative political goals lie in the reaction of social conservatives against Brown v. Bd. of Education and Roe v. Wade, and the effort by Lewis Powell and others in the early 1970’s and thereafter to mobilize the business community to capture the courts. The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation were central to the rise of the organized conservative legal movement in the 1980’s. That movement focused on building a strong cadre of rising lawyers who could be appointed to the bench by Republican presidents. Each of the Republican appointed justices now sitting – Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh – has deep roots in the Federalist Society. Indeed, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were selected by Trump from lists compiled specially for him by the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.

The justices were groomed to be reliable conservatives. Each served in one or more Republican administrations and each completed a successful tryout on a federal court of appeals. They were nominated for the Supreme Court because Republicans were confident there would be no surprises in their rulings. They were adherents to a legal philosophy (characterized by subtle variations that rarely affect results on major issues) that would produce outcomes that align almost perfectly with the Republican political agenda. By relying on their legal philosophy, they would exercise non-partisan judgment to interpret the laws and Constitution to promote Republican interests.

Reform the Supreme Court

The Kavanaugh confirmation debacle has justifiably left people angry. We must continue to process the allegations against Kavanaugh, the limitations imposed on the FBI investigation, and the suppression of documents by the White House and Senate Republicans. But it is also time to get serious about reforming the Supreme Court.
The president and Republicans in the Senate have installed a radically conservative justice who was credibly accused of sexual assault and lied to the Judiciary Committee about matters ranging from his activities in the Bush White House to the meaning of his high school yearbook. They pressed ahead with a supremely flawed candidate to complete the right-wing takeover of the Court that has been a central Republican political goal for at least fifty years.

The Court is now indisputably a political institution in which Republican justices will move the law inexorably to the right in furtherance of the Republican agenda. By further weakening public confidence in the Court’s independence and neutrality, Republicans have damaged its legitimacy. Congress must begin to repair the Court.
Proposals for essential reforms have been floating around for years, including adoption of a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, reform of recusal practices, limits on financial holdings and outside appearances, better policing of conflicts of interest, and the adoption of 18-year terms.

The elevation of Kavanaugh brings several of these reforms into play, but two stand out. First, Congress must impose a code of conduct and method for enforcement on Supreme Court justices, if the justices will not do it themselves. Judge Henderson, acting as Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit because of Judge Garland’s recusal, referred to Chief Justice Roberts more than a dozen complaints filed against Judge Kavanaugh based on the confirmation process. Complaints filed against federal district court and court of appeals judges can be dismissed by the chief judge or referred to the circuit’s judicial council for fuller consideration. Henderson, apparently, thought these complaints were sufficiently meritorious to send forward.

It is common to ask the Chief Justice to refer the complaints to another circuit. The complaints were sent to Roberts before Kavanaugh’s swearing in. After Kavanaugh was sworn in, Roberts, in what appears to be a ministerial act, referred the complaints to Chief Judge Tymkovich of the Tenth Circuit. Tymkovich will almost certainly dismiss them now that Kavanaugh sits on the Supreme Court. Because the code of conduct and disciplinary process that govern court of appeals judges do not apply to Supreme Court justices, Kavanaugh will escape accountability. The law must be changed.

Congress also must address the issue of recusals. Currently, each justice decides whether or not to recuse him or herself from a matter and there is no requirement that a justice offer reasons. The bar and public, therefore, often can only speculate about a justice’s reasoning. That’s troubling since the Court’s legitimacy depends entirely on the justices’ written explanations of the bases for their decisions. Compounding the concern, the Chief Justice has suggested that justices are not bound by the existing recusal statute. Ideally, the Court should itself articulate clear standards and an improved process for recusal, but its failure to do so places the burden on Congress to act.

Kavanaugh’s angry, intemperate, and partisan tirade before the Judiciary Committee requires close monitoring of his recusal decisions. He denounced the Clintons, Democrats, and groups on the left, creating the appearance, at least, that he cannot fairly adjudicate claims involving them. While Congress faces legitimate separation of powers concerns in this area, it must act to the full extent of its constitutional authority to ensure that justices apply clear standards transparently when faced with recusal decisions.

Progressives also must begin thinking long term about expanding the Court. This change cannot happen until Democrats control the White House, the House, and 60 votes in the Senate.

bill yeomans afj cropped CustomBill Yeomans, right, is the Senior Justice Fellow for Justice at Alliance for Justice. He previously taught constitutional law, civil rights, and legislation at American University Washington College of Law. He also served for 26 years in the Department of Justice, where he litigated cases involving voting rights and discrimination in employment, housing, and education, and prosecuted police officers and racially motivated violent offenders before assuming a series of management positions, including acting Assistant Attorney General. For three years, Bill served as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has also held positions at AFJ and the American Constitution Society.

Oct. 18

FBI Spy or Whistleblower?

terry albury gofundme photo

Former FBI special agent Terry Albury, sentenced to four years in prison on espionage charges after what he describes as whistleblowing (personal photo via GoFundMe campaign)

The Intercept, As FBI Whistleblower Terry Albury Faces Sentencing, His Lawyers Say He Was Motivated by Racism and Abuses at the Bureau, Alice Speri, Oct. 18, 2018. On Thursday, Judge Wilhelmina Wright sentenced Terry Albury to 48 months in prison, telling him that his disclosure “put our country at risk.” Albury pleaded guilty to unlawful transmission and unlawful retention of national defense information, which under the Espionage Act could earn him 10 years in prison each.

FBI logoAlbury was specifically charged with leaking two documents to the media — one that highlighted FBI methods for recruiting informants and another that was about threats from an unspecified Middle Eastern country — and retaining another. In a search warrant affidavit released at the time of his plea, the government said that Albury had also accessed other documents published by the news outlet.

In January 2017, Albury was assigned by the FBI to be an airport liaison, working to recruit informants at the border. According to the government sentencing memo, he continued to take FBI documents home from the airport — though he never shared them with anyone. When law enforcement raided his home, in August 2017, they found the documents on a storage device in a shirt pocket in his closet, wrapped in a note with a reporter’s phone number of it.

Prosecutors wrote that Albury acted with “clear disrespect for the law and his profession” and that his actions “put us all at risk.”

While they maintained that “motive is irrelevant to the offenses,” they called into question whether Albury was driven by “social conscience,” and said that he was no whistleblower because, in their view, the matters he exposed don’t constitute abuse. “Were the defendant truly troubled or disturbed or at odds with FBI policies or practices, he could have walked away,” they wrote. “Ultimately, he chose instead to engage in criminal conduct for 18 months rather than engage any process to remedy the ills he perceived against others or felt against himself.

That argument was supported by an amicus brief filed by 17 First Amendment scholars. The group wrote that between 2 to 3 million U.S. officials have the authority to classify information, and that last year, they made more than 49.5 million classification decisions — a 10 percent increase over 2016. Reviews of classification practices have regularly concluded that the procedure is widely abused, that classifying information is too easy, and that there is no consequence for misclassification. A former director of the Information Security Oversight Office cited in the scholars’ brief reported that information “published in third-grade textbooks” is classified. Further revealing just how arbitrary the process can be, fired FBI Director James Comey’s memos of his meetings with President Donald Trump, which were leaked to the media earlier this year, opened with his assessment of the level of classification they should hold. “I am not sure of the proper classification here so have chosen SECRET,” Comey wrote. “Please let me know of [sic] it should be higher or lower than that.”

“Overclassification is rampant,” the scholars concluded. “A great deal of nonsensitive information is classified simply because disclosure would embarrass powerful officials or expose government misconduct.”

Perhaps the most famous example of the arbitrary and unequal nature of leak prosecutions is that of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor — and served no jail time — for sharing his highly classified journals with his biographer and lover, and then lying to the FBI about it.

“All administrations leak profusely from the top, meaning that they leak politically convenient information,” Heidi Kitrosser, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and one of the authors of the amicus brief, told The Intercept. “When that is coupled with a historically unparalleled use of the Espionage Act to go after lower-level employees for leaking classified information, it becomes a powerful weapon for the government to pick and choose what they want the people to know.”

In their amicus brief, the group of legal scholars recalled a 2011 exchange between an intelligence official and the then-executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, about the subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen, who is now at The Intercept.

That subpoena to force a reporter to disclose his source — which Risen refused to do — would be “one of the last you’ll see,” the official said at the time. “We don’t need to ask who you’re talking to. We know.”

In fact, the scholars argue, First Amendment protections extended to reporters have become all but useless now that officials can easily track their sources without them. “Given technological advances, the administration simply no longer needs to rely on subpoenaing reporters the way they used to,” Kitrosser told The Intercept. “They have surveillance cameras, call logs, third-party subpoenas, and many other means less available to them in the past to track down sources without having to go to the reporter. This poses a new and very scary threat to the ability of the press to cover information of great public importance.”

The prosecution of leakers has already significantly chilled sources’ willingness to risk their jobs and freedom, several reporters have said, with devastating impact on public discourse. In punishing Albury, the legal scholars pleaded, the court should consider “the benefits to the public and to democratic deliberation” that resulted from his disclosure, “as well as the damage that a severe sentence would inflict on the constitutionally-protected interest in the flow of information to the citizenry on matters of public importance.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Minneapolis F.B.I. Agent Is Sentenced to 4 Years in Leak Case, Charlie Savage and Mitch Smith, Oct. 18, 2018. By the time Terry J. Albury arrived in Minneapolis in 2012, about 11 years after he went to work for the F.B.I., he had grown increasingly convinced that agents were abusing their powers and discriminating against racial and religious minorities as they hunted for potential terrorists.

The son of an Ethiopian political refugee, Mr. Albury was the only African-American field agent assigned to a counterterrorism squad that scrutinized Minnesota’s Somali-American community. There, according to his lawyer, he became disillusioned about “widespread racist and xenophobic sentiments” in the bureau and “discriminatory practices and policies he observed and implemented.”

FBI logoIn 2016, Mr. Albury began photographing secret documents that described F.B.I. powers to recruit potential informants and identify potential extremists. On Thursday, he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to unauthorized disclosures of national security secrets for sending several of the documents to The Intercept, which published the files with a series titled “The F.B.I.’s Secret Rules.”

Before Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright announced the sentence, Mr. Albury spoke haltingly in her courtroom in downtown St. Paul, pausing to wipe his face and breathe deeply. He apologized to his former F.B.I. colleagues and said he had been motivated to act by perceived injustices. In hindsight, he said, he wished he had voiced his concerns through official channels and not the news media.

“I truly wanted to make a difference and never intended to put anyone in danger,” Mr. Albury said.

The sentencing — which also included three years of supervised release after Mr. Albury gets out of prison — brought to a close the second leak case charged under the Espionage Act during the Trump administration after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s vow last year to crack down on unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

jeff sessions ag oOn Thursday, Mr. Sessions, left, was triumphant, saying in a statement that the department was “conducting perhaps the most aggressive campaign against leaks” in its history.

“Today’s sentence should be a warning to every would-be leaker in the federal government that if they disclose classified information, they will pay a high price,” he said.

The first leak case came to a close in August when Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, was sentenced to more than five years in prison after she pleaded guilty to leaking a classified document about Russian efforts to hack state elections systems. Like Mr. Albury, Ms. Winter had sent her document to The Intercept.

Betsy Reed, the editor in chief of The Intercept, which published a lengthy profile of Mr. Albury on Thursday, said in an email that it was getting easier for the government to hunt down journalists’ sources using surveillance and internal monitoring systems. She warned of a growing chill for investigative journalism.

Oct. 16

University of Chicago Law School Alumni News, Pat Cipollone, '91: Selected by President Trump to Replace Don McGahn as White House Counsel, Staff report, Oct. 16, 2018.
President Donald Trump has selected Pat A. Cipollone to replace Don McGahn as White House counsel, the president told reporters Tuesday, bringing in a well-known Washington litigator as his new top lawyer as the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election continues unabated.

President Trump announced his selection during an Oval Office interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday evening. Cipollone, who has been a partner at Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP, has experience defending against numerous government investigations from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission and more, according to a biography on his firm’s website.

Oct. 15

richard nixon desk archives

President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office (Photo via Wikimedia and the National Record and Archives Administration).

Lawfare, Jaworski Road Map to be Mostly Unsealed, Stephen Bates, Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes, Oct. 15, 2018. The significance of the document is both historical and contemporary. The historical significance is obvious. Watergate has a spawned a huge literature. Jaworski’s referral is described in that literature, but it has remained under wraps longer even than the identity of Deep Throat.

The contemporary significance is subtler. Mueller is today, according to many press accounts, writing some kind of report—at least on allegations of presidential obstruction of justice, maybe on other matters too. There exist only a few possible models for such a report. In some ways, the Road Map is the one that history has treated most kindly, but it has done so, ironically, without ever seeing it; the documents remains sealed by the National Archives because of grand-jury secrecy rules. We argued that it was time for it to see the light of day.

We actually were not the first to do so. Geoffrey Shepard, a California lawyer who worked for Nixon, sought the Road Map’s release some time back—along with other material—but the matter languished before Judge Royce Lamberth. A few days after we filed our petition, however, the Shepard matter came back to life. The case was transferred to Chief Judge Howell on Sept. 20. Our case, which was also assigned initially to Judge Lamberth, was transferred to Chief Judge Howell the same day. A couple of weeks later, on Oct. 4, the government filed a status report in Shepard, stating:

On June 22, 2017, the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) delivered to Judge Lamberth’s chambers an ex parte, in camera submission, in accordance with the court’s Memorandum and Order of May 23, 2017. That submission consisted of (a) the declaration of Martha Murphy, NARA’s Chief of the Special Access and FOIA Branch, addressing the first Watergate grand jury’s report and recommendation (the “Roadmap”); (b) an index of the Roadmap, plus an illustration of how the Roadmap appeared, both attached to the Murphy declaration, and (c) a box containing a copy of the entire Roadmap, as it was transmitted to the House of Representatives.

The Murphy declaration explained that a majority of the Roadmap had already been made public by the House Judiciary Committee, and thus no longer constituted secret grand jury information. With respect to the non-public portions of the Roadmap, which contain secret grand jury information, NARA was awaiting Judge Lamberth’s ex parte review and decision before it proceeded to conduct an archival review to determine which portions could now be opened to the public. That remains the status to date. Similarly, given the pendency of the ex parte review, the government has not conferred with any individuals who may be affected by a potential disclosure.

Judge Howell did not waste time. Her order, which followed this status report by only a week, directs that “NARA shall promptly begin the process of reviewing and releasing the 2-page summary, 53 statements, and 81 documents described in its ex parte, in camera submission that are included in the House Judiciary Committee Report or that have otherwise been made publicly available.

She also ordered “that the Department of Justice shall file, on November 9, 2018, and every 30 days thereafter, a status report informing the Court of the status of NARA’s review process” and that the department “shall, by October 22, 2018, review the 16 remaining documents in the Road Map that NARA has not been able to locate publicly, and shall contact any individuals whose privacy might be implicated by the release of those 16 documents to ascertain their views regarding whether those 16 documents may be released.”

Oct. 13

Turks Release U.S. Pastor

washington post logoWashington Post, Pastor Andrew Brunson released to U.S. diplomatic personnel after being detained by Turkish authorities for two years, Erin Cunningham, Oct. 13, 2018 (print edition). A Turkish court on Friday convicted American pastor Andrew Brunson of aiding terrorism but sentenced him to time served and ordered his immediate release.

turkey flagThe case of the evangelical preacher caught up in Turkey’s post-coup security sweep had garnered attention at the highest levels of the U.S. government and become a sore point in the two countries’ relations.

Within minutes of the verdict, President Trump tweeted, “working very hard on Pastor Brunson.” “PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED,” he tweeted later. “WILL BE HOME SOON!”

While Brunson, 50, was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to three years in prison, the judge reduced his sentence to two years time served for good behavior. The pastor has been held under house arrest since July, for health reasons, but that arrangement was also ended so he could leave the country.

“The verdict was the best of a bad situation,” Brunson’s defense attorney, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said outside the courthouse in western Turkey.

Oct. 12

Shocking Murder Evidence

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Virginia and Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Turks tell U.S. officials that audio and video prove Khashoggi was killed, Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson and Anne Gearan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). The audio recording provides some of the strongest evidence that a Saudi team killed Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi, officials said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” one person said.

U.S. Politics, Markets

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Attacks the Fed as Stocks Fall and the Midterms Loom, Binyamin Appelbaum, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). President Trump responded to falling stock prices on Thursday by continuing to throw rocks at the Federal Reserve, which he has described as “crazy,” “loco,” “going wild” and “out of control” for slowly raising interest rates against the backdrop of a booming economy.

No other modern president has publicly attacked the Fed with such venom or frequency. Indeed, some scholars said the only close historical parallel was with President Andrew Jackson, who campaigned successfully in the 1830s to close the Fed’s predecessor, the Second Bank of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s pointed remarks reflect the high political stakes less than a month before midterm elections that have been cast by his political opponents as a referendum on his presidency. Mr. Trump has been riding the economy hard, bragging about job creation, tax cuts and reduced federal regulation, and claiming credit for the rise of the stock market. Now that the market has lost 5 percent of its value in the last week, Mr. Trump is insisting someone else is to blame.

#MeToo: Major Clerical Demotion

washington post logoWashington Post, Pope accepts Wuerl’s resignation amid criticism of handling of abuse claims, Michelle Boorstein, Oct. 12, 2018. Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation cardinal donald wuerl portrait fullof Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl (shown at right), a trusted papal ally who became a symbol among many Catholics for what they regard as the church’s defensive and weak response to clerical sex abuse.

But even as Wuerl becomes one of the highest-profile prelates to step down in a year of prominent abuse scandals, Pope Francis offered the cardinal a gentle landing, praising him in a letter and allowing him to stay on as “apostolic administrator” in the Washington archdiocese until a successor was found.

In his letter, Francis suggested he had accepted Wuerl’s resignation reluctantly, and said he saw in the cardinal’s request the “heart of a shepherd.” Francis did not criticize Wuerl’s handling of abuse cases, and wrote that Wuerl had “sufficient elements” to defend his actions.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans who said Clinton and Obama disrespected the Oval Office never heard Kanye West’s f-bomb, Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 12, 2018. The rapper held forth with profanity, inanity and a profession of love for President Trump, who said West could be a future presidential candidate.

washington post logoWashington Post, New document contradicts Ross’s congressional testimony on census citizenship question, Tara Bahrampour, Oct. 12, 2018.  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross talked with former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Session about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a Justice Department document.

U.S. Hurricane Damage

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael leaves a trail of ruin in Florida, Luz Lazo, Mark Berman, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Kevin Sullivan, Oct. 12, 2018 (print edition). Oceanfront communities in the Florida Panhandle were virtually obliterated and an Air Force base had “catastrophic” damage as the storm moved through.

Oct. 11

Murder Most Foul?

washington post logoWashington Post, Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, U.S. intercepts show, Shane Harris, Oct. 11, 2018. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, below left, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, mohammad bin salman cropped fileaccording to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

jamal khashoggi western suitKhashoggi, right (a U.S. resident), was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

jared kushner head shotThe intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

The intelligence poses a political problem for the Trump administration because it implicates Mohammed, who is particularly close to Jared Kushner, left, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Murders of journalists and kidnappings: Welcome to Trump World, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 11, 2018 (subscription required; excerpted with permission). All of the films that depict a dystopian future of lawlessness, complete with tyrannical leaders, wanton murders, and ransom kidnappings, have come to fruition under Donald Trump's presidency.

Election Rigging In Georgia?

stacy abrams brian kemp file

Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, the Democrat, and Brian Kemp

ny times logoNew York Times, Voter Suppression Complaints in Georgia, Where G.O.P. Candidate Controls Voting, Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 11, 2018. Tensions escalated in the already bitter race to be Georgia’s next governor on Thursday after reports that the state had placed tens of thousands of voters’ registrations on a “pending” list, sparking charges of voter suppression and election rigging.

The office of Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor in November’s election, has stalled more than 53,000 voter applications, according to a recent report from The Associated Press. The list includes a disproportionately high number of black voters, the report said, which is stirring concern among nonpartisan voting rights advocates and supporters of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, who is vying to be the first black woman in the country to be elected governor.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate heads for exits as vulnerable Democrats get campaign time and McConnell gets his judges, Mike DeBonis, Oct. 11, 2018. Endangered Senate Democrats won their freedom to campaign for next month’s midterm elections Thursday and, in exchange, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got something he highly values — votes on 15 of President Trump’s judicial nominees.

us senate logoThe deal struck by the two parties on Thursday allowed the Senate to wrap up its work until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The hiatus comes as a relief to a cadre of Democratic incumbents who face difficult races in states that voted for Trump in 2016. McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to keep senators in Washington, voting on Trump’s nominees, until Election Day.

But ultimately Democrats paid McConnell’s ransom to get their incumbents back home. Under the deal, the Senate confirmed all 15 judicial nominees Thursday evening. An additional package of executive-branch nominees is set to be confirmed by unanimous consent before the Senate closes its business Thursday, two aides familiar with the deal said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Abandon Vulnerable Lawmakers, Striving to Keep House, Alexander Burns, Oct. 11, 2018. Party leaders are building a firewall around a few dozen republican elephant logopurple districts, and cutting off lawmakers who appear unable to win.

In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where President Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan. They have abandoned more than half a dozen seats where Republican lawmakers are not running for re-election, including most recently the Tucson, Ariz.-based seat of Representative Martha McSally, who left to run for Senate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan Governor’s Race Tests Flint’s Jaded Residents, Astead W. Herndon, Oct. 11, 2018. Michigan is in the homestretch of choosing Gov. Rick Snyder’s replacement. But many residents are wary of politicians from both parties because no one seemed able to mitigate the city’s water crisis.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in April that Flint’s water was safe to drink. He ended the state distribution of bottled water and effectively declared that the city’s yearslong public health emergency was over.

But here in Flint, where Mr. Snyder’s name is synonymous with villainy for many residents, his declaration has been largely ignored, and the crisis of unclean drinking water in the Great Lake state nicknamed “Pure Michigan” is very much ongoing.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Contradiction: Assailing ‘Left-Wing Mob’ as Crowd Chants ‘Lock Her Up,’ Peter Baker, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). President Trump is trying to turn the tables on his opponents by accusing them of being what they say he is: “unhinged,” “wacko” and “dangerous.”

When President Trump mocked a Democratic senator at a midterm election rally the other night, the crowd responded with one of his supporters’ favorite chants from his own campaign two years ago. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

The arena boomed with shouting voices and they kept going. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” Mr. Trump smiled and soaked it in. Then he assailed the Democrats for becoming “an angry left-wing mob.”

A master of divide-and-conquer campaigning who gives critics belittling nicknames, calls his foes “evil people” and has encouraged supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters, Mr. Trump hopes to convince the public that his opponents are the ones who are “totally unhinged.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The latest example of a Trump adviser going bananas, Dana Milbank, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Just in time for the election, the Trump administration is back to its monkey business.

The acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency is the latest administration figure found to have trafficked racist imagery. HuffPost reported this week on Andrew Wheeler’s “like” of a 2013 post showing President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama looking longingly at a banana held by a white hand.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Melania Trump sinks to a whole new low, Wendy Luxenburg, Oct. 11, 2018. Melania Trump just stated that she considers herself to be the most bullied person in the world. This explains a lot. It explains why her key platform (anti-bullying) has been such a bust, and why she has repeatedly failed to acknowledge that, when it comes bullies, her husband has no equal. The fact that she sees herself as a victim is, of course, ridiculous.

melania I dont care zara jacket 6 21 18We can only assume that in Melania’s extremely privileged world, being held accountable for her actions is a foreign concept. Women like Melania often have excuses made for them, and we have seen that for much of Donald Trump’s presidency. Many have been reluctant to see her as complicit in his actions. Rather we hear things like, “She’s trapped.” or “She didn’t ask for this.” She clearly knows this and is trying to work that angle to her advantage.

