News Digest For Saturday, April 21, 2018


“This president is not in command of himself. He’s obsessed with his own problems. He seethes with rage and resentment for all the world to view—and those emotions are visibly distorting his decision-making.” @davidfrum on a president unfit to command:

Reading aloud to young children has benefits for behavior and attention

The New York Times
Perri Klass

It’s a truism in child development that the very young learn through relationships and back-and-forth interactions, including the interactions that occur when parents read to their children. A new study provides evidence of just how sustained an impact reading and playing with young children can have, shaping their social and emotional development in ways that go far beyond helping them learn language and early literacy skills. The parent-child-book moment even has the potential to help curb problem behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention, a new study has found.

The researchers, many of whom are my friends and colleagues, showed that an intervention, based in pediatric primary care, to promote parents reading aloud and playing with their young children could have a sustained impact on children’s behavior.

Michael Cohen has said he would take a bullet for Trump. Maybe not anymore.

The New York Times
Maggie Haberman, Sharon LaFraniere, and Danny Hakim

For years, a joke among Trump Tower employees was that the boss was like Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the traffic goes only one way.

That one-sidedness has always been at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump. For years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with their relationship.

Now, for the first time, the traffic may be going Mr. Cohen’s way. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials who are investigating him for activity that could relate, at least in part, to work he did for Mr. Trump.

President Trump: Don’t let history repeat itself

Republicans For the Rule Of Law

Firing Mueller, Rosenstein or Sessions would be a fundamental blow to the rule of law in the United States. Trump should learn a lesson from President Richard Nixon, who in 1973 fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor investigating Watergate, in an attempt to curb or end that investigation. Instead, that move marked the beginning of the end of Nixon’s presidency. An assault on the Mueller investigation would have the same disastrous outcome for Trump.

‘Imploding’: Financial troubles. Lawsuits. Trailer park brawls. Has the alt-right peaked?

The Washington Post
Terrance McCoy

Eight months after a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville ended in the death of a counterprotester, the loose collection of disaffected young white men known as the alt-right is in disarray.

The problems have been mounting: lawsuits and arrests, fundraising difficulties, tepid recruitment, widespread infighting, fierce counterprotests, and banishment from social media platforms. Taken together, they’ve exhausted even some of the staunchest members.

One of the movement’s biggest groups, the Traditionalist Worker Party, dissolved in March. Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer, the largest alt-right website, has gone into hiding, chased by a harassment lawsuit. And Richard Spencer, the alt-right’s most public figure, canceled a college speaking tour and was abandoned by his attorney last month.

Lobbyist whose wife rented to Pruitt lobbied EPA despite denials

Theodoric Meyer and Eliana Johnson

The prominent lobbyist whose wife rented a condominium to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt lobbied the agency while Pruitt was leading it, contrary to his and Pruitt’s public denials that he had any business before the agency, according to a Friday filing by his firm.

The disclosure from the lobbying firm Williams & Jensen contradicts Pruitt’s public statement last month that the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, had no clients with business before the EPA, and comes hours after Hart’s resignation from the firm.

It’s the latest blow to Pruitt, whose job is already in jeopardy because of multiple investigations into his stewardship of the agency, ranging from spending on a 20-person security team and first-class travel to the installation of costly office furniture and a soundproof phone booth. The Government Accountability Office said earlier this week that the purchase of the booth, which cost $43,000, violated federal law.

News Digest For Friday, April 20, 2018

Paul Krugman on Twitter –

As Republicans in Congress line up to help Trump obstruct justice, think for a minute about what is going on, and what it says about the state of the GOP. These guys are hacks and apparatchiks, most of whom know nothing about policy. But they’re not idiots.

Surely the vast majority of Republicans in Congress have privately reached the same conclusions as anyone reading the news: Trump is deeply corrupt, his campaign colluded with a foreign power, and he may well be subject to blackmail that is shaping US policy.

But they’re running cover for him anyway — with not one serious dissenter. So we’re looking at a whole party so addicted to power, so determined to serve donors’ interests, that it’s essentially willing to condone treason. Trump is a symptom of a much deeper rot.

I’ve been cynical about the state of conservatism for a long time, but even I find it hard to wrap my mind around this — not to mention the corruption of conservative media, evangelicals, and more. With this much rot, you really do wonder how the republic survives.

Democratic Party files lawsuit alleging Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks conspired to disrupt the 2016 campaign

The Washington Post
Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Ellen Nakashima

The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

The case asserts that the Russian hacking campaign — combined with Trump associates’ contacts with Russia and the campaign’s public cheerleading of the hacks — amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the election that caused serious damage to the Democratic Party.

