No jokes, just a new politics thread
December 13, 2017 8:31 AM   Subscribe

 
Minnesota lieutenant governor to replace Franken, run for seat in 2018 (The Hill)
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) on Wednesday named Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) to fill Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) soon-to-be vacated Senate seat.

Smith said she intends to run in November 2018 to complete the remaining two years of Franken’s term.

“It is up to Minnesotans to decide who they want to complete Senator Franken’s term. I will run in that election, and I will do my best to earn Minnesotans support. And I believe the way to do that is to be the best senator I can be,” Smith said.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:37 AM on December 13, 2017 [73 favorites]


excellent news re: Minnesota.

And thank you for the new thread, Emmy Rae!
posted by suelac at 8:38 AM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


One thing we saw in 2016, in the VA/NJ elections, and last night in AL is an increasing education gap. Traditionally, education didn't have much correlation with party, if anything, there was a slight R lean. Now, we're seeing college-educated voters strongly breaking for the Democrats.

You know who doesn't turn out much for midterm elections? Less educated voters.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:41 AM on December 13, 2017 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure bringing up the Strzok-Page messages is a good strategy for Trumpies. Instead of proving the investigation is biased, it shows that Mueller dismissed people at the first sign of bias. It also means. It also means bringing up the content of the messages, which many people agree with. "Trump is a fucking idiot."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:41 AM on December 13, 2017 [35 favorites]


I'm not in a position to watch the Judiciary hearing right now -- is Rosenstein pointing out that it's impossible to find people who neither support nor oppose Donald Trump's presidency, while retaining the ability to outwit a piece of white toast?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:41 AM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


I will be very surprised if Congressional Republicans in the main continue to attack Mueller after last night's loss. It's bad form to strongly associate yourself with a loser.
posted by wierdo at 8:44 AM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


People in high profile government jobs share commonly held view of multiply bankrupt toupee model

FTA:
Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign described him as an “idiot” and “loathsome human” in a series of text messages last year, according to copies released on Tuesday.
And so we find ourselves in the precarious position of when one's political opinions aren't just opinions in the same way that people have favorite sports teams or ice cream flavors, but instead are basically empirical observations derived from evidence.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:46 AM on December 13, 2017 [46 favorites]


Another bright spot in your day: Omarosa Manigault is out at the White House.

Manigault's story is that she quit "to pursue other opportunities", however April Ryan of Buzzfeed reports Manigault was escorted off the grounds on Tuesday night.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2017 [23 favorites]


From the previous megathread:

BTW y'all. Rod Rosenstein is currently in front of House Judiciary (CSPAN STREAM)
posted by fluttering hellfire


And also reminders on keeping the thread slim & trim courtesy of Meru:
[This is a US politics catch-all thread: please read these important rules about how they work. Also, enjoy refreshing MetaFilter chat for your hot takes and instant reactions.]
posted by yoga at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


Is there anywhere I can place a bet that Gillibrand runs in 2020 and wins?
posted by Talez at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


probably at any venue that is currently taking bets on Super Bowl LV
posted by murphy slaw at 8:56 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


And so we find ourselves in the precarious position of when one's political opinions aren't just opinions in the same way that people have favorite sports teams or ice cream flavors, but instead are basically empirical observations derived from evidence.

Wish I knew who to cite for this, but: the problem with speaking truth about the Republican party right now--and the Trump regime in particular--is that the truth sounds like an attack. The counter, therefore, is to say it's biased, that it's just another political attack, when it's really a recognition of reality.

It's an ultimate distillation of IOKIYAR.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:02 AM on December 13, 2017 [33 favorites]


Another bright spot in your day: Omarosa Manigault is out at the White House

I detest Omarosa as much as any of trump's other bootlickers, but it's telling that one of the first things he did after Jones's win in Alabama last night was to fire a black woman. [via Khal Draghoe on Twitter]
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:02 AM on December 13, 2017 [51 favorites]


Is there anywhere I can place a bet that Gillibrand runs in 2020 and wins?

Harris/Gillibrand, IMO.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


Here's Natasha Bertrand's story on how the text messages between Strzok and Page were made public, "The Justice Department invited a group of reporters to its offices on Tuesday night to view private text messages sent during the 2016 campaign by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, former investigators on the special counsel Robert Mueller's team, Business Insider has learned."

She also discusses but cannot resolve why Fox News claims to have 10,000 texts but the DOJ released 375 to reporters.
posted by gladly at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Is there anywhere I can place a bet that Gillibrand runs in 2020 and wins?

PredictIt's betting market for 2020 is open.
posted by egregious theorem at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think Harris is too green for the top slot (and yes, I know what happened with Obama). I could see her for VP, although I still like Klobuchar.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:06 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


it's telling that one of the first things he did after Jones's win in Alabama last night was to fire a black woman

Ryan's story, from multiple sources and bit more trustworthy, is that Omarosa got into a huge fight with Kelly on Tuesday night and was kicked to the street by Kelly, not Trump. But if people want to follow this line and fire up the black female voting population even more....I'm cool with that.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:09 AM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]




Half of voters find sexual misconduct accusations against President Donald Trump to be credible, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted against the backdrop of a national discussion on sexual harassment.

Fifty percent of registered voters think the allegations against Trump are credible, more than the 29 percent who think they are not credible. The remaining 21 percent of voters don’t know if the allegations are credible.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:11 AM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


But if people want to follow this line and fire up the black female voting population even more....I'm cool with that.

if twitter is any indication, the only person black women hate more than omarosa is donald trump
posted by murphy slaw at 9:11 AM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


Here's Natasha Bertrand's story on how the text messages between Strzok and Page were made public, "The Justice Department invited a group of reporters to its offices on Tuesday night to view private text messages sent during the 2016 campaign by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, former investigators on the special counsel Robert Mueller's team, Business Insider has learned."

THAT was the emergency pajama meeting?!?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:12 AM on December 13, 2017 [46 favorites]


I'll happily get behind Gillibrand, Harris or Klobuchar, but I'm still holding out for Duckworth.

(See? The Democrats do have a back bench!)
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:12 AM on December 13, 2017 [30 favorites]


How will the White House function without Omarosa
posted by benzenedream at 9:23 AM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


murphy slaw: probably at any venue that is currently taking bets on Super Bowl LV

As it happens, not exactly. The Nevada Gaming Control Board is a bit of a stickler regarding what kinds of events you can bet on and political stuff is excluded (as are, interestingly, awards like the Oscars and American Idol-type contest shows). So, you won't be able to walk into the Caesar's Palace sports book and place that bet. UK bookmakers are, on the other hand, wide open on political stuff.
posted by mhum at 9:27 AM on December 13, 2017


Don Jr. is in front of Senate Intel (closed session) today. I hope he's pants-shitting scared of Kamala Harris and Angus King.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:30 AM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


[One deleted - please don't double-post stuff in previous thread and here, just pick one.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:31 AM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Responding to a comment in the previous thread:

THE RNC WENT ALL IN ON DONALD TRUMP AND ROY MOORE. This should be a millstone hung around their necks for generations.

I've seen commentary to the effect that Congressional Republicans -- who constantly play the guilt-by-association game by dropping names like Soros and Ayres and Pelosi -- are relieved not to have Moore be an issue in their re-election campaigns.

Democrats must not let them off the hook so easily. Moore and Trump and the Republican Party are one, and Democrats must be consistent with that message even if -- especially if -- Republicans object.
posted by Gelatin at 9:34 AM on December 13, 2017 [32 favorites]


I no longer trust my ability to interpret the news. So - can anyone help me contextualize the "DOJ texts" news above?

As I understand it - some people on Mueller's team sent some anti-Trump messages back and forth early in the year, and I'm assuming that this is a Thing because the GOP is going to claim "see, Mueller is biased". But I'm also reading that both the texters in question are out of the team now (one left of their own accord, one got forcibly relocated to HR).

Is this...bad? A nothingburger?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Here's Natasha Bertrand's story on how the text messages between Strzok and Page were made public, "The Justice Department invited a group of reporters to its offices on Tuesday night to view private text messages sent during the 2016 campaign by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, former investigators on the special counsel Robert Mueller's team, Business Insider has learned."

THAT was the emergency pajama meeting?!?


Yep. It sure was. They seriously called my friend and others in late night to ensure that these texts were leaked in advance of the Rosenstein hearing. Disgusting.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:37 AM on December 13, 2017 [55 favorites]


The tax bill just landed. Let's see what unholy horror they've come up with when they release the text.
posted by Talez at 9:38 AM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


Seniority has its benefits, which is why I think Franken should have actually resigned before this election so that his replacement could have more seniority than the newest Senator from Alabama. Wikipedia says "The seniority date for an appointed senator is the date of the appointment, not necessarily the date of taking the oath of office.[citation needed] In the case of Senators taking vacant seats in special elections, the term begins on Election Day.[citation needed] " If both are in fact true, Jones now has more Seniority than Smith, even if she were appointed today. However, Cory Booker and Ed Markey are both listed with seniority dates that are later than the days they won their special elections.
posted by soelo at 9:38 AM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


the person who was removed from the investigation was also on the Hillary email investigation. so he was pro-hrc and didn't find evidence of wrong doing.

this is what my mother says bothers people. because obviously, it is STILL ABOUT HER EMAILS.
posted by sio42 at 9:41 AM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


The Strzok/Page texts are a crack against the Mueller investigation that the loyal Trumpists are trying to exploit to end or at least disqualify the Mueller investigation. Dan Pfeiffer tweeted about the DOJ releasing the texts as, "This is the Justice Department conspiring with the White House to actively undermine an investigation into the President of the United States."

Depending who at the DOJ released the texts (DAG Rosenstein wouldn't confirm who at his hearing, even when asked directly), I really don't think it's a nothing burger.

Based on the hour that the meeting was called last night, I wonder if in addition to getting the texts reported first thing before Rosenstein's hearing, it also served to siphon away coverage from the AL Senate election.
posted by gladly at 9:42 AM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


I think Harris is too green for the top slot (and yes, I know what happened with Obama). I could see her for VP, although I still like Klobuchar.

Given the current officeholder, does "green" even have any meaning anymore? I have zero officeholding experience and yet am absolutely confident that I could do a better job than he could.

I'm not saying we accept low bars as a good thing, just saying, the next Democratic president has the lowest possible bar.
posted by emjaybee at 9:45 AM on December 13, 2017 [69 favorites]


it also served to siphon away coverage from the AL Senate election

judging from the front page of every newspaper in america today, i don't think their ploy worked.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:46 AM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure bringing up the Strzok-Page messages is a good strategy for Trumpies. Instead of proving the investigation is biased, it shows that Mueller dismissed people at the first sign of bias. It also means. It also means bringing up the content of the messages, which many people agree with. "Trump is a fucking idiot."

That might be true if the Republicans and the Republican media operated in good faith, but like so many things that boil up from the fever swamps -- including Hillary Clinton's emails -- it'll be stripped of context and surrounded with vaguely sinister implications, which the so-called "liberal media" will absorb and allow Republicans to convey unchallenged.
posted by Gelatin at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure bringing up the Strzok-Page messages is a good strategy for Trumpies. Instead of proving the investigation is biased, it shows that Mueller dismissed people at the first sign of bias.

This is what I was thinking. Anything anyone can do to make sure this is the read?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is this...bad? A nothingburger?

You're presupposing that Republican voters' interpretations of the situation are in any way contingent on the actual reality of the situation.

They can contort literally anything to fit their narrative.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:54 AM on December 13, 2017 [27 favorites]


I think Harris is too green for the top slot

I don't think anyone is too green for any elected or appointed job, anymore. I may be persuaded that someone is too inexperienced at campaigning to win a position, but I am now entirely convinced that what it takes to do a gov't job very well isn't nearly as important as having a willingness to learn and a dedication to good principles.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2017 [21 favorites]


[Via Twitter]

Jennifer Brooks: MN GOP weighs in on the Tina Smith appointment: "It's an underhanded 'House of Cards' style move."

Matt Yglesias:
Imagine pitching this show:

"The incumbent Democratic senator resigns, so the Democratic governor appoints the Democratic lieutenant governor to fill the vacancy.”

“???”
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:58 AM on December 13, 2017 [99 favorites]


They can contort literally anything to fit their narrative.

In the previous thread, someone pointed out that some Republicans are claiming that the presence of any Democrats at all in Mueller's investigation makes it a partisan witch hunt.
posted by Gelatin at 10:00 AM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


The House of Cards reference is because of this:

By naming Smith, Dayton creates uncertainty for the state Senate.

Minnesota's succession plan calls for the state Senate president to become lieutenant governor, so as Smith moves to the U.S. Senate, state Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, will move into Smith's position.

Republicans currently control the state Senate by a single vote, and in theory, Fischbach's seat would need to be filled in a special election. But Republicans could try to go to court to delay her resignation or get a court ruling that she can do both jobs.

posted by Emmy Rae at 10:03 AM on December 13, 2017 [27 favorites]


Pretty sure the "House of Cards" reference was just wedged in there to raise the spectre of Spacey in the context of a Franken replacement, facts be damned.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:03 AM on December 13, 2017 [24 favorites]


Harris and Van Hollen also calling for no votes until Jones seated.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:03 AM on December 13, 2017 [20 favorites]


So what the MN GOP statement is referring to is that under Minnesota's succession procedures, in the absence of the lieutenant governor, the state Senate president becomes the new lieutenant governor. The state Senate president is currently a Republican. Republicans currently control the state Senate by a single vote.

That's the "move." Whether it's "underhanded" and/or "House of Cards-style" is open to interpretation.

On preview: beaten to the punch by Emmy Rae.
posted by AndrewInDC at 10:04 AM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


If they didn't want their majority to be so precarious the MN GOP should have fielded better candidates and won more elections. Specifically they should have won the gubernatorial election.

Because if there's one thing I've learned from Republicans you can justify any political action by simply reminding your electorate that elections have consequences.
posted by Tevin at 10:07 AM on December 13, 2017 [38 favorites]


Minnesota fills legislature vacancies through special elections. Looks like state Senate president Michelle Fischbach is from SD-13, which is a pretty red district (Trump 64-30, Romney 57-41).

Anything is possible in the current environment, but I'm not sure that this would be a high-percentage move for skulduggery. Also not sure how the MN Senate handles even control - they have an odd number of seats, so probably doesn't come up much.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:10 AM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


MN State Senate has 67 seats. Currently, Republicans have 34, Democrats have 33. One Senator, a Democrat, is resigning on the 15th due to a scandal. If Michelle Fischbach had to give up her seat, that would open the possibility of the DFL gaining control of that house.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:15 AM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


trump's approval hits record low in new monmouth university poll
West Long Branch, NJ - Donald Trump's current job approval rating is the lowest registered in the Monmouth University Poll since he took office, with the biggest drop coming from independent women. Most voters think that the president has not been successful at moving his agenda through Congress and feel his decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel will destabilize the Middle East. Monmouth's initial generic House ballot match-up for the 2018 election finds Democrats holding a 15 point advantage over Republicans.

Pres. Trump's current job rating stands at a net negative 32% approve and 56% disapprove. This marks his lowest rating in Monmouth's polling since taking office in January. Prior polls conducted over the course of the past year showed his approval rating ranging from 39% to 43% and his disapproval rating ranging from 46% to 53%.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:16 AM on December 13, 2017 [18 favorites]


Right, the DFL *could* pick up control of the MN Senate here, but Fischbach's district is not particularly promising soil.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


Anything is possible in the current environment, but I'm not sure that this would be a high-percentage move for skulduggery

I think it says more that Republicans are worried about it, though.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I guess I've never thought about this before, but if you're in the line of succession for something can you just say "no thanks, give it to the next person down"?
posted by jason_steakums at 10:23 AM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


A friend who grew up in Fishbach's district described it as "home of the Minnesota Christians Concerned For Life, and all the fetus signs you've maybe seen in St. Cloud"
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


jason_steakums: "I guess I've never thought about this before, but if you're in the line of succession for something can you just say "no thanks, give it to the next person down"?"

Arguably one of the duties of office if you're *in* the line of succession is to fulfill the succession. So declining it is an admission you can't do your duty and (in a world where that meant anything anymore) would probably require a resignation. As a general rule.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


I've lived in MN for years and have never even heard of Paynesville.

From their web site: "Nestled in the heart of central Minnesota, Paynesville attracts thousands of visitors each year."

Yeah, I don't think the GOP is going to have any trouble holding on to that seat.
posted by miyabo at 10:35 AM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Just as an aside, I love the name of the MN Democratic party, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. I know a name is superficial, but I totally think Dems could sweep the Midwest if they all became the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. It just sounds so cool and Midwestern socialist and says what it needs to say. Minnesota Dems: you're doing it right.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:39 AM on December 13, 2017 [57 favorites]


SD-13 also covers part of Eden Valley, home to the police investigating the crimes of the third season of Fargo.
posted by Theiform at 10:40 AM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't think the GOP is going to have any trouble holding on to that seat.

Whether or not it's likely that they keep it, it's definitely worth challenging. If they run a competent, smart, principled Republican, Dems would have a very hard time taking it... but if Republicans were prone to running smart, competent, principled candidates, we wouldn't be where we are today.

No uncontested elections anymore. No unflippable seats; every vote matters.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:40 AM on December 13, 2017 [55 favorites]


From a good Iowa political blog: It's time for Iowa Republicans to start panicking.

I think that's putting it a little strongly, but I'm starting to feel something like optimism about 2018 in Iowa. Having said that, it's going to be a long time before we can undo the damage that the Republicans have done in the past year.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:46 AM on December 13, 2017 [19 favorites]


I think Harris is too green for the top slot

In this millenium the top slot has been green relative to the VP.

Trump - Pence
Obama - Biden
GW Bush - Cheney
posted by srboisvert at 10:50 AM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


I would posit that the Trump and W presidencies are fairly compelling arguments for the value of experience.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:51 AM on December 13, 2017 [30 favorites]




The White House Says Controversial Judicial Nominee Brett Talley's Nomination Is Over.

On the second night, the oil still burned.
(Hanukkah sameach! What are we getting tomorrow?)
posted by Sophie1 at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2017 [78 favorites]


So the Senate tax kill had kept the top marginal rate (for the wealthiest) at 39.6%. The House had lowered the rate for the wealthy to 38.5%. They had to find a compromise for the reconciled bill so they compromised on 37%.

What? What?

It looks like they are only bringing the corporate rate to 21% ("only") in order to pay for it. I guess rich people need that money more than sick and/or hungry kids.
posted by Justinian at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


Monmouth: Democrats have 15 point edge in generic House vote

Enough to overwhelm the 'mander? Seems at least possible.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


15 points would swamp the gerrymander. It's 7-10 points where it would be knife-edge.
posted by Justinian at 11:06 AM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


538 generic ballot average (includes the Monmouth) is at D+11 (48.2/37.2).
posted by Chrysostom at 11:09 AM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]




I don’t think there has been an especially intelligent Republican president since Nixon, and he was a sociopath. Since then, they had an actor, a failed businessman (and legacy C student), and a borderline illiterate actor/businessman who has mainly exploited inherited wealth thanks to his legal team.

Compare with Carter (nuclear engineering), Clinton (Rhodes Scholar), and Obama (Harvard Law).
posted by darkstar at 11:18 AM on December 13, 2017 [39 favorites]


Uh, which one of those is GHWB?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2017 [19 favorites]


Oh snap. Forgot about him. Yeah, I’ll give them that one, I guess.
posted by darkstar at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


you forgot gerald ford

everyone always forgets gerald ford
posted by pyramid termite at 11:21 AM on December 13, 2017 [45 favorites]


Oh snap. Forgot about him.

So has the Republican party, near as I can tell.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


It looks like they are only bringing the corporate rate to 21% ("only") in order to pay for it. I guess rich people need that money more than sick and/or hungry kids.

the optics of this after refusing to do bump up the corporate rate by a couple of tenths of a percent to expand the child tax credit (per Rubio etc.) are … astounding
posted by murphy slaw at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2017 [22 favorites]


you forgot gerald ford

gerald ford was an affable fence post
posted by murphy slaw at 11:23 AM on December 13, 2017 [20 favorites]


He was a rep for 24 years, House Minority Leader for eight. Let's not act like Nixon just found him in a McDonald's.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:26 AM on December 13, 2017 [66 favorites]


everyone always forgets gerald ford

Are we sure that Kislyak isn't Undead Ford?
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:28 AM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


the optics of this after refusing to do bump up the corporate rate by a couple of tenths of a percent to expand the child tax credit (per Rubio etc.) are … astounding

Not to mention CHIP, which Republicans claim they can't fund because we don't have the money.
posted by Gelatin at 11:29 AM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


The problem with gerrymandering is that it works great until it doesn't, and then it really screws you.

For example, a deeply blue-gerrymandered district (by packing or cracking) that rapidly undergoes gentrification, suddenly (as in, within a single cycle) pulls in a whole lot of votes from surrounding districts that were (carefully, carefully) packed and/or cracked to achieve the gerrymander, essentially both packing and/or cracking all your hard work away in the blink of an eye in multiple districts at once. Suddenly, the districts are composed of competing constituencies and therefore, are themselves competitive again. This is just one way in which gerrymanders are brittle. They have many weaknesses.
posted by eclectist at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Nixon, walking through McDonald's, bumps into Gerald Ford.
Nixon: Pardon me.
Ford: Sure! Anytime, anyplace! All I want is the chance.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2017 [149 favorites]


VA HOD update - recount for HD-40 is currently underway. This is the one where the Dem is 106 votes shy, so overcoming that is unlikely. Recount proper hoping to get done today or tomorrow, then judges rule on any disputed ballots.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:35 AM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


You guys. I am so goddamn excited about Postcards to Voters. I didn't participate this time around, and I hadn't really considered doing so, but I'm definitely going to host some postcard parties in 2018.

I live in NYC, and although I have been slowly getting more engaged in local politics recently because of the election stuff, it has been very frustrating as a native North Carolinian to see North Carolina turn into what it's turned into over the last eight years and sit up here and feel helpless.

And I also make postcard art.

I rarely get around to actually sending these postcards to my friends, so I've fallen off of making these in the past couple years, but this is making me want to run right home and make some more. I LOVE this idea.

A pro tip for people interested in doing Postcards to Voters next year: I scored a box of over 500 vintage postcards on ebay for absolute chump change, like under $20, and most of them were blank. (It appeared to be the postcard collection of someone who was downsizing their possessions or had died - you could tell what trips they had been on and when.) I haven't checked recently, but at the time there were a ton of similar listings.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2017 [49 favorites]


Reports on Twitter are that the final version of the tax bill doesn't include the tax on tuition waivers. It's a terrible bill, and this is small consolation, but I know some people here were worried about that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair: Roger Stone is already writing the story of Trump's Downfall

One Trump ally is making plans to commercialize Trump’s downfall. Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone told me he is working on a book titled The Fall of Trump as part of a multi-book deal with Skyhorse Publishing. (Last fall, Skyhorse published Stone’s campaign account, The Making of the President 2016.) “I’ve been writing it as we go along,” he told me.

Ally indeed. Scorpion and frog, snake poem, leopard, etc.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2017 [49 favorites]


Like Weinstein, Trump must have dozens of additional female victims. Is there somebody out there who is working to bring them all out?
And at one point, with enough support, one of them will surely break her forced, signed NDA, so we will all be able to understand how tight these agreements are, no?
posted by growabrain at 11:40 AM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Judge throws out felony charges against protesters at the Inauguration, considering whether to throw out misdemeanor charges as well.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:40 AM on December 13, 2017 [144 favorites]


Is there a good list of the new national-scale grassroots orgs that sorta used this election as a testing ground - like Flippable, Postcards to Voters, etc?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Nixon, walking through McDonald's, bumps into Gerald Ford.
Nixon: Pardon me.
Ford: Sure! Anytime, anyplace! All I want is the chance.


Other than having it take place at McDonald's, that was from a scene of a comedy I wrote about Watergate back in the eighties.

Dr. Strangekisser: Would you like a drink?
Ford: No, thanks, I'm driving home.
Dr. Strangekisser: A piece of gum?
Ford: No, thanks, I'm walking to my car.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:47 AM on December 13, 2017 [48 favorites]


murphy slaw gerald ford was an affable fence post

Disagree.

Like a lot of Republicans, Gerald Ford was able to project an aura of affability while, in fact, being a really vile person.

Remember, when he was in the House he spent a great deal of time and effort trying to impeach Justice William O. Douglas basically on the grounds that he didn't like him and wanted to pack the courts with more Republicans. When asked what, if anything, Justice Douglas had done to deserve being impeached, Ford replied:
An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history; conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body considers to be sufficiently serious to require removal of the accused from office.
posted by sotonohito at 11:48 AM on December 13, 2017 [33 favorites]


Trump's giving a speech on Tax Reform in about 10 minutes (C-SPAN streaming link). I guess we get to see how medicated and slurry he is after the Moore loss.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:52 AM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Possibly grounds for an FPP, but interesting and relevant here, conceding the demographics of the Alabama election. The Black Belt: Current elections are impacted by a 100 million year old coastline
posted by happyroach at 11:53 AM on December 13, 2017 [21 favorites]


"I guess we get to see how medicated and slurry he is after the Moore loss."

I'm sure they've bought a new tube of Fixodent by now.
posted by komara at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


He was prevented from being his authentic self on Twitter after Moore lost, so my expectations for this speech are [horrified emoji].
posted by prefpara at 12:01 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


I am about to send this fax via ResistBot to my Republican senator, Todd Young, with whom I usually don't bother:
Republicans thought the Senate seat in Alabama was safe, too. Think carefully about how you vote.


ResistBot on mobile tells me it's really busy today, but it turns out there's a version for Facebook Messenger too.
posted by Gelatin at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2017 [19 favorites]


Democratic-Farmer-Labor reflects a significant and not always pleasant history spanning the mid-20th century. The party was created by a merger of the Democratic Party and the progressive Farmer-Labor Party in 1944, followed by an ugly factional fight in 1948. In the late 60's I knew left wing Minnesotans who were still very bitter about their treatment in 1948.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2017 [17 favorites]


With the tax bill taxing graduate student tuition, maybe some of them can come to Puerto Rico. I realize most are not saying, MIT or University of Puerto Rico, but for a few subjects and particular students this might make sense.

(Puerto Rico is not subject to U.S. income tax and the students are eligible for U.S. loans.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I've lived in MN for years and have never even heard of Paynesville.
It is two towns away from Cold Spring, if that helps. It is a very Catholic area.
posted by soelo at 12:12 PM on December 13, 2017


jason_steakums: Just as an aside, I love the name of the MN Democratic party, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Ohhh, they seem all cuddly, but back in the day one of my forebears was a hard-core Communist in Minnesota farm country.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


Disinformation Watch—Newsweek has a sensational, sensationalistic story out : Putin Ordered Theft of Clinton's Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses
According to Russian news site The Bell, Konstantin Kozlovsky, a Russian citizen working for a hacker group called Lurk, confessed to hacking Clinton’s emails during a hearing about his arrest in August. An audio recording and minutes from the hearing were posted on Kozlovsky’s Facebook page, and their authenticity was reportedly confirmed by The Bell.[...]

[I]t is tempting to view Kozlovsky's confession as the smoking gun needed to link the Kremlin to the hacks. Nevertheless, experts say there are reasons to be skeptical of the confession.

Many of the individuals implicated in Kozlovsky's letter are currently on the bad side of the Russian government. For example, Kozlovsky identified his FSB handler as Dmitry Dokuchaev, a cybersecurity expert who worked as a hacker before joining the FSB. [...] The Kremlin has accused him of being a double agent working with U.S. intelligence services. [...]

To some, it appears that Kozlovsky’s confession conveniently targets enemies of the Kremlin and provides Putin with an opportunity to claim that the hack was ordered by rogue elements.

“[The confession] puts the blame on a narrow group of people who are already in prison, and it moves the blame to an outsourced hack. This would allow Putin to pretend to be shocked that there are hackers in Russia doing this,” Mark Galeotti, a researcher on Russian crime at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, told Newsweek.
Expect more of this kind of likely dezinformatsiya to come out from the Kremlin as Mueller's investigation proceeds.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:14 PM on December 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


THE RNC WENT ALL IN ON DONALD TRUMP AND ROY MOORE. This should be a millstone hung around their necks for generations.

I can see the TV spots already. Randy Rainbow, you're up:

(Show picture of whoever)

She was sixteen, going on seventeen,
Roy Moore was thirty two..

This didn't seem to bother the Donald.
Nor did it bother you...

posted by ocschwar at 12:17 PM on December 13, 2017 [27 favorites]


I haven't been paying enough attention lately--when did Newsweek suddenly become sensationalist crap? I mean, they've obviously been trying to find an identity for years, but I thought they were just benign press release repeaters, not tabloid assholes. Their email headline said "Can Roy Moore still win with the recount?" which I deleted without reading. Did I miss something?
posted by Melismata at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Trump just claimed that the IRS has confirmed that if Congress sends him a tax bill before Christmas, people will see bigger paychecks and lower taxes by February. What is the German portmanteau for the feeling that everyone in the world is experiencing the same skepticism as you?
posted by prefpara at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


Trump just claimed that the IRS has confirmed that if Congress sends him a tax bill before Christmas, people will see higher wages and other benefits by February.

That'll be a great promise to hold him to regardless.

"Donald Trump promised you higher wages by February. Are you better off than you were four years months ago? Vote Democrat this November."
posted by Gelatin at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2017 [36 favorites]


I would dearly love it if Schumer delivering the "very sophisticated" forged complaint against him to the Capitol Police could bring down Cernovich and Johnson. It was so sophisticated a forgery that it plagiarized from the Conyers' complaint, forgetting that Schumer and Conyers are from different parts of the Congress.
posted by gladly at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2017 [16 favorites]


when did Newsweek suddenly become sensationalist crap?

From Wikipedia on Newsweek: On August 3, 2013, IBT Media announced it had acquired Newsweek from IAC on terms that were not disclosed; the acquisition included the Newsweek brand and its online publication

IBT Media is International Business Times' parent company.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


Warren: Doug Jones should be seated without delay

At a minimum, Strange should refrain from all further votes, right? I mean, we can’t have elected officials impinging on the will of the electorate, through the execution of their office. We need to wait and see what Doug Jones would do. Surely Mitch McConnell wouldn’t disagree.
posted by Brak at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2017 [46 favorites]


I hope Mitch McConnell gets mumps for Christmas.

If Jones is sat in under 6 months and this isn't mired in recounts and litigation from Moore's side, I'll eat a cake.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


Warren: Doug Jones should be seated without delay

On the one hand, yes. On the other, the provisional ballots need to be verified, and there are other bits of process involved, which we wouldn't be rushing to set aside if Moore had won. So I'm not seeing a delay of a couple of weeks as unreasonable.

(Also, geeze. The guy had his 25th anniversary yesterday AND won a contest that almost nobody believed was possible. Give him a few days to figure out the best way to leap into the corruption maelstrom.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:41 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Cernovich claims he is trying to find the hoaxer.

“This is the journalist process CNN doesn’t go through,” Cernovich said on Periscope on Tuesday. “CNN, they go ‘oh shit, Don Jr. got an email about Wikileaks before anybody else? Boom boom boom front page news.’ But me, I go oh, wait, hold on a minute, let’s chill.”
No, no you didn't. You ran with it right away. Now that you're facing potential criminal charges, you're chilling.

What an asshole Cernovich is. On the Media did an interview with him that he hung up on because the interviewer confronted him about his past statements about date rape and recommendations for avoiding charges after date raping. It was amazing how unhinged he became.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2017 [37 favorites]


It was amazing how unhinged he became.

dude was never hinged. cruelly thrust into this world without a hinge to his name
posted by murphy slaw at 12:51 PM on December 13, 2017 [81 favorites]


I would dearly love it if Schumer delivering the "very sophisticated" forged complaint against him to the Capitol Police could bring down Cernovich and Johnson. It was so sophisticated a forgery that it plagiarized from the Conyers' complaint, forgetting that Schumer and Conyers are from different parts of the Congress.

I would also love to see that. And I remember, in the wake of the Al Franken harassment revelations, all the braying about "This is a ratfuck!" and how the right wing was going to weaponize harassment accusations against Democrats etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. Those who said that the Republicans were going to try to weaponize accusations were not wrong, but...if this is the best and most "sophisticated" they can do...I mean, it was so easy to prove that the accusation was forged - all the Daily Beast had to do was talk to Schumer's former staffer, who said it was all a lie. Cernovich managed, at the most, a mousefuck. Niiiiiice try.

I do hope he faces consequences, though, because forgery is a crime, and false accusations (and it was a man who made them, might I add) are a bad thing. And Cernovich is a crook and an asshat anyway.

Yes, we do have to watch for all kinds of dirty tricks from the RWNJ's but these are not bright guys who are formidable opponents.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


>Warren: Doug Jones should be seated without delay

On the one hand, yes. On the other, the provisional ballots need to be verified, and there are other bits of process involved, which we wouldn't be rushing to set aside if Moore had won. So I'm not seeing a delay of a couple of weeks as unreasonable.


Per CNN, 'The earliest the state could certify a winner would be December 26, but the secretary of state's office does not expect the canvassing board to be able to do so until January 3.' Seating Jones without any unreasonable delays realistically means late December or early January.

That said, the unreasonable thing here -- which Warren gets at in her full statement -- isn't so much that it might take a few weeks to actual swear Jones in (that part is normal); it's the idea that Jones being seated means that the tax conference needs to be expedited, rather than that creating a need for it to be reasonably delayed for the people of Alabama to have a say in it through the vote and input of their duly elected representative. After all: isn't that the principle that McConnell articulated in obstructing Gorsuch?

That's not entirely a serious point; the real problem is that the tax bill was rushed through up to this point. It should never have made it to conference at the first place with the speed that it did. In fairness, Strange voting on the tax bill in the abstract would be fine, had fair and equitable processes been following in getting the tax bill to this point. Given that they weren't, throwing some of McConnell's own rhetoric back at McConnell doesn't seem unreasonable. It's the same rhetoric that McConnell was using to distance himself, I would note, from endorsing or not endorsing Moore: that we should 'listen to the people of Alabama' and let them make their choice in the voting booth (never mind that McConnell has endorsed plenty of other people with no problem.)

Bearing Gorsuch in mind, there's also the (minor) risk that if the tax bill drags past the holidays, which it hopefully will, that McConnell will then look for procedural reasons to unreasonably delay seating Jones. Warren is, I think, getting out ahead of that (and drawing attention to McConnell's hypocrisy in the meantime as a bonus.)
posted by cjelli at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2017 [37 favorites]


Those who said that the Republicans were going to try to weaponize accusations were not wrong, but...if this is the best and most "sophisticated" they can do...I mean, it was so easy to prove that the accusation was forged - all the Daily Beast had to do was talk to Schumer's former staffer, who said it was all a lie. Cernovich managed, at the most, a mousefuck. Niiiiiice try.

It's not the best they can do. Technology is progressing at breakneck speed, and while this is a tangent, there are now reports of AI-assisted video editors that can paste faces into video and synthesize entire conversations. Affordable Photoshop for video and audio is going to be a reality.
posted by anem0ne at 1:17 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


>Update on Brett Talley, controversial judicial nominee: 'The White House Says Controversial Judicial Nominee Brett Talley's Nomination Is Over,' Zoe Tillman, Buzzfeed

The Washington Post now reporting that the nomination of Jeff Mateer is also over.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican said Wednesday that two of President Trump’s nominees for open seats on the federal bench will not be confirmed, just a day after urging the White House to “reconsider” them.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that based on his discussions with the White House, the nominations of Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley would not move forward through the confirmation process.
posted by cjelli at 1:20 PM on December 13, 2017 [58 favorites]


That's fantastic news!
posted by Chrysostom at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


April Ryan's full report, Omarosa Out of the White House [audio, 2 minutes]. She reports that Kelly told Manigault, and her assistant, they were out last night. Manigault became upset and wanted to speak to the President. When Manigault walked to the Residence and tried to get in, she was stopped by the Secret Service and escorted out. As she was being fired, Manigault claimed she brought Trump the black vote.

With no disrespect to Ryan, I don't particularly believe all of that, but it is clear that Omarosa's former colleagues are salting the earth she walked on.

@jimsciutto:
In an on-the-record interview, outgoing NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] Director Nick Rasmussen told reporters recent anti-Muslim rhetoric is making counter-terrorism “more difficult”. “I don’t think it’s arguable it’s more difficult when the environment is contaminated by mutual suspicion,” he said. “If you’re increasing the amount of suspicion and distress on these communities, it places more challenges in our way,” Rasmussen added. Rasmussen made clear he was not referring to any single tweet or statement by any single person. However, noting comments by the president and administration policies such as the travel ban, I asked: “Does the environment today make your job more difficult?” He said “Yes”.
If you're wondering why Anderson Cooper's Twitter account called the President a "tool" this morning, the story they're going with is that his assistant left his phone unlocked and unattended at the gym, and somebody grabbed it and tweeted from Cooper's account.

And Dahlia Lithwick on Judge Kozinski is really, really, really good: He Made Us All Victims and Accomplices:
For years, I excused myself because I believed that the casual degradation of women that emanated from Judge Kozinski’s orbit was the death rattle of an old America: a symbol of the sad, broken longing for the world of Mad Men, a world that ended as soon as women reached parity with men in law school. Donald Trump and his foot soldiers are proof that this old America is very much alive, and that it’s in fact a full-scale project to treat women as trivial and ornamental and to hold them back. It keeps brilliant women from accessing power and dismisses other brilliant women as hysterics—the “nutty and slutty” character assassination used to trash Anita Hill. It’s disturbing to realize that, even today, the main markers I relied on to confirm Kozinski’s bad behavior were the shocked reactions of normal, good men: my husband, my friend, my co-clerk. Sure, I felt dirty after each interaction, but my feelings didn’t feel like enough.

I always figured I would feel better when Judge Kozinski’s #MeToo came home to roost. I don’t. His reactions to the accusers—belittling their allegations, shaming Bond for writing sex scenes in romance novels—were the reactions I was trying to avoid bringing down on myself when I failed to insist that Article III judges not talk to and about women this way, not at work, and not as we struggled to find purchase in the profession of our choosing. Somewhere along the way I managed to create a career for myself. In part, I did it by keeping secrets. I’d like to be done with that now.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 PM on December 13, 2017 [53 favorites]


With no disrespect to Ryan, I don't particularly believe all of that

I do. Easily.
posted by orange ball at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


It's not the best they can do. Technology is progressing at breakneck speed, and while this is a tangent, there are now reports of AI-assisted video editors that can paste faces into video and synthesize entire conversations. Affordable Photoshop for video and audio is going to be a reality.

It's like the iterative progression described by Reese in The Terminator: "The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy, but these are new. They look human - sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot."
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:38 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


the story they're going with is that his assistant left his phone unlocked and unattended at the gym, and somebody grabbed it and tweeted from Cooper's account.

Which is a lame cover story. Almost certainly the assistant meant to tweet from his personal account and posted to Cooper's by mistake. Like the Twitter reactions I'm seeing where people are noting that they've never seen someone leave an unlocked phone unattended at that gym.
posted by dnash at 1:43 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Is there any precedent for Republicans openly blocking Trump appointments like this? I don't recall any before now but there have been so much insanity this year I can hardly keep them all straight.
posted by Tevin at 1:48 PM on December 13, 2017


Andrew Puzder. Universally, bipartisanally hated.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:53 PM on December 13, 2017


Ashley Feinberg, who is extremely brave, This Is The Daily Stormer’s Playbook [cw: racial slurs, guide to creating hate speech], in which she obtains their style guide. It's a carefully calibrated mix of irony and hate, using "curiosity or the naughty humor" to draw people in and build new recruits, always following the "prime directive": "Always Blame the Jews for Everything." Be sure to read on to the section marked "lulz," which I'm not quoting in this thread, but suffice it to say that they know exactly what they're doing and have weaponized irony to get their views into popular media.

Which is a lame cover story. Almost certainly the assistant meant to tweet from his personal account and posted to Cooper's by mistake. Like the Twitter reactions I'm seeing where people are noting that they've never seen someone leave an unlocked phone unattended at that gym.

Almost certainly, but I'm personally ok with pretending so Cooper's longtime assistant doesn't have to be fired for pressing the wrong button and having the same opinion as the vast majority of New Yorkers.
posted by zachlipton at 1:58 PM on December 13, 2017 [46 favorites]


Chrysostom: "VA HOD update - recount for HD-40 is currently underway. This is the one where the Dem is 106 votes shy, so overcoming that is unlikely. Recount proper hoping to get done today or tomorrow, then judges rule on any disputed ballots."

Day 1 is wrapping up, they're going to go into tomorrow. Day 1 net is +5 for Dem Tanner.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]




I think it was during a prolonged hospital stay that I consumed the one season of The Apprentice that I saw in which Omarosa was on, and thinking back on it, she has the very Trumpian quality of making whatever choice creates the most drama. I mean, I hadn't thought of her since until she turned up with the Trump campaign, and when she did it was like sheeeeit well of course that whirlwind of a person is there. His affection for her makes a certain psychological sense.
posted by angrycat at 2:01 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


Um. Here's a story about CAPS-LOCK-MAN Pastor Mark Burns hitting the President: Here’s a weird story about Trump, a pastor and a spider
In Burns’s account, he was standing behind Trump, who was seated at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, when he noticed a white spider the size of a half-dollar making its way up the president’s back.

“I just thought I was dreaming,” recounted Burns in a telephone interview. “Is that really a spider running up the back of the president of the United States?”

It was. Burns, for the record, hates spiders, but didn’t see any other choice but to step in. Before the spider got to the president’s neck, Burns whacked it — and Trump — with his bare hand.

“It made such a loud noise, and I think people were bewildered and were like, ‘What did you just do?’” said Burns, who then quickly tried to explain himself: “Security, please don’t shoot me! He had a spider on his back.”
At this rate, I give it a month or two before Trump picks up and is bitten by a snake from a path near a lake (which in his case, will surely be a water hazard).
posted by zachlipton at 2:07 PM on December 13, 2017 [19 favorites]


when did Newsweek suddenly become sensationalist crap?

From Wikipedia on Newsweek: On August 3, 2013, IBT Media announced it had acquired Newsweek from IAC on terms that were not disclosed; the acquisition included the Newsweek brand and its online publication


Also has anybody noticed that Newsweek completely owns the lead links in Google News lately?

I wish I could filter that crap out because it is both low quality and has irrelevant or only borderline relevant autoplaying video that is so unresponsive it is difficult to stop.
posted by srboisvert at 2:12 PM on December 13, 2017


a white spider the size of a half-dollar

Who are you trying to kid, pastor? We all know that was an escaped void crab.
posted by contraption at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2017 [26 favorites]


*furiously searching Revelation for anything relating to spiders and the antichrist*
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:32 PM on December 13, 2017 [15 favorites]




Went in to call my senators, and have so far found that five out of six of John Cornyn's voicemail boxes are full up. I got a message in on the last one excoriating him for Net Neutrality but forgot (dammit!) to demand that Doug Jones' inauguration be processed in all reasonable speed, and that the mess of a tax bill shouldn't delay that. You scribble shit in the middle of a night and submit it before you've thought it out, you deal with that--not the people of Alabama. Republicans ought to be held accountable for their own choices, same as anyone else--after all, isn't that what every tough-on-crime Republican loves to yammer on about?

Time to call Mr. Cruz.

Today was a bit nippy, and consequently I broke out the hat I knit for angrycat last winter, the one I only managed to finish in the early hours of the March on Washington. It was odd, wearing it again--it just doesn't get cold enough here to wear it all that often--but it was a good feeling. I've been wrestling with the aftermath of that week for the last year, and I'm toying with the idea of writing up my impressions of the whole thing in detail for the anniversary. I took detailed notes at the time, but... well. Things were a bit too overwhelming for me to summarize them then. I wonder if I'll be able to do that now.
posted by sciatrix at 2:54 PM on December 13, 2017 [33 favorites]




sciatrix! I think of you and our missed connection often. Rock on!
posted by angrycat at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Donald Trump Jr has been giving testimony for 9 hours.
posted by PenDevil at 3:15 PM on December 13, 2017 [66 favorites]


@SecretService:
Reporting regarding Secret Service personnel physically removing Omarosa Manigault Newman from the @WhiteHouse complex is incorrect.
The Secret Service was not involved in the termination process of Ms Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex. Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual's pass which grants access to the complex.
Somebody spread this story far and wide. That said, deactivating her pass last night is not particularly consistent with the White House's claim that she would stay on until January 20th. Somebody should probably check to make sure we stop paying her.
posted by zachlipton at 3:18 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


> Donald Trump Jr has been giving testimony for 9 hours.

And here I thought this day couldn't get any better.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:19 PM on December 13, 2017 [27 favorites]


I was confused that Don Jr.'s interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee was still in progress while CNN had Sen. Warner on. It turns out he's been testifying to staffers for the past nine hours, not the members of the Committee themselves.

But Sen. Warner wants to have him back to testify to the members.
posted by scarylarry at 3:25 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Also has anybody noticed that Newsweek completely owns the lead links in Google News lately?

I wish I could filter that crap out because it is both low quality and has irrelevant or only borderline relevant autoplaying video that is so unresponsive it is difficult to stop.


Easy peasy:

1. Go to news.google.com. You might be asked to sign in.
2. At the top right, click Settings (Gear icon) and then Sources.
3. Under "Blocked," list publications you don’t want to see any news from.
posted by zakur at 3:27 PM on December 13, 2017 [29 favorites]


Does the tax bill need only 51 votes in the Senate? Does the parliamentarian make another determination based on the conference bill? Is there a chance the conference committee fucked it up and accidentally made it filibuster-able?

Also, according to the NYT article, it looks like they've added back in up to $10k in state & local tax deductions. However, is that going to be enough for, say, rich CA or NY residents? Is there enough there to put pressure on Republican house members representing them?
posted by mhum at 3:33 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


srboisvert: "Also has anybody noticed that Newsweek completely owns the lead links in Google News lately? I wish I could filter that crap out ... "

May I introduce you to a Greasemonkey script called Google Hit Hider? It's really nifty for minimizing Google hits from whatever sites you choose.
posted by kristi at 3:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


> Is there anywhere I can place a bet that Gillibrand runs in 2020 and wins?

On that topic:

https://twitter.com/hailbotsghost/status/827162230974078979

Does she have a deadbeat older brother?
posted by bunbury at 3:44 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Joe in Australia's link has a pretty stunning number: a higher % of black voters in Alabama voted for Jones than voted for OBAMA in 2012.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:50 PM on December 13, 2017 [36 favorites]


Donald Trump Jr has been giving testimony for 9 hours.

That's 9 hours of material for Mueller to cross check for perjury charges. Uday better hope everything he's testifying to today is consistent with Flynn's account, and what are the chances of that?
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:54 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Easy peasy:

1. Go to news.google.com. You might be asked to sign in.
2. At the top right, click Settings (Gear icon) and then Sources.
3. Under "Blocked," list publications you don’t want to see any news from.


Note that your Google News blocklist doesn't do anything about the suggested news stories on the new tab page in Chrome for Android, though... that particular set of news articles seems to be completely out of the user's control and flooded with awful news and right wing propaganda.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


German portmanteau- Weltemühdescheissverstehung.
posted by Oyéah at 4:02 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Reporting regarding Secret Service personnel physically removing Omarosa Manigault Newman from the @WhiteHouse complex is incorrect.
The Secret Service was not involved in the termination process of Ms Manigault Newman or the escort off of the complex.


Saying the secret service wasn't involved in "the escort off the complex" means that she was definitely escorted off the complex, it just wasn't by secret service.
posted by corb at 4:11 PM on December 13, 2017 [77 favorites]


Let's check in on Rep. Blake Farenthold, from CNN's Exclusive: Ex-Farenthold aide shares new details of vulgar and abusive behavior
One comment from the congressman was especially personal. Rekola was about to leave town to get married in July 2015, when, he said, Farenthold, standing within earshot of other staffers in his Capitol Hill office, said to the groom-to-be: "Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle -- it will be the last time." He then proceeded to joke about whether Rekola's now-wife could wear white on her wedding day -- a clear reference, Rekola said, to whether she had had premarital sex.
...
In a response to questions from CNN, Farenthold denied in a statement ever making comments to Rekola about receiving oral sex from his then-fiancée or whether she could wear a white dress. He acknowledged that he regularly referred to aides as "f**ktards," but that it was "in jest, not in anger."

"In hindsight, I admit it wasn't appropriate," Farenthold said. He also denied that he engaged in regular verbal abuse of his staff.
To recap the day, if you're clinging to "someone other than the Secret Service walked me off the premises" and "I wasn't mad when I called my staff fucktards," you're losing.
posted by zachlipton at 4:14 PM on December 13, 2017 [51 favorites]


The Best People Watch—Democrats Accuse This Trump Nominee of Plagiarizing Her Answers to Congress About Climate Change, Environmental Justice, And More (Buzzfeed)

Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump's nominee to head the Council for Environmental Quality, has been caught copy-pasting the written answers of other nominees in at least 18 responses to questions from the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“It was bad enough that this nominee parroted fossil fuel industry talking points and flubbed answers to questions about basic science during her confirmation hearing,” Whitehouse said in a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News. “She had a chance to rehabilitate her testimony with careful and deliberative answers to our written questions. Instead, she plagiarized the answers of previous nominees."

Her nomination was voted out of the committee on party lines at the end of last month, but the full Senate vote on it hasn't been scheduled yet.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:22 PM on December 13, 2017 [45 favorites]


More from The Best People Watch: Federal Judicial Nominee Flunks 'Motion in Limine' Definition at Senate Hearing:
A nominee for a District of Columbia judgeship took a beating at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday when he could not define motion in limine.

U.S. district court nominee Matthew Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission, has never tried a case, has taken fewer than 10 depositions, and demurred when asked—twice—if he knew what a motion in limine is.

The question that stumped Petersen came from Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana.
You can watch the video at 1:54:00. Even Republicans are starting to balk at some of these nominations.

Kennedy went on to ask the panel of nominees if anyone has ever blogged in support of the KKK.
posted by zachlipton at 4:30 PM on December 13, 2017 [57 favorites]


Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump's nominee to head the Council for Environmental Quality, has been caught copy-pasting the written answers of other nominees in at least 18 responses to questions from the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Where do they find this endless supply of nincompoops and incompetents?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:31 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


Trump’s got a Binder Full of Nincompoops.
posted by notyou at 4:35 PM on December 13, 2017 [63 favorites]


Where do they find this endless supply of nincompoops and incompetents?
Insert Peter Principle reference here.

But the only competent lawyers Trump knows have been working personally for him, keeping him out of jail for 40 years, and he certainly doesn't want to lose access to them now.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I really like the title of this FPP. There’s nothing even remotely funny or cute about this shit.
posted by _Mona_ at 4:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


Senator McCain admitted to Walter Reed

Apparently he's missed three days of votes. I hope he recovers, retires, and is replaced by someone better.
posted by orange ball at 4:46 PM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


I hope he recovers, retires, and is replaced by someone better.

Blue wave, y'all. Blue wave.
posted by CommonSense at 4:48 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


He won't retire. A sensible man would have retired the day he got a diagnosis of glioblastoma. He'll stay in his seat until he's dead.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:49 PM on December 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


In the late 60's I knew left wing Minnesotans who were still very bitter about their treatment in 1948.

Oh jeez, let me tell you about some of my family reunions in the 80s, for pete's sake, they way they'd go on, you'd think it happened just the other day or something.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:07 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


It certainly complicates things a hell of a lot for McConnell. He can't lose a single R vote the second Jones is seated.
posted by Talez at 5:09 PM on December 13, 2017 [13 favorites]


Not sure where to put this.. It's not Trump. It's not Moore. It's not Franken. But it's more of that common thread.

Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson commits suicide on bridge in Mt. Washington
Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, who was under investigation for alleged sexual molestation, has committed suicide.

Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell said Johnson killed himself on a bridge on Greenwell Ford Road in Mt. Washington, and the gun was recovered.

According to court documents obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the alleged molestation took place on New Year's Eve in 2012. The alleged victim, who was 17 at the time, told authorities that she was staying in a living area of the Heart of Fire City Church where Johnson was pastor, when Johnson, who had been drinking a lot, approached her, kissed her and fondled her under her clothes.

Johnson was never criminally charged. He vehemently denied the allegations at a press conference Tuesday.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:29 PM on December 13, 2017 [22 favorites]


It certainly complicates things a hell of a lot for McConnell. He can't lose a single R vote the second Jones is seated.