However, it is not bullying to hold someone responsible for their callous actions and ignorant comments. There is simply no excuse for one of the most visible women in the world to wear a jacket that says “I really don’t care do you?” when on her way to visit children ripped from their parents.

Most recently, in her photo shoot masquerading as some sort of humanitarian trip (to countries her husband referred to as “shit holes”), she threw sexual assault victims under the bus by insisting that they need evidence if they wish to be believed. Knowingly contributing to and validating rape culture is going to have repercussions. Melania Trump is not exempt from that simply because she sees herself as beyond reproach.

Democrat Claims Fraud In Florida Democratic Primary

debbie wasserman shultzOpEdNews, David vs. Goliath in South Florida, Round 2, Joan Brunwasser (JB), Oct. 11, 2018. My guest today is Tim Canova (TC), a progressive lawyer and law professor. Tim challenged the powerful Hillary supporter and DNC chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo), in the 2016 Democratic primary for Florida's 23rd congressional district.

JB: How effective were her attempts to marginalize you? Were you viewed as a fringe candidate? And if so, how did that affect the race?

TC: Every time I would appear at a local Democratic Party club or caucus or committee meeting, party leaders had already received calls from Wasserman Schultz's staff warning them not to let me speak -- even though such censorship is contrary to the party's own bylaws. The party helps shield its incumbents from debate, showers them with mainstream media attention and corporate money, and prevents challengers from even introducing themselves. It's been much the same with the leadership of unions and some other liberal and even purportedly progressive groups.

democratic donkey logoI don't know if I was ever considered a "fringe" candidate, as much as disloyal for not falling in line and supporting the incumbent, especially since she was also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. They kept painting me as the outsider, which only fueled our popularity.

In the days after my August 30, 2016 primary, a number of election integrity experts contacted me to report that they had found the certified results problematic. One team of data analysts said they found "statistical red flags" that brought the official results into question. One leading expert statistician concluded that the results of their "cumulative vote tally" were mathematically implausible. Since I'm not a statistician, I never knew how much weight to give to these concerns.

Our final field numbers and our experience on the ground suggested a much different outcome from the official results. So as I heard from more experts and non-experts alike questioning the official results, I decided to put in a public-records request, at my own expense. We wanted to verify the vote by inspecting the ballots, initially in about a dozen key precincts. If the ballots matched up with the official results, then we would put all those suspicions to rest.

In November 2016, we put in the first of three public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to inspect the ballots. We were first told that Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor, had taken no digital scanned images, and we were stonewalled for more than half a year in our attempts to inspect the paper ballots. I finally filed a lawsuit in June 2017, and while the suit was pending, the Supervisor ordered the destruction of all the paper ballots cast, in violation of multiple federal and state criminal statutes.

In the destruction order, Snipes falsely certified that the ballots were not the subject of pending litigation. She also concealed the ballot destruction from the court for more than two months, showing bad faith and willfulness in her crimes. When she admitted to destroying the paper ballots, Snipes then claimed to have digital scanned images. She paid about $15,000 to have a software company come in and manipulate and arrange the digital scans for viewing. Our requests to inspect the software were rejected because the software is considered "proprietary," the private property and trade secrets of the private software vendor hired by Snipes.

JB: That's outrageous! Were you flabbergasted by Snipes's brazenness? And, more to the point, where did that leave you?

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Newsweek’s Former Owner Faces Fraud Charges, William K. Rashbaum and Patricia Cohen, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Newsweek magazine, the onetime media powerhouse, was at the center of a multimillion-dollar fraud and money-laundering conspiracy, according to an indictment by Manhattan prosecutors that was unsealed Wednesday.

newsweek logoTwo publishing companies, IBT Media, which owned the magazine, and Christian Media, a faith-based online publisher in Washington, were charged with trying to defraud lenders by pretending to borrow money for sophisticated computing services.

Instead, most of the money was funneled back to accounts controlled by the two media companies and their principals — Etienne Uzac, a co-founder of IBT, and William Anderson, Christian Media’s former chief executive and publisher — and unnamed co-conspirators, the indictment said. It said some of the money had been used to cover the magazine’s operating expenses.

The men were charged with misrepresenting Newsweek’s financial health and creating a fictitious accounting firm, Karen Smith L.L.P., along with a series of fake financial statements to dupe lenders into putting up millions of dollars in 2015 and 2016.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the charges after an extended investigation into the companies’ financial dealings that included a raid of IBT’s Manhattan offices in January. Top editors and reporters at Newsweek were fired after they, too, started delving into the company’s accounts and the owners’ connections to Olivet University, an evangelical Christian college in New York. Several other magazine employees soon resigned.

cyrus vance jrMr. Uzac defended himself on Wednesday on IBT’s website, accusing the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., left, of retaliating against his news organization for reporting last fall on a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance from the lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer

The Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the charges after an extended investigation into the companies’ financial dealings that included a raid of IBT’s Manhattan offices in January. Top editors and reporters at Newsweek were fired after they, too, started delving into the company’s accounts and the owners’ connections to Olivet University, an evangelical Christian college in New York. Several other magazine employees soon resigned.

Mr. Uzac defended himself on Wednesday on IBT’s website, accusing the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., of retaliating against his news organization for reporting last fall on a campaign contribution to Mr. Vance from the lawyer for Harvey Weinstein, the powerful film producer.

More background: New York Observer, Moonies, Messiahs and Media: Who Really Owns Newsweek? Peter Sterne, Aug. 4, 2013. Is it controlled by a controversial Christian preacher?

U.S. Markets Fall

washington post logoWashington Post, Dow drops nearly 550 points, sending its two-day loss total to nearly 1,400 points, Taylor Telford, Anna Fifield and Gerry Shih, Oct. 11, 2018. Investors are rattled by rising interest rates that could trigger a slowdown in the global economy. Worries about U.S.-China ties weighed heavily, too.

U.S. Hurricane Disaster

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael moves into the Carolinas after lashing Florida, Georgia, Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan, Eli Rosenberg and J. Freedom du Lac, Oct. 11, 2018.
Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a “potentially catastrophic” Category 4 hurricane — the strongest on record to hit the area — and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies. In the storm’s wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives and at least two deaths.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Fighter Jet Flipped. Hangars Shredded. At Tyndall Air Force Base, a ‘Complete Loss,’ Dave Philipps, Oct. 11, 2018. As Hurricane Michael tore across the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, shredding buildings and homes in its path, the mostly empty Tyndall Air Force Base braced for a ferocious impact. The Air Force worked to minimize possible destruction. Tyndall is home to the largest group of F-22 stealth fighters — 55 of them, each costing a dizzying $339 million. The stealth fighters and about 17 trainer jets were flown to safety, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Planes from nearby Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base also fled inland in the days before the storm.

Kavanaugh Perjury?

washington post logoWashington Post, Roberts refers judicial misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh to federal appeals court in Colorado, Ann E. Marimow and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 11, 2018 (print edition). Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court.

The allegations center on whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during his Senate testimony, according to people familiar with the matter.

Last month, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked Roberts to refer the complaints to another appeals court for review after determining that they should not be handled by judges who served with Kavanaugh on the D.C. appellate court.

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Roberts said he selected the court in Colorado to “accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter.”

The Denver-based appeals court is led by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, the former solicitor general of Colorado who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush. The 10th Circuit handled another recent judicial misconduct case from Washington involving the former chief judge of the District Court.

It is unclear what will come of the review by the 10th Circuit. The judiciary’s rules on misconduct do not apply to Supreme Court justices, and the 10th Circuit could decide to dismiss the complaints as moot now that Kavanaugh has joined the high court.

“There is nothing that a judicial council could do at this point,” said Arthur D. Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and expert on the operation of federal courts.

He said it was unprecedented for a new justice to face such a situation. Hellman predicted that the 10th Circuit will likely close the case “because it is no longer within their jurisdiction,” now that Kavanaugh has been elevated to the Supreme Court.

Democrat Claims Fraud In Florida Democratic Primary

debbie wasserman shultzOpEdNews, David vs. Goliath in South Florida, Round 2, Joan Brunwasser (JB), Oct. 11, 2018. My guest today is Tim Canova (TC), a progressive lawyer and law professor. Tim challenged the powerful Hillary supporter and DNC chair, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (shown in a file photo), in the 2016 Democratic primary for Florida's 23rd congressional district.

JB: How effective were her attempts to marginalize you? Were you viewed as a fringe candidate? And if so, how did that affect the race?

TC: Every time I would appear at a local Democratic Party club or caucus or committee meeting, party leaders had already received calls from Wasserman Schultz's staff warning them not to let me speak -- even though such censorship is contrary to the party's own bylaws. The party helps shield its incumbents from debate, showers them with mainstream media attention and corporate money, and prevents challengers from even introducing themselves. It's been much the same with the leadership of unions and some other liberal and even purportedly progressive groups.

democratic donkey logoI don't know if I was ever considered a "fringe" candidate, as much as disloyal for not falling in line and supporting the incumbent, especially since she was also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. They kept painting me as the outsider, which only fueled our popularity.

In the days after my August 30, 2016 primary, a number of election integrity experts contacted me to report that they had found the certified results problematic. One team of data analysts said they found "statistical red flags" that brought the official results into question. One leading expert statistician concluded that the results of their "cumulative vote tally" were mathematically implausible. Since I'm not a statistician, I never knew how much weight to give to these concerns.

Our final field numbers and our experience on the ground suggested a much different outcome from the official results. So as I heard from more experts and non-experts alike questioning the official results, I decided to put in a public-records request, at my own expense. We wanted to verify the vote by inspecting the ballots, initially in about a dozen key precincts. If the ballots matched up with the official results, then we would put all those suspicions to rest.

In November 2016, we put in the first of three public records requests with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to inspect the ballots. We were first told that Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor, had taken no digital scanned images, and we were stonewalled for more than half a year in our attempts to inspect the paper ballots. I finally filed a lawsuit in June 2017, and while the suit was pending, the Supervisor ordered the destruction of all the paper ballots cast, in violation of multiple federal and state criminal statutes.

In the destruction order, Snipes falsely certified that the ballots were not the subject of pending litigation. She also concealed the ballot destruction from the court for more than two months, showing bad faith and willfulness in her crimes. When she admitted to destroying the paper ballots, Snipes then claimed to have digital scanned images. She paid about $15,000 to have a software company come in and manipulate and arrange the digital scans for viewing. Our requests to inspect the software were rejected because the software is considered "proprietary," the private property and trade secrets of the private software vendor hired by Snipes.

JB: That's outrageous! Were you flabbergasted by Snipes's brazenness? And, more to the point, where did that leave you?

Report: ISIS Steals Chemical Weapons

SouthFront, ISIS Seizes Toxic Agents Intended To Be Used For Provocations In Idlib, Staff report, Oct. 11, 2018. ISIS terrorists have been able to seize toxic chemicals due to the irresponsible actions of the representatives of the Western countries, Lieutenant General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian center for the reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria, said on October 10. According to Savchenko, on October 9, a group of ISIS-linked militants attacked the headquarters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in the village of al-Lataminah.

He added that four militants and two members of the White Helmets organization were killed in the attack and two cylinders containing chlorine were taken out of the headquarters. The seized cylinders were transported to southern Aleppo and handed over to members of another terrorist group – Hurras al-Din.

 Savchenko described Hurras al-Din, which is known for its links to al-Qaeda, as an ISIS-associated group. This may indicate that in Idlib pro-al-Qaeda and pro-ISIS organizations are now working together to sabotage the Idlib demilitarization deal.

Oct. 10

Justice Dept. Under Scrutiny christopher wray cropped Small

FBI Director Christopher Wray (File photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director expected to face questions about Kavanaugh probe during Senate hearing, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Oct. 10, 2018. Democrats have FBI logoaccused the White House of curtailing the bureau’s ability to thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual assault against the new Supreme Court justice.

The FBI questioned nine people as part of that inquiry, and Democrats have accused White House officials of severely curtailing the FBI’s ability to learn the truth.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rosenstein faces congressional scrutiny amid new claim he seriously suggested recording Trump, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey and Ellen Nakashima, Oct. 10, 2018 (print edition). The FBI’s top lawyer told investigators that senior officials characterized Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s suggestion as a serious one — raising questions about Rosenstein’s assertions to the contrary.

Roll Call, Rosenstein Won’t Testify Before House Judiciary, Oversight Committees, Lindsey McPherson, Oct. 10, 2018. Reps. considering subpoena compelling deputy attorney general to testify.

U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Taylor Swift has done the impossible, Wendy Luxenburg, Oct. 10, 2018. Five years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be championing Taylor Swift, I’d have laughed in their face. My dislike of Taylor and my overall lack of respect for her was well known among all my friends. I definitely was not “Team Taylor.” I wasn’t a fan of her music nor her revolving door of boyfriends; she seemed rather shallow and self-involved. Then something happened: Taylor Swift grew up.

taylor swift stageIn a thoughtfully written post she waded into politics for the first time in her career. She explained that she would be casting her vote in her home state of Tennessee for the Democratic candidates due to their support of equality regardless of a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation.

However, unlike most public figures, she did not outright encourage her fans to vote for any specific candidate. Instead of exploiting her influence, she used it encourage her fans to register to vote and to “vote based on who most closely represents your values.”

In the two days following her post, more than 200,000 new voters registered through vote.org (the site referenced by Swift in her post), leading Vote.org’s Director of Communications Kamari Guthrie to credit her with the spike, “Thank god for Taylor Swift,” she said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Anti-Voter Supreme Court, David Leonhardt, Oct. 10, 2018. The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in a challenge to a North Dakota voter ID rule that may prevent some Native American voters from casting a ballot in next month’s elections.

heidi heitkamp oAfter Heidi Heitkamp (left), a North Dakota Democrat, narrowly won a Senate seat in 2012, Republicans changed a voter-identification law in the state. They stopped allowing any voter identification that lists a post-office box as an address.

There was a specific reason for the change, as Pema Levy of Mother Jones reports. Many Native Americans use a P.O. box as their address because the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver to their communities. And Native Americans had provided Heitkamp with crucial support in her win. The law was another Republican attempt to win elections by keeping Democratic-leaning groups from voting.

republican elephant logoLast night, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the North Dakota law, effectively upholding it. Amy Howe of Scotusblog has a fuller explanation. “The risk of disenfranchisement is large,” Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a dissent.

This case is yet another reminder that democracy protection needs to be the No. 1 item on the Democrats’ long-term political agenda. (Really, it should the top item on both parties’ agenda, but I realize that’s a naïve wish.) The next time Democrats control the federal government, they should pass a sweeping voter-rights bill, similar to the kind Paul Glastris has described in Washington Monthly.

History won’t look kindly on the political party that is trying to keep Americans — usually dark-skinned Americans — from voting.

The Atlantic, The Trump Campaign Says Exploiting Hacked Emails Is Free Speech, Natasha Bertrand, Oct. 10, 2018. Lawyers for the campaign asserted in court papers a right to disclose “even stolen information.”

In a motion to dismiss a new lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump’s campaign team of illegally conspiring with Russian agents to disseminate stolen emails during the election, Trump campaign lawyers have tried out a new defense: free speech.

donald trump for president button nice smileThe lawsuit, filed last month by two donors and one former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails, thereby violating their privacy.

But the Trump campaign — represented by Jeffrey Baltruzak, Michael A. Carvin, Nikki L. McArthur, and Vivek Suri, all of the law firm Jones Day — responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can’t be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks’s publication of the DNC emails.

Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information — even stolen information — so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

The motion’s language seems to further an argument made by Trump and his allies as they await the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into a potential conspiracy between the campaign and Russia in 2016: namely, that collusion, even if it involved the coordinated release and exploitation of a candidate’s emails during the presidential election, is not a crime.

oleg deripaskaPalmer Report: Opinion, Danger looms for Donald and Ivanka Trump, Daniel Cotter, Oct. 10, 2018. On Monday, the FBI reported that it had frozen the US assets of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, right, including his New York mansion. Deripaska is suspected of having mob ties and is a close ally of both Vladimir Putin and Paul Manafort.

The inhabitant of the property, for unknown reasons, is none other than Dasha Zhukova, best friend of Ivanka. Zhukova was Ivanka’s guest at the inauguration and they are regular travel buddies. Zhukova is living in Deripaska’s home while her property her ex-husband gave to her is being rehabbed. Her ex-husband, Roman Abramovich, is a Russian oligarch.

What we know about the Donald Trump family is there is zero degrees of separation between any member of the Trump family and the Russians. At every turn, there is another connection and link to the Puppet master Putin and Russian oligarchs.

Senate Resumes Court Packing Plan

Roll Call, Republicans Restart Push for Lower Court Judges, Todd Ruger, Oct. 10, 2018. Democrats object to the process. With the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh behind them, Republicans on Wednesday restarted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s push to confirm lower court judges with a hearing on a pair of nominees that Democrats staunchly oppose for their legal work on health care, LGBT rights and other issues.

The hearing featured almost everything Democrats have complained about the confirmation process during President Donald Trump’s administration — including scheduling more than one circuit court nominee in a single hearing and doing so over the objections of a home state senator.

sherrod brown o 2009This time, nominees from Ohio to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit are opposed by home state Sen. Sherrod Brown, right, who spoke against them at the hearing for their previous legal work and criticized the White House for ignoring the state’s bipartisan judicial selection commission.

“I have significant concerns about the ability of Chad Readler and Eric Murphy to be fair-minded and impartial judges, and I cannot support nominees who have actively worked to strip Ohioans of their rights,” Brown said. “And that’s exactly what Mr. Murphy and Mr. Readler have done, on everything from health care to voting rights, from marriage equality to public education.”

Readler’s work as a senior Justice Department official in the past two years touched many of the Trump administration’s most contentious legal battles. Brown said that “perhaps worst of all” was Readler’s role when he filed a brief in a Texas lawsuit that challenges the 2010 health care law’s protections for pre-existing conditions.

U.S. Natural Disasters

washington post logoWashington Post, Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4, takes aim at Florida Panhandle, Jason Samenow​, Oct. 10, 2018. Florida’s northern Gulf Coast is bracing for its most dangerous hurricane threat in more than a decade as Michael gained strength overnight. The storm, with its winds of 140 mph, is expected to make landfall this afternoon.

U.S. Military Spending

Defense News, America sold $55.6 billion in weapons abroad in FY18 — a 33 percent jump, Aaron Mehta, Oct. 10, 2018. The U.S. inked $55.6 billion in foreign military sales during fiscal year 2018, easily smashing past the previous year’s total — and the Pentagon’s point man for security cooperation expects more in the future.

“This is a 33 percent increase over last year and I’m very optimistic that this positive trajectory will continue,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, during a speech at the AUSA conference. “Our partners know a good thing when they see one.”

Media, Spies, Propaganda

wsj logoWall Street Journal, A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead, Alan Cullison, Oct. 10, 2018. Nikolai Glushkov, a close associate of the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky, was preparing to testify that Aeroflot was a corrupt instrument of Russian intelligence. Glushkov, a Russian émigré, lived alone in a weather-beaten row house in South London with an aging dog and a cat named Braveheart. It was the waning days of March, and he was readying himself for something big.

The onetime finance director of Russia’s flagship airline, he was preparing for a trial in a London court. He told friends it would prove his innocence of longstanding financial charges by Russian authorities and expose Aeroflot Russian Airlines as a front for Russian security services.

ny times logoNew York Times, David Wise, Journalist Who Exposed C.I.A. Activity, Dies at 88, Katharine Q. Seelye, Oct. 9, 2018. In his nonfiction books, he lifted the veil from espionage’s excesses and misdeeds. David Wise, one of the first journalists to expose the clandestine operations of the Central Intelligence Agency and a standard-setter for investigative reporting into government espionage, died on Monday in Washington. He was 88.

cia logoMr. Wise was the author, with Thomas B. Ross, of “The Invisible Government,” an explosive 1964 exposé of the C.I.A. and its covert operations. To keep its contents from the public, the C.I.A. considered buying up all copies of the book but backed off when the publisher, Random House, made clear that it would simply print more. The C.I.A. obtained an advance version of the book and fought ferociously to censor it. After dropping the idea of buying up all the copies, Mr. Lord said, the agency appointed a task force that recommended that the C.I.A. use “such assets as the Agency may have” to plant bad reviews.

The efforts came to naught. The book became the No. 1 best seller on the Time magazine list and No. 2 on The New York Times list, behind Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” It remained on the Times best-seller list for 22 weeks and was published in eight foreign editions.

Mr. Wise joined the Herald Tribune’s staff in 1951 and later moved to Washington, where he covered politics and the Kennedy White House. He was named Washington bureau chief in 1963 and served in that role until the paper closed in 1966. At that point he devoted himself full time to writing books. Over the next half century, he wrote a trove of nonfiction works that include the stories of America’s most notorious spies — Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen among them. In the telling he revealed details of the government’s bungling and deceptions.

Murder In the Consulate?

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudis are said to have lain in wait for Jamal Khashoggi, Loveday Morris, Souad Mekhennet and Kareem Fahim, Oct. 10, 2018 (print edition). A squad of men arrived in Turkey early on Oct. 2 and were in place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul hours before the journalist went missing, according to two people with knowledge of the probe. By the end of the day, the men had left the country.

Roll Call, Senators Trigger Investigation Into Missing Saudi Journalist Who May Have Been Murdered, Rachel Oswald, Oct 10, 2018. Senators on Wednesday triggered a U.S. government investigation into what happened to a prominent missing Saudi journalist, who is suspected to have been murdered last week in Turkey.

The lawmakers said they expect the investigation to look into the actions of the “highest-ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia,” a move that signals lawmakers on both sides of aisle are willing to confront the staunch ally.

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for the State Department sent a letter to President Donald Trump that triggered a provision of 2016 Magnitsky human rights law.

That provision requires the president to reach a determination within four months on whether an extrajudicial killing has occurred against any individual who promotes human rights, including through freedom of expression, such as the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, jamal khashoggi western suitshown at right in a file photo. If an assassination is found to have occurred, the law requires the president to decide whether to impose sanctions on any individuals complicit in the death.

In their letter, Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., write that the disappearance of Khashoggi, who has not been seen since last week when he sought a legal document from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, “suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.”

“Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi,” the senators wrote.

The letter is co-signed by nine Republicans and nine Democrats, including nearly everyone on the Foreign Relations Committee with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul on Wednesday in a tweet called for ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Health Care

washington post logoWashington Post, CVS merger with Aetna approved, a deal that could transform the health-care industry, Brian Fung, Oct. 10, 2018. The $69 billion merger could change how millions of Americans receive basic medical services, and allow CVS to turn more of its locations into front-line clinics for patients.

Global Trade Strategies

china shipping line file photo

Chinese container transport vessel (file photo)

SouthFront, China Expands Economic Efforts In Lebanon, Syria: Challenging US Foreign Policy In Region, Staff report, Oct. 10, 2018. On Oct. 9, a new shipping line opened between China and Lebanon’s Tripoli, doubling the volume of products coming from China to the country.

The US and Israel are opposing the establishment of the “Shia Crescent,” with both countries constantly showing aggression towards mostly Lebanon and Iran, but also towards Syria. Simultaneously, however, China is seeking to boost its economic influence in the countries. Thus, the Middle East may soon become another hot point in the US-China conflict. Tensions between the states have been growing quickly since the beginning of the Trump-initiated Trade war.

U.S. Crime, Courts, Suicide

washington post logoWashington Post, An ex-aide charged with stealing $1.2 million of wine from Goldman Sachs CEO leaps 33 floors to his death, Antonia Noori Farzan, Oct. 10, 2018. Nicolas De-Meyer was supposed to appear in federal court in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon.

