Paul Krugman: The Silence of the Hacks (NY Times)
Is subversion in the defense of tax cuts no vice? (TPM)
Even Republicans, who have been remarkably willing to give Trump a pass on virtually anything as long as he will sign key legislation, have been unable to ignore this. This is no 'political assassination'. That is a ridiculous and preposterous claim. The facts we are learning speak for themselves. When leaks are this damaging and this tied to the fundamental operations of government, it's not about the leaks or the motives. It's about what we're learning and what we need to know.
Josh Marshall: "About 'the Press Conference'" (TPM)
This man is not emotionally or characterologically equipped to serve as President. He lacks the focus, the ability to commit to even a passable amount of work without immediate emotional gratification. … Trump lacks the emotional resilience or toughness to deal with what is the inevitable criticism and difficulties of being President, which - let's be clear - are great.
S.V. Date: Trump Blames Media, Judges, Democrats In Chaos Theory Tour-De-Force (Huffington Post)
And, as is typical with Trump, he maintained a loose grasp on actual facts.
Ed Mazza: Scarier Than 'Psycho': Twitter Erupts Over Trump's 'Bats**t' Press Conference (Huffington Post)
What just happened?
Fred Kaplan: Trump's Public Humiliation (Slate)
By rejecting the national security adviser job, Robert Harward gave cover to every professional who wants to turn the president down.
Devon Ivie: Lena Dunham Defends Taylor Swift's Lack of Political Talk During the 2016 Election (Vulture)
She's been in the public eye since she was 15. I felt young when my career started and I was 23, 24. When I met her, she was newly 22, and she was a fucking seasoned pro at this stuff. Watching the way that she understands the vicissitudes of the cycle, and she just keeps making her work - that's just really impressive to me. That's how I hope to live my life, which is not as a slave to public opinion, but just as somebody who continues to make things. She's truly just an artist who has to make things to survive.
Tom Danehy: Tom reflects on Tucson drivers and the hazards of Old Pueblo rush-hour traffic (Tucson Weekly)
Alas, our beloved Tucson's idea of rhythm is Elaine Benes dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire on Seinfeld. Tucson traffic is an un-glorious, unholy mess. Everybody drives like they did back where they just came from, making those of us who have been here a long time wish that they would go back.
Garrison Keillor: Driving into the storm (Washington Post)
The faces on the TV screen talked about politics, but none of it matters unless you love this world and the people you find in it. … Love is here, love is there, love is drifting through the air. And the people in these lovely little towns, how are they doing tonight? Do they have medical insurance? Can they afford to go to the movies? Do their kids learn poetry in school?
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Michelle in AZ
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from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
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HOW IN THE HELL DID IT ALL START?
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In The Chaos Household
Heckuva rain storm with big winds all day.
Democrats are criticizing the FBI over its refusal to discuss potential contacts between Russian officials and associates of President Donald Trump, saying the bureau's tight-lipped approach and its public disclosures about Hillary Clinton's emails during the fractious election campaign reflect a double standard.
While distinctions between the two matters could help explain why they're being treated differently, critics of the FBI's approach say Director James Comey set a precedent with his unusually public accounting of the Clinton email case that roiled the final stretch of the presidential race. Congressional Democrats and former Clinton aides who seethed at the FBI's actions last year say they're upset that a law enforcement organization that so publicly discussed one probe didn't even hint at the existence of another.
Comey's approach of not discussing any of the FBI's work related to Trump associates and Russia - which has included an interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn - hews closely to the bureau's "by-the-book" protocol, but it deviates significantly from how the Clinton case was handled, said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon, a former Justice Department press official.
"Once he has crossed the threshold of holding a press conference to publicly editorialize on her email arrangement, it then became untenable for him to retreat back to the norms and protocols that normally apply with respect to Trump," Fallon said.
Now, amid reports of the FBI's ongoing Russia inquiries, tensions have risen over the paucity of public information.
'The Enemy Of The American People'?
President Trump posted an inflammatory tweet Friday calling the news media "the enemy of the American People."
"The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he declared from South Florida, where he is staying for the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
He had previously tweeted, and quickly deleted, a similar message, which read: "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!"
The new post included more mainstream news organizations.
Both Trump and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, have taken to referring to the press as "the opposition party."
Part Of Sunken 'Lost Continent'
New Zealand sits atop a previously unknown continent -- mostly submerged beneath the South Pacific -- that should be recognised with the name Zealandia, scientists said Friday.
Researchers said Zealandia was a distinct geological entity and met all the criteria applied to Earth's seven other continents -- elevation above the surrounding area, distinctive geology, a well-defined area and a crust much thicker than that found on the ocean floor.
In a paper published in the Geological Society of America's Journal, GSA Today, they said Zealandia measured five million square kilometre (1.9 million square miles) and was 94 percent underwater.