Murkowski and Collins have to be thinking, "what can I get out of this?"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:32 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


The late Rep. Johnson sounds like a thoroughly terrible human being. In addition to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old, who was friends with his daughter, he seems to have been a serial arsonist, and also a racist scumbag.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:35 PM on December 13, 2017 [26 favorites]


Dan Johnson was particularly...unhinged. The Pope's Long Con: A Kentucky preacher-turned-politician's web of lies.

(The "Pope" being what the late Mr. Johnson called himself.)
posted by elsietheeel at 5:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


His poor daughter, and family. And all of the other young people who grew up learning that Christianity means "regular weekend church parties. KyCIR described them as “Bikers, booze and, occasionally, bare breasts ... a costume party featuring zombie nuns in short skirts".

Ugh.
posted by Dashy at 5:42 PM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


(and of course, sadness about the victim)
posted by Dashy at 5:44 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


The KyCIR podcast/article is fascinating though. Give it a read if you haven't.

Also...

The only person standing between Johnson and public office was 69-year-old Linda Belcher, a retired schoolteacher, principal and lifelong county resident.

Seriously though, writers.

ALL RIIIIGHT!! *jazz hands*
posted by elsietheeel at 5:45 PM on December 13, 2017 [32 favorites]


I remain incredibly angry with McCain in part because one of the last things my grandfather ever told me before he and my grandmother drove away was boasting about having been at school with McCain. In fact, McCain is the central politician my Pentagon-administrating grandmother and retired colonel grandfather viewed as the paragon of the Republican party. The first political activity I ever participated in was marching with my grandparents in the 2000 McCain primary. As of 2011, my grandparents had a weird little shrine to him with themed nutcrackers and masks in their basement. I have associations, and they might not directly derive from McCain himself but his actions have about killed any faith I might have in honorable Republicans.

So, personally, I don't hope he recovers. I hope he receives the best medical care available, the kind that prioritizes life above quality. I hope his cancer eats at him as badly as the rot in his soul, ravaging body and mind, and I hope it weighs on him. I wish him either unable to harm me or in ill health or both, and I cannot muster the shame I think I should intellectually feel about that.
posted by sciatrix at 5:46 PM on December 13, 2017 [38 favorites]


Hoping he recovers is the polite sentiment, but in all likelihood both Minnesota and Arizona will have two open seats in 2018. And that means the Democrats have an even better shot at retaking the Senate.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:51 PM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


Dan Johnson was from Kentucky's 49th district, and won in 2016 with 50.42% to the incumbent Linda Belcher's 49.58%. Each got a bit less than 9500 votes; he won by 156 votes. This is a very flippable seat.

The 49th is part of Bullitt county - south of Louisville, which is in a different district. Largest city is Shepherdsville. Major business in Bullitt include a Zappos outlet and fulfillment center, which employs thousands, and connections to the Louisville airport.

Kentucky districts have just over 40k residents (Bullitt has 60k residents, so it gets split). It went 75+% to Trump, although what I can turn up of statistics says it's almost 50/50 split in registration.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 6:00 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


the incumbent Linda Belcher

"Oh Bob the people need to hear my elect Linda Belcher song!"
posted by Talez at 6:03 PM on December 13, 2017 [35 favorites]


More from The Best People Watch: Federal Judicial Nominee Flunks 'Motion in Limine' Definition at Senate Hearing:

This is shit is infuriating on so many levels, the disrespect for the bench is just unimaginable. EVEN REPUBLICANS should want judicial nominees who are actually qualified and like, know what laws are? otherwise how do they expect someone who can't manage basic concepts of evidence to influence doctrine?

And on a personal level, it's staggering that I'm literally more qualified these people Republicans are nominating for Article III lifetime appointments. I can't get even a call back interview from the NLRB and have a folder full of rejected cover letters an inch thick. Not that I should be nominated either, far from it, but that's how bad these nominees are. They shouldn't be getting an interview with [insert agency] either. It breaks my brain to think of Obama nominating me, or people I was hired with, or people I went to school with even though some of them are legitimately incredible, for a lifetime appointment just because of a left wing blog post we wrote or who our rich dad gave to.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:08 PM on December 13, 2017 [65 favorites]


@CandaceSmith_: There will be ☕️☕️☕️ on @GMA and @Nightline tomorrow— @OMAROSA is appearing exclusively on ABC, her 1st intv post-WH departure.

@swin24: Ummm... it will be amazing if she says publicly what her allies today have been spinning anonymously, like about how allegedly mad she’s been about Trump and race issues
posted by zachlipton at 6:19 PM on December 13, 2017 [6 favorites]


This is shit is infuriating on so many levels, the disrespect for the bench is just unimaginable. EVEN REPUBLICANS should want judicial nominees who are actually qualified and like, know what laws are?

Absolutely infuriating, as are so many aspects of the Trump administration. On the other hand I think many conservatives are disgusted, too. I can't imagine that judicial nominees are typically asked if they know what a motion in limine is. Senator Kennedy, a Republican, was essentially trolling Petersen. (Before the part about federal civil procedure he asks if Petersen has ever appeared in any court, ever. "State? District? Bench trial?... " "No ... no ... no ...") Petersen isn't even the nuttiest of dingbat nominees, but he's unqualified and at least some Republicans are annoyed.
posted by stowaway at 6:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


As of 2011, my grandparents had a weird little shrine to him with themed nutcrackers and masks in their basement.

I want to stress first and foremost in the “X delenda est” format that I think your grandparents have no family loyalty, which is the most damning thing I can say at a distance, but also sweet Jesus do I want to know more about this detail. Are the nutcrackers McCain? Is this a normal thing that happens?
posted by corb at 6:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


Dunno if this was posted in an earlier thread, and I almost posted it in the Alabama special election thread, but it looks like the Republican gov. of my own home state of Michigan is going to functionally disenfranchise the (heavily black and heavily Democratic) district which Conyers represented for almost a year:

Michigan’s Republican governor announced Friday that Democrat John Conyers’ congressional seat will not be filled until the regularly scheduled November election, leaving it vacant for nearly a year.

Gov. Rick Snyder decided the post will be listed twice on the August primary and November general election ballots. While unlikely, it is possible voters could choose one candidate to fill the vacancy until January 2019 and elect another to a full two-year term after that.

posted by dhens at 6:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


I think the only governor I hate as much as I hate Bad Scott Walker is Rick Snyder. What an absolute piece of dogshit.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:41 PM on December 13, 2017 [15 favorites]


Republicans Rejoice in Breitbart Chief’s Alabama Humiliation

Particularly obnoxious detail:
One senior Trump aide stressed early Tuesday that Trump would take a Jones upset “very, very” hard—not least, the aide said, because it would rob the president of the ability to goad his predecessor, Barack Obama, over getting involved on Jones’ behalf.
I may drown in the schadenfreude, but at least I'll die happy.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:41 PM on December 13, 2017 [54 favorites]


I think the only governor I hate as much as I hate Bad Scott Walker is Rick Snyder. What an absolute piece of dogshit.

What about Rick Scott and literally bilking Medicare out of billions WHILE being a piece of shit? That's gotta be right up there.
posted by Talez at 6:43 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


Well, I've never wanted to live in Florida, so that kinda lowers Rick Scott on my own personal scale.

But derail aside, when I briefly google gubernatorial disapproval ratings, I see that Rick Scott is slightly below Snyder/Walker and only just above my own beloved Governor, Jerry Brown.

(The worst governor in the nation? Chris Christie. Because who else could it be?)
posted by elsietheeel at 6:50 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Trump truly was tweeting like an idiot. Republicans were also publicly insulting him as badly or worse.

@davidfrum
Actual tweet by Donald Trump on March 4, 2016, the day an FBI investigator called him an "idiot."
@realDonaldTrump: "@AngieSteinberg: GET THAT POS WSJ LIAR FANTASY PUNDIT @marykissel OFF THE AIR. Blah blah. A real dummy!

@davidfrum
On that same day, Meg Whitman - past GOP nominee for governor of California - called Trump a "dishonest demagogue" "incredibly dangerous" "repugnant." http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/04/investing/donald-trump-meg-whitman/index.html


@davidfrum
On that same day, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio called Trump a "con man" and candidate Ted Cruz called Trump "part of the corruption in Washington you're angry about." https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/04/us/politics/republican-debate.html
posted by chris24 at 6:51 PM on December 13, 2017 [28 favorites]


Someone is clearly writing a tv show with our politics. I’m just adding my own fan fiction to the mix.

We just learned that the writers have added a Linda Belcher this season, so
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:54 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Then the AZ Gov can reappoint Flake to McCain’s seat, which if I’m not mistaken, would allow Flake to then ”reretire” until 2022 when McCain’s current term is up.

No, that appointment would only last until either the next scheduled general election or a special election depending on AZ law.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:06 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm really surprised at the "motion in limine" issue. Not that they'd hammer someone for not being able to define it, but for the fact that it came up. (Article is paywalled. Argh.)

I admit, I had to Google for it. But I'm not a lawyer; I got a paralegal degree several years ago and haven't done any work in law firms; I work with documents, not legal cases. But I knew how central it was; I'd just forgotten the exact purpose.

Motion in limine is what's used to ask a judge to exclude evidence - "don't let in that person's testimony" or "block everything obtained in that search" or "don't allow any evidence related to prior convictions." It's beyond common. A lawyer who can't define "motion in limine" should be disbarred for rank incompetence; it's like a driver not being able to define "windshield wipers." Sure, you don't always need them, but being unable to say what they are shows that your basic skills are extremely lacking.

I'm curious about how it came up at all. This is not even "first year law student" material; it's "I'm interested in prelaw and I read a listicle about legal terms" material. How badly did he flub the scheduled questioning that they even thought to ask him to define it?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:11 PM on December 13, 2017 [33 favorites]


Re Illinois holding a seat open for almost a year, is there no voter with standing that can challenge that? I mean, I'm sure all the legal minds in Chicago are already on this, and my only claim to legal knowledge is that I watched Paper Chase in the 70s, so I really don't know, but it sure seems like that should be illegal.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:11 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


A little while ago I got home from supper with friends and checked Facebook. It seems my moribund Indivisible group (I live in Tennessee, a state which was not considered flippable until yesterday) has renamed and refocused itself Flip Tennessee, and people are HET UP (in the excited, not angry sense). Volunteers from other Indivisible groups and Postcards to Voters and other grassroots groups are already popping in saying, "We're ready when you are."

Our early declared candidate for the senate seat held by Bob Corker (TN, Weasel*), James Mackler, was a gem but had a lot of strikes against him. This afternoon he bowed out, clearing the field for Phil Bredesen. I sincerely hope Mr. Mackler runs for something else; he's the real deal and I will bust hump for him as *dogcatcher* (though I'd prefer he aimed higher!) But Phil Bredesen is not a laughable candidate - he was popular and successful as Governor.

I wish anybody but an Old White Guy were our candidate. But here in the South, if we can win with a right-thinking, good-hearted Old White Guy Democrat, I'll take that over Bob Fucking Corker and Lamar Fucking Alexander any day of the week, with cherries on top.

On this day, 13 December 2017, I am declaring Tennessee to be in play. I didn't think it would happen in my lifetime, but I can say that about a lot of things these days.

*This is unfair to weasels. They can't help it, they're weasels. Corker could help it and didn't.
posted by workerant at 7:17 PM on December 13, 2017 [84 favorites]


Is anyone hearing anything early about what's in the tax reform conference bill regarding community development tax credit programs?

I mean New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Historic Tax Credit (HTC), and Private Activity Bonds (PABs)?

A lot of community facilities and affordable housing projects are built using these funding sources, which were eliminated in the original House bill and retained in the original Senate bill.

Does anyone know already whether these programs are retained in the conference bill?

Absent these programs, new community facilities in low-income neighborhoods will not get built and new affordable housing projects will not move forward. This is all a little invisible, but these under-threat programs make it all happen.

Any early word from anyone on their fate?
posted by mississippi at 7:18 PM on December 13, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'm curious about how it came up at all.

Watch the video starting at 1:51:00, it's really incredible. Sen. Kennedy, a Republican, but who was editor of the UVA law review and a civil trial lawyer before his political career, is just crushing all of the 5 nominees in the hearing. He clearly knows Peterson is unqualified and he's making a point of trolling him with basic questions waiting for him to fuck one up, which takes about 1 minute before he does.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:21 PM on December 13, 2017 [47 favorites]


A lawyer who can't define "motion in limine"

That wasn't the only phrase he couldn't define. He failed to answer to a list of some other terms during the hearing, including the "Daubert standard"--these aren't super-arcane or obscure legal thesis topics; they're stuff covered in Evidence 101!
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 7:22 PM on December 13, 2017 [15 favorites]


Re Illinois holding a seat open for almost a year, is there no voter with standing that can challenge that?

Michigan, not Illinois
posted by dhens at 7:26 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


I want to stress first and foremost in the “X delenda est” format that I think your grandparents have no family loyalty, which is the most damning thing I can say at a distance, but also sweet Jesus do I want to know more about this detail. Are the nutcrackers McCain? Is this a normal thing that happens?

Yes, the nutcrackers are little models of McCain. You know all that Presidential memorabilia that gets made in every election year of both the major candidates, the stuff like Halloween masks of their faces and bobble heads and shit?

Well, there's a little window nook in their basement, and they'd filled it with McCain memorabilia which was probably purchased in 2007 and 2008. There were two nutcrackers shaped like, yes, McCain himself, as I recall, and at least one of the Halloween masks. (One of the better ones, I think.) And there was some other tat there as well--some patriotic decorations and some other McCain themed plates and things. I have no idea what their actual relationship with the man is or was--my grandfather also served with him, I believe--but either way, it was seriously weird.

No, Jesus, this is not a normal thing that happens--at least, I never met anyone else with one--and it's one of those little side things I tend to pull out when I want to really stress some of the weirder levels of devotion to the man among my extended family. I think they gave my dad a framed photo of him shaking hands with the man at some point, as well, but my dad sensibly stashed it in a closet.

It's--like, my dad was basically groomed from early adolescence for a Congressional career, and I think only decided in the middle of his military service that fuck this, he wanted to do something else with his life. I grew up being heavily encouraged and tempted to go into either civil service or law or the military to the point that literally every interest I expressed in my future career from elementary school up through undergraduate around my grandmother was met with encouraging discussion about how I could use that to work in a federal position or apply for Department of Justice grants or parlay that into lobbying credentials. I'm not in civil service in part because I did not want to be in the family business.

I have to wonder if that wasn't the same decision my dad made. I know he hated the military, but I haven't talked to him in a while now. But it's absolutely a track that I would bet produces a lot of these younger Congressmen, and my youngest aunt did follow my grandmother to the Hill as a lobbyist, and she remains very close to my grandparents. (She has no children, which I imagine is part of why I was early on singled out as one of the favorite grandchildren--not all my cousins got this kind of attention growing up.) She's... well, my aunt's a piece of work. She never mentioned anything unusual about the little display, but then I wouldn't go to her as an example of a healthy and well-adjusted non-asshole staffer under normal circumstances. The only other person I know currently working on the Hill is a friend of mine from college, and while I can't see him pulling anything that daft he's also a Dem.

As I recall, my aunt's response to the inauguration was to crow over having tickets to the official inauguration concert, obtained I think on basis of her friendship with General Mattis. That was one of the first signs I caught that the Republican party was not, in fact, going to turn to decency or national integrity over party loyalty.
posted by sciatrix at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2017 [22 favorites]


Kennedy has been pretty much the only Republican taking any of these judicial confirmation hearings seriously since Gorsuch, and good for him.

In other nominee news, Michael Dourson, the nominee to head EPA's toxic chemicals office who had a history of recommending ludicrously high "safe doses" in risk assessments, has bowed out. Dourson was the first environmental nominee that Democrats went after with both barrels since Scott Pruitt, so this is a pretty good win.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:36 PM on December 13, 2017 [34 favorites]


Re the tax bill, the email I just got from Lloyd Doggett--my representative, and one of the Dems on the Ways and Means committee--suggests:

Today, the House and Senate Conference Committee met even though the Republicans have not provided the Democratic members of the committee with a final copy of the bill. We had not a single committee hearing on the bill and no Administration witness had the courage to come forward and answer our questions on the bill.

I said that among the many harmful provisions, the greatest wrong occurring — what we are seeing today with the majority’s authoritarian rule — is a steady erosion of democracy in the People’s House and in this Congress.

Our country deserves better.


He also included a video of his remarks, which pleases me: this is exactly the kind of tack I wish more Democrats would take.
posted by sciatrix at 7:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [35 favorites]


The Jones win is particularly important with the news that McCain is ailing acutely. Had Moore won the Republicans would likely get another pass at completely repealing Obamacare before the midterms. And McCain's replacement would mean they could pass it. Jones + Collins + Murkowski can prevent that from happening.

No comment on Collins and Murkowski being willing to gut the mandate but not repeal Obamacare over all. It's a nonsensical position.
posted by Justinian at 7:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


I just faxed LA Sen. Kennedy a short thank you for actually vetting nominees:
I am appalled that unqualified candidates are being nominated for lifetime judicial appointments, and I greatly appreciate your inquiries into their knowledge of the law. I am grateful to you for the integrity and care you are exhibiting in your work on the Judiciary Committee.
I hear positive reinforcement can be pretty effective, so I'm happy to send a thank you when someone's doing their job in a room full of people who aren't.
posted by kristi at 7:46 PM on December 13, 2017 [54 favorites]


So...I just got a note from my son's human geography teacher. It's an AP sociology type class with a broad survey of information. Today they were talking about Net Neutrality, and the Senators who took campaign donations from telcoms, and the differences between bribes and campaign contributions, and amongst the activities the kids could do was call their Senator.

Apparently, my son listens when I talk to Cruz's office, because, according to his teacher, he said basically "Hey Ted, nice human suit you've got there. Listen, I've seen what you're willing to do for 14k. I mean, shutting down the internet is a pretty big thing. So, I'm wondering, if I give you ten bucks, will you vote against the Tax bill? If $10 isn't enough, maybe we could do a car wash or something, exactly how much does a Republican Senator's vote cost these days?"

I laughed, and said that if she got any blowback, to direct it to me, I welcome the opportunity to enlighten people to my message that Ted Cruz is an amorphous blob wearing a badly fitting human suit who seeks to do harm to all and any.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:48 PM on December 13, 2017 [179 favorites]


I hear positive reinforcement can be pretty effective, so I'm happy to send a thank you when someone's doing their job in a room full of people who aren't.

Notably, Kennedy's vote against Trumpkin Judge Gregory G. Katsas was just canceled out by Fucking Joe Manchin voting to confirm him.

Absent Manchin's vote a circuit judge would've been defeated.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:53 PM on December 13, 2017 [24 favorites]


T.D. Strange, thank you for the video link! "My background is not in litigation... I haven't had to do a deep dive..."

aaaagh. Dude. Your background is not in law. Howdafuk did this guy get through law school?

"Have any of you blogged in support of the Ku Klux Klan?"
"No."
"Let the record show they answered no."

Oooh. That looks like a setup for a perjury charge, if he knows something they're not admitting.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:00 PM on December 13, 2017 [26 favorites]


All I know is that when filling an empty US Senate seat, the last thing a governor should do is engineer their way into filling that seat. It never seems to work out.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:03 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mean New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Historic Tax Credit (HTC), and Private Activity Bonds (PABs)?


I haven't heard anything yet about the HTCs from my usual preservation contacts. However, here in Michigan we got good news today - Michigan SB 469, which would reinstate our state historic tax credits, overwhelmingly passed in the Senate. It still needs to pass the State House, but we're all celebrating a minor victory here.
posted by Preserver at 8:04 PM on December 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Michigan, not Illinois

D'oh. Yes. Michigan.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:06 PM on December 13, 2017


Absent Manchin's vote a circuit judge would've been defeated.

Oh, look at this horseshit:

Joe Manchin: I told Doug Jones to be an 'Alabama Democrat,' not a 'Washington Democrat'

Given the way elections are going it might be time to revisit the notion that Manchin can't be gotten rid of without a Republican replacement. I'm certain there've been a few votes where he isn't as bad as a real Republican but he's always going to be a problem.
posted by Artw at 8:07 PM on December 13, 2017 [17 favorites]


Tell me again how we should support every turncoat with a D after his name.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:10 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Tell me again how we should support every turncoat with a D after his name.

Because the Senate map is already against Democrats and if we want a hope in hell of holding the chamber come 2018 it's a hell of a lot easier with his seat being blue. You're not going to get a progressive Democrat in Manchin's steed if you did primary him. There's not even a guarantee you could primary him. People in West Virginia turn out to vote for Manchin not Democrats. You would need to close 27 points on a 2014 result. It's an absurd amount of risk putting basically the chamber on the line for the occasional asshattery.

Pissing away a Senate seat out of sheer spite over a judicial appointment is right up there with the whole cut your nose off to spite your face.
posted by Talez at 8:20 PM on December 13, 2017 [28 favorites]


Forget it Talez, it's Chinatown.

(ie the reasons are actually obvious to anyone who looks for them. Some people don't find those reasons persuasive. But they are obvious.)
posted by Justinian at 8:22 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not a mod, but maybe as a favor we could not have this discussion for the 537th time?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:22 PM on December 13, 2017 [28 favorites]


*sniffs* You could do worse than modeling yourself after Terri Sewell, I do suppose. Or does Mr. Manchin think there's another Alabaman federally elected Democrat currently ranking?

(She welcomes you, Mr. Jones!)
posted by sciatrix at 8:22 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


If we ARE the actual party of working people, why can't someone with a D after their name, primary this guy...? It is West Virginia...
posted by Windopaene at 8:24 PM on December 13, 2017


It's not just one judicial appointment, now he's evangelizing others to vote against the party too.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:25 PM on December 13, 2017


SecretAgentSockpuppet: "Re Illinois holding a seat open for almost a year, is there no voter with standing that can challenge that?"

As mentioned, this is actually Michigan.

So, there are two things here. The first is that Gov. Snyder scheduled this date after getting it approved by local Democratic organizations, so that it would align with the normal primary/general election dates. Is this a terrible idea? Yes. If I were a Democrat in that district, I'd be making my displeasure very known. But Snyder at least has a fig leaf of bipartisanship here.

Is illegal? Don't think so. Michigan law seems to provide for the date being scheduled as the governor wishes, as late as the next general election.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm certain there've been a few votes where he isn't as bad as a real Republican but he's always going to be a problem.
He’s not gonna be a problem if the Dems get enough of a majority.
posted by chrchr at 8:32 PM on December 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


The first is that Gov. Snyder scheduled this date after getting it approved by local Democratic organizations, so that it would align with the normal primary/general election dates.

I'd hazard a guess that it's because if you have a special election you need to fight an election. It requires money that could be used better elsewhere to defend a seat that won't make a difference for the rest of the short term.
posted by Talez at 8:33 PM on December 13, 2017


There's good reason to flip a R seat in a special election though, incumbency is usually worth a few points in an election making it easier to defend a seat than attack one. When there's a special election there's no incumbency advantage.
posted by Talez at 8:36 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


(It probably says something that I thought "Hm, what Alabama Democrats seem most excellent?", went looking for candidates, noted that the currently serving Alabama Democrat is the first black woman ever elected to the House in her state, and delightedly went "aha..." Wasn't disappointed by her policies, either--note she's the Vice-Chair of the Voting Rights Caucus, for example. Is Manchin even on the Senatorial equivalent? Is there a Senatorial equivalent?

And we as a party have got to encourage more black women to run for local and state and national offices and support them when they do run. Black women are the most important single bloc in America, and we ought to reflect that gratitude for, for example, Jones' win in coin of support for them. Women of color generally, really.)
posted by sciatrix at 8:38 PM on December 13, 2017 [12 favorites]


> Given the way elections are going it might be time to revisit the notion that Manchin can't be gotten rid of without a Republican replacement. I'm certain there've been a few votes where he isn't as bad as a real Republican but he's always going to be a problem.

I mean, your own 538 link put a number on this "few number of votes": at that time it was 33% (Manchin had voted with Trump 67% of the time) but 538's updated Trump Tracker has him down to 53.7%, or voting better than a WV Republican almost half of the time. Considering what some of those vote are for or could be for, that's an immense difference.

Competing for the general in Alabama was a low-risk, high-reward play. Primarying Joe Manchin risks giving up the 41st vote to sustain a filibuster, or the 51st vote to control the Senate, or the 60th vote to override a GOP filibuster, along with those half of votes on which Manchin has been better than whatever Republican would replace him. It's common sense to compete everywhere in general elections, but when you start picking off your own side in primaries, you'd better understand the risks. I'll take Joe Manchin being an asshole if it means Democrats can take the Senate in 2018.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:38 PM on December 13, 2017 [16 favorites]


No doubt the GOP is very happy they picked off Dick Lugar - he sometimes voted with Democrats!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:41 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


Note that the average democrat scores like 30%, tonycpsu, so that 53.7% does't mean that's 53% of votes where he votes in a way a typical Democrat wouldn't vote since the average democrat would vote with Trump almost 33% of the time. One assumes those votes are generally the least controversial.
posted by Justinian at 8:43 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


From a week or so back: Manchin, Heitkamp won't rule out voting for GOP tax bill

Joe Lieberman types absolutely cannot be counted on as part of any assumed majority, we've learned that.
posted by Artw at 8:44 PM on December 13, 2017 [11 favorites]


NYT: Alabama Loss Exposes Republican Fissures Amid a Democratic Surge

This story has several interesting tidbits:

* Charlie Dent [PA-15], who was already going to retire, is hinting at resigning early. This district is very winnable (52-44 Trump, 51-48 Romney).

* FL gov Rick Scott having second thoughts about challenging Sen Bill Nelson. Scott would be by far the strongest challenger against Nelson, this would be a big win.

* GOP is worried that McCain resigns/dies, gov appoints Martha McSally to the seat, leaving only raving nutbag Kelli Ward to run for the Flake seat.

* GOP also worried that Chris McDaniel could pick off Roger Wicker in the MS primary, resulting in an Alabama-style "massively racist GOP candidate energizes black vote, Dem wins shocker" scenario.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:46 PM on December 13, 2017 [33 favorites]


From a week or so back: Manchin, Heitkamp won't rule out voting for GOP tax bill
They're playing PR here, they're both up for election next year. "We are open to working with the President, he just wouldn't put together a good deal for the people of [WV/SD]."

They pulled the same thing early in Obamacare repeal. I will bake and eat a cake if either of them votes for the tax bill in a form at all like what it is now.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 PM on December 13, 2017 [17 favorites]


At this point, Chrysostom could form a cult and I'd be one of the first to sign up.
posted by perhapses at 8:50 PM on December 13, 2017 [18 favorites]


I would like to stress I am Just Some Guy With Opinions On The Internet, not a professional.

Well, I'm also Borough Tax Collector. But mostly Just Some Guy.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:51 PM on December 13, 2017 [79 favorites]


> Note that the average democrat scores like 30%, tonycpsu, so that 53.7% does't mean that's 53% of votes where he votes in a way a typical Democrat wouldn't vote

Is that what I said? I was comparing him to a GOP substitute, who would vote with Trump almost all the time (Moore-Caputo's "down" to 94%.) I'm not concerned with how much worse he is than a Democrat, but how much better he is than who he'd be replaced with.

> Joe Lieberman types absolutely cannot be counted on as part of any assumed majority, we've learned that.

I don't have to count on him -- I just have to know that the bear he's outrunning is a Republican who will vote with Democrats around 0% of the time. Lieberman was an asshole, but in the end he was the 60th vote for the ACA. No West Virginia Republican would be the 60th vote for anything good.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:54 PM on December 13, 2017 [8 favorites]


Lieberman also personally killed the public option, so. Accepting turncoats in the party also means giving them the power to sabotage policy, which they will do every single time. Is it worth it? Opinions differ.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:56 PM on December 13, 2017 [16 favorites]


Kevin Collier, BuzzFeed, Only Half The States Targeted By Russian Hackers In 2016 Have Asked For Follow-Up Briefings. 21 states were notified in September that they were the target of Russian probing during the 2016 election (testing for SQL injection vulnerabilities). Only half have bothered to follow-up and ask further questions. Management of elections in this country is an utter disgrace.

Bloomberg, Josh Eidelson, Trump's Stand-In Bureaucrats May Have Overstayed Limits, in which unconfirmed acting officials are being left in place past the terms of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
President Donald Trump’s slow pace of hiring for key government jobs has left stand-ins occupying positions for so long that it may violate time limits on acting appointments, potentially resulting in decisions being overturned in court.

Enforcement actions as well as policy decisions on a variety of topics, such as easing restrictions on methane emissions from oil wells or permitting schools to offer 1 percent milk, could be challenged on the grounds that they were enacted by officials who had been in acting roles too long or were improperly delegated authority.
...
“For almost all positions, if you’re serving in violation of the Vacancies Act, anything that you do is void as a matter of law,” said Anne Joseph O’Connell, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, WaPo op-ed, This is what Puerto Ricans need from the government. Right now.
I’m much more comfortable writing a song than a political opinion column. Calling members of Congress, knocking on their doors and asking you to do the same is strange territory for me. I can already imagine the online comments: “Stick to entertainment.” I wish I could. But the news is full of scandals and tragedies, and every day is a struggle to keep Puerto Rico in the national conversation.

Puerto Rico needs a lifeline that only Congress and the Trump administration can provide. The list of needed actions is short, straightforward and agreed upon by Puerto Ricans of all political stripes. First, drop the crippling 20 percent excise tax on Puerto Rican products. This is an easy one given that the tax doesn’t exist yet. It can simply be removed from the tax-reform bill right now being finalized in House-Senate conference negotiations.
Parker/Dawsey, WaPo, ‘I would have won Alabama’: Trump spreads blame for Moore’s loss. A lot in here, but let's highlight Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who says he received calls encouraging him to keep going after attacking Bannon:
Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said he had gotten lots of feedback from White House aides after saying Bannon “looks like some disheveled drunk who wandered on to the political stage.”

“They say, keep it up, let him have it,” King said.
Brittney McNamara, Teen Vogue, Joe Biden to Anita Hill: "I Owe Her an Apology"

Matt Fuller, HuffPo, When Will Paul Ryan Step Down?, in which talk of a new Speaker is reaching a new intensity:
When the House Freedom Caucus gathered Monday night, members spent part of their meeting discussing a theory circulating on Capitol Hill and among the downtown Christmas parties that Ryan may believe he’s harpooned his personal white whale of tax reform and decide he’s finished.

“Is it a Boehner-meeting-the-pope moment?” one Freedom Caucus member rhetorically asked HuffPost, referring to Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner (R-Ohio), who hosted Pope Francis for a joint address to Congress in September 2015 and then announced his retirement the next morning.
Colum Lynch and Dan De Luce, Foreign Policy, North Korea Had Spurned Talks With U.S. Due to Trump’s Latest Sanctions, in which Tillerson called for new talks with North Korea, but is immediately undercut by Trump and the NSC, and the North Koreans have noticed that Tillerson does not seem to be speaking for anybody of importance.

Remember how NPS wants to more than double gate fees at the most popular national parks? That's still a thing, and you can submit comments on that plan in the next week or so. They're following that up by reducing the number of free days to just four next year, down from 16 last year and 10 this year.

David Roberts at Vox asks Are Democrats suckers for holding their own to high standards?. No, we're not, but "sensitive debates are difficult under a torrent of bad-faith gaslighting."

In many states, your last chance to enroll in health insurance for next year at healthcare.gov ends December 15th. Get yourself covered, then tell your friends and family!

Tonight is likely your last chance to call Ajit Pai's office and leave a message asking him to preserve the Open Internet Order and net neutrality: (202) 418-1000. It's a voicemail, if that helps your phone anxiety.

[exhales]
posted by zachlipton at 8:59 PM on December 13, 2017 [62 favorites]


Accepting turncoats who sometimes sabotage you and sometimes help you in Connecticut is one thing. Doing so in West Virginia is another. I'd gladly support any primary challenge to the modern-day equivalent of Lieberman -- a turncoat saboteur in a blue state -- but unless I'm missing an obvious one, the closest thing we have now is, who, MacCaskill?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:00 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


but unless I'm missing an obvious one, the closest thing we have now is, who, MacCaskill?

Feinstein was looking like it for a while, she seems to have shifted a little.
posted by Artw at 9:04 PM on December 13, 2017


I'd be happy to see Feinstein primaried, but it's more the blueness of her state than how bad her voting record is that makes her an appealing primary target. We only get 2 CA Senators -- they should be liberal stalwarts.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:13 PM on December 13, 2017 [10 favorites]


Oh god, do not primary McCaskill. Focus on not fucking electing Josh Hawley to the Senate. MO Dems are on life support as it is. We don't need a well intentioned but poorly executed primary challenge (especially as an idea coming from outside the state) against a critical blue seat. People live here, you know. The local wisdom is to hold her seat.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:21 PM on December 13, 2017 [50 favorites]


Uh, yeah, to be clear, I didn't mean to suggest she be primaried.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:24 PM on December 13, 2017


More concisely a primary to her is gold to the Hawley campaign. If Kander was in Blunt's seat, a Claire Challenger would be more viable.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:24 PM on December 13, 2017


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House:
-- Dems at +15 in Monmouth generic ballot poll. 538 generic average stands at +11.

-- Linked earlier, but if you missed it, 538: Special Elections So Far Point To A Democratic Wave In 2018 [tl;dr: Dems outperforming, and doing so in all kinds of districts]

-- The Hill: Republicans fear deep losses in 2018 elections

-- If you are in TX, there is a metric ton of info about who has filed for election in this DKE thread (filing deadline just passed).
** Odds & ends:
-- Inside Elections: 10 Takeaways from AL Senate Election (Did you hear? Doug Jones won!)

-- As noted above, KY state Rep Dan Johnson committed suicide after credible sex abuse allegations. This will trigger a special election for the seat. I respectfully disagree with ErisLordFreedom's analysis above, I don't think this seat is very winnable. Johnson won very narrowly (less than a point), but I think that's attributable to him being a total nutjob. District went 72-23 Trump, 66-33 Romney, so it's pretty red. All things possible in current environment, but it's not an easy flip for sure.

-- Mentioned upstream, Monmouth poll has Trump at 32/56, his all time low. He's at 37/56 in a Marist. The 538 approval average is now 36.7/56.8.

-- Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register poll has Trump approval in Iowa at 35/60. This was a state he won 51-42. We note in passing that Iowa has a gubernatorial election in 2018 (she pulls a 51/30, which isn't great, but not awful).

-- Things are looking good for Michigan anti-gerrymandering forces getting an initiative on the ballot to change the redistricting process. Subject to legal challenges, of course.

-- Dems providing support and training for Secretary of State candidates, in concerted effort to take back these offices.

-- Part 2 of a "what happened in Virginia" deep dive from the VA Dems pollster.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:26 PM on December 13, 2017 [39 favorites]


> * GOP is worried that McCain resigns/dies, gov appoints Martha McSally to the seat, leaving only raving nutbag Kelli Ward to run for the Flake seat.

Don't forget raving shitbag Joe Arpaio.
posted by toxic at 9:33 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


> -- Part 2 of a "what happened in Virginia" deep dive from the VA Dems pollster.

Some interesting findings / advice in this post about how to best tie Republicans to Trump:
Trump, disdain for Trump, and disappointment in Trump and Republicans were key factors in higher Democratic turnout and suppressed Republican turnout. Feelings about him generated increased interest among Democrats, and there was no way he would not be featured in paid communication. The question was “how,” not “if.” [...]

[...] The challenge was in trying to push energy against Trump down the ballot so that voters would hold Republican Delegates accountable for him. It was tough. We learned it could not be about Trump the person. It was not enough that he was divisive or that he was dangerous; that wasn’t a reason to vote against a Delegate they had supported for many cycles. Instead, what the focus groups taught us, was that we needed to show how the Delegates shared the Trump agenda and how the Trump agenda was dangerous for Virginia. [...] Finally, if the Republican did or said something stupid in the past, like introducing Trump at the convention or saying Trumpcare “was a good start” or Trump “is my ideal candidate,” we would use specifics to tie Trump to that Republican.

That helped us to understand how to use Trump to negatively define our opponents, but we still needed help knowing how to use him to define our Democrats. This is where good survey work came into play. In almost every positive battery this cycle, we tested a positive message that said the Democrat would stand up to Trump and not allow Republicans to do in Richmond what Trump was doing in Washington. We decided to split-sample this question so that half of the sample heard this as the first message in the battery and half heard it as the last message in the battery. Among those voters who heard the message first, the Trump message universally tested as the weakest message in the survey. Voters did not want the first lines they heard from someone they did not know to be about Trump. Among those voters who heard the message last in the battery, it was almost always a top tier message. The lesson was clear: we could not just lean in strongly against Trump to undecided or persuadable voters; we would need to first define the positive agenda and then show how Republican candidates and Trump put that agenda at risk.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:36 PM on December 13, 2017 [75 favorites]


Don't forget raving shitbag Joe Arpaio.

Heh. Pre Alabama I'd say Arpaio would beat likely democratic candidate Milquetoast McCentrist in a heartbeat, then probably get into a fight about the inherent awfulness of Arizonans. But now I don't think any of us can make that kind of assumption.
posted by Artw at 9:38 PM on December 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


Arpaio lost his last election by 13 points. He's not winning anything statewide.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:40 PM on December 13, 2017 [16 favorites]


I would like to stress I am Just Some Guy With Opinions On The Internet, not a professional.

A Professional is just Some Guy who did a thing long enough and well enough that people started believing him when he called himself a Professional.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:50 PM on December 13, 2017 [22 favorites]


Or, in the case of the judicial nominees upthread, some Incompetent Bro Who God-Knows-How Passed Minimum Licensing Reqs (a.k.a. becoming a lawyer without knowing basic evidence rules). You too can be a Professional!
Not that we should be emulating this...
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 10:09 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


@mississippi: Reportedly the Private Activity Bonds deduction is back in the new version of the bill (along with the deductions for student loan interest and medical expenses), and the grad student tax is gone. See this link.
posted by janewman at 10:13 PM on December 13, 2017


Never forget Omarosa's bizarre "Kneel before Zod!" moment before the election
“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to president Trump,” Manigault said. “It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”
posted by kirkaracha at 10:14 PM on December 13, 2017 [34 favorites]


Concerning messaging in the Va elections, Ed Gillespie spoke a little about his side of it on David Axelrod's podcast; while complaining about a "poisonous atmosphere" he offers a shrug emoji for his ads going full Willie Horton trying to connect Northam to MS-13 and sex offenders:
Gillespie told Axelrod he ran those ads because message testing suggested it would help him win. But he said they were not the issues he wanted to focus on.

“Are those the issues I would have chosen to run on as opposed to the tax cuts and frankly even the criminal justice reform innovative proposals I put forward?” said Gillespie. “That’s where I rather the race have been about, but those weren’t what was indicating was going to move numbers and help me win.”
...
“The issue that looked like it was going to move voters in the suburbs of Northern Virginia was public safety,” he said. “Clearly, (the MS-13 ads) didn’t work. Did it create a backlash? I don’t think so. But I don’t know.”
posted by peeedro at 10:25 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Looks Like Trevor Noah's writers have been reading these threads. There is cake.
posted by tllaya at 10:33 PM on December 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


The USA TODAY editorial board published an editorial today. It is a doozy.

They say Trump isn't even fit to clean Obama's toilet. This is the editorial page of a major newspaper. I guess I will have to stop referring to them as McPaper.

Has anyone ever seen something like that out of the editorial board of a real paper? Trump seems to have crossed a big line with his comments about Gillibrand.
posted by Justinian at 10:39 PM on December 13, 2017 [73 favorites]




From the USA today editorial:

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

Hot DAMN. Metaphorically putting trump in jobs often done by people of color is rhetorically delicious.
posted by medusa at 11:24 PM on December 13, 2017 [46 favorites]


Frankly I'm surprised the Gillibrand comments were the "big line" for USA Today - He's certainly said equally bad things about Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton and others -- but I did love that editorial and I can't wait to see what hotheaded tweets Trump comes up with in response.
posted by mmoncur at 11:28 PM on December 13, 2017 [5 favorites]


It must be the latent engineer in me but I don't see the unique awfulness of Trump.

His legislative and executive actions are mainstream Republican politics.

All that is different is that the faux veneer of the nice church going politician is no longer in place.

Maybe that is the difference. Our elites are being forced to look at what is beneath the surface and it has not been pretty for a long, long time. I'm willing to wager that as soon as the nastiness is papered over that we will return to the Nice Polite Republicans of yore.

(Little dig at our NPR friends at the end! I am so clever!) (And it is nice to see SOME elites rubbing their eyes.)
posted by pdoege at 11:37 PM on December 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't see the unique awfulness of Trump.

His awfulness isn't unique, but the combination of his awfulness, his incompetence, and his viciousness is. Even when we've had professional bumblers in high office, they didn't react to any correction with "you are a liar and everything you are telling me is fake and also I'm going tell everyone that you suck."

We've had rude people - on both sides - who alienated the people who wanted to help them.
We've had bumblers who listened to experts, and then fucked things up anyway.
We've had vicious schemers who pushed their own agenda without regard to what the people want or need.
We've never had all of them in the same person.

Maybe that is the difference. Our elites are being forced to look at what is beneath the surface and it has not been pretty for a long, long time.

Trump is bringing the toxins to a head. On the one hand, we get the chance to lance it. On the other, there's gonna be toxic spew all over everything, and the whole process will be painful. (And by "painful" I mean, people are going to die. Incompetence + corruption in charge = dead marginalized people. The hope is that we can keep that minimized, and the backlash can set up procedures to keep this from happening again.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:45 PM on December 13, 2017 [44 favorites]


I think it is also that Trump is vengeful and incompetent and it's shrugged off by mainstream Republicans as being No Big Deal (So Long As He Gets Us Our Tax Cuts), in a way that takes the veneer of respectability off the whole lot of them. It's a real They Live moment, and the pollster talks about how they found that tying normal Republicans to Trump was extremely successful, because it pulls the disguise off and shows how Republicanism has been veiled greed and spite this whole time.
posted by Merus at 12:06 AM on December 14, 2017 [37 favorites]


So it turns out that Ajit Pai danced in a video with a Pizzagater at the Daily Caller to make his case against Net Neutrality.
posted by zachlipton at 12:28 AM on December 14, 2017 [24 favorites]


WaPo: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked
U.S. officials declined to discuss whether the stream of recent intelligence on Russia has been shared with Trump. Current and former officials said that his daily intelligence update — known as the president’s daily brief, or PDB — is often structured to avoid upsetting him.
Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump’s ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump’s main briefer — a veteran CIA analyst — adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.


Emphasis mine.
posted by PenDevil at 4:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [61 favorites]


In other cases, Trump’s main briefer — a veteran CIA analyst — adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.
Again, the whole administration walking on glass like the family of an abusive parent. It's madness.
That said, it is probably wise to withhold some information from the Trumps, who are likely to share it with the Russian Embassy. This is so depressing.

It must be the latent engineer in me but I don't see the unique awfulness of Trump.
Really?
posted by mumimor at 4:39 AM on December 14, 2017 [28 favorites]


The USA Today editorial was actually covered by the BBC yesterday. I read the piece and had to chuckle when they commented: "USA Today is not known for publishing such blistering editorials."

No shit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2017 [15 favorites]




mississippi asked above: Is anyone hearing anything early about what's in the tax reform conference bill regarding community development tax credit programs?

I mean New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Historic Tax Credit (HTC), and Private Activity Bonds (PABs)?


Richard Rubin of the WSJ wrote yesterday that the house/senate agreement has not adopted the house repeal of private activity bonds (these fund about 50% of affordable housing in a year because they trigger LIHTC, which are essentially free money). I put this in the rumor category. This means I may be able to sleep between now and the end of the year.

That's all I've heard, including on an active listserve that loves to discuss NMTC, HTC or LIHTC and housing tax issues of any sort. If there was more out there, they'd've dug it upl.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 5:42 AM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


Trump won Florida by 112,911 votes.

Any chance there for making the Senate majority blue also?
posted by Cocodrillo at 6:01 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Normally I wouldn't be very optimistic at the idea of adding 200k+ votes that typically (at least up to 5-10 years ago) break for Republicans. Given how poorly Trump treated PR after Maria, I somehow doubt they'll feel much like voting for him in 2020. Should he be gone by then, it's very much a tossup in terms of how newly relocated Puerto Ricans will break in terms of party affiliation.
posted by wierdo at 6:04 AM on December 14, 2017


Here's a long depressing tweet storm about Moore, Trump, and the questioning of the validity of elections by Jared Yates Sexton
posted by angrycat at 6:13 AM on December 14, 2017


Who gives a shit if Moore concedes or not? He's not the first crank to lose an election.
posted by ryanrs at 6:22 AM on December 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


I agree with Sexton up to a point, but the rest of the Republican machine (including Trump!) has accepted the election result. This will be a pattern to be concerned about when a candidate less universally loathed than Moore tries to pull it.

Without the backing of the party, he just looks like a sore-loser nutjob.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:22 AM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


Surprisingly, at least since the inauguration (and possibly before, who can remember under the constant barrage of awfulness), USA Today has been not only running strong and plain-spoken anti-Trump Opinion pieces, but actual Real Journalism where they're willing to openly call bullshit on various Republican shenanigans. When a headline pops up in, say, Google News that says something like, "Tax Bill Will Add Trillions to National Debt", there's a better than average chance it's from USA Today.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:26 AM on December 14, 2017 [20 favorites]


(I was going to say Moore is not the first twice-impeached pedophile crank to lose an election, but actually maybe he is?)
posted by ryanrs at 6:27 AM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


It must be the latent engineer in me but I don't see the unique awfulness of Trump.

I think that with Trump it's not just that the lid is off and no one is pretending anymore; it's also that positions that were largely pretense, like "drowning the government should include getting rid of veteran personnel at the state department", are now being enacted as much as the administration can.

My impression is that an awful lot of the "let's drown the government" rhetoric was always just rhetoric - if only because GOPers wanted, like, government support for their impoverished red states or to have a military base or a government center located in a low-jobs area. Ditto for the "let's slash social security". My sense was that for the GOP majority, they basically wanted sweet jobs and lots of money, and to keep things basically the same since they already had a lot of advantages.

Also they were American-firsters in the sense of wanting to preserve American hegemony rather than hegemony by the global oligarch class. Trump and Bannon and them are international corporate people, and they don't care what happens to Americans as long as the global oligarchy is doing well. That's why they like Putin. Old-school GOP liked dictators of client states, not oligarch leaders of competitor nations.

I think it's pretty important to be able to say both "old GOP was bad and there's a throughline to new GOP" and "new GOP is worse".
posted by Frowner at 6:29 AM on December 14, 2017 [49 favorites]


The bigger concern I got from the Sexton piece was around accusations of voter fraud, rather than Moore's refusal to (stretching a metaphor for the sake of Horse Twitter props) pony up his loss
posted by Myeral at 6:31 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


it also occurs to me that there is a dynamic in place that will prevent too much arguing with election results from the white house: trump never, ever wants to be associated with a loser. as soon as he smells public, obvious failure on someone, they're dead to him, he never liked them, he told his friends all along that they were a ticket to nowhere.

trump might contest his own election results, but he's very, very unlikely to stand up for another republican.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:33 AM on December 14, 2017 [15 favorites]




Normally I wouldn't be very optimistic at the idea of adding 200k+ votes that typically (at least up to 5-10 years ago) break for Republicans.

I can't easily pull up data but STR that puertoriquenos have voted heavily Democratic for a while now.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:48 AM on December 14, 2017


The WaPo story PenDevil posted above is impressive. It ties together a massive amount of reporting on Trump-Russia and is worth at least bookmarking for later.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:50 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Awesome article, slipthought. It’s short, but I can’t help posting an excerpt:
If we had used a less strict standard, Trump would look even worse by comparison. He makes misleading statements and mild exaggerations – about economic statistics, his political opponents and many other subjects – far more often than Obama.

...We have used the word “lies” again here, as we did in our original piece. If anything, though, the word is unfair to Obama and Bush. When they became aware that they had been saying something untrue, they stopped doing it. Obama didn’t continue to claim that all Americans would be able to keep their existing health insurance under Obamacare, for example, and Bush changed the way he spoke about Iraq’s weapons capability.

Trump is different. When he is caught lying, he will often try to discredit people telling the truth, be they judges, scientists, F.B.I. or C.I.A. officials, journalists or members of Congress. Trump is trying to make truth irrelevant. It is extremely damaging to democracy, and it’s not an accident. It’s core to his political strategy.

...Over all, Obama rarely told demonstrable untruths as president. And he appears to have become more careful over time. We counted six straight-up falsehoods in his first year in office. Across his entire second four-year term, we counted the same number, six, only one of which came in his final year in office.

In all, we found 18 different bald untruths from Obama during his presidency. Trump told his 18th separate untruth in his third full week in office, and his list keeps growing.
posted by darkstar at 6:51 AM on December 14, 2017 [83 favorites]


the response to Maria seems like the sort of watershed that would make the republican party dead to puerto ricans for a generation.

(though as a majority catholic constituency you never can tell the influence of abortion as a single issue)
posted by murphy slaw at 6:52 AM on December 14, 2017


PPP - 53% think Trump should resign over assault allegations. 51% support impeachment so that’s the first time they’ve had a majority on that.
posted by azpenguin at 6:54 AM on December 14, 2017 [72 favorites]


Nobody has appointed a Russian asset to the state department with the aim of dismantling it before Trump, that seems pretty notable and bad. The open support for white supremacists and attempt to turn border and immigration forces into the SS also seem novel. Jess Sessions given actual power in non-racist states, the aggressive dismantling of schools, the destruction of the national parks, just to name a few things a "normal" GOP executive branch would go all in on. Most frightening of all the upping of the ante on voter supression. None of this is normal.
posted by Artw at 6:54 AM on December 14, 2017 [38 favorites]


My takeaway from that WP article is that in early January Clapper, Brennan, Rogers and Comey presented specific evidence to Trump, Pence, Priebus, Pompeo, and Flynn that Putin himself ordered the operation. That seems major.

Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.

posted by Rust Moranis at 6:55 AM on December 14, 2017 [53 favorites]


Who gives a shit if Moore concedes or not? He's not the first crank to lose an election.

Personally I could give a shit if anyone ever concedes any race* ever again. It's all part and parcel with a same-day-wrap one-day election obsession I wish we'd get over. Preliminary counts aren't even legally meaningful; elections have to be properly certified in a subsequent careful process. In most elections there's a fixed date months in the future before the winner gets seated. This OMG we have to wrap it all before midnight garbage is the flip side of the urgency coin that leads otherwise sensible people to insist we can't conduct an election over the course of weeks with early voting that makes sure everyone gets time to go to the polls (or mail in a ballot). It's a false urgency that played a part in letting the Supreme Court seem like they had any need to intervene in the 2000 Florida recount. Fuck concessions.

* In the general, anyway. There's obviously a motivation for some coming together in a primary to subsequently win a general all together, though I don't see some huge time pressure in that either.
posted by phearlez at 6:59 AM on December 14, 2017 [17 favorites]


It's all part and parcel with a same-day-wrap one-day election obsession I wish we'd get over. Preliminary counts aren't even legally meaningful; elections have to be properly certified in a subsequent careful process. In most elections there's a fixed date months in the future before the winner gets seated.

I think this is wrong. It's unclear whether by 'most elections' you're referring only to American elections (which are a bad example if you want to talk about good election policy) or to elections worldwide, where it runs the gamut from a few weeks to several years.

From that worldwide experience, it seems clear that it's better for all concerned if winners are seated quickly and get on with the job of governing. A smooth transition of power keeps the wheels of democratic countries greased, and it's genuinely disruptive when a winner's not known weeks after the election.

This OMG we have to wrap it all before midnight garbage is the flip side of the urgency coin that leads otherwise sensible people to insist we can't conduct an election over the course of weeks with early voting that makes sure everyone gets time to go to the polls (or mail in a ballot).

It's unclear that having a extended poll is really a good thing, either: it's mostly Americans who seem to rely on early voting as a fix for accessibility issues on the day, a problem that most other democracies have well in hand. A poll conducted over time isn't representative of the group at any particular moment in time, and in politics, where late-breaking stories can influence the opinion of the electorate, having one group of people unable to have as much time to decide their vote as others. (Sure, 90% of the time, a late story in the campaign is some attempt at last-minute ratfuckery, but it's still unfair.)