After spending 14 months flying all over the world, from Rome to Rio de Janeiro, he had landed at Los Angeles International Airport in January and was arrested as soon as he made it off the plane. The 41-year-old had previously spent eight years working as a personal assistant to then-Goldman Sachs president David M. Solomon, now the company’s CEO. During that time, federal prosecutors alleged, he had stolen more than 500 bottles of rare vintage wine, valued at more than $1.2 million, from the executive’s wine cellar in the Hamptons.

Court Sanctions?

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chief Justice John Roberts just sold out Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 10, 2018. Earlier this week we learned that a fellow judge on Brett Kavanaugh’s bench received a number of misconduct claims against Kavanaugh during his confirmation process, and referred those complaints to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who hadn’t taken any action on the matter. But now things have changed in a big way.

At the time the complaints first became public knowledge, various legal observers explained that because the review process is a lengthy one, there was nothing that John Roberts could have done with the complaints that would have had any impact on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. But, as it turns out, Roberts didn’t simply decide to sit on his hands. He’s posted a public letter referring the complaints about Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Although the letter doesn’t mention Kavanaugh by name, multiple major news outlets are confirming that Roberts is referring to Kavanaugh in the letter. So what now?

It’s important to keep in mind that John Roberts could have made these complaints go away simply by not referring them, and the odds are that most people would have ended up forgetting about the brief story about the complaints. Instead, by making an official referral, Roberts is opening a de facto misconduct investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, and he’s putting it in the hands of someone who is far removed from the political process that elevated Kavanaugh to begin with. So this is in fact something – even if we don’t yet know quite what it’ll lead to.

Oct. 9

Climate Change

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Coal Is Killing the Planet. Trump Loves It, Editorial Board, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Scientists issued a new alarm on the devastating impacts of continued burning of fossil fuels. But the Trump E.P.A. keeps propping up coal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Dire Climate Warning Lands With a Thud on Trump’s Desk, Mark Landler and Coral Davenport, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). A day after the United Nations issued its most urgent call to arms yet for the world to confront the threat of climate change, President Trump boarded Air Force One for Florida — a state that lies directly in the path of this coming calamity — and said nothing about it.

UN logoIt was the latest, most vivid example of Mr. Trump’s dissent from an effort that has galvanized much of the world. While the United Nations warned of mass wildfires, food shortages and dying coral reefs as soon as 2040, Mr. Trump discussed his successful Supreme Court battle rather than how rising seawaters are already flooding Miami on sunny days.

The president’s isolation is not just from the world: In California, New York, Massachusetts and other states, governments and companies are pushing ahead with regulations and technological innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GOP Election Scandals

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Aide Requested Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm, Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals.

donald trump mike pence new logoThe Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor.

rick gates cropped aug 2018The campaign official, Rick Gates, left, sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Gates was Trump-Pence deputy campaign manager under Paul Manafort and like Manafort has pleaded guilty to financial crimes in the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller..

Another proposal describes opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.

U.S. Political Violence

KMTV 3 News (Council Bluffs, Iowa), Emotions boil over after demonstrators stand outside MAC, Staff report, Oct. 9, 2018. For at least three hours, demonstrators holding signs directed at President Donald Trump stood along 23rd Avenue across from the Mid-America Center, where he was speaking at a rally for local Republicans.

Just as the night was ending, emotions boiled over after an elderly protester was allegedly threatened and a daughter feared for her mother's safety. "He grabbed my sign then he grabbed my walker," Evelyn Russel said. "He had it held up over his head like he was going to hit me with it."

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, McConnell signals he would push to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who blocked President Barack Obama’s 2016 nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year amid widespread Democratic objections — signaled Monday that he would help fill a high-court vacancy if one emerges when President Trump is up for re­election in 2020.

Speaking at a news conference in Louisville, McConnell, right, said his decision to block Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, was based on a tradition that opposition parties in control of the Senate do not confirm Supreme Court nominees during presidential election years.

He claimed the precedent only applies when different parties control the Senate and the White House — leaving open the possibility he would help advance a Trump nominee in 2020 if Republicans still hold a majority in the Senate.

Roll Call, Grassley: Judiciary Panel Won’t Consider Supreme Court Nominee for 2020 Vacancy, John T. Bennett, Oct 9, 2018. Declaration could put Iowa Republican at odds with Mitch McConnell.

ny times logoNew York Times, After a Bitter Fight, Justice Kavanaugh to Take the Bench, Adam Liptak, Oct. 9, 2018. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh will hear his first Supreme Court arguments, all concerning enhanced sentences for gun crimes. None of the three cases raise major constitutional questions or involve pressing social issues.

ny times logoNew York Times, Only 114 people have served on the Supreme Court since it was established in 1789. Here’s how Justice Kavanaugh fits in, Karen Yourish, Sergio, Pecanha and Troy Griggs, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition).  The first Catholic justice, Roger B. Taney, joined the court in 1836 and the first Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis, was seated in 1916. A majority of justices have been Protestant — until recently. The court had its first Catholic majority in 2006, and this will continue with the addition of Justice Kavanaugh.

U.S. Constitutional Protest Rights Under Attack

white house protest ted eytan flickr

White House Protest (File photo by Ted Eytan via Flickr)

American Civil Liberties Union, Trump Administration Seeks to Stifle Protests Near White House and on National Mall, Arthur Spitzer, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump has a record of attacking the rights of protesters, from suggesting that protest be illegal to praising dictators who crush any kind of dissent.

Now, the Trump administration proposes to dramatically limit the right to demonstrate near the White House and on the National Mall, including in ways that would violate court orders that have stood for decades. The proposal would close 80 percent of the White House sidewalk, put new limits on spontaneous demonstrations, and open the door to charging fees for protesting.

Fee requirements could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its “I have a dream” speech too expensive to happen.The public has until October 15 to comment on the plans, and on Monday, we submitted our formal written comment explaining why the planned changes are unconstitutional.

In 1967, in the middle of the Vietnam War, the federal government tried to impose severe limits on protests near the White House. The ACLU of the District of Columbia sued, and after years of litigation, the courts rebuffed the government’s effort and reminded the National Park Service, which administers these areas, that Lafayette Park is not Yellowstone and that the White House area and the National Mall “constitute a unique [site] for the exercise of First Amendment rights.” Under court orders, the park service issued regulations allowing large demonstrations, guaranteeing quick action on applications for permits, and accommodating spontaneous protests as much as possible.

Closing the White House sidewalk. The park service plans to close 20 feet of the 25-foot-wide White House sidewalk, limiting demonstrators to a 5-foot sliver along Pennsylvania Avenue. This is perhaps the most iconic public forum in America, allowing “We the People” to express our views directly to the chief executive, going back at least to the women’s suffrage movement 100 years ago.

The closure would violate the earlier court order, which permits demonstrations by at least 750 people on the White House sidewalk and declares that any lower limit is “invalid and void as an unconstitutional infringement of plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech and to assemble peaceably and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

U.S. Politics / Court / #MeToo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Seeks to Make Furor a Campaign Asset, Not a Liability, Peter Baker, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). As he prepared to hold a ceremonial swearing-in of Justice Kavanaugh, President Trump dismissed sexual misconduct accusations as “fabricated.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump stokes tensions over Kavanaugh confirmation battle, Ashley Parker and John Wagner, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). At a White House ceremony, President Trump apologized to Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and his family for the “terrible pain and suffering” they endured after his confirmation was marred by accusations of sexual misconduct.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Paranoid Style in G.O.P. Politics, Paul Krugman, right, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). Republicans are an authoritarian regime in waiting.

Many people are worried, rightly, about what the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh means for America in the long term. He’s a naked partisan who clearly lied under oath about many aspects of his personal history; that’s as important as, and related to, the question of what he did to Christine Blasey Ford, a question that remains unresolved because the supposed investigation was such a transparent sham. Putting such a man on the Supreme Court has, at a stroke, destroyed the court’s moral authority for the foreseeable future.

But such long-term worries should be a secondary concern right now. The more immediate threat comes from what we saw on the Republican side during and after the hearing: not just contempt for the truth, but also a rush to demonize any and all criticism. In particular, the readiness with which senior Republicans embraced crazy conspiracy theories about the opposition to Kavanaugh is a deeply scary warning about what might happen to America, not in the long run, but just a few weeks from now.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Christine Ford’s Corroborating Evidence, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 9, 2018. Throughout the controversy over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, some people were saying that Christine Blasey Ford did not produce “corroborating evidence” to support her accusation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Therefore, since Kavanaugh was denying that he committed the assault, the argument went, he should be given the benefit of the doubt in what seemed to be a “he-said, she-said” controversy.

But actually Ford did provide corroborating evidence to support the accusation she leveled at Kavanaugh, very powerful corroborating evidence, evidence that was largely ignored by the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially in the haste by Republican committee members to get the controversy over with by rushing to a quick confirmation vote.

Part of the problem, of course, lies in how some people perceive the term “corroborating evidence.” For many who aren’t lawyers, the term means eyewitnesses to the incident in question. What such people fail to realize, however, is that the law provides that there can be corroborative evidence that does not consist of eyewitness testimony.

One thing is for sure though: Contrary to popular opinion, Christine Blasey Ford did provide corroborating evidence to the U.S. Senate that buttressed her accusation against Brett Kavanaugh — powerful corroborating evidence in the form of prior consistent statements that were previously made to several different people and all of which statements were made long before Kavanaugh was even nominated.

brett kavanaugh protest sign veronica monet dcma

Anti-Kavanaugh protester in front of the U.S. Capitol (Veronica Monet photo via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Cultural Conflict of the Century: Conservative Politics and the #MeToo Backlash, Veronica Monet, Oct. 9, 2018. Many of us were horrified to witness how the Republican controlled Senate dealt with Dr. Ford's claims of sexual assault during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Some of us were shocked by the "boys will be boys" and "it's in the past so why talk about it now" assertions from those conservatives who unapologetically stood by their man, Brett Kavanaugh.

As important as Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court was, could it be that we are in the midst of a cultural war that transcends the Supreme Court confirmation hearings in its scope and implications? Might his confirmation be seen as a backlash against the #MeToo movement? Might we be in the midst of an epic conflict between old cultural belief systems and a newly emerging cultural paradigm?

Kavanaugh played by the rules of the conservative culture he ascribes to. According to those rules, male emotions other than anger and self-righteous indignation are a liability and even a self-centered indulgence. There is little empathy for the suffering of self or of others and a lot of disdain for anyone who "breaks the rules."

Trump Finance Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, After his father’s death, Trump took unorthodox approach to expand empire, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). After his late father Fred’s real estate empire was sold off in 2004, Donald Trump embarked on a decade-long buying spree fueled by $400 million in cash and loans from the private banking office of Deutsche Bank, records show.

In 2005, Donald Trump kicked off a decade-long buying and spending spree, vastly expanding his hotel and golf-course empire and cementing his image as a brash impresario.

The un­or­tho­dox approach Trump took in making those bold bets — racing through hundreds of millions in cash and drawing loans from the private-wealth office of Deutsche Bank — came when he was on new terrain as a developer.

For the first time, he was operating without the safety net of his late father Fred’s real estate empire, which had been sold off in 2004, according to a New York Times investigation published last week.

More On Murder By Saudis?

washington post logoWashington Post, Missing Saudi journalist’s fiancee demands to know: ‘Where is Jamal?’ Souad Mekhennet and Loveday Morris, Oct. 9, 2018 (print edition). It has been nearly a week since Hatice Cengiz last saw Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was critical of the Saudi government and the man she planned to marry. She has not been told whether he is alive after he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to finalize papers for their wedding.

Fascist In Brazil?

jair bolsonaro brazilConsortium News, Opinion: Future of Western Democracy Being Played Out in Brazil, Pepe Escobar, Oct. 9, 2018. Stripped to its essence, the Brazilian presidential elections represent a direct clash between democracy and an early 21st Century neofascism, indeed between civilization and barbarism.

Jair Bolsonaro, an outright supporter of Brazilian military dictatorships of last century, who has been normalized as the “extreme-right candidate,” won the first round of the presidential elections on Sunday with more than 49 million votes. That was 46 percent of the total, just shy of a majority needed for an outright win. This in itself is a jaw-dropping development.

brazil flag wavingBrazil has 42 million evangelicals – and over 200 representatives in both branches of Parliament. Don’t mess with their jihad. They know how to exercise massive appeal among the beggars at the neoliberal banquet. The Lula Left simply didn’t know how to seduce them.

It’s no secret that Steve Bannon is advising the Bolsonaro campaign in Brazil. One of Bolsonaro’s sons, Eduardo, met with Bannon in New York two months ago after which the Bolsonaro camp decided to profit from Bannon’s supposed “peerless” social engineering insights. A specter haunts Europe. Its name is Steve Bannon. The specter has moved on to the tropics.

Inside Trump Administration

nikki haley aipac

washington post logoWashington Post, Haley to depart as U.N. ambassador at year’s end, John Wagner, Carol Morello and Anne Gearan​, Oct. 9, 2018. President Trump said Nikki Haley (shown above at an AIPAC meeting) first told him months ago that she would like to “take a little time off” at the end of this year. Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who has been a fierce advocate of the Trump administration’s policies, dismissed speculation that she might challenge Trump in 2020.

UN logoHaley had an increasingly diminished role in the Trump Cabinet as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo filled the vacuum left by his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, whose camera-shy demeanor had allowed Haley to be the voice of U.S. foreign policy in the first year of the Trump administration.

Media News

Vanity Fair, “She Gets to Move to L.A.”: The Backstory of Hope Hicks’s Bolt to Fox on the West Coast, Gabriel Sherman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump and Jared Kushner lobbied Rupert Murdoch to hire Hicks as chief communications officer—a big job, but still in the family.

hope hicks strategic communications directorIn the American mind, California has been a place of fresh starts and re-invention. So it makes sense that Hope Hicks is heading west to serve as chief communications officer for “New Fox,” the parent company of Fox News, based in Los Angeles. Hicks, a 29-year-old former P.R. flack, had experienced a difficult time in New York after exiting Donald Trump’s White House at the end of March.

rnc logoShe was hounded by paparazzi, who photographed her jogging in Central Park with Rob Porter, her West Wing office romance, who left the White House after allegations of spousal abuse surfaced (Porter denied it). And she’s also had to spend time and six figures on legal fees, (apparently funded by the Republican National Committee), dealing with Robert Mueller’s investigation. The opportunity to work for the Murdochs on another coast would be a chance for a reset.

It’s unclear what this means for her relationship with Porter, who’s so far been unable to find a job, a former West Wing colleague told me. “It’s a big job. Plus she gets to move to L.A.,” a friend said. Although, of course, since she’s working for Fox, which often works for Trump, it’s in another sense not a fresh start at all.

Oct. 8

Supreme Court Swearing-in

djt brett kavanaugh anthony kennedy oct 8 2018 white house

Retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, ceremonially swears-in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as President Donald Trump looks on, in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 8, 2018. Susan Walsh / AP

abc news logoABC News, Trump apologizes 'on behalf of the nation' to Kavanaugh during swearing-in, claims he was 'proven innocent,' Adam Kelsey and Meridith McGraw, Oct. 8, 2018. President Donald Trump apologized to incoming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Monday evening "for the terrible pain and suffering" that he and his family endured during his confirmation process, going so far as to claim that Kavanaugh was "proven innocent" of the sexual assault allegations made against him.

Trump's comments, which he acknowledged as outside of the norm just prior to making them, came at a ceremonial swearing-in event for Kavanaugh in the East Room of the White House, two days after Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate and formally sworn-in as a member of the court by Chief Justice John Roberts.

"On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brad and the entire a Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you've been forced to endure," Trump said. "Those who stepped forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception."

Trump addressed the controversy head-on characterizing the heated political debate over sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by California professor Christine Blasey Ford and several other women as "violat[ing] every notion of fairness, decency and due process."

"[In] our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty," the president continued. "And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent."

nbc news logoNBC News, Hillary Clinton calls Kavanaugh's ceremonial swearing-in a 'political rally,' Adam Edelman, Oct. 9, 2018. Trump's remarks at the White House event "further undermined the image and integrity of the court," the former secretary of state said.

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ripped President Donald Trump’s unusual handling of the ceremonial swearing-in for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling the display a "political rally" that "further undermined the image and integrity of the court."

hillary clinton gage skidmore peoria azIn an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, parts of which aired Tuesday morning on the network, Clinton (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) said that the way Trump carried out the event "troubles me greatly."

"What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court," Clinton said, "and that troubles me greatly. It saddens me because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government."

"So I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and those who are against," she added, calling Trump “true to form.”

"He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign. Really for many years leading up to the campaign — and he's continued to do that inside the White House," Clinton said.

Trump responded on Tuesday to Clinton's comments, saying, "I guess that's why she lost. She never got it."

GOP Election Scandals

brett kavanaugh election fraud wmr graphic

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive Investigative Commentary: Bush backed Kavanaugh to keep election thefts of 2000 and 2004 a secret, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 8, 2018 (Subscription required, $30 annually; excerpted with permission.)

karl rove HR"Bush White House aides Brett Kavanaugh and Karl Rove, left, closely coordinated their election fraud operations with two experienced Washington campaign advisers for Republican candidates, Rick Davis, and Davis's partner, Paul Manafort."

wayne madsen trumps bananas coverNote: Former Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst and defense contractor computer scientist Wayne Madsen for many years has exposed techniques to rig U.S. and international elections, electronically and by other methods. He is the author of 16 books, including the just-published "Trump's Bananas Republic," which portrays administration scandals through the lens of iconic Hollywood movies.

SCOTUSblog, Court stays out of North Dakota voting dispute, Amy Howe, Oct. 9, 2018. The Supreme Court today declined to intervene in a challenge to a North Dakota law that requires voters to present identification that includes a current residential street address. Lawyers say that the ruling will prevent thousands of Native American voters (and tens of thousands of North Dakota residents who are not Native Americans) from casting a ballot in the upcoming 2018 election in a state that could play a key role in Democrats’ efforts to retake the U.S. Senate.

A group of Native American voters in North Dakota have challenged the law, telling the courts that the requirement that voters present identification bearing a street address could pose an obstacle to voting for Native Americans in several ways. Native Americans often live on reservations or in other rural areas where people do not have street addresses; even if they do, lawyers for the challengers argue, those addresses are frequently not included on tribal IDs. Moreover, the lawyers add, Native Americans in North Dakota are “disproportionately homeless.”

In April, a federal district court in North Dakota ordered the state to allow voters to cast ballots as long as they could show IDs that had either a current street address or a current mailing address, such as a P.O. box. The state followed that order in the June primaries, but in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit put the district court’s order on hold.

The challengers’ request went originally to Justice Neil Gorsuch, who handles emergency appeals from the 8th Circuit, but he referred it to the full Supreme Court — a fairly common practice. To stay the 8th Circuit’s ruling and prevent the state from enforcing the ID requirement, the challengers needed at least five of the eight justices (Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate) to vote in their favor.

But they apparently fell short. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the court’s decision not to intervene, in a brief opinion that was joined by Justice Elena Kagan. Ginsburg complained that the “risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the identification requirements as they existed under that injunction.”

Ginsburg acknowledged that, as the 8th Circuit had emphasized, the elections are still a month away. However, Ginsburg stressed, tens of thousands of North Dakotans don’t have an ID bearing their residential street address. As a result, she warned, the 8th Circuit’s order “may lead to voters finding out at the polling place that they cannot vote because their formerly valid ID is now insufficient.”

Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, World has just over a decade to get control of climate change, U.N. scientists say, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). “There is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the body found.

The report warns of dire consequences if nations do not cut their carbon emissions by more than 1 billion tons per year, a figure that is larger than the annual emissions of nearly every country on the planet.

Time Magazine, Opinion: The U.N.'s Climate Report Exposes How Badly Wrong Leaders Like Trump Have Got Climate Change, Ban Ki-moon (Eighth U.N. Secretary General, serving time logo ogfrom 2007-2016 and now a member of The Elders, a global leaders' group), Oct. 8, 2018. Climate change is a global challenge demanding global solutions. No one country can face it alone, no matter that nation’s political, economic or military might. From the richest to the poorest, we all share one planet, and we all have a stake in its survival.

This is why the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes for such alarming reading and demands immediate, concerted action from everyone — particularly our leaders.

UN logoThe report sets out starkly that, without a rapid change of course, global temperatures will rise above the 1.5°C level that scientists view as the bare minimum to avert catastrophic climate change, including rising sea waters, desertification and droughts.

This change will not happen, however, unless leaders in politics and business put their money where their mouth is and finally deliver the billions of dollars needed to make the transition to a green economy.

Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh, E.J. Dionne Jr., Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). But even more, we need to vote, organize and think boldly after this travesty.

Republicans rushed through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about one other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

brett kavanaugh.judgeLThe conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.

The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices move to repair Supreme Court’s image after fight over Kavanaugh, Robert Barnes, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). As Brett M. Kavanaugh prepared for his debut on the high court, his colleagues already had moved quickly to paper over the damage from the bitter and tumultuous confirmation battle.

U.S. Politics / Elections

Palast confronts GOP candidate for Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp outside the Sprayberry Barbecue in Newman, Georgia, asking, “Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?” Video still: David Ambrose, Palast Investigative Fund.

Truthout, First Person Investigation: GOP’s Brian Kemp Purged 1 in 10 Georgia Voters: I’ve Got the Names, Greg Palast, Oct. 8, 2018. My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.

This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).

It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.

Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.

I brought in one of the nation’s top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote — and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.

These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.

That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.

We’ll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we’re forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter’s removal.

I don’t file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.

washington post logodemocratic donkey logoWashington Post, Democrats have narrow edge in battleground House districts, survey finds, Scott Clement and Dan Balz, Oct. 8, 2018. With just a month to the midterm elections, the Washington Post-Schar School poll highlights the challenge for Republicans as they seek to maintain their House majority.

Politics / Pop Culture

washington post logotaylor swift reputation cover customWashington Post, Taylor Swift’s stunning statement: Famously apolitical star slams Tennessee Republican, endorses Democrats, Emily Yahr, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). In a stunning turnaround from her refusal to discuss anything related to politics, Taylor Swift, right, revealed whom she’s voting for in the 2018 midterms.

The pop megastar, who just wrapped up a 40-date stadium tour across the country, posted a long Instagram caption Sunday night. In it, Swift, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, gave a detailed explanation about why she’s voting for Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House.

Swift also slammed Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), writing, “Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”

democratic donkey logo“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote to her 112 million Instagram followers. “I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country.”

Inside Washington

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We’re paying too little attention to this endangered and essential national resource, Fred Hiatt (Editorial page editor), Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). Stop kicking the federal workforce.

Last week, the risk to a precious national institution — to its quality and its independence and sheer ability to function — came into sharp focus. The week ended with President Trump abruptly replacing the well-qualified head of the Office of Personnel Management, a reminder of the dangers facing the civil service — dangers that have been building for decades and have sharply intensified in the Trump era.

Cancer Health: New Meaning For 'Red State'

yale study rates of cancer death us fall 2018

Geographic rates of cancer death in all U.S. counties. The greatest cluster of high cancer death rates are in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, with other pockets in Nevada, Maine, Michigan, and throughout the rest of the country. Geographic variation in rates of cancer death in all U.S. counties. Red shows highest number of deaths per 100,000 persons.

Yale News, Cancer death disparities linked to poverty, lifestyle factors nationwide, Ziba Kashef, Oct. 5, 2018. Yale researchers have identified factors that may contribute to widening cancer death disparities among counties across the United States. These factors, which include both socioeconomic and behavioral traits, may provide public health experts with specific targets for potentially reducing cancer disparities, the researchers said.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open. While cancer death rates have decreased overall in the United States in recent decades, substantial disparities among counties still exist and are growing. To examine the factors that may drive these disparities, a team of Yale-led researchers analyzed publicly available data documenting cancer mortality rates by county. They compared the rates in low-, medium-, and high-income counties.