More than 206,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine

The Washington Post
John Woodrow Cox, Steven Rich, Allyson Chiu, John Muyskens, and Monica Ulmanu

The Washington Post has spent the past year determining how many children have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the Columbine High massacre in 1999.

Beyond the dead and wounded, children who witness the violence or cower behind locked doors to hide from it can be profoundly traumatized.

The federal government does not track school shootings, so The Post pieced together its numbers from news articles, open-source databases, law enforcement reports and calls to schools and police departments.

The children impacted grew with each round of reporting: from 135,000 students in at least 164 primary and secondary schools to more than 187,000 on 193 campuses.

Since March, The Post has taken a closer look at states with fewer local news sources and searched more deeply for less visible public suicides and accidents that led to injury.

The count now stands at more than 206,000 children at 211 schools.

Why were Republicans so desperate to release the embarrassing Comey memos? Here is one explanation.

Jeremy Stahl

On Thursday, the Department of Justice handed James Comey’s contemporaneous memos of his conversations with President Donald Trump over to Congress. They were immediately revealed to the press.

Some House Republicans had gone so far as to threaten Rosenstein with impeachment if he didn’t release the memos. (His reason for not wanting to do so seems to have been a legitimate desire not to break long-standing protocol by revealing the details of an ongoing investigation.)

Since the start of the year—but particularly since the start of the book tour—Republicans have suggested that the memos Comey had leaked were actually classified documents and that he had perjured himself about this in Senate testimony.

It seems that the memos released prove the exact opposite: The apparently leaked documents were never and still aren’t classified.

November 7, 2018

The Weekly Standard
William Kristol

Political observers are understandably focused on November 6, 2018—Election Day. What happens then will be important for the next couple of years: a Democratic wave, carrying that party to control of the House for the first time since 2010, and perhaps even to a majority in the Senate? A strong Republican showing, in which Donald Trump again surprises the experts? A mixed result? And what of the governors and state legislatures?

The outcome of the 2018 electoral contests will have consequences on matters ranging from public policy to the possibility of impeachment. There will be other political implications too, for example for redistricting after the 2020 census. And, of course, new and rising stars will emerge, and others formerly on the ascendant will fall.

But there’s reason to look ahead as well to the first Wednesday in November. On Wednesday, November 7, the two-year presidential cycle begins in earnest and will quickly come to dominate the conversation.

Much of the attention will turn to the mad scramble for the Democratic nomination. But it will also mark a new moment and a potential inflection point for Republicans.

Behind James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty’

Benjamin Wittes

One of the inherent features of no-win situations is that someone loses. Colleagues may understand what you did because they trust you. If you’re lucky, so may your boss. But when something terrible happens, the public will need to assign blame. This is inevitable, and assuming that burden is part of leadership.

Comey will, I suspect, spend the rest of his life answering questions about why he did what he did during the 2016 election cycle. In many respects, I don’t consider that a problem.

But in one critical respect, it is a problem.

Our collective focus on the Comey question erodes our focus on the crisis before us. It makes complicated what is not complicated—as the reaction to Comey’s book vividly illustrates.

News Digest for Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bill Maher on Real Time With Bill Maher, Friday, April 13, 2018: I don’t know what’s happening, but obviously we’re bombing Syria. What I think this guy (Donald Trump) might be doing, I don’t put it past him that he might try to start a war, and mix it up with Russia just so he can say, “See, there was no collusion.”

Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost

Washington Post
Greg Jaffe, John Hudson, and Philip Rucker

It is well known that Donald Trump disdains details. He only wants to be told the broad picture and quickly becomes bored when too much information is talked about.

When Trump agreed to expel 60 Russian diplomats, he only did so because he was reassured by his aides that our European allies would be expelling roughly the same number from their countries.

“We’ll match their numbers,” Trump instructed, according to a senior administration official. “We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”

The next day, when the expulsions were announced publicly, Trump erupted, officials said. To his shock and dismay, France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials — far fewer than the 60 his administration had decided on.

As his aides attempted to explain to him that the US had roughly matched the total of European expulsions, he grew more agitated.

“I don’t care about the total!” the administration official recalled Trump screaming. Trump insisted that his aides had misled him about the magnitude of the expulsions. “There were curse words,” the official said, “a lot of curse words.”

Trump order targets wide swath of public assistance programs

The Hill
Nathaniel Weixel

Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order that was quietly issued last week. The order seeks to completely revamp the country’s social safety net, targeting recipients of Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance.

It calls on the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and other agencies across the federal government to craft new rules requiring that beneficiaries of a host of programs work or lose their benefits.