I think you've got legitimate grievances, but the problem is, ultimately, that American elections are Very Bad, and not that people are impatient to find out the result.
posted by Merus at 7:20 AM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


I am 1000% here for people who are upset that too much attention is focused on elections than to what those elected officials are doing to govern the country, though. Doug Jones is the junior senator from Alabama. That's great! How will Alabama improve as a result?

Alabama doesn't just deserve a representative who isn't an international embarrassment, they deserve an effective representative they can be proud of. What does Doug Jones plan to do?
posted by Merus at 7:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


That’s a fair question, and it’ll be soon answered. But for now, I think the first response is “caucus with the Democrats” which, these days, is more than I could ever have dreamed from a Senator from Alabama.

Not to downplay policy issues, but the key to stopping the train wreck of a completely GOP-controlled government is to whittle down their governing margins and eventually flip one or both chambers, plus the White House.

Imagine if the Dems had control of the Senate when Merrick Garland was nominated. Imagine if they don’t control it when Ginsburg or Kennedy retire.

That said, I would expect Jones to be more in line with the Manchin-esque wing of the Dems. (Perhaps not, though.) But for now, I think there are a lot of Alabamans that are pretty stoked.
posted by darkstar at 7:36 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


What does Doug Jones plan to do?

His record of prosecuting KKK members for a crime that most people had decided was ancient history says he's not going to accept "white power" provisions snuck into legislation.

He's been involved in environmental cleanup action against Monsato; he'll be watching for anti-environmental laws.

He's in favor of expanding Medicaid and increasing the minimum wage.

Of course he has no voting record yet; no first-time-elected politician does. But he has a solid career in law that relates well to several issues that are important to the people of Alabama.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:38 AM on December 14, 2017 [80 favorites]


Not to mention that in his victory speech, Jones pushed for CHIP reauthorization.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:41 AM on December 14, 2017 [71 favorites]




On the first day of Hanukkah the US gave to me
An Alabama victoryyyy
On the second day of Hanukkah the US gave to me
A block of Trump's judicial nomineeees
On the third day of Hanukkah the US gave to me
A disgraced Rep in a vulnerable seeeat
posted by saturday_morning at 7:54 AM on December 14, 2017 [84 favorites]


(The worst governor in the nation? Chris Christie. Because who else could it be?)

Paul LePage.
posted by Melismata at 7:59 AM on December 14, 2017 [57 favorites]


If every politician with sexual harassment skeletons in their closet resigned at once, the State of the Union Address would have an audience of 95% women.

Facing an empty podium.

We are going to knock out a lot of absolute bottom-feeders like Farenthold. We are going to knock out a lot of people we previously respected greatly, like Conyers and Franken. We are going to have to deal with noise and lies like what Floorshitter and Cernovich and O'Keefe are trying. We are going to have to convince many people, in the face of that, that "not enough hard evidence to convict in a court of law" is not equivalent to "the offense never happened" or "the accusation is hereby debunked." Steel yourselves for progress on this to be measured in stutter-steps.

But every bit of sunlight on these kinds of behavior is a good thing, even if we're not always happy about whose scalp gets taken.
posted by delfin at 7:59 AM on December 14, 2017 [55 favorites]


My morning NPR listening yielded better than usual results today! I listen to MN Public Radio.

First, Steve Inskeep, may he step on both equivalent sides of several legos, actually pushed back on a Republican spouting bullshit! And not in a "well democrats say" type of way. Some "Republican strategist" was explaining how the GOP is totally fine and voters are going to <3 them, especially once they enact more of their agenda like cutting taxes for everyone [sic]. Steve Inskeep said "But the tax bill is extremely unpopular. Do you really think passing unpopular legislation will help your approval rating?"

Second, I heard a clip of a Republican woman explaining why Mark Dayton is such a big meanie for picking Tina Smith to replace Al Franken. She claimed that "the people of Minnesota" are not served by Dayton simply picking someone "from his inner circle" and "she doesn't represent the whole of Minnesota". OMG people. Tina Smith was elected Lieutenant Governor twice by THE STATE OF MINNESOTA. One of the few politicians who was ACTUALLY chosen by the whole state. It is just such a stupid talking point I felt the need to share. Basically, Rs have nothing of substance to say against our girl Tina.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:05 AM on December 14, 2017 [53 favorites]


The one concern I have about Tina Smith is her involvement in the awful Vikings stadium deal. Taxpayer-subsidized stadiums are a scam, and that deal was one of the worst. With that said, she's far from the first or only politician to lack the courage to say no when sports team owners threaten to take their ball and go home move to LA, so it's not a dealbreaker. Just disappointing.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:10 AM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


The one concern I have about Tina Smith is her involvement in the awful Vikings stadium deal.

Definitely. Dayton-Smith lost my trust when they pushed so hard for that. I had mostly associated it with Dayton, not with Smith, but I admit I didn't follow it super closely except to tell everyone I know that stadiums are a scam and my tax money could be going to hundreds of better purposes. At the same time, Dayton's appointment record in the courts is stellar. We have a female majority supreme court, with a female chief justice! But ultimately, I won't miss him.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:16 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


The talks about a new stadium had been happening here since the mid-90's IIRC. It's been talked about for so long (despite building a new baseball stadium) that I felt like something was going to get built, it was going to be a shitty deal for the state, so we may as well build the damn thing while the state's economy is in decent shape and get it out of the way.

I would have preferred if they had framed it that way, like it was going to happen regardless so let's do it now before we have to rely on a GOP governor to negotiate that deal but I'm still kinda just glad to be done talking about the stupid stadiums for a while.
posted by VTX at 8:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


If every politician with sexual harassment skeletons in their closet resigned at once, the State of the Union Address would have an audience of 95% women.... Facing an empty podium.


*pause*

i'm ok with this
posted by entropicamericana at 8:37 AM on December 14, 2017 [68 favorites]


Ezra Klein, Vox: Republicans are paying a price for their extremism
The party is powerful and dominant, and it has a huge geographic advantage that has been fortified through aggressive gerrymandering and voter ID laws. It’s Democrats’ good luck that Republicans are squandering much of that advantage by repeatedly choosing such weak candidates.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:50 AM on December 14, 2017 [6 favorites]




Only half? Well, great, maybe the other half can be convinced to vote accordingly.
posted by saturday_morning at 8:56 AM on December 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


Watch the video starting at 1:51:00, it's really incredible. Sen. Kennedy, a Republican, but who was editor of the UVA law review and a civil trial lawyer before his political career, is just crushing all of the 5 nominees in the hearing. He clearly knows Peterson is unqualified and he's making a point of trolling him with basic questions waiting for him to fuck one up, which takes about 1 minute before he does.

You know what? This video makes me so happy. I am in graduate school, and I get frustrated when clearly privileged people who work half as hard (and whine twice as much) to produce mediocre work, end up getting opportunities because their parents know someone, or because they "look the part".

I will treasure this video and bookmark it for whenever I get infuriated about how easy some people have it. These fuckboys got humiliated and completely called out on their BS and their lame manipulations to ingratiate themselves with the panel fell completely flat.

Yes I'm bitter. Not just on my behalf, but on behalf of the people who actually deserved to be nominated there.

Also look at the black guy in the background bite the inside of his cheeks to avoid laughing when Kennedy asks the nominees if they have ever blogged in favor of the KKK heh
posted by Tarumba at 8:56 AM on December 14, 2017 [32 favorites]


From Artw's link:
The CBS News/YouGov poll was conducted on December 5-11, among 2073 U.S. adults.
I was one of those U.S. adults! Ask me anything.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:57 AM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


tonycpsu: "The one concern I have about Tina Smith is her involvement in the awful Vikings stadium deal."

I have two concerns (I don't live in MN, and confess to not being deep in on local politics). One is that Gov Dayton has a history of health issues. If for some reason he can no longer serve, Fischbach as Lt Gov means that the GOP now has unified control of the state government. That could be really bad.

Less tangibly, Smith was reported initially as only interested in keeping the seat warm, and not running in 2018. She's come around on that, but that's not a good look in a candidate. The 2018 environment, plus Klobuchar running, should be enough, but I'd really prefer someone who is enthused about the job.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:06 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


saturday_morning: "On the third day of Hanukkah the US gave to me

A disgraced Rep in a vulnerable seeeat
"

I like this! But TX-27 is pretty red: Trump 60-37, Romney 61-38. All things are possible in this environment, but this is not going to be an easy pickup.

Of course, Farenthold is just terrible. Even a Replacement Level Awful GOP replacement would still be an improvement.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Paul Ryan says that for the economy's sake, the American birth rate must increase, and that he's done his part in having three children. If only there were some way of getting young people into our country. Perhaps from... some other country...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2017 [66 favorites]


A little morning joy: Robin Roberts Says 'Bye, Felicia' to Omarosa On GMA.
posted by TwoStride at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


"We don't have the room for more immigrants, also please form more babby, no whitesupremo"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:17 AM on December 14, 2017 [41 favorites]


Rumor mill cranking about Paul Ryan possibly stepping down from speaker's office post-tax bill.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:19 AM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Who could Paul Ryan's replacement be? Gohmert? Nunes? The Speaker of the House doesn't have to be a sitting congressman, and I hear Roy Moore is available.

Rohrabacher?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:21 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


WaPo: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

Among that length article's numerous troubling revelations, there's one about NSC Russia advisor Fiona Hill (previously 1, 2, 3) that encapsulates practically everything wrong with Trump as a person—his misogyny, his unstable temper, and even his apparent cognitive impairment—and as an evident Kremlin asset. It's well worth quoting at length:
McMaster gained an internal ally on Russia in March with the hiring of Fiona Hill as the top Russia adviser on the NSC. A frequent critic of the Kremlin, Hill was best known as the author of a respected biography of Putin and was seen as a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners.

Her relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start.

In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it.

When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.

McMaster followed Hill out the door and scolded her, officials said. Later he and a few close staffers met to explore ways to repair Hill’s damaged relationship with the president.

Hill’s standing was further damaged when she was forced to defend members of her staff suspected of disloyalty after details about Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — in which the president revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests — were leaked to The Post.

The White House subsequently tightened the circle of aides involved in meetings with Russian officials. Trump was accompanied only by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting with Putin at a July summit of Group of 20 nations in Hamburg. In prior administrations, the president’s top aide on Russia was typically present for such encounters, but Hill has frequently been excluded.

A senior administration official said that the NSC “was not sidelined as a result” of Hill’s difficult encounters with Trump, that Hill is regularly included in briefings with the president and that she and her staff “continue to play an important role on Russia policy.”
The only weakness in the Washington Post's otherwise thorough article is that it entirely omits mention of Trump's many business ventures in Russia, to say nothing of his links to mafiya money-laundering. With those in mind, his constant rebuffs of information on Putin's interference in the 2016 election and his attempts to reverse the Obama administration's sanctions on Russia over them look much more significant than merely an "insulting" affront to Trump's win, as his advisers are spinning it.

Incidentally, during Putin's annual press conference today, when questioned about the Trump-Russia investigations, he claimed, in a tour de force of trolling, "All of it was invented by people who oppose President Trump to undermine his legitimacy. I’m puzzled by that. People who do it are inflicting damage to the domestic political situation, incapacitating the president and showing a lack of respect for voters who cast their ballots for him."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [36 favorites]


TX-27 is pretty red: Trump 60-37, Romney 61-38. All things are possible in this environment, but this is not going to be an easy pickup.

Ah, fair. I knew Farenthold's seat was previously held by a D, but now I see it was subsequently gerrymandered to hell. Oh well. Still worth contesting!
posted by saturday_morning at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


i would assume that mccarthy's name is circulating for speaker but i don't know if he's stupid enough to want the job
posted by murphy slaw at 9:26 AM on December 14, 2017


Well, he did run for it in 2015.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:33 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


From that worldwide experience, it seems clear that it's better for all concerned if winners are seated quickly and get on with the job of governing. A smooth transition of power keeps the wheels of democratic countries greased, and it's genuinely disruptive when a winner's not known weeks after the election.

Look, you can write whatever American election fanfic you like I guess but reality is that we here have a lot of these dates and intervals constitutionally mandated. "Oh, it would be better if" like this can go next to wishing we could piss beer for all that it's possible. A standard presidential/congressional election happens at a set day in early November and the Presidential swearing in is Jan 20 and Congressional start a hint before that. Period, end of story, that's the reality we have to recon with.

So in light of that, most of the rest of your concerns add up to theoretical maybe-harms compared to harms we absolutely know are the case. I'd rather fix things we know are broken than worry about minor edge cases that those fixes might create. If you disagree you may take your arguments to the people who have stood for hours in freezing rain to vote rather than me; even they'll be more receptive to them than I will. I'll take someone getting to actually cast a vote over some FUD that they might cast one and a week later some scandal will break. That sort of what if applies to one-day elections as well, so someone getting the chance to regret a vote beats them not getting to cast one at all.
posted by phearlez at 9:33 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


Paul Ryan says that for the economy's sake, the American birth rate must increase, and that he's done his part in having three children.

1. The planet is overpopulated already. This is so disgustingly irresponsible and selfish. Just like the GOP. What's next, handmaids?

2. I'm so glad that I decided to never have kids, especially now that I can say I did it to spite Paul Ryan.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:35 AM on December 14, 2017 [68 favorites]


Who could Paul Ryan's replacement be? Gohmert? Nunes? The Speaker of the House doesn't have to be a sitting congressman, and I hear Roy Moore is available.

The House Freedom Caucus won't accept anything less than an AR-15 wearing a MAGA hat. Bump stock optional but encouraged.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:40 AM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


showing a lack of respect for voters who cast their ballots for him

What about showing respect for the 3,000,000 more voters who voted for Clinton?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 AM on December 14, 2017 [29 favorites]


The socialists vs. the Costas: Upstart hard-left candidates challenge iconic old-school Pittsburgh political family

tl;dr:
Summer Lee, a young, accomplished woman of color, is going to attempt to primary Paul Costa (D-PA34) this spring.

Sara Innamorato is running against Dom Costa (D-PA21) in a similar primary-from-the-left race.

Both candidates are DSA-endorsed. In both cases the primary is the election, so if someone should want to aid in these campaigns, that time would be now-ish. The primary is May 15.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:47 AM on December 14, 2017 [34 favorites]


The FCC vote was just evacuated for a "security break." Security is forcing all journalists out of the room. Presumably there was a bomb threat or similar.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:52 AM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


Louie Gohmert in the Presidential line of succession would be both remarkably appropriate now and grounds for flattening the entire organization and starting over.
posted by delfin at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


Steve Inskeep, may he step on both equivalent sides of several legos, actually pushed back on a Republican spouting bullshit! And not in a "well democrats say" type of way. Some "Republican strategist" was explaining how the GOP is totally fine and voters are going to <3 them, especially once they enact more of their agenda like cutting taxes for everyone [sic]. Steve Inskeep said "But the tax bill is extremely unpopular. Do you really think passing unpopular legislation will help your approval rating?"

That was a good one! But he didn't take the next step, and point out that the Republican agenda of massive tax cuts for the rich is basically unpopular and always has been, and that Republicans have to pretend the cuts are something else. Nor was Kansas -- the idea that the tax cuts are bad policy, not just unpopular -- ever mentioned.

And worse, he let the Republican flak get by with the bigger whopper, which is to say "We Republicans are happy Moore lost because now voters won't associate him with us!"

Inskeep never mentioned that the RNC and Trump reversed themselves to endorse Moore in the late stages of the election. The Republican Party is on record as endorsing Moore, and Inskeep (and NPR more generally) are helping Repiublicans push their No True Republican spin.

Democrats need to push back on that lie, even if NPR won't.
posted by Gelatin at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2017 [17 favorites]


Live video of the room
posted by cmfletcher at 9:58 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


And worse, he let the Republican flak get by with the bigger whopper, which is to say "We Republicans are happy Moore lost because now voters won't associate him with us!"

Indeed, it's all true. Inskeep's moment of journalism was brief.
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:00 AM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


A chicken with a head injury could beat Gohmert at checkers three-out-of-five.
posted by delfin at 10:06 AM on December 14, 2017 [18 favorites]


A poll by Suffolk shows Trump favorability among Fox viewers in steady decline.

Jun: 90%
Oct: 74%
Dec: 58%

posted by chris24 at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2017 [38 favorites]


Ajit Pai is everyone's smarmy SVP pulling the 'oh how dare you, rubes' when you question management's decision to do something stupid and then condescendingly mansplains and tells you how it's for your own benefit.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:13 AM on December 14, 2017 [34 favorites]


Pai is also quoting blog posts (Stratechery--no idea) in defense of his positions. And he's making all sorts of specious leaps of logic about the type of content filtering that Google, Facebook, and Twitter do, basically saying they're a danger to an open internet (not necessarily wrong), and therefore we shouldn't trust them when they say that ending net neutrality is a danger to an open internet.
posted by Room 101 at 10:14 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


@AshaRangappa_: Curious whether we can consider a possibility: That Strozk, a counterintelligence agent and Russia expert, saw a Trump presidency as "terrifying" not because he's a political zealot, but because he was privy to evidence/intel that suggested it would be a national security threat?

Speculation, of course, but at some point, the Republican effort to dig into the political affiliations of everyone involved with the investigation could backfire if it reveals they had professional reasons to reach their negative conclusions about Trump.
posted by zachlipton at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


Perhaps to keep the streams separate (and the threads of manageable sizes and activity levels), the net neutrality discussion could be shifted to the open net neutrality thread. It's still good for another few days.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:17 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


And that's that. They voted to blow up Net Neutrality, most of the audience filed out, and now they're continuing with the day's business.

It was nice while it lasted.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:17 AM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


It's over. Net Neutrality repealed on a 2-3 vote.

.
posted by zachlipton at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


Elections have goddamn consequences.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:19 AM on December 14, 2017 [28 favorites]


Well, at least it should take a while for the consequences to sho#`%${%&`+'${`%&
NO CARRIER
posted by delfin at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2017 [44 favorites]


May Commissioner Pai be forced to spend the rest of his days stuck in a cable company voice-response system while trying to dispute his monthly bill.
posted by strange chain at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2017 [73 favorites]


WaPo, GOP considers letting tax cuts for families expire sooner
Congressional Republicans are looking at shortening the duration of tax cuts that their plan would give to families and individuals, a leading lawmaker said Thursday.

That change would free up more revenue for additional changes to their tax overhaul, but it could also heighten complaints that the bill prioritizes cuts for corporations over households.

Under a tax overhaul bill passed by the Senate earlier this month, tax cuts for all American households would expire at the end of 2025. But Republicans are now considering having those tax cuts expire in 2024.
Nothing about this process can remotely be called tax "reform." It's entirely budget gimmicks. Or as Michael Linden put it, apropos to the current discussion here:
This is the Comcast cable contract of tax bills.

LOW PROMOTIONAL RATE!!!*

*Your rate increases by a billion next year and you are locked in and you get horrible customer service and everything's terrible
posted by zachlipton at 10:25 AM on December 14, 2017 [56 favorites]




There's a locally owned wireless internet company here in town and I plan on contacting them to ask what they plan to do with a rollback of Net Neutrality. If their answers are satisfactory and they're willing to stand behind it, then I will drop Cox in a hot second if they raise rates or prioritize content. (This local company has been in business for a while and a lot of local businesses use them.)
posted by azpenguin at 10:29 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Right now would be a great time to call your Congressional representatives and ask them to support HR 4585 to undo what the FCC just did.
posted by zachlipton at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2017 [37 favorites]


Net neutrality. The Voting Right Act. The Paris Accord.

Say them like Arya Stark.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2017 [74 favorites]


[Bunch of comments removed; understandable first blush of reactions notwithstanding, let's steer further substantive Net Neutrality news/commentary to the existing thread and maybe just ditch the free-form chattery stuff.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


NYT Opinion: What Omarosa Did Best: Get Fired
Ms. Newman’s official title was director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, but she was better known by a title that reflected the breadth and depth of her job responsibilities: director of nothing. Her firing puts the White House in a real jam. Who in the administration is going to do nothing now?

Traditionally the position of director of nothing in a presidential administration falls to the vice president, whose main responsibility is standing around waiting for the president to die, but Mike Pence left an N.F.L. football game a couple of months ago, so his resume’s too full. Given that Ms. Newman made the maximum White House staffer salary of $179,700 a year, it’s clear that director of nothing is too important a position to go unfilled.

Ms. Newman was theoretically supposed to do African-American outreach. Without her there, no one will do nothing to reach out to black people, which is a huge loss for everyone who was dedicated to Ms. Newman’s particular style of ignoring African-Americans.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2017 [64 favorites]


Ryan rumors going into overdrive:
But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018. [Politico]
posted by Chrysostom at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


WaPo, Rubio a ‘no’ on GOP tax bill unless tax credit for working poor is expanded

I mean, Rubio caves, and they'll surely try to buy him off (his "tax credit for the working poor" has issues that make it not as generous as it sounds), but between him and Corker, they've got issues.
posted by zachlipton at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


And they aren't giving Collins what they had promised her or Flake what they had promised him. Not a done deal just yet.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


I mean, Rubio caves, and they'll surely try to buy him off

I can't imagine they would bother with buying him off when he would fold under a stern lecture from McConnell. Or any random four-year-old, for that matter.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:53 AM on December 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


It's really something, isn't it? This is almost certainly the single highest leverage situation Rubio will ever find himself in, where he basically holds all of the cards, and everyone is CERTAIN he'll fold.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2017 [33 favorites]


"...not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018."

I mean, this is mostly down to Iron 'Stache, no?
posted by baltimoretim at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


This isn't about Rubio getting anything substantial, it's a dance to make him look like he cares about poor people so he can run for president in 2020.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


Rubio has been kicked out of two offices because the property owners didn't want to have liability for all the righteously aggrieved people marching outside his offices. He is a garbage Senator whose greatest legislative accomplishment heretofore was that he often didn't show up for votes. The idea that he has suddenly grown a spine is laughable. Fuuuuuuck Rubio.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2017 [60 favorites]


this is mostly down to Iron 'Stache, no?

Ryan must be looking at some absolutely dismal polling on that particular matchup.

Without the Republicans fighting to keep the Speaker from being unseated, one hopes Ironstache wins it in a walk.
posted by Gelatin at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Paul Ryan says that for the economy's sake, the American birth rate must increase

“The economy” = the white Christian birthrate, right?
posted by non canadian guy at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


God bless us, every one!
Ashley Feinberg [via Twitter]: Sean Spicer thinks that A Christmas Carol is a collection of Christmas carols (Click the picture to see his caption.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2017 [30 favorites]


With Jones's victory, we now have a few years of every Republican senator thinking, "Well, I have not heard MY name in the news in awhile..." The Turtle has no teeth - what can he do to a grandstanding senator who throws off his timetables?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2017


aren't tax credits mostly useless to the working poor, since they only reduce your liability if you actually owe money on your tax bill and can never increase the size of your refund?
posted by murphy slaw at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


this is mostly down to Iron 'Stache, no?

Ryan must be looking at some absolutely dismal polling on that particular matchup.



I suspect it's less that Ryan is expecting to lose his own race, but that the House will be either flipped to the Dems or the GOP margin will be whittled down to single digits.

In the first case, he loses his Speakership and has to deal with being in the minority party, a major setback for his political aspirations. In the second case, the House loses the more moderate Republicans (in swing districts) that made governing even remotely feasible, leaving the more rabid Freedom Caucus with even greater influence. Both of which results lead to Mr. Ryan having a pretty unpleasant future in store.

If the rumors are true, I'd look for Ryan to start angling for a Senate seat, a Governor's race, or gearing up to run against a hugely unpopular Trump in 2020.
posted by darkstar at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


aren't tax credits mostly useless to the working poor, since they only reduce your liability if you actually owe money on your tax bill and can never increase the size of your refund?

If they're refundable, one gets a check for them anyway. If memory serves me correctly, the EITC works that way.
posted by Gelatin at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


The greatest thing about Paul Ryan is that he has successfully navigated to a place in which no one in America likes him or has the slightest sympathy for him.

The left hates him for being a heartless Randroid bent on turning Americans into serfs. The hard right thinks he's a horrible quisling Obama-lover because he won't let them destroy America fast enough. Congress has an approval rating among the mainstream somewhere below ticks and lice and he's the House's visible face. He has moderates and Freedom Caucus dingbats at an impasse on every given day, plays hot potato with major issues with McConnell because neither wants to be the one who writes them and takes the blame, and he knew all of this before he took this job. He would have fewer mourners at his funeral than Eleanor Rigby and he has only himself to blame.
posted by delfin at 11:21 AM on December 14, 2017 [50 favorites]


it's a dance to make him look like he cares about poor people so he can run for president in 2020.

These are not a bunch of bright guys...

and he knew all of this before he took this job.

Yeah, to be fair, this was a problem before he took the job. Boehner was very, very happy to leave that shit.
posted by Melismata at 11:23 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Boehner wasn't just happy to leave it, but still seriously pissed about some of the assholes he had to deal with, too.
posted by darkstar at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


The best thing you can say about the position of House Majority Leader GOP-Edition is that the position is always filled by people who deserve the abject misery that job entails.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2017 [21 favorites]


Ryan’s Office Pushes Back On Reports That He’s Considering Retiring
Following reports indicating that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is seriously considering retiring from Congress, a spokeswoman for the speaker said that he is “not going anywhere anytime soon.”

Strong indicated that Brendan Buck, a counselor to Ryan, would have additional comment, but he had not yet weighed in early Thursday afternoon.

Ryan also addressed speculation that he is thinking about retiring on Thursday. Asked as he was leaving his weekly press briefing whether he was quitting any time soon, Ryan replied, “I’m not.”
apply as many layers of kremlinology to this revelation as you wish.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:31 AM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


"Soon" meaning "in the foreseeable future" or "soon" meaning "before the end of his current term"?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:33 AM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Or maybe "soon," means that Ryan is willing to wait around to see if he ends up succeeding Trump/Pence before the House flips in 2018.
posted by gladly at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


I mean... what else is he gonna say, with the tax bill still on the operating table? This sounds like something we won't know the answer to for at least a few weeks.
posted by saturday_morning at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


He could have said "I have no plans to quit Congress, and expect to represent WI-01 for as long as the voters will have me," but he conspicuously didn't.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:47 AM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


How many trees had to die for this absurd photo op?
posted by zachlipton at 12:11 PM on December 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


How many trees had to die for this absurd photo op?

Maybe they recycled some from this absurd photo op.
posted by dis_integration at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


“We will get rid of the redundancy and duplication that wastes your time and your money..."

"... the redundancy and duplication..."

I fucking hate you, trump.
posted by Tarumba at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2017 [168 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: "Paul Ryan says that for the economy's sake, the American birth rate must increase, and that he's done his part in having three children. If only there were some way of getting young people into our country. Perhaps from... some other country..."

Assuming this is actually a goal worth pursuing, how about just funding CHIP for a start. Support affordable insurance for everyone really so that people don't have to save up to have a baby. Maybe spend some money on higher education reducing young family debt loads so they can afford to have kids. $Deity this isn't hard.
posted by Mitheral at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2017 [40 favorites]


Rubio a ‘no’ on GOP tax bill unless tax credit for working poor is expanded

In case you had any doubt as to the cruelty of Republicans, the Child Tax Credit is structured such that Jared and Ivanka will receive thousands of new dollars and the poorest families will receive little or nothing. Rubio wants to put a fig leaf on this but leave in place the basic unfairness of the credit.
posted by JackFlash at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2017 [20 favorites]


And they aren't giving Collins what they had promised her or Flake what they had promised him. Not a done deal just yet.

This article about Susan Collins put a quick end to my hopes on that front. She sounds pretty determined to keep kicking that football.
She defended her decision in the face of the group’s challenges that previous Republican promises for the tax bill had been broken, including a commitment to not add to the deficit and to not benefit the rich, and that written agreements are not law.

“I do not believe that I’ve given up leverage,” Ms. Collins said. “I’ve used my leverage to negotiate agreements that are promises to me.”

She added, “I’m sorry that you don’t believe in the agreements.”

...around the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday, Ms. Collins appeared to be increasingly comfortable with voting for the tax cuts.
Naive? Malicious? Who can tell anymore.
posted by saturday_morning at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


The economy needs more nimble little hands? How about you increase wages, provide health care, forgive student loans and in general act like workers under 50 aren’t disposable cash cows for the credit industry? Maybe then they’ll feel like doing their duty to Mammon.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


Aren't tax credits mostly useless to the working poor, since they only reduce your liability if you actually owe money on your tax bill and can never increase the size of your refund?

It depends on if the tax credit is refundable or not. If it's a refundable credit, you qualify, and didn't have any reportable income, when you file your return you'll get the whole credit as your refund.
posted by VTX at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2017


Stopped Clock Jennifer Rubin, WaPo: How the 2018 midterms could end the nightmare of Trump
It is slowly dawning on Republicans and the right-wing media echo chamber that President Trump’s assault on democratic norms and the rule of law, his betrayal of his own populist campaign themes (with tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid spending cuts, for example), his misogynist and xenophobic rhetoric, his mean-spirited vendetta against hardworking immigrants and his dangerous, erratic behavior on the world stage have ignited a backlash that could deliver in 2018 House and Senate majorities to Democrats, who barely had a political pulse a year ago. Trump’s inability to distinguish his grandiose fantasies from reality will also give the midterms an urgency rarely seen in a non-presidential election.

Call them the “Stop the Madness!” elections. Voters will be asked whether they want to reverse a huge tax giveaway to the rich (presuming that the GOP rams through its tax bill by then) and stop rubber-stamping corrupt, extreme and incompetent executive branch and judicial appointments. Democrats will run on populist measures (e.g. an infrastructure bill) as well as the promise to end the scapegoating of immigrants and exercise real oversight over an executive branch rife with self-dealing, self-enrichment and nepotism. In other words, Democrats will ask voters: Do they want to bring the Trumpian nightmare to an end?
She goes on to outline how we could undo much of Trump’s damage fairly swiftly; I found it immensely cheering.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:12 PM on December 14, 2017 [43 favorites]


Foreign Policy, Jana Winter, Head of Congressional Ethics Office Sued for Abusing Position, Accused of Assaulting Women
A top congressional ethics official who oversees investigations into misconduct by lawmakers is accused in a federal lawsuit of verbally abusing and physically assaulting women and using his federal position to influence local law enforcement, according to a complaint filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania last month.

The ongoing lawsuit against Omar Ashmawy, staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, stems from his involvement in a late-night brawl in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, and includes a range of allegations relating to his behavior that evening and in the following two-and-half years.
The lawsuit comes from a Valentines Day 2015 incident where a fancy dinner out ended with punches thrown in which three women at a bar, including the bartender, accuse him of harassing and assaulting them.
posted by zachlipton at 1:12 PM on December 14, 2017 [22 favorites]


That photo op should have been stacks of dollar bills to visually demonstrate how much more money the people at the top are going to save.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:13 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Stopped Clock Jennifer Rubin
Voters will be asked whether they want to reverse a huge tax giveaway to the rich (presuming that the GOP rams through its tax bill by then)
Those tax cuts will never be reversed without a god damned revolution. We've seen it time and time again, if a Democrat dares even venture taxing the rich and company profits, Republicans will automatically spin it as a tax hike on everyone and Middle America falls for it every damn time.
posted by Talez at 1:15 PM on December 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


She added, “I’m sorry that you don’t believe in the agreements.”

If she is so sure about the agreements, she should state she will resign if they are not met.
posted by mikepop at 1:18 PM on December 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


It could just be a revolution at the ballot box primary election. There's nothing stopping the Dems from introducing a bill that creates a new tax bracket at the 2M mark, say, 50%. "The Republicans would like you to believe your taxes will go up. Here's how you can know: do you make more than 2 million dollars a year? No? Then they won't."

The only impediment to this is electing Dems who aren't 70% as beholden to the rich as the Republicans are, which would represent some change.
posted by phearlez at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2017 [61 favorites]


MeFites, would you like to send a holiday message to President Pants-On-Fire? I'll bet you would.

Not as fun as previous good times, but it gave me a little bit of holiday joy.
posted by theora55 at 1:29 PM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


She goes on to outline how we could undo much of Trump’s damage fairly swiftly;

Democrats cannot undo anything as long a there is a Republican in the White House with a veto.
posted by JackFlash at 1:31 PM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


In today's episode of Democrats Behaving Badly....
Lebsock, who remains a candidate for state treasurer, claimed in a news release on Thursday that he “was exonerated this week when he voluntarily participated in and passed a polygraph test asking critical questions about allegations made against him by Faith Winter.”

…When the accusations surfaced a month ago, Lebsock offered an apology to Winter, saying that he had a “number of drinks” at the party and “I do not remember ever saying anything that was out of line.”

Based on the transcript of the polygraph posted to his campaign website Tuesday morning, Lebsock’s memory appears to have improved.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:33 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


This whole thing is getting out of hand - I've also been elected (with two votes, of course) as Inspector of Elections.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:36 PM on December 14, 2017 [150 favorites]


So the right-wing dickbags I hate-follow on Twitter are all robotically enacting the same response to the FCC's shitting on net neutrality, which is to tween some variation of "omg how am I still able to tweet/watch youtube/etc i thought the internet was over" (example). It's a variation on that old chestnut, "how can global warming be real if it's snowing in my city?"

I just hate their smug, disingenuous bullshit so much, you guys.
posted by prefpara at 1:38 PM on December 14, 2017 [31 favorites]


Thanks, theora55! I wished him to "Resign!" and signed it from "Every American," using the zip code for the Boston waterfront where the USS Constitution now resides, not far from were the Boston Tea Party took place.

Did I do that right?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:40 PM on December 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


VA HOD update: Recount for HD-40 is complete. Dem picked up 7 votes net, leaving him at -99.

Three more recounts to go, plus any court action for the people given the wrong HD to vote for.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:42 PM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


Chrysostom I'm going to start writing you in for everything, everywhere. I will not stop until you run the show.
posted by Justinian at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2017 [39 favorites]


chrysostom, take the Inspector of Elections position! You'll have valuable insight and hopefully some influence over what you already spend so much effort doing here with your elections posts!
posted by yoga at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2017 [37 favorites]


Greg Sargent, This new report confirms that Trump’s megalomania threatens our democracy. The report is the Post's excellent Russia feature, linked upthread, but Sargent puts a button on it:
Though Trump has at times acknowledged that such sabotage did take place, he has mostly refused to do so. This has long appeared to reflect an inability to view discussion of Russian interference as about anything other than himself. To acknowledge Russian meddling can only be an acknowledgement that his victory may have reflected unsavory external factors along with his blinding greatness, and thus may have been in some sense tainted, and since in Trump’s mind that cannot be true, it also cannot be true that Russia meddled at all.
...
The Post reporting leaves little doubt that Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Russian sabotage undermines the government’s ability to mount a response commensurate with the destructiveness of those intentions. The Post quotes one official insisting that Trump’s views are “not a constraint” on the government’s ability to fend off Russia’s “destabilizing activity.” But this assertion undercuts itself: It acknowledges both that this is an urgent goal and that the president cannot bring himself to accept it as an imperative.
We've been talking a bunch in here about what makes Trump uniquely awful, as compared to the destructiveness of the normal GOP agenda, and this, right here, this is a huge piece of it. Our national security is threatened because the President cannot put the nation ahead of personal grudges or tolerate an intelligence report that tells him things he doesn't want to hear.

Also, if watching Richard Rubin and a talking bear explain some of the winners and losers of the tax bill in a weird tax-themed Santa's workshop is the kind of thing that appeals to you, that's an actual thing you can do now.
posted by zachlipton at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2017 [30 favorites]


Gelatin: "Ryan must be looking at some absolutely dismal polling on that particular matchup."

There have been a couple, showing Ryan ahead in the high single digits. Which isn't great, but not awful for him. As other have mentioned, I think leaving/resigning the speakership is more a factor of the job isn't fun, and it's only going to get less in the new Congress.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


yoga: "chrysostom, take the Inspector of Elections position! You'll have valuable insight and hopefully some influence over what you already spend so much effort doing here with your elections posts!"

Thanks! But I had already said okay to the tax collector gig; I think the county reorganization meeting to formally approve the vote was yesterday. I'm not sure how they fill the positions if people don't take them, but I know some other Dems here in the borough I'll try to get into them, if possible.

Justinian: "Chrysostom I'm going to start writing you in for everything, everywhere. I will not stop until you run the show."

I think this is getting needlessly messianic.

posted by Chrysostom at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


I think this is getting needlessly messianic.

If it helps, I'm more picturing you as playing a sort of local government version of Katamari Damacy. (I approve of this.)
posted by mordax at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2017 [48 favorites]


I'd feel much more like I was doing something really important working with elections rather than taxes, but you do you, Chrysostom.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


As other have mentioned, I think leaving/resigning the speakership is more a factor of the job isn't fun

That, plus the fact that he is poised to rake in literally millions as a lobbyist, which is a lot more fun and less stressful.
posted by JackFlash at 1:56 PM on December 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


" he voluntarily participated in and passed a polygraph test"

So he can lie well, hurrah!

Really, the only thing polygraph tests actually test is whether you get nervous when you lie.
posted by Tarumba at 1:59 PM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


Who could Paul Ryan's replacement be? Gohmert? Nunes? The Speaker of the House doesn't have to be a sitting congressman

Someone both Dems and Republicans could accept as a successor before the impeachment of the top two positions?

...

A girl can dream.
posted by corb at 2:13 PM on December 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure McCain is going to make it back for a vote on the tax bill. That would only give them a margin of ONE Republican no vote instead of two. It would be a real shame if his health prevented him from voting to repeal the individual mandate.
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on December 14, 2017 [27 favorites]


James Alex Fields, Jr. - the nazi shitbag that killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens more has been had his charges upgraded to 1st degree murder from second degree.

That must mean that the prosecution has evidence he planned his attack, right - since premeditation is the difference between murder 1 and 2 ?

That would certainly put any claim to self defense - facile as they were to start with - to rest.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2017 [80 favorites]


CNN, UN official who visited Pyongyang sees 'high risk' of miscalculation
A UN official who just returned from several days speaking with North Korean officials in Pyongyang has told CNN that he is "really worried about an accidental move toward conflict."

Jeffrey Feltman, an American who is the United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs, told Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that he is concerned about a "lack of communication" and the "high risk of some kind of miscalculation."
At least the Cold War had the damn hotline with Russia. Now we've got nothing.

Mother Jones, Roger Stone’s Go-Between With WikiLeaks Takes the Fifth. Randy Credico will not be appearing before HPSCI tomorrow after asserting his Fifth Amendment rights. Which is his right, but it's unclear from this letter on what basis he believes his testimony could incriminate himself in criminal activity.
posted by zachlipton at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


Someone both Dems and Republicans could accept as a successor before the impeachment of the top two positions?

I'm straining to imagine this, but I kinda feel like even if a person with positions both sides could accept actually existed, the Republicans in Congress wouldn't be interested in anyone so bipartisan.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:26 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Per HuffPo, Eric Trump is doubling down on his dad's attack on Senator Gillibrand. He goes on to talk about the revival of assault allegations against Trump:
“It’s total nonsense,” Eric said, referring to the 21 sexual misconduct allegations that range from harassment to assault and rape. “That’s been the playbook in our government for so long: distract, disrupt, hurt, bash, defame, do whatever you can for your own political gain. It’s sad that we don’t have more morals or character or whatever it is.”
For once I agree wholeheartedly with Eric Trump on something. It is sad that the Trumps don't have more morals or character or whatever it is.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2017 [68 favorites]




James Alex Fields, Jr. - the nazi shitbag that killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens more has been had his charges upgraded to 1st degree murder from second degree.

Virginia Statute ( from findlaw )
First-Degree Murder

It is first degree murder to kill another by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit, arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate or animate object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary, or abduction.
posted by mikelieman at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


But I thought he only hated Trump... And this is just from the small 375 text sample. The full 10k texts might reveal even more - gasp - opinions.

WSJ: FBI Agent Removed From Russia Probe Held Dim Views of Holder, Sanders
Two FBI employees who used to work for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have already been criticized by Republicans for texts they shared insulting President Donald Trump.

A review of their correspondence shows Mr. Trump wasn’t their only target: They held dim views of other prominent figures, from Chelsea Clinton to Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder to their new boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. ...

Although many of their texts targeted Mr. Trump, others also drew their ire. Over the course of 16 months of correspondence, starting in August 2015 and ending on Dec. 1, 2016, that was culled from their work phones, Mr. Strzok said he loathed Congress and called presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) an “idiot.” He suggested the death penalty was appropriate for Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor who pilfered reams of sensitive information. He said Ms. Clinton, daughter of Bill and Mrs. Clinton, was “self-entitled.” And he described House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) as “a jerky.”

He said, “I’m worried about what happens if HRC is elected,” apparently referring to Mrs. Clinton. He didn’t elaborate on his concerns.

Ms. Page described Mr. Sanders’s supporters as “idiots,” and said a Republican presidential candidate has “long been suspected of being gay.” She said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) looked like a “turtle.” They agreed a well-known reporter was “schlubby.”
posted by chris24 at 2:39 PM on December 14, 2017 [20 favorites]


> Yesterday, 18 people signed up to @runforsomething. Today, it’s not even 8am ET and 40 people have signed up to run. Wins help candidate recruitment which helps create more wins

How many of those were Chrysostom
posted by theora55 at 2:40 PM on December 14, 2017 [79 favorites]


"morals or character or WHATEVER IT IS"

i mean really...
posted by waitangi at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


Clearly anyone who has ever had opinions cannot be allowed to investigate Herr Trump.
posted by benzenedream at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


*giant red blinking arrow pointing at conspicuous omission* BI, Natasha Bertrand, Democrats want to know more about a strange omission from the Trump campaign's digital director about his foreign contacts:
Parscale's letter mirrored those written by the RNC data firms and used virtually the same language — with one notable exception. Whereas the firms' letters included a line denying that they had had contact with any "foreign government or foreign actor," Parscale's did not.

"Giles-Parscale and Cambridge Analytica did not deny that they had contacts or communications with foreign governments or foreign actors during the 2016 campaign," Cummings and Nadle wrote in a letter on Thursday to House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy and House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte.
I also just want to highlight Rust Moranis' comment upthread because it should have a billion favorites. That Post story has buried within it the first reporting I've seen that the CIA can personally tie Putin to the hacking.

Metaphor alert: Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY15) getting knocked off the stage by a falling Net Neutrality prop

(Bonus SF-Bay Area local announcement: Rep. Adam Schiff speaking at the Commonwealth Club 2/20)
posted by zachlipton at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2017 [29 favorites]


> Who could Paul Ryan's replacement be?

(Apologies if this has already been posted here.) Eli Sanders has a plan where Democrats get enough seats for them to elect Hillary Clinton the Speaker of the house, then Trump and Pence get impeached, and thus we get President Hillary Clinton. I endorse this message.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


Trump to Release Infrastructure Plan in January, Official Says (Mark Niquette for Bloomberg, December 7, 2017, 12:04 PM MST Updated on December 8, 2017, 3:38 PM MST)
President Donald Trump plans to keep pushing his legislative agenda in 2018 by releasing his long-promised infrastructure proposal in early January, a senior administration official said.

Infrastructure advocates question whether a Republican-led Congress will be able to pass a spending plan with enough federal funding if it’s already approved a tax measure that official estimates say would bloat the budget deficit. Some say the administration missed its best opportunity to deliver a meaningful public works initiative by not incorporating it into the tax bill, which is nearing approval.

“If they’d taken up infrastructure, we’d have a bill today and have the money to fund it,” said Ray LaHood, a Republican and former transportation secretary under President Barack Obama. “Nothing happened this year, so the prospects of anything happening next year I think are pretty slim,” said LaHood, who is a co-chairman of Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition that promotes infrastructure.
...
The White House plan is essentially complete and Trump recently reviewed it, the official said. It calls for allocating at least $200 billion in federal funds over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in spending by states, localities and the private sector.
Huh, that sounds familiar. Oh yeah, Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Isn’t Much of a Plan (Michael Granof and Martin Luby for Fortune, July 12, 2017; also on University of Texas at Austin)
In both cases [of public-private partnerships, aka P3, where private companies take the risks for project development and funding by collecting the rewards of tolls, and the traditional case of government agencies contracting with private companies and paying them for their work], a private company is contracted to do the work with financing from private sector capital, and all of us bear the cost burden either through tolls or taxes. There is no “new” source of funding.
We're still/back with "leveraging" private investments, which can cost more, and won't address projects outside of major cities, among the numerous problems with this old "plan" (American Progress's criticisms from Dec. 1, 2016).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:56 PM on December 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


That must mean that the prosecution has evidence he planned his attack, right - since premeditation is the difference between murder 1 and 2 ?

Unfortunately it could also mean that the prosecutor likes nazis and is trying to tank the case by charging a crime that's too difficult to prove.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


I strongly suspect that there's evidence Fields was a participant in the Discord threads prior to Charlottesville that included extensive discussion of murder by car. If he was advocating it, that'd likely be enough for premeditation.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:02 PM on December 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


"morals or character or WHATEVER IT IS"

i mean really...

The founder and director of the Eric Trump Foundation "philanthropic" organization, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by XMLicious at 3:03 PM on December 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


Unfortunately it could also mean that the prosecutor likes nazis and is trying to tank the case by charging a crime that's too difficult to prove.

That's contrail level paranoia. Dudes gonna go to the pokey for a long, long time. Even if they fail at proving first degree murder, which I suspect won't be a problem, they can always find him guilty of lesser included offenses... like second degree murder.
posted by Justinian at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Eli Sanders has a plan where Democrats get enough seats for them to elect Hillary Clinton the Speaker of the house, then Trump and Pence get impeached, and thus we get President Hillary Clinton.

I want to make this very, very clear. If you want a shooting war in this country, using procedural tricks to make Hillary Clinton the President of the United States is the best possible way to get one.

If Hillary had won fair and square last year, with an electoral majority to match her popular majority, the right would've screamed and whined but they would have at least accepted the legitimacy of it... for the most part. (And then turned around and obstructed everything she proposed and called for investigations and special counsels and impeachment ten times daily, but that's kind of their thing.) But installing Hillary as President would have half of America howling COUP! and they would have something of an argument. Using the legislature explicitly to change which party controls the Presidency would be a very, very, very dangerous precedent.

Besides, it literally cannot work. No Republican will vote to impeach Trump, much less Pence, without the mother of all smoking guns in his short-fingered hand. There are simply not enough seats to gain in the Senate in 2018 to reach a two-thirds majority on party lines. And if we reach a point of danger and criminality where Republican Senators would consider impeachment, I suspect that procedural sleight-of-hand will not be necessary because he will be gone in 2020.
posted by delfin at 3:17 PM on December 14, 2017 [29 favorites]


If you want a shooting war in this country, using procedural tricks to make Hillary Clinton the President of the United States is the best possible way to get one.

I don't think you're suggesting we moderate based on threats from the armed wingnut right. That would indeed be suicide.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:20 PM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


Guys I was just at the grocery store and the cover of the National Enquirer is all HILLARY’S RIGGED INVESTIGATION.

Just in case you were wondering what they’re pushing this week.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:21 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Roundtable at FiveThirtyEight.com: Can The GOP Stop Running Toxic Candidates? (Answer: probably not, at least right now, especially with Fox News running the show.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:22 PM on December 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


We’re up to 8 senators on the resignation train:

Van Hollen calls for Trump to resign
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Thursday said he’d “love to see” President Trump resign, joining a growing group of Democratic senators calling for Trump to step down.

"I believe the president is unfit for office, and I would love to see the president resign,” Van Hollen said on MSNBC’s “Meet The Press Daily."

“But again, I think the best way to address the harm that the Trump agenda is doing to the country and all the broken promises, is in 2018. That has to be our focus,” he continued.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:22 PM on December 14, 2017 [26 favorites]


Guys I was just at the grocery store and the cover of the National Enquirer is all HILLARY’S RIGGED INVESTIGATION.

Just in case you were wondering what they’re pushing this week.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:21 PM on December 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


That the National Enquirer has become one of its house organs is all you need to know to prove that the GOP has truly lost its mind.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:24 PM on December 14, 2017 [40 favorites]


Unfortunately it could also mean that the prosecutor likes nazis and is trying to tank the case by charging a crime that's too difficult to prove.

From my IANAL ( but I do maintain legacy C code ) if that was the goal, the prosecutor could have linked in Terrorism, and gone for Capital Murder.
posted by mikelieman at 3:40 PM on December 14, 2017


According to this (video) report, VA state police recorded the entire attack from the helicopter - and they were then tracking him afterwards.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:45 PM on December 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


I don't think you're suggesting we moderate based on threats from the armed wingnut right. That would indeed be suicide.

I am suggesting that pursuing that particular tactic would be ridiculous.

No Republican will ever, ever, ever vote for impeachment of a Republican President if that would lead to a Democratic replacement, double especially if it would hand the Presidency to the woman that their base considers to be Al Capone mixed with the Antichrist. It is simply not going to happen. They'd be running from mobs with torches if they did.

No Republican would vote for impeachment leading to a REPUBLICAN replacement without absolutely undeniable and horrifying provocation, and frankly, I doubt they would ever have to if it reached that point because the President would be pressured and bargained with to resign Nixon-style. If we reach a point where a criminal President says fuck-you-I'm-not-leaving we have bigger problems than Congressional actions.

So, that means a Democratic House and 67 Democratic Senators, the latter of which is not mathematically possible in 2018. And if we are considering a 2020 wave election that would leave the Dems with 67 Senators, FDR-era-level dominance, their President will _not_ be Donald Trump.

The armed wingnut right is 99% talk and bluster, which is a very good thing. Very few are ever moved to act. But in an unfathomable situation in which Democrats in Congress would try to not just remove a Republican President but take it for themselves, I for one do not want to know what would follow.
posted by delfin at 3:52 PM on December 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


> I am suggesting that pursuing that particular tactic would be ridiculous

Unless I'm greatly misreading him, Eli Sanders doesn't think it's actually going to happen. It's an interesting thought, no more.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:00 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


So, that means a Democratic House and 67 Democratic Senators, the latter of which is not mathematically possible in 2018. And if we are considering a 2020 wave election that would leave the Dems with 67 Senators, FDR-era-level dominance, their President will _not_ be Donald Trump.

Aren't you skipping a step here? My understanding is that the House alone brings articles of impeachment, at which point proceedings in the Senate must be held and evidence presented. This would involve a huge media frenzy as salacious evidence against an extremely unpopular President is publicly presented, and if that evidence is sufficiently damning (and the Republican party is a year or more further along in an implosion that shows no sign of slowing) I don't think it's so far fetched to imagine that enough GOP senators might defect to make up the difference and vote to remove Trump/Pence even though it means forfeiting the Presidency before 2020.

If they all voted to keep him in they'd be looking at about one more year of a lame-duck administration with a split or hostile Congress and not much chance of meeting any legislative goals, followed by a 2020 massacre where they'd all be that much more inextricably tied to Trump and where they'd very likely lose the Presidency anyway. Is it totally outside the realm of possibility in that scenario that a dozen or more Republican senators might be desperate enough to break rank and vote him out, just to start disassociating their party from Trumpism? Or just to start rebranding themselves personally as Principled Conservatives? He's polling in the mid-30s and the Mueller Report isn't even out yet.
posted by contraption at 4:19 PM on December 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


WaPo, Music promoter dangled possible Putin meeting for Trump during campaign
The July 2015 offer by publicist Rob Goldstone came about a year before he set up a meeting for Trump’s eldest son with a Russian lawyer who he said had incriminating information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Goldstone’s overture came as he unsuccessfully urged Trump to travel to Moscow later that year to attend a birthday celebration for his client’s father.

“Maybe he would welcome a meeting with President Putin,” Goldstone wrote in a July 24, 2015, email to Trump’s longtime personal assistant, Rhona Graff. There is no indication Trump or his assistant followed up on Goldstone’s offer.
The significance here is at least two things. First, these efforts started early, well before Trump was remotely a front-runner or even considered a serious candidate. And second, it shows Goldstone had connections in high places, or at least wanted people to think he did, to make such an invitation. Some random music promoter doesn't run around offering meetings with Putin. Which casts the denials that Goldstone's pitch for the Trump Tower meeting had nothing to do with the Russian government in new light.
posted by zachlipton at 4:20 PM on December 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


I'm just gonna go on record here stating that the nastiest, shoutiest candidate will win the 2020 Presidential election.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 4:46 PM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Great, let’s make sure that’s our candidate. Lord knows we have plenty to be shouty about, lord knows the GOP has given us years of material, and why should only one party get to tap national rage? Let’s tap that sucker. It can be like the Women’s March on steroids.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:51 PM on December 14, 2017 [27 favorites]


At least the Cold War had the damn hotline with Russia. Now we've got nothing.

oh, i think we've still got the hotline, it just doesn't work the way you might hope:
White House confirms that President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin today and promises a readout tonight. Kremlin has already released its readout.
-- Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg
posted by murphy slaw at 5:07 PM on December 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yeah the White House readout is a piece of work (this is the whole thing):
President Donald J. Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin of Russia today. President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging Americas strong economic performance in his annual press conference.