The research team confirmed that there are significant county-level disparities in cancer deaths, ranging from 186 deaths per 100,000 persons in high-income counties to 230 deaths per 100,000 persons in low-income counties.

Their mediation analysis found that most of the disparities could be explained by a small number of key factors. “The most important of these factors appear to be food insecurity, smoking, physical inactivity, and the quality of health care that is provided in the counties,” said first author Jeremy O’Connor, M.D., who conducted the research while he was a National Clinician Scholar at Yale School of Medicine.

As part of their methodology, the researchers also created maps to illustrate the cancer death disparity rates. This approach will allow public health officials in different parts of the country to identify specific factors that affect their counties, and respond accordingly.

Protests Grow Over Saudi Dissident

Saudi Arabian flag

washington post logojamal kahshoggiWashington Post, Opinion: Jamal Khashoggi chose to tell the truth. It’s part of the reason he’s beloved, David Ignatius, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). In his work, he has always had the same insistent passion for honesty about his country. I have known Khashoggi, right, for about 15 years and want to share here some of the reasons he is beloved in our profession and the news of his disappearance has been such a shock.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi journalist could complicate relations with U.S., Karen DeYoung, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration has said little publicly about the fate of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Post, but officials are frustrated with the lack of a Saudi response to its queries.

JIP Editor's Note: An example of Khashoggi's commentary was in Middle East Monitor, Khashoggi: the deal of the century will disappear, Staff report, Feb. 21, 2018:

The well-known Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi confirmed that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has started a relationship with Israel and tried to pressure the Palestinians to accept the so-called “deal of the century.”

However, this approach has floundered. Khashoggi [shown at right in a Facebook photo] was speaking during a seminar in Istanbul hosted by the “Riwaq Istanbul” [Istanbul gallery].

jamal khashoggi western suit“The Crown Prince’s promise was that he will manage to pressure the Palestinians to accept the “Deal of the Century” in return for the Americans and Israelis expulsion of Iranians from Syria and Lebanon. But in reality this cannot be realized,” Khashoggi told The New Khaleeji.

According to Khashoggi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would not agree to consider the town of Abu Dis (adjacent to Jerusalem) as the capital of Palestine. Khashoggi also added that Jordan’s King Abdullah II l has ignored all Saudi pressures.

He said “The crown prince discovered that he does not have a ‘Palestine card’ to play. The American president, Donald Trump, cannot do anything about the Iranians. The man is paralyzed and sending US troops to get the Iranians out of Aleppo and Damascus is but a dream.”

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Mainstream Journos Pissed As Saudi Clown Prince Nabs One Of Their Own, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2018. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, is pissed that the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the kidnapping of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileKhashoggi, who comes from a very rich family, has long served the Saudi regime in editorial positions and was the media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal during his tenure as ambassador in London and Washington. He left Saudi Arabia last year out of fear of being targeted in the ongoing crackdown by clown prince Mohammad bin Salman (shown at right). He ended up writing mildly critical columns for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi is no liberal but a staunch supporter of Saudi system and its brutality. He had praised the beheading of Syrian soldiers by ISIS as an "effective psychological military tactic" and supported the abhorrent Saudi war on Yemen.

The mainstream journos who are now up in arms over Khashoggi are mostly embarrassed about their earlier adoration of Mohammad bin Salman. But even more important to them is that Khashoggi is one of their class. They think of themselves as entitled aristocrats who do not deserve such a fate. That is reserved for the deplorable plebs below them.

Just consider this amoral passage in Friedman's whining column about the Khashoggi case:

If Jamal has been abducted or murdered by agents of the Saudi government, it will be a disaster for M.B.S. and a tragedy for Saudi Arabia and all the Arab Gulf countries. It would be an unfathomable violation of norms of human decency, worse not in numbers but in principle than even the Yemen war.

Every ten minutes a child in Yemen starves because of the famine caused by the Saudi, UAE, U.S. and UK war on the country. The renewed attack on the harbor of Hodeidah and hyperinflation over the recent months have doubled the prices of food and gas Most people in Yemen no longer have the income to pay for the needed food. Tens of thousands were already silently starved, millions will likely follow. By what humanitarian 'principle' would the potential death of one bootlicking columnist be worse than that?

Investigator Murdered

SouthFront, Bulgarian Journalist Found Raped, Murdered; She Was Covering Investigation of Financial Frauds of EU Politicians, Businessmen, Staff report, Oct. 8, 2018. On October 6, a Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova, was found brutally raped and murdered in Bulgaria’s northern town of Ruse.

viktoria marinova tvn bulgaria via reuters scanpix leta cropThe body of the 30-year-old woman (shown at left in a TVN photo) was found by a passerby in bushes near the pier on the Danube river, according to Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev. “Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing,” he said.

Prior to the murder, Marinova was also raped. She was disfigured due to blows to the head and suffocated to death. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov expressed hope that the investigation would succeed because of the “work that has been done.”

She was a TV host, and her last aired show happened on September 30th when she interviewed investigative journalists Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project about an investigation of alleged fraud with EU funds linked to big businessmen and politicians.

Her colleagues from TVN were staggered by the event. “We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats – aimed at her or the television,” a journalist from TVN told AFP under a condition of anonymity, adding that he and his colleagues feared for their safety.

Bulgarian media reports said that over the last year Marinova had reported on an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds for the broadcaster TVN. She also worked on a program focusing on social issues and was involved with charity work.

More On Climate Change Reactions

ny times logoNew York Times, As Storms Keep Coming, FEMA Spends Billions in ‘Cycle’ of Damage and Repair, Kevin Sack and John Schwartz, Oct. 8, 2018. In the exact spot where Hurricane Katrina demolished the Plaquemines Parish Detention Center, a new $105 million jail now hovers 19 feet above the marsh, perched atop towering concrete pillars. Described by a state official as the “Taj Mahal” of Louisiana corrections, it has so much space that one of every 27 parish residents could bunk there.

fema logo Custom 2But on an average day in the first half of this year, more than 40 percent of its 872 beds went unoccupied, making it one of the emptiest jails in the state, records show.

FEMA’s public assistance program has provided at least $81 billion in this manner to state, territorial and local governments in response to disasters declared since 1992, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. But an examination of projects across the country’s ever-expanding flood zones reveals that decisions to rebuild in place, often made seemingly in defiance of climate change, have at times left structures just as defenseless against the next storm.

Suspicious Chinese Corruption Charge?

ny times logoChina FlagNew York Times, Interpol Chief Was China’s Pride. His Fall Exposes the Country’s Dark Side, Steven Lee Myers and Chris Buckley, Oct. 8, 2018. The disappearance and resignation of Meng Hongwei cast a blow to Beijing’s efforts to take global leadership roles. On Monday, China’s minister of public security told senior police officials that Mr. Meng was accused of taking bribes and other crimes.

Brazil Moving Far Right?

jair bolsonaro brazil

ny times logoNew York Times, Brazil Election: Jair Bolsonaro Heads to Runoff After Missing Outright Win, Ernesto Londoño and Manuela Andreoni, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). A far-right brazil flag wavingcandidate who has spoken fondly of Brazil’s onetime military dictatorship came close to an outright victory in the country’s presidential election on Sunday, as Brazilians expressed disgust with politics as usual and endorsed an iron-fisted approach to fighting crime and corruption.

Voters delivered a first-round victory to Jair Bolsonaro, who had stunned the political establishment by rising to the top of a crowded presidential field despite a long history of offensive remarks about women, blacks and gays.

Crime, Courts, Clearances

ny times logoNew York Times, Convicts Seeking to Clear Their Records Find More Prosecutors Willing to Help, Alan Blinder, Oct. 8, 2018 (print edition). The convicted men and women who visit Room B2 of Indianapolis’s courthouse cannot find jobs, or want better ones. Or they wish they could join their children for school field trips. Or they are simply seeking a measure of societal forgiveness.

Bolstered by a renewed focus, from the Trump administration on down, on helping people with criminal histories participate in society successfully, at least 20 states have created or broadened expungement and sealing laws since the beginning of 2017, according to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, a nonprofit group.

More on Kavanaugh

lisa murkowski oThe Hill, Alaska GOP weighs reprimanding Murkowski over Kavanaugh vote, Megan Keller, Oct. 8, 2018. Leaders of the Alaskan Republican Party are weighing a reprimand for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for not voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Alaska's GOP has asked Murkowski, right, to send its state central committee any information she thinks may be relevant to its decision, The Associated Press reported on Monday.Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock said the committee may issue a statement or withdraw its support for Murkowski. In the case of the latter, the committee would encourage officials to find a replacement and ask Murkowski not to run as a Republican for reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Justice Kagan is warning us — and her colleagues, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 8, 2018. Justice Elena Kagan, appearing with her colleague Justice Sonia Sotomayor, at Princeton University last week had timely observations as the Supreme Court added a self-revealed Republican partisan to its ranks.

“All of us need to be aware of that — every single one of us — and to realize how precious the court’s legitimacy is,” she added. “It’s an incredibly important thing for the court to guard is this reputation of being impartial, being neutral and not being simply an extension of a terribly polarizing process.” She explained that without centrist justices such as Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy, the court and the country are now starkly divided into two camps.

In expressing trepidation about the loss of a centrist, Kagan implicitly conceded that on this court, everyone’s mind is already made up in advance on the cases that count the most and on which the country is bitterly divided. That is a horrible place for the court to be, for it defies the very notion of open-minded adjudication without bias.

As a preliminary matter, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh needs to take responsibility for his outlandish, partisan remarks and his implicit threat to the left (“what goes around comes around”). He did not apologize let alone retract those remarks in his Wall Street Journal column.

The more overtly partisan and ideological he is on the court, the steeper will be the climb to reclaim his reputation and credibility. If he acts, speaks and writes like a puppet of the Federalist Society, the court’s legitimacy will be very much up in the air.

Kavanaugh Supporters Mad About Bar Dispute

Raw Story, College Republicans flip out and threaten to sue local bar for refusing to host pro-Kavanaugh kegger, Brad Reed, Oct. 8, 2018. The University of Washington’s chapter of the College Republicans has threatened to sue a local bar because it refused to host an event they planned to celebrate the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. Local news station KIRO 7 reports that Seattle bar Shultzy’s Bar and Grill told the College Republicans over the weekend that it would not host their planned “Beers 4 Brett” party on the grounds that it is a sports bar that does not endorse any particular political viewpoint.

chevy swanson young screengrabA group of 15 of the College Republicans went to the bar anyway to have drinks and were permitted to stay without incident. Despite this, the chapter is still considering a lawsuit against Shultzy’s for not wanting to serve as the official host of their celebration.

“It’s very disheartening just to see something like this would get shut down, or be asked to shut down for not any good reason,” complained University of Washington College Republicans president Chevy Swanson (shown in a screengrab). However, constitutional law expert Jeffery Needle tells KIRO 7 that it’s very likely in the clear.

Oct. 7

Supreme Court Battle

brett kavanaugh swear in oct 6 2018 ashley

Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as his wife Ashley and two daughters look on, is sworn onto the court by Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Kavanaugh recommended for the court as Bush Administration White House Staff secretary (Supreme Court photo, Oct. 6, 2018). A political precedent used during the Republican installation of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was to rush the swear-in in order to limit the impact of new scandal and protest for the lifetime appointment.

ny times logorepublican elephant logoNew York Times, Kavanaugh Is Sworn In After Close Confirmation Vote in Senate, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday by one of the slimmest margins in American history, locking in a solid conservative majority on the court and capping a rancorous battle that began as a debate over judicial ideology and concluded with a national reckoning over sexual misconduct.

He was promptly sworn in by both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — the court’s longtime swing vote, whom he will replace — in a private ceremony.

brett kavanaugh zina bash c span sept 2018

washington post logoWashington Post, Divided Senate confirms Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). The Senate voted to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court’s 114th justice on Saturday by one of the narrowest margins in the institution’s history, as police stood guard and protesters’ shouts of “shame, shame” echoed through the Senate chamber.

The 50-to-48 vote capped a brutal confirmation fight that underscored how deeply polarized the nation has become under President Trump, who has now successfully placed two justices on the nation’s highest court, cementing a conservative majority.

With Vice President Pence presiding, senators sat in their chairs and rose to cast their votes, repeatedly interrupted by protesters in the visitors’ gallery who yelled out and were removed by Capitol Police. The Supreme Court announced Kavanaugh would be sworn in later Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Rock bottom’: Supreme Court fight reveals a country on the brink, Michael Scherer and Robert Costa​, Oct. 7, 2018 (print edition). In the battle over Brett M. Kavanaugh, few of the players emerged from the process unchanged or unblemished, underscoring the uncharted territory of deepening distrust and polarization that now defines the American system.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: This hideous monster just can’t help himself, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 7, 2018. Last night Donald Trump posted this tweet, which sounded precisely like that kind of gaslighting propaganda that you’d expect to hear from the most impotent of two-bit third-world dictators: “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law – not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!”

President Donald Trump officialWait a minute here… this piece of crap just got exposed this week as having spent decades committing financial fraud, to the point that his entire fortune consists of stolen money.

Trump just put a guy on the Supreme Court who spent his entire testimony committing felony perjury, and then blocked the FBI from being able to investigate the multiple sexual assault allegations against him – and he has the nerve to claim he and his party believe in the rule of law?

The thing is, Donald Trump is so disgustingly deranged, he just can’t help himself. Instead of trying to act remotely presidential for once, he’s outright taunting the majority of Americans who oppose everything he stands for. If he thinks that talking like a dictator is somehow going to scare his opposition into backing down, he’s even stupider than he looks. Trump just made the mistake of challenging real Americans into putting everything they have into winning the midterms.

Inside TrumpLand

Axios Sneak Peak, Scoop — White House begins prepping for Dem legal storm, Jonathan Swan, Oct. 7, 2018. Top officials inside the White House have taken their first steps to prepare for an onslaught of investigations if Democrats win the House. According to a source with direct knowledge:

• Chief of Staff John Kelly recently formed a small working group to start preparing for the possibility that Democrats will soon sic Congress' top investigators on Trumpworld.
• Senior White House staff have an offsite weekend retreat scheduled for late October. The agenda is expected to include a discussion of investigations under a Democratic-controlled House, according to the source.
• To be clear: Team Trump is still trying to prevent a House flip from happening. They're ramping up political activities leading into the midterm — including a blitz of rallies from the president — to give Republicans their best chance of saving the House.

Politics / Entertainment

washington post logoWashington Post, In SNL’s cold open, Republican senators celebrate Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, Sonia Rao, Oct. 7, 2018.  "Listen, I think it’s important to believe women until it’s time to stop," the fictional Sen. Susan Collins said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Taylor Swift breaks longtime political silence, comes out swinging for Democratic Party in the midterms, Bill Palmer, Oct. 7, 2018. It’s not uncommon for pop stars to offer support for Democratic Party candidates. But when it comes to Taylor Swift, it’s always been a different story. She’s straddled the line between being a pop star and a country music star, and she’s always kept her politics close to the vest. That is, until today.

taylor swift stageIn a move whose timing cannot be ignored, Swift (shown in a file photo) endorsed Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen today over Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn in the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee, which has long been Swift’s home state.

Taylor Swift will face backlash from her more conservative fans in the country music world for this. But it’s clear that she’s past the point of caring about that. By mobilizing her fans to turn out and vote Democrat, Swift may have just altered the course of the Senate race in Tennessee – and the races going on elsewhere. It seems we’ve reached the point where women have decided to take over, regardless of how the patriarchy might try to retaliate against them.

Global Intrigue

india flag mapMoon of Alabama (MoA), Opinion: India's U-Turn Destroys Trump's Anti-Chinese 'Quad' Strategy, Staff report, Oct. 7, 2018. A change in India's foreign policy last week disintegrated the Trump administration's strategy against Russia and China. U.S. media pronouncements about India will now change. The Indian government under Narendra Modi will come under heavy propaganda fire.

Two weeks ago the MoA Weekly Review mused about the corrupt Rafale fighter jet deal India's Hindu-fascist President Modi had arranged. The writing was based on and credited to the legwork Caravan Magazine had done. Today the New York Times picked up the story: With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi.

The U.S. had hoped that it could pull the traditionally non-aligned India to its side and use it in its strategic wars against China, Russia and Iran. The Quad strategy of an Indo-Pacific alliance of Japan, Australia and India under U.S. leadership was agreed upon a year ago, supposedly to implement a "rules based order" in which the U.S. makes up rules of what China (and others) are allowed to do - or not allowed to do - in the Indo-Pacific realm.

Iran Flag MapCritics of the Modi government did not like the subservient role proud India was supposed to play in that game. Then the U.S. Congress, through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act (CAATSA), threatened India with sanctions should it buy the Russian S-400 air-defense systems. Trump also threatens with sanctions over India's purchase of Iranian oil.

The new Indian deals with Russia, the statements from the Russia-India summit and the continued oil buying from Iran are huge defeats for the Trump administration's anti-China, anti-Russia and anti-Iran policies. Its global strategy to rescue the 'unilateral moment' for the U.S. has failed over India's recalcitrance.

And that is the very reason the New York Times is now drawing attention to the Rafale corruption scandal and highlighting the opposition to Modi.

jamal khashoggi entering Saudi consulate

Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident Saudi Arabian journalist living in Turkey, is shown entering a Saudi consulate before his disappearance on Oct. 2 and suspected murder.

ny times logoNew York Times, Turkey Demands ‘Convincing Explanation’ on Missing Saudi Journalist, David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard and Carlotta Gall, Oct. 7, 2018. Turkish officials on Sunday demanded a “convincing explanation” from Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing of a dissident who disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, sharply escalating tensions between two of the Middle East’s most important powers.

jamal kahshoggiThe dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, is a veteran Saudi journalist and commentator who had turned critical of the kingdom under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

After fleeing the kingdom last year for voluntary exile because he feared arrest, Mr. Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday to pick up a document that would allow him to remarry in Turkey. On Saturday, Turkish officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told The New York Times and other news organizations that investigators had concluded Mr. Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate.

“There is concrete information; it will not remain an unsolved case,” Yasin Aktay, an adviser to the head of Turkey’s ruling A.K.P. party, said on Sunday in an interview with the Turkish CNN network. “The consulate should make a clear explanation,” he added, drawing a contrast to a troubled and less-assertive period of Turkey’s recent past. “If they consider Turkey as it was like in the 1990s, they are mistaken.”

recep tayyip erdogan o presidentTurkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, did not mention Mr. Khashoggi or Saudi Arabia once during a televised address on Sunday. But speaking to reporters afterward, Mr. Erdogan said he was awaiting a prosecutor’s investigation about what had happened to Mr. Khashoggi.

The crown prince and other Saudi officials have denied killing or abducting Mr. Khashoggi, saying they do not know where he is. And by midafternoon Sunday, no Turkish official had publicly accused Saudi Arabia of killing Mr. Khashoggi.

The discrepancy between the multiple anonymous allegations to the news media and top officials’ public reticence raised questions about whether Ankara would stand behind the leaks or whether it was seeking to avoid what could be a hugely disruptive fight with Riyadh.

At least one American lawmaker, Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said on Twitter, “If this is true — that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him — it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

World News

Daily Nation, Donald Trump to rival China's investment in Africa, Oct. 7, 2018. President Donald Trump is expected within days to approve an initiative to overhaul US investment strategy in Africa. Kenya is likely to benefit from the plan designed by key figures in the US Congress in response to China's enhanced economic and political influence in the Sub-Saharan region.

A State Department official told reporters last week that the shift will offer Africa "a better alternative to Chinese state investments." Known as the Build Act (Better Utilisation of Investments Leading to Development Act), the legislation will double, to $60 billion (Sh6tn), funds for promoting US corporate investment in Africa.

"Our theory on engagement [in Africa] is that it should be led by the private sector," Manisha Singh, the top business-focused official in the State Department, said. The Build Act reflects that emphasis, Ms Singh added. It is "very different" from China's approach, she said.

"Predatory lending" is a hallmark of China's government-directed investment strategy in Africa, added Matthew Harrington, an assistant secretary in the State Department's Africa Bureau who also spoke at the October 4 press briefing.

But following China's lead, the Build Act will also enable a newly created US government agency to take an equity stake of its own in development projects in Africa.

The US government entity that the Build Act replaces had not been permitted to make direct investments of that sort. Its mandate was limited to activities such as underwriting risk insurance for US companies venturing into emerging markets.

Trump administration officials say they cannot yet provide specifics on how the new International Development Finance Corporation will benefit Kenya. But they add that the increased funding provided by the Build Act will likely lead US private businesses to invest more aggressively in countries such as Kenya that are viewed as posing comparatively less risk.

"It makes US companies more competitive and reduces the risk in a growing market that is not well understood by American business," Witney Schneidman, an Africa specialist at a Washington consulting firm, wrote regarding the Build Act in a recent blog post.

The legislation soon to be signed into law by President Trump has also drawn criticism. Raj Bhala, a US law professor and adviser to the Dentons investment consulting firm, argues that the $60 billion in funding for the Build Act is too "paltry" a sum.

The US cannot hope to counter Chinese influence in Africa when its new international development arm can muster only six percent of the total value of China's investments in the developing world, Prof Bhala wrote last week on the Bloomberg news agency's opinion website.

Oct. 6

Did Saudis Murder Prominent Journalist?

jamal kahshoggiwashington post logoWashington Post, Turkey concludes Saudi journalist Khashoggi killed by ‘murder’ team, sources say, Kareem Fahim, Oct. 6, 2018. Turkey has concluded that Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist from Saudi Arabia, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this week by a Saudi team sent “specifically for the murder,” two people with knowledge of the probe said Saturday.

Turkish investigators believe a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia. It was a preplanned murder,” said one of the people. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

recep erdogan with flagTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown in a file photo, was expected to make a statement on the case on Sunday. Saudi Arabia had vehemently denied that Khashoggi was detained after he entered the consulate.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, below at right, said Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after he arrived on Tuesday. Saudi officials have yet to provide any evidence for that assertion.

mohammad bin salman cropped fileKhashoggi’s disappearance has drawn attention to Prince Salman’s crackdowns on his critics. It also threatened to deepen a rift between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both regional powers that have competed for influence in the region.

Khashoggi, who writes for the Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, visited the consulate Tuesday to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding, according to his fiancee and friends.

The killing, if confirmed, would mark a stunning escalation of Saudi Arabia’s effort to silence dissent.

Under direction from the crown prince, Saudi authorities have carried out hundreds of arrests under the banner of national security, rounding up clerics, business executives and even women’s rights advocates.

But analysts said Khashoggi might have been considered especially dangerous by the Saudi leadership because he was not a longtime dissident, but rather a pillar of the Saudi establishment who was close to its ruling circles for decades, had worked as an editor at Saudi news outlets and had been an adviser to a former Saudi intelligence chief.

More on Kavanaugh

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, ‘Ultimate fighter’: How Trump helped shift momentum in favor of Kavanaugh, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Relying on a hardball approach that left Democrats shaken and defeated, Republican leaders plowed through the chaos of the last few weeks to bring the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the cusp of confirmation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The High Court Brought Low, The Editorial Board, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.

The task of plugging the holes and patching the rents in the court’s legitimacy now falls to the justices themselves, mainly to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. (shown at left) He john roberts omust know that every decision of political significance rendered by a 5-to-4 majority that includes a Justice Kavanaugh will, at the very least, appear to be the product of bias and vengeance. If he cares about the integrity of the court as much as he claims to, the chief will do everything in his power to steer the court away from cases, and rulings, that could deepen the nation’s political divide.

There’s work the rest of us can do as well.

We can, for one thing, find ways in our own workplaces and communities to assure victims of sexual assault that they will be respected if they come forward, even if so many national political figures are dismissive of them.

And if we disapprove of the direction of the courts, we can put the lessons Mitch McConnell taught us to work — and vote.