Welfare reform has long been a goal of GOP lawmakers, and there’s broad support in the Republican conference for changing the federal safety net to impose stricter work requirements and block grant state funding for programs like Medicaid and food stamps.

Massive Egg Recall for Salmonella Affects Walmart, Waffle House

MSN Lifestyle
Elizabeth Licata

More than 200 million eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Indiana have been recalled this weekend over fears of salmonella.

According to a statement from the FDA, Rose Acre issued the recall after officials traced multiple illnesses back to eggs produced at the company’s facility in North Carolina. Some 22 people have reportedly been sickened with salmonella; no deaths have been reported.

Affected eggs were sold under multiple brand names, including Country Daybreak, Coburn Farms, Crystal Farms, Sunshine Farms, and Glenview. Eggs affected by the recall were sold to grocery stores and restaurants in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Some of the eggs were sold to Walmart and the Food Lion grocery chain, and some also reportedly went to Waffle House. Click here to see a full list of eggs affected by the recall. But here’s a quick tip: All of the eggs that were recalled were white. So if you bought brown eggs, there’s no need to check — your eggs are safe!

Avoid Eating Romaine Lettuce Again, Consumer Reports Says

Consumer Reports
Jesse Hirsch

A new outbreak of E. coli in 11 states has been linked by government investigators to bagged, chopped romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Ariz. Consumer Reports is recommending—for the second time since January—that consumers avoid all romaine lettuce for now.

Consumer Reports’ advice goes beyond that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is recommending that consumers buy or order bagged romaine lettuce at a supermarket or restaurant only after confirming that it didn’t originate in the Yuma growing region. Investigators haven’t pointed to any particular romaine suppliers or growers, but many domestic greens are grown in the Yuma region at this time of year.

The CDC also advises that if you’ve purchased bagged, chopped romaine lettuce—including salads and salad mixes containing romaine—you should throw it away immediately.

The 411 on the 414 area code

Andy Tarnoff

Milwaukeeans love our 414, the area code covering the city, the county and parts of Muskego and Brookfield, and it’s been around forever.

Actually, forever only extends back to 1947, when Bell Telephone established our iconic area code, along with 715, in Wisconsin. The goal back then was to standardize long-distance calls and to remove the switchboard operator from having to manually connect people across systems with patch cords.

But why did they pick 414?

The exact answer isn’t totally clear, but we have some clues.

Prime Members can save big on low-end Kindles

Paul Thurrott

Amazon is offering big discounts on its entry-level Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite e-book readers to Prime members.

It’s not clear how long these prices will last. Or whether this is a hint that the devices, which are both years-old, are about to be updated. But given how expensive the higher-end Kindles are—the Oasis is still a whopping $250 and up—these low-end models look even more attractive than usual now.

Trump’s miserable crew has never been so desperate

The Washington Post
Joe Scarborough

These are desperate times for the quislings of Trump. The cost of collaborating with President Trump in the continued debasement of American democracy is becoming far too high. Fifteen months into his presidency, Trump has seen a national security adviser, a former campaign chairman, a foreign policy adviser and another high-ranking campaign official face charges of serious crimes. This Last week, the president must have felt the walls closing in even more tightly around him when FBI agents searched the home, office and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, whom associates call Trump’s “fixer.”

The president’s response to the Michael Cohen search, duly authorized by an independent federal judge, was to reflexively trash law-enforcement officers, undermine the rule of law and slander a Vietnam War hero who has committed his adult life to the service of America. By now, of course, few should be surprised by the depths to which Trump sinks when attacking law enforcement personnel. But this last week provided insight into just how desperate Trump and his courtiers have become in their defenses of an indefensible administration. The president promoted a Fox News show via Twitter that starred a steady stream of sycophants who slandered special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump’s strikes on Syria risk retaliation, escalation in a war he wants to avoid

The Washington Post
Paul Sonne

Last week, President Trump promised to withdraw from Syria. This week, he opened a new front against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad that risks drawing the United States into a broader conflict there.

By attacking Assad late Friday, the Trump administration says it sought to warn the Syrian leader against what Western nations said was his use of illegal chemical warfare agents, following the gassing of civilians near Damascus last weekend.

The administration calculated that the need to send a signal to Assad over chemical weapons outweighed the possibility of provoking a response from his allies, Russia or Iran, on the battlefield in Syria, elsewhere in the Middle East or even in cyberspace.

The risk, analysts say, is that the United States would then end up in a cycle of escalation that entangles the American military more deeply in the Syrian conflict than the administration intended.