The two presidents also discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea.
Two damn sentences, neither of them involve election hacking, and one is devoted to praising Putin for praising Trump.
posted by zachlipton at 5:10 PM on December 14, 2017 [27 favorites]




So, they can make Mitt Romney the speaker of the house? Or Snuffleupagus, or who would they want to be President if 1 and 2 go down?
posted by Oyéah at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2017


This is interesting. Suffolk University polling is showing that Fox News viewers are rather rapidly souring on Trump.

WaPo; Fans of Trump’s friendliest news network are turning on him
In March, Fox viewers were 40 points more likely to view Trump positively than were voters overall. By December, they were only 24 points more likely to do so — even though the numbers for Republicans — with which Fox viewership overlaps to some extent — remained fairly high.
The actual polling data is available here for those that like that sort of thing. (It's in a useless PDF format, though.)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:11 PM on December 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


@byHeatherLong: BREAKING: The Johnson Amendment repeal to allow churches and other religious groups to endorse political candidates will NOT be in the final GOP tax bill. (It was struck down because of Byrd Rule, source says) #taxbill
posted by zachlipton at 6:13 PM on December 14, 2017 [55 favorites]


At this rate, they may need to go all the way down the chain of succession to the county dogcatcher.
posted by acb at 6:13 PM on December 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


If we're constructing elaborate scenarios in which the Pres and VEEP are both removed and there's an outside Speaker of the House, remember that it's entirely possible (I think probable!) that the Speaker of the House cannot Constitutionally succeed to the presidency.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:17 PM on December 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Please no more elaborate scenarios, the current situation is elaborate enough.
posted by agregoli at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2017 [17 favorites]


[Enough with the speculation on unlikely scenarios for now, thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


Ryan’s Office Pushes Back On Reports That He’s Considering Retiring

Yes, I don't see why anyone would believe that Ryan's going to quit the speakership if the tax scam passes -- because that's merely the necessary precondition to achieving his actual life's dream of destroying Medicare and Social Security.

Why would you get that close and just blow off the big score? If I were him, i.e., the Banality of Evil Incarnate, I would sure as shit try to run the table before (and because of) my imminent ignominious trouncing in 2018.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:00 PM on December 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


. . . unless. Mr. Upright Catholic Dad did the horrid sex harass thing. Like a bro gonna do.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Paul Ryan says that for the economy's sake, the American birth rate must increase, and that he's done his part in having three children.

Republicans say that workers aren't getting raises because robots are taking their jobs. Simultaneously they say there aren't enough workers for all the jobs.

At least one of these two claims, maybe both, must be wrong.
posted by JackFlash at 7:08 PM on December 14, 2017 [41 favorites]


Slaves. They want slaves. The whole system is designed to provide them with slaves.
posted by valkane at 7:22 PM on December 14, 2017 [82 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 Senate:
-- Gravis poll of TN race has Dem Bredesen up 42-40 over likely GOP nom Blackburn.

-- Nate Cohn calls Senate control a toss-up.
** 2018 House:
-- Mentioned upstream, Blake Farenthold is not running for re-election, in the wake of sexual harassment charges in his office. TX-27 is pretty red: Trump 60-37, Romney 61-38.

-- Lots of generic ballot polls being published this week. PPP has Dems as +11 (51/40). 538 average is +10.9 (48.7/37.8).

-- Sabato has an article claiming that a 4 point lead in the generic ballot would be enough for the majority. Politics nerd reactions are skeptical - it's generally thought to be more like 8 points.
** Odds & ends:
-- Independent Mary Norwood is seeking a recount in the Atlanta mayoral race. Norwood lost by 832 votes, less than 1%.

-- VA HOD update #1: Mentioned earlier, recount concluded in HD-40, with GOP incumbent Hugo holding on. The remaining three recounts will be in the next few days.

-- VA HOD update #2: A judge has set a date of Jan 5 for a hearing on whether to hold a new election as a remedy for the voters in HD-28 who were given ballots with a different district HOD race. The state elections commissioner said the board has no way of providing relief, and supports the court providing an appropriate remedy. Jan 5 is only five days before the new HOD class is seated; I'm not sure what would happen if a decision was not yet reached (can't be the incumbent, he retired).

-- Part 3 of 538's gerrymandering podcast series, focusing on VRA/racial gerrymandering.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:26 PM on December 14, 2017 [31 favorites]


it's been pretty interesting to watch the republican platform pivot to "MATE. SPAWN. DIE."
posted by murphy slaw at 7:28 PM on December 14, 2017 [45 favorites]


Paul Ryan says that for the economy's sake, the American birth rate must increase, and that he's done his part in having three children.

Betcha an efficient copy editor could get his statement down to fourteen words.
posted by BS Artisan at 7:33 PM on December 14, 2017 [123 favorites]


So how is Senate control a toss-up if estimates of the generic ballot are 3 points beyond where they'd need to be for control to flip?
posted by Merus at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2017


The generic ballot is for the House. You can't really poll 435 races, but there's a historic relationship to the generic ballot we can infer outcomes from. Part of the debate is how much of a lead Dems need in order to take control, given gerrymandering in 2010.

Senate races are much fewer in number and get polled individually. And since they are only in certain states, they can vary more from the generic ballot numbers.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Senate map is also heavily tilted against Democrats, they're defending now 26 seats to only 8 for Republicans, 10 of those are in Trump states including states like Montana and West Virginia where he won by 40+. Also, the seats Republicans are defending are not particularly vulnerable, only Nevada and Arizona look somewhat likely to flip, with possible competitive races in Tennessee and ::knocks on wood:: Texas.

Basically Democrats need to run the table, holding every seat in a Trump state AND win Nevada and Arizona. That's not particularly likely even in this environment, just regular variability would suggest dropping at least one and maybe a few of those vulnerable states like Missouri or Florida where Republicans are expected to have strong non-insane (for Republican baseline values of sanity) candidates, as the sitting Republican governors are likely to run. It's certainly possible in a wave environment, and calling the Senate a tossup given the map would've been unthinkable a year ago.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:03 PM on December 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


What’s the deal with this? Trump super PAC quietly launches new ad campaign targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller

The deal is that in recent weeks the GOP and their media allies have gone all in on covering up whatever collusion happened.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:34 PM on December 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


As far as the messaging on the economy saying that wages are suppressed due to robotics yet there are so many jobs available, it's both and it's neither. It's true in that at some point when you pay people more it eventually becomes cheaper to buy a robot. Ironically, our shit show of a health care system makes this problem worse.

It's also true that there are many job openings...mostly at unsustainable pay rates, but not entirely, for there are jobs robots can't do and even when they can given help or maintenance is required. Not to mention all the other skilled and semi-skilled positions that exist in some fields where getting people interested has proven difficult thus far.

It's misleading messaging because while those are indeed factors in the economy, they are not in any way the primary issues as of yet. The first will be a huge issue in the next couple of decades, I'd expect. The second is fairly normal in a recovery that involves drastic shifts in employment patterns, but is exacerbated at the moment by companies being cheap ass on pay making it infeasible for workers to fund their own retraining and they're too cheap/short sighted to pay to train new hires. We desperately need an apprentice system for skilled blue collar work. That's essentially how big accounting and legal firms do it, so it's clearly possible. And those folks are way more likely to bail a couple of years in, wasting the mentoring expense. They do it anyway, though, because there isn't a school on the planet that teaches how those things work in the real world, only the fundamental concepts that allow new hires to learn relatively quickly.

Similarly, as automation eliminates more and more low skill jobs, companies will have to be willing to train workers if they expect to have any. Either that or they are going to have to pay enough that people can get loans for their training. (Obviously I'm in favor of companies and the state paying for it directly since they have more resources which makes it cheaper overall, but reasonable people can disagree on the exact methods)
posted by wierdo at 8:51 PM on December 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


But it's Democrats who blame* low wages and job shortages on robots. Republicans blame immigrants.

* (I think it's true that robots-are-taking-our-jobs is more of a future concern than a present concern in terms of the economy as a whole. But in rural areas? Where the economy used to be farm work, drilling/mining/logging, manufacturing, local retail? Yeah, the robots and computers took those jobs already. And nothing has replaced them.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:49 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The rest is behind the WSJ paywall:

Mueller Sought Emails of Trump Campaign Data Firm (Rebecca Ballhaus, WSJ)
Special counsel asked Cambridge Analytica to hand over employees’ emails, in sign of investigators’ interest in campaign data operation
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Mueller asked the firm in the fall to turn over the emails of any Cambridge Analytica employees who worked on the Trump campaign, in a sign that the special counsel is probing the Trump campaign’s data operation
Trump to Visit FBI Academy After Saying Agency ‘In Tatters' (Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg)
Good times.

Oh, and some on Twitter are suggesting Jared will be having a very, very bad Muellerkah. It couldn't hurt to have a sponge cake on hand, just in case.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:55 AM on December 15, 2017 [31 favorites]


Cambridge Analytica being the third rail of the investigation that sets off the serious attempts to kill it would certainly be very telling - all signs so far point to them having played some kind of role as a clearing house for Russian hacked data.
posted by Artw at 5:48 AM on December 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


There are a lot of twitter eggs, Russian bots, and nobodies talking about a Jared indictment on twitter. I haven't seen anyone credible say anything yet.

But, it is getting time for a little Mueller Number 5.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:49 AM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Mikel Jollett is the only person so far I've seen in sane-ish politics Twitter talking about Jared having a very bad day.

Seems a fair amount of the rumor is coming from John Schindler and Seth Abramson tweets, both of whom are on the Louise Mensch spectrum. Though Rick Wilson who's generally fairly sane seems to agree.
posted by chris24 at 6:19 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I decided to include the Twitter whispers based on the Daily Beast's Rick Wilson supporting Tea Pain's guess that the chatter he's been hearing is about an in-law. It may be all wrong, but just wanted to clarify that I wasn't trying to pass along totally random rumors, just almost totally randoms rumors. What I'm saying is, you don't need an excuse to get a nice sponge cake.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:21 AM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Carlos Ballesteros, Newsweek: "ICE Kept 92 Immigrants Shackled on Plane for Two Days in 'Slave Ship' Conditions, Adcoctes Say."
"We were treated like slaves,” Rahim Mohamed, 32, told Newsweek. A diabetic truck driver and father of two, he has lived in the U.S. since 2002.

“We were shackled for nearly two days,” he continued. “We weren't allowed to use the bathroom or get out of the plane. I was not given the medication I need. I peed into a bottle, and then I peed on myself. It was a horrible thing, man. I thought my life was pretty much over."

For Rebecca Sharpless, an immigration law professor at the University of Miami who has been following the situation, it was a gross violation of basic decency.

"If you shackle someone to a chair for almost 46 hours with very little food and very little water with no access to a bathroom, it's a violation of their human rights. It's reminiscent of a slave ship experience," she said.
posted by OnceUponATime at 6:25 AM on December 15, 2017 [88 favorites]


Just get a cake that keeps for a while, it sure looks like there will be more indictments before too long.

Fruitcake is seasonal and appropriate for these dingbats.
posted by lydhre at 6:31 AM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


It would be a shame if Kushner went down before he could bring peace to the Middle East.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:34 AM on December 15, 2017 [29 favorites]


Trump is on his way to Quantico tomdedicate a new building, but not before trashing the FBI one last time before boarding the chopper. Reminder from Walter Shaub (I think) that attendence to these things is not mandatory, so any cheering you hear at the FBI today is either from true believers or the Entourage Trump brings to these things to do the cheering, just like at the CIA.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:47 AM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


The EPA Hired a Major Republican Opposition Research Firm to Track Press Activity.
Using taxpayer dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research to help Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office track and shape press coverage of the agency.

According to federal contracting records, earlier this month Pruitt’s office inked a no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp., a Virginia-based public relations firm founded by Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Following Romney’s defeat, Rhoades established America Rising, an ostensibly independent political action committee that works closely with the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates to mine damning information on opponents. Other higher-ups at Definers include former RNC research director Joe Pounder, who’s been described as “a master of opposition research,” and senior vice president Colin Reed, an oppo-research guru billed as “among the leaders of the war on [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren.”
posted by scalefree at 6:49 AM on December 15, 2017 [31 favorites]


but not before trashing the FBI one last time before boarding the chopper.

@kylegriffin1
Trump, just before he makes remarks at the FBI National Academy graduation, says this to reporters: "It's a shame what's happened with the FBI... The level of anger at what they've been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad."

VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 6:52 AM on December 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


According to this (video) report, VA state police recorded the entire attack from the helicopter - and they were then tracking him afterwards.

Is this the same helicopter that crashed resulting in the deaths of two state troopers?
posted by jointhedance at 6:55 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Donny won't rule out pardoning Flynn.

@mviser (Boston Globe)
President Trump: "I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens."
posted by chris24 at 6:56 AM on December 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


No, Trump is in Quantico for a "FBI National Academy graduation ceremony," not a dedication of a new building. The FBI National Academy is a 10-week program for law enforcement across the country... so, basically, a bunch of cops from a variety of locations. I would fully expect authentic & genuine cheering, though I wouldn't take it as representative of the FBI's attitude, specifically.
posted by creampuff at 7:00 AM on December 15, 2017 [15 favorites]


"I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet."

Is that _another_ count of witness tampering?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:00 AM on December 15, 2017 [40 favorites]


Carlos Ballesteros, Newsweek: "ICE Kept 92 Immigrants Shackled on Plane for Two Days in 'Slave Ship' Conditions, Adcoctes Say."

Heads must roll for this. This is fucking outrageous to anyone anywhere. The Fuck.
posted by petebest at 7:20 AM on December 15, 2017 [65 favorites]


It's definitely a very enthusiastic audience of cops at the National Academy ceremony. A whooping standing ovation for Trump, who is looking happy as a pig in ordure. Seems likely that he'll enter maximally-disgusting rally-mode during his speech.

Carlos Ballesteros, Newsweek: "ICE Kept 92 Immigrants Shackled on Plane for Two Days in 'Slave Ship' Conditions, Adcoctes Say."

ICE is a criminal organization that must be destroyed and never reconstituted.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:22 AM on December 15, 2017 [65 favorites]


This isn't about Rubio getting anything substantial, it's a dance to make him look like he cares about poor people so he can run for president in 2020.

Oh, hey, it looks like his Brave and Principled holdout is over because they added $300 to the refundable portion of the child tax credit.
posted by Copronymus at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


He's hardly mentioned the FBI in this speech. He's railing against chain migration, MS-13 "savages," against Chicago ("you people would be able to stop the bloodshed, wouldn't you? You would."), about how the citizens they protect are the ones who "support the flag." This is absolutely a rally, with all sorts of digressions and clownish and terrifying behavior straight out of the campaign. He's getting his satisfaction.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:52 AM on December 15, 2017 [20 favorites]


chris24: President Trump: "I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens."

Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick: Is that _another_ count of witness tampering?

Even if it isn't, it's a dumb move. 10 legal experts on why Trump can’t pardon his way out of the Russia investigation -- “It may prove to be one of the stupidest things he has yet done.” (Sean Illing for Vox, Dec. 1, 2017)
[Author’s note: These responses were given on August 27, just two days after President Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio. With former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleading guilty Friday to lying to the FBI, the question in August was the same as it is today: If Trump attempts to use his pardon power to undercut Mueller’s investigation, does he have the authority to do it? I reached out to each of these experts to ensure that their assessments still hold, and they do.]

While it’s impossible to predict what Trump will do, nearly all the experts I spoke to agree on one thing: If Trump does use his pardoning powers to thwart the Russia investigation, it’s very likely to backfire.

If someone like Flynn or Kushner were preemptively pardoned, he wouldn’t be able to plead the Fifth Amendment if he were called to testify against Trump. The Fifth Amendment protects citizens against self-incrimination. But if someone has been pardoned, they no longer face the threat of prosecution, and so they can’t use a desire to avoid incriminating themselves as an excuse not to answer a question.

So in addition to potentially obstructing justice, Trump would only leave himself — and his colleagues — more vulnerable if he decided to pardon anyone currently under investigation. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t pull the trigger anyway. But he might want to think long and hard about the implications before he does.
I'm betting he thinks a pardon is like a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card in Monopoly, and because he doesn't think of repercussions or possible consequences, he imagines himself as the final authority.
There is, however, one scenario in which Trump could save himself and others from potential prosecution. It’s what Susan Bloch, a law professor at Georgetown, calls the Nixon scenario: “Trump pardons them [Flynn, Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr.] as he is exiting the White House and Trump exits early, allowing Pence to become president, and Pence then pardons Trump. Trump will then have successfully shielded himself and his colleagues from criminal liability.”
Except that's not the end of the story. First, there's Arpaio: Federal Judge Will Not Void Guilty Ruling On Arpaio, Despite Trump's Pardon (NPR, Oct. 20, 2017)
U.S. District Judge Susan Ritchie Bolton says that President Trump's pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio does not "revise the historical facts" of his case — and that she will not vacate her ruling that found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt.

On Thursday, Bolton quoted Black's Law Dictionary to say that a pardon "releases the wrongdoer from punishment and restores the offender's civil rights without qualification." But she then added a further interpretation in her own words: "It does not erase a judgment of conviction, or its underlying legal and factual findings."

Citing legal precedents, Bolton said that while a pardon removes the threat of punishment, it does not "blot out guilt." Instead, she wrote in her decision, accepting a pardon implies a confession of guilt. Bolton also suggested that the timing of President Trump's pardon — when Arpaio had not appealed her verdict — played a role in her decision to preserve it.
And then there's the fact that Mueller teamed up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe (Josh Dawsey for Politico, Aug. 30, 2017)
The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.
Emphasis mine. Pardons don't have the power that Trump wants them to convey.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2017 [27 favorites]


[A few comments removed, let's really try to keep the tweet-collation threshold somewhere closer to "concrete reporting of a thing happening" and not so much "something that might or might not turn into concrete reporting eventually".]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:21 AM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Congressman Who Implied Only Bad People Get Sick Announces Cancer Diagnosis

During a speech on the House floor on Wednesday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) announced that he has prostate cancer.

While Republicans were trying to repeal Obamacare in May, Brooks — who introduced a one-sentence Obamacare repeal bill in March — went on CNN and defended Republicans’ plan to allow insurance companies to discriminate against people who have preexisting conditions, which he characterized as personal failings.

“My understanding is that (the new proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool,” Brooks said in comments that generated swift backlash. “That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people — who’ve done things the right way — that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”
posted by zakur at 8:42 AM on December 15, 2017 [95 favorites]


Here is a story about a company that helped the Trump campaign with phony messaging and its work creating phony messaging in the recent Kenyan election. Apparently their deal was producing intentionally inflammatory, divisive internet content while pretending to be Kenyan.

Another thing for our "get rid of Trump, install left-er Democrats" wishlist: no meddling in other people's elections. We don't like it here, we should not let American companies do it elsewhere and certainly our government should not. There should be international agreements about astroturfing, for that matter. Voters in other countries should not have to contend with fraudulent stories intended to advance American interests, no matter whether it is corporate or CIA, and even if the other country elects, like, an objectively awful person. Still not our election.
posted by Frowner at 8:47 AM on December 15, 2017 [24 favorites]


Congressman Who Implied Only Bad People Get Sick Announces Cancer Diagnosis

Thanks Zakur. Whilst I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, it's hard not to feel a little frisson of schadenfreude on seeing this.
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I wish Rep. Brooks a speedy recovery thanks to his taxpayer-subsidized insurance, and the wisdom to "do things the right way" next time.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:51 AM on December 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


Mike Pence's Holy Land visit in disarray after Jerusalem recognition
This article reminded me that probably a lot of "Christian" Americans think all Palestinians are Muslim, and don't know that excluding Palestinians from Jerusalem means excluding Christians from Jerusalem, even as they claim to support Christians in the Middle East.
posted by mumimor at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2017 [30 favorites]


I wish Rep. Brooks a speedy recovery thanks to his taxpayer-subsidized insurance, and the wisdom to "do things the right way" next time.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:51 AM on December 15 [+] [!]


Of course, he should resign his seat for the doing the bad things that gave him cancer.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:04 AM on December 15, 2017 [45 favorites]


Here’s some updated info for SoCal protests in case Trump fires Mueller today. You can search for your own area, too. (I’ll be going to the one at the Federal Building, if anyone wants company.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:17 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


America's gonna get a little more great.

AP: Trump reconsiders rules protecting miners from black lung
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:21 AM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


Holy smoke. Is the rumor mill reporting that Mueller's firing is that imminent?
posted by marshmallow peep at 9:21 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Holy smoke. Is the rumor mill reporting that Mueller's firing is that imminent?

Nah, that website has been functional for a while now. It's just a resource-in-reserve, ready to be activated if (when?) necessary.
posted by halation at 9:25 AM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Every time Mueller has made news, it's been in the absence of rumours that anything was imminent. I'd bet a lot of cake that Kushner doesn't go up today.

But I would be happy to lose said cake.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:26 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Rumor mill says the white house is panicking; firing, however, requires Rosenstein's cooperation, and he seems disinclined to believe "having personal opinions" is the same as "corruption that ruins a case."
Rosenstein testified that if Trump asked him to fire Mueller, “I would follow the regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not.” He said he had not thus far seen good cause to act and later added, “I won’t take any action unless he’s violated his duties.”
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


The rumors for Mueller's firing come from 2 main things:

1) How Fox has ratcheted up the crazy on it. Hannity, Pirro, Carlson, etc are all basically calling for his firing and a purge of the FBI.

2) A lot of people see the House committee hearing the other day as a pretty explicit signal from House Rs to Trump that they'll let him fire Mueller.

Add in that about the only people left for Mueller to indict are most likely family members and we're probably much closer to a constitutional crisis than you think. Today? Maybe not but it's coming and probably soon.
posted by chris24 at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2017 [41 favorites]


How Fox has ratcheted up the crazy on it. Hannity, Pirro, Carlson, etc are all basically calling for his firing and a purge of the FBI.

If I had a time-turner, and could do one thing, I'd turn back time so I could prevent Fox News from existing. It's this one media organ (ahem) that has, more than anything, corrupted our democracy. Sure, if people didn't listen to it, Fox would go out of business - maybe, or maybe wealthy donors would keep propping it up - but Fox seems to have actually brainwashed and corrupted listeners.

The FiveThirtyEight roundtable I linked above assigns a good portion of blame to Fox for the Republicans' going full tilt rabid authoritarian over the past few years. Fox is why we can't have nice things. Sadly, I have no solutions, and I wish I did, because I hate not having solutions.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:41 AM on December 15, 2017 [34 favorites]




(cue buster poindexter singing "hot hot hot")

AP Poll: Most Think Trump Has Illegally Or Unethically Colluded With Russia
Four in 10 Americans think the president has done something illegal when it comes to Russia, while an additional 3 in 10 say he’s at least done something unethical. And 68 percent disapprove of his response to the investigations.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2017 [22 favorites]


Greg Sargent at WaPo has been banging away on the drum that what conservative media and many GOP elected officials are trying to do is goad Trump into a Saturday Night Massacre. Sargent has also been calling on the media to ask GOP Representatives and Senators to ask what they would do in this case, but very few outlets are bothering to do so.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:44 AM on December 15, 2017 [17 favorites]


DOJ now says early release of FBI agents' private texts to reporters was 'not authorized' by the department

Well I'm sure they'll be as upset about these leaks as they were about all the others.
posted by saturday_morning at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Not to defend the guy, but while I knew what a Daubert motion was while I was in law school, I probably couldn't give a comprehensible explanation of one off the top of my head. However, I am also not qualified to be a federal judge, because I am not an experienced litigator.
posted by skewed at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


> Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.

This may be a two-edged sword, if you will.

The argument against blanket pardons for everyone (Flynn! Papadopoulos! Jared! Junior!) is that someone who is pardoned is no longer at risk of self-incrimination on Federal charges, and so can't plead the 5th. So we'd have the spectacle of pardoned Jared and pardoned Flynn singing a duet to the FBI and Congress.

On the other hand, if they're at legitimate risk of prosecution for State-level crimes (shady real estate dealings in New York, say), then it seems like they have concrete grounds to plead the 5th?

In my more cynical moments, I can imagine this working out - I think it would be novel legal terrain, where a member of the administration was so corrupt that anything they said could open them up to both State and Federal charges, for different crimes?
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:52 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


(And that's why Scooter Libby had his sentence commuted, but was not pardoned by W.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:54 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Even some conservative evangelicals are coming around.

Family Leader's Vander Plaats: Investigate Sexual Misconduct Claims Involving Trump
The president and CEO of the conservative advocacy group The Family Leader says Americans have a right to know if President Trump engaged in past sexual misconduct. Bob Vander Plaats says the allegations made by a number of women against the president should not be ignored simply because he says he’s innocent.

"A lot of these ladies came forth in the election, and for whatever reason, the American people said 'we're going to give the presidency to Donald Trump.' That doesn't mean their issue went away because he became president."

"I think if these ladies need to be heard on this—and I think they probably should be heard, then let's let the facts play out. I don't think it should be really dismissed," he says.

Vander Plaats says he supports a Congressional investigation of President Trump if the charges prove credible. He backed Texas Senator Ted Cruz during the Republican presidential primary race and was a national co-chair for the Ted Cruz campaign for president in 2016.
posted by chris24 at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


The argument against blanket pardons for everyone (Flynn! Papadopoulos! Jared! Junior!) is that someone who is pardoned is no longer at risk of self-incrimination on Federal charges, and so can't plead the 5th.

Here's what I don't get:
Even if, after a pardon, they can't plead the 5th, what's to prevent them from simply refusing to cooperate with the Feds and risking a contempt charge, knowing they'll just be pardoned again for that?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:59 AM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


what's to prevent them from simply refusing to cooperate with the Feds and risking a contempt charge, knowing they'll just be pardoned again for that?

Well, nothing; as long as they're confident in their belief that the president is a loyal supporter and dedicated to their well-being, they don't need to cooperate with law enforcement.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


@Redistrict (Cook Political, 538)
Hearing of a poll in #OH15 showing Dem in a surprisingly close race against NRCC Chair Rep. Steve Stivers (R). Makes sense: @CookPolitical PVI is only R+7 & district includes Athens & Columbus burbs.

@Nate_Cohn (NYT)
Retweeted Dave Wasserman
Yikes. There are a lot of R+7-ish, gerrymandered districts with this kind of geographic breakdown, but without incumbents who won 66% last time....
- Given this year's turnout pattern, I'd be terrified if I were the GOP about these districts that try to crack liberal Democratic centers like Austin; westside of central Houston; Philly's Main Line; Lansing, Mich, etc.
posted by chris24 at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2017 [26 favorites]


> What's to prevent them?

According to the Founders, the only remedy is impeachment.
In the 2017-2018 case, election campaign on a "culture of corruption", maybe?
I got nothing.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, back in Foggy Bottom, Rex Tillerson has been having more problems with Trump administration in-fighting. The White House is clearly furious with him for having declared that the U.S. was open to North Korea talks 'without precondition' (NBC).

Last night, the Washington Post reported, Trump Allies Say Tillerson Has ‘Not Learned His Lesson’ And Cannot Continue In Job For Long.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemed focused this week on rebooting his image as a beleaguered Cabinet member on the outs with his boss and his own employees — holding a rare town hall with employees, promising foreign trips into 2018 and saying he is “learning” to enjoy his job.

But then he went off script by offering another invitation for diplomatic talks with nuclear-armed North Korea, putting him at odds once again with President Trump and senior White House officials, who are increasingly exasperated with the secretary of state and say he cannot remain in his job for the long term. [...] Tillerson, one White House official said, “had not learned his lesson from the last time,” when Trump publicly rebuked his top diplomat on Twitter over the wisdom of talking to North Korea.[...]

Another White House aide said White House officials, diplomats and other Cabinet secretaries largely deem the former ExxonMobil chief executive “irrelevant.” [...] “I think our allies know at this point he’s not really speaking for the administration,” this Trump official said — a particularly sharp slap given that Tillerson has sought to be a buffer and interpreter for allies angry or bewildered by some of Trump’s actions.
So today, the chastened Tillerson walked back comments on preconditions for North Korea talks (ABC) and called on Russia and China to pressure North Korea (Politico). n.b. Putin had already spoken to Trump about North Korea yesterday (Reuters).

Fine. Tuned. Machine.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2017 [22 favorites]


During a speech on the House floor on Wednesday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) announced that he has prostate cancer.

The stats are prostate cancer are pretty staggering. 1 in 6 or 7 men will be diagnosed. By 80 80% of men have cancer cells in their prostate. Third leading cause of death for men.

There are probably a whole lot of house reps with prostate cancer given the advanced and advancing age of American politicians.
posted by srboisvert at 10:09 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


The New York AG would, in theory, be able to use the state level charges as leverage to work out a deal with reduced charges or a sentencing recommendation in exchange for their testimony against Trump.
posted by VTX at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Third leading cause of death for men.

Prostate cancer is inevitable in men. Most of it is fairly indolent and easily treated. It's the small nasty minority that kill men. It's the most common cancer diagnosed in men and the third leading cause of cancer death.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


So both Thad Cochran and John McCain were too ill to vote this week. McCain is getting significantly more frail. Cochran is senile in addition to being quite frail.

That puts them at 49 votes when you take away Bob Corker. They could probably wheel Cochran in for a vote, if necessary, but now Marco Rubio is making noises about his child tax credit amendment with Mike Lee getting killed. We still don't know where Collins is.

McConnell also loses a vote at the end of the session when Jones replaces Strange.

They can probably still get it done, but it'll be a heck of a close run thing.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:21 AM on December 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


...what's to prevent them from simply refusing to cooperate with the Feds and risking a contempt charge, knowing they'll just be pardoned again for that?

In a previous discussion of this subject, someone suggested that contempt of court is a type of thing which the Presidential pardon power would not apply to. (I don't know how to verify or qualify that claim, though... the first page of Google results contains hits that seem to both confirm and contradict it.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:22 AM on December 15, 2017


Rubio has already knuckled in exchange for $300.
posted by phearlez at 10:27 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Same as in town.
posted by delfin at 10:28 AM on December 15, 2017 [40 favorites]


Rubio has already knuckled in exchange for $300.

They've thrown $300 at him, we don't know yet that he's caved. (I mean, odds are, but still.)
posted by leotrotsky at 10:36 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Cochran is senile in addition to being quite frail.

holy crap, that article. quoting for emphasis:
Cochran had to be guided by staffers around a security checkpoint inside the Capitol. He started to walk into a first-floor room — though the Senate chamber is on the second floor. He was then ushered by an aide up to the Senate.

When another reporter asked whether leadership had pressured Cochran to return for a vote on the budget resolution — a key moment in the tax reform debate — Cochran smiled and responded, “It’s a beautiful day outside.”
yes senator it is a beautiful day outside in our perfectly functioning republic

*sob*
posted by murphy slaw at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2017 [82 favorites]


All they have to do is get McCain and Cochran physically wheeled into the chamber and able to push the shiny button, unless one or both of them dies this week, illness is not going to stop the tax vote.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:47 AM on December 15, 2017


So what happens if elderly senators expire before this vote? It doesn't happen? I've been resisting for days, NO JONES, NO VOTE.
posted by yoga at 10:50 AM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


unless one or both of them dies this week

Even then, I'm confident they'd find a way to get a replacement seated more expeditiously than Sen.-elect Jones.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


Rubio has already knuckled in exchange for $300.

Even with that $300 increase, poor people still get less than the rich for the Child Tax Credit. And they have expanded the level of rich that qualify for the tax credit. Previously the credit phased out for those with incomes above $110,000. Under the new law, people with incomes up to $500,000 can claim the full credit before phase out.

The rich can claim $2000 per child, up to $6000, using non-refundable credits.

The poor, under Rubio's "fix" can claim a maximum of $1400 per child. And even that is still difficult. You can only claim the credit if your income is above $3000 and only 15% of your income above that.

For example, if you have three kids, you must earn at least $31,000 to get the full credit (which is still $1800 less than the rich get). If you earn less than $31,000 you get only a partial credit. In other words, the poorer you are, the less child credit you get.
posted by JackFlash at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2017 [21 favorites]


Elderly people have to take an annual driving test to prove that they're not a danger to themselves and others when behind the wheel of several thousand pounds of steel.

Why are senile old men allowed to drive the country?
posted by elsietheeel at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2017 [74 favorites]


yes senator it is a beautiful day outside in our perfectly functioning republic

*sob*


This is not new. I remember visiting the Senate as a younger person some time before 9/11. For my troubles I saw exactly two Senators; Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond. Thurmond was about 5 feet tall, being led down the hallway by a buxom young woman with bleach blonde hair, and had absolutely no idea where he was or what was going on. He did have a big smile on his face, though, and was very nice.

And it's not just Republicans, btw. It's an open secret that Thurgood Marshall was considered by many to be in some stage of dementia in his last years on the court. Lifetime appointments (like Supreme Court justices or incumbent Republican Senators in southern states) are just a bad idea given what we know about aging today.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2017 [37 favorites]


When another reporter asked whether leadership had pressured Cochran to return for a vote on the budget resolution — a key moment in the tax reform debate — Cochran smiled and responded, “It’s a beautiful day outside.”

yes senator it is a beautiful day outside in our perfectly functioning republic


No Star Wars spoilers in-thread plz!!1!
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:57 AM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


Adam Schiff:
I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation at the end of the month.

Here’s why: Since March, our investigation has made important progress. We’ve interviewed numerous key witnesses behind closed doors, held public hearings, reviewed thousands of documents, identified new leads — all to understand and expose Russia's meddling and protect our democracy. Yet, Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on. It appears Republicans want to conduct just enough interviews to give the impression of a serious investigation. Next week, they scheduled critical witness interviews out of state, when we are voting on the tax bill and vital government funding bills and no Members will be able to ask questions, in an effort to squeeze them in before end of year. These witnesses are willing to come to DC. Despite our repeated urging, Majority has declined to issue subpoenas in numerous avenues of the investigation, where there's simply no other way to get the information. Some refusals we’ve made public, like witnesses hiding behind nonexistent privileges, many others we haven’t. The responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation, or to prevent one, ultimately falls on @SpeakerRyan. I’m concerned he's heeding the calls of Bannon and @POTUS to “DO SOMETHING” by closing down the Russia investigation & opening up another investigation of Hilary Clinton. Beyond our investigation, here’s what has me really concerned: The attacks on Mueller, DOJ and FBI this week make it clear they plan to go after Mueller’s investigation. Aggressively and soon. By shutting down the congressional investigations when they continue to discover new and important evidence, the White House can exert tremendous pressure to end or curtail Mueller’s investigation or cast doubt on it. We cannot let that happen.
So. Yea. Review your "what to do when they fire Mueller" plans.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:03 AM on December 15, 2017 [71 favorites]


Trump environmental officials are keeping tight rein over stampede of FOIA requests (Dino Grandoni & Juliet Eilperin, WaPo)
The Trump administration’s top environmental policymakers are engaged in a new war with their adversaries — over how much information to release to the media and outside groups, who are often perceived as enemies, as part of a heavy stream of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
More fun with foias from American Oversight:

Texts Show SBA Staff Tried to “Crop the Opulence” from Trump Hotel Event (10/24/17)
Text messages obtained by American Oversight under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that SBA staff exchanged a series of messages as they attempted to take a photo of the administrator’s speech that didn’t include the large Trump logo on the front of the lectern.

After one staffer successfully took a photo without the Trump logo, another replied that she would try to “crop the opulence” out of the image when posting it on social media with excerpts of the speech.
State Department Emails Show How Embassy Websites Promoted Mar-a-Lago (4/17/18)
“Months after the State Department used taxpayer resources to promote a Trump property, we still have no clear answers about why this happened, and the State Department has established no guidelines to prevent employees from advertising the president’s businesses in the future
Unexcused Absence (10/27/17)
American Oversight obtained Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' calendars from her first six months in office. Our analysis found that she took at least 11 long weekends, and she only completed a full day of work about 2/3 of the time.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:06 AM on December 15, 2017 [34 favorites]


So. Yea. Review your "what to do when they fire Mueller" plans.
MoveOn is keeping a list of sites where people will be gathering to demonstrate in the event that Mueller gets fired. You can sign up to get a text reminder if and when the firing happens.

(To sign up, you have to agree not to violate any laws. I assume that's so MoveOn isn't liable for anything that happens, but it's a thing to keep in mind if you're considering engaging in civil disobedience.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:14 AM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


That MoveOn site is good but people should be planning on going to DC. And staying there. MoveOn is treating this like a "regular" mass protest. It isn't, it's time to shut everything down if Mueller gets fired.
posted by Justinian at 11:23 AM on December 15, 2017 [39 favorites]


I've been following the Inauguration protest trials via @UnicornRiot on Twitter and the prosecution is using the fact that protesters pre-planned to gather at a particular place and march in a particular direction as evidence of conspiracy to riot, so be aware of that as you make plans.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on December 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


... to peaceably assemble.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:30 AM on December 15, 2017 [32 favorites]


We should put something in the Constitution about that.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:30 AM on December 15, 2017 [64 favorites]


Seriously, the #J20 trial updates have me apoplectic half the time because the prosecution is so profoundly dishonest both about what happened and about the law. During closing arguments the prosecutor described expecting a dispersal order before being beaten for not dispersing as "entitled" and "privileged" and they're prosecuting dozens of people, none of whom are accused of actually doing any property damage, on the grounds that participating in a protest where violence has happened is conspiracy. They're arguing that if you're at a protest and you see a broken window you are obligated to leave or else you're complicit and that bringing supplies like first-aid kits, extra clothes, and attorneys' phone numbers is proof that they planned to do a riot.

It's evil and dishonest and I'm baffled that prosecutors making such statements in court isn't grounds for contempt of court charges and disbarment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:36 AM on December 15, 2017 [38 favorites]


So Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is having a press conference in a few. (CSPAN stream) I don't recall seeing this scheduled earlier today.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:36 AM on December 15, 2017


Rubio's office is confirming that he is a yes on the tax bill, he was bought off for $300(ish).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:43 AM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


hmm. Sessions is sort of federalizing efforts against violent crime? Is he pulling these violent crime stats out his ass?
posted by angrycat at 11:45 AM on December 15, 2017


It's about crime and drugs. I had to nope out after Sessions' first dog whistle ("violent thugs").
posted by elsietheeel at 11:45 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


So Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is having a press conference in a few.

Thank the Great Whatever for these threads. If I had to watch that man myself, I'd stroke out.

Seriously, the #J20 trial updates have me apoplectic half the time because the prosecution is so profoundly dishonest both about what happened and about the law. During closing arguments the prosecutor described expecting a dispersal order before being beaten for not dispersing as "entitled" and "privileged" and they're prosecuting dozens of people, none of whom are accused of actually doing any property damage, on the grounds that participating in a protest where violence has happened is conspiracy.

If that line of argument stands, meaningful freedom of assembly is over. Provocateurs throw a rock and disappear, everyone else goes to jail.
posted by BS Artisan at 11:46 AM on December 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


Sounds like they're sending a few more violent crime prosecutors to various "hotbeds" of violent crime and places where there's gang activity.

However, one of the places they named by name was "Central Islip, New York", which is a small place in Long island. However it's mostly Hispanic...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:46 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Watching Sessions now. He's talking about violent crime, emphasis on drug-related crimes. Now about how important the partnership is with state and local law enforcement, the task force model. Seems to be selling a "reinvigorated" program called Project Safe Neighborhoods which has task forces "hitting the streets." He's asking for more funding for the program, so that they can reduce crime. Announcing that a reallocation of resources allows 40 additional violent crime prosecutors to be deployed (I wonder where the money came from)? Name-checks MS-13, so his audience of one should be happy.

Hard to tell from the surface of his speech what is really at stake and whether this is on the normal end of the spectrum. Mainly interested to know what DOJ is doing less of so that it can do more of this. But it's not obviously sinister - violent crime is, in fact, bad, and adding AUSAs is a reasonable measure. He seems to want to expand a lot in this area (violent crime), both through increased staffing and by targeting areas with the highest crime rates.
posted by prefpara at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sessions said that 85% of law enforcement in the country is state, local, and tribal and that he wanted a task force to include the 15% of federal law enforcement to combat violent crime in the US...

Is he aware that most federal agencies have their own law enforcement, including the Department of Education, the USDA, and National Zoological Park Police? How are they going to help with your violent crime task force? Sting operations against the lions?

Also: Federal officers' duties included criminal investigation (38%), police response and patrol (21%), corrections and detention (16%), inspections (16%), court operations (5%), and security and protection (4%).
posted by elsietheeel at 11:51 AM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Extra prosecutors are a bureaucratic fig leaf to pull in ICE and harass people. He's not going to do anything that doesn't benefit his agenda; he's not a decent person.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:53 AM on December 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


one of the places they named by name was "Central Islip, New York", which is a small place in Long island. However it's mostly Hispanic...

Ugh, I'm sure ol' Jeffy got a call from noted racist shitbag and Trumpist Pete King.

Guess what, Pete? Your hispanic constituents don't want MS-13 around either, but if you keep threatening to deport them, they're not going to help you. Which I guess is what you want.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:53 AM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


However, one of the places they named by name was "Central Islip, New York", which is a small place in Long island.

It's on Trump's radar because of five MS-13 murders, he visited there in July.
posted by peeedro at 11:54 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


While in principle what Sessions is announcing isn't bad -- more AUSAs and more work to address violent crime -- my worry is that we're going to see more targeting of minorities. At least some of the areas he mentioned (the St Louis area for instance) are places where we've already seen several ugly incidents of police violence and racial injustice, and Sessions and the rest of the administration have already taken multiple steps to roll back Obama-era investigations and policies intended to address these issues. More enforcement in minority-majority areas, with fewer protections, at the behest of a DOJ and administration that are basically on record already as racist... I don't see it ending well.

tl;dr: expect more Fergusons.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


NEW POLL: Alabama Voters Oppose Republican Tax Plan
As Republicans prepare to vote on their tax plan without honoring the will of Alabama voters, new polling from Not One Penny and Public Policy Polling shows Alabama voter’s deep dislike of the Republican plan to give tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations. Just 38 percent of Alabama voters express support for the tax plan being considered by Congress while 44 percent oppose the plan. Opposition rises to 50 percent amongst voters who have heard, seen, or read “a lot” about the plan.

Alabama voters also see the wealthy and large corporations as the biggest beneficiaries of the plan — 53 percent think they will benefit more from the tax plan, while just 35 percent think that the middle class and small businesses will benefit.
posted by chris24 at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2017 [32 favorites]


MA Attorney General Maura Healey (AND MY GODDAMN HERO) just wrote:

A federal court just blocked the Trump administration from enforcing the president's unconstitutional rollback of ACA contraception coverage. #HandsOffMyBC

She has the link to the actual decision on her facebook page. I needed some good news today.
posted by lydhre at 12:00 PM on December 15, 2017 [59 favorites]


At least some of the areas he mentioned (the St Louis area for instance)

incomprehensible cursing
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:00 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Federal judge blocks Trump rollback of ObamaCare birth control mandate (The Hill)
A federal judge in Pennsylvania temporarily blocked the Trump administration's recent rules allowing moral and religious exceptions for ObamaCare's birth control requirement.

The injunction comes after state Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the administration, arguing the changes to the mandate undermine women's health.
... on preview, lydrhe beat me to it. But here’s a non-FB link.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:04 PM on December 15, 2017 [43 favorites]


Gardner: “I hope Senator-elect Doug Jones will do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Republican Party.”

Vs.

Just 38 percent of Alabama voters express support for the tax plan being considered by Congress while 44 percent oppose the plan. Opposition rises to 50 percent amongst voters who have heard, seen, or read “a lot” about the plan.

...one of these things is not like the other...

...one of these things just doesn't belong...

This makes their failure to seat Doug Jones immediately even more reprehensible, and I thought it was as bad as it could get.

The GOP: you thought you knew what rock bottom was...surprise!
posted by elsietheeel at 12:15 PM on December 15, 2017 [36 favorites]


How is the GOP like the limbo?
posted by elsietheeel at 12:16 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


Dem AGs have been doing good work. Critical to get more elected.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:16 PM on December 15, 2017 [22 favorites]


I am officially out of evens. It's not a metaphor, it's a cry for help. A water fountain at the EPA backed up and started spewing sewage into the hallway.
posted by scalefree at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2017 [71 favorites]


Corker, like Rubio, is now reported to be a Yes on the Tax Scam.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:27 PM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well, Corker's now a yes
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:28 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Planning for something bad?

WaPo: Kushner’s legal team looks to hire crisis public relations firm
Senior White House official Jared Kushner and his legal team are searching for a crisis public relations firm, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has quietly called at least two firms, these people said. The inquiries have occurred in the past two weeks and officials at the firms were asked not to discuss the conversations with others.

In a statement, Lowell confirmed he was looking for a firm that would handle media for all high-profile clients that receive attention from the press. His other clients include Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat whose months-long corruption trial ended last month when jurors deadlocked. The Justice Department has not announced whether it plans to retry him.

Lowell said “this inquiry” from The Washington Post is a prime example of why such a firm, which he has yet to hire, is needed.
posted by chris24 at 12:34 PM on December 15, 2017 [15 favorites]


Welp, that's it. The last Hero of the Resistance folded, it'll pass Monday.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:34 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


What annoys me almost as much as open looting of the treasury is that the American people will punish them but only briefly because there’s straw man de jure on the horizon ready to be the next social boogeyman for voters to “have to” vote Republican again.

People say that Republicans will lose things for a generation but they’ll be back in 8 years or less saying they’ve changed.
posted by Talez at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


Welp, that's it. The last Hero of the Resistance folded, it'll pass Monday.

Be prepared for lots of coverage of a "big win" for the Trump Administration, little to no discussion of how truly horrible -- and unpopular -- the plan is, and absolutely no mention of the deficit this Republican plan creates.
posted by Gelatin at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2017 [30 favorites]


Sessions with a hint of sanity.

@gelles (CNN)
AG Jeff Sessions asked about Trump calls for another special counsel:

"I would just say that we intend to monitor our people to maintain high standards. But I got to tell you, SOMETIMES things that appear to be bad in the press have more innocent explanations."
posted by chris24 at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


it'll pass Monday

I think that's needlessly pessimistic. It may not pass until Tuesday.

Ugh. Yet another disaster in the making that the next Democratic administration will have to fight to recover from. Imagine what we could do as a nation if we didn't have to dig out of these ditches every 10 years or so?
posted by Justinian at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2017 [41 favorites]


Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be released from house arrest while his criminal case is pending, a judge ruled on Friday, but he'll have to remain under GPS monitoring, be home daily by 11 p.m., and get the judge's permission to travel outside of southern Florida, where he'll be living.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


> Imagine what we could do as a nation if we didn't have to dig out of these ditches every 10 years or so

Semi-automatic premium queer sky socialism, at least.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [46 favorites]


> People say that Republicans will lose things for a generation but they’ll be back in 8 years or less saying they’ve changed.

It didn't even take that long for them to recover after the GWB years.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


Imagine what we could do as a nation if we didn't have to dig out of these ditches every 10 years or so?

We haven’t even been digging out of the ditch. We’ve just put on better tires, raised the suspension and are planning to ride in the ditch the rest of the way.
posted by Talez at 12:40 PM on December 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


And here come the purges.

@HouseInSession (Bloomberg)
FBI Deputy Director McCabe sscheduled to testify Tuesday to House Intelligence -- but will he? "If McCabe is still there," says one panel Republican. And another, Gowdy, tells FoxNews he'd a"be a little bit surprised if he is still an employee of the FBI this time next week."
posted by chris24 at 12:42 PM on December 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


FoB's All-Purpose Solution for Republican Shenaniganery: Wait until vote is imminent. Sneak out into hallway and pull fire alarm. Repeat as necessary.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:42 PM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Dumb question: why are provisions not appearing in either version of the tax bill (like the 37% top tax brackets) not being challenged? My understanding was that a point of order coud be raised against a conference bill on those grounds. Or is that not until it's formally on the floor of the Senate, or what? Because it feels to me like there's a major parliamentary objection that hasn't been raised to this trainwreck yet.

(Yes, I keep going on about this, but that's because I think it's important that the objection be raised, and I'm dismayed not to see anything about it anywhere)
posted by jackbishop at 12:43 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Isn't the only person who can fire Andrew McCabe the FBI Director Christopher Wray?
posted by Justinian at 12:43 PM on December 15, 2017


I'm kind of expecting them to pull some drastic bullshit re: Mueller or investigations in general right before Christmas. Like on the Friday before, or even the Saturday before. They know there's gonna be massive public blowback, so I feel like they'd want to do that when people have commitments to be home with families & whatnot.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:46 PM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Wray is a Trumpist, he'll do what he's told when the time comes, that's why he was appointed. Just because Trump hasn't given the order yet, doesn't mean it's not still coming. That's why Democrats never should've confirmed any FBI director selected by Trump. When Wray gives the order, Republicans will accurately point out he was confirmed with the vote of nearly every Democrat.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


They know there's gonna be massive public blowback, so I feel like they'd want to do that when people have commitments to be home with families & whatnot.

Also: to ruin Christmas.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:49 PM on December 15, 2017 [24 favorites]


This regime's first reflex is always one of cruelty, so yeah. They'll find a way to ruin Christmas, too.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:50 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


- Given this year's turnout pattern, I'd be terrified if I were the GOP about these districts that try to crack liberal Democratic centers like Austin; westside of central Houston; Philly's Main Line; Lansing, Mich, etc.

Yes indeedy. This is why Swing Left just added the Michigan 8th and several other new districts to their target list yesterday. Heh heh heh.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:51 PM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Wray is a Trumpist, he'll do what he's told when the time comes, that's why he was appointed. Just because Trump hasn't given the order yet, doesn't mean it's not still coming.

You said the same thing about Rosenstein. Specifically you said, "Rosenstein will not appoint a special prosecutor." and that "he's a Trump collaborator now."

And yet here we are.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:53 PM on December 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


I'm not so sure Wray is 100% daddy's good lil soldier, especially when it comes to the integrity and health of the FBI as an instititution. He was subtweeting Trump pretty hard during the most recent Congressional testimony I saw.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:56 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


And perfect timing with the tax bill news.
The United Nations monitor on poverty and human rights has issued a devastating report on the condition of America, accusing Donald Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress of attempting to turn the country into the “world champion of extreme inequality”.

Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has completed a two-week official tour of the US by releasing an excoriating attack on the direction of the nation. Not only does he warn that the tax bill currently being rushed through Congress will hugely increase already large disparities between rich and poor, he accuses Trump and his party of consciously distorting the shape of American society in a “bid to become the most unequal society in the world”.

“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations,” he writes. “But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.”

In his most stark message, Alston warns that the Republicans’ declared intent to slash crucial welfare programs next year in order to pay for some of the $1.5tn tax cuts could cost American lives. “The consequences for an already overstretched and inadequate system of social protection are likely to be fatal for many programs, and possibly also for those who rely upon them,” he writes.

Alston’s piercing findings present the Trump administration with a challenge. The charge that the US president is actively seeking to harm millions of Americans may be difficult to ignore, given that the report carries the imprimatur of the UN human rights council in Geneva.

Trump has frequently been dismissive of the world body, complaining during the 2016 presidential campaign that “we get nothing out of the United Nations other than good real-estate prices”. But he has also shown himself to have a thin skin when it comes to criticism of him or his administration. At a press conference launching his preliminary report in Washington, Alston quipped about possible Trump reaction: “I’m hoping for a tweet”.
posted by chris24 at 12:59 PM on December 15, 2017 [64 favorites]


They'll find a way to ruin Christmas, too.

I'll never be able to think of the Cubs' World Series win without thinking of the 2016 election. And I will never forgive Trump for ruining THAT.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:03 PM on December 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


You said the same thing about Rosenstein

I was thinking the same thing. If you call everyone a Trumpist eventually you'll be right!
posted by Justinian at 1:04 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


But, it is getting time for a little Mueller Number 5.