It’s worth noting that, of the five justices picked by Republicans, including Judge Kavanaugh, four were nominated by presidents who first took office after losing the popular vote. And the slim majority of senators who said they would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh on Saturday represent tens of millions fewer Americans than the minority of senators who voted to reject him. The nation’s founders were wise to design the court as a counter-majoritarian institution, but they couldn’t have been picturing this.

Most Americans are not where this Senate majority is. They do not support President Trump. They do not approve of relentless partisanship and disregard for the integrity of democratic institutions. And they have the power to call their government to account.

washington post logoWashington Post, Demonstrators at Capitol, Supreme Court protest confirmation, Joe Heim, Steve Hendrix and Mike DeBonis​, Oct. 6, 2018. Rage and frustration filled the streets of Capitol Hill before and after the Senate voted Saturday afternoon to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The crowd grew and a large group of protesters marched up the Rotunda steps on the East Front of the Capitol. There, 150 protesters were arrested and charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” according to a statement from the U.S. Capitol Police. Later, police cleared the plaza, and demonstrators moved across the street to the front of the Supreme Court.

On the Supreme Court steps, speakers addressed the crowd through a pop-up public address system, barreling through a roll call of those they blame for Kavanaugh’s ascent, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). But the loudest howls of anger from the crowd came at the mention of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and what a speaker called her “garbage speech full of lies.”

The speakers exhorted the overwhelmingly anti-Kavanaugh crowd to take their anger to midterm voting booths on Nov. 6.

washington post logoWashington Post, Grassley suggests absence of GOP women on Judiciary Committee is due to its heavy workload, Paul Kane, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s inability to attract Republican women might be caused by its heavy workload, a remark the panel’s chairman tried to retract a few minutes later.

susan collins profile“It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it,” Grassley told the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and other outlets, as he headed toward the Senate floor for a speech by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), left.

The committee, which has turned into a partisan hotbed in the past five years, has never had a Republican woman serve on it, even as the Senate’s ranks have doubled from three to six female GOP senators in recent years.

That omission drew more scrutiny during the second round of hearings for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, during which committee Republicans hired a female prosecutor from Arizona to question Christine Blasey Ford about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) screams at his longtime Democratic colleague Pat Leahy of Vermont during the Kavanaugh hearing, in which Leahy and other Democrats have accused the nominee of perjuring himself by denying use of stolen Democratic Senate documents (screenshot).

washington post logomitch mcconnell2Washington Post, The politicians and players whose legacies will be shaped by the Kavanaugh fight, Amber Phillips, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). How they navigated the emotionally fraught Supreme Court nomination battle could define their careers. This was a Supreme Court nomination that will go down in the history books. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will have overcome accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, questions about his judicial temperament and surprise delays to his confirmation.

Roll Call, Brett Kavanaugh to Be Rare Beneficiary of Senate Paired Voting, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 6, 2018. Votes of Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Steve Daines will be offset [With 50-48 confirmation margin projected and no GOP "no" votes].

When the Senate votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday, two senators will engage in a practice that’s all but died out. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the only member of the Republican Conference opposed to elevating the current D.C. Circuit Court judge to the Supreme Court, announced Friday that ordinarily she would vote “no.” Instead, Murkowski intends to vote “present” in order to offset the absence of Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who will be in Montana to attend to his daughter’s wedding.

The vote on confirmation is expected late afternoon on Saturday.

lisa murkowski oMurkowski said in her floor speech that she hoped after the bitter debate over Kavanaugh that the Senate could take a few steps back toward a more respectful tone.

“While I voted no on cloture today, and I will be a no tomorrow,” she said Friday evening, “I will, in the final tally, be asked to be recorded as present, and I do this because a friend, a colleague of ours, is in Montana this evening and tomorrow at just about the same hour that we’re going to be voting; he’s going to be walking his daughter down the aisle and he won’t be present to vote, and so I have extended this as a courtesy to my friend.”

“It will not change the outcome of the vote, but I do hope that it reminds us that we can take very small, very small, steps to be gracious with one another and maybe those small, gracious steps can lead to more,” Murkowski said.

Inside DC: Upending Civil Service

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump replaces federal personnel director after just seven months, Eric Yoder and Lisa Rein, Oct. 6, 2018 (print edition). Jeff Tien Han Pon clashed with the administration over its planned revamp of the Office of Personnel Management.

kirstjen nielsen file testimony

pogo logo squareProject On Government Oversight (POGO), DHS Secretary Nielsen Misled Congress, Danielle Brian, Oct. 6, 2018 (referencing Oct. 2 letter). POGO and Open the Government sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs with evidence that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen gave materially misleading, if not false, testimony during a hearing on May 15, 2018.

During that hearing, Secretary Nielsen [shown above in a file photo] stated to Senator Kamala Harris, “[W]e do not have a policy to separate children from their parents.” Nielsen stated that any separations that did occur were done solely for purposes of prosecution, not “for purposes of deterrence.”

POGO, in conjunction with Open the Government, recently obtained a document in response to a Freedom of Information Act request that demonstrates that Nielsen personally signed off on a policy of separating parents and children to deter others from migrating to the United States.

ISIS Threat

isis killer new jihadi john

Image of purported ISIS English-language propagandist (file photo)

SouthFront, Analysis: Why ISIS Propaganda Is Still Successful Despite Group’s Defeat In Syria and Iraq, J. Hawk, Oct. 6, 2018. The Islamic State or ISIS is like any other social movement. It supplies a range of services that are otherwise not provided to specific groups of people. These are chiefly the Sunni populations of the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, the growing and alienated mass of young Muslims in Europe.

In the instance of failing or failed states like Afghanistan, Yemen, post-US attack Iraq, Syria, and Libya, even the most basic needs like safety and security cannot be taken for granted. As brutal as ISIS may seem, to a population living in a state of anarchy it may appear as salvation.

From the perspective of belonging and self-esteem, the remarkable military effectiveness of ISIS came as a welcome change to many Arabs who have experienced a series of defeats of incompetent Arab armies by Western and Israeli adversaries.

Belonging and self-esteem are also behind the so-called “ISIS-inspired” attacks in Europe and the United States, which are usually perpetrated by young Muslim males who were either born or came of age in Western countries. These terrorists belong to a group which finds it hardest to integrate after moving to a new country whose culture is both attractive and at the same time alien and inaccessible.

Thus far, the only success at practically eradicating an ISIS-like entity was scored by Russia against the Caucasus Emirate in Chechnya and Dagestan thanks to a comprehensive array of military, political, and economic measures. Unfortunately, Russia does not really have allies other than Syria and Iran in that fight, though that may change should ISIS activity intensify on or within China’s borders. Therefore there is no reason to expect the ISIS phenomenon will fully disappear in the years or even decades to come.

SCOTUS Vote / Politics

joe manchin headshotPalmer Report, Analysis: The real reason Joe Manchin is voting “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 6, 2018. Here’s the thing about red state Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, right: I don’t like how he voted on Brett Kavanaugh, and clearly, neither do most Democrats and liberals around the nation.

But the circumstances of his vote are being wildly and fundamentally misunderstood as they relate to politics. Before finalizing your opinion of Manchin’s vote, it’s important to understand why he did what he did.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell makes unusual move against Devin Nunes, Tim Faulkner, Oct. 6, 2018. While it is not unusual for sitting members of Congress to pen articles for local or national news sites, writing an op-ed to call out a fellow House of Representatives member for protecting a traitor to America is extremely rare. It is even more rare when the person being protected is the President of the United States. Only under extreme conditions, where the Representative felt it necessary to alert the public, would something like this occur. It just did.

eric swalwell o SmallRep. Eric Swalwell, the Democratic House member for California’s 15th congressional district, published a story on Friday in the Fresno Bee titled “Nunes buried evidence on Russian meddling to protect Trump. I know because I’m on the committee.”

This is Nunes’ hometown paper. The article lists the numerous times that Devin Nunes, right, House Intelligence devin nunes screenshotCommittee Chairman, prevented Swalwell and other Democrats from releasing information obtained during their investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal to the public.

While Swalwell’s frustration is easily understood, it’s important to remember how many criminals are being protected by Republicans in Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. General Considered Nuclear Response in Vietnam War, Cables Show, David E. Sanger, Oct. 6, 2018. In one of the darkest moments of the Vietnam War, the top American military commander in Saigon activated a plan in 1968 to move nuclear weapons to South Vietnam until he was overruled by President Lyndon B. Johnson, according to recently declassified documents cited in a new history of wartime presidential decisions.

The documents reveal a long-secret set of preparations by the commander, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, to have nuclear weapons at hand should American forces find themselves on the brink of defeat at Khe Sanh, one of the fiercest battles of the war.

Oct. 5

Supreme Court Battle

supreme court building

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis, Michael Tomasky (editor of "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas" and a contributing New York Times opinion writer), Oct. 5, 2018. It’s not about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior. It’s about justices who do not represent the will of the majority..

Donald Trump won just under 46 percent of the popular vote and 2.8 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. And Judge Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54-45. According to Kevin McMahon of Trinity College, who wrote all this up this year in his paper “Will the Supreme Court Still ‘Seldom Stray Very Far’?: Regime Politics in a Polarized America,” the 54 senators who voted to elevate Judge Gorsuch had received around 54 million votes, and the 45 senators who opposed him got more than 73 million. That’s 58 percent to 42 percent.

And if the Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh, the vote is likely to fall along similar lines, meaning that we will soon have two Supreme Court justices who deserve to be called “minority-majority”: justices who are part of a five-vote majority on the bench but who were nominated and confirmed by a president and a Senate who represent the will of a minority of the American people.

And consider this further point. Two more current members of the dominant conservative bloc, while nominated by presidents who did win the popular vote, were confirmed by senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against them.

They are Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 by 52 senators who won just 48 percent of the popular vote, and Samuel Alito, confirmed in 2006 by 58 senators who garnered, again, 48 percent of the vote. This is a severe legitimacy crisis for the Supreme Court.

The court, as Professor McMahon notes, was intended never to stray far from the mainstream of American political life. The fact that justices represented that mainstream and were normally confirmed by lopsided votes gave the court’s decisions their legitimacy. It’s also why past chief justices worked to avoid 5-4 decisions on controversial matters: They wanted Americans to see that the court was unified when it laid down a major new precedent.

But now, in an age of 5-4 partisan decisions, we’re on the verge of having a five-member majority who figure to radically rewrite our nation’s laws. And four of them will have been narrowly approved by senators representing minority will.

Judge Kavanaugh’s alleged youthful behavior is a scandal, but this legitimacy crisis is one too, and with arguably greater consequences. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, may not care about them. But Chief Justice John Roberts, and for that matter Brett Kavanaugh, surely should.

World Crisis Radio, Kavanaugh nomination as culmination of a fascist movement in the United States, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, commentator, shown at right), Oct. 5, webster tarpley podium22018. Mussolini's was a normal government...it was not an open terroristic dictatorship....but of course all that changed....So where do we find ourselves?....In the case of Italy, it took about 20-25 months.

In the case of Kavanaugh, they picked the worst possible guy. And of course it's not just him, you've already got four votes on this court that might go along with the fascist program....The way to control this dictatorship is to control the Supreme Court because then you can decide what the laws are.....

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Nomination Clears Key Hurdle, Final Vote Teed Up, John T. Bennett, Oct. 5, 2018. Embattled federal judge Brett Kavanaugh moved one step closer to becoming the ninth Supreme Court justice and providing a decisive fifth conservative vote Friday when the Senate voted to tee up a final up-or-down vote.

lisa murkowski oIn a vote that broke mostly along party lines after several deeply partisan weeks that culminated with a FBI investigation into sexual misconduct charges against Kavanaugh dating to his high school days, the chamber voted to end debate on his nomination, 51-49.

There were a couple of party defections. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, right, voted against cutting off debate, while Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., voted “yes” to cut off debate. The result means the Senate is poised to decide his fate in a high-stakes Saturday vote.

Roll Call, Susan Collins Will Vote ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh Nomination, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2018. Maine Republican had kept her position on the Supreme Court nomination under wraps. Sen. Susan Collins will vote “yes” on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, one of the last remaining hurdles to the high court susan collins ofor President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Earlier on Friday, the Maine Republican voted to cut off debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, helping her leadership clear a key hurdle and setting up a final confirmation vote on Saturday.

joe manchin oRoll Call, Joe Manchin a Yes on Kavanaugh Nomination and Might Be Only Democrat, Staff report, Oct. 5, 2018. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and might end up the only Democrat to do so.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing. And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life," Manchin said in a statement. "However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently democratic donkey logocompleted FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”

jerrold nadler o Smallny times logoNew York Times, House Democrat Promises Kavanaugh Investigation if Party Wins Control, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 5, 2018. Representative Jerrold Nadler said he was prepared to look into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury.

House Democrats will open an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh if they win control of the House in November, Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat in line to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on Friday.

democratic donkey logoSpeaking on the eve of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote this weekend, Mr. Nadler said that there was evidence that Senate Republicans and the F.B.I. had overseen a “whitewash” investigation of the allegations and that the legitimacy of the Supreme Court was at stake. He sidestepped the issue of impeachment.

“It is not something we are eager to do,” Mr. Nadler said in an interview. “But the Senate having failed to do its proper constitutionally mandated job of advise and consent, we are going to have to do something to provide a check and balance, to protect the rule of law and to protect the legitimacy of one of our most important institutions.”

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, The Looming Degradation of the Supreme Court, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 5, 2018. With Republican senators dutifully lining up to support President Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, it is increasingly likely that conservative lawyer and judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. At the same time, in its determination to “win,” the Republican Party will have brought not only shame to itself but also a degradation in prestige to the highest court of the land.

A couple of days ago, more than 500 law professors from more than 160 law schools across the nation had signed a public letter opposing Kavanaugh’s appointment. As a trial lawyer for 12 years before I joined the libertarian movement and who still is authorized to practice law in my home state of Texas, I was absolutely stunned.

In all my life, I had never seen that happen. Sure, law professors have their own political philosophies and affiliations but I had never seen so many of them come together to take a public stand against a particular Supreme Court nominee, especially one who sits as a judge on the federal court of appeals.

Imagine my shock when that number increased a couple of days later to 2,400 law professors opposing the Kavanaugh nomination! The term used by the New York Times expressed my reaction: “Incomprehensible!”

aba logoThat was on top of the withdrawal of support for Kavanaugh’s nomination immediately after he testified by the American Bar Association, which has 400,000 members, and the dean of the Yale Law School, where Kavanaugh got his law degree. What was phenomenal about this was that both the ABA and the Yale law school dean had previously supported Kavanaugh’s appointment.

john paul stevens scotus photo portraitThen, in what I believe is also an unprecedented act, a retired Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens, right, came out and declared that Kavanaugh lacks the required temperament to be a Supreme Court justice, which is what those 2,400 law professors are also saying.

Contrary to what conservative supporters of Kavanaugh have maintained, the primary issue in the Kavanaugh controversy does not revolve around the issue of whether a lawyer’s actions as a teenager should disqualify him from later serving on the Supreme Court. That, of course, is a interesting issue, but it isn’t the issue at hand. If Kavanaugh had confessed to sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford as a 17-year-old, expressed remorse for it, apologized, and sought forgiveness, then the Senate would be faced with that issue: Should what he did 36 years ago disqualify him from serving on the highest court in the land?

christine blasey ford high schoolInstead, there are three primary issues in this controversy: (1) Did Kavanaugh commit the sexual assault on Christine Blasey Ford (shown as a schoolgirl) and, if so, should that make a difference with respect to his appointment to the Supreme Court? (2) Did he commit perjury with his denial of having committed the offense and, equally important, with respect to other matters in his sworn testimony and, if so, should that make a difference to his appointment to the Supreme Court? and (3) Does Kavanaugh have the necessary temperament to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court?

As the controversy has unfolded, it has become painfully clear that perjury just isn’t important to conservatives, at least to conservatives who aren’t lawyers. Time and time again, in addressing the controversy, they ether have glossed over the possibility that Kavanaugh committed perjury or made it clear that it just doesn’t matter to them. It’s no big deal. Let’s just have a quick, 3-day, cursory, sham investigation, confirm the guy, and then “move on.”

Kavanaugh's Father Linked To Cancer Risks

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Exclusive: Kavanaugh Father-Son Cancer Powder Keg, Doug Vaughan, Oct. 5, 2018. If Justice Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, sooner or later he may be asked to weigh some damning evidence — that his own father advocated for a product that he knew was carcinogenic to both mothers and fetuses. Unless he recuses himself.

The ironies are piquant: While the son attended private, single-sex religious schools and adopted the traditional Catholic opposition to abortion, and even birth control, on the grounds the government should regulate women’s use of their own bodies and reproduction, the father made millions from the industry that marketed and sold female personal hygiene products — while keeping the government from guarding the consumers’ health and safety.

It’s no exaggeration that, if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, stuff like baby powder will have smoothed his slide into a seat on the highest court in the land.

More than 10,000 active claims in US courts, mostly by women, allege that they got cancer from regular use of talcum products like baby powder. In one case last summer, a jury in Missouri awarded $4.7 billion to a group of 20 such women who sued the biggest manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson — for promoting its products while hiding evidence of the risks to women, their reproductive organs, and their babies.

Sooner or later, one of these cases is likely to come to the Supreme Court. If he’s confirmed by the Senate, and if he fails to recuse himself, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be asked to consider evidence that his father, Ed, helped J&J market such products — even though they knew they were carcinogenic. Kavanaugh Sr.’s former employer is one of the named defendants in some of the biggest class-action cases filed so far.

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Protesters Ignore Capitol Barricades Ahead of Saturday Vote, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 6, 2018. Protesters broke through Capitol Police barricades and rushed up the steps to the Capitol Rotunda Saturday afternoon amid large demonstrations ahead of a Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The metal barricades were erected Thursday to keep demonstrators on specific areas of the Capitol grounds. Security has been heightened on Capitol Hill in recent weeks due in part to huge numbers of protesters trying to access Senators to voice their views on the nominations. 101 protesters were arrested Friday.

Supreme 'Deep State'

World Crisis Radio, Kavanaugh nomination as culmination of a fascist movement in the United States, Dr. Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, commentator, shown at right), Oct. 5, webster tarpley podium22018. Mussolini's was a normal government...it was not an open terroristic dictatorship....but of course all that changed....So where do we find ourselves?....In the case of Italy, it took about 20-25 months.

In the case of Kavanaugh, they picked the worst possible guy. And of course it's not just him, you've already got four votes on this court that might go along with the fascist program....The way to control this dictatorship is to control the Supreme Court because then you can decide what the laws are.....

Global Research, Opinion: High Crimes and Misdemeanours of Kavanaugh and the Senate-Trump Faction. Step-by-step Overthrow of the Rule of Law, John McMurtry and Matthew Stanton, Oct. 5, 2018. Despite the historic stakes of the ram-through appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States of a serial liar and alleged early rapist, who loudly denounces his Senate questioners as a “left-wing conspiracy” – sniffing all the time as his habit – there has been no legal analysis of his abetted crimes of persistent false statements and declarations, and factional subversion of the rule of law and the US Constitution itself.

As law and moral philosophy professors writing just as the White-House-counsel controlled FBI ‘investigation’ is hidden under cover from citizens and the press, we are moved by duty to explain what has so far been lost in media melodrama, political cover-up at the highest levels, he-says-she-says reductions, and the politics of effectively usurping the rule of law in the United States.

As a branch of government it is unique from the other two branches of government – the legislative. and executive branches – in that the supreme Justices are arbiters of what is allowed or prevented by the US Constitution as the ultimate source of the rule of law in America.

What if the entire process is led by a long train of proved false declarations, persistently intentional misdirection, and perjury under oath with no restraint?

What if in all evident respects the process and appointment to the highest judicial office of the land operates like a criminal conspiracy with a vice-grip on all three branches of government – in the words of Madison, the very definition of ‘tyranny’ – with now the Supreme Court itself fixed to ignore and override basic issues of justice and morality for the next generation in a situation of cumulatively unprecedented social and environmental crisis?

We have already seen the unraveling of even the need to appear objective, disinterested, above the political mob mentality and thuggery of this ruling faction in one long train of abuses, false statements and lying with impunity under oath. The reckless and grasping nature of the Kavanaugh appointment, in short, shows an unbound faction of power treating its position of tyrannical rule as its personal property and right.
Step-by-step overthrow of the rule of law

What has happened in Washington DC with the Kavanaugh hearings is of grave concern to anyone who believes in the democratic rule of law over a moneyed faction fixing all legal process. What this hearing and FBI investigation now controlled by the White House Counsel and ranking Senate Republicans shows is a series of non-stop false statements and actions that attack the very heart of our system of laws and poison the soul of the nation.

In our considered legal and moral opinion, Kavanaugh’s continual false declarations and prevarications are grounds for impeachment in even his current position of Federal Court Judge. In our judgement, with which many will agree, Trump’s candidate Kavanaugh has incontestably demonstrated unfitness for any judicial or public office. His speech and actions under oath, to the US Senate, is enough to be disbarred and lose his law license.

Kavanaugh has been so continuously coached from the highest offices of the land to act above the lawin every regard that this corrupt appointment reaches into the depths of a ‘tyrannical faction’ now in control of our federal government and institutions. It has so overreached in lawless and naked abuse of power that only keeping the public in ignorance can allow it to continue into the mid-term elections this November – the acid test of US democracy which is now before us.

Cops, Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, White Officer Convicted of Murder in the Death of Black Teenager in Chicago, Mitch Smith, Monica Davey and Timothy Williams, Oct. 5, 2018. Jason Van Dyke, the police officer who fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald in 2014, is guilty of second-degree murder, a jury said Friday. Video of the shooting led to upheaval in local government and the Police Department and became a symbol for decades of mistrust between Chicago officers and black residents.

laquan mcdonald family photoThe white Chicago police officer who fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald (shown in a family photo), a black teenager, is guilty of second-degree murder, a jury said Friday.

The defendant, Jason Van Dyke, became the first Chicago police officer convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting in nearly 50 years. His case has been followed closely in this city since dashboard-camera video of the shooting was released in 2015.

Jurors also convicted Officer Van Dyke on 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for every shot he fired at Laquan. Officer Van Dyke, who was escorted out of the packed courtroom with his hands folded behind his back, could face decades in prison when sentenced.

#MeToo Goes Global?

washington post logoWashington Post, A year after it began, has #MeToo become a global movement? Karla Adam and William Booth, Oct. 5, 2018. In some countries, the conversation about sexual harassment — and worse — has toppled powerful men. In others, the movement has all but fizzled out — or never took off to begin with.

Media News: Kidnapped Reporter?

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Post prints empty column for Saudi writer missing in Turkey, Ayse Wieting and Jon Gambrell, Oct. 5, 2018. The Washington Post printed a blank column in its newspaper Friday in solidarity with a Saudi contributor who went missing while on a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, raising concerns about his safety.

Separately, the Post’s editorial board called on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure writer Jamal Khashoggi “is free and able to continue his work,” which included writing columns critical of the upstart royal and the kingdom’s policies.

“His criticism, voiced over the past year, most surely rankles Mohammed bin Salman, who was elevated to crown prince last year and has carried out a wide-ranging campaign to silence dissent while trying to modernize the kingdom,” the Post editorial read. “Among those in his prisons for political speech are clerics, bloggers, journalists and activists. He imprisoned women who agitated for the right to drive, a right that was granted even as they were punished.”

The Post’s empty column in Friday’s edition bore Khashoggi’s byline and the headline: “A missing voice.”

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old veteran journalist who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since Prince Mohammed’s rise to power, disappeared Tuesday while on a visit to the consulate to get paperwork done to be married to his Turkish fiancée. The Saudi Consulate insists Khashoggi left its building, contradicting Turkish officials who say they believe he is still there. Turkey summoned the Saudi ambassador Thursday over the writer’s disappearance.