The paper's authors said it had only three major landmasses, New Zealand's North and South Islands to the south, and New Caledonia to the north.
The scientists, mostly from the official New Zealand research body GNS Science, said Zealandia was once part of the Gondwana super-continent but broke away about 100 million years ago.
Sheds Manhattan-Sized iceberg
An iceberg the size of Manhattan has cleaved off of Antarctica's rapidly melting Pine Island Glacier on the southwest coast of the continent. NASA released the new data showing the iceberg's birth on Feb. 15, though the imagery was acquired between Jan. 26 and Jan. 31.
The agency says "about a kilometer or two of ice" broke off the glacier's floating ice shelf during this period, making it a large iceberg but comparitively small in the recent history of this particular area.
According to Ian Howat, a glaciologist at Ohio State University, the event was about 10 times smaller than the chunk of ice that broke off the same glacier in July 2015, when a 20-mile, or 30-kilometer, rift developed and calved an iceberg spanning 225 square miles.
Despite its relatively small size, the new iceberg continues to point to the increasing instability of this glacier in particular, and is another warning sign regarding the fate of the much larger and more consequential West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
The Pine Island Glacier ends in a floating ice shelf which buttresses the land-based ice behind it. The new iceberg broke off this floating section, which means it by itself will not add to sea level rise.
Robot Shows Reactor Cleanup
Robot probes sent to one of Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactors have suggested worse-than-anticipated challenges for the plant's ongoing cleanup.
The plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the remote-controlled "scorpion" robot was sent into the Unit 2 reactor's containment vessel Thursday to investigate the area around the core that had melted six years ago, but its crawling function failed while climbing over highly radioactive debris.
The robot, carrying a dosimeter, thermometer and two small cameras, transmitted some data and visuals but could not locate melted fuel - key information to determine how to remove debris out of the reactor. The robot was abandoned inside the vessel at a location where it won't block a future probe.
Preliminary examinations over the past few weeks have detected structural damage to planned robot routes and higher-than-expected radiation inside the Unit 2 containment chamber, suggesting the need to revise robot designs and probes.
Similar probes are being planned for the two other melted reactors. A tiny waterproof robot that can go underwater will be sent to Unit 1 in coming weeks, but experts haven't figured out a way to access badly torn Unit 3.
Bridge Case Can Proceed
A New Jersey judge ruled for the second time that a criminal complaint against Gov. Chris Christie (R-Corrupt) can go forward, saying Thursday there's probable cause to believe he knew lane closings at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 were more than just a routine traffic study.
Applause erupted in Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady's courtroom when he said there was probable cause to charge the Republican with official misconduct for failing to act to stop the lane closures and subsequent gridlock, part of an alleged political retribution scheme against a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.
There is "probable cause to believe the governor knew this was more than just an ordinary and productive traffic study and the consequences were upsetting to the mayor of Fort Lee," McGeady said. The judge set a March 10 date for Christie to answer the criminal summons, though it's unclear if he will have to appear in person.
Christie's office called McGeady's ruling "a complete non-event" and said that he ignored a previous ruling that finding probable cause was flawed. Neither Christie nor his attorney attended the second probable cause hearing two weeks ago or Thursday's hearing.
The misconduct complaint was filed last fall by William Brennan, a retired firefighter who has mounted a campaign for governor. Last fall, McGeady issued a finding of probable cause, but a higher court sent the case back to him after ruling Christie should have been represented at the initial hearing and Brennan should have been subject to cross-examination.
Judge Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit
A federal judge in Massachusetts on Thursday dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Bill Cosby by an actress who claimed he raped her, ruling that the comedian acted within his rights when he proclaimed himself innocent of the crime.
The civil lawsuit is one of a slew of cases brought against the actor, best known for playing the father in the 1980s television hit "The Cosby Show," by about 50 women who say he sexually assaulted them, often after plying them with drugs and alcohol, in a series of alleged attacks dating back decades.
The vast bulk of the claims are too old to be the subject of a criminal prosecution, though Cosby is also awaiting trial in Pennsylvania on charges he sexually assaulted a former basketball coach at his alma mater, Temple University.
U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni wrote on Thursday that accuser Katherine Mae McKee had not demonstrated that Cosby defamed her simply by denying her claims, made in an interview with the New York Daily News.
Rules Against Florist
Washington Supreme Court
The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding broke the state's antidiscrimination law, even though she claimed doing so would violate her religious beliefs.
A lower court had fined Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Richland, Washington, for denying service to a gay couple in 2013, and ordered her to pay a $1,000 fine.
Stutzman argued that she was exercising her First Amendment rights. But the court held that her floral arrangements do not constitute protected free speech, and that providing flowers to a same-sex wedding would not serve as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
"As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism," the opinion said.