Look, aren't these threads depressing enough without Lou Bega jokes
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2017 [33 favorites]


We should be in the streets over this tax bill. I hope that the firing of a special counsel would make all thinking Americans have glowing scary eyes and we'll assemble in a righteous fury, but man I'm scared I'm wrong about that. I mean, [INSERT NIGHTMARE EMERGENCY HERE] and suddenly Mueller's dismissal might seem more tolerable than it is right now.
posted by angrycat at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I was thinking the same thing. If you call everyone a Trumpist eventually you'll be right!

That sounds just like what a Trumpist would say.
*squints warily at Justinian*
posted by leotrotsky at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2017 [21 favorites]


[Y'all we've probably covered idle What-Ifs about Mueller dismissals and then some; I know it's Friday afternoon in a dark timeline and there's not much to do, but let's maybe just not do much in here if that's the case and go find something fun elsewhere on the site.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Dumb question: why are provisions not appearing in either version of the tax bill (like the 37% top tax brackets) not being challenged? My understanding was that a point of order coud be raised against a conference bill on those grounds. Or is that not until it's formally on the floor of the Senate, or what? Because it feels to me like there's a major parliamentary objection that hasn't been raised to this trainwreck yet.

The short of it is that to sustain the objection you'd nee a majority of the Senate to back you; and the majority of the Senate already voted for the pre-conference bill, and is unlikely to want to block the post-conference bill. And, yes, the time to raise that objection would be when it leaves conference.

The longer of it, pulling from 'Conference Committee and Related Procedures: An Introduction'
As a general rule, they may not change a provision on which both houses agree, nor may they add anything that is not in one version or the other. Furthermore, conferees are to reach agreements within the “scope” of the differences between the House and Senate positions.
...
[W]hen the Senate passes a House bill (or the House passes a Senate bill) with an amendment in the nature of a substitute that totally replaces the text of the bill. In this situation, which arises nearly all of the time, there is only one amendment in conference—for example, a Senate substitute for the House version of a bill. The two versions of the bill can take very different approaches to the same subject, making it difficult for the conferees to isolate every point of agreement and disagreement and to identify the scope of each disagreement. Under these circumstances, the conferees may write their own conference substitute, so long as it is a germane modification of the House and Senate versions.

If a conference agreement exceeds the scope of the differences or deals with a matter that is not in disagreement, the conference report is subject to a point of order when the House or Senate considers it...the Senate can waive its rule with a three-fifths vote of Senators duly chosen and sworn.
Looking at the second paragraph there, I think the bill brought to conference was indeed a complete substitution, not a point-by-point amendment, so there's a lot of latitude to claim that any particular issue is 'within the scope of' entirely replacing the bill. Procedurally, they aren't amending a 39.6% rate with a 37% one: they're amending [the whole bill] with [another whole bill].

Looking at the third, yes, the point to object would be when the bill comes back out of conference.

Further on:
a Senator can make a point of order against one or more provisions of a conference report. If the point of order is not waived...the presiding officer rules whether or not the provision is in violation of the rule. If a point of order is raised against more than one provision, the presiding officer may make separate decisions regarding each provision.
So: someone raises a procedural objection about scope. The Presiding Officer -- a Republican -- says 'nope, that's completely in scope, I don't sustain the objection.' The Senate can appeal, but it takes a majority of Senators (not a 3/5ths majority) to sustain the appeal...which, presumably, means that the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to back the Presiding Officer.

There might be other procedural issue preventing an objection, or that otherwise complicates that, but the underlying issue is that you would still need a bare majority to be able to actual effect the the point of order. Are there fifty-one votes to block the tax bill, considering that many of the people who might do that are already involved in one way or another with the conference? (There probably aren't, but.)

(I am not at all an expert on Senate procedures, so if anyone who is reads this: I would welcome corrections.)
posted by cjelli at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'll never be able to think of the Cubs' World Series win without thinking of the 2016 election. And I will never forgive Trump for ruining THAT.

Shit, I feel personally responsible for unleashing Trump -- like my/our collective Cubjoy was so complete and immersive and outsized that it created an equal and opposite reaction in the cosmos.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:27 PM on December 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


I don’t think assembling in the streets would actually accomplish anything. Republican representatives already ignore and avoid their constituents, to the point of blocking their phone calls and refusing to answer direct questions and remaining absent from their offices. They’re going to vote the way they please no matter how angry people get. They’re not going to respond to mass demonstrations by changing their minds, that much is obvious. They’re going to respond by painting citizens as dangerous and cracking down on Constitutional rights.

Organizing and forcing these people out of office is a much better solution.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


Both.
posted by Artw at 1:41 PM on December 15, 2017 [36 favorites]


I don’t think assembling in the streets would actually accomplish anything.

Concur. We need a general strike. If enough people just quit doing their jobs and bring everything to a halt, the Republicans will have no choice but to respond. They are ignoring the rule of law and we can't pretend that things are operating normally.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think assembling in the streets may even be a necessary precursor for organizing for n+1 elections, even if the assembly doesn't achieve meaningful change in that instant.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


Organizing and forcing these people out of office is a much better solution.

11 months later isn't gonna work. Yes, we need to vote them out. We also need to stand up immediately to preserve the rule of law and prevent autocracy.
posted by chris24 at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2017 [34 favorites]


The impracticality of a general strike when at-will employment exists and people desperately need to keep their jobs in order to survive has been broadly discussed.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 1:47 PM on December 15, 2017 [57 favorites]


I don’t think assembling in the streets would actually accomplish anything.

It might. Wasn't there some GOPer who refused to hold a town meeting because he was literally afraid of getting mobbed? They're cowards; maybe showing a little more force would help get the point across. It's like the Cadillac owner who's terrified of getting his paint chipped; as soon as someone tries to cut him off, he meekly yields.
posted by Melismata at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


But I'm not sure that the union folks who were often beaten and killed by Pinkertons and the like tended to be all that concerned with the practicalities or convenience of striking. Those days may make a reappearance.
posted by Justinian at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2017 [13 favorites]


We need a general strike. If enough people just quit doing their jobs and bring everything to a halt, the Republicans will have no choice but to respond.

A general strike isn't going to happen.

People living from paycheck to paycheck, who will lose their jobs if they miss a day of work without a doctor's note, are not going to strike on the thin hope that (1) it will make change and (2) there will be enough of a safety net to keep them from being evicted until that change happens.

Company strikes work because the workers can support each other. General strikes need a lot more community solidarity than we have in the US - which is probably part of the Republican plan; reduced civic participation and sense of community prevents individual dissatisfaction from turning into mass unrest.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:54 PM on December 15, 2017 [37 favorites]


We need UN election monitors. Maybe Jimmy Carter can help.

The impracticality of a general strike when at-will employment exists and people desperately need to keep their jobs in order to survive has been broadly discussed.

As has the impact of various action items. People can take multiple actions. And some people won’t be able to take any. But the idea that a march won’t do anything is wrong. Look at what and who the women’s march has inspired this year.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:55 PM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


I could strike. I could walk away from my job, draw on limited savings, restrict foods to rice and beans for a while, sell off some things to pay rent, and if needed, drive off into the sunset and become a family living out of a van.

I don't have young children to care for. I don't have an abusive ex who's going to demand custody if I don't have a job. I don't live six miles from the nearest grocery store; I am not dependent on work's carpool to get me access to shopping on my lunch hour. I'm not going to be evicted into the snow if my rent is 48 hours late. (I'm not going to be evicted into the snow, period; if there's ever snow in my city, everyone will be stopping to stare at it; even eviction proceedings would wait several hours until it passed.)

And if a general strike could happen, even for one day - how many people would be screaming if their kids can't go to school because teachers are on strike? Plenty of people would be outraged if they can't get gas because the stations are closed; can't buy groceries or fast-food because the min-wage workers are waving picket signs; can't take a bus instead of driving; can't go out to see a movie. And that's before we get to "does this general strike include doctors and nurses? Does it include firefighters? Gas company personnel - y'know, the ones who check for leaks?"

But the idea that a march won’t do anything is wrong. Look at what and who the women’s march has inspired this year.

Marching works well to bring awareness and create solidarity. A strike is something different.

... I think we'd get more leverage with the Lysistrata approach.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


The thing with a general strike is that you need to have enough organizing done that people are ready to strike, and that there's some popularly accepted idea about "ER doctors and gas-leak-checkers are exempt" or whatever. This is why it's easier to have one in a small city and/or in a place with a strong union or socialist movement than across a large country.

That said, as I've learned from my union there are many para-strike activities - work to rule, or "everyone in a certain area/profession has a one-day strike" or "at noon on Thursday everyone downs tools for thirty minutes" etc. All those things still require organizing, but the point is to demonstrate that there is at least the start of the potential for more.

I do not think that the infrastructure exists for a general strike or any nation-wide strike-like activity on such short notice, but I think there's probably potential for something fairly large and persistent in the vein of Occupy.

What if people aimed for occupations, not strikes? Try to have, like, two hundred people or more in [important places] 24/7, and staff those on a rolling basis, so people can do a four hour shift after work or whatever?
posted by Frowner at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2017 [27 favorites]


Maybe we need a general boycott instead of a general strike. If the only value we offer our corporate neoliberal government is in our role as consumers, maybe we should leverage that.

Stop buying things. Stop paying your bills if you are in a place that a credit hit wouldn't hurt you much. Noncompliance through extreme frugality. Cancel every service you can. Cancel credit cards. Directly buy your food in cash from local farmers if possible.

If all we are is a wallet, then at least we have the power to slap their hand away from it until things change.
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:13 PM on December 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


What if people aimed for occupations, not strikes? Try to have, like, two hundred people or more in [important places] 24/7, and staff those on a rolling basis, so people can do a four hour shift after work or whatever?

Right after the inauguration I had thought of just showing up in downtown Minneapolis every Tuesday holding various signs and trying to get a thing going. But I can barely get my friends and family to call their legislators and it's hard to maintain momentum alone. So I haven't done it.

I'm still up for it though!
posted by Emmy Rae at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2017


To make a general strike work, we should be organizing with our co-workers instead of in here.

If enough people strike, the company won't be able to fire everyone. If I was confident that most of my co-workers were willing to strike, I'd be up for it.
posted by VTX at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Right after the inauguration I had thought of just showing up in downtown Minneapolis every Tuesday holding various signs and trying to get a thing going. But I can barely get my friends and family to call their legislators and it's hard to maintain momentum alone. So I haven't done it.

Tuesdays with Toomey has been doing this for over a year now. It started at Toomey's Philly office but now it's at his offices across the state. Every Tuesday at noon (or 12:20* in Philly), groups of constituents gather. We have speakers from a variety of organizations.

It can be done. And there's no reason YOU can't be the one to start it. (DM me if you want to talk about it.)

* Why 12:20? Because the person who initially started it couldn't get there from work until then. So that's when we start.
posted by mcduff at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Has anyone with any credibility hinted that something huge will drop today (the Kush, etc) or is it all Menschian rumormongering? I can't find anything in any reputable sources but there's lots of chatter that something is coming.
posted by Justinian at 2:35 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Listen. If Trump fires Mueller and we don't see to it that there's holy, righteous, raging hell to pay, then they can just go ahead and stick a fork in us, because we're done.

If that's your choice, then be prepared to be a cannibal fart.
posted by perspicio at 2:35 PM on December 15, 2017 [16 favorites]


Or what about something symbolic that could grow and be copied nationwide? Like, everyone who objects does [X] relatively easy thing every morning/Saturday/week? Or a song that everyone sings? Or a symbolic color? Something that is easy and sort of low risk, but visible? The idea would be something that people could see each other doing, so that everyone would start to get a sense of themselves as a group of People Who Object.

It should be something sort of ridiculous, like....I dunno, tying a spoon to your bag to symbolize how we need a chicken in every pot, or something. Get some left media people to put it over on various shows.
posted by Frowner at 2:35 PM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


Maybe there could be some kind of last-ditch effort to express our displeasure with this tax bill before we plot general strikes to respond to a rumor? Or both?

About which, there's going to be drama when the text finally drops. @jimtankersley: There are a long list of new revenue raisers, not yet disclosed, looming in the about-to-be-released tax bill. GOP aides won't say what they are, just wait for text.

(Which just happened (1097-page PDF))
posted by zachlipton at 2:41 PM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


It should be something sort of ridiculous, like....I dunno, tying a spoon to your bag to symbolize how we need a chicken in every pot, or something.

How about we popularize the retro hobby of guillotine-building? Little novelty ones, full-size functional ones, "steampunk" ones, faithful period reproductions, just fun historical re-enactments to celebrate history, you know?
posted by contraption at 2:53 PM on December 15, 2017 [23 favorites]


House is voting on the tax bill on Tuesday.
posted by chris24 at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Public demonstrations will be a necessary reaction to a Mueller firing (or equivalent fuckery), regardless of all other concerns. Yes, Republicans will try to ignore them. Doesn't matter. Do not forget how the Muslim Ban played out. Those first protests? That first outcry? That was critical. Yes, it still winds up in the courts and yes, two revisions later the thing is more alive than dead, but that reaction saved lives and gummed up the works hard. It scared Republicans. More importantly, it tied reasonable Americans together. It showed people how many of their fellow citizens still give a shit.

No, protests won't be enough. Republicans in Congress aren't gonna care about liberals in New York or San Francisco holding signs in the street. But it tells other people this is still a fight. It pushes the dial. It fucking matters.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2017 [57 favorites]


House is voting on the tax bill on Tuesday.

A whole weekend to call or write your reps and say either, "stay strong; refuse to accept this atrocity of noxious theft" or "yo hey, were you watching the Alabama results? Because your seat is up next year and we, and by we I mean liberal activists, have a growing record of serious results."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:01 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


If you flip to the end of that PDF, you'll see the summary of what Rubio held out for:
Modification of child tax credit: $2,000 not indexed;
refundable up to $1,400 indexed down to nearest $100
base year 2018; $2,500 refundability threshold not
indexed; $500 other dependents not indexed; phase outs
$200K/$400K not indexed (sunset 12/31/25)
And unless the child has a valid social security number, their credit is only $500 non-refundable.

I'd also remind you that the whole premise of this plan was that your taxes would be so simple you can do them on a postcard. That was always a sick joke, but an entire side of the postcard would just be dedicated to computing the child tax credit.
posted by zachlipton at 3:04 PM on December 15, 2017 [24 favorites]


I can't find anything in any reputable sources but there's lots of chatter that something is coming.

Team Trump is leaking to CNN: Trump Lawyers Set For Key Meeting With Special Counsel Next Week
President Donald Trump's private lawyers are slated to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and members of his team as soon as next week for what the President's team considers an opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the next steps in Mueller's probe, according to sources familiar with the matter.

While the lawyers have met with Mueller's team before and might again, the sources believe the upcoming meeting has greater significance because it comes after the completion of interviews of White House personnel requested by the special counsel and after all requested documents have been turned over. Mueller could still request more documents and additional interviews. No request to interview the President or the vice president has been made, sources tell CNN.

But Trump's team, led by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, is hoping for signs that Mueller's investigation is nearing its end, or at least the part having to do with the President.[...] The sources acknowledge that Mueller is under no obligation to provide any information and concede they may walk away with no greater clarity.

The sources did not specify who requested the meeting.
This on top of the news that Kushner’s legal team is casting about for a crisis PR team suggests that something big may indeed be going down...
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:10 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


It seems absurd to think of this in an American context, but everything is absurd these days: does anyone remember the Monday demonstrations? They were after work, they were not formally organized and they were non-violent. They changed the world with the rally cry: Wir sind das Volk — We are the people.

This is where Merkel comes from. The reason she is conservative and religious is that in their context back then, the socialists were the anti-democratic oppressors. But the times have changed, again.
posted by mumimor at 3:16 PM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


So, Senator Corker voted against the Senate tax bill because it increases the deficit. The bill went to conference and didn't address any of Senator Corker's concerns. Senator Corker will now vote YES on the conference bill, ostensibly because he has changed his mind, but perhaps because there are two sick senators and his vote might be required for it to pass.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2017 [35 favorites]


WSJ: Deutsche Bank Was Asked for Information on Transactions Potentially Linked to Michael Flynn
Deutsche Bank AG has been asked by U.S. government authorities to hand over information about transactions that could be linked to former national security adviser Michael Flynn or entities connected to him, according to people familiar with the matter.

The information was requested as part of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the people said. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Deutsche Bank has received several subpoenas in the investigation, and the German lender is continuing to provide information to authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty this month to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about Russian contacts and is cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s probe. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn declined to comment.

WSJ: Deutsche Bank Had Flagged Manafort-Related Transactions
Deutsche Bank AG earlier this year flagged around $30 million in potentially suspicious transactions as part of an internal investigation into its role as a conduit for money involving Paul Manafort or people and entities connected to him, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The findings, which were discussed inside Deutsche Bank in late spring and early summer, primarily concerned cash flows tied to Mr. Manafort, who for about five months was President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, and Mr. Manafort’s former business partner Richard Gates III, the person said. [...]

As scrutiny around several of Mr. Trump’s former advisers was heating up, Deutsche Bank executives were assessing the bank’s role in handling hundreds of transactions that might have involved people in Mr. Trump’s orbit, have originated in Russia, or both, said some of the people familiar with the matter.

In recent months, the German lender has received several subpoenas in Mr. Mueller’s investigation, according to some of the people. A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman declined to comment on any flagged transactions and referred to a previous statement that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.”

Deutsche Bank previously reported some of the transactions to U.S. anti-financial-crime authorities and shared at least some of its internal findings with officials in the U.S., said the person briefed on the matter.
posted by chris24 at 3:19 PM on December 15, 2017 [22 favorites]


Any chance of delaying the vote until Jones gets in? Object, get refused, call for a vote, wait for votes to be counted, objection ignored; next person objects, gets refused, etc.

Can it be bogged down in procedural drama for a few weeks?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2017


It's a reconciliation bill, so debate is limited by law. If the Republicans want a vote next week, they will get a vote.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:23 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh god. The new child tax credit is available to "each qualifying child under the age of 17." Have a 17-year-old? Maybe a little extra cash would make going to college ever so slightly, just a teeny tiny bit, easier? Too bad, no credit for you.

They also ended the $20/month bicycle commuter credit, despite it costing essentially nothing and are preventing employers from deducting commuter benefits they provide to their employees. A number of employers used that to provide parking and transit passes.

It's also astonishing how many provisions here start January 1. Nobody will have written regulations or even understood these things, and there are billions of dollars at stake.
posted by zachlipton at 3:35 PM on December 15, 2017 [43 favorites]


The rush to implement is part and parcel of the grift. Their business is to break, not fix, and business is good.
posted by mosk at 3:39 PM on December 15, 2017 [20 favorites]


Yeah, but a whole chorus of 'Wait, what the fuck? - ' isn't going to do them well in 2018, and this will happen in just enough time for it to be really fresh on the mind when campaign season really gets going.

It's mind-boggling how much this is tilted to a tiny constituency, and how badly it's going to screw them at the ballot. I really don't understand how their electoral math is working.
posted by eclectist at 3:48 PM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know if the tax bill still has those provisions for "unborn children" (might not be the actual term but I can't remember what it was now)? I.e., that wedge people were talking about as being a step towards eventually banning abortions completely?
posted by StrawberryPie at 3:52 PM on December 15, 2017


Pg 63, discussing the House bill:
Finally, the provision specifies that nothing in this section shall prevent an unborn child from qualifying as a designated beneficiary. For these purposes, an unborn child means a child in utero, and the term child in utero means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.
Only reference to "unborn" in the bill. And yes, looks like it's trying to work around the need for "personhood" amendments.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:56 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's mind-boggling how much this is tilted to a tiny constituency, and how badly it's going to screw them at the ballot. I really don't understand how their electoral math is working.

It's simple - without their donors, they don't stand a chance, so they need to placate them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


It's mind-boggling how much this is tilted to a tiny constituency, and how badly it's going to screw them at the ballot. I really don't understand how their electoral math is working.

They pass it, we hang them with it.

@chrislhayes
I think an underappreciated attack line in 2018 will be the *personal* benefit many GOP members are going to get from this tax bill. "Voted to cut his own taxes by $75,000 while hiking taxes on middle class families" etc
posted by chris24 at 3:59 PM on December 15, 2017 [51 favorites]


wait, does that imply that you can get a child tax credit for a fucking blastocyst
posted by murphy slaw at 3:59 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


Thanks ErisLordFreedom.

So once this tax bill becomes law, is the next step to argue that because the law states it is possible for an unborn child to be a beneficiary, it must be a person in the eyes of the law, and therefore, abortion must be considered murder?
posted by StrawberryPie at 4:01 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's mind-boggling how much this is tilted to a tiny constituency, and how badly it's going to screw them at the ballot. I really don't understand how their electoral math is working.

Everyone involved in crafting this piece of shit has been guaranteed lifelong employment by the Koch's and Mercer's of the world. It is naive to assume reelection is a concern.
posted by benzenedream at 4:04 PM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Fun as it is to come up with tax dodges around it, they struck the "529 plans for your unborn child" stuff out. It wasn't in the Senate bill and the conference committee dropped it. I believe it had Byrd Rule problems.
posted by zachlipton at 4:05 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


A dead child still qualifies you for a tax exemption. If an embryo is sufficient to get the exemption, the GOP will be literally incentivizing getting pregnant once a year and aborting it. The letter of the law will be that women who get an abortion get a tax reward for doing so.
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:06 PM on December 15, 2017 [48 favorites]


I was thinking something along the lines of "Every sexually active woman in America claims one extra child, because given the number of unrecognized miscarriages they were probably pregnant at some point during the year"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:07 PM on December 15, 2017 [25 favorites]


Today's episode of What Your Racist Grandma Will Put On Your Facebook Wall: It's been PROVEN!* that lawyer Lisa Bloom (Gloria Allred's daughter) PAID women $750,000 to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault on the campaign trail!

* where PROVEN! _actually_ equates to "worked pro bono, denies ever telling them to say anything but the truth of what happened, set up a GoFundMe for an accuser that netted $2300, asked for donations to help accusers relocate and stay afloat in the face of conservative media blowback, had a clause in her contracts where her office would get 1/3 of fees paid by media outlets, and had one accuser who was offered substantial compensation decide not to come forward," all brought to our attention by a Washington Times flack.

This has been What Your Racist Grandma Will Put On Your Facebook Wall for 12/15, on the principle that it's easier to shut bullshit down if you know what they'll say before they say it.
posted by delfin at 4:10 PM on December 15, 2017 [16 favorites]


[ErisLordFreedom, you've been pretty noisy the last couple of hours; you don't need to respond to every post in a conversation. Everyone, try to avoid visiting the same conversational cul-de-sacs we've been in many times before just because it's a slow Friday evening.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:12 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


One of the hidden things about this bill is the way it will increase taxes on individuals over time by using a slower measure of inflation. Lilly Batchelder explains:
Some have asked how tax plan can permanently cut taxes on corporations on net if Senate rules require no increase in deficits after 10 years. It does so through two permanent stealth tax increases on individuals: slower inflation indexing and repealing individual mandate. JCT has said that slower inflation indexing in tax plan raises at least 3 times as much in second decade as first. So about $400B in 2nd decade. This is largely how bill pays for permanent net corporate tax cut. Slower inflation indexing largely exempts the wealthy b/c most of their income is already in the top tax bracket. Really hurts middle class and poor b/c more of their income taxed at higher brackets over time, and reduces value of tax benefits like EITC.

Individual mandate repeal results in 13 million Americans no longer having health insurance, and 10% higher premiums in individual market.

You can see how the tax plan pays for permanent net tax cuts for businesses by raising taxes on individuals if you look at JCT revenue estimates in 2027. Big tax cut for businesses paid for by even bigger tax hike on individuals. [GRAPH]
This bill is robbery by budget trickery, and it's going to be years before people even realize it.
posted by zachlipton at 4:15 PM on December 15, 2017 [25 favorites]


Your IVF will pay for itself if you keep dozens of the other blastocytes on ixe for the tax credit.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:16 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


This is interesting. DOJ's spokesperson told Jennifer Rubin that DOJ released the Strzok/Page text messages after the after the Inspector General approved, saying his investigation was already closed:
The Justice Department’s spokeswoman was adamant in a series of email exchanges with Right Turn on Thursday evening that Rosenstein had no choice but to publicly release the information. “The IG personally cleared the release of these text messages saying that his investigation was nearly closed and he didn’t see any legitimate reason to keep them from Congress,” insisted Sarah Isgur Flores, director of public affairs. “Then career ethics officials cleared the release of these texts for privacy, legal and ethics concerns. So at that point, we had a number of requests from Congress and no legitimate reason we could decline to turn them over.” She defended the decision, reiterating: “We are all doing the best we can over here to ensure a fair and consistent process for all parties.”
However, in a letter to House Judiciary, the Inspector General isn't singing the same tune:
The Deparmtment did not consult with the OIG in order to determine whether releasing the text messages met applicable ethical and legal standards before providing them to Congress...The Department did not consult with the OIG before sharing the text messages with the press.
Sure looks like Flores is blaming the late night pajama party on the Inspector General, and he's not having it.
posted by zachlipton at 4:22 PM on December 15, 2017 [15 favorites]


Lena Sun, WaPo: "CDC gets a list of forbidden words that include fetus, transgender, diversity. Analysts were told they can't be used in preparing documents for next year's budget."

(article)
posted by bluecore at 4:37 PM on December 15, 2017 [32 favorites]


WaPo, Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity
Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or “evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.
WaPo, Matt Zapotosky, Nine more women say judge subjected them to inappropriate behavior, including four who say he touched or kissed them [contains descriptions of said behavior]:
Nine more women say that Alex Kozinski — a high-profile judge who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit — subjected them to sexual comments or other conduct, including four who say he touched them inappropriately.

Kozinski, known for his libertarian views and colorful written opinions, already had been accused of subjecting several women to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments, and the circuit’s chief judge on Thursday took the first step in launching an investigation into his behavior. The matter was assigned Friday to the 2nd Circuit judicial council.

The new allegations — which span decades and include not just those who worked for Kozinski but those who encountered him at events — bring the total number of women accusing the judge of inappropriate behavior to at least 15.
Dahlia Lithwick's column grappling with what she knew about Kozinski, which I've linked before, is highly recommended: He Made Us All Victims and Accomplices
posted by zachlipton at 4:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [26 favorites]


Maybe, and this is a Huge maybe, they want to protect budgets from conservatives who will be doing searches for their pet words to turn the ire of the administration on those particular projects??!
posted by odinsdream at 4:45 PM on December 15, 2017


GOP: You can’t tell me not to shout Nazi slogans at Starbucks because free speech

Also GOP: The word “diversity” is the real oppression.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:49 PM on December 15, 2017 [46 favorites]


How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns (Ruth Mays, Dallas Morning News)
Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are some troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders. [...]

In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik's political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.

In 2017, donations continued, with $41,000 going to both Republican and Democrat candidates, along with $1 million to McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund. [...]

And consider Steve Mnuchin, Trump's campaign finance chairman. Could he have known that the Trump Victory Fund, jointly managed by the Republican National Committe and Trump's campaign, took contributions from Intrater and Kukes? Mnuchin owned Hollywood financing company RatPac-Dune with Blavatnik until he sold his stake to accept Trump's appointment as the Treasury secretary. [...]

Even if the donations by the four men associated with Russia ultimately pass muster with Mueller, one still has to wonder: Why did GOP PACs and other Trump-controlled funds take their money? Why didn't the PACs say, "Thanks, but no thanks," like the Republicans said to Shustorovich in 2000? Yes, it was legal to accept their donations, but it was incredibly poor judgment.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:50 PM on December 15, 2017 [30 favorites]


The tax bill keeps tax-exempt bonds for sports stadiums, and a GOP aide says Trump requested that. I'm guessing he didn't get the idea all by himself.

The CBO score is out: cost is $1.455 trillion over 10 years. This is what Sen. Corker is jumping on board for?
posted by zachlipton at 4:51 PM on December 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


Good news, bad news. The 20% federal historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC) is retained in the conference bill, but the credit can't be taken in its entirety at the end of the project, instead being spread out over five years. It's better than the complete elimination threatened under the House bill, but spreading it over five years reduces the value of the credit and therefore the financial advantages of using it. This will hit the historic rehab construction community, where jobs tend to be more skilled (thus higher paid) than the new construction market, and efforts to revitalize urban centers.
posted by Preserver at 4:58 PM on December 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


“vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

I am going to scream/cry myself to sleep now.
posted by Sophie1 at 4:59 PM on December 15, 2017 [17 favorites]


The Hill, Timothy Cama, Zinke reprimanded park head after climate tweets, in which Zinke drags the Superintendent of Joshua Tree out to Washington to yell at him for his park mentioning climate change, soething that didn't violate any policies:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke brought the leader of a California park to his office last month to reprimand him for climate change-related tweets the park had sent via Twitter, two sources close to the situation said.

Zinke did not take any formal disciplinary action against David Smith, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. And the tweets at issue weren’t deleted, because they didn’t violate National Park Service or Interior Department policies.

But Zinke made it clear to Smith that the Trump administration doesn’t want national parks to put out official communications on climate change.
posted by zachlipton at 5:06 PM on December 15, 2017 [29 favorites]


“vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

Fine. “Threatened,” “owed,” “heterogeneity,” “lgb-emphasis-on-the-T-q,” “reality-based,” and “fucking true”.

Also, this administration can go straight to hell.
posted by lydhre at 5:12 PM on December 15, 2017 [64 favorites]


This is a new one. FBI officials’ text message about Hillary Clinton said to be a cover story for romantic affair
“So look,” the text from Page to Strzok reads, “you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting [because] you feel bad that you’re gone so much but it can’t be helped right now.”

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein demanding a fuller explanation for Page’s message, saying, “The mention of ‘Hillary’ may refer to Secretary Clinton and therefore could indicate that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page engaged in other communications about an ongoing investigation on a different phone in an effort to prevent it from being traced.’’

People familiar with the matter said that, although Page’s message may appear to suggest that she and Strzok used a separate communications channel for discussing the Clinton case, the point of her text was to advise Strzok how to explain to his wife why the two of them had been texting each other.

Page and Strzok used their work on the Clinton case as a cover story for the affair, these people said, adding that there was not a separate set of phones for untraceable discussions of the Clinton case. The text had nothing to do with the Clinton investigation, these people said.
People are now calling for the FBI to be shut down because these two nincompoops were telling each other to say they had to text a lot about a case to cover up their affair.
posted by zachlipton at 5:13 PM on December 15, 2017 [32 favorites]


@HouseInSession (Bloomberg)
FBI Deputy Director McCabe sscheduled to testify Tuesday to House Intelligence -- but will he? "If McCabe is still there," says one panel Republican. And another, Gowdy, tells FoxNews he'd a"be a little bit surprised if he is still an employee of the FBI this time next week."


Bloomberg's Billy House follows up:
On FBI deputy director McCabe and his scheduled House Intelligence interview Tuesday, panel Republicans have wanted to talk to him for a long time about how the FBI used the 'Steele dossier.' Now they also want to ask about Strzok text messages and Bruce/Nellie Ohr, as well.—5:45 PM

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote a June 28 letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, questioning whether McCabe handled the Michael Flynn investigation “fairly and objectively.”—5:48 PM

Grassley has raised other issues about McCabe, including why he did not recuse himself from investigations involving Michael Flynn. Grassley points in part to a gender-discrimination complaint vs. FBI in which Flynn provided “a letter of support for the complainant in that case.—5:52 PM
The Lawfare blog analyzes the problems Wray would run into if Trump pressured him to fire McCabe. Besides the risks of looking like Trump's newly installed stooge at the Bureau, Wray would encounter institutional obstacles:
Removing McCabe would face certain legal complications. McCabe is a career FBI special agent, not a political appointee, and he's a member of the Senior Executive Service. Civil service rules prevent a simple firing, and while McCabe can be reassigned or encouraged to retire, he cannot be reassigned for four months after installation of a new agency head without his consent. More broadly, to reassign a 21-year veteran of the FBI for political reasons would send a strong message that the FBI is no longer an apolitical organization, an identity of which FBI employees are fiercely proud, even if it doesn't run afoul of civil service protections—at least if it were done without McCabe’s cooperation.

The problem for Wray is that Trump might not care about any of these niceties: not about whether he’s making his FBI director look like a political toady, not about how the workforce understands the director and certainly not about compliance with civil service protections.
So when Trump told reporters this morning en route to his FBI rally, "Well, it’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI. It will be bigger and better than ever", that could be a very big tell about what he's plotting.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:17 PM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


This bill is robbery by budget trickery, and it's going to be years before people even realize it.

I doubt that most people will ever realize it. Most people of average income are not attuned to taxes because in most cases it is just buried in their paycheck.

Be honest. How many people remember that they got a 2% payroll tax cut in 2011 and 2013 thanks to the Democrats? Did you notice the increase in your paycheck? Did you notice the decrease in your paycheck when Republicans forced the rate back up 2% two years later.

Did Democrats get credit for the pay raise or Republicans blame for the pay cut two years later? Does anyone even remember?

Did Republicans pay any price for the similar tax cuts for the rich in 2001 and 2003 and the resulting deficits?

I doubt Republicans will pay much of a price for this tax bill, no matter how unfair it is. More likely people will start to take notice next month when Paul Ryan tries to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
posted by JackFlash at 5:26 PM on December 15, 2017 [12 favorites]


So when Trump told reporters this morning en route to his FBI rally, "Well, it’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI. It will be bigger and better than ever", that could be a very big tell about what he's plotting.

What’s Trump gonna do? So let’s say Wray says no (which, based on that article, why would he say yes?) Trump can either stew, or fire his just-confirmed FBI Director. His second one in less than a year. Looking even more like a Nixonian Massacre to hide from the truth.

Then he either needs to get ANOTHER FBI Director confirmed (which will be a total clusterfuck) or he gets McCabe as Director again. And everybody at FBI hates Trump and knows he’s dirty. And Mueller as Special Prosecutor isn’t under FBI anyway.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:27 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


What’s Trump gonna do?

"He doesn’t give a crap who he fires, if he can stop the investigation or slow it down," a longtime associate of his told Politico when Trump fired Comey. "This is who he is. No morals, no nothing. He does what he does."
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:38 PM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


It seems clear to me that those texts are going to be the pretext for firing Mueller sometime in the next week or two. I don't think the Trumpists at the DOJ go through the risky exercise of releasing the texts to the press (without approval) for just a minor gotcha and points against Mueller. I think they are going to be used as the primary evidence of "bias" in the investigation. Sure, it's weak sauce, but it's all they got. You go to war with the pretext you've got, not the pretext you wish you had.
posted by diogenes at 5:48 PM on December 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


People are now calling for the FBI to be shut down because these two nincompoops were telling each other to say they had to text a lot about a case to cover up their affair.

On the bright side for them, they might get to be in history books as the trigger for a constitutional crisis.
posted by diogenes at 5:54 PM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


NYT, Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman, Executive at Consultancy Hired by E.P.A. Scrutinized Agency Employees Critical of Trump
One of the top executives of a consulting firm that the Environmental Protection Agency has recently hired to help it with media affairs has spent the past year investigating agency employees who have been critical of the Trump administration, federal records show.

The firm, Definers Public Affairs, based in Virginia, specializes in conducting opposition research to aid Republican Party causes, meaning that it seeks to find damaging information on Democratic political candidates in an effort to undermine their election bids.

A vice president for the firm, Allan Blutstein, federal records show, has submitted at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests to the E.P.A. since President Trump was sworn in. Many of those requests target employees known to be questioning management at the E.P.A. since Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, was confirmed.

Mr. Blutstein, in an interview, said he was taking aim at “resistance” figures in the federal government, adding that he hoped to discover whether they had done anything that might embarrass them or hurt their cause.

“I wondered if they were emailing critical things about the agency on government time and how frequently they were corresponding about this,” he said. “And did they do anything that would be useful for Republicans.”
posted by zachlipton at 5:54 PM on December 15, 2017 [26 favorites]


An EPA contractor is explicitly and proudly trying to help “Republicans”. It is now the Republican Protection Agency.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:05 PM on December 15, 2017 [21 favorites]


and while McCabe can be reassigned or encouraged to retire, he cannot be reassigned for four months after installation of a new agency head without his consent

Note however that FBI Director Wray was installed on August 2nd. So four months was up around two weeks ago.
posted by Justinian at 6:05 PM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


Let’s just hope no-one was getting political using agency resources at the agency which is spending agency resources on helping “Republicans”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:06 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


The firing of Mueller seems an inevitability that, like a periodic natural disaster or nuclear war, becomes more likely the longer it hasn't happened. Every few weeks there's this surge of u must fire mueller now please mister trump on Fox News/right-wing news media, with slightly different garbage-pretext variations in each iteration. The last few days have been a particularly strong Mueller Extinction Burst period, and I'm inclined to think that this one might actually do the job.

I don't think it's worth trying to work out the kremlinology of how they're trying to do it or who's helping it along, because no specific planning is necessary. Eventually Trump's going to try and fire Mueller on impulse, for whatever reasons his malformed brain gives him, and the more times he finds himself in a conducive environment, the more chances he gets, the more certain it is that he's gonna do it. And I feel like we've flipped that coin and hit heads way too many times by now.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:09 PM on December 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


If he fires Mueller we beat the drum about that in 2018 and 2020, and it just makes him look guiltier. There's a substantial prospect that even if Mueller finds a smoking gun, the GOP will just shrug, anyway. We are going to have to do this the old-fashioned way, by organizing, protest and votes. Not that I'm opposed to protesting if Mueller is fired, but the function is more part of building toward 2018 and 2020.
posted by Frowner at 6:14 PM on December 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


2018 and 2020 are crucial, but I think there's a good case to be made that the response to a Mueller firing would be better approached as "throw our bodies into the gears of the terrible machine to grind it to a halt" than "get pumped for 2020"
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:17 PM on December 15, 2017 [44 favorites]


People are now calling for the FBI to be shut down because these two nincompoops were telling each other to say they had to text a lot about a case to cover up their affair.

Trump's president because Anthony Weiner couldn't not sext a teenager. So this is par for the course.
posted by chris24 at 6:19 PM on December 15, 2017 [39 favorites]


2018 and 2020 are crucial, but I think there's a good case to be made that the response to a Mueller firing would be better approached as "throw our bodies into the gears of the terrible machine to grind it to a halt" than "get pumped for 2020"

There does seem to be a disconnect between two camps on this issue. Some people see firing Mueller as sorta par for the course Trump bullshit. Terrible, yes, but along the lines of what we're constantly seeing. Others see it as an absolute red line and not along the lines of what we've already seen.

The first camp sees the remedy as 2018 and 2020. The second camp sees this as the first step in an absolute corruption that could render 2018 and 2020 moot. In which case the remedy isn't voting in 2018 but rather refreshing the tree of liberty.
posted by Justinian at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2017 [14 favorites]


The first camp sees the remedy as 2018 and 2020. The second camp sees this as the first step in an absolute corruption that could render 2018 and 2020 moot. In which case the remedy isn't voting in 2018 but rather refreshing the tree of liberty.

Don’t forget the fact that Trump and co are doing nothing to prevent the 2018 elections from being hacked, and are working double time on the voter suppression. Already.

So. I mean. It does sort of seem like the writing is on the wall. We know they will try to ratfuck the 2018 elections. The question is whether it will work.

That’s a huge gamble.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:29 PM on December 15, 2017 [23 favorites]


Some people see firing Mueller as sorta par for the course Trump bullshit. Terrible, yes, but along the lines of what we're constantly seeing.

If the Republican Party goes along with covering up overt collusion with a hostile foreign power and clear obstruction of justice in regards to that, what won't they go along with? They're basically saying the president is above the law. At what point do they stand up to him then? Because you know that Trump will take that lesson and run with it. And we know Trump will never not do the worst, most selfish, destructive thing possible. There is no bottom with him.

So it's not an issue of Trump. Of course he's going to do the awful thing and try to fire Mueller. The issue is if the Republican Party allows it, or we allow them to allow it. Each step along the path to autocracy becomes easier and easier and stopping it becomes harder and harder. I honestly don't understand those who think it's no big deal and we'll just vote them out. They've proven time and time again they're at heart authoritarians with no real interest in democracy. Why the fuck would we trust them to ever do the right thing.
posted by chris24 at 6:33 PM on December 15, 2017 [47 favorites]


So. I mean. It does sort of seem like the writing is on the wall. We know they will try to ratfuck the 2018 elections. The question is whether it will work.

They had better fucking hope it doesn't.

I think I'm in a third camp in that I think it's important to exhaust all of our legal options and that means righting the ship from the voting booth in 2018 and, depending on what happens, maybe 2020 too. If that doesn't work all bets are off.
posted by VTX at 6:48 PM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'd like to see actual indictments for The Gang. fed, and ny state charges. not just a report to congress. something from voters that unequivocally states, "yes. there's enough here for a trial." then, hand it off to the house.

i really hope y'all are wrong about mueller.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:51 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


There are a LOT of options in between "vote in a few years" and "violent revolution." We just saw that in South Korea. We can take lessons from Gandhi. Nonviolent resistance works better than violent revolution.

But yes, we need to act now. Because if we don't, in a few years our elections might be as meaningful as Russia's.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:01 PM on December 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


If the Republican Party goes along with covering up overt collusion with a hostile foreign power and clear obstruction of justice in regards to that, what won't they go along with? They're basically saying the president is above the law. At what point do they stand up to him then? Because you know that Trump will take that lesson and run with it. And we know Trump will never not do the worst, most selfish, destructive thing possible. There is no bottom with him.

I could 100% see Trump at one of his pep rallies saying, "A lot of people have been saying we should eliminate term limits so I can serve a third term!" and the crowd cheering, and pundits going "He didn't really mean it"... and then him really meaning it.
posted by bluecore at 7:09 PM on December 15, 2017 [10 favorites]


yeah, i think the answer to a mueller firing is more "general strike" and "tax resistance on a massive scale" than "armed revolt" and "guillotines on the national mall"
posted by murphy slaw at 7:16 PM on December 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


ICE detention facilities had insufficient protection of detainee basic rights, says IG report

Multiple Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities were found to have problems with basic detainee rights, humane treatment and health and safety, according to a report released this week by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security.

The violations varied from facility to facility, but included underutilized language services, lack of respect and professionalism, potentially unsafe and unhealthy detention conditions and, at one facility, all detainees were strip-searched when they entered.

. . . One of the facilities was reviewed earlier this year in a "management alert," which is used to inform senior DHS leadership when the IG believes there is an "immediate and serious" threat of waste, fraud and abuse.


This isn't a HuffPo sting or random Tweeter. Fuck.
posted by petebest at 7:20 PM on December 15, 2017 [19 favorites]


Why are people talking about Mueller getting fired like it already freaking happened? Reading this thread in Recent Activity just now made me think it literally had.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:30 PM on December 15, 2017 [24 favorites]


Because catastrophizing can almost feel like planning, if you do it right.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:34 PM on December 15, 2017 [51 favorites]


Mitch McConnell Prince of Dust

I think we have earned a little levity.

Linking to jwz vs. twitter because it negates reading the story in 280 character segments. And jwz is also kind of important in the creation of web browsers, making things readable over 140 or 280 chars for decades.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:56 PM on December 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Washington Examiner: 'Germaphobe' Trump once insisted Anthony Scaramucci receive a penicillin shot on Air Force One

"He’s a little bit of a germaphobe. He doesn’t like people that don’t feel well sitting around him. So he called the medic in," [...] Scaramucci said staff then took him to the airplane's hospital bay, pulled down his pants, and gave him a dose of antibiotics.

1) That's not how antibiotics work, Trump has a 1950s-era concept of penicillin as a cure-all, and Air Force One is apparently a vector for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

2) The Theater of Cruelty. Trump's indulgence in (quasi-sexual, in this case) humiliations of his underlings, either as punishment, amusement, or a demonstration of control, is one of his most predictable behavior patterns.

3) Why are you telling us this story, Anthony? What do you get out of this? Are you OK?
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:27 PM on December 15, 2017 [53 favorites]


How the Alabama Senate Election Sanctified Black Women Voters
The selective rhetorical elevation of black women acts as a sort of overcorrection. For better and for worse, the gospel of individualism remains the bedrock of American identity. And yet the creed does not apply to black women, who are regarded not as varied, self-interested political actors, or as people to be served or scrutinized in meaningful ways, if they are regarded at all. Instead, the black female voter is thought to make decisions, with infinite patience and piety, in response to the strident acts of self-determination around her. Hers is a reactionary, not a visionary, politics, a righting of the ship of state. (The veteran congresswoman Maxine Waters, in her charismatic crusade against Trump, has made clever use of this presumption, subversively embracing the colloquial title of Auntie.) As opposed to Trump, the black female voter is especially invoked as a check on the moral void that would, in the case of Alabama’s special election, allow the election of a candidate who had pursued underage girls and spoken fondly of family life under slavery. Just search for the phrase “Black women warned us” on social media to see the degree to which she is sanctified. Her lack of power and ego makes her the right arbiter of justice. Materially, though, she is ignored, and her efforts to safeguard her own welfare are instead regarded as efforts toward a national salvation. She is of America only because she works for it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:27 PM on December 15, 2017 [21 favorites]


A reminder that during the second general debate, Trump not only said he'd get rid of the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers, he attacked Clinton for not doing so while she was in the Senate:
Clinton: Well, here we go again. I have been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years starting when I was a Senator from New York. But that's not the point here.

Trump: Why didn't you do it? Why didn't you do it?

Clinton: Because I was a senator with a Republican President.

Trump: You could have done it. If you were an effective senator, you could have done it. But you were not an effective senator
Hmm, I guess Trump isn't very "effective," since the loophole is now bigger than ever.
posted by zachlipton at 9:22 PM on December 15, 2017 [38 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** MN Senate seat:
-- Franken plans to resign in early January.

-- Legal intrigue is brewing, as Republican Senate President Fischbach claims she can keep her seat while serving as the new lt gov, in an effort to avoid the possibility of the Dems taking control of the Senate. Dems say that's contrary to state law.
** PA-18 special:
-- Cook Political moved race from Likely R to Lean R.

-- Daily Beast: Dems starting to feel optimistic about this one

-- Payday Report has a deep dive into the history of the region and how labor is treating this as a big election.
** 2018 House:
-- A Paul Ryan retirement would make a pickup in WI-01 much more likely, as he seems to have greater than normal incumbent advantage.

-- Mentioned earlier, a PPP poll has a Dem challenger down only a few points to NRCC chair Steve Stivers in OH-15. That's the kind of thing that should make a lot of Republicans nervous - it's an R +7 district, Stivers has been around awhile, and hasn't done anything unexpectedly egregious, etc. Cook Political just moved the district from Solid R to Likely R.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:48 PM on December 15, 2017 [30 favorites]


Rep. Speier: ‘Rumor on the Hill’ is Trump to Fire Mueller Before Christmas.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) told KQED Newsroom on Friday that she believes Republicans are trying to shut down the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Speier also said, “The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22nd, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller.”

If this were to happen, Speier said, it would cause a constitutional crisis. “That is Saturday massacre 2.0,” she said. “Without a doubt there would be an impeachment effort.”
posted by Justinian at 10:24 PM on December 15, 2017 [33 favorites]


Nixon didn’t have a state media and a phalanx of GOP apparatchiks screaming for special counsel blood, though, which will make Christmas much more special.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:02 AM on December 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


If he fires Mueller that's it, if it is possible for their to be a final straw (because there's one almost weekly, certainly monthly) this is it.

Does anyone have a letter that can be re-purposes to send to all members of congress to warn them against letting this kind of aggression against the constitution.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:50 AM on December 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


There's a sample phone script here: https://www.indivisible.org/resource/protecting-democracy-cant-fire-mueller/
SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT

Caller: Hi! I’m a constituent from [part of state] I’m calling to urge [MoC] to use every tool in the toolbox to prevent Trump from firing Special Counsel Mueller. I’m concerned he may do that, launching a constitutional crisis. Will [MoC] speak out and tell the President that firing Mueller would be a red line he must not cross?

Staffer: Thank you for your call. [MoC] is monitoring the various investigations closely and is letting them run their course.

Caller: That’s good, but it’s really important for Congress to assert its power now to prevent Trump from firing Mueller. I’d like to see [MoC] issue a clear statement on this, and co-sponsor [H.R. 3771/S. 1735 or S. 1741] to show [his/her] support for protecting Mueller and the investigation.

Staffer: We’ll take a look at that legislation.

Caller: Great, I’ll be following to see if [MoC] co-sponsors and speaks out on this.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:15 AM on December 16, 2017 [37 favorites]


I realize this isn't a genius insight, but it struck me that a firing of Mueller would ideally be done as far out from the 2018 elections as possible, with the hope that the outrage fades before it can significantly impact the elections. I mean, that's a stupid hope, but as many have observed, these aren't very bright guys.
posted by angrycat at 4:54 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Trump's stance towards Mueller is a product of his narcissism - he believes that the investigation is the deep state trying to make his election win look bad out of malice. so he'll probably lash out in a fit of pique rather than as something McConnell might engineer.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:05 AM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Americans Pessimistic About Trump (via Political Wire)

A new AP-NORC poll finds President Trump’s job approval rating at just 32%, making him the least popular first-year president on record.

“As 2017 comes to a close, the majority of Americans painted a broadly pessimistic view of Trump’s presidency, the nation’s politics and the overall direction of the country. Just three in 10 Americans said the United States is heading in the right direction, and 52 percent said the country is worse off since Trump became president — worrisome signs both for the White House and Republicans heading into a midterm election year where control of Congress will be at stake.”


I tend to forget we're often aligned with the vast majority of Americans. Just not the media or the controlling political establishment.
posted by petebest at 5:34 AM on December 16, 2017 [19 favorites]


A new AP-NORC poll finds President Trump’s job approval rating at just 32%, making him the least popular first-year president on record.

I'm certain that Trump will never know this. Seriously.
posted by klarck at 5:44 AM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm certain that Trump will never know this. Seriously.

Maybe they will mention it on Fox and Friends.
posted by chaoticgood at 5:49 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Besides the obvious stuff like Mueller is a Republican, appointed FBI Director by a Republican president, and selected special counsel by a Republican DAG under a Republican president, here's some other ammo in the probable coming battle.

@VoteVets
Read up on Robert Mueller, and share. In Vietnam, he led his platoon to rescue men who were pinned down, took an AK-47 round through the thigh, but held his position until the men safely retreated. He was back in the jungle a month later.
Robert Mueller Has A Decorated Combat Record As A Marine Who Fought In Vietnam

@KoriSchake (Hoover Institute fellow)
Retweeted Pete Norris (@officership: I found Ranger Mueller in the Ranger Hall of Fame. Inducted in 2004. PIC)
Muller's bronze star citation: "with complete disregard for his own safety personally led a fire team across the fire-swept terrain to recover a mortally wounded marine who had fallen forward of the friendly lines.”

@JoeNBC
Robert Mueller:
- Guided America through 9/11
- Awarded the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for valor in battle
- The Purple Heart
- Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ Combat "V" for valor
- The Vietnam Gallantry Cross
He is an American hero. His attackers are a disgrace.

---

And despite the Republican drumbeat to fire him, they all loved him 6 months ago. A thread that compiles 31 senior Republicans saying great things about him when he was appointed. In handy graphic form for social media posting.

@RepRubenGallego (AZ D rep)
Republicans are discrediting Mueller to give @realDonaldTrump cover to fire him. They've certainly changed their tune... [THREAD]
posted by chris24 at 6:31 AM on December 16, 2017 [75 favorites]


Wait—have we not gone over, extensively, the practical and legal barriers that prevent Trump from firing Mueller? Rosenstein has indicated that he won’t go along with a spurious/impulsive/baseless request to fire him. So what are we saying when we talk about Trump firing Mueller?

If he wants to pitch a fit and act like he’s “firing” him while the work goes on anyway, that seems...not catastrophic.
posted by witchen at 6:41 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's mind-boggling how much this is tilted to a tiny constituency, and how badly it's going to screw them at the ballot. I really don't understand how their electoral math is working.
posted by eclectist at 3:48 PM on December 15 [3 favorites +] [!]