Supporters held a small rally Friday outside of the consulate.

Khashoggi’s disappearance threatens to further harm relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which are on opposite sides of an ongoing four-nation boycott of Qatar and other regional crises.

U.S. Mercenaries As War 'Solution?'

washington post logoerik princeWashington Post, Blackwater founder pushes to privatize Afghan war as conflict drags on, Karen DeYoung, Shane Harris and Dan Lamothe, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Many in Kabul and Washington believe Erik Prince, right, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Trump campaign contributor, has a willing audience in the president, who is known to be frustrated with the slow progress of his Afghanistan strategy.

The Aristocrats

david sirotaThe Guardian, Opinion: America's new aristocracy lives in an accountability-free zone, David Sirota, right, Oct. 5, 2018. Accountability is for the little people, immunity is for the ruling class. If this ethos seems familiar, that is because it has preceded some of the darkest moments in human history.

When the former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was released from prison a few weeks ago, the news conjured memories of a corporate scandal that now seems almost quaint – and it was also a reminder that Enron executives were among the last politically connected criminals to face any serious consequences for institutionalized fraud.

Since Skilling’s conviction 12 years ago, our society has been fundamentally altered by a powerful political movement whose goal is not merely another court seat, tax cut or election victory. This movement’s objective is far more revolutionary: the creation of an accountability-free zone for an ennobled aristocracy, even as the rest of the population is treated to law-and-order rhetoric and painfully punitive policy.

Let’s remember that in less than two decades, America has experienced the Iraq war, the financial crisis, intensifying economic stratification, an opioid plague, persistent gender and racial inequality and now seemingly unending climate change-intensified disasters. While the victims have been ravaged by these crime sprees, crises and calamities, the perpetrators have largely avoided arrest, inquisition, incarceration, resignation, public shaming and ruined careers.

That is because the United States has been turned into a safe space for a permanent ruling class. Inside the rarefied refuge, the key players who created this era’s catastrophes and who embody the most pernicious pathologies have not just eschewed punishment – many of them have actually maintained or even increased their social, financial and political status.

The effort to construct this elite haven has tied together so many seemingly disparate news events, suggesting that there is a method in the madness. Consider this past month that culminated with the dramatic battle over the judicial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

U.S. Economy

ny times logous labor department logoNew York Times, With 8 Years of Job Gains, Unemployment Is Lowest Since 1969, Ben Casselman, Oct. 5, 2018. The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for September on Friday, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy. The unemployment rate fell to a nearly five-decade low in September, punctuating a remarkable rebound in the ten years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a global financial crisis.

The 134,000 jobs that employers added in September reflected the slowest pace of growth in a year, and the growth in wages cooled slightly from August.

#MeToo

denis mukwege nadia murad nobel

washington post logoWashington Post, Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two figures bringing attention to sexual violence in conflicts, Chico Harlan and Max Bearak, Oct. 5, 2018. Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi who was kidnapped and raped by Islamic State militants, has become an outspoken activist on sexual slavery and human trafficking. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, has treated thousands of victims of gang rape at his hospital.

More on Kavanaugh

Palmer Report, Analysis: Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, pardons, the Supreme Court, and Gamble v. United States, Bill Palmer, Oct. 5, 2018. Some of you are instantly recalling all the times you’ve seen Gamble v. United States mentioned by fellow Resistance members in the comments sections of your posts about Brett Kavanaugh. This case isn’t as impactful as some commenters have come to fear.

It’s about a guy who got hit with federal and state charges for the same crime, and thinks it’s a violation of his constitutional right against double jeopardy. If the Supreme Court rules in Gamble’s favor, there is the fear that Trump could simply begin pardoning his Trump-Russia co-conspirators, and without the threat of state level charges, they would have no reason to cut plea deals against him. But it’s not nearly as simple as that.

There are many, many reasons to be concerned about Brett Kavanaugh’s now-inevitable presence on the Supreme Court, brief as it may end up being. But even if Kavanaugh votes in favor of Gamble, it’s still not clear that there are five votes lined up for this somewhat unique case, which doesn’t fall along traditional ideological lines. The bottom line: there are far bigger concerns right now than Gamble.

Roll Call, High Tension on the Hill Leading Up to Kavanaugh Vote, Thomas McKinless, Oct. 5, 2018. Roll Call reporters Niels Lesniewski and Katherine Tully-McManus break down the high-stress day on the Hill on Friday that surrounded the Senate vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Moves Toward Showdown Vote on Kavanaugh Confirmation, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 5, 2018.  Republican leaders were increasingly confident that the Senate would narrowly vote to cut off debate on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination and move to a final confirmation on Saturday. But with four senators, including three Republicans, still undecided, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation was still not assured.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: If Kavanaugh is confirmed, impeachment could follow. Here’s how, Deanna Paul, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Whether Kavanaugh returns to the D.C. Circuit or, as appears increasingly likely, is confirmed to the Supreme Court, impeachment proceedings could follow. They would be contingent on Democrats regaining control of the House, the only body that can bring an article of impeachment.

brett kavanaugh“Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” Lisa Graves wrote in a Slate column on Sept. 7, more than a week before the New Yorker published the then-anonymous sexual assault claims of Christine Blasey Ford. “After the revelations of his confirmation hearings, the better question is whether he should be impeached from the federal judiciary. I do not raise that question lightly, but I am certain it must be raised.”

Graves wrote that Kavanaugh, right, had misled the Judiciary Committee about the stolen documents that Graves had written as chief counsel for nominations for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) when he was the chairman of the committee. Kavanaugh, she wrote, “lied. Under oath. And he did so repeatedly.” Therefore, she concluded, “he should not be confirmed. In fact, by his own standard, he should clearly be impeached.”

More On Susan Collins Vote

george hw bush and son

ryan grim CustomThe Intercept: Analysis: Sen. Susan Collins and Brett Kavanaugh Are Both in the Bush Family Inner Circle. That Helps Explain Her Vote, Ryan Grim, right, and Akela Lacy, Oct. 5, 2018. The announcement Friday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was about family. Namely, the Bush family.

George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush [shown above in a file photo] have both been welcomed into the ranks of the resistance to President Donald Trump, but their most consequential action since his election has been to help lift Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

susan collins oCollins, left, is an honorary member of the Bush family. She got her start in politics as a congressional aide to Rep.-turned-Sen. William Cohen. The Maine Republican was close to George H.W. Bush, who has long maintained a presence in the state. At the end of the first Bush administration, Collins was appointed New England regional director of the Small Business Administration. In 1996, she was elected to the Senate to replace her mentor, Cohen.

Kavanaugh, too, has longstanding ties to the Bush family. He served as an attorney for George W. Bush’s campaign, playing a major role in the legal battle between Bush and Al Gore. He then served as staff secretary in the Bush White House, a position of intimate influence — the staff secretary attends most Oval Office meetings and is a trusted sounding board for the president.

In the weeks after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault during his high school and college years, Bush personally called wavering senators, lobbying on the nominee’s behalf. Collins, who had said she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade, was one of those wavering senators. In August, HuffPost reported, citing a source close to Collins’s staff, that Collins had assured the White House that she would support Kavanaugh if he were nominated. (She has denied that.)

Collins has since said that the decision was a difficult one, though there was no hint of that agonizing in her Senate floor speech Friday, which was a full-throated defense of Kavanaugh and a prosecution of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations.

In the end, Collins suggested that she hoped Kavanaugh’s nomination would restore the faith of Americans in the Supreme Court, easing partisan tensions and decreasing the number of 5-4 decisions the court handed down. It’s difficult to rationalize the idea that a nomination as contentious as this would usher a return to a more harmonious era of bipartisan collaboration.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The sheer insanity of what Susan Collins just did, Bill Palmer, Oct. 5, 2018. Why? It’s the only question left to ask after GOP Senator Susan Collins not only voted for screaming liar and alleged serial sex offender Brett Kavanaugh, but made a point of doing it in the most jarring and self defeating manner possible. It raises uncomfortable and scary questions about what might really be going on here.

susan collins official SmallSusan Collins has never been a party loyalist. In the past two years alone, she’s cast multiple deciding votes against the GOP on major issues, including the attempted Obamacare repeal, and the original Senate Intelligence Committee decision to investigate the Trump-Russia scandal. So no matter how many social media posts might claim that “Collins voted this way because she always votes the party line,” that’s a factually false statement. No, this has to be about something else.

If Susan Collins had decided that she needed to cast a very unpopular “yes” vote on Kavanaugh for the sake of her reelection prospects (translation: billionaire conservative donors), she could have quietly cast her vote and hoped people might forget by 2020. Instead, she took outlandish steps to make sure people never forget what she did today. There are simply not enough pro-Trump extremists in Maine to give her even a remote chance at reelection.

One of the meekest people in the Senate knowingly ended her career today with both proverbial middle fingers in the air. It was one of the ugliest things that American politics has ever seen, and it simply made no sense. Is she being blackmailed, or did she just snap today?

Time, 'Such a Slap in the Face.' Sexual Assault Survivors Who Met With Susan Collins Feel Betrayed She'll Vote for Kavanaugh, Charlotte Alter, Oct. 5, 2018. Last Thursday night, time logo ogAmanda O’Brien sat on a bus for 10 hours to get from Maine to Washington D.C. to meet with Sen. Susan Collins and share her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The bus was full of sexual assault survivors, who shared their stories with their seat mates as they crawled toward the Capitol.

O’Brien, who wore black like the rest of the survivors, tried to prepare herself. When she and a handful of other survivors got to the Senator’s office on Friday, she told Senator Collins that she had been sexually assaulted for years as a young child. She told her because of the impact of the assault, she later became the victim of domestic violence. She told her Senator things she has rarely told anyone, things she would still rather not repeat.

But on Friday afternoon, Collins announced her intention to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh, all but ensuring that Trump’s pick will sit on the Supreme Court, despite Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that he pinned her to a bed and tried to rape her when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh denies Ford’s allegation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh: I said things I ‘should not have said’ at hearing, Eli Rosenberg, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the judge tacitly acknowledges the questions being raised about his conduct and emotions.

washington post logoWashington Post, The rise and the reckoning: Inside Brett Kavanaugh’s circles of influence, Marc Fisher, Ann E. Marimow and Michael Kranish, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). The story of President Trump’s embattled choice for the Supreme Court is a classic Washington tale of a young man who grew up surrounded by people in high places, keenly aware of protecting his image. He told a friend in college that he didn’t plan to buy stocks as an adult because he had to avoid conflicts if he wanted to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a judge.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookKavanaugh’s story is also one of the power and insularity of wealth. He grew up in an idyll of country clubs and beach retreats, private schools and public prominence. The only child of a lobbyist and a judge, he had parents who pushed him hard, teachers who assured him that he faced no limits, and friends whose families knew the art of making problems go away quietly.

That Kavanaugh (shown in a prep school yearbook photo) would achieve greatness seemed certain. Some of his classmates called him “The Genius.” They liked him because he was smart and fun. Women found him thoughtful and empathetic. Men said he was a guy’s guy — a walking encyclopedia of sports, a good pal, always up for a beer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Elizabeth Warren’s new, tantalizing claim about Kavanaugh shows what utter madness this is, Greg Sargent, Oct. 5, 2018. One of the most infuriating aspects of this whole Kavanaugh saga is the degree to which we are flying blind about some of the most fundamental points of disagreement at its core. Making this even worse, it doesn’t have to be this way.

elizabeth warren o purpleOn the Senate floor late Thursday, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, made a new and tantalizing claim about what’s in the FBI documents on Brett M. Kavanaugh that all senators have now reviewed. Senators are severely limited in what they can say about these documents, which are summaries of the interviews that the FBI conducted as part of their renewed background check into Kavanaugh, after Christine Blasey Ford went public with charges that he sexually assaulted her, which led to a host of new claims like that one and others about his drinking at the time.

Warren noted these limitations and said the following (emphasis added):

“Senators have been muzzled. So I will now say three things that committee staff has explained are permissible to say without violating committee rules. … One: This was not a full and fair investigation. It was sharply limited in scope and did not explore the relevant confirming facts. Two: The available documents do not exonerate Mr. Kavanaugh.

And three: the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.”

Oct. 4

Supreme Court Battle

 ny times logoNew York Times, Two Key Republicans Signal Satisfaction With F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Oct. 4, 2018. Two key undecided senators signaled Thursday that they are satisfied with the F.B.I.’s investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Senate Republican leaders were increasingly confident that he would be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

jeff flake oSenators Jeff Flake of Arizona, right, and Susan Collins of Maine did not say that they will vote for Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee.

But after a closed-door briefing in which Republicans were told that no witnesses corroborated the accounts of Judge Kavanaugh’s main accusers, both made positive remarks. A yes vote from both would secure Judge Kavanaugh’s seat on the highest court in the land.

Roll Call, Amy Schumer, Emily Ratajkowski Among Hundreds Arrested Protesting Kavanaugh, Griffin Connolly, Oct 4, 2018. Demonstrators flocked to Hart Senate Office Building after USCP cordons off East Front. The U.S. Capitol Police arrested hundreds of people protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s pending confirmation in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday.

Protesters initially planned to hold their rally on the East Front of the Capitol, but USCP cordoned off the area Thursday morning. So the thousands of demonstrators streamed into the Hart building, chanting and singing against Kavanaugh, whom multiple women have accused of sexual assault.

Roll Call, Sen. Steve Daines Would Miss Saturday Kavanaugh Vote for Daughter’s Wedding, Katherine Tully-McManus, Oct. 4, 2018. Montana Republican tells AP he won’t be in D.C. regardless of Senate schedule.

john paul stevens palm springs

Palm Beach Post, Retired Supreme Court Justice: Kavanaugh does not belong on high court, Lulu Ramadan, Oct. 4, 2018. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Thursday said that high court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who Stevens once lauded in one of his books, does not belong on the Supreme Court.

Speaking to a crowd of retirees in Boca Raton, Stevens, 98, said Kavanaugh’s performance during a recent Senate confirmation hearing suggested that he lacks the temperament for the job.

Stevens, a lifelong Republican who is known for falling on the liberal side of several judicial rulings, praised Kavanaugh and one of his rulings on a political contribution case in the 2014 book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

washington post logojohn paul stevens scotus photo portraitWashington Post, Retired Justice Stevens calls Kavanaugh’s hearing performance disqualifying, Robert Barnes, Oct. 5, 2018 (print edition). Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, shown above, said Thursday that he no longer believes Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court, citing Kavanaugh’s heated performance during a Senate hearing last week.

Stevens, 98 (shown at right in a file photo from his years on the court), made the comments in Boca Raton, Fla., before a group of retirees, according to the Palm Beach Post and the journalist who interviewed Stevens at the event.

heidi heitkamp kevin cramer

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat representing North Dakota, and her Republican opponent in November, U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer

Roll Call, Heidi Heitkamp Will Vote No on Kavanaugh Nomination, Niels Lesniewski, Oct 4, 2018. North Dakota Democrat is in a tight re-election campaign. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat leading Roll Call’s list of most vulnerable senators on the ballot this fall, announced Thursday that she’ll vote against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the heidi heitkamp oSupreme Court.

“The process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision, and I’ve made that decision,” the North Dakota Democrat told WDAY, the ABC affiliate in Fargo, N.D. “I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh.”

Heitkamp explained her decision to opposed Kavanaugh in light of her decision last year to support President Donald Trump's first nominee to the high court, Neil neil gorsuch headshotGorsuch, left.

“I voted for Justice Gorsuch because I felt his legal ability and temperament qualified him to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is different. When considering a lifetime appointment to Supreme Court, we must evaluate the totality of the circumstances and record before us. In addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality. These are critical traits for any nominee to serve on the highest court in our country,” she said.

Heitkamp’s decision to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court means that Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia is the only member of the Democratic caucus potentially favoring the confirmation of Kavanaugh.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Sends F.B.I. Interviews on Kavanaugh to Senate, Peter Baker, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). The White House sent summaries of the interviews, expressing confidence that they would not stop Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The material was conveyed in the middle of the night, just hours after Senate Republicans set the stage for a pair of votes later in the week.

FBI logoSenior White House officials, after reviewing summaries of interviews conducted by the F.B.I., are increasingly confident that the information collected would ease the path for senators to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a person briefed on the findings said Thursday morning.

The material was conveyed to Capitol Hill in the middle of the night, just hours after Senate Republicans set the stage for a pair of votes later in the week to move to approve Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. A statement issued by the White House around 2:30 a.m. said the F.B.I. had completed its work and that it represented an unprecedented look at a nominee.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump and G.O.P. Lash Out at Kavanaugh’s Accuser. But at What Risk? Peter Baker, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). For more than two weeks he held christine blasey ford sept 27 2018back. Against all his instincts, President Trump for the most part resisted directly attacking the woman whose sexual assault allegation has jeopardized his Supreme Court nomination. The accuser was to be treated with kid gloves, like “a Fabergé egg,” as one adviser put it.

But Mr. Trump could resist only so long and told aides it was time to turn up the heat. So when he revved up a political rally this week by mocking Christine Blasey Ford, right, he indulged his desire to fight back and galvanized his conservative base even at the risk of alienating the very moderate Republicans he needs to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh. Signed, 2,400+ Law Professors (and Counting), Oct. 4, 2018. We have differing views about Kavanaugh’s qualifications. But we are united in believing he does not have the right judicial temperament.

The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received. Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.”

New York Magazine, Report: The FBI’s Investigation of Kavanaugh Was a Sham, Adam K. Raymond, Oct. 4, 2018. Five days after the FBI began its investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual-assault allegations made against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the probe is over. Though the White House is already exonerating him, it remains to be seen what kind of information senators can glean from the investigation. One thing that is clear, though, is that many Senate Democrats won’t be satisfied with the narrow scope of the probe.

ben sasse o croppedOmaha World-Herald, In emotional speech, Ben Sasse says he told Trump to nominate a woman to Supreme Court, Joseph Morton, Oct. 4, 2018. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., right, delivered an emotional floor speech Wednesday night rejecting suggestions that the vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is about whether lawmakers care about women.

“A Supreme Court confirmation vote isn’t a grand choice about whether we love our daughters or whether we trust our sons,” Sasse said. “That is not the choice before us. This is a consent decision about one person for one seat.”

Sasse, a member of the Judiciary Committee, revealed that before the nominee had been announced he urged President Donald Trump to nominate a woman to the seat.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Here’s a list of people the FBI did NOT interview, Greg Sargent, Oct. 4, 2018. Okay with this, Flake and Collins? You’ll be shocked to hear that the White House has already pronounced the FBI report entirely exonerating for Kavanaugh, claiming that it is now “fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

FBI logoBut a lot of new reporting has now emerged that starkly illustrates just how much about the new allegations was not investigated by the FBI. It’s important to note that this probably was not a failing on the FBI’s part but rather was the result of restrictions the White House placed on the probe, a process that itself remains shrouded in disingenuous rhetorical games.

jacob hornberger headshotFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Trump-Kavanaugh Look-Alike Theory, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 4, 2018. In deciding to go on the attack in the Kavanaugh confirmation debate by openly and publicly mocking Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally for purported “inconsistencies” in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Trump might not realize that he has created an enormous inconsistency in his own position.

Actually, “contradiction” would be a better word to use. Moreover, Trump might not realize that he has left his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, hanging out on a limb all by himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, Celebrating kegs and insulting girls: Inside Mark Judge’s 1980s Georgetown Prep underground paper, Ian Shapira, Oct. 4, 2018. The Unknown Hoya, co-founded by Judge, featured heavy drinking, a stripper-fueled bachelor party and slurs about Holton-Arms girls.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rifts Break Open at Facebook Over Kavanaugh Hearing, Mike Isaac, Oct. 4, 2018. "I want to apologize,” the Facebook executive wrote last Friday in a note to staff. “I recognize this moment is a deeply painful one — internally and externally.”

facebook logoThe apology came from Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy. A day earlier, Mr. Kaplan had sat behind his friend, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, when the judge testified in Congress about allegations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school. Mr. Kaplan’s surprise appearance prompted anger and shock among many Facebook employees, some of whom said they took his action as a tacit show of support for Judge Kavanaugh — as if it were an endorsement from Facebook itself.

The unrest quickly spilled over onto Facebook’s internal message boards, where hundreds of workers have since posted about their concerns, according to current and former employees. To quell the hubbub, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, last Friday explained in a widely attended staff meeting that Mr. Kaplan was a close friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s and had broken no company rules, these people said.

Yet the disquiet within the company has not subsided. This week, Facebook employees kept flooding internal forums with comments about Mr. Kaplan’s appearance at the hearing. In a post on Wednesday, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook executive, appeared to dismiss the concerns when he wrote to employees that “it is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.” Facebook plans to hold another staff meeting on Friday to contain the damage, said the current and former employees.

News Media / Propaganda Tools?

washington post logoWashington Post, That Facebook group you joined years ago? It might now be supporting Brett Kavanaugh, Tony Romm, Oct. 4, 2018. Many of the Facebook groups that seem to facebook logoadvocate for Brett M. Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court -- and some of those defending Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault in the 1980s -- actually amassed their followers months or years before Washington’s most politically charged controversy unfolded, according to Facebook’s records, offering yet another sign that public outcry on social media isn’t exactly what it appears to be.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Efforts to kill Obamacare’s guarantee of coverage for preexisting conditions are costing GOP candidates, Tracy Jan, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). Many Republicans in key races are scrambling to square their opposition to the Affordable Care Act with voters’ strong support for one of its most popular provisions.

Roll Call, 24 House Ratings Change in Favor of Democrats, One Month Out, Thomas McKinless, Oct. 4, 2018. Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales has two dozen House race ratings shifts — and they’re all positive for Democrats. Nearly one month from Election Day, Gonzales discusses how it’s more a question of Democratic prospects being good or great in the House than anything else. See below for a full list of all the ratings shifts and watch the video for more analysis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Democratic aide charged in posting of GOP senators’ personal data as they held Kavanaugh hearing, Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 4, 2018 (print edition). democratic donkey logoJackson A. Cosko faces five federal counts including making public restricted personal information, making threats in interstate communications, identity theft, witness tampering and unauthorized access of a government computer.

The information posted purportedly included phone numbers and home addresses for three Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the hearing: Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah).

Oct. 3

Report: Trumps As Longtime Tax Cheats

ny times logoirs logoNew York Times, Special Investigation: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father, David Barsow, Susanne Craig an Russ Buettner, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

ny times logoNew York Times, 4 Ways Fred Trump Made Donald Trump and His Siblings Rich, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner,  and David Barstow, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). In Donald Trump’s version of how he got rich, he was the master dealmaker who parlayed a $1 million loan from his father into a $10 billion empire. But The Times’s investigation found that the president’s father created scores of revenue streams for his son.

ny times logoDonald TrumpNew York Times, 11 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Trump’s Wealth, Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and David Barstow, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). Based on a trove of confidential financial records, the Times report offers the first comprehensive look at the inherited fortune and tax dodges that guaranteed Donald Trump a gilded life.

Daily Beast, Trump Attacks New York Times, but Doesn’t Deny Tax-Fraud Bombshell, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2018.  Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to once again attack The New York Times, this time over its bombshell investigation into the roots of his family’s real-estate business, which alleges tax evasion and “outright” fraud.

Notably, however, he did not dispute its findings. “The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of “time value of money” in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me,” he wrote, apparently unaware that the time value of money is a common economic concept. “Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad,” he added. “Never recovered from bad election call!” The Times report claims Trump helped his family avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, and that the “self-made billionaire” received more than $413 million from his parents.

djt fred trump daily bast photo illustation

Donald Trump, left, and his father Fred Trump (Daily Beast photo collage)

Daily Beast, Filing by Trump’s Federal Judge Sister Led to NYT Tax-Fraud Exposé, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. The next Trump family reunion might be a bit contentious. The New York Times has revealed that its bombshell story about Donald Trump engaging in “dubious” tax schemes and “outright” fraud to increase his inheritance from his parents’ wealth came about because of a filing made by his federal judge sister.