Stutzman had previously sold the couple flowers and knew they were gay. However, Stutzman told them that she couldn't provide flowers for their wedding because same-sex marriage was incompatible with her Christian beliefs.
Washington Supreme Court
Century II Pens
It didn't take long for President Donald Trump (R-Grifter) to start running out of the custom-made Cross pens he uses to sign executive orders.
"I think we're going to need some more pens, by the way," he said on Inauguration Day four weeks ago. Trump was handing them out as souvenirs for members of Congress who attended his first signing ceremony, joking to the lawmakers that "the government is getting stingy, right?"
The White House expected its latest batch of 350 of the gold-plated pens by Friday. They were shipped Wednesday by the 170-year-old New England company that has supplied its fancy pens to at least seven U.S. presidents. But Trump might be the first to make brandishing a pen and showing off each newly signed order such a definitive part of his governing style.
Cross pens have been supplied to presidents at least since the Gerald Ford administration, said Boss, whose great-grandfather bought the writing instruments manufacturer a century ago. The company, sold to a private equity firm in 2013, was once a major Rhode Island employer but now makes most of its pens in China. It still tries to put an American imprint on the presidential pens, which are lacquered and engraved in China but go through their final assembly in Rhode Island using a mix of domestic and foreign parts.
President Barack Obama used the company's pricier Townsend model to sign the Affordable Care Act in 2010 but later switched to the slimmer Century II, the same felt-tipped model wielded by Trump when he signed an action last month expressing his intent to repeal Obama's health care law.
Century II Pens
George 'The Animal' Steele
Hall of Fame wrestler George "The Animal" Steele has died, according WWE.
Steele, real name Jim Myers, had been battling health problems for years, including kidney failure. He had been moved into hospice care shortly before his death.
Portraying a green-tongued, bald-headed wildman, Steele was known for "eating" turnbuckles -- ripping them open with his teeth and throwing the shredded padding at opponents. He enjoyed his greatest fame near the end of his three-decade career as part of the 1980s WWE (then WWF) roster that included stars like Andre the Giant, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
Steele spent most of his career playing a menacing monster heel, a villain known for his sometimes vicious brawls with the likes of champions Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales.
In 1985, he turned into a loveable good guy thanks to a storyline intended to write Steele's character off, as the company transitioned to a younger roster. Fans took pity on the Animal and cheered him, giving Steele new life as a sympathetic, simple-minded character who meant well.
On the first episode of "Saturday Night's Main Event" in 1985, Steele's tag team partners, the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, betrayed him. Steele thought this was WWE's way of writing his character off. But owner Vince McMahon sensed a positive crowd reaction to Steele's betrayal and called an audible.
"Vince was watching what was going on, and he sent Captain Lou [Albano] -- who had been my manager for many years -- back to the ring," Steele told CBS Sports in a 2015 interview. "I'm looking at him like I'm gonna fight, and he's kind of wanting to slow me down. 'Come on, come on.' So finally just out of nowhere, I dropped on one knee and I put my head in his fat belly. He started petting my head like I was an animal. The place went absolutely crazy nuts.
"As soon as I saw that and realized that we're going into the business of selling action figures and lunch buckets and pictures, [I thought] this might make a lot of sense financially."
During the mid-'80s, Steele had a memorable feud with Savage and appeared at three WrestleManias. His likeness appeared on action figures, ice cream bars and trading cards. In the kid-friendly WWE of the 1980s, the less threatening, more humorous George "The Animal" Steele was better suited for younger fans.
Contrary to his gimmick, Steele was a well-spoken man. He had given intelligible TV interviews for years before he dumbed down his "Animal" character at McMahon's suggestion in the 1980s. At that point, he began limiting himself to single-word answers, grunts and guttural, animalistic howls.
His wrestling fame allowed him to transition into acting opportunities. Steele appeared with Tony Randall in a 1985 TV commercial for Minolta computers. In 1994, he starred alongside Johnny Depp in the critically acclaimed movie "Ed Wood," playing the role of B-movie actor and former pro wrestler Tor Johnson.
Up until 1985, wrestling was only a part-time endeavor which Myers considered a side job. His main job was teaching health and physical education at Madison High School in his hometown of Madison Heights, Michigan. He also coached the Madison football, wrestling and track teams at various times.
In addition to a 25-year teaching and coaching career and a solid 25 years as an active pro wrestler, Myers worked for many years as a behind-the-scenes road agent for WWE, helping coordinate live events and matches. He wrestled in the occasional match until 2000, when age and health issues caught up with him, including a serious bout with Crohn's Disease.
Steele was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995, the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York, in 2005, and was a Cauliflower Alley Club men's wrestling honoree in 2004.
He is survived by his wife, Pat, and his children Felicia, Dennis and Randy.
George 'The Animal' Steele