It's important to remember they're not looking to get the MetaFilter vote. They packed a modest tax cut into the first year, so that a majority of their base and independents with see a decrease in their withholding in January. They'll remember that in November because they'll be reminded at every paycheck. These aren't people who follow the details of the tax bill or have seen the graphs showing the slow erosion of that rebate as the benefit all shifts to the wealthy. And even if they realize that the immediately most of the benefit goes to the wealthy, they don't resent it because the wealthy are deserving, not like those inner-city folks, if you know what I mean.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


There are a lot of barriers preventing Trump from firing Mueller but ultimately the only real checks on his power come from the other branches of government. They are institutions and institutions will not save us.

Trump shouldn't be able to fire Mueller, my hope is that if he tries things start moving very fast, Mueller's case will get made to public and we'll be able to shine some light on this whole terrible mess and maybe start the long hard work that will be undoing all the damage already done.

That's what I hope for but what I plan on is a GOP that does nothing as we slide further and further towards fascism.

Plan for the worst and hope for the best, that's what we're saying when we talk about Trump firing Mueller. If we're ready to go with plans for massive protests and strikes and things of that nature but Trump and half the GOP are in prison by March, we'll just have wasted time laying plans we never ultimately needed. But if we're not ready because we've put all our faith in our institutions and Trump DOES manage to fire Mueller, we may as well give up.
posted by VTX at 6:52 AM on December 16, 2017 [13 favorites]


Wait—have we not gone over, extensively, the practical and legal barriers that prevent Trump from firing Mueller?

Rosenstein has to fire him under most scenarios. But, like Nixon and the Saturday Night Massacre, Trump can fire Rosenstein to find someone willing to fire Mueller if he won't.

There's also a school of thought that Trump can fire Mueller directly or without cause, though it would probably be challenged in court or possibly even ignored by Mueller.
But there is another path Trump could take to remove Mueller, according to Yale Law Professor Akhil Amar. The regulations that govern the special counsel were issued by the Department of Justice and could be rescinded by the Department of Justice. If the regulations were rescinded, Trump would no longer be required to cite any cause in removing Mueller. Still, however, he would likely have to go through Rosenstein to rescind the regulation, a move Rosenstein would likely resist.

If Trump moves to fire Mueller, then, it is likely Mueller won’t be the only official heading for the exits. And a slew of resignations or firings at DOJ in order to get rid of Mueller would only deepen the sense of crisis.

It’s possible that Trump could circumvent DOJ entirely and fire Mueller on his own. It’s not clear that Trump has any constitutional duty to adhere by a Justice Department regulation, said Saikrishna Prakash, a professor at University of Virginia Law School and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“I don’t know how a rule of the Department of Justice can limit the president’s constitutional authority,” Prakash said, pointing to the president’s authority to remove officers of the executive branch, which could be interpreted to include a special counsel. “My view is the president can fire the special prosecutor without regard to what the rule says.”
posted by chris24 at 6:53 AM on December 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


And sorry if this planning sounds like catastrophizing. But it's not just people here. Josh at TPM, Evan McMullin, Heet Jeer, Dan Drezner, Kevin Kruse, Brian Beutler, Sopan Deb and host of other left and NeverTrumpers on political Twitter are also sounding the warning. From Josh:

TPM: The Plot Is Afoot
I think we’re seeing signs that the ground is being laid to fire Bob Mueller and end all investigations into President Trump and Russia. I’m not saying it will happen or that the effort will be successful. But the effort is clearly afoot.

I don’t want to be hyperbolic. I not only believe generally but think we have seen evidence of the resilience of our system and core institutions over recent months. But we can see a number of developments, building over recent weeks and accelerating in recent days, aimed at ending the Russia investigations.
---
But it is the evening of December 15th. At some point, no matter how much you want to believe something, the evidence contradicting your belief can grow so great that your edifice of confidence crumbles. It can happen rapidly. Even in the Trumpian world of fictive realities, the nonsensical nature of Cobb’s assurances must be becoming clear. That dam of realization seems to have given way or is in the process of breaking. That’s perilous.

For clarity, I don’t think Mueller will be fired. But I believe the groundwork is being laid to do so. I believe there’s an effort afoot to try. It is also entirely possible Trump will fire Mueller, especially if he can get a clean bill of health from one of the House committees which he can brandish as a justification. That will trigger a grave crisis. Keep an eye on the escalating attacks on Mueller, the increasing drive to close down the congressional investigations.
posted by chris24 at 7:04 AM on December 16, 2017 [29 favorites]


The firing of Mueller seems an inevitability that, like a periodic natural disaster or nuclear war, becomes more likely the longer it hasn't happened.

Ah, the old "due-factor," as one friend called it. You know, like when a high-average batter hasn't had a hit in a long time, so the chances of a hit go up. Or like when you've flipped heads twenty times in a row, the chances of a tails goes up. (If you believe this, I want to gamble with you.)
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:05 AM on December 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


I look at Trump firing Mueller as less a coin flip - where yes, past history mean nothing - and more like a leopard. When he's recently eaten a face or is feeling safe, he's less likely to eat another. When it's been a while and he's hungry or is threatened, it's more likely.
posted by chris24 at 7:16 AM on December 16, 2017 [19 favorites]


Republicans are probably just trying to distract us with all the Mueller puppet theater stuff.
posted by lumnar at 7:18 AM on December 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm listening to this week's Reply All right now (tl;dl: Mexican edgelords being paid by the PRI to poison the internet in the PRI's favor, with the help of unpaid troll armies who are just doing it for the lulz). When I first woke up this morning I (against all of my better judgement) read this Daily Beast article about the New Mexico school shooter from last week (which I didn't even notice because its' 2017 America and shooting up schools is just how we roll now) and his loooong history as an alt-right edgelord.

I don't know what to think. I know what I feel, but I don't know what to think about how I feel. I'm very extremely not prone to conspiracy theories, but I find myself wondering now if perhaps the trollfarm call isn't coming as much from St. Petersburg as Peoria and Plattsburg, and they're not being paid in Rubles nearly as much as Kochbucks. And all the cries of "DISTRACTION!!!!" that I've been scoffing at because I can pay attention to more than one thing at a time are not as hyperbolic as I'd thought. Or maybe the "DISTRACTION!!!" cries are actually the real disinfo and the things being called distraction are exactly where I should be looking.

I don't like any of this. And I'm beginning to think that the only rational response is to turn everything off, never believe anything anyone says ever again, and start fashioning some tinfoil headgear.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:23 AM on December 16, 2017 [14 favorites]


lol oh man lumnar. That is some intense posting synchronicity right there.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:24 AM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


less a coin flip - where yes, the past history mean nothing - and more like a leopard

Right. There's no "due factor" about it, it's a recognition of the fact that we have an unstable man under increasing pressure, and we already have evidence that he acts out in irrational ways under pressure. Firing Comey was a bad, bad idea and yet Trump did it because he felt threatened. I'm not saying that Mueller's firing is imminent or even likely, but as pressure on Trump increases, the probability of him doing this, or something similarly reckless, approaches 100%.

But as others have said, we can't allow that to distract us from the issues right now. Trump firing Mueller, or launching a war against North Korea, or doing something similarly drastic, is just something we have to be prepared for, but for now we need to focus on today's fight. We might yet stop this awful tax bill. We might be able to block the net neutrality repeal. We need to continue to make noise about Puerto Rico, and we need to continue to push Congress to fund CHIP. Those are the fires we need to put out right now.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:28 AM on December 16, 2017 [21 favorites]


The deleted words list is Very Very Doubleplusungood for the trans community. Also in the article:
The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and reduce health disparities.

HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department’s Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.

Several key departments — including Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development — have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
I'll get on my GET YOUR PASSPORT RIGHT FUCKING NOW soapbox again because surely it's a just a matter of time before they change the rules. Currently you don't need to have surgery to get the correct gender on your passport. Either they'll roll that back, or they'll ban people from changing their gender altogether. If you don't see why this is a problem, imagine a person who presents female (e.g. Laverne Cox) but has "male" on their passport. Now imagine the TSA detaining them and arresting them for "fraud" or who knows what.
posted by AFABulous at 7:47 AM on December 16, 2017 [62 favorites]


Also, Hillary Clinton (as Secretary of State) was the one who changed the rule to permit gender changes, and you know how much Trump loves her.
posted by AFABulous at 7:48 AM on December 16, 2017 [16 favorites]


Some interesting stats from a new Pew poll: 67% of Americans say the government should have a major role in addressing poverty, up from 55% in 2015.
Large majorities say the government should play a major role in keeping the country safe from terrorism (94%), responding to natural disasters (89%) and ensuring that food and medicine are safe (87%). Somewhat smaller majorities – about six-in-ten or more – say the government is doing at least a somewhat good job in each of these areas.

In other areas, there are much wider differences between views of the government’s role and performance. For example, while 80% of the public says the government should play a major role in managing the country’s immigration system, just 32% say it’s doing a good job in this area. Similarly, two-thirds think the government should be involved in helping people get out of poverty; just 26% rate the government positively in dealing with poverty – the lowest rating for any issue in the survey.

And while wide majorities say the government should be involved in ensuring a basic income for those 65 and older (71%), access to health care (69%), access to high equality education (68%) and helping people get out of poverty (67%), fewer than half say the government is doing a good job in these areas.
High numbers wanting government to handle/solve social issues with lower numbers satisfied with what's currently being done seems like an opportunity for Democrats.
posted by chris24 at 7:56 AM on December 16, 2017 [48 favorites]


You know one thing I'd like to see when this shitshow is finally over and Democrats have unified control of government again?

A "Presidents and Former Presidents Taxation Act" such that former presidents get their pension and some set of legitimate income streams (income from assets that had been placed into a no-shit blind trust before they took office, income from normal pension funds, maybe book sales) taxed at normal rates and taxes all other income at 90-something percent. Combined with former presidents' estates being taxed at 90-whatever percent of everything over one million dollars with exceptions for real property that had been passed through at least three generations.

Mostly because just Fuck Trump, but also to limit the incentive or ability to pull this kind of horseshit again.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:58 AM on December 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


But of course. It also explains Corker. At least this plays into the 2018 campaign theme of they raised your taxes while cutting theirs.

IBT (David Sirota): Donald Trump And GOP Leaders Could Be Enriched By Last Minute Tax Break Inserted Into Final Bill
Republican congressional leaders and real estate moguls could be personally enriched by a real-estate-related provision GOP lawmakers slipped into the final tax bill released Friday evening, according to experts interviewed by International Business Times. The legislative language was not part of previous versions of the bill and was added despite ongoing conflict-of-interest questions about the intertwining real estate interests and governmental responsibilities of President Donald Trump — the bill’s chief proponent.

The Trump organization and the Kushners (the family of Ivanka's husband, Jared) have overseen vast real estate empires, and top GOP lawmakers writing the tax bill collectively have tens of millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate-related LLCs. The new tax provision would specifically allow owners of large real estate holdings through LLCs to deduct a percentage of their “pass through” income from their taxes, according to experts. Although Trump, who became famous for his real estate holdings, has transitioned into branding in recent years, federal records show Trump has ownership stakes in myriad LLCs.

The new provision was not in the bill passed by the House or the Senate. Instead, it was inserted into the final bill during reconciliation negotiations between Republicans from both chambers. The provision, said experts, would offer a special tax cut to LLCs with few employees and large amounts of depreciable property assets, namely buildings: rent generating apartment and office buildings. [...]

IBT previously reported that 13 GOP lawmakers directly sculpting the bill —including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — have between $36 million and $163 million worth of ownership stakes in real estate-related LLCs. Those entities generated between $2.6 million and $16 million in “pass through” income and could benefit from the new provision.

Sen. Bob Corker, who was considered a potential “no” vote on the bill, abruptly switched his position upon the release of the final legislation. Federal records reviewed by IBT show that Corker has millions of dollars of ownership stakes in real-estate related LLCs that could also benefit.
posted by chris24 at 8:04 AM on December 16, 2017 [63 favorites]


“Without a doubt there would be an impeachment effort.”
I have doubts.
posted by schmod at 8:10 AM on December 16, 2017 [25 favorites]


67% of Americans say the government should have a major role in addressing poverty, up from 55% in 2015.

Keep in mind that Marco Rubio sold his soul, changed his no to a yes, based on increasing benefits to the poor by 82 cents a day. Expect him to be crowing about his wonderful accomplishment.
posted by JackFlash at 8:14 AM on December 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


@EricHolder
Speaking on behalf of the vast majority of the American people, Republicans in Congress be forewarned:any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated.These are BS attacks on him/his staff that are blatantly political-designed to hide the real wrongdoing. Country not party

@JohnCornyn
Retweeted Eric Holder
You don’t

@ThePlumLineGS (Greg Sargent, WaPo)
Retweeted Senator JohnCornyn
This is important and highly newsworthy. The Number 2 in the GOP Senate leadership has now suggested that the American people would tolerate an effort by Trump to remove Mueller.

@BrendanNyhan (NYT)
Retweeted Greg Sargent
We're in dangerous waters
posted by chris24 at 8:18 AM on December 16, 2017 [46 favorites]


So when Trump told reporters this morning en route to his FBI rally, "Well, it’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI. It will be bigger and better than ever", that could be a very big tell about what he's plotting.

I guess 24/7 news gonna news, but man I am ever tired of people reading tea leaves to find future actions based on Trump bluster. I of course believe he's a horrible person who will do horrible things and abuse every inch of his authority whenever it suits him. But to say "this might indicate something he's planning" based on stuff like this? Trump Says Shit, and he says it constantly. He blusters about whatever the subject of the moment is and makes grand proclamations about how he alone can do something great and it's gonna be coming Real Soon Now.

A far more sensible thing to do regarding Trump's Plans is to assume he has few and the ones he has are half-assed and sloppy. That's not a reason not to be prepared for them, but assuming they're at all methodical is contrary to everything we've ever seen out of him.
posted by phearlez at 8:33 AM on December 16, 2017 [16 favorites]


Cornyn, responding to a tweet suggesting that Cornyn's "beef is with Holder, not Mueller":

@JohnCornyn
But Mueller needs to clean house of partisans

So no, his beef is in fact with Mueller and his "partisans." Cornyn's clambered onto the "only loyal Trump supporters should be permitted to investigate Trump" wagon. It'd be nice if Cornyn would give such pronouncements their due gravitas and use punctuation and complete sentences, but I guess it's foolish to ask for luxuries in times like these.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:35 AM on December 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


So I read on reddit that firing Mueller won't really change anything because Mueller is smart and prepared for this possibility--the investigation will go on without him. There's a bunch of brilliant attorneys working on this case and firing Mueller will add another obsruction charge. Seems reasonable to me.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


@JohnCornyn
But Mueller needs to clean house of partisans


Man, this is such a catch-22. You can only investigate Trump if you don't think he's an idiot (or corrupt). But you'd have to be an idiot (or corrupt) to believe that.
posted by diogenes at 8:47 AM on December 16, 2017 [47 favorites]


It's really unsurprising that the people who have fought a twenty-plus year war on competency would have zero faith in the ability of people to be professional and do their job regardless of a personal opinion. It's also consistent with their attitudes about media.
posted by phearlez at 8:58 AM on December 16, 2017 [15 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest, isn’t firing Mueller a means of shutting down the special counsel’s investigation? Mueller can line up all the attorneys in the world, but they can’t run the investigation without the resources and access to, say, broad subpoena power afforded the special counsel.

It’s been my assumption that firing Mueller ends the investigation. Are you saying they might try to fire him and appoint a new special counsel? Even if they were to do that, it would surely be someone Trump-friendly, who’d clean house of all the “partisan” attorneys on the team and install a legion of thumb-twiddlers, right?
posted by scarylarry at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2017


"Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst" is always a good philosophy. That said, I agree with MisanthropicPainForest that Mueller and his people are smart enough to have contingency plans. If anyone is capable of n-dimensional chess, it's them.

Trump and his crew of sycophants and parasites, however - as Phearlez points out, they have waged a long-standing war on competency and experts. That...makes them more at the tic-tac-toe level. Certainly they can do a lot of damage, but they're not a formidable, Machiavellian enemy. They're more the thugs who shove you into a locker and demand your lunch money, like Moe from Calvin and Hobbes. Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon, not Tywin Lannister. (Trump WISHES he was Tywin.)

The truly smart people, who value education and learning and skill and expertise, are increasingly in the Democratic party and the various resistances. The fact that the Dems/resistances are welcoming, at least in theory, to other than white cis men, means that we have more brains and talent, because we aren't squandering women/POC/LGBT people's abilities and longing for a mythical 1950's.

As Rebecca Solnit points out in the Guardian, resistance is working. It's not shouting into the wind. It's not going to be easy, smooth or soon, but we are far from powerless.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2017 [50 favorites]


It’s been my assumption that firing Mueller ends the investigation.

at which point there's going to be a flood of leaks and documents, some of which will be damning, some of which will be speculative, and much of which may involve others

with mueller in the picture, the investigation remains within provable and contestable grounds, and is controllable for the overall powers that be (not just trump)

they end it now, all hell breaks loose - it may anyway - but someone may have already told trump to shut up and take his lumps if he has to

there's a lot of rumors going on and i don't even really look for them
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 AM on December 16, 2017 [7 favorites]


any attempt to remove Bob Mueller will not be tolerated.

by who? I don't believe in "surely this" anymore because we've had over 300 days of "surely this" moments.

We'll have some protests in front of the WH and stern statements by Democrats (and a few Republicans like Flake). But no general strikes, no revolutions. No one has ever been able to explain how a general strike would work. "More than half of Americans (57 percent) have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts." (CNBC) The median wealth of Black and Latinx people is under $2000. (Forbes) What, they're all going to risk homelessness and starvation over an FBI investigation most people don't understand? "Nearly 80 percent of Trump voters said they think the president should stay in office even if collusion is proven between his campaign and Russia." (The Hill) That's millions of people who don't even care if Mueller is fired.
posted by AFABulous at 9:28 AM on December 16, 2017 [13 favorites]


I have to assume that a Mueller firing is the signal for New York AG Schneiderman to go absolutely ham on this administration.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:33 AM on December 16, 2017 [28 favorites]


Also therer are four more sealed indictments, which won't go away if Mueller is fired. (Assuming they weren't filed for some other investigation.)
Eagle-eyed court watchers on Twitter noticed, late Monday, that there are four sealed cases listed on the U.S. District Court's docket in Washington, D.C., located on the docket between George Papadopoulos's sealed plea bargain (#182) and Paul Manafort's sealed indictment (#201).
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:39 AM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Assuming they weren't filed for some other investigation.

But that's the rub. There is no reason to think they aren't for a different case or cases. Or rather there's no reason to think they are for Mueller's.
posted by Justinian at 9:43 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


High numbers wanting government to handle/solve social issues with lower numbers satisfied with what's currently being done seems like an opportunity for Democrats.

For a while now I've been asking, where's the Democratic "Contract with America"? 1994 is probably the closest analogy to where we are right now (with 2010 a close second). It would be great if we had a sweeping legislative agenda and some prominent (not white male) leaders like Gingrich with a proper manifesto. I doubt whether the Contract with America actually had any significant role in the electoral wins for Republicans in 1994 -- that was mainly just due to standard midterm backlash -- but it sure as heck had an influence on the legislative agenda from 1994-1998, and would have been even more significant if Republicans hadn't essentially shot themselves in the foot by impeaching Clinton before he could propose even more "reforms" in the late 90s. Anyway, details aside, it would be great if we had a proper 10-point Democratic manifesto, especially during the midterm respite from the obsessive hero-focus that presidential years inevitably bring.
posted by chortly at 9:53 AM on December 16, 2017 [14 favorites]


It would be great if we had a proper 10-point Democratic manifesto

They are really trying to promote this one. But it's hard for them to make themselves heard over all the noise.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:09 AM on December 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


they end it now, all hell breaks loose

I am very concerned by these allegations
posted by benzenedream at 10:12 AM on December 16, 2017




Relevant to recent FCC ruling and the ability of people to get information over the Internet: The Koch Brothers are actively working to prevent cities from getting fast broadband (Susan Crawford writing in Wired, 2017-12-16.)
posted by StrawberryPie at 10:46 AM on December 16, 2017 [16 favorites]


OK, so Harry Reid funded a shadowy UFO investigation bureau.

Pfft. $22 piss-ant million to find out what UFO's are? "Shadowy" Harry Reid? Bollocks. Where's the missing 6.5 Trillion with a T money in the Pentagon, NYT?! Where's the front page bold type for that, you fuckers?

Per the article, UFO's totally don't exist (or maybe they do! Ha ha!), Harry Reid has a wacky billionaire friend and Ted "$400 Million dollar bridge to nowhere" Stevens was a goddamned war hero when not being indicted for lying on financial disclosure forms.
posted by petebest at 11:05 AM on December 16, 2017 [7 favorites]


But those are pretty freaky videos...
posted by Windopaene at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


But no general strikes, no revolutions. No one has ever been able to explain how a general strike would work.

As odd as it seems, labour wasn't always supremely powerful in history, but it finds ways, whether it be chucking shoes into machines, or the mobbed up swingers removing food from export ships to feed to the locals (and paying the merchant market price: snark isn't new).


Also with you 1045% regarding getting passports. Better to be a live, free, force for change from the outside than incarcerated, disenfranchised, or worse at 'home'.
posted by Buntix at 11:21 AM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Trump Has Ambitious Plans to Campaign in 2018 Midterms (WaPo)

"The president has told advisers he wants to travel extensively and hold rallies and that he is looking forward to spending much of 2018 campaigning. He has also told aides that the election would largely determine what he can get done — and that he expects he would be blamed for losses, such as last week’s humiliating defeat that handed an Alabama Senate seat to a Democrat for the first time in 25 years.

“For the president, this isn’t about adulation and cheering crowds,” White House political director Bill Stepien said in an interview. “This is about electing and reelecting Republicans.”"
posted by box at 11:29 AM on December 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


Not to be super crass, but those Koch fucks are 77 and 82. How much longer are we going to have to put up with their shit before nature takes its course?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:37 AM on December 16, 2017 [38 favorites]


With modern medical technology, plausibly 30 to 40 years.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:43 AM on December 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


“For the president, this isn’t about adulation and cheering crowds,”

Bull. Shit.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:45 AM on December 16, 2017 [80 favorites]


he wants to travel extensively and hold rallies and that he is looking forward to spending much of 2018 campaigning. He has also told aides that the election would largely determine what he can get done — and that he expects he would be blamed for losses

You go right ahead, shitbird.

The less time you spend actually working and the more time you spend tarring any and all Republican candidates with your Trumpist stench the better.
posted by lydhre at 12:08 PM on December 16, 2017 [44 favorites]


I love words. I thank you for hearing my words. I want to tell you something about words that I think is important. They're my work, they're my play, they're my passion. Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid, y'know like, woo woo woo woo, POP! Then we assign a word to a thought and we're stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.

I like to think that yeah, the same words that hurt can heal, it's a matter of how you pick them. There are some people that aren't into all the words. There are some that would have you not use certain words. Yeah, there are 400,000 words in the English language and there are 7 of them that you can't say at the CDC. What a ratio that is!

399,993 to 7. They must really be bad. They'd have to be outrageous to be separated from a group that large. All of you over here, you 7, baaad words! That's what they told us they were, remember? "That's a bad word!" No bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions, and words!

You know the 7, don't you, that you can't say at the CDC? "Diversity, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based and evidence-based."

Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that'll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war. "Diversity, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based and evidence-based," wow!
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:13 PM on December 16, 2017 [36 favorites]


At 36.4%, Trump has his lowest approval rating ever in today's 538 Poll Tracker.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:18 PM on December 16, 2017 [23 favorites]


To be fair, Harry Reid is from southern Nevada and he thinks he's going to be the god of his own planet when he dies. I guess UFOs aren't that far out there.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:30 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


: "@JohnCornyn But Mueller needs to clean house of partisans"

In country where Judges, Prosecutors, DAs, Sheriffs, and even Dogcatcher are elected this sudden concern for partisans in law enforcement seems ... biased.
posted by Mitheral at 12:33 PM on December 16, 2017 [20 favorites]


How is banning words at the CDC not a violation of the First Amendment?
posted by maggiemaggie at 1:08 PM on December 16, 2017 [14 favorites]


Axios, Scoop: Mueller obtains "tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained “many tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails, including sensitive emails of Jared Kushner, transition team sources tell Axios.

Trump officials discovered Mueller had the emails when his prosecutors used them as the basis for questions to witnesses, the sources said.
The emails include 12 accounts, one of which contains about 7,000 emails, the sources said.
The accounts include the team's political leadership and the foreign-policy team, the sources said.

Why it matters: The transition emails are said to include sensitive exchanges on matters that include potential appointments, gossip about the views of particular senators involved in the confirmation process, speculation about vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, strategizing about press statements, and policy planning on everything from war to taxes.
...
The sources say that transition officials assumed that Mueller would come calling, and had sifted through the emails and separated the ones they considered privileged. But the sources said that was for naught, since Mueller has the complete cache from the dozen accounts.
I can only imagine the kind of stuff these buffoons put in email and how alarmed they must be about discovering Mueller already had them. But nice job using the press to warn everyone who might be in those email archives that Mueller knows.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 PM on December 16, 2017 [76 favorites]


At this point, if trump & co. are successful and unimpeded in purging the investigation and the FBI, then I really hope that people have dead-man switches that automatically leak important files to a number of sources. At that point passing on the leaks would be extremely risky, but I feel like there are a number of nations and venues that would take the risk.
posted by codacorolla at 1:15 PM on December 16, 2017 [14 favorites]


Apologies if this has been discussed previously, but is there anything Mueller and his team can do to fight back in the event of his firing? I assume the current investigation gets mothballed and all the classified evidence sealed away or destroyed, but might he have delivered a preliminary report to somebody to be published in the event of his dismissal? Could he have strategically declassified enough evidence that he could speak openly about a publicly-verifiable chain of evidence showing collusion? I would think that he's anticipating the possibility of his own firing and taking any precautionary measures available, but I don't know what those might be.
posted by contraption at 1:16 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just to help me keep track of this mess, here’s my growing list of the key Trump Administration officials that have been fired or have resigned so far:

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist
Preset Bharara, US District Attorney for Southern NY
James Comey, Director of the FBI
Mark Corallo, Spokesman for legal team defending Trump from Russian allegations
Michael Dubke, White House Communications Director
Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor
Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President
Derek Harvey, National Security Council’s top Middle East Advisor
Omarosa Manigault, Director - White House Office for Public Liaison
Tom Price, Secretary - Health and Human Services
Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff
Anthony Scaramucci, Communications Director
Walter Shaub, Director - Office of Government Ethics
Michael Short, Press Aide
Sean Spicer, Press Secretary
Katie Walsh, Deputy White House Chief of Staff
Sally Yates, Acting Attorney General

...as well as...

Many CEO members of the Strategy & Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council, and

Likely hundreds of career civil servants in various roles in the State Department and other government agencies, either laid off or who resigned due to the newly incompetent and disruptive leadership.

Flynn and Papadopoulos have already confessed to crimes. Manafort and Gates have been indicted.

And we haven’t even hit his first anniversary...
posted by darkstar at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2017 [23 favorites]


I was a kid when we watched the Watergate hearings on telly. This was in Nigeria. My dad has - had - a lifelong habit of always watching the news, he was a well-informed global citizen and it's a tradition me and my sisters grew up with. So Watergate: incisive, technical, an impressive demonstration of judiciary power and effectiveness. A good advert for USAian legal process and professionalism. I felt that again watching the Committee on the Judiciary hearings that have attracted so much ridicule, outrage and hilarity.

Though I have to say, the more competent the nominees, the more they were more worrying than the demonstrably useless fellow. The prejudice, vindictiveness and complacency on display was alarming, as was the grandstanding in support of alt-right talking points - one got the impression a couple of candidates were used to applause following a deceptively anodyne articulation of gross homophobic ideology.

But i wanted to say the process and the panel were impressive. What resources does the US have? It does have people like these, norms like these that are aspired to. In the current chaos this has to be hopeful.
posted by glasseyes at 1:38 PM on December 16, 2017 [16 favorites]


Seems like a good list to have. I'd suggest the list of administration appointees fired by Trump should probably be separated out between people he himself chose versus people he vindictively and/or defensively fired (Yates, Bharara, Comey, etc). The details kinda matter there.

A supplementary list worth keeping is "nominees who pulled out of the nomination process before or during hearings," which would include a bunch of cabinet and sub-cabinet appointees and more than a couple of judges.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


darkstar, I feel like the trump administration job descriptions ought to be in quotes.
posted by glasseyes at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


The emails include 12 accounts, one of which contains about 7,000 emails, the sources said.
The accounts include the team's political leadership and the foreign-policy team, the sources said.

Why it matters: The transition emails are said to include sensitive exchanges on matters that include potential appointments, gossip about the views of particular senators involved in the confirmation process, speculation about vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, strategizing about press statements, and policy planning on everything from war to taxes.


A thought: even though the Trumpists aren't very smart at very much that is relevant for running a country, they are probably smart at racketeering. Maybe they spent a lot of time after the primary roping in as many R politicians as at all possible, and maybe this can be seen in those mails.
I've seen on a small and local scale (but also construction and real-estate industry) how the corrupt honchos are incredibly ignorant and incurious on most issues but are highly accomplished when it comes to luring people to get in on the scam. As they say, almost everyone has a price, and since they are handing out other people's money (and titles, not least), the price doesn't matter to political crooks.

If this is the case, obviously a lot of Republican congressmen will push hard for closing the investigation which is scary. On the other hand, if Mueller can hang on till past November, there could be a big purge of all the corrupt politicians. Before, I thought Mueller might be in a hurry to finish his work early in 2018, so as not to be blamed for meddling in the election. But maybe it would be safer and better for democracy if he waits till after?
I guess the Dems need to reach out to non-corrupt Repubs (if there are any) to form a strong "constitutional coalition" that can protect the investigation and the law of the land.

In my personal experience, which is obviously on a very different scale, honest people are very confusing to crooks, not least because they justify their actions with the understanding that "everyone does it". As in "all politicians lie", so the Trumpists have just cranked up the gears, nothing to see there. Or as Trump himself has often said: all politicians are corrupt. During the campaign, people thought that when he said that, and pointed to his personal wealth, it meant he wouldn't be corrupt. But what he really meant was that he would be more corrupt. I digress: my point was that if one can stand fast through the storm, one can win over lies and corruption. But that standing can be incredibly rough.
posted by mumimor at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2017 [15 favorites]


mumimor: what he really meant was that he would be more corrupt.

"That makes me smart."
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:51 PM on December 16, 2017 [17 favorites]


We saw pretty much all of Clinton and Podesta’s emails and there was basically nothing incriminating. We’ve seen just a few from Trump & Co. and they’ve all been hugely incriminating. I mean shit with subject lines literally like “Backdoor Russian Meeting and Dinner Invite” and contents with basically “woohoo, excited to collude.”

Just imagine what all of them show.
posted by chris24 at 2:05 PM on December 16, 2017 [67 favorites]


How is banning words at the CDC not a violation of the First Amendment? -- posted by maggiemaggie

The CDC is a federal agency, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

"...government employees are only protected by the First Amendment when they are speaking as private citizens. If their speech is part of their official job duties, then they can be fired or disciplined for it. This rule comes from a 2006 Supreme Court case, Garcetti v. Ceballos. Obviously, it isn’t always easy to differentiate when a government employee is speaking as a private citizen, and when they are speaking as a government employee."
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:13 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have to say it was satisfying to send a message to Cornyn about how bad his tweets make him look and how he should think before tying himself too closely to a clearly criminal element in the GOP.
posted by threeturtles at 2:16 PM on December 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


Axios, Scoop: Mueller obtains "tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails

And barely ten minutes after Axios broke, Fox News runs this story: Trump Lawyer: Mueller Improperly Obtained Transition Documents In Russia Probe
A lawyer for the Trump presidential transition team is accusing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office of inappropriately obtaining transition documents as part of its Russia probe, including confidential attorney-client communications and privileged communications.

In a letter obtained by Fox News and sent to House and Senate committees on Saturday, the transition team’s attorney alleges “unlawful conduct” by the career staff at the General Services Administration in handing over transition documents to the special counsel’s office.

Officials familiar with the case argue Mueller could have a problem relating to the 4th Amendment – which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Kory Langhofer, the counsel to Trump for America, wrote in the letter that the the GSA “did not own or control the records in question.” But, Langhofer says, Mueller’s team has “extensively used the materials in question, including portions that are susceptible to claims of privilege.”

Trump for America is the nonprofit organization that facilitated the transition between former President Barack Obama to President Trump. The GSA, an agency of the United States government, provided the transition team with office space and hosted its email servers.
Team Trump is really ramping things up ahead of next week's meeting between Mueller and Trump's lawyers.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:20 PM on December 16, 2017 [13 favorites]


For those who want to dig deep into the Republican tax bill, this is an actually readable summary put out by the House. Caution, it is a 570 page PDF.

Unlike the bill itself which can be hard to decipher with its convoluted strike this/add that and obscure references to dozens of previous laws, this document clearly describes current law, House and Senate proposals to change current law, and finally the conference agreement for each provision. Unfortunately it lacks an index so it can be difficult to search for specific provisions. But there it is in all its glory.
posted by JackFlash at 2:22 PM on December 16, 2017 [17 favorites]


Remember when there were recounts in a number of states requested by (I believe) the Green party after the election, and they were all summarily shut down almost immediately by trump's lawyers? I think that we're starting to see the one thing that trump's team is good at: legal fuckery.
posted by codacorolla at 2:22 PM on December 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Officials familiar with the case argue Mueller could have a problem relating to the 4th Amendment – which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Man, "officials familiar with the case" is weaselly. It's pretty much "some people are saying."

I'm gonna guess that Mueller's team is familiar with the law as it relates to searches and seizures.

Anyway, it isn't a real argument. It's just further setting the stage for what's coming.
posted by diogenes at 2:28 PM on December 16, 2017 [25 favorites]


No problemo, I got this.

*clears throat, stretches neck*

Diversity = Manyversity
fetus = protogeny
transgender = ultragender
vulnerable = vowelnerable
entitlement = claimsworths
science-based = booklearned
evidence-based = fuckingreality-based
posted by petebest at 2:28 PM on December 16, 2017 [33 favorites]


So the administration is eager to show how much they're cooperating with Muller, but now they're furious that Mueller, who is part of the government, obtained evidence from a government computer system used by government employees? I'm going to go out on a limb and suspect there's a lot of idiocy in those emails and there's a reason this is where they're drawing the line.

Trump and Cobb keep running around saying the investigation will be over by the end of the year or soon thereafter. It's increasingly clear that the only way that can possibly happen is if Trump makes it happen. Trump ignores his own deadlines all the time (see, for instance, the time in July he promised us all he'd have an answer on Hezbollah in 24 hours), but he also makes up a lot of nonsense and then expects to be able to bend reality to meet whatever is in his mind.
posted by zachlipton at 2:29 PM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


I can't wait to hear all the privacy and privilege claims from the same people who insisted every last Clinton and Podesta email had to be published on the internet or democracy was over.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:46 PM on December 16, 2017 [62 favorites]


Any lawyers in the house? If a communication is privileged that means it cannot be compelled. But can it be used to impeach a witness if the prosecution has acquired it by other means?

ie if some of the Trumpers have lied to Mueller's guys could the privileged communications the GSA turned over be allowed as proof in a 18 USC § 1001 prosecution or would it be tossed as privileged work product?
posted by Justinian at 3:15 PM on December 16, 2017


From our favorite former federal prosecutor.

@renato_mariotti
Of course Mueller obtained emails from a third party. Prosecutors in most white collar criminal investigations do that. It’s not “inappropriate” or even unusual. Anyone who claims otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about.
posted by chris24 at 3:19 PM on December 16, 2017 [57 favorites]


At first glance, the banning of seven words looks bad. But it actually evens out because of the 14 words CDC employees are supposed to use instead.
posted by emelenjr at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2017 [23 favorites]


Of course Mueller obtained emails from a third party. Prosecutors in most white collar criminal investigations do that. It’s not “inappropriate” or even unusual. Anyone who claims otherwise has no idea what they’re talking about.

The Trumpists making that claim aren't saying it because they believe it. It's just fodder for Fox News viewers.
posted by diogenes at 3:29 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


For when the "liberal" media talks about what a win it is for Trump & Rs when/if they pass the tax bill. From Quinnipiac:

If your Rep or Senator voted for the tax plan, would you be...

- More likely to re-elect: 18%
- Less likely to re-elect: 43%
- Won't matter: 35%
posted by chris24 at 3:34 PM on December 16, 2017 [25 favorites]


Watching the Bears - Lions game and reading this article about the NFL owners and Trump as Pimps I suddenly realized that while the GOP went after graduate student tuition waivers they never mentioned athletic scholarships in their tax plans. Things that make you go hmmmm.
posted by srboisvert at 3:49 PM on December 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure what the take-away is from that Quinnipiac poll. Maybe it's good. Maybe bad. I mean, the overall numbers look nice. But the Republican base is split 42/45 either saying "more likely to re-elect" or "won't matter." The Democratic base is strongly against. The real question is what the "Independents" say and how to interpret it. At first, this looks good. Independents say:

If they vote for the Republican tax plan, would you be ...

More likely to re-elect: 16%
Less likely to re-elect: 47%
Won't matter: 36%

And ...

If they vote against the Republican tax plan, would you be ...

More likely to re-elect: 38%
Less likely to re-elect: 17%
Won't matter: 43%

But the question is where these Independents are starting off. If they're already Conservative leaners, then 47% < 36 + 16 = 52% and 38% < 43 + 17 = 60%.

I guess I'd like to see something more clearly encouraging than this ... Somebody talk me down off the ledge.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 3:53 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what the take-away is from that Quinnipiac poll. Maybe it's good. Maybe bad. I mean, the overall numbers look nice. But the Republican base is split 42/45 either saying "more likely to re-elect" or "won't matter." The Democratic base is strongly against. The real question is what the "Independents" say and how to interpret it.
No. This is incorrect. The real question is almost never what independents think. Elections are determined by turnout, not by swing voters. Democrats typically don't turn out in midterm elections. The reason that things look good for 2018 is that Democrats are pissed off and fired up, and they're likely to vote in midterms this time. The fact that Democrats are strongly against, and Republicans are not strongly for, the tax bill bodes well for the Dems in the next election.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:02 PM on December 16, 2017 [18 favorites]


Okay, that makes sense. Thanks.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 4:04 PM on December 16, 2017


A heavy-handed metaphor for your Saturday night.

Drew Schwartz, Vice: Literal Shit Exploded Out of a Water Fountain at the EPA

The poopsplosion pictured apparently detonated outside the EPA's Office of Policy, in a hallway nearby EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's office, Mashable reports. According to E&E News, a few other water fountains overflowed on the same floor, and the odor from the black sludge wafted into nearby offices.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:08 PM on December 16, 2017 [18 favorites]


Watching the Bears - Lions game and reading this article about the NFL owners and Trump as Pimps

This could probably use a content warning for violent abuse of women, among other things (treated as incidental! It’s not even the point of the article! Just, you know, an interesting way to illustrate a thing about football, as opposed to something that should be horrifying in its own right).
posted by schadenfrau at 4:11 PM on December 16, 2017


When Democrats show up, they win. (Daniel Donner, Daily Kos)

Doug Jones won in Alabama because Democrats showed up to vote. In 2014's midterms, Democrats took a drubbing, because they did not show up.

Democratic policies are more popular among a wider swath of people than the right-wing talking point policies. If we keep showing up the way we have so far in Alabama and Virginia, we can win many more elections than we have. Butts in booths!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:18 PM on December 16, 2017 [17 favorites]


Doug Jones won in Alabama because Democrats showed up to vote.

Well, yes, but Republicans also stayed home in equal numbers. That was the tipping point. When you have Jones picking up 90-something% of Hillary's vote in Alabama and Moore picking up 50% of Trump's then you know that there was a massive staying home of Republicans.
posted by Talez at 4:49 PM on December 16, 2017 [7 favorites]


More details.

@renato_mariotti
THREAD: Why are Trump’s lawyers upset that Mueller obtained transition emails from a government agency? (Hint: They’re just playing politics, but this is a bad sign for them.)
1/ Today @axios reported that Mueller obtained tens of thousands of emails from the General Services Administration, which possessed them.
2/ @axios reported that the emails included very frank discussions as well as emails from Jared Kushner. Trump’s team was unaware that Mueller possessed the emails and were surprised when Mueller’s team asked questions based on the emails.
3/ Now Trump’s team has written a letter to Congress, complaining that some of the materials were “susceptible to privilege claims.” So what does this mean?
4/ First of all, it’s not unusual at all for prosecutors to obtain emails from other parties. That’s extremely common in white collar criminal investigations and is not improper.
5/ What *is* unusual here is that Mueller obtained emails from GSA even though he could have obtained (many of) the same emails from lawyers for the Trump Transition.
6/ Typically, in a white collar case, prosecutors obtain as many emails and documents as possible from defense attorneys instead of from another source.
7/ That’s because the defense team would review the emails, take out the ones that are not relevant, sort the emails, and put them in a format could be useable by Mueller.
8/ When a prosecutor obtains emails from a third party, usually irrelevant emails aren’t sorted out. So why would Mueller get the emails from GSA instead?
9/ One reason comes to mind. Mueller was concerned that he wouldn’t receive all of the emails if he obtained them from the Trump team. That’s surprising and suggests that he has reason to distrust Trump’s team.
10/ It appears that obtaining the documents from GSA also allowed Mueller to surprise witnesses who were not prepared to talk about emails that they didn’t think he had.
11/ I doubt that’s why Mueller obtained emails from GSA because any good lawyer would have reviewed the emails with their client anyway prior to an interview. Either the defense lawyers were incompetent or they weren’t surprised as they’re letting on.
12/ One important issue I should note is that typically prosecutors cannot obtain emails from a third party without using a search warrant, not a subpoena.
13/ If that happened here, it would mean a federal judge found that there was good reason to believe that a crime was committed and the emails contained evidence of a crime.
14/ In any event, when a prosecutor obtains emails from a third party, privileged documents are not removed. Typically prosecutors use “taint teams” to remove privileged documents before the prosecution team reviews them.
15/ If Mueller obtained a privileged email, the defense would be able to exclude it as evidence at trial. Typically all that happens is that the defense raises the issue with the prosecutor, and if the prosecutor agrees it is privileged, they return the privileged document.
16/ Disputes over privilege are common when prosecutors obtain emails and documents from third parties. That’s very common. What’s uncommon is what the Trump lawyers did here.
17/ Instead of sending a letter to Mueller, the attorneys sent a letter to Congress. Why? Probably to try to feed the growing effort to fire Mueller and/or try to discredit him to Congressional Republicans.
18/ Note also that the lawyers *don’t* say that the emails are privileged. They merely claim that some of the emails are “susceptible to privilege claims.” That’s weak language that suggests they’re not confident they have a strong claim that some of the emails are privileged.
19/ The biggest conclusion I’d draw from their letter is that they’re concerned about Mueller’s investigation and are doing whatever they can to discredit it. Their claims themselves are weak and are meant to persuade people who know nothing about criminal investigations. /end
posted by chris24 at 4:49 PM on December 16, 2017 [89 favorites]


Like if we want to apply the lessons learned in Alabama to ultra red states in 2018 it's literally "have the Republicans run a pedophile and they'll stay home".
posted by Talez at 4:51 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


That’s surprising and suggests that he has reason to distrust Trump’s team.

Bwahahahaa . . Understatement of the year. I can't imagine anyone with a shred of common sense, and who outside the terrordome of Fox News trusting that pile of creeps.

"Don't worry, they said the check is in the mail!"
posted by petebest at 5:00 PM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Trump is pissed he didn't think to acid wash them first like Hillary.
posted by Talez at 5:02 PM on December 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


When you have Jones picking up 90-something% of Hillary's vote in Alabama and Moore picking up 50% of Trump's then you know that there was a massive staying home of Republicans.

50% of a presidential election for an off year special election during the holidays would be more typical. It's the 90% which is stunning. Jones got more black vote than Obama did in 2012. So Dem turnout was the primary mover here I think. Did some Rs stay home or write in? Obviously. But some no doubt turned out to stick it to libs and some turned out because of the huge press the race got, press that won't be possible when 471 congressional seats are up in November 2018.

I think Alabama is a great model for red states and elsewhere. Motivate and turn out the fired up base, especially POC, run good candidates everywhere, and tie Rs to Trump, the establishment, the tax bill, loss of healthcare, etc. to depress their motivation/turnout. Sure, we won't get many pedophiles, but we also won't be fighting in the reddest state.
posted by chris24 at 5:03 PM on December 16, 2017 [24 favorites]


Like if we want to apply the lessons learned in Alabama to ultra red states in 2018 it's literally "have the Republicans run a pedophile and they'll stay home".
Right, but most states aren't Alabama. I live in Iowa, which is looking pretty red right now. Our governor, both houses of the state legislature, both senators, and three out of four congressional reps are Republicans. But this week a poll came out that said that 40% of Iowans said they would back a generic Democrat in the 2018 congressional election, compared to 34% who said they would support a generic Republican. In the 1st Congressional district, which is currently represented by a far-right, Freedom Caucus Republican, 47% said that they'd support a generic Democrat and 29% said they'd support a generic Republican. The only district in which more people would support a generic Republican was Steve fucking King's district, and there it was only by 3% points: 39% Republican, 36% Democrat, 14% unsure. With numbers like that, we don't need an act of God for Democrats to win. We need halfway decent candidates and really good GOTV. I think we've got a real shot at the 1st, a decent shot at the 3rd, and maybe it would take an act of God to oust Steve King. But acts of God occassionally happen, and I think we should assume we can win any of them and act accordingly.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:04 PM on December 16, 2017 [36 favorites]


Here's the list of everyone on that transition team. Remember, it was headed by Pence. I didn't know Tim Scott was part of this. I haven't heard his name come up for anything shady yet.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:06 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


can trump assert executive privelege over transition documents when he wasn’t the executive at the time they were written?
posted by murphy slaw at 5:08 PM on December 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


can trump assert executive privelege over transition documents when he wasn’t the executive at the time they were written?

Absolutely not. The only potential privilege which could be claimed is attorney-client privilege for documents which represent correspondence between a transition official and his or her attorney. With all the caveats and limitations that implies (third parties can't be included on the email etc). I suspect this would be a hard road to hoe for any claims of privilege.
posted by Justinian at 5:24 PM on December 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


The banned words list isn't just the CDC. Words banned at multiple HHS agencies include ‘diversity’ and ‘vulnerable’
A second HHS agency received similar guidance to avoid using “entitlement,” “diversity” and “vulnerable,” according to an official who took part in a briefing earlier in the week. Participants at that agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance.

At the State Department, meanwhile, certain documents now refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance.”
Important here that the rules at this second agency aren't just agency officials trying to come up with ways to protect themselves. They're coming from OMB (run by Nick Mulvaney), which is the Administration.
posted by zachlipton at 5:27 PM on December 16, 2017 [34 favorites]


Some updates on the transition email situation, from Chris Geidner, The Trump Campaign Claims A Federal Office Illegally Turned Over Transition Emails To The Special Counsel. He's got a copy of the transition's lawyer's letter to Congress (notably, Congress is not who you write if you think a prosecutor has obtained evidence they shouldn't have, but it is exactly who you write if you want to rile up a partisan effort to shut down the investigation), along with a GSA official disputing the lawyer's claims:
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Saturday night, Loewentritt [GSA Deputy Counsel] disputed the claims made in the letter sent by the Trump campaign.

"Beckler [former GSA General Counsel, who has since died] never made that commitment," he said of the claim that any requests for transition records would be routed to the Trump campaign's counsel.

Specifically, Loewentritt said, "in using our devices," transition team members were informed that materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" actions.

Loewentritt read to BuzzFeed News a series of agreements that anyone had to agree to when using GSA materials during the transition, including that there could be monitoring and auditing of devices and that, "Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed."

Loewentritt told BuzzFeed News that the GSA initially "suggested a warrant or subpoena" for the materials, but that the Special Counsel's Office determined the letter route was sufficient.

As to whether the Trump campaign should have been informed of the request, Loewentritt said, "That's between the Special Counsel and the transition team."
posted by zachlipton at 6:15 PM on December 16, 2017 [17 favorites]


Fox is now accusing the FBI of leading a coup against Trump and America.

@FoxNews
.@KellyannePolls: "The fix was in against @realDonaldTrump from the beginning, and they were pro-Hillary... They can't possibly be seen as objective or transparent or even-handed or fair." @WattersWorld
SCREENSHOT WITH “A COUP IN AMERICA” CHYRON


@FoxNews
.@jessebwatters: "It's like the @FBI had Michael Moore investigating the President of the United States." @WattersWorld
VIDEO


@jonfavs (Pod Save America)
This pathetic piece of shit just accused the men and women of the FBI of staging a coup against the President.
posted by chris24 at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2017 [63 favorites]


Participants at that agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act

So, make it more clear where people's benefits are coming from... probably not their intended effect.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:20 PM on December 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


Is falsely accusing the FBI of treasonous acts on television a crime of some sort? It seems like it might be. Does that fit some legal definition of slander?
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:21 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


The lawyer's letter is a mess. Point #1 claims "unlawful conduct," while point #2 says that "Congress act immediately to protect future presidential transitions." Which...if what Mueller did was unlawful, why are you asking for new laws to make it illegal in the future?
posted by zachlipton at 6:30 PM on December 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


Does that fit some legal definition of slander?

No, though if you name specific people that could be. The odds of an FBI agent or official going after Fox for slander are essentially nil.
posted by Justinian at 6:30 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately there is a subset of Trump's Rumps who literally believe there will - like, any day now, look at all these clues! - be a literal military coup against (or for, same thing, really) Trump.

Fox has, as ever, been huffing the paint on various chans and are incapable of reasonable action. My "favorite" part of these tales are the inevitable recent "Hollywood" movies that slyly explain exactly how-or-why everything's going to happen. Oh, and Donnie Two Scoops has been anonymously posting enigmatic clues about this on the chans - himself! - for weeks. Really, that's a thing.

Wow.
posted by petebest at 6:32 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Like if we want to apply the lessons learned in Alabama to ultra red states in 2018 it's literally "have the Republicans run a pedophile and they'll stay home".

We (most of us) didn't know this about Moore until after he was selected and on the ballot paper. It's almost certain that some Republican candidates will have similar skeletons in their closets, but there won't be any way for the Democrats to seize advantage of the situation unless they're already prepared with good candidates and funds. It's going to take a leap of faith to win the winnable races that experience says must be out there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:33 PM on December 16, 2017 [7 favorites]


Does that fit some legal definition of slander?
Well, it may contribute to a charge of Treason.

But considering how much of the claims against Hillary were propped up by the actions of Pro-Trump FBI personnel, this is either a classic case of "biting the hand that fed you" or somebody's promising the Pro-Trump FBIers future control of the agency. Either way, it's gonna get ugly...er.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:45 PM on December 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


The transition team's emails on government devices should be private even in the face of a national security investigation, but two FBI agents who called Trump an idiot on government devices should be named to the media and fired.

Consistency is really not their strong suit.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:11 PM on December 16, 2017 [29 favorites]


“I had like a two-page summary I went through with leadership. I never saw the actual text.”

— Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), in an interview with the International Business Times, denying knowing about a controversial last-minute provision slipped into the Republican tax bill that could personally enrich him.


Now ain't that a corker.
posted by petebest at 7:12 PM on December 16, 2017 [22 favorites]


Also what we learned from the Alabama race is that there's a lot more unpersuadable people out there than we thought - many Republicans would rather vote for Satan himself than a Democrat - and thus spending effort on persuading those people is wasted money. Meanwhile, Democrats already have a coalition - minorities, millennials, liberal and leftists - that is enough to win anywhere in the country, so long as they vote. Funding is much better spent getting those coalitions on board than on trying to bring on board votes that just aren't coming.

We also learned that Clinton's loss last year was affected a lot more by misogyny in the media and by voter suppression than we thought, and they need to be Democrat priorities for 2020.
posted by Merus at 7:18 PM on December 16, 2017 [80 favorites]


To add on to the tweetstream that chris24 posted above, another nice tweetstream from @HoarseWisperer [edited for formatting]
Settle in, politikids, You're going to enjoy this...

I've read the full letter Trump transition team attorneys sent to legislators re: Mueller obtaining their emails. It has a delicious reveal.

As we now know:

1) Mueller obtained ALL of the emails sent to/from Trump transition team accounts
2) The Trump gang only realized this after Mueller's team seemed to know all about their emails
3) This made them quite... upset
4) Their lawyers then wrote the letter in the link to congressmen complaining about just how upsetting all of this is.