Journalist Susanne Craig said she found the disclosure form Maryanne Trump Barry filed as part of her Senate confirmation hearing. It showed a $1 million contribution from an obscure family-owned company: All County Building Supply & Maintenance. “‘What the heck?’” Craig remembered thinking, leading her to talk to people who detailed Fred Trump’s dubious method of moving cash from his companies to his children. The Times describes Maryanne Trump Barry’s filing as a “central finding” of the story.

Related commentary: david cay johnston headshotDaily Beast, Opinion: New York Times Exposed Trump’s Tax Fraud. Time for the Authorities to Go After Him, David Cay Johnston, right, Oct. 2, 2018. The many scams executed by Donald and his family have now been exposed. It’s time for Congress, the IRS, and New York state to step up.

Supreme Court Battle

Washington Post, White House prepares to send new FBI report on Kavanaugh to Senate, Seung Min Kim, John Wagner and Josh Dawsey, Oct 3, 2018. The latest FBI probe updating the Supreme Court nominee’s background check was set to arrive Wednesday night on Capitol Hill, according to two people familiar with its release. White House officials have been briefed on the findings, they said. The developments came as Senate Democrats suggested that past FBI background checks of Brett M. Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior.

washington post logoWashington Post, As FBI check nears its end, probe appears to have been highly curtailed, Matt Zapotosky, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Tom Hamburger and Devlin Barrett, Oct 3, 2018.  The FBI has interviewed six witnesses and has not been allowed to probe the nominee's youthful drinking, opening it up to criticism over what some will view as a lackluster investigation.

Roll Call, Mitch McConnell Sets Friday Vote to Thwart Filibuster of Brett Kavanaugh, Niels Lesniewski, Oct. 3, 2018. Wednesday evening move sets up Friday procedural vote and possible Saturday confirmation vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion; 650 law professors: The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh, staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. The following letter will be presented to the United States Senate on Oct. 4. It will be updated as more signatures are received.

Judicial temperament is one of the most important qualities of a judge. As the Congressional Research Service explains, a judge requires “a personality that is even-handed, unbiased, impartial, courteous yet firm, and dedicated to a process, not a result.” The concern for judicial temperament dates back to our founding; in Federalist 78, titled “Judges as Guardians of the Constitution,” Alexander Hamilton expressed the need for “the integrity and moderation of the judiciary.”

We are law professors who teach, research and write about the judicial institutions of this country. Many of us appear in state and federal court, and our work means that we will continue to do so, including before the United States Supreme Court. We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land.

The question at issue was of course painful for anyone. But Judge Kavanaugh exhibited a lack of commitment to judicious inquiry. Instead of being open to the necessary search for accuracy, Judge Kavanaugh was repeatedly aggressive with questioners. Even in his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh described the hearing as partisan, referring to it as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” rather than acknowledging the need for the Senate, faced with new information, to try to understand what had transpired. Instead of trying to sort out with reason and care the allegations that were raised, Judge Kavanaugh responded in an intemperate, inflammatory and partial manner, as he interrupted and, at times, was discourteous to senators.

As you know, under two statutes governing bias and recusal, judges must step aside if they are at risk of being perceived as or of being unfair. As Congress has previously put it, a judge or justice “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” These statutes are part of a myriad of legal commitments to the impartiality of the judiciary, which is the cornerstone of the courts.

We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh. But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land.

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: One of Brett Kavanaugh’s key GOP Senate defenders suddenly sounds nervous about holding a vote, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 3, 2018. We all witnessed Republican Senator John Cornyn use his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to try to help a mentally unstable Brett Kavanaugh through his testimony. There is no doubt that Cornyn, who is as corrupt as they come, is a “yes” vote. But now congressional reporter Chad Pergram says that Cornyn suddenly doesn’t want to rush the Kavanaugh vote, and wants to “do it one step at a time” instead. So what’s going on here?

So does John Cornyn know something that Mitch McConnell doesn’t? Or are they simply unable to agree on how to play their increasingly weak hand? McConnell has been trying to bully the likes of Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins into voting “yes” even though they’re clearly not “yes” votes, but last night Murkowski all but laughed at McConnell’s tactics. We still don’t know how this vote is going to turn out, but it doesn’t appear the GOP does, either.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump and McConnell sink to desperate new lengths to protect Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Oct. 3, 2018. Just how dirty is Brett Kavanaugh? All you have to do is take a look at the desperate lengths Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are going to in the name of not only protecting Kavanaugh from the FBI investigation, but keeping the final FBI report hush-hush.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018Dianne Feinstein has confirmed that, as expected, the FBI will not be allowed to interview Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (right) – but that’s just the half of it.

It’s fairly clear why the FBI isn’t allowed to interview Ford. It’s not to prevent her from telling her story, which she’s already done before the Senate; the FBI has full access to her congressional testimony. Instead, by blocking the FBI from speaking with Ford, Trump and McConnell are also blocking the FBI from speaking with Kavanaugh – which is the entire point. Kavanaugh has already revealed himself to be a pathological liar, and if he lies to the FBI, he’ll go to prison. But the real panic move here is with the report itself.

USA Today and others are now reporting that there will only be one copy of the FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh, and that Senators will each have to take turns reading it. Senate Democrats will still be able to quickly leak the ugliest parts of the report to the public. But the goal here is, obviously, to prevent the public from seeing the full text.

This confirms that, even with the limitations placed on the FBI investigation by Trump and McConnell, they still expect that the FBI report will paint Brett Kavanaugh in a terrible light. This means that Trump and McConnell are playing with an even weaker hand here than we thought.

ny times logoFBI logoNew York Times, F.B.I. to Complete Inquiry Wednesday With Vote Coming This Week, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). The F.B.I. will send the results of its inquiry into Judge Kavanaugh to the Senate on Wednesday, with a vote scheduled on the nomination this week.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Taunts Christine Blasey Ford at Rally, At an event in Mississippi, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker, Oct. 3, 2018 (print edition). President Trump mocked the woman who accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault. He imitated her, exaggerating her responses at last week’s hearing. The crowd cheered.

washington post logojeff flake oWashington Post, ‘Just plain wrong’: Flake, Collins criticize Trump’s attack on Ford, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim​, Oct. 3, 2018. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), right and Susan Collins (Maine) are considered crucial to the confirmation prospects of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

washington post logoWashington Post, Breaking: Senate Democrats suggest past FBI background checks on Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, Oct. 3, 2018. Senate Democrats suggested in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman on Wednesday that past FBI background checks on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, contrary to Republican claims.

democratic donkey logoIn the letter, eight of the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary panel challenged the accuracy of a tweet from the majority Republicans on Tuesday that said: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there ever a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.”

The Democrats said the information in the tweet is “not accurate,” and urged the GOP to correct them. Aides to the committee chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), did not return an immediate request for comment.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Senators, if you think you are ‘appalled’ now, just wait, Jennifer Rubin, right, Oct. 3, 2018. Appearing on the “Today” show, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reacted to President Trump’s mocking of Christine Blasey Ford at a political rally Tuesday night. “There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. But to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right … It’s kind of appalling.”

susan collins oThis echoes the reaction of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) when Trump first attacked Ford by tweet, saying if the attack was “that bad,” the teen Ford would have gone to the police. Collins, left, said: “I was appalled by the president’s tweet.”

There is plenty to appall:

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s baseless allegation that he was the victim of a smear stemming from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss; Kavanaugh’s obnoxious retorts to Democratic senators, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling for Klobuchar to apologize; Republicans’ objections to any investigation of Ford’s claims; Republicans’ repeated, false assertion that there is no corroboration for Ford’s accusation (ignoring her polygraph, her prior remarks, Kavanaugh’s calendar entry for July 1); Republicans’ decision to hide behind a female “assistant” (as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to prosecutor Rachel Mitchell) and then discard her in favor of hysterical rants; apparent efforts to curtail the FBI investigation; Ed Whelan’s defamatory accusation aimed at a classmate of Kavanaugh’s; and Kavanaugh’s seeming mischaracterization of his drinking habits and high school references to sex and drinking.

new yorker logoNew Yorker, The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, Oct. 3, 2018. Frustrated potential witnesses who have been unable to speak with the F.B.I agents conducting the investigation into sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded.

On Monday, President Trump said that the Bureau should be able to interview “anybody they want within reason,” but the extent of the constraints placed on the investigating agents by the White House remained unclear.

U.S. Politics

jason kander flag photo SmallLegal Schnauzer, Opinion: Missouri politico Jason Kander cites depression and PTSD from military service for bailing out of K.C. mayoral race, but is that the real reason for his exit? Roger Shuler, Oct. 3, 2018.  Jason Kander, right, former Missouri secretary of state and a 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, yesterday closed his campaign for Kansas City mayor, citing depression and PTSD from his time in the military.

Quite a few political observers immediately questioned whether mental-health issues related to military service were the real reason for Kander's withdrawal. We have reported on Kander's apparent connections to fund-raising fraud and campaign violations, dating at least to his failed U.S. Senate race against GOP incumbent Roy Blunt. They include a scheme to buy Diana Kander (Jason's wife) a spot on The New York Times Bestseller List.

A number of commenters at the Tony's Kansas City blog said they believed Kander's dubious fund-raising tactics were about to catch up to him, in the form of a criminal investigation. (Comments are embedded at the end of this post.) Count our own legal-affairs analyst -- we call him Ozark Mountain Lawyer (OML) -- among the skeptics. States OML:

GOP Attacks On Accusers

chuck grassley screams at patrick leahy confidential records screenshot

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa (file photo)

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans on Senate panel release explicit statement about Kavanaugh accuser’s sex life, Elise Viebeck, Oct. 3, 2018. In an unprecedented move, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday released an explicit statement that purports to describe the sexual preferences of a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of misconduct.

republican elephant logoThe statement, which was circulated to the hundreds of journalists on the Judiciary Committee’s press list, was from Dennis Ketterer, a former Democratic congressional candidate and television meteorologist who said he was involved in a brief relationship with Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick in 1993.

julie swetnickSwetnick, shown at right, said last week in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape, a claim he vehemently denies.

In his statement, Ketterer said Swetnick once told him that she sometimes enjoyed group sex with multiple men and had first engaged in it during high school. Ketterer said the remark “derailed” their relationship, which he described as involving “physical contact” but no intercourse.
It was highly unusual for a congressional committee to release a statement that included such explicit and unconfirmed details about a member of the public. The Republican side of the panel, which said the statement was provided by Ketterer “under penalty of felony,” emailed excerpts to journalists and posted the full statement on its website.

Swetnick attorney Michael Avenatti called the statement “bogus and outrageous” and called for the FBI to interview Swetnick and Ketterer to assess their truthfulness.

“At the same time the committee refuses to provide documents, they don’t hesitate to provide this piece of garbage,” Avenatti said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.

supreme court graphic“This was absolutely fabricated to assist the GOP to ram through this nomination,” Avenatti said, calling for reporters to “dig good and hard” into Ketterer’s background.

Ketterer described himself as a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and lives in the Salt Lake City area.

“We talked about doing the right thing, and the right thing was not to hold it back,” Ketterer said in an hour-long interview.

Eventually, he said, one church leader reached out to a former LDS bishop who had a connection to the office of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is also a member of the church.

Ketterer, who was terminated from his position with Channel 7 in Washington in the mid-1990s, sued the station for $12 million in 1995 over what he said was discrimination against him because a psychiatrist had diagnosed him with bipolar II disorder.

WGN-TV (Chicago), Attorney Avenatti says new witness saw Kavanaugh ‘spike the punch’ at parties, Staff report, Oct. 3, 2018. As the FBI investigates the past of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, another witness is coming forward.

michael avenatti twitter photoOn Wednesday, Attorney Michael Avenatti, shown on his Twitter photo, announced he had a sworn statement from an unidentified woman who said she has witnessed some of the activities that Kavanaugh is accused of doing during his teens and college years. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh threw her on a bed and tried to rape her when they were teenagers.

Avenatti is providing a statement from a woman who said she has known Ford, Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge, and his accuser Julie Swetnick for decades. In it, she said she believes both Ford and Swetnick are honest and truthful.

She says she has been to at least 20 parties that Kavanaugh and Judge also attended. “I know many instances during these house parties where Brett and Mark would drink excessively and be overly aggressive and verbally abusive toward girls,” she said. “This conduct included inappropriate physical contact with girls of a sexual nature.”

She said she saw Kavanaugh “spike the punch” at parties with “Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol.” “I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No,’” she said. “I am aware of other inappropriate conduct by Brett Kavanaugh but do not feel comfortable stating it at this time in this declaration.”

Avenatti said this woman is “prepared to meet with the FBI today and disclose multiple facts and witnesses.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Republicans Open New Attack on Kavanaugh Accuser, Peter Baker, Oct. 3, 2018. In a sworn statement to the Senate, a man who said he dated Dr. Blasey for six years contradicted her testimony about her experience with polygraph tests.

Senate Republicans are stepping up efforts to challenge Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility by confronting her with a sworn statement from a former boyfriend who took issue with a number of assertions she made during testimony before the Judiciary Committee last week.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the committee chairman, cited the former boyfriend’s statement in a letter sent Tuesday night to Dr. Blasey’s lawyers demanding that they turn over material that could be used to assess her veracity.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018President Trump mocked Dr. Blasey, right, during a campaign rally on Tuesday night, mimicking her inability to remember some details from her account of being sexually assaulted by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.

The former boyfriend told the Judiciary Committee that he witnessed Dr. Blasey helping a friend prepare for a possible polygraph examination, contradicting her testimony under oath. Dr. Blasey, a psychology professor from California who also goes by her married name Ford, was asked during the hearing whether she had “ever given tips or advice to somebody who was looking to take a polygraph test.” She answered, “Never.”

Ms. McLean, a former F.B.I. agent, denied the assertion on Wednesday. “I have never had Christine Blasey Ford, or anybody else, prepare me, or provide any other type of assistance whatsoever in connection with any polygraph exam I have taken at any time,” she said in a statement.

Dr. Blasey’s camp also rejected the account. “She stands by her testimony,” a member of her legal team said in a statement.

Oct. 2

Trump Tax Fraud?

david cay johnston headshotDaily Beast, Opinion: New York Times Exposed Trump’s Tax Fraud. Time for the Authorities to Go After Him, David Cay Johnston, right, Oct. 2, 2018. The many scams executed by Donald and his family have now been exposed. It’s time for Congress, the IRS, and New York state to step up.

For decades Donald Trump, his parents and siblings cheated on taxes in numerous ways, The New York Times reported in an extraordinarily thorough and well documented expose published on Tuesday night.

In a meticulously reported 14,000-word article, the paper demolishes Donald’s claims that he is a self-made billionaire who started out with a $1 million loan from his father Fred, which he paid back with interest. Donald got at least $413 million, in today’s money, from his father and never fully repaid his loans.

The Times obtained access to more than 100,000 pages of Trump documents including “bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices, and canceled checks. Most notably, the documents include more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies and various Trump partnerships and trusts.” It did not get any of the president’s personal tax returns.

The arcane and difficult subjects of both tax and accounting are masterfully explained in plain English. As the paper’s former tax reporter, and the journalist who has covered Trump the longest, I’m in a solid position to judge the depth and quality of their work. It is masterful.

The Times expose is exactly what it purports to be: “unprecedented in scope and precision.” And it shows in vivid detail how egregious the tax cheating was—not chiseling here and there, but gigantic lies to escape lawful burdens. The piece goes far beyond the two civil income tax fraud trials Trump lost, news I broke in The Daily Beast two years ago.

Most if not all of the transactions detailed in The Times can be pursued as civil tax fraud by both the federal and New York state governments. Neither the federal or state governments have statutes of limitations on civil fraud. Generally, criminal tax cases are limited to returns filed in the past six years.

State tax authorities said Tuesday night they were looking into the facts reported by The Times. Since June 15, DCReport has been calling for a criminal investigation of Trump’s taxes. After our readers flooded Governor Andrew Cuomo with phone calls he signaled his approval of such an inquiry.

Supreme Court Batttle

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI gets longer leash on Kavanaugh probe as McConnell signals vote is imminent, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim and Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). The inquiry will include sexual misconduct allegations from a third woman against Brett M. Kavanaugh. But the FBI won’t conduct an unfettered review of his youthful drinking.

FBI logony times logoNew York Times, The People the F.B.I. Has Interviewed in the Kavanaugh Investigation (and Those It Hasn’t), Karen Yourish and Troy Griggs, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Republicans offered the bureau four witnesses; Democrats have called for more than a dozen additional people to be interviewed.

People who were on the Republicans’ list and have been interviewed:

-- Deborah Ramirez, Yale classmate, The second woman to accuse Judge Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct; she said he exposed himself to her at a dorm room party.

-- Mark Judge, Judge Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate, Named by Dr. Blasey and a third accuser as being a key witness to the alleged sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh. “I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” he said.

-- P.J. Smyth, Georgetown Prep classmate; Dr. Blasey said he was at the house party, “I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct.”

-- Leland Keyser, Dr. Blasey’s high school friend, Said she does not remember being at the party during the summer of 1982 but believes Dr. Blasey.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘The trauma for a man’: Male fury and fear rises in GOP in defense of Kavanaugh, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Trump slams Democrats for 'trying to destroy' Kavanaugh (shown below in a file photo of his testimony).

brett kavanaugh screen grab 9 5 2018 at 3 56 pmThe sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh have sparked a wave of unbridled anger and anxiety from many Republican men, who say they are in danger of being swept up by false accusers who are biased against them.

From President Trump to his namesake son to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the howls of outrage crystallize a strong current of grievance within a party whose leadership is almost entirely white and overwhelmingly male — and which does not make a secret of its fear that demographic shifts and cultural convulsions could jeopardize its grip on power.

This eruption of male resentment now seems likely to play a defining role in the midterm elections just five weeks away, contrasting with a burst of enthusiasm among women propelling Democratic campaigns and inspired by the national #MeToo reckoning over sexual assault and gender roles.

Legal Schnauzer, In anonymous letter to Sen. Kamala Harris, woman says Kavanaugh groped her, slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her in backseat of car, Roger Shuler, Oct. 2, 2018. A woman states in an anonymous letter that Brett Kavanaugh forcibly kissed her, groped her, digitally penetrated her, slapped her, forced her to perform oral sex, and raped her multiple times in the backseat of a car, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) transcript released yesterday.

The transcript, which is embedded at the end of this post, is from an interview SJC staff members conducted with Kavanaugh on Sept. 26. Kavanaugh apparently had an unnamed attorney present on his end of the line during the interview.

When Kavanaugh is asked for a response to the letter, he replies: "Nothing -- the whole thing is ridiculous. Nothing ever -- anything like that, nothing. I mean, that's -- the whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn't happen, not anything close."

Trump World

washington post logomelania trump twitterWashington Post, Melania Trump kicks off tour of Africa in Ghana amid questions and criticism, Emily Heil and Mary Jordan, Oct. 2, 2018. Though the first lady’s trip is seen as a gesture of goodwill, it also appears to critics of the Trump administration as out of step with her husband’s policies. Her stops will largely highlight programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, even as the White House has proposed massive cuts to its budget.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump may be overly optimistic on new North American trade deal, analysts say, David J. Lynch and Heather Long, Oct. 2, 2018 (print edition). Some of the gains may be important for individual industries or farmers but may not make much of a difference in the overall economy.

Oct. 1

U.S. Politics

 

Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Dark Money, Director/Producer Kimberly Reed, Oct. 1, 2018 (premiere, 85 mins.). Check local listings. Synopsis: Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials.

The film takes viewers to Montana — a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide — to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Through this gripping story, Dark Money uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. Official Selection, 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

kimberly reed dark money producer claire jonesDirector/Producer Kimberly Reed (shown at right) has had featured work on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, NPR, The Moth and in Details magazine. One of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film," she directed and produced Prodigal Sons, which landed on many best of the year lists, screened at more than 100 film festivals and garnered 14 audience and jury awards, including a FIPRESCI Prize. Reed was recognized as one of Out magazine's "OUT100" and was number one on Towleroad's "Best LGBT Characters of the Film Year" list. She also produced, edited and wrote Paul Goodman Changed My Life and produced The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Reed is a fourth-generation Montanan.

U.S. Supreme Court Battle

washington post logoFBI logoWashington Post, Confusion over limits of FBI inquiry sparks new round of combat over Kavanaugh, Mike DeBonis and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh will focus on two accusers, but the White House says it opposes a “fishing expedition” that could take a broader look at his credibility and behavior.

julie swetnick nbc

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Julie Swetnick speaks about alleged behavior by Judge Kavanaugh, Kate Snow, Oct. 1, 2018 (13:04 min. video). In an exclusive interview with NBC News' Kate Snow, Julie Swetnick describes being attacked at a party that was attended by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

While Swetnick cannot confirm that Brett Kavanaugh was one of her attackers, she does say that she knows both Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were at the party before the attack. NBC News has not been able to independently corroborate Swetnick's claims.

Law & Crime, Legal Experts: New Text Messages Show Kavanaugh Might Have Tampered with Witness, Alberto Luperon, Oct. 1, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that he first heard about the Deborah Ramirez allegation when it was published in The New Yorker on Sept. 23.

nbc news logoThe thing is, one of the judge’s friends provided NBC with texts apparently showing that he knew about the claim before that, and tried to recruit people to defend him.

This report has some lawyers and prominent pundits suggesting this constitutes witness tampering. “And now we are also talking about witness tampering,” wrote Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman, an expert on American courts.

Ramirez, one of Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale, said he drunkenly stuck his penis at her during a party decades ago.

The texts in the NBC story were provided by Kerry Berchem, a partner at the Akin Gump law firm. In the messages, Karen Yarasavage, another Kavanaugh friend, told her that “Brett” asked her to deny Ramirez’s allegation on the record. She also wrote about communicating with “Brett’s guy.”

Above the Law, Akin Gump Partner Is The Woman Who Has Texts That Suggest Kavanaugh Was Trying To Discredit Ramirez Story, Prior To Publication, Elie Mystal, Oct 1, 2018. Kerry deborah ramirez yale croppedBerchem suggests that Kavanaugh may have anticipated Deborah Ramirez's allegations as early as July.

Kerry Berchem is a Yale graduate who was friends with Brett Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez in college.

She claims that Kavanaugh and his team have been trying to get other Yale friends to support him against allegations made by Ramirez, (shown in a college photo) that Kavanaugh drunkenly flashed her while at Yale. She has texts from another friend at Yale, suggesting Kavanaugh personally contacted the friend about Ramirez’s allegations.

Palmer Report, Senate transcript reveals Brett Kavanaugh allegedly raped a woman in the back of a car, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 1, 2018. With the FBI having finally received bill palmerthe green light a few hours ago to conduct an unrestricted investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, we’re now learning that he’s been accused brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookof having raped a woman in the back of a car.

The Senate Judiciary Committee took this accusation seriously enough that it questioned Kavanaugh (shown at left in a prep school yearbook photo) about it during private hearings – and the transcript just surfaced publicly.

The woman in question, whose identity is not known, sent a letter to Senator Kamala Harris, spelling out her accusations. The Senate Judiciary Committee read the letter to Brett Kavanaugh, asking him to respond to it. Here’s the key passage from the woman’s letter. Fair warning, this is sexually explicit and disturbing:

Kavanaugh and a friend offered me a ride home. I don’t know the other boy’s name. I was in his car to go home. His friend was behind me in the backseat. Kavanaugh kissed me forcefully. I told him I only wanted a ride home. Kavanaugh continued to grope me over my clothes, forcing his kisses on me and putting his hand under my sweater. ‘No,’ I yelled at him.

The boy in the backseat reached around, putting his hand over my mouth and holding my arm to keep me in the car. I screamed into his hand. Kavanaugh continued his forcing himself on me. He pulled up my sweater and bra exposing my breasts, and reached into my panties, inserting his fingers into my vagina. My screams were silenced by the boy in the backseat covering my mouth and groping me as well.

Kavanaugh slapped me and told me to be quiet and forced me to perform oral sex on him. He climaxed in my mouth. They forced me to go into the backseat and took turns raping me several times each. They dropped me off two blocks from my home. ‘No one will believe if you tell. Be a good girl,’ he told me.

Brett Kavanaugh’s response, according to the transcript: “Nothing — the whole thing is ridiculous. Nothing ever — anything like that, nothing. I mean, that’s — the whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn’t happen, not anything close.”

This interview took place six days ago, and the transcript was just released today. You can read the entire exchange starting on page thirteen.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Transcript of staff interview with Judge Brett Kavanaugh on allegations of sexual misconduct, Alderson Court Reporting, released on Oct. 1, 2018, dated Sept. 26, 2018 (19 pages with four-page index). 

Roll Call, Mitch McConnell: Brett Kavanaugh Floor Vote This Week, Lex Samuels, Oct 1, 2018.  Majority leader again decries Democrats for delay and obstruction. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is insisting the vote on confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will take place before week’s end.

mitch mcconnell2brett kavanaugh confirmation hearing ticketThe Kentucky Republican, speaking on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, said the Democrats chose to hold the allegations against Kavanaugh “in reserve” in order to derail the nomination.

He spoke about how the Democrats who first received the allegations handled them. He specifically mentioned a law firm with “politically connected lawyers” that McConnell says Democrats advised Kavanaugh’s accuser to hire. Those lawyers are set to hold a fundraiser for Democrats this week, McConnell said.

McConnell continued by expressing doubt that Democrats would be happy with the one-week investigation and that he expects “soon enough the goal-posts will be on the move once again.”

He compared the Democrat’s handling of the allegations to McCarthyism saying, “that they just want to delay this matter past the election.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Elite colleges and a culture of rape, Wayne Madsen, Oct. 1, 2018 (Subscription required; excerpted with permission). The sexual assault allegations brought against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, opens a window into the world of elite schools that do not bear the words "State," "A&M," "Community," or "Prep" in their names. This is a world of privilege, where money and family legacy matter the most.

Kavanaugh testified about his admittance to Yale, "I have no connections there," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee, adding, "I got there by busting my tail." Not exactly. The john kelly 1Yale undergraduate yearbook from 1928 shows that Everett Edward Kavanaugh, Judge Kavanaugh's grandfather, was a Yale graduate.

And sexual assaults of underage girls, like Christine Blasey Ford, were not some "fad" of the 1980s. Our colleague, John Kelly, left, a veteran of NBC News, where he worked with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and CBS News, where he reported on Watergate for Walter Cronkite, brought to our attention his New York Post reports from 1960.

Roll Call, Trump: Democrats in ‘Blind Rage’ to ‘Destroy’ Brett Kavanaugh, John T. Bennett, Oct. 1, 2018. President tries to stave off major Democratic upset in Tennessee.

The president was in Johnson City to try to save the Senate seat being vacated by two-term Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in the Volunteer State by 26 percentage points in 2016, but the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, could well pull off what would be a sizable upset against Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Trade Agreements

washington post logoWashington Post, Canada agrees to join trade accord with U.S. and Mexico, David J. Lynch​, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The move preserves the three-canadian flagcountry format of the original North American Free Trade Agreement favored by business groups and congressional Republicans.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Just Ripped Up Nafta. Here’s What’s in the New Deal, Jim Tankersley, Oct. 1, 2018. Changes for automakers, dairy farmers, labor unions President Donald Trump officialand large corporations headline the renegotiated U.S.M.C.A., which is poised to replace Nafta. Text of the pact, released late Sunday, includes major adjustments in several key areas of the countries’ trading relationships.

For the first time, the new agreement also mandates that an escalating percentage of parts for any tariff-free vehicle — topping out at 40 percent in 2023 — must come from a so-called “high wage” factory. The agreement says those factories must pay a minimum of $16 an hour in average salaries for production workers. That’s about triple the average wage in a Mexican factory right now, and administration officials hope the provision will force automakers to shift suppliers from Mexico to Canada or the United States.

More On Supreme Court Battle

Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s Sham FBI “Investigation” of Kavanaugh, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, Oct. 1, 2018. On the eve of the Senate Judiciary jacob hornberger headshotCommittee’s vote on whether to send President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate for a vote on confirmation, Republican senators agreed to do so on the condition that the FBI conduct a further background investigation of Kavanaugh.

What’s wrong with Trump’s severe limitation on the FBI’s further background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh? It doesn’t permit the FBI to investigate the possibility that Kavanaugh has committed a brand new offense — the offense of perjury, which is a federal felony offense.

Kavanaugh supporters emphasize that he has been the subject of several FBI background checks already. They miss two critically important points:

FBI logoOne, those background checks were conducted before the FBI had any information regarding the sex assault that Ford has accused him of. Two, those background checks were conducted before Kavanaugh’s testimony last Thursday. Why is that important? Because there is the possibility that Kavanaugh committed perjury during his testimony at that hearing.

For some laymen (i.e., non-lawyers) perjury might seem like no big deal and certainly not enough to keep a lawyer or a judge from becoming a Supreme Court justice. As I explain in my article, “Summon Mark Judge to Testify in Kavanaugh Hearing,” to every member of the legal profession perjury is an extremely grave offense, especially for a lawyer or a judge, and a clear justification for disqualifying any lawyer or judge who has committed perjury from serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In fact, as I state in my article, in my opinion that is precisely the reason why the American Bar Association, which has 400,000 members, and the dean of the Yale Law School, where Kavanaugh got his law degree, immediately withdrew their support for his nomination after Ford and Kavanaugh testified until an additional background investigation was conducted.

ny times logoNew York Times, Chad Ludington’s Statement on Kavanaugh’s Drinking and Senate Testimony, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). Chad Ludington, a Yale classmate of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s who said he often drank with him, issued a statement on Sunday saying the Supreme Court nominee was not truthful about his drinking in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week,

Here is the full text of the statement:

I have been contacted by numerous reporters about Brett Kavanaugh and have not wanted to say anything because I had nothing to contribute about what kind of justice he would be. I knew Brett at Yale because I was a classmate and a varsity basketball player and Brett enjoyed socializing with athletes. Indeed, athletes formed the core of Brett’s social circle.

In recent days I have become deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale. When I watched Brett and his wife being interviewed on Fox News on Monday, and when I watched Brett deliver his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, I cringed. For the fact is, at Yale, and I can speak to no other times, Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker. I know, because, especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him.

On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail....

washington post logoWashington Post, In memo, outside prosecutor argues why she would not bring criminal charges against Kavanaugh, Seung Min Kim, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The outside prosecutor Senate Republicans hired to lead the questioning in last week’s hearing about the sexual assault allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh is arguing in a new memo why she would not bring criminal charges against the Supreme Court nominee.

christine blasey ford sept 27 2018In the five-page memo, obtained by the Washington Post, Rachel Mitchell outlines more than half a dozen reasons why she thinks the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, left — who has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a house in suburban Maryland when they were teenagers in the early 1980s — has some key inconsistencies.

“A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that,” Mitchell writes in the memo, sent Sunday night to all Senate Republicans. “Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them.”

rachel mitchell 2011 screenshotMitchell, (shown in a file photo), continued: “For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the [Senate Judiciary] Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.”

The memo is likely to prompt significant pushback from Democratic senators, who have argued that Ford is not on trial and that Kavanaugh is merely interviewing for a job. But the memo is clearly aimed at assuaging the concerns of a handful of GOP senators who are on the fence about whether to vote to confirm Kavanaugh and are considering whose story — Ford’s or Kavanaugh’s — to believe. The FBI is now investigating Ford’s accusations, as well as those of a second woman, Deborah Ramirez.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Prosecutor says Kavanaugh report is what ‘reasonable prosecutor’ would say. It’s not, Deanna Paul, Oct. 1, 2018. Rachel Mitchell said no “reasonable prosecutor” would bring the case. She’s wrong. A fair prosecutor would investigate every lead before reaching that conclusion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Vatican’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints about ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick reveals a lot about the Catholic Church, Michelle Boorstein​, Oct. 1, 2018.  The story behind the four complaints to Rome about the former archbishop of Washington helps explain why the allegations against him remained hidden for so long.

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion: Sex, Lies, and Hypocrisy: Kavanaugh's Glass House, Carl Petersen, Oct. 1, 2018. Much like Dr. Christine Ford, Monica Lewinsky's life was turned upside down by the glare of someone else's spotlight.

While Brett Kavanaugh asserted that engaging in sexual relations with Bill Clinton turned "her life into a shambles," from Lewinsky's point of view it was his boss, Kenneth Starr, "who turned [her] 24-year-old life into a living hell."

Looking back on the 1990s with the experience of the #MeToo era, there are questions that should have been asked about the most powerful man in the world having sexual relations with an employee.

monica lewinsky may 1967Lewinsky, left, has always maintained that the relationship was consensual, but "power imbalances -- and the ability to abuse them -- do exist even when the sex has been consensual." As a society, have we established where the lines are?

Unfortunately, Kavanaugh (shown below right during his snarling Senate confirmation testimony Thursday)did not seem interested in this line of questioning. Instead, he was infatuated with the most unimportant part of the story - the details of the sex acts.

brett kavanaugh nbc cropped sept 27 2018Given this history, one has to wonder what Lindsey Graham was thinking as he bloviated that if Kavanaugh was looking "for a fair process, [then] he came to the wrong town at the wrong time." When does he think that this poisoned, political atmosphere began?

bill clinton wIf the nominee thinks that the "confirmation process has become a national disgrace," how does he feel today about what he put Lewinsky through and what it did to her and her family? If "the idea of going easy on [Clinton, left] at the questioning [was] abhorrent to [him]," his current outrage should be directed at the Republican majority in the Senate.

By not investigating all of the accusations, they are the ones who are avoiding the responsibility of providing informed consent to his lifetime nomination to the highest court in the land.

Of course, this ignores the important distinction between Kavanaugh's apparent obsession with Clinton's sex life and the charges that may derail his assertion to the Supreme Court; if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth, then Kavanaugh acted without consent. This alleged attempted rape represents "callous and disgusting behavior that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Small men throwing tantrums, Bill Palmer, Oct. 1, 2018. The two-bit con artist who’s never been made to answer for it. The snot nosed frat boy who’s spent his life taking things without asking. The committee chairman who’s spent his career being a bully while hiding behind rules of order. The Senator who’s got something going wrong in his life and wants to take it out on the rest of us. The political party that isn’t accustomed to getting outmaneuvered. These types have always been in charge, and they’ve always more or less done what they wanted – until now.

republican elephant logoDonald Trump and his Republican Party are being forced to have the FBI investigate their own Supreme Court nominee, because they were arrogant enough to think they could ram through a deeply scandalous candidate to begin with, and because the Democratic Party outflanked them at every step of the way, and because women in general have simply had enough of this patriarchy crap.

So now these small men are screaming, yelling, crying, and making threats they can’t carry out, because they’ve finally been forced to take “no” for an answer, and it’s not a feeling they’ve ever felt before.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid fight over Kavanaugh, annual Red Mass for Supreme Court skips the politics, Julie Zauzmer, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has touted his Catholic faith throughout his nomination hearings, was not spotted at the annual service.

As the nation focuses on the bitter fight over Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, Washington’s Catholic cathedral held its annual Red Mass honoring Supreme Court justices and the judiciary on Sunday — with nary a word about the debate over whether to confirm President Trump’s pick.

brett kavanaugh zina bash c span sept 2018Kavanaugh (shown at right) has touted his Catholic faith throughout his nomination hearings, including on Thursday when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to an allegation that he sexually assaulted a high school classmate in the early 1980s. But Kavanaugh, who was invited to the Mass as a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was not spotted in the pews.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, another figure of controversy at the moment, was also absent from the special Mass that he would typically lead.

Instead, Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville celebrated the Mass in the ornate St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and Monsignor Peter Vaghi preached a homily that focused on the Holy Spirit and on the Declaration of Independence.

“Could there not be a better time, both in our church and our nation, to benefit from the healing power of the Holy Spirit?” Vaghi said in his only nod to current controversies. “It is a power that treats the anger and divisions that so need the healing touch of our God if we are to continue our respective missions with love, genuine love for each other, and effectiveness.”

Each year, the cathedral hosts the Red Mass, named for the red garments that clergy wear in attendance at the start of the Supreme Court’s fall term. Supreme Court justices, local judges, and members of Congress and the Cabinet regularly attend. At this year’s Mass, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer attended, along with Anthony M. Kennedy, whose retirement from the court created the vacancy that Trump nominated Kavanaugh to fill.

U.S. Politics

jason kander flag photo SmallHuffPost, Jason Kander Withdraws From Kansas City Mayor’s Race, Citing Depression, Sam Levine, Oct. 2, 2018. The Army veteran, right, said he had long ignored working on his mental health.

Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, announced Tuesday he was ending his campaign for Kansas City mayor to deal with depression and symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Kander, a 37-year-old Army veteran, made the announcement in a statement in which he revealed he still had nightmares and was afraid to confront the possibility he had PTSD. But recently, Kander wrote, he knew he had to deal with his symptoms. When he found out last week he had set a fundraising record for a Kansas City mayoral campaign, he said he wound up on the Veterans Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line discussing his suicidal thoughts.

“Instead of dealing with these issues, I’ve always tried to find a way around them. Most recently, I thought that if I could come home and work for the city I love so much as its mayor, I could finally solve my problems,” he wrote. “After 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it’s faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it.”

Media: Part I

bob woodward fear trump in the white houseMidnight Writer News, Investigative Commentary: Bob Woodward, Al Haig, and the Confirmation of Deep History, S.T. Patrick, Oct. 1, 2018. Bob Woodward’s newest book, Fear: Trump in the White House, stands atop the New York Times Bestseller list for Hardcover Non-Fiction.

Woodward skeptics and Watergate revisionists still question Woodward’s monarchical hold on modern journalism and publishing. In this issue, contributing editor S.T. Patrick continues a series that will spotlight the questionable tactics and little-known fallacies of Bob Woodward’s journalistic career. This is part two in the series.

* * * * *

On March 6, 1989, would-be authors Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin sat with The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward in preparation for what would be their upcoming book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (1991). Woodward and co-author Carl Bernstein had written what establishment historians and educators considered the two books of record on the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency: All the President’s Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976). Both would be made into films.

On this day, however, Colodny and Gettlin had confirmed information that would turn the Watergate story – and Woodward’s role in it – on its head.

len colodny silent coup coverWoodward verified that he had worked at the Pentagon as a communications officer. This was already in contrast with the book and film notion of Woodward as a bottom-rung hoofer who was fighting his way up the journalistic ladder at The Post. The film created the legend that all Woodward had done was to write about the lack of cleanliness in local restaurants. When the editors debated the oncoming storm of Watergate reporting, it was in an effort to decide if Woodward was even qualified to write such a consequential story. In reality, he was, and the editors knew it.

Woodward denied to Gettlin that he had any other function at the Pentagon beyond once being a communications watch officer. Gettlin then asked if Woodward had ever done “any briefings of people”?

“Never! … And I defy you to produce somebody who says I did a briefing. It’s just… it’s not true,” Woodward responded.

alexander haig generalThe conversation turned to Gen. Alexander Haig, who had become Nixon’s chief of staff upon the urged resignation of H.R. Haldeman.

Tim Weiner, upon Haig’s death in 2010, wrote in The New York Times that Haig, right, had been the “acting president” while Nixon was pre-occupied with Watergate.

Haig biographer Roger Morris wrote that President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon was also a de facto pardon of Haig, as well. Haig had played an important role in the transition from Nixon to Ford, and had even been one of the most instrumental voices privately encouraging Nixon’s resignation.

The conversation turned to Gen. Alexander Haig, who had become Nixon’s chief of staff upon the urged resignation of H.R. Haldeman.

Tim Weiner, upon Haig’s death in 2010, wrote in The New York Times that Haig, right, had been the “acting president” while Nixon was pre-occupied with Watergate.

Haig biographer Roger Morris wrote that President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon was also a de facto pardon of Haig, as well. Haig had played an important role in the transition from Nixon to Ford, and had even been one of the most instrumental voices privately encouraging Nixon’s resignation.

alexander haig portraitIf Haig (shown also in his portrait as Secretary of State in the early 1980s) had a previous working relationship with Woodward, and if Woodward’s stories were contradictory to the Nixon administration’s best interests, then the relationship and roles of both Woodward and Haig in relation to Nixon’s fall demanded examination.

“I never met or talked to Haig until some time in the spring of ’73,” Woodward responded. That Woodward had never done briefings, had never been a briefing officer, and had never met Haig until 1973 were ideas that sources “in a position to know,” as Gettlin called them in the interview, contradicted.

Lest someone assume that Colodny and Gettlin’s sources on Woodward were journalistic rivals or disenfranchised victims made unemployable by Watergate’s political aftermath, they were not. And unlike Woodward’s most notable sources, they were not kept hidden under “deep background.”

Colodny and Gettlin’s confirmation came from Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, Melvin Laird, and Jerry Friedheim, all of who can be read and heard on “Watergate.com.”

Supreme Court Begins Term

supreme court building

SCOTUSblog, Justices officially return from summer recess, issue orders from long conference, Amy Howe, Oct. 1, 2018 (Visit SCOTUSblog for full coverage with links). The eight justices of the Supreme Court returned to the bench today to hear oral arguments in the first cases of their new term. But before they did so, they issued an extensive (75 pages) list of orders from last Monday’s “long conference” – their first conference since their summer recess began in late June.

The justices issued grants from the conference last Thursday. Today’s orders consisted primarily of denials of review and requests for the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in on several cases.

The justices apparently did not act on two of the highest-profile cases on the list for last week’s conference, which involve a challenge to a Latin cross, located on public land in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, commemorating soldiers who died in World War I. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the cross violates the Constitution’s establishment clause; the justices have been asked to review that ruling.

Feds Fight Net Neutrality

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. to sue California to block new net neutrality law, Tony Romm and Brian Fung​, Oct. 1, 2018 (print edition). The tech-heavy state on Sunday adopted its own rules requiring Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally.

Syrian War

state dept map logo Small

washington post logosyrian flag wavingWashington Post, In Syria, Trump administration takes on new goal: Iranian retreat, Missy Ryan, Paul Sonne and John Hudson, Sept. 30, 2018. The Trump administration has opened a new chapter in American involvement in Syria, vowing to remain until the civil war’s conclusion in a bid to halt Iran’s expansion across the Middle East.

American FlagThe vision articulated last week by senior U.S. officials marks a dramatic reversal six months after President Trump said he would pull American troops out of Syria and end U.S. involvement in a conflict that has killed at least half a million people and confounded two administrations.

James Jeffrey, the State Department’s special representative for Syria, said the United States would maintain a presence in the country, possibly including an extended military mission, until Iran withdraws the soldiers and militia forces it commands. U.S. officials expect that possible outcome only after world powers broker a deal ending the war.

SouthFront, Analysis: Upgraded Syrian Air Defense System Will Be Fully Centralized: Russian Official, Staff report, Oct. 1, 2018. The upgdraded Syrian air defense system will be centralized and controlled by one controller, according to Viktor Bondarev, the chairman of the Russian parliament’s upper house Defense and Security Committee.

russian flagBondarev added that the united Syrian air defense system will be established after the S-300 system will be delivered to the country’s military. This, according to Bondarev, will allow to boost security of Russian troops in the war-torn country and to prevent IL-20-like incidents.

Reader Commnent: S. Melanson: There has been a lot of debate about the implications of the Russian response to the downing of the IL-20 and loss of 15 Russian personnel. This is my take on the implications.

First and foremost, the MoD [Russian Ministry of Defense] blamed Israel from day one and has provided a string of statements hostile to Israel in contrast to Putin's initial conciliatory approach. The hard line taken towards Israel has clearly prevailed with the MoD controlling the narrative with regular announcements by Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, on retaliatory steps. It also appears the MoD is making the determination of what retaliatory measures are to be taken.

The key retaliation measures include:

Establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria and Syrian territorial waters - applies to any hostile aircraft regardless of nationality - measures to implement the no fly zone are as follows:

  • syrian flag wavingSyria gets S-300 Systems
  • Syria gets additional state of the art short and medium range air defense systems
  • Enhanced management systems that had only been available to the Russian military
  • Centralized Russian and Syrian systems will be integrated and work together to establish no-fly zone

Implications to consider:

Israel FlagClearly, we are witnessing the establishment of a formidable air defense system in Syria that presents a highly credible deterrent to would-be aggressors. The Russians are making it very clear that any aircraft that take hostile actions towards Syria do so at their own peril. Israel has stated they will continue striking Syria as before.

Conclusion: Israel and Russia are presently on a collision course and when they collide, all hell will break loose.

Media News

cbs logo

oenearthlogoOpEdNews, Opinion:How the American Media Was Destroyed, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 1, 2018. In my September 24 column, "Truth Is Evaporating Before Our Eyes," I used the destruction of the CBS news team that broke the Abu Ghraib story and the story of President George W. Bush's non-performance of his Texas Air Force National Guard duties to demonstrate how accusations alone could destroy a Peabody Award-winning, 26-year veteran producer of CBS News, Mary Mapes, and the established news dan rather new portraitanchor Dan Rather, right.

Until I read Mary Mapes's book, Truth and Duty (St. Martin's Press, 2005), I was unaware of how this monopolization of the media in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and American tradition had proceeded to destroy honest reporting.

Here is what happened.

The Texas Air National Guard was a place the elite placed their sons to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Copies of documents written by Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian describing George W. Bush's ability to jump the large waiting list hoping to avoid the war, Bush's non-compliance with National Guard requirements and Bush's unauthorized departure to another state were given to CBS.

The CBS team worked for many months to confirm or discredit the documents. The information in the documents proved to be consistent with the interviews of people acquainted with George W. Bush's time in the Texas National Guard. It was a carefully prepared story, not a rushed one, and it fits all the information we now have of Bush's non-performance.

george w. bush wThe problem for the CBS news team, which might not have been realized at the time, was that the documents were copies, not originals that experts could authenticate as real beyond question. Therefore, although the documents were consistent with the testimony of others, no expert could validate the documents as they could originals.

The Republicans seized on this chink in the armor to turn the issue away from the truthfulness of the CBS 60 Minutes report to whether or not the copies were fakes.

CBS had two other problems. One was that Viacom, its owner, was not in the news business, but in the lobbying business in Washington -- wanting to enrich the company with legislative perks and regulatory permissions. Truthful news from CBS, exposing US torture in the face of the Bush regime's denials and showing that Bush (shown above at left) was too privileged to be held accountable by the Texas National Guard, was damaging Viacom's highly paid lobbying effort.

les moonvesTruth in America is being exterminated, and the destruction of CBS news was the starting point. As Mary Mapes reports in her book, as soon as Viacom was entirely rid of 60 Minutes with the firing of the entire staff, on the very next day Viacom held a triumphant annual investor meeting. Chairman Sumner Redstone was awarded a $56 million paycheck for 2004. Chief operating officers, Les Moonves, right, and Tom Freston "each pocketed a whoopping fifty-two million for the year."

Mapes writes: "Just a few years ago, this kind of corporate executive largesse was unherd of. Now, these media Masters of the Universe have taken over the public airwares and they have one obligation: making a profit." Ever a larger one, which requires protecting the government and the corporate advertisers from investigative reporting. The consequence today is that the American media is totally unreliable.