Here's the classically amusing reveal in the letter... Earlier this year, Trump appointed the top attorney at the office responsible for providing all the electronics and email accounts the Trump transition team used. That attorney's name was Richard Backler.

Now, as background, Backler was a white collar criminal defense attorney before his appointment. He helped rich criminals beat government convictions for a firm with a name you'll find familiar: Bracewell & Giuliani.

So, Trump appointed Backler and then Backler went and ensured Trump transition team attorneys that he would not allow his org (the GSA) to provide any of their emails to investigators. One problem: Backler fell ill and ultimately passed away.

So, until Mueller's crew started asking Trump aides about those emails, they had absolutely no idea Mueller had them because they thought Trump's guy on the inside was running interference for them.

Let that one sink in.

Trump and his flunkies thought their friend at the GSA had locked their emails away *literally* in a vault no one could get to... They thought their bodies were all buried. As a result, Trump's people walked into their interviews with Mueller and team with a completely false sense of confidence that he didn't know what he already knew in spades. They thought he was fishing. He was just reeling fish in.

Can you imagine the freakout that must have occurred in Trumpland when they realized their cleanup guy hadn't actually done the cleanup after all? Alllllllll of the things they thought they had buried were not only not buried; Mueller had them in writing!

While this is just conjecture, I suspect the entire Trump orbit just realized that Mueller has a trove that entirely hangs them out to dry AND brings them down for obstruction and lying to Mueller to boot.

Trump appointed a Giuliani guy to protect him from Mueller...

...and then the guy went and died just as Mueller was coming a'calling.

Trump must be losing his freaking mind...

...even more panicked: Jared Kushner.

Mueller is gonna roast them all.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:30 PM on December 16, 2017 [149 favorites]


Just imagine how stupid you have to be to commit actual treason over email...after running a campaign based almost solely on your opponent's lack of email security. You'd think they would've picked up some opsec just by osmosis, or asked their friends the FSB to teach them, but apparently not even at all.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:39 PM on December 16, 2017 [58 favorites]


It's bottomless stupidity. You think you're peeling back the deepest layer of stupidity, but underneath is more stupidity.
posted by medusa at 7:46 PM on December 16, 2017 [34 favorites]


All I want for Christmas is for Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick's comment to be true.

And cash. I need five root canals.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:48 PM on December 16, 2017 [29 favorites]


BUT HIS EMAILS
posted by CommonSense at 7:58 PM on December 16, 2017 [42 favorites]


When you get a guy on the inside to cover up your crimes for you, you should probably pay attention to whether or not that guy dies
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:57 PM on December 16, 2017 [59 favorites]


All I want for Christmas is for Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick's comment to be true.

I said all I wanted for Hanukkah was for Roy Moore not to get elected. And now we have Senator-elect Doug Jones. For five more minutes in my time zone, it's my wedding anniversary, and it's a cool one, because it's 16 years on the 16th. So all I want for my anniversary is for that comment to be true, too.

And a remote starter for my car because my window keeps freezing shut and I legit didn't get that for Hanukkah like I was supposed to because of Doug Jones, for real.
posted by Ruki at 9:00 PM on December 16, 2017 [20 favorites]


Hey, Ruki, Friday was my anniversary and Sunday is my birthday. If we can just keep the anti-Trump mojo flowing I'll be happy, regardless of the specifics.
posted by mollweide at 9:13 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]




I was just wondering...Mueller must have some deadman switches, mustn't he? Schneiderman, maybe.
posted by rhizome at 9:37 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Now that it's officially the 17th (at least on the East coast of the USA), it's mollweide's and my* birthday. I demand a Mueller-flavored birthday present. Since it's Sunday, I'll give the universe one week to produce results. Now, make it so.

(* I hope that's grammatically correct. Given that I have a Journalism degree--albeit one I've never used professionally--it would be quite embarrassing if it isn't.)
posted by CommonSense at 9:58 PM on December 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


That’s strange, Seattle’s Rapid Response event should Mueller be fired has disappeared from MoveOn’s index. Maybe a good time to check that all is prepared for your local protest just in case.
posted by SakuraK at 10:21 PM on December 16, 2017


Sarah Huckabee Sanders appears to be defending Trump's right to be an autocrat: Trump Judicial Pick Just Needs To Know His Place, White House Says
posted by StrawberryPie at 10:23 PM on December 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


So, until Mueller's crew started asking Trump aides about those emails, they had absolutely no idea Mueller had them because they thought Trump's guy on the inside was running interference for them.

probably relevant comment from /r/politics:
As a lawyer, there this NOTHING more fun than talking to a someone and listening to them lie about shit when you already have the proof in your hands and they don't know it. It's better than sex.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:32 PM on December 16, 2017 [73 favorites]


mumimor: "even though the Trumpists aren't very smart at very much that is relevant for running a country, they are probably smart at racketeering."

I doubt that is is the case, at least for Trump himself. Here's a guy who can't make money with a casino. Trump seems to have "succeeded" only by having the chutzpah to thoroughly rip people off at every opportunity.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 PM on December 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


Just imagine how stupid you have to be to commit actual treason over email...

As hilarious and delicious as the whole GSA device thing is, I kinda doubt it's going to reveal any real evidence of treason or Russia stuff in general. Remember, this is the transition, not the campaign.

That said: this whole crew is compulsively corrupt. They do shady shit when being legit would be perfectly effective just because they're so used to being shady. So I don't expect we're gonna see much if any Russia stuff in those emails. But it's probably just filthy with inappropriate and/or illegal deal-making about appointments, favors exchanged, probably some outright illegal discrimination, and God knows what else.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:50 PM on December 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


And, as several have noted already, it's probably just an endless loop of lies to the FBI about the transition.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:51 PM on December 16, 2017


Totally uninformed about this, but I've been wondering about this possibility.

Scenario: Mueller is fired, and as a result the case is passed to the state of New York as many seem to believe is pre-arrainged. New York, maybe the AG or someone, declares Trump Tower to be a crime scene, and confiscates the whole damn thing.

The fact that the president "owns" property around the country/world seems to make him uniquely vulnerable to local jurisdictions, so what happens when New York puts him on trial for treason?
posted by weed donkey at 11:20 PM on December 16, 2017


Treason is a federal crime. NY can't prosecute it.
posted by mosk at 11:22 PM on December 16, 2017


I used the wrong crime example, but the question of Trump's assets being confiscated is what I'm actually wondering about. Seizures in the case of suspected criminals happens all the time.
posted by weed donkey at 11:27 PM on December 16, 2017


Seizures in the case of suspected criminals happens all the time.
But I've never heard of a case where it happened to a Billionaire. This IS the United States of TrumpistanAmerica, after all.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:43 PM on December 16, 2017


There have been billionaires sentenced to prison time. It's rare, but so are billionaires. But thinking it would happen to the President of the United States is fantasy. Schneiderman isn't going to save us if Trump gets rid of Mueller. He can help Mueller by providing leverage which Trump can't pardon but he can't carry the investigation alone. It's Mueller or nothing.
posted by Justinian at 12:10 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


[One deleted. I think we're getting off on several tangents with thought experiments about civil forfeiture of Trump properties, and now ... condemning properties? At any rate, since none of these actions seem on the table as steps anyone is actually pursuing, it's a bit of a derail here.]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:37 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't put too much stock in Mueller being a war hero to protect him from the Fox/Republican machine. One John Kerry was a decorated combat veteran with a purple heart from Vietnam going up against a guy that spent most of his time defending the skies of Texas and all that got him was a bunch of cackling Republicans wearing Purple Heart band-aids.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:37 AM on December 17, 2017 [32 favorites]


[One deleted. I think we're getting off on several tangents with thought experiments about civil forfeiture of Trump properties, and now ... condemning properties? At any rate, since none of these actions seem on the table as steps anyone is actually pursuing, it's a bit of a derail here.]
posted by taz at 5:37 PM on December 17 [+] [!]


I don't even know if this is the place for this, but I appreciate the effort everyone, not just the mods, is making to keep these threads on track. These threads ARE my source for the breakdown of the American government (is that hyperbolic? I think it might not be), and it's nice to get my news from people I like, respect, and want to buy beers for because of the effort they put in to keep us all up to date and properly perspective-ized.

Seriously, thank you. You guys are what makes this bearable. I'm still looking for ways to contribute beyond the usual calls and emails to politicians and donations, but please let's all put in our piece. THIS, what we're doing right here, is how we save the world. We organize and fight back and make a difference.

Thank you. Seriously. Metafilter f**king matters. That's all.
posted by saysthis at 1:56 AM on December 17, 2017 [98 favorites]


Thanks for keeping things on track, taz.

In the primary /r/politics thread on this breaking news about Mueller's access of the transition team's email, someone points out that:
So... guess who else was part of the Trump transition team? Numerous GOP Congresspeople, including some on powerful House Committees:

Rep. Devin Nunes
House Intelligence (Chair)
Rep. Trey Gowdy
House Oversight (Chair)
House Intelligence
House Judiciary
Rep Cynthia Lummis
House Oversight
Rep. Tom Marino
House Judiciary
Rep. Dennis Ross
Sen. Tim Scott
Rep Marsha Blackburn
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Rep. Tom Reed
Rep. Lou Barletta
Rep. Chris Collins
Rep. Sean Duffy

You know how GOP Congresspeople have been very active recently in attacking Mueller? I'm guessing that they've realized that Mueller's investigation has followed the trail to the point where he can credibly start questioning them about their own communications...
While this is purely speculative, maybe there's hard evidence of Nunes et. al.'s emails abusing the position by taking bribes in exchange for political appointments or conspiring to obstruct justice.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:52 AM on December 17, 2017 [48 favorites]


I kinda doubt it's going to reveal any real evidence of treason or Russia stuff in general. Remember, this is the transition, not the campaign.

Exactly when they'd be talking about paying off the collusion debt. Like lifting sanctions. Like maybe Flynn and Kushner secretly meeting with Kislyak. Oh wait, no maybe there. It happened.

Well, then maybe like Kushner asking Kislyak to set up a secret and secure communication to the Kremlin from the Russian embassy. Oh wait, that happened too, at that secret December meeting.
posted by chris24 at 5:15 AM on December 17, 2017 [29 favorites]


Treason is a federal crime. NY can't prosecute it.

Trivia: you can commit treason against a US state too, usually with similar definitions and restrictions to federal treason. Like, you have to make war against the state.

On google, NY doesn't seem to have a treason statute. And if you're a member of a Native American nation, you might be able to commit treason against that as well.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:27 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Remember, this is the transition, not the campaign.

Another example that they might be useful.
It's unclear which officials the emails belong to and what they contain. But it's likely they will provide a number of new leads for the special counsel to follow.

In one instance, KT McFarland, a senior member of Trump's transition team, said in an email to a colleague on December 29, 2016 that the transition team should try to reassure Russia, which had just "thrown" the election to Trump.

McFarland wrote the email right after then President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against Russia in response to its interference in the election.
posted by chris24 at 5:35 AM on December 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


Mueller spokesman Peter Carr statement defending the special counsel's work:

"When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”
posted by chris24 at 5:39 AM on December 17, 2017 [34 favorites]


Well Trump surely wouldn't have given his assent, so that just leaves . . . oooohhhhh.

Subpoena or warrant.

*theme from good, bad, and the ugly*
posted by petebest at 5:44 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's possible that "the account owner’s consent" refers to GSA in this instance. Though I hope it's a warrant.
posted by chris24 at 5:46 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Just a reminder that no matter how overtly Trump coluded with Russia he did not commit treason.
18 U.S.C. § 2381: Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
We are not at war with Russia, they're an adversary but not an "enemy" in a legal sense. I'd like to wrong and maybe I am but I just don't think there is any way that what Trump and his gang have done meets the legal definition of treason. Now more than ever I think it's important that we get these things right, that we don't try to spin the truth but that we're as close to 100% accuracy as possible even if it's just a rhetorical device to illustrate a point. The GOP is trying to warp reality with their lies and I think the way to counter that is by rigidly adhering to objective truth as much as humanly possible.
posted by VTX at 6:20 AM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


@thegarance (Yahoo News)
The big freak-out over Mueller having the transition emails is that it means any interviewees who lied to the FBI about matters contained therein is already caught bc the FBI has the record of what happened.


@NormEisen (Brookings Sr. Fellow)
I was the Deputy GC of a Transition (Obama-Biden 08). I warned everyone: there is NO expectation of privacy in your transition emails. The clue: emails are "name@ptt.gov." The whining letter from the Trump Transition tacitly admits this: it ends by asking for a legislative fix
- Executive privilege does not apply until you are the executive; these documents are from the transition, before Trump became the executive; QED no executive privilege. Grasping at straws here.
posted by chris24 at 6:23 AM on December 17, 2017 [72 favorites]


Holy cow. I can’t decide which is stupider: this transition email thing, or the Nixon White House letting slip that the tapes existed.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:35 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't think this has been mentioned on the threads, but NPR's podcast Embedded (which was cross-posted to Planet Money, which is how I heard it), did a story on the Trump Organization cutting ties to the SoHo Hotel: General NPR story link because there isn't a transcript of the podcast.

They started by saying there are two days a year that are best for releasing problematic news: the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve. This news was released the day before Thanksgiving.

Listening to the podcast, the link to organized crime / Russian mafia was pretty strong. Also, you get to hear clips of Trump being deposed (although that sounds just like you think it would). It is astonishing that man did not go to jail years ago.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 6:37 AM on December 17, 2017 [12 favorites]


Well, this is good news: "Fifty percent of registered voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 39 percent who want Republicans in charge....The last time Democrats both held a double-digit lead and hit 50 percent on this question in the NBC/WSJ poll was September 2008, right before the party won the White House and picked up a substantial number of House and Senate seats." [NBC News]
posted by slipthought at 6:51 AM on December 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


I did a historical google search for "ptt.gov" and was surprised to discover that the GSA's presidential transition services kick in after the nominating convention, as illuminated by this article on the $9m cost of Romney's 2012 presidential transition.

So it could be that Mueller has emails going back to August 2016.
posted by pjenks at 6:55 AM on December 17, 2017 [18 favorites]


Okay, so: I think most of us know about the If-Trump-fires-Mueller contingency plan.

The nationwide protests are already being organized, and the basic plan is -- if Trump fires Mueller before 2 pm the protests start at 5 pm, if he fires him after 2 pm the protests start at noon the following day.

The Trump administration may think the most logical way to undermine this is to drop the news on December 24, which could really steal the thunder from any evening or next-day protests, since many people will be with their families. On the other hand, a lot of people will be off work with not much to do, so that could bring even more people to the protests. It's tough to predict how this would play out.

And of course, even if dropping the news on Dec. 24 were the most logical plan, Trump has extremely poor impulse control and isn't really big on logic or planning, so he might just lose his shit and do it randomly with no strategy at all.

But just in case, if you are an American who celebrates Christmas, it might be good to have a think now about how you will respond should the constitutional crisis occur around the time that Santa is sliding down the chimney.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 7:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [32 favorites]


Just a reminder that no matter how overtly Trump coluded with Russia he did not commit treason.

I don't think this is true. To my mind, the act of interfering with our elections would make Russia an enemy, even if they were not previously an enemy. (And it's not at all clear to me that they were not previously an enemy.) It's important here, I think, that the word in the text is "enemies" as opposed to "nations or groups with whom we have a declared war" or some such. The "enemies" of the U.S. ought to include nations or groups of foreign nationals who "foster harmful designs against" or engage in "antagonistic activities against" them (according to entry #1 for "enemy" at dictionary.com). The crux, I think, is whether Russia's interference in our elections constitutes hostility towards the U.S. Was Russia's election interference an antagonistic activity meant to harm the U.S? If so, then establishing collusion with Russia to undermine U.S. elections just is to establish treason.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:22 AM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


A Democratic winner in Virginia says it’s time for bipartisanship
Similarly, Northam said he has no plans to try to force Republicans to accept a broad expansion of Medicaid. Instead, he has begun talks with lawmakers in both parties about overhauling the state’s Medicaid system to expand access to health care while better defining eligibility to control costs.

Outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) tried every year to push the legislature to accept millions in federal money to expand the health program to hundreds of thousands of low-income Virginians. Northam campaigned heavily on the promise of getting more Virginians access to health care.

He said Friday that he remains committed to that pledge, but that he must be careful about obligating the state to escalating costs. Under the program, the federal government pays the lion’s share in the early years but the state contribution gradually increases. “Medicaid is growing in Virginia by 5 to 7 percent, in that ballpark, every year,” he said.

“So I look forward to . . . seeing how we can provide better service and at the same time cut costs” through “managed-care Medicaid,” he said. A managed system would involve rewarding “healthy choices,” he said. “I want people to have skin in the game. I want to incentivize people to really have good health.”


Well, at least we didn't get the Nazi.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:22 AM on December 17, 2017 [15 favorites]


you get to hear clips of Trump being deposed (although that sounds just like you think it would).

Is it the one from June 2016 where he complains he doesn't have his glasses?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:23 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


So... guess who else was part of the Trump transition team? Numerous GOP Congresspeople, including some on powerful House Committees:

When I see these people I see a big, red, flashing 'Warning:Extinction Burst In Progress' sign.

That’s strange, Seattle’s Rapid Response event should Mueller be fired has disappeared from MoveOn’s index. Maybe a good time to check that all is prepared for your local protest just in case.

I found this linked to the list of states on the right side of the page, so maybe it’s back. When I volunteered for Bernie my job was keeping the events db current and correct. It wasn’t uncommon for us to pull and event to fix or change something, and it sometimes took a few days or more to get it back up.

A Democratic winner in Virginia says it’s time for bipartisanship

Does anyone know if the DNC still wants to support anti-choice candidates?

Rep. Sean Duffy
This is the true story of strangers picked to live in a House of Representatives and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. This is The Real World..

posted by Room 641-A at 7:29 AM on December 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


“So I look forward to . . . seeing how we can provide better service and at the same time cut costs” through “managed-care Medicaid,” he said. A managed system would involve rewarding “healthy choices,” he said. “I want people to have skin in the game. I want to incentivize people to really have good health.”
Well, at least we didn't get the Nazi.


Medicaid expansion was literally his only redeeming quality. If he had been honest about this before the election, I wouldn't have even bothered casting a vote in the governor race. Just absolutely disgusting — read that quote again! He thinks people need more "skin in the game" when their literal skin is already at stake! He's exactly the person I thought he was.
posted by indubitable at 7:46 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Mike Allen, Axios: New: Trump officials demand Mueller return thousands of emails

Unfortunately there's nothing Mueller can do, as they have a constitutional right to a do-over in the Treason Takie-Backies Clause.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:52 AM on December 17, 2017 [19 favorites]


Medicaid expansion was literally his only redeeming quality. If he had been honest about this before the election, I wouldn't have even bothered casting a vote in the governor race.

Well, he did say that, he told us who he was explicitly:

I believe it’s a privilege.

And let me clarify that.

If people can get up in the morning and go to work like I can, then it needs to be a privilege. They need to work for their health insurance, for their benefits.

If they’re disabled, I will take the shirt off my back to help them.


But that's not his only redeeming quality, just vetoing Republican anti-abortion measures should be enough to get a vote. The next step is to make Northam repudiate this bullshit by building on 2017 and winning the state senate, and eventually supporting a primary challenger if he doesn't. Vote for the most progressive candidate available, and make life hell for milquetoast corporate Democrats when they win over a real progressive. Run primary challengers in every race, even hopeless ones. That's how Republicans have moved the debate to the right for 50 years, they've given us the blueprint to move it back.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:08 AM on December 17, 2017 [14 favorites]


Um. Emails are digital, right? How can you return them? Don’t they have the originals?
posted by harriet vane at 8:10 AM on December 17, 2017 [18 favorites]


My extremely liberal, protest-attending UU church is having a Christmas Eve afternoon service (since it falls on Sunday) it would actually be pretty convenient to go to a protest afterwards all together!
posted by emjaybee at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


Well, he did say that, he told us who he was explicitly

Yeah, he also voted for George W. Bush twice. But everyone I came in contact with who was campaigning for him did some kind of softshoe around these unfortunate facts by coming up with some explanation about how he's changed and his views are different *this year*.

The next step is to make Northam repudiate this bullshit by building on 2017 and winning the state senate, and eventually supporting a primary challenger if he doesn't.

The governor is term-limited to one term in Virginia.
posted by indubitable at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2017


You don't live here, do you? The governor is term-limited to one term.

No, I do now, but I've lived all around the DC area the last 10 years, not native to Virginia. I always forget that because it's stupid to have single term limits. Basic idea still applies, pressure Northam and vote for the someone better next time.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2017


Is it the one from June 2016 where he complains he doesn't have his glasses?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:23 AM on December 17 [1 favorite +] [!]


No, this is more like "oh, I don't think he is connected to the Mafia. I don't know about that. Sorry, I need to go now..."
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 8:20 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just a reminder that no matter how overtly Trump coluded with Russia he did not commit treason.

He called for a Russian cyberattack against the United States on stage, in public, on national television. I'm sure he might not be prosecuted or even held accountable at all for cooperating with a foreign country in attacks on the U.S., but I am entirely comfortable with unambiguously saying he did so.

"Stuff that happens online is a grey area" pretty much hasn't been a valid excuse since before the turn of the century, even though had he called for a physical attack against U.S. government targets he might well be able to weasel out of that too.
posted by XMLicious at 8:20 AM on December 17, 2017 [30 favorites]


A Christmas day protest would be something to see. I'm floating the idea by my family, better than sitting around watching Elf or Home Alone for the 8th time
posted by localhuman at 8:21 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Mike Allen, Axios: New: Trump officials demand Mueller return thousands of emails

Uhhh yeah well I demand Trump... returns our country

[100,000 retweets, 2 million likes]
posted by mintcake! at 8:23 AM on December 17, 2017 [14 favorites]


Okay okay, lest y'all think I don't have anything on offer except cynicism, I give you this on this fine December morning. Hope springs eternal here in the dirty Jerz.
posted by mintcake! at 8:27 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


The next step is to make Northam repudiate this bullshit by building on 2017 and winning the state senate, and eventually supporting a primary challenger if he doesn't.

The governor is term-limited to one term in Virginia.

I feel sick. How are the recounts going in the last two maybe-flippable seats in the Virginia House of Delegates?
posted by jointhedance at 8:43 AM on December 17, 2017


Hm, I suspect the talk of coup means we should be preparing for President Paul Ryan (at least). Hannity and friends would not be screaming so loudly if the end result was going to be President Pence. He's fully on board with all the crazy shit. Ryan's a granny starver, I know, but doesn't seem to be quite so into whatever the fuck it is Trump is trying to do.

If he was, I can't see any reason why they'd have a problem replacing Trump since it would give them a much easier time getting the teahadist agenda through Congress.
posted by wierdo at 8:45 AM on December 17, 2017


He said Friday that he remains committed to that pledge, but that he must be careful about obligating the state to escalating costs. Under the program, the federal government pays the lion’s share in the early years but the state contribution gradually increases. “Medicaid is growing in Virginia by 5 to 7 percent, in that ballpark, every year,” he said.

In fairness, that is a huge problem with the Medicaid expansion in the ACA. It's just as bad when the Democrats punt financial problems five to ten years down the line and say that money will magically come from somewhere as when the Republicans do it.
posted by Candleman at 8:59 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


They would be screaming just as loudly because that is what they do. They attack, attack, scream, accuse, attack, cheat, lie, attack, slander, distort, impugn, project, attack, feign ignorance, attack, attack and attack because that is what they have conditioned their base to expect and want and support. Even the appearance of a setback is unallowable.
posted by delfin at 9:04 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


Fifty percent of registered voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 39 percent who want Republicans in charge

@ppppolls
Matches 51-40 lead we found this week.

And among voters who had heard 'a lot' about the tax plan that lead spiked to 63-33

---

And they still got nothing real to argue against Mueller.

@brianstelter (CNN)
Steve Mnuchin to @JakeTapper re: Mueller probe: "We've gotta get past this investigation. It's a giant distraction. Nobody has said that, in any way, this impacted the outcome of the election."

@HeerJeet (New Republic)
Retweeted Brian Stelter
"Impacted the outcome of the election" is nonsensical goal-post shifting. Watergate break-in didn't impact 1972 election, was still a crime.
posted by chris24 at 9:07 AM on December 17, 2017 [50 favorites]


Maybe, instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, people should assemble at the protest sites on Christmas Eve anyway to sing festive Muellermas carols.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:10 AM on December 17, 2017 [19 favorites]


Buzzfeed: "Doug Jones, the Democrat who last week beat alleged child molester Roy Moore to become senator of Alabama, said that he doesn't believe President Trump should resign over numerous sexual harassment allegations because those accusations were made 'before the election' and that the country needed to 'get on with the real issues.'"
posted by bluecore at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


We regret to inform you milkshake dem is centrist.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2017 [58 favorites]


The crux, I think, is whether Russia's interference in our elections constitutes hostility towards the U.S.

Congress has not yet declared war against Russia. Until then, my understanding is they're considered an adversary for legal purposes.

From any non-legal perspective, treason is exactly the right term.

But from a legal standpoint I think the crux is the specific legal definition of "enemy" which seems to be a much more restrictive but my google-fu is failing me there.
posted by VTX at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


@emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler)
Dear everyone: Mueller is conducting an investigation into possible espionage targeting people who had access to a SCIF. What the fuck kind of legal process do you THINK he needs to get govt docs? Have you ever once followed a single leak investigation?
- If you don't like the FBI being able to access the govt files of people (whether Peter Strzok or Jared Kushner) being investigated as insider threats so easily, push back against Insider Threat programs.
- And note: the very same people SQUEALING abt Mueller obtaining (but not leaking) the govt emails of espionage subjects, HAD LEAKED the texts of Peter Strzok.
- Here's the funniest thing abt Langhofer's letter: in his proposed legislative protection for transition emails, he admits that NatSec would trump notice. How is an espionage investigation not a NatSec purpose? So even w/his proposed law, Mueller could still get the emails.

---

She also has a writeup on her site about how Trump's attorney's letter and Mueller's actions makes it pretty clear that Trump & Co. withheld the KT McFarland's email about Russia throwing the election to Trump - and probably other emails - despite a subpoena. Which is one of the reasons they're freaked out and defensive.

TRUMP APPEARS TO HAVE WITHHELD THE KT MCFARLAND EMAIL ABOUT THE “THROWN ELECTION”
posted by chris24 at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2017 [57 favorites]


Final paragraph of the Buzzfeed article:
"After Tapper pressed him on why Franken should have to resign when the allegations against Trump were more "horrific," Jones replied, "I go back to the fact that those allegations were made, and he was elected president of the United States, and I think the American people spoke on that at this time. There's other things out there, but I think at this point we need to move on and try to work with some real issues that are facing the country and not worry about getting at odds with the president any more than we have to."
I don't love how he's saying it, but he's not wrong about the futility of trying to get Trump to resign.
posted by palomar at 9:22 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


It's possible that "the account owner’s consent" refers to GSA in this instance. Though I hope it's a warrant.

FBI just had to write the GSA a letter. It was an administrative request to a government agency.
More than that, Cramer added, the special counsel's team may not even have needed a subpoena to obtain the emails. An administrative request - a legally authorized and judicially enforceable demand for records issued by a government authority - may have sufficed, he said.

The transition team lawyer's letter to Congress appeared to confirm that Mueller's office obtained the emails via an administrative request.

"Specifically, on August 23, 2017, the FBI sent a letter (i.e., not a subpoena) to career GSA staff requesting copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials associated with nine [transition team] members responsible for national security and policy matters," the letter said.
The best part: the transition team had been warned these were government computers and they had no expectation of privacy.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2017 [23 favorites]


Congress has not yet declared war against Russia. Until then, my understanding is they're considered an adversary for legal purposes.

By this standard a candidate who aided and abetted Japan in planning or executing Pearl Harbor wouldn't be guilty of treason since we didn't declare war until December 8th. I'm not so sure that helping in an act of war on the US, prior to our declaration, wouldn't be considered by the courts or at least a grand jury as worth an indictment regardless of the later verdict.

Not saying I think it's likely Trump's charged with treason. I do think focusing on technical legalities of what is clearly a betrayal of the USA to a hostile foreign power does nothing but play into Republican hands. They're going to try to rules-lawyer and goalpost move this endlessly. But impeachment is as much a political process as legal and we all know if Clinton had done a tenth of what Trump has she'd already be gone.
posted by chris24 at 9:28 AM on December 17, 2017 [12 favorites]


He said Friday that he remains committed to that pledge, but that he must be careful about obligating the state to escalating costs. Under the program, the federal government pays the lion’s share in the early years but the state contribution gradually increases. “Medicaid is growing in Virginia by 5 to 7 percent, in that ballpark, every year,” he said.

This is why the GOP and their Blue Dog fellow travelers strike me as ignorant fools. The federal subsidy is a huge stimulus to the economy. Their dim base doesn't recognize that the money doesn't go to the poors, it goes to doctors, nurses, PAs, clinic staff, hospital staff, medical supply company employees, taxi drivers, ambulance drivers, security guards, construction workers, etc., etc., etc. It creates jobs. Dumb fuckers.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:32 AM on December 17, 2017 [22 favorites]


The best part: the transition team had been warned these were government computers and they had no expectation of privacy.

Chris Geidner - BuzzFeed News Reporter: Key Officials Push Back Against Trump Campaign’s Claim That A Federal Office Illegally Turned Over Emails To Special Counsel
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Saturday night, Loewentritt — whose LinkedIn represents that he has worked at the agency since 1972 — disputed the claims made in the letter sent by the Trump campaign.

"Beckler never made that commitment," he said of the claim that any requests for transition records would be routed to the Trump campaign's counsel.

Specifically, Loewentritt said, "in using our devices," transition team members were informed that materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" actions.

Loewentritt read to BuzzFeed News a series of agreements that anyone had to agree to when using GSA materials during the transition, including that there could be monitoring and auditing of devices and that, "Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed."

Loewentritt told BuzzFeed News that the GSA initially "suggested a warrant or subpoena" for the materials, but that the Special Counsel's Office determined the letter route was sufficient.

As to whether the Trump campaign should have been informed of the request, Loewentritt said, "That's between the Special Counsel and the transition team."
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2017 [14 favorites]


Josh Marshall at TPM on the latest faux-scandal over emails:
Behind the new faux controversy over Mueller getting Trump transition emails is a key and probably too little discussed aspect of the Russia story: Mueller’s team has some of the most accomplished and aggressive prosecutors and legal minds of their generation. They’re facing off against a team of has-beens, 3rd or 4th rate lawyers and in some cases simple incompetents. Why? Because Trump values sycophancy above competence and because none of the top lawyers were willing to work for him.

I can’t say that I would have known on my own what the status of these emails in question was. But given what we know about Trump’s lawyers, it’s all but impossible to think they’re in the right on this. Why? Simply because they’ve shown again and again that they don’t know key elements of the law or investigative procedure. If the Trump team had a solid legal team defending them, I have little doubt they would have understood the legal status of these emails in advance. If they had some case, they would have marshaled their arguments in advance. If nothing else, I suspect there are ways, either formal or informal, that they could have known Mueller had gotten these emails, whether they thought he had a right to them or not.

The simple fact is that they were caught off guard, something that has happened numerous times through this saga. Criminal investigation is in a way like a war. Within the law, it is part of the process that you want to keep the other side guessing as much as possible. But if you’ve watched the investigation closely, there have been numerous occasions when the Trump team appears to have been caught totally off guard by developments they likely should have had at least some inkling of. They’re upset because they didn’t do their homework on the legal status of those emails. As my friend Garance Franke-Ruta archly puts it, always read the terms of service!

One might speculate that Trump’s lawyers know they have no legal case here but are playing this up as part of a “Mueller’s out of control/breaking the law” narrative. It’s certainly being played that way on Fox. Certainly there’s some of that. But my guess is that they’re genuinely surprised. And since they’re surprised they assume Mueller cheated. (Is it possible Mueller did something wrong? Sure. Who knows? If so, I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. But I doubt it. And none of the legal commentary I’ve seen suggests he did.) Beyond that, however, I suspect they now fear (no doubt rightly) that Trump officials lied during their interviews with the Special Counsel’s office and the investigators already had the emails that proved they were lying. That’s a real sinking feeling for everyone involved.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:42 AM on December 17, 2017 [59 favorites]


Buzzfeed: "Doug Jones, the Democrat who last week beat alleged child molester Roy Moore to become senator of Alabama, said that he doesn't believe President Trump should resign over numerous sexual harassment allegations because those accusations were made 'before the election' and that the country needed to 'get on with the real issues.'"

I mean, he's technically right. This isn't exactly new information and the Republican voters who put him there ran with it. Republicans aren't going to care and Democrats aren't going to vote for Trump. The result is the shittiest issues interacting with the unmovable Congress. Putting continual pressure on Trump to resign might feel productive but ultimately getting decent people to turn out and vote sexual predators out of office is the real solution.
posted by Talez at 9:53 AM on December 17, 2017 [9 favorites]


One of the first things you learn as a civil servant is that your emails are absolutely not private, even if they are sent only within your organization, and can be made a part of the public record when necessary. Like as part of an investigation. Because you work for the government and the government works for the people. And the people have a right to know what the fuck you're up to.

This is not news. And it's infuriating that these chucklefucks are making it news. If they had even the slightest clue about how the government works, it wouldn't be happening.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2017 [61 favorites]


I must have missed it — sorry, finals week — but in all the wrangling over the latest text of the tax bill, are they still killing the individual mandate for the ACA?
posted by darkstar at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Their dim base doesn't recognize that the money doesn't go to the poors, it goes to doctors, nurses, PAs, clinic staff, hospital staff, medical supply company employees, taxi drivers, ambulance drivers, security guards, construction workers, etc., etc., etc. It creates jobs.

Also, that all those health care workers are obliged to provide services even for people with no money, so failure to give preventive and maintenance care to the poor does not mean you don't pay for health care for the poor. It means that instead of paying for someone to go to the dentist twice a year for a cheap cleaning, you pay for them to go to the ER with a catastrophic infection. Instead of paying for diabetes medications, you pay for their amputations. There is no universe in which the latter is the reasonable alternative.

The reason that the Medicaid expansion didn't have an immediate impact on health care costs is that many of the people signing up with it have already been without health coverage for decades. You can't neglect an entire country's health care for this long and not at some point get to a day when you have to pay for it. Long-term, as a state, if you don't like your Medicaid expenditures, then you should be doing more to keep people healthy and gainfully employed.
posted by Sequence at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2017 [29 favorites]


In fairness, that is a huge problem with the Medicaid expansion in the ACA. It's just as bad when the Democrats punt financial problems five to ten years down the line and say that money will magically come from somewhere as when the Republicans do it.

This is a bogus argument. For decades the Feds paid less than half of Medicaid costs in each state. With the Medicaid expansion, the government paid 100% of the expansion cost. From 2020 on forever, the Feds pick up 90% of the cost of expansion. The extra cost to the states for Medicaid expansion is minor compared to what they have been paying for traditional Medicaid.

In fact, numbers so far show that Medicaid expansion actually saves states money for several reasons. Most states have been able to shift some people who were reimbursed by the Feds at a 50% rate to the the expansion program reimbursed at the 90% rate. In particular, many people not covered by the Feds for mental health care are now covered under the expansion. Also, Medicaid expansion reduces the amount of unreimbursed care at hospitals, which states have to pick up.
posted by JackFlash at 10:08 AM on December 17, 2017 [36 favorites]


So these emails are going to be made public at some point, right? I can't wait. I'm going to buy a popcorn tin just for that.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:11 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


This made me really happy to read this morning:

Hollywood execs name Anita Hill to lead anti-harassment effort
As sexual harassment scandals continue to roil the media and entertainment industries, Hollywood executives are banding together to address the underlying issues.

On Friday, top players came together to form the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. Anita Hill will chair the commission.

"Following widespread revelations of pervasive sexual harassment and assault in the media and entertainment industries, executives, independent experts and advisors have come together in a unanimous effort to tackle the broad culture of abuse and power disparity," the group said in a statement.

Hill is a pioneer on the subject. In the early 1990s she came forward to accuse then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. She said in a statement about the commission that she is "proud" to be leading the "long overdue" effort.
posted by darkstar at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2017 [57 favorites]


I'm 0% lawyer but the necessity of a declaration of war for a charge of treason seems as though it might not be correct, since Aaron Burr was charged with treason in 1807 but the first time the U.S. declared war was in 1812. He was acquitted but cursory googlings turn up "insufficient evidence" as the reason rather than "he didn't aid any nation the U.S. had declared war upon."

(Maybe Hamilton fans can help out here...? Also, for the record, I'm not actually arguing that charging the President with treason should actually be a goal of any importance, I'm just disagreeing that it's inappropriate at first glance to refer to the things he has done as treason.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:31 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


But from a legal standpoint I think the crux is the specific legal definition of "enemy" which seems to be a much more restrictive but my google-fu is failing me there.

In some statutory contexts, the term "enemy" might be more or less well-defined. For example, in 50 USC 2204, "enemy" is defined as:
... any country, government, group, or person that has been engaged in hostilities, whether or not lawfully authorized, with the United States;
If we take this as our definition, then the question is, again, whether interfering with our elections constitutes hostility. I think it does. But as long as it's open for debate, the question of whether collusion is treason is also open for legitimate debate.

But in the case of treason, specifically, we're trying to understand the Constitution, which does not give any definition for "enemy" -- any more than it does for "person" and many other important terms that become the subjects of serious debate. We seem, then, to be left with the "plain meaning" and/or with precedent. There are some interesting papers on how to understand what the Constitution says about treason. For example, What is Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy? by Charles Warren. But I haven't found one that clearly settles the question of what an enemy is in the context of the Constitution.

The only thing I've seen that looks damaging to my position is the following snippet from Marshall, quoted by Warren on page 333 of his paper:
The term 'enemies,' as used in the second clause, according to its settled meaning, at the time the Constitution was adopted, applies only to the subjects of a foreign power in a state of open hostility with us. It does not embrace rebels in insurrection against their own government.
Marshall here adds "open" to the hostility requirement. But for the same reasons as given by chris24, I don't think the hostilities being "open" can really be a serious requirement here. If someone knew about a covert plan by Russia to detonate a nuclear weapon in Times Square and then offered to assist in the plan, she would surely be guilty of treason regardless of the fact that the hostility was not (yet) open. But in any event, I take the Marshall passage to be aimed at carving out a space for "rebels" to not count as "enemies" but to have some other status.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:36 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


They're going to try to rules-lawyer and goalpost move this endlessly.

Right, and that's why I think it's important that we're as accurate as we can be. We need to plant that goal post. We know that they're going to be dishonest and try to move it. As long as it's just lies and spin, we can resort to facts. I don't want to let them be right about a damn thing.

I know my treason definition of congress having officially declared war is too conservative, I think the definition of the term in the common usage is too aggressive especially since it's not just about Trump but those in his orbit who aren't as subject to the political forces involved with impeachment.

50 U.S. Code § 2204: (2) the term “enemy” means any country, government, group, or person that has been engaged in hostilities, whether or not lawfully authorized, with the United State

That's about the closest thing I can find to a legal definition of "enemy". I think that would cover the "colluded to coordinate the attack on Pearl Harbor" scenario but I don't think it would extend to cover Trump's or Russia's actions. But, I'm not lawyer and I don't know if there is a more appropriate law to cite, if there are precedents that refine that definition. Nor am I confident my ability to research the law to determine what crime would be a better fit. I'm confident that Mueller's team will have researched this and every other aspect of the investigation to within an inch of it's life. Until we can be more confident in these legal terms I think we should avoid screaming about treason. It was obviously ridiculous when idiots were screaming about HRC's e-mails calling that treason and I don't want to be anything like those morons.
posted by VTX at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2017


To clarify the latest, regarding the Mueller investigation:

1. Trump’s transition team sent a lot of emails through government servers.

2. In addition to having no reasonable expectation of privacy on those servers, there was an explicit statement to that effect.

3. As part of the Mueller investigation, the Special Prosecutor specifically requested that the GSA retain those email records.

4. Trump appointed a Director of the GSA whom, it has been suggested (rumored?), was expected to help shield Trump from allowing some of the emails to get out. However, this appointee died.

5. Then Mueller legally requested copies of all of the emails, from both the Trump team and from the GSA.

6. The GSA sent presumably all of the emails to Mueller, but the Trump team sent a redacted subset of the emails, while still representing the email set was complete.

7. The Trump team (it has been suggested) did not realize that the GSA had sent the whole set of emails to Mueller.

8. Mueller then interviewed a number of Trump administration members asking them about events, emails, etc. They were interviewed without, presumably, being aware that the Mueller team had possession of some emails they had withheld.

9. One of the emails that had been withheld specifically discusses how Russia helped throw the election to Trump.

10. After (or during) the interviews/depositions, the Trump team becomes aware that Mueller has the redacted emails.

11. The Trump team then sends a letter to Congress (which has no jurisdiction over any of this) and expresses frustration that Mueller got these emails improperly, suggesting that they may contain material subject to privilege.

12. Right wing media goes into overdrive and accuses the Mueller team of acquiring the emails illegally, but pretty much every legal expert is saying that’s B.S. and that it appears to be a perfectly legal and expected procedure in this kind of investigation.

13. To quell some of the uproar, Mueller’s team releases an official statement noting that any emails were acquired by asking the account owner for permission or through other “appropriate criminal process” (i.e., a warrant).

Anything wrong/missing?
posted by darkstar at 10:56 AM on December 17, 2017 [112 favorites]


heh, mueller's pretty good at this stuff
posted by ryanrs at 11:04 AM on December 17, 2017 [28 favorites]


Until we can be more confident in these legal terms I think we should avoid screaming about treason.

But we're in the process of constructing the meaning of these very terms. The Republicans aren't going to worry about any lack of confidence in arguing for a very strict, exclusionary reading of "treason" and related terms. It would, I think, be political malpractice to wait and let the Republicans define the terms. Especially when there is a plausible, good faith argument to be made that colluding with a foreign government to subvert a U.S. election is to offer aid and comfort to an enemy of the U.S., which is treason.

Personally, I think that given the facts as they are now, we should be screaming "Treason!" all day and everywhere until it is definitively established that it is not treason. Even better that, as far as I can tell, collusion fits nicely with the ordinary, everyday, non-legal sense of the word "treason," so this is going to be a winner in political debate and in the public mind. Put a bit differently: We should say that collusion is treason -- which is easy to understand and matches with the ordinary sense of "treason" -- and let the Republicans try to carefully explain why it's not, technically, treason, if they dare. We should have been saying this from the very beginning. (Note that this is different from "guilty until proven innocent," since I am not saying that the courts should pre-judge whether Trump did collude with Russia to subvert a U.S. election. What I am saying is that we should maintain that collusion is treason until shown definitively that it is not.)
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:06 AM on December 17, 2017 [17 favorites]


Haven't various administration people, including, iirc, the Attorney General, claimed that they can't testify on anything that might conceivably one day be claimed to be privileged? I wonder if that's what the WH lawyers actually mean by "subject to privilege".
posted by thelonius at 11:13 AM on December 17, 2017


Serious question (unfortunately): is there a consensus response for if — when — Trump fires Mueller by proxy on Friday, Dec 22?

Has anyone asked their Dem Senators?

I understand there will Be mass protests and marches, but I tend to think that won’t be sufficient.

Good Lord I’m scared.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:15 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


VTX, when you ask a conservative what they're saying was supposedly in the emails which Clinton's legal team designated as personal, you basically get as many answers as people you ask. They're convinced she's evil and treasonous, but not for any specific thing she's actually done—and the circumstantial things she has demonstrably done, for any given conspiracy theory or spectrum of conspiracy theories, they don't care at all if a Republican politician does the same things.

On the other hand, we're all proposing in a much more coherent and empirically-supported way that the totality of evidence will show that Trump conspired with the former-KGB-agent-led successor state to our chief enemy from the Cold War to subordinate the executive of the United States government to said foreign power, then both lied about and concealed those actions by himself and orchestrated the lying about and concealment of the acts by his confederates. Whether he did all that out of malice towards the country or because he's a cretinous self-centered idiot, it's a hell of alot less crazy-sounding to call that treason versus "she did something, we're not really sure what, but it definitely involved violating policies on email records retention."

I think we should scream most specifically about stuff Trump &co. have demonstrably done, especially stuff they've done on tape—I've encountered people who still don't know about "Russia if you're listening" and other unbelievably prominent things—but I think it's probably best to mix in "and by the way we're saying this all adds up to TREASON! In case it wasn't obvious!"
posted by XMLicious at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2017 [15 favorites]


WaPo, Putin phoned Trump to thank him for CIA intel that foiled a planned terrorist attack in Russia, the Kremlin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday phoned President Trump to thank him for a tip from the CIA that thwarted a terrorist attack being planned in St. Petersburg, the Kremlin said.

The unusual call — countries share intelligence all the time, but presidents rarely publicly thank one another about it — was confirmed by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Putin told Trump that the information provided by the CIA allowed Russian law enforcement agencies to track down and detain a group of suspects who were planning to bomb the centrally located Kazan Cathedral and other crowded parts of Russia’s second-largest city.
Second time they've talked this week. Putin is a hell of a troll.
posted by zachlipton at 11:57 AM on December 17, 2017 [18 favorites]


That's not trolling. That's buttering up Trump so to share more intel, including stuff he shouldn't.
posted by ryanrs at 12:02 PM on December 17, 2017 [45 favorites]


So this has been interesting to watch:
@HamillHimself: Cute video Ajit "Aren't I Precious?" Pai 🤮-but you are profoundly unworthy 2 wield a lightsaber-A Jedi acts selflessly for the common man-NOT lie 2 enrich giant corporations. Btw-did you pay John Williams his royalty? @AjitPaiFCCorpShill #AJediYouAreNOT

@tedcruz: .@HammillHimself Luke, I know Hollywood can be confusing, but it was Vader who supported govt power over everything said & done on the Internet. That's why giant corps (Google, Facebook, Netflix) supported the FCC power grab of net neutrality. Reject the dark side: Free the net!

@HamillHimself: Thanks for smarm-spaining it to me @tedcruz I know politics can be confusing, but you'd have more credibility if you spelled my name correctly. I mean IT'S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU! Maybe you're just distracted from watching porn at the office again❤️-mh
I've been informed that being savagely and publicly dragged by Luke Skywalker is every Gen Xer's worst nightmare.
posted by zachlipton at 12:02 PM on December 17, 2017 [158 favorites]


Haven't various administration people, including, iirc, the Attorney General, claimed that they can't testify on anything that might conceivably one day be claimed to be privileged?

Yes. But as usual, that's not how any of this should work, except the Republicans in Congress are abetting the cover up by allowing them to repeatedly assert "privilege".
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:07 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


CBS News, Sen. John McCain returns to Arizona, will miss vote on GOP tax bill

Clearly, they don't think they desperately need his vote. Call your reps.
posted by zachlipton at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2017 [36 favorites]


Cornyn sells out Bob "I had no idea the new tax bill benefitted me" Corker.

IBT (David Sirota): Tax Bill: John Cornyn Says Tax Cut Potentially Benefiting Bob Corker Was Part Of Effort To Secure Votes For Passage
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the majority whip, on Sunday said a tax provision, which could personally enrich key Republican lawmakers, was added to the final tax bill as part of an effort to “cobble together the votes we needed to get this bill passed.” Cornyn was pressed about the provision on ABC’s "This Week," after an International Business Times investigation showed that Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee suddenly switched his vote to “yes” after GOP leaders added the provision, which could boost Corker’s real estate income. A top Democratic senator, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, responded to Cornyn’s explanation by saying the language put into the bill also “would be a windfall to Donald Trump.”
posted by chris24 at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2017 [37 favorites]


And Corker of course denied he knew anything about the new provision that Cornyn has just admitted was explicitly placed in the bill to get the holdouts’ support.

How can Corker deny he knew about it? Why, because he says he hasn’t read the bill. You know, the one he says he supports.

Culture of corruption, folks.
posted by darkstar at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2017 [22 favorites]


So these emails are going to be made public at some point, right?
If only there existed a not-evil version of Wikileaks to make them all public...

And Ted Cruz considers Google, Facebook and Netflix to be the giant evil corps? Well, if any of them are larger than AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, they're going to be put in their place now...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


cornyn is one of those where i can’t decide if he’s dumb as a rock or just so convinced that the fix is in that he thinks public relations don’t matter anymore
posted by murphy slaw at 12:40 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's Ayn Rand's America Now, Thanks to the GOP
Conservatism has turned itself into a civic religion and columnist Neal Gabler fears the damages wrought in the Trump era will be permanent and lasting.
posted by adamvasco at 12:42 PM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


Is Thad Cochran coming back for the vote? If he doesn't, it's dead, right?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:47 PM on December 17, 2017


Is Thad Cochran coming back for the vote? If he doesn't, it's dead, right?

No, if both McCain and Cochran miss the vote it passes 50-48.
posted by Justinian at 12:49 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


From the article zachlipton posted above:
A spokesman for Cochran told CBS News last week that the senator went through an outpatient procedure and "is doing well and is available for votes as needed."
posted by darkstar at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


…provided that he manages to find the senate chamber and remembers how the majority leader told him to vote
posted by murphy slaw at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Um. Emails are digital, right? How can you return them? Don’t they have the originals?

You just wash the e-mails in acid
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:49 PM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


Trump just made a statement outside the White House when returning from the weekend that he’s not considering firing Mueller. Given he’s such a stable, trustworthy guy, no need to worry now.
posted by chris24 at 2:02 PM on December 17, 2017 [16 favorites]


To answer my own question posed above, it appears that the individual mandate repeal is still in the tax bill:
Repeal of individual mandate requiring health insurance. According to CBO, repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate insurance could lead to 13 million more Americans without health insurance, while saving the government $338 billion in federal health insurance subsidy payments over the next decade.
Since it’s the individual mandate that is basically shoring up the whole ACA model, killing it is essentially killing the ACA. So, while the Republicans weren’t able to repeal it outright in their earlier TrumpCare legislation attempts, it appears their new tax bill will probably achieve the same end.
posted by darkstar at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


RUSSIA COMMITTED ACT OF WAR WITH ELECTION INTERFERENCE, NIKKI HALEY SAYS (John Haltiwanger, Newsweek, October 19, 2017)

She added: "When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare. It really is, because you're making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want. This is [Russia's] weapon of choice and we have to make sure we get in front of it."

Just a scant 7 scaramccis ago, too. LOCK HIM UP LOCK HIM UP
posted by petebest at 2:29 PM on December 17, 2017 [36 favorites]


CNN: Trump says he is not considering firing Mueller
Upon returning to the White House on Sunday night, President Donald Trump said he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
"No, I'm not," Trump said when asked if he was considering it.
On the news that Mueller obtained tens of thousands of transition officials' emails, Trump said he was very upset about it and called it "very sad."
"I can't imagine there's anything on them," he said. "A lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad."
posted by glonous keming at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2017


it appears that the individual mandate repeal is still in the tax bill:

True, but technically, due to the Byrd rule, repeal of the mandate is prohibited in a reconciliation bill. Instead they are simply adjusting the penalty amount to a new number and that number is zero. The mandate is still there and the amount could be raised by a future Congress but unlikely as long as a Republican is in the White House with a veto pen.
posted by JackFlash at 2:44 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


"No, I'm not," Trump said when asked if he was considering it.

I wonder if this is like his proclamations that he has "Full Confidence" in one of his staff members?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:02 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


That's not trolling. That's buttering up Trump so to share more intel, including stuff he shouldn't.

Yes, and Putin's laying ground for justifying the release of other intelligence, including the stuff we don't know about yet.

The line the Russians seem to be advancing over collusion is that it's normal and desirable. If the Trumpettes were smarter they would have followed this line from the start because it's a surprisingly hard argument to refute:
Yes, we were talking with them – of course we were! Every incoming administration does, it's totally necessary. Russia raised the issue of sanctions, which as you know were imposed in response to their actions in Crimea. And when the Russian advocates said they had information showing that Clinton's campaign had behaved illegally we said we weren't the right people to handle it, they should give it to the authorities or the press.
We're actually really lucky the Trump administration is so stupid that they didn't even imagine that they were now in a position where their criminality could have a veneer of legitimacy. I guess that's the difference between old money and new money, or petty crooks and the Russian mob.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:05 PM on December 17, 2017 [20 favorites]


Honestly, I'm not sure adjusting the penalty to zero will make much difference. There are already a great number of loopholes, not to mention that it was explicitly made unenforceable in an attempt to win over Collins and other supposedly moderate Republicans.

The IRS is perfectly free to levy the penalty and you are perfectly free to refuse to pay it with no consequences whatsoever under current law. Well, I guess you could consider a letter asking you to please pay a consequence, but it isn't much.
posted by wierdo at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


America still hasn't reckoned with the election of a reckless con man as president
We must vigorously protest the president’s craven actions, but above all we need to acknowledge that what ultimately matters is not what a foreign power did to America, but what America did to itself. The crucial question of what is wrong with our country, what could have driven us to this edge of catastrophe, cannot be resolved by a special counsel or a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives or spectacular revelations about Russia’s interference.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2017 [39 favorites]


Cornyn sells out Bob "I had no idea the new tax bill benefitted me" Corker.

IBT (David Sirota): Tax Bill: John Cornyn Says Tax Cut Potentially Benefiting Bob Corker Was Part Of Effort To Secure Votes For Passage


How can this not meet the legal definition of bribery? It's one thing to place into the bill something that benefits his constituency. But to put in something that gives direct economic benefit to him in exchange for an official act on his part...
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:25 PM on December 17, 2017 [16 favorites]


The IRS is perfectly free to levy the penalty and you are perfectly free to refuse to pay it with no consequences whatsoever under current law.

The IRS takes the penalty out of any refund you might be due. If you never have a refund, you might be able to avoid the penalty, but the penalties accumulate for up to 10 years.

Honestly, I'm not sure adjusting the penalty to zero will make much difference.

Certainly there are some miscreants who will do anything to avoid paying a penalty they owe, but that turns out to a small number. As proven by behavioral economics, most people try to comply with the mandate and the results of the last four years show that to be true. It is similar to the behavioral economics of opt-in vs opt-out 401(k) plans. And in fact millions of the people who will be losing insurance are those who would otherwise get free Medicaid and not be subject to the penalty anyway. The mandate works to nudge people in the desired direction and Robert Thacker was just awarded a Nobel Prize for proving this.
posted by JackFlash at 3:32 PM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


So when Trump says, “I’m not considering firing Mueller,” does that mean “I’m firing Mueller as soon as I get off the phone” or “Multiple people have told me I will get in huge trouble if I fire him, so I guess I’ll hold off”?
posted by Autumnheart at 3:36 PM on December 17, 2017 [9 favorites]


Robert Thacker was just awarded a Nobel Prize for proving this.

Robert Richard THALER, is the one you're thinking of, he's Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Not one of the Robert Thackers who specialize in other things.
posted by mikelieman at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


FYI: A quick overview of Behavioural Economics
posted by mikelieman at 3:41 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Richard THALER, is the one you're thinking of

Doh! Thanks for the well-deserved dope slap.
posted by JackFlash at 3:45 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


It is trivial to ensure that you both never are owed a refund and that you remain within the 90% underpayment safe harbor. I don't doubt that there is some psychological impact, I just doubt it is that high.

I would like to know more about the apparent impact on Medicaid, though? (Obviously, I'll read the provided references on the mandate issue in a bit)
posted by wierdo at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]




NeverTrumper Tom Nichols responding to fellow Republicans on Mueller/Trump/Russia.

@RadioFreeTom
So, to respond to @MZHemingway and everyone else about all this. First, I don't recall publicly defending that he'd never make it to inauguration; if I speculated on that privately, well, okay, bad prediction and I'll own it. But my guesstimate isn't the point. /1
- The larger problem is that, in classic Twitter fight fashion, the goal post of "evidence" keeps moving every time more evidence shows up. So, what do I mean by evidence? I said it here:
@RadioFreeTom: You’d have set up a gallows for less only a few years ago. The weaponization of Wikileaks, the financial intertwining of Trump and the Russians, the meetings with Trump’s people, the RNC platform changes, Manafort - if this isn’t enough, nothing is.
- I could go through each of these, but as an example, Mollie asked me about "the weaponization" of Wikileaks. There is no doubt that WL reached out to Trump. No evidence (yet, I grant) that Trump himself responded. /3
- But I think there's enough circumstantial evidence - including the inability of people like Stone and POTUS himself to stop talking about it - that someone on the campaign helped advise someone what to do with those stolen materials. /4
- We can argue all day over whether this fits "colluding," and which cut-out from which camp talked to whom. My point stands: if this were Clinton or anyone else, the hearings and fury would be 24/7. And THAT is only the tip of a giant iceberg. /5
- The role of Manafort, the possible quid pro quo in the RNC platform, the fact that Flynn is now a felon - this should have been more than enough. But no. Instead, some texts from a pissed off FBI guy are dispositive that Mueller is on a witch hunt. /6
- Meanwhile, we're treated to nightly freakouts about Fusion GPS, from people acting as if they've never heard of oppo. Like this is the first dirty campaign they've ever seen, and thus it negates ALL the other evidence that actually *exists*. /7
- I have never harped the dossier. I have never said the Russians stole the election. I have never said Trump personally coordinated with the Russians. But these straw zombies keep coming back. So here's what I *will* say. /8
1. There is clear evidence of contact with the Trump campaign and a hostile foreign power and its active arm in WL.
2. There is a level of contact historically between the Trump Org and Putin that should worry anyone who knows anything about how Russia works. /9
3. There is, imo, a high probability that the Trump Org and its minions have been naughty things with Russian money for ages.
4. POTUS, for whatever reason, is clearly scared of Putin and the Kremlin.
5. A lot of people in this WH have been, erm, untruthful about ALL of this. /10
- And most important, conservatives defending this WH with "but Hillary" and "uranium" and "Fusion GPS" are being astonishingly hypocritical and should just admit that if this were not their tribe, they'd have burned the WH by now. /11
- Finally, there is now a case for obstruction of justice that is so obvious that I can't believe anyone would deny it. From Flynn to Comey to the pattern of lying, this would be enough to cook any Dem in the eyes of any GOPer - before now. /12x
posted by chris24 at 3:59 PM on December 17, 2017 [87 favorites]


It is trivial to ensure that you both never are owed a refund and that you remain within the 90% underpayment safe harbor. I don't doubt that there is some psychological impact, I just doubt it is that high.

Don't take my word for it. Both the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation say that elimination of the mandate will result in 13 million people fewer people with health insurance. That is a large impact.
posted by JackFlash at 4:16 PM on December 17, 2017 [20 favorites]


You’d have set up a gallows for less only a few years ago.

This is one of my defences against normalisation. There hasn't been a day in the past year when I haven't thought - often multiple times - that if Obama had done what just got revealed even once in eight years, the GOP would have gone full Tsar Bomba.

Apart from everything else, there is a cosmic level of hypocrisy on permanent display. It's good to refuel from that realisation. It never goes stale.
posted by Devonian at 4:21 PM on December 17, 2017 [53 favorites]


Nobody has benefited more from "IOKIYAR" than D.J.Trump.

But long before that, he took full advantage of "IOKIYourNameIsOnBuildings".

Frankly, I tend toward a belief that turning against Trump would be very good for the Republican Party and therefore oppose it in the hope that they all go down in flames together. And also believe that a competent member of today's Republican Party as President would have done quite a bit more damage by now and more subtly.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


Yes, I didn't necessarily think the acolytes of Saint Ronnie were right about Russia, but I had never reason to think they weren't sincere. And now I know that whether they were right or wrong they were never sincere, and the best of them were merely pawns whose fears were being weaponised against domestic enemies.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


Nobody has benefited more from "IOKIYAR" than D.J.Trump.

The general case of IOKIYAR is "It's okay if you are a white man with some money."

(And "some" doesn't even have to be "lots" to get the "justice" dispensing machine to hand out a soft outcome.)
posted by puddledork at 5:24 PM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm 0% lawyer but the necessity of a declaration of war for a charge of treason seems as though it might not be correct, since Aaron Burr was charged with treason in 1807 but the first time the U.S. declared war was in 1812. He was acquitted but cursory googlings turn up "insufficient evidence" as the reason rather than "he didn't aid any nation the U.S. had declared war upon."

Treason also consists of fighting your own country, and he was telling Spain that he was going to take over the capitol. He was acquitted on the idea that it was totes okay to plot against your own country as long as you didn't actually engage in the warfare. I don't think the trial would have gone the same way were it held today, to say the least.
posted by corb at 5:59 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]






Interestingly enough, Kory Langhofer works for a firm that specializes in crisis communication, the same function for which which Kushner was shopping around for this week. People grabbed onto the fact that Langhofer is a lawyer, but he’s never claimed to be acting in a legal capacity now. He’s a flack doing his best to throw chum in the water ahead of Kushner’s indictment.
posted by SakuraK at 6:48 PM on December 17, 2017 [9 favorites]


“Hey, we’re gonna cut your pay and benefits but hey, don’t leak anything to the press that might get us in trouble, ok?”
posted by azpenguin at 7:07 PM on December 17, 2017 [16 favorites]


If this is even remotely true[*], then it's one heck of a Hanukkah present.

Trump Supporters Are Worried About Falling Victim to a 'Twitter Purge' Within Days
The part that is really spooking people, apparently, is an announcement from Twitter linked within the post suggesting that the company will be monitoring the behavior of users "on and off the platform"—leaving open the possibility that someone’s political affiliations could play a role in how they will be treated by the site going forward.
[*] Narrator voice....
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:16 PM on December 17, 2017


Are you kidding me? In addition to a tax "cut" that penalizes most Americans but provides those in the highest levels of elected (or appointed) government a hefty payout, they're going to gut the compensation of the underappreciated people who work the hardest to make this country function?

They really are intent on destroying the USA. There's no other explanation.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:24 PM on December 17, 2017 [46 favorites]


Considering Twitter's track record, they're probably more likely to ban Leah Mcelrath, Marcy Wheeler, and Sarah Kendzior.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2017 [18 favorites]


FWIW, it seems like Northam is falling back a bit on the Medicaid issue:
I have and will continue to advocate for Medicaid expansion because it is a no-brainer for Virginia families, our budget, and our economy. We can also come together on smart policy choices that will allow us to deliver better care at lower cost.
I think public pressure could help evolve his stance in the right direction.

==

jointhedance: "I feel sick. How are the recounts going in the last two maybe-flippable seats in the Virginia House of Delegates?"

HD-94 recount starts on Dec 19. This one the Dem trails by 10 votes

HD-28 recount starts on Dec 21. This one the Dem trails by 82 votes.

For comparison, the Dem picked up 7 votes in the just completed recount in HD-40, so strictly on the recount side, HD-94 looks like a decent shot, HD-28 is almost certainly not happening.

Separately, there is the legal action on HD-28 concerning the folks who were given ballots for a different HOD race. There's a court hearing on that Jan 5. A re-run of the election is possible, I don't have any sense for how likely it is for the judge to order that.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:28 PM on December 17, 2017 [12 favorites]


What about the votes they cast for the wrong district? Were they nullified?
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:29 PM on December 17, 2017


I am not 100% sure if they counted in the total for the other district (HD-88), but it doesn't impact anything because we are talking about something like 300 votes, and the HD-88 race was decided by over 4,000 votes.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:32 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Well I wasn't completely wrong, you can't post the link to needtoimpeach.com or load any old tweets with that link in it.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:38 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


you can't post the link to needtoimpeach.com or load any old tweets with that link in it.

Well, what did you think happened when you reported tweets for spam? What happens when malicious entities start doing that with their bot army?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:42 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


WaPo, Trump says he won’t fire Mueller, as campaign to discredit Russia probe heats up, which we knew, but read on, because other people have issues:
Rather, Trump appeared to be contemplating changes in the Justice Department’s leadership. In recent discussions, two advisers said, Trump has called the attorney general “weak,” and complained that Rosenstein has shown insufficient accountability on the special counsel’s work. A senior official said Trump mocked Rosenstein’s recent testimony on Capitol Hill, saying he looked weak and unable to answer questions. Trump has ranted about Rosenstein as “a Democrat,” one of these advisers said, and characterized him as a threat to his presidency.

In fact, Rosenstein is a Republican. In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated him to be U.S. attorney in Maryland.

Trump has watched Fox News Channel segments attacking Mueller’s investigation, advisers said, including those by Jeanine Pirro, a former judge and prosecutor whose show is a Trump favorite and who has visited with the president in the White House.

On her Saturday night broadcast, Pirro railed against Strzok and Page, as well as Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. “The only thing that remains is whether we have the fortitude to not just fire these people immediately, but to take them out in cuffs,” Pirro said.
Firing Rosenstein is also a precursor to firing Mueller, or appointing someone else who will crack down on the investigation.

Hilariously, the complaints about Mueller obtaining transition emails are too much even for Trey Gowdy, who said those issues should be handled in court instead of by Congress. Which, yes, the fact that they wrote Congress to whine instead of making a legal argument to a judge is a pretty clear sign they knew they didn't have a legal argument and tried to use politics to do what the law won't.
posted by zachlipton at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2017 [27 favorites]


@benthere536: Replying to @CharlesMBlow and @williamlegate

And Twitter is now engaging in censorship. It's not allowing us to post www.needtoimpeach. com as a link. Seriously. Try posting that in your TL. You'll get censored

I tried and was told
This request looks like it might be automated. To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can't complete this action right now. Please try again later.
Nice work supporting fascism, @jack.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2017 [22 favorites]


@sarahkendzior: Twitter won't let me click an old tweeted link to Need To Impeach (L) without getting this warning (R)

Twitter TOS are changing soon. Are they starting to censor websites calling for Trump's impeachment?


Has pictures of old link and Twitter's response.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:49 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


GQ - The Least Influential People of 2017
Seth Abramson/Eric Garland/Louise Mensch
These are the serial tweetstormers who show up any time something Russia-related happens to Trump, and then they act as if they have all the top-secret info to BLOW THIS WHOLE THING WIDE OPEN. They are…not reliable.

posted by T.D. Strange at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2017 [30 favorites]


Firing Rosenstein is also a precursor to firing Mueller, or appointing someone else who will crack down on the investigation.

@AshaRangappa_ (fmr FBI CounterIntel agent, CNN analyst)
MUELLER THREAD. We should all (obviously) be concerned if Trump fires Mueller. But, in my opinion, we should be even MORE concerned if he fires DAG Rod Rosenstein. Here's why:
2. The investigation into Russia's election interference began well before Mueller came on the scene, in June 2016. It is an investigation that existed independent of him. He didn't "start" it.
3. Likewise, if he leaves, it won't "end" it. Mueller was appointed mainly to insulate an ongoing investigation from conflicts of interest that arose from Comey's firing. If he leaves, some of that insulation is gone. BUT:
4. The FBI has a statutory mandate to investigate potential violations of federal law and threats to national security. Just because Mueller leaves doesn't mean that those cases just get dumped in the trash. They are obligated to continue investigation them to their resolution.
5. It's also useful to think of FBI investigations as fractals. Each case can spawn a new case, depending on what's uncovered. In other words, if during an investigation of one violation, you uncover another, that's a new case.
6. So while we talk about the "Russia investigation," that is really an umbrella for what is likely *many* cases involving both criminal and counterintelligence threads. Those don't just disappear.
7. Further, some of these -- like the indictments and plea deals we've seen -- are already in the judicial system. And no doubt there are outstanding subpoenas and other investigative leads that are already out. In other words, this train has left the station, big time.
8. The key, however, is that there needs to be a prosecutor at DOJ who is willing to facilitate and approve many parts of the investigation. Right now that's Mueller. In his absence, who is it? DAG Rod Rosenstein (because AG Sessions would still be recused).
9. Under the Special Counsel regulations, Mueller has been reporting to Rosenstein every 90 days about the status of his investigation. He's also had to seek approval for an expansion of his mandate, or for any charges he's brought so far.
10. We can conclude that so far Rosenstein has approved of the progress and requests that have been made -- if he hadn't, he would have had to report this to Congress and explain why. That hasn't happened. He's also explicitly stated that he believes Mueller is doing his job.
11. Rosenstein, therefore, has basically seen everything that Mueller has. And he's on board. Presumably, if he is put "back in charge," he'd continue to move the investigation forward (if he didn't, it would raise the question why he had been approving Mueller until now).
12. If Trump fires Rosenstein, however, he can appoint someone new to be the DAG. Which means he can preemptively choose someone who is going to stonewall the investigation from moving forward. Even a new DAG overseeing Mueller could do this.
13. So, IMO, that's the bigger threat. Rosenstein, not Mueller, is really the buffer right now between POTUS (and Congress) and a full investigation of all aspects of "the Russia investigation," incl the counterintelligence part, the various criminal threads, and DoJ. /END
14. P.S. And ppl are right that in general, Trump has to fire Rosenstein to fire Mueller. But part of my point is that he could replace DAG, *not* fire Mueller and still achieve same effect if that DAG is willing to block Mueller's efforts and "spin" the reasons why to Congress.
posted by chris24 at 8:01 PM on December 17, 2017 [37 favorites]


Seth Abramson/Eric Garland/Louise Mensch

"Following Abramson is like subscribing to the worst podcast in world history. “Okay, so you already know about Sergei Cutyurkokov from my August 13th tweetstorm, now here is how he ties into the GORGOV MEETING 1/670"

I laughed. Loudly.
posted by Justinian at 8:31 PM on December 17, 2017 [26 favorites]


Nice work supporting fascism, @jack.

I had no trouble tweeting about needtoimpeach.com, FWIW.
posted by floam at 8:42 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Looks like they got caught fixed it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:54 PM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


I have entirely too many questions about Don Jr.'s Instagram post (my life was so much better before sentences like that made any sense), such as "that Obama cookie seems really racist looking, right?" and "why is it even possible for a person's mouth to look like that?" and "why is the guy who is supposed to be running the business and not in politics on a first-name basis with a Senator?"
posted by zachlipton at 9:00 PM on December 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


That Obama image looks like is a not so great icing take on Obama's now iconic, graphic Hope poster. So no not racist. Just bad or purposely bad icing technique.
posted by Jalliah at 9:05 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I've constructed a Storify (it's not dead yet) of useful and interesting material on the Mueller investigation, composed of tweet threads from Seth Abramson, Renato Mariotti and Asha Rangappa.
posted by JHarris at 1:26 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


(Some have been linked, even quoted in full, above it seems. Anyway, I intend to keep it updated with new threads as they appear.)
posted by JHarris at 1:30 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


At first I was annoyed by the poorly rendered Obama cookie, but then more than a few of the twitter replies made it worthwhile.

For example, the first two that appeared when I clicked on the link are below:

- Tell me [Donny Jr.], can you even eat a cookie with those horrendously fake teeth of yours?

- I think this photo really does sum up what a dreadful, ignorant, stupid and hateful person you [Donny Jr.] are.


GOD(ESS) BLESS AMERICA!
posted by elsietheeel at 2:12 AM on December 18, 2017 [10 favorites]


guys i get the feeling folks on Instagram don't like those guys very much
posted by salix at 2:56 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]




At first I was annoyed by the poorly rendered Obama cookie, but then more than a few of the twitter replies made it worthwhile.

I don't know what you're talking about, that's a great young Henry Kissinger
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:30 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


The speech Card Cheat refers to is described in this Guardian article:

Trump will drop climate change from US National Security Strategy
posted by stonepharisee at 3:36 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


So we’ve all got this speech to look forward to.

When the Guamanian, Puerto Rican, Virgin Islander, and American Samoan climate refugees arrive I'm sure they'll remember who voted to destroy their economies and homes.

It's not just rising sea levels. Changing temperatures, saltwater infiltration into freshwater resources, the subsequent destruction of crops, loss of tourism and income from the large scale deaths of marine life. There are knock on effects from climate change that are going to linger for generations.
posted by Talez at 3:36 AM on December 18, 2017 [18 favorites]


Coal is good for humanity. So Trump Bob Sponge Brain is going full Budgie Smuggler? A country of ~25 million have almost figured out that it's total bullshit.

Growth and security is going to come out of businesses and governments industrialising renewable technologies. Especially in developing countries. Has no-one learned from the deployment of mobile tech in Africa compared to fixed?

Just to finish. China's agnostic approach is going to kick ass in Africa. China is a renewables tour-de-force. Coal and oil aren't going to win. Turning the USA into an carbon export powerhouse will fail, not even beginning to consider there's no way to nationalise any benefit for the long-term good of the country.

Idiots.
posted by michswiss at 3:48 AM on December 18, 2017 [32 favorites]


Trump will drop climate change from US National Security Strategy

There is no greater security threat to the US than climate change. Kim Jong Un flying an Iranian smallpox nuke laced with Fentanyl would not be a billionth as deadly as anticipated climate change. At best it's going to happen slowly, but within fifty uears we're going to be facing a global apocalypse that'll be like WW2, if WW2 were truly global and had not been conducted by such sensitive individuals.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:10 AM on December 18, 2017 [34 favorites]


Sen. Bob Corker Failed to Properly Disclose Millions of Dollars in Income (Brody Mullins, WSJ-paywall )
Tennessee Republican files amendments to reports going back to 2007; ‘I am extremely disappointed in the filing errors’
The new forms show that Mr. Corker had failed to properly disclose at least $2 million in income from investments in three small hedge funds based in his home state. He also didn’t properly report millions of dollars in income from commercial real-estate investments due to an accounting error. And he didn’t disclose millions of dollars in other assets and income from other financial transactions.

A letter sent to the secretary of the Senate along with the new financial reports acknowledged that the senator’s previous reports didn’t comply with Senate rules.

“I am extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made in earlier financial disclosure reports,” Mr. Corker said in a statement to the Journal.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:53 AM on December 18, 2017 [24 favorites]


Sen. Bob Corker Failed to Properly Disclose Millions of Dollars in Income

From the WSJ article: "As a result of the accounting error, Mr. Corker’s new forms show additional income of at least $3.8 million between 2007 and 2014 from his commercial real-estate holdings."

So just the amount of the accounting error here is $500k a year. The Corker Kickback added to the tax bill shields 20% of this type of income. So $100K shielded that would've been taxed at the new highest rate of 37% = $37K per year Corker is benefitting from the tax bill just from the amount of the reporting error. And the original real estate income he reported is no doubt many times bigger than the accounting mistake, which means he's most likely benefitting hundreds of thousands dollars annually from the Corker Kickback in the tax bill.

Draining. The. Swamp.
posted by chris24 at 5:08 AM on December 18, 2017 [40 favorites]


“I am extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made in earlier financial disclosure reports,” Mr. Corker said in a statement to the Journal.

"I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find that gambling tax fraud is going on in here!"
posted by hangashore at 5:56 AM on December 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


I still am honestly shocked, SHOCKED, that there were millions of rubes gullible enough to buy that Drain The Swamp shit from Donald Fucking Trump.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:09 AM on December 18, 2017 [21 favorites]


“I am extremely disappointed in the filing errors that were made in earlier financial disclosure reports,” Mr. Corker said in a statement to the Journal.

I am now imagining a rewrite of Atlas Shrugged where everything the captains of industry do is described with passive voice and obscured agency.
posted by srboisvert at 6:11 AM on December 18, 2017 [57 favorites]


Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner sued over financial disclosures (Josh Gerstein, Politico)
Washington lawyer Jeffrey Lovitky contends that Trump and Kushner failed to identify the assets owned by 30 investment funds the couple had stakes in. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington also claims the couple should have declared the value of and income they derived from two investment vehicles, but did not.

The suit notes that in a half dozen instances Kushner's report indicates that more detailed information is not being provided because a "pre-existing confidentiality agreement" precludes disclosure.

"The [Ethics in Government Act] does not allow a reporting individual to refuse to disclose the underlying assets of an investment vehicle, on the basis that such disclosure would violate a pre-existing confidentiality agreement
.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:30 AM on December 18, 2017 [19 favorites]


Trump predicts exoneration in Russia investigation as allies fear a 'meltdown'
"
... Trump is boasting to friends and advisers that he expects Mueller to clear him of wrongdoing in the coming weeks, according to sources familiar with the conversations. The President seems so convinced of his impending exoneration that he is telling associates Mueller will soon write a letter clearing him that Trump can brandish to Washington and the world in a bid to finally emerge from the cloud of suspicion that has loomed over the first chapter of his presidency, the sources said."
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 AM on December 18, 2017 [20 favorites]


...if he really expected Mueller to clear him, wouldn't he be building up the legitimacy of the investigation, not trying to undermine it at every turn?
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:34 AM on December 18, 2017 [29 favorites]


Okay, so that is a great outcome, right? He is so sure that he will be exonerated that he won't fire Mueller? Could it possibly be that stupidity and hubris will do what principle cannot?
posted by Frowner at 6:34 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


Trying to apply logic to this guy pretty much always fails.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:36 AM on December 18, 2017 [36 favorites]


I’ve seen people on Twitter who do not appear to be bots say they think Mueller is meeting with Trump’s lawyers to tell them the investigation is over. They must believe trump.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:38 AM on December 18, 2017


WP: Kozinski retiring from the 9th Circuit after multiple reports of sexual harassment.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2017 [26 favorites]




Eh, I've known plenty of deluded narcissist toxically-masculine guys who insist to everybody—themselves included—that there's no way the ship is sinking under their watch, that the foot of water on the floor must've splashed out of a mop bucket or something, stupid janitors. As they're buckling their life jacket. For these types, there's really nothing else to tell people. Or themselves.
posted by Rykey at 6:44 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


[A few deleted. We've kind of been over and over and over the proposition that people who voted for Trump didn't really care about "draining the swamp" or [insert other campaign promise], and it's really just racism that drove those votes, so it's not really necessary to repeat all that again (quick reminder about catch-all discussions). Thanks, everyone.]
posted by taz (staff) at 7:04 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Conference tax bill will lead to massive tax planning and game-playing undermining income tax, benefiting well-advised...

And that's exactly part of the plan. One of the reasons the current tax code is so complex is the lots of attempts to close loopholes that the wealthy have found. This bill may simplify the tax code, but it also simplifies the loopholes. You've seen all the people harping on the "fair tax" claiming it would be more fair and simplify the system? If that ever passed then any competent tax planner would have as much work as they could handle for years from people gaming the "fair" system. Working people get scraps, if that, and the wealthy will always find their ways to game the tax system.
posted by azpenguin at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2017


1. Conference tax bill will lead to massive tax planning and game-playing undermining income tax, benefiting well-advised, and likely leading [legislation] to cost considerably more than estimates suggest. Updated report from tax experts across country: SSRN

No shit. The second they suggested lower rates for passthroughs, it was obvious that every person with a clue making over $100K was going to incorporate. 20% reduction in income taxes for a few hundred in fees? What in the everloving hell were they thinking aside from "how do I make a giant loophole for high end income taxes?"
posted by Talez at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2017 [8 favorites]


Feels like the White House is trying to spin things fast enough to make time go backwards so that everything is forgotten.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


It's not like the wealthy haven't gamed the system already. Dividends and capital gains rates and funny business basically screamed out "LOOPHOLE! LOOPHOLE!" to the CEOs. Just incorporate yourself as a brand and claim a management fee as a capital gain! Woo! Tax dodge!
posted by Talez at 7:18 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump Remember, Republicans are 5-0 in Congressional Races this year. The media refuses to mention this. I said Gillespie and Moore would lose (for very different reasons), and they did. I also predicted “I” would win. Republicans will do well in 2018, very well! @foxandfriends

How's the AL senate race no a congressional race? What is he on about? (And I guess he still hasn't taken the "Quotation Marks 101" class I signed him up for on Udemy...)
posted by AwkwardPause at 7:28 AM on December 18, 2017 [17 favorites]


"Congressional" is often short for House of Representatives rather than referring to the entire body.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:31 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Then he's still wrong, there was also a House race in California the Dems won.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2017 [33 favorites]


Rs are 5-2, and barely won in the 5 despite all being very red districts where Trump won by 20+ points. The cabinet selections were chosen in part because they were from very safe districts. Republicans will not do well in 2018.
posted by chris24 at 7:44 AM on December 18, 2017 [28 favorites]


Eh, I've known plenty of deluded narcissist toxically-masculine guys who insist to everybody—themselves included—that there's no way the ship is sinking under their watch, that the foot of water on the floor must've splashed out of a mop bucket or something, stupid janitors. As they're buckling their life jacket. For these types, there's really nothing else to tell people. Or themselves.

Problem for Trump is this time there's no bankruptcy court to bail on your creditors. I would not be surprised if he doesn't understand the difference in courts, criminal and civil. "I'll just write a settlement check..." isn't what Criminal Courts want to hear AT ALL.
posted by mikelieman at 7:49 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


I dunno. We have a bad track record of holding ex-presidents to account for their crimes. Even now, Trump would definitely get away with everything if he just resigned and fucked off back to to Mar a Lago or wherever. But he'll probably dig in, which makes it a little more likely he'll end up in prison (I wouldn't bet money on it, though).
posted by ryanrs at 7:59 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


If getting away with everything were a superpower, Trump would be Superman. It remains to be seen if he has a Kryptonite.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


(jared's prob fucked though)
posted by ryanrs at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2017 [11 favorites]


The theory that the GOP will dump 45 when he becomes electoral poison must be considered disproved, because they're all Trumpists now and obviously can't kick the habit. 2018 is going to be rough indeed for everyone, but it's going to be particularly dark at the bottom of the pit they're studiously continuing to dig. Even Ann Coulter is shrieking in despair on Twitter.
posted by Devonian at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


Trump’s lawyers to tell them him the investigation is over.

Now that I would believe. Watch for one of his legal eagles to get booted right before a serious paddlin'. i.e. "He told me I'd get away with it! Hope, go fire that guy."
posted by petebest at 8:04 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


Michael Linden, economist with the Roosevelt Institute (edited for readability from this Twitter thread):
By now, most Americans know this tax bill is terrible. We know it's unfair, it's a giveaway to the rich, it cuts health care & puts other services at risk. What hasn’t sunk in yet is how it could also harm the economy, costing jobs and prosperity. I count at least 5 ways.

First and most directly, by cutting taxes on the super-rich and asking everyone else to pick up the tab, this bill will exacerbate our already sky-high levels of income inequality, as David Leonhardt correctly points out. Beyond being morally repugnant, increasing our income inequality will also cause the economy to grow more slowly and will result in more fragile growth, bringing recessions on more rapidly.

Second, by cutting both top personal income taxes and corporate taxes, this bill dramatically increases the incentives for corporate CEOs and major shareholders to hoard profits rather than invest them. We know that when taxes for the rich go down, CEO pay goes up. That’s because corporate executives have a huge incentive to bargain for an even bigger slice of the pie when the taxes on their slice just shrank (PDF). Once the corporate execs take their cut, then the major shareholders take theirs. We’ve known for some time now that when corporations get more $$ they use it to buy back stocks and increase dividend payouts (PDF). Think about what that means: it’s not just that CEOs & shareholders are enriched directly by the tax cuts. It’s also that they respond to the new incentives by TAKING EVEN MORE, which leaves even less for workers, down-stream suppliers, and investments in the future. The cruel irony of “trickle down” is that the lie at its heart is not only that nothing actually trickles down, but that, in fact, income and wealth gets vacuumed up.

Third, to the extent that we have still not fully recovered from the Great Recession, the underlying weakness is one of DEMAND not supply (PDF). There aren’t enough customers with enough $ in their pockets to spur faster growth. Giving tax cuts to the “supply side” won’t solve that problem & the tax cuts that do go to low & moderate-income families are small, temporary, and are likely to be offset by service and benefit cuts. In fact, after accounting for all the implicit spending cuts in the tax bill, the vast majority of moderate and low-income families lose out, even in the first year. That’s no way to boost aggregate demand.

Fourth, the tax bill encourages more offshoring of both profits AND operations, as Gene Sperling explains. The bill sets up 2 corporate tax rates: a higher one for home and a lower one – full of loopholes – for abroad.

Finally, this tax bill is incredibly distortionary. Conservatives used to be the ones to complain about the tax code picking “winners and losers,” but that’s exactly what happens here. Different kinds of income are treated differently. Overseas corporate income does better than domestic corporate income. Corporate income does better than small business income. Owner income does better than worker income. Inherited income does better than basically everything.

And we haven’t even begun to find all of the loopholes, mistakes, and other weird quirks that will result in strange tax avoidance strategies. David Kamin and Lily Batchelder and co-authors have found a bunch already. What will definitely happen is that people & businesses will make decisions based on tax planning (even more than now), not based on underlying economic imperatives or incentives and that will act like sand in the gears of the economy.

There you go. 5 ways the tax bill is terrible for the economy, beyond its unfairness & cruelty:

1.↑ inequality = ↓ growth
2.↑ incentive for CEO & Shareholder hoarding
3.Aggregate demand ↓
4.Offshoring ↑
5.Economic distortions ↑

Just like the tax cuts in Kansas failed to produce the promised economic boost, this tax bill is going to further skew the economy in favor of those who already have the most, while leaving everyone else behind. As if you needed another reason to hate this bill.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2017 [81 favorites]


it would be truly delicious if the thing that ultimately brought trump down was the inability to retain competent legal counsel due to years of stiffing the good firms
posted by murphy slaw at 8:18 AM on December 18, 2017 [30 favorites]


Ivanka today: "Small businesses will have the lowest taxes since 1931"

Are you sure that's where you want to go? These Trump kids aren't very smart, are they.
posted by JackFlash at 8:22 AM on December 18, 2017 [82 favorites]


New Monmouth poll of the tax bill

26% approve (with strong approval of only 13%)
47% disapprove (with strong disapproval of 35%)

And 50% think it'll raise their taxes.
Republicans favor the proposed tax reform plan by a 55% approve to 16% disapprove margin. Democrats (7% approve to 72% disapprove) and independents (20% approve to 53% disapprove) are decidedly negative about the proposed changes. The package doesn't play well in areas of the country that the GOP needs to win in 2018. Opinion of the tax reform plan is divided in "red" counties that Trump won by at least ten percentage points in 2016 - 34% approve and 37% disapprove. In "swing" counties where the margin of victory for either candidate was less than ten points, 30% approve of the plan compared with 38% who disapprove. In "blue" counties that Hillary Clinton won by ten points or more, only 15% approve while 60% disapprove.
posted by chris24 at 8:26 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


Huh, it's almost as if the law was written to be deliberately polarizing, in addition to looting what little is left.
posted by wierdo at 8:39 AM on December 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


The thing that made me resigned to grief over the tax bill was some CNN (I think) segment of interviews with Trump voters who were basically unhappy with Trump and what they had heard of the tax bill but said, paraphrasing, "but, I'm willing to give it a shot." As if rewriting the tax code was like a trick play in football that, by golly, might just be crazy enough to work. Sigh.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:41 AM on December 18, 2017 [30 favorites]




NBC News: House Republicans prepare to wrap up contentious Russia investigation
Senior Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee tell NBC News that they hope and expect to draw their year-long investigation to an end in the coming weeks, saying they have largely completed all interviews relevant to the narrow scope of inquiry Democrats had agreed to last spring.

The committee has conducted interviews with key witnesses almost daily this month, sometimes seeing multiple witnesses on a single day, as they eyed the finish line. Though Democrats say they have requested as many as 30 additional interviews with new witnesses, none have been scheduled beyond the end of this month.
The House Intelligence Committee investigation has been unserious since day one, despite the efforts of Rep. Schiff & the other Democratic Party members of the committee; this is the same committee, remember, headed by Rep. Nunes, recently 'cleared' of ethical improprieties pertaining to this same investigation. The chances that they would actually conduct a real investigation have been low, and that they would plan to close it early -- even as they're still trying to schedule more interviews -- is not particularly surprising, and doesn't really change all that much, practically speaking: the real problems here began a year ago, and ending the investigation is merely the last chapter of a not-very-good-book. Still disheartening, though.

The timing, though, is interesting in light of Mueller's obtainment of the Trump transition team emails. Rep. Nunes and Rep. Gowdy -- the chairman and guy-who-took-over-for-the-chairmen-while-he-was-recused -- were both on Trump's presidential transition team. That's probably just a coincidence, timing-wise, since they're been trying to close this investigation in one way or another for months and months and months. But.
posted by cjelli at 8:50 AM on December 18, 2017 [40 favorites]


26% approve (with strong approval of only 13%)
47% disapprove (with strong disapproval of 35%)


Republicans don't care about disapproval numbers. They know they are probably screwed in the next election and that makes this once in a generation chance to ensure they and their heirs will be filthy rich all the more important. They are determined to go out in a blaze of opulent glory.

Remember that it took more than 10 years to roll back even a small portion of the Bush tax cuts. Ten years is plenty of time to secure their plutocratic legacy for the next generation.
posted by JackFlash at 8:51 AM on December 18, 2017 [13 favorites]


Third, to the extent that we have still not fully recovered from the Great Recession, the underlying weakness is one of DEMAND not supply (PDF). There aren’t enough customers with enough $ in their pockets to spur faster growth.

Great Recession hell, this situation has pertained literally my entire adult life. It's deliberate.


Republicans don't care about disapproval numbers. They know they are probably screwed in the next election and that makes this once in a generation chance to ensure they and their heirs will be filthy rich all the more important. They are determined to go out in a blaze of opulent glory.

I disagree- this is why they're so obsessed with voter ID and getting rid of voting rights.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2017 [14 favorites]


Paper used at Trump's red tape demonstration was blank, will be reused

Presumably for the next big dumb stunt photo op.

I realize that the White House has always involved a certain amount of show biz, but I feel like this is the first regime that has actually needed a dedicated prop warehouse.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2017 [14 favorites]


There aren’t enough customers with enough $ in their pockets to spur faster growth. Giving tax cuts to the “supply side” won’t solve that problem

I honestly think Brewster's Millions (whichever version) should be required viewing in schools to hammer home the point that it takes appreciable time and effort for one person to spend a million dollars (and generate the corresponding economic activity), whereas it takes no time at all for a million people to cycle through a million dollars. When you give away money to rich people, you're giving it to the people least likely to make use of it; it's an incredibly inefficient way to stimulate the real economy.
posted by Iridic at 9:06 AM on December 18, 2017 [49 favorites]


The Republican Party Faces a Roy Moore-Style Humiliation in Virginia
This past week, E.W. Jackson, a conservative pastor with a history of controversial remarks announced that he would be challenging Corey Stewart, former gubernatorial candidate and Trump acolyte, for the Republican primary which is roughly six months away. Jackson, previously the GOP’s 2013 nominee for lieutenant governor, has said in the past that people who want to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns indicate that they are possessed by “multiple demons” and that gay and lesbian citizens are “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally,” a comment for which he has recently expressed regret. He has also said that former President Barack Obama “clearly has Muslim sensibilities”—implying, of course, that that was a bad thing—and that Planned Parenthood “has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.”

Stewart, meanwhile, is closely aligned with Donald Trump’s former top strategist, Steve Bannon, and helped shape a campaign on the preservation of Confederate monuments in Virginia, despite hailing from Minnesota. In 2017, he launched an insurgent gubernatorial bid and almost won the nomination during which he referred to his opponent as a “cuckservative.” Stewart was fired from the Trump campaign for, as he put it, standing up against “establishment pukes” at the Republican National Committee when the Access Hollywood tape came out. Most recently, during his brief stint supporting Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Stewart revived unfounded claims made by Trump that Obama’s birth certificate is fraudulent.

The two are vying for the right to square off (in all likelihood) against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who will be running for re-election with high approval ratings and in a state where Democrats won sweeping victories just a month ago. Political observers say they wouldn’t be surprised if the national Republican Party avoided the contest altogether.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:12 AM on December 18, 2017 [20 favorites]


Republicans don't care about disapproval numbers. They know they are probably screwed in the next election and that makes this once in a generation chance to ensure they and their heirs will be filthy rich all the more important. They are determined to go out in a blaze of opulent glory.


This has been my thinking lately too, at least for Republican congresspeople. The whole point of their being in politics in the first place is to promote the interests of their own (i.e., wealthy) class; once their major objectives are accomplished—cut taxes big time, gut regulation of their businesses and finances, enshrine massive inequality that ensures cheap labor in the service of their own security and comfort—it's not so important to be part of politics. Mission accomplished.

Add to that the ever-promising chances of taking on a sweet gig after leaving office in consulting, lobbying, public speaking, or right-wing media, and who'd want to be beholden to something so demanding and pointless as the public trust or the Constitution, let alone their donors?
posted by Rykey at 9:14 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


...Trump voters who were basically unhappy with Trump and what they had heard of the tax bill but said, paraphrasing, "but, I'm willing to give it a shot." As if rewriting the tax code was like a trick play in football that, by golly, might just be crazy enough to work. Sigh.

The traditional next step: "Maybe we should try getting into two simultaneous land wars in Asia again! This time, it just might make us safe!"
posted by XMLicious at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


I honestly think Brewster's Millions (whichever version) should be required viewing in schools

Also for the "None of the Above" election scenes. Heller and Salvino are both just a couple of overgrown wharf rats, and you can quote me on that!
posted by Servo5678 at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Hill: Nazareth Mayor Cancels Christmas Celebration over Trump's Jerusalem Decision

Daniel Kibblesmith @kibblesmith, author of Santa's Husband and Colbert Late Show staff writer, assessed the news:
TRUMP IS SO TERRIBLE THAT THEY CANCELED CHRISTMAS IN JESUS’ OWN TOWN

SCROOGE THE GRINCH AND MR. POTTER COULDN’T PULL THAT OFF IF THEY TEAMED UP
For an outsider candidate who pledged "We're going to be saying 'Merry Christmas' again.", Trump is reneging on campaign promises in worse ways than any career politician could imagine.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:23 AM on December 18, 2017 [70 favorites]


> I realize that the White House has always involved a certain amount of show biz, but I feel like this is the first regime that has actually needed a dedicated prop warehouse.

Props to Donald Trump, The “Carrot Top” of Presidents
posted by tonycpsu at 9:25 AM on December 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


The Plot Against Bob Mueller (TPM)
Rosenstein is the key figure since for the purposes of the Russia investigation, he is the Attorney General. If Trump replaced Jeff Sessions with someone else, Rosenstein’s status would end because the new Attorney General would not be under a recusal as Sessions is. That should make confirming a new Attorney General quite difficult. But if he fired Rosenstein as well, he could find someone else to take over on an acting basis. And the President has been quite creative in deciding who to pick in those cases.

President Trump clearly wants to fire Mueller. More specifically, he’s obsessed with ending the Russia probe, all of them, not just Mueller’s. Firing Mueller is the most obvious way to do that. But even Trump’s closest advisors and I suspect Trump himself realize that the firing of James Comey was an almost mind-bogglingly self-destructive act. There’s a good argument that whatever President Trump’s substantive wrongdoing in the larger Russia story, his legal exposure is overwhelmingly (at least based on what we currently know) based on the decision to fire Comey. But you can see the gears turning, looking for some way to can Mueller through a backdoor or cow him into going easy on the President.

Rosenstein is both Mueller’s singular protector and also the man who has been complicit in most of President Trump’s bad acts – from the firing of Comey itself to the decision last week to release a trove of private text messages between two FBI employees into the public domain.

I continue to think that there is a concerted effort to fire Mueller. You can see the plans being laid on numerous fronts, a growing number of Trump supporters being groomed into But the key decision remains in the hands of a man who acts on anger and impulse. So what will happen is impossible to predict.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:28 AM on December 18, 2017 [9 favorites]


Remember that it took more than 10 years to roll back even a small portion of the Bush tax cuts. Ten years is plenty of time to secure their plutocratic legacy for the next generation.

And Republicans know Democrats can always be counted on to never return to the status quo ante. Obama started from the proposition that most of the Bush tax cuts, which dwarf the Trump cut bill, should be made permanent. There was no serious attempt to let them expire entirely and restore the budget.

Returning the tax code to its 1998 version, or better yet the rates in the 1960s, would instantly result in trillions of revenue that could be used to pay for the entire progressive agenda. But the idea that a future Democratic congress would actually do something like that is laughable on its face when we have half the party begging the Republicans to offer them the tiniest fig leaf so they can vote for a "bipartisan" tax cut bill.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2017 [18 favorites]


> And Republicans know Democrats can always be counted on to never return to the status quo ante. Obama started from the proposition that most of the Bush tax cuts, which dwarf the Trump cut bill, should be made permanent. There was no serious attempt to let them expire entirely.

He wasn't wrong, though. The economy was in the shitter, and the one thing you don't want to do is raise taxes across the board during a recession (which is what a repeal / sunset / failure to renew the JGTRRA would have amounted to.) The ideal policy during that time would have been a massive deficit-financed spending program, but absent that, maintaining a portion of the Bush tax cuts made sense from a Keynesian perspective.

I wish he'd fought harder to raise them on high earners instead of just for obscenely-high earners, and I wish he hadn't hiked payroll taxes on the middle class around 2012 or whenever that was, but I don't fault him for not wanting to eliminate the entirety of the Bush tax cuts at that time. The time to do that is when the economy is doing better than it was.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:36 AM on December 18, 2017 [12 favorites]


MSNBC reporting something about FBI warning Trump in August 2016 about Russians wanting to infiltrate the campaign? I can't tell how big a deal this is, they're going all in with the BREAKING NEWS banner and doing this instead of the Amtrak crash, where the focus was the rest of the morning...anyone got any info on this? I can't find anything online yet.
posted by andruwjones26 at 9:40 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


There was an article (that I can't fing) that called the emails Mueller obtained as his ace in the hole.

He questioned the transition team and asked them to disclose all relevant emails as though he did not already have them, which means he can show if any of them lied to him about the content of the emails, and so he can nail them for 18 U.S.C. § 1001 violations. That's potentially a lot of folks in the cross-hairs. Including:

Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Michael Flynn, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, K. T. McFarland, Gov. Mary Fallin, Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. Marsha Blackburn , Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Tom Reed, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Steve Bannon, Rep. Lou Barletta, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Rep. Chris Collins, Rep. Tom Marino, Rebekah Mercer , Steven Mnuchin, Rep. Devin Nunes, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci, Peter Thiel, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner , Rep. Sean Duffy, Rep. Trey Gowdy, Rep. Dennis Ross, Pastor Darrell C. Scott, Kiron Skinner

That might encourage them to keep Trump from firing Mueller.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:41 AM on December 18, 2017 [42 favorites]


Obama started from the proposition that most of the Bush tax cuts, which dwarf the Trump cut bill, should be made permanent.

I would say Obama let "most" of the Bush tax cuts expire. He wanted to keep them in place for people making less than $250k per year (to avoid economic constriction during a recession) and let Republicans negotiate <$ 400k instead. But as with the current tax bill, I believe the vast majority of the benefits, measured in absolute dollars, went to people making far more than that. And those were allowed to expire.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:46 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


And Republicans know Democrats can always be counted on to never return to the status quo ante. Obama started from the proposition that most of the Bush tax cuts, which dwarf the Trump cut bill, should be made permanent. There was no serious attempt to let them expire entirely and restore the budget.

And this is why everyone even slightly left of center should do whatever they can to support the DSA and other socialist projects at least in the short term and strategically. The DSA isn't dumb - they're not going to split important races that they can't possibly win. Smart Democrats should know that what is needed to move the Democratic party is a project to the left of the Democratic party which gains serious traction. Everyone left of center should be boosting the left-most realistic projects available right now, even if all you're looking for is 1998 over again. You can reevaluate when there's enough traction to make the Democratic party act differently.
posted by Frowner at 9:46 AM on December 18, 2017 [41 favorites]


> "That might encourage them to keep Trump from firing Mueller."

Wouldn't the exact opposite be true?
posted by kyrademon at 9:54 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


More from NeverTrumper Tom Nichols.

@RadioFreeTom
Let's play Alternate Universe.
It's 2017, and President Hillary Clinton is facing charges that Chelsea met with Russians who offered oppo on Trump. Chelsea didn't call the FBI; and Clinton nat sec adviser Jake Sullivan lied to the FBI about talking to the Russians. /1
- Sullivan is perp-walked into Federal court and pleads to a felony. Chelsea spends hours with congressional investigators and then mugs for the cameras with a cake that looks like Trump. /2
- Meanwhile, Hillary, who has shady ties through various organizations to tons of Russian money and mobsters, refuses to release her tax records and refers to "existential" threats to her presidency from the crooked FBI. /3
- In fact, in her first year in office, Hillary asks the FBI director to "let it go" on Jake Sullivan, and when he doesn't, she fires him. Deputy AG Sally Yates appoints an SC, a lifelong Dem. Hillary mulls firing him. /4
- Then, at least three other Clinton campaign officials end up indicted. All of them are tied in some way to a hostile foreign power. Robby Mook is confined to his home with an ankle monitor. /5
- As the 2018 midterms approach, Hillary publicly mentions how the FCC should crack down on broadcasters who lie, and maybe yank FOX's license. She also notes her warm relations with Nicholas Maduro and calls him to say hi. /6
- I'm sure... totally sure... that stalwarts of the GOP would say: Look, this is a nothingburger, you can't define "collusion," it's just "the coffee boy," and on and on. /7
- Let's cut the nonsense. The GOP would be in full impeachment mode, even without the completion of the special counsel investigation. This is not a partisan point; it's a common-sense point. I don't mind having arguments, but I'd prefer to keep them here on Planet Earth. /8x
posted by chris24 at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2017 [106 favorites]


Wouldn't the exact opposite be true?

IANAL, but is the thinking that the members of the transition team could cut deals with Mueller on whatever else the emails reveal in exchange for testimony on the Russian connections, whereas if Mueller gets fired those materials get handed off/moved onto whatever other prosecutions might spin off from this? I mean, Mueller getting fired doesn't mean everything ends - he's gathered a bunch of information and evidence that is going to wind up somewhere.
posted by nubs at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


‘Twitter purge’ suspends account of far-right leader who was retweeted by Trump

Hugely surprised by what appears to be an indication Twitter actually doing something. Wondering how the Russian bo accounts are fairing.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on December 18, 2017 [12 favorites]


After firestorm, CDC director says terms like “science-based” are not banned -- Friday night report set off an uproar, but officials say it was “mischaracterization.” (Beth Mole for Ars Technica, Dec. 18, 2017)
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fired off a series of tweets Sunday to try to quell fierce backlash from a Friday night report that the Trump administration had banned the agency from using certain terms in budget documents, including “science-based” and “diversity.”

I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC,” Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald‏ tweeted at the top of a thread Sunday morning, which is currently pinned.

Instead, several sources have tried to clarify that the language changes were merely suggestions to help make the agency’s budget more palatable to some Republicans and ease its passage.
...
In a media statement, the HHS said: "The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process. HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans."

Unnamed officials told the Times that the language changes were not bans but recommendations to basically “ease the path toward budget approval by Republicans.”
"They're not banned, but if you use them, you won't get funding, so we just strongly suggest no one says them." [FAKE, but a realistic summary]
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 AM on December 18, 2017 [54 favorites]


Interesting point.

@tribelaw
NBC/WSJ poll: 69% of people under 35 now favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress💥

@marceelias (Dem campaign/voting rights lawyer)
Retweeted Laurence Tribe
This is why Republicans are systematically making it harder for young voters to vote. And it is why we need to recognize the importance of the 26th Amendment as a vital voting rights tool to fight suppression.
- The 26th Amendment is a largely untapped tool to fight voter suppression: "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age."
posted by chris24 at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2017 [54 favorites]


HuffPo is reporting that Matthew Petersen, the judicial nominee without litigation experience who was stumped by Sen. Kennedy's quiz, is withdrawing.
posted by zachlipton at 10:55 AM on December 18, 2017 [47 favorites]


Peter Beinart, The Atlantic: The Growing Partisan Divide over Feminism
It’s not gender that increasingly divides the two parties. It is feminism.

...

[Between] 2004 and 2016, support for feminism—belief in the existence of “societal discrimination against women, and the need for greater female political power”—grew increasingly correlated with support for the Democratic Party. The correlation rose earlier among feminist women, but by 2016, it had also risen among feminist men.

...

Earlier this month, the research firm PerryUndem found that Democratic men were 25 points more likely than Republican women to say sexism remains a “big” or “somewhat” big problem. According to October polling data sorted for me by the Pew Research Center, Democratic men were 31 points more likely than Republican women to say the “country has not gone far enough on women’s rights.”
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2017 [30 favorites]


Welp, here comes our large, dim failson to talk about the Amtrak disaster:

@realDonaldTrump
The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!
Of course he's completely unaware that this was a brand-new bypass, not some crumbling bridge, and I'm sure his handlers will work on using this to privatize even more of our needed public infrastructure.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2017 [44 favorites]


NBC/WSJ poll: 69% of people under 35 now favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress💥

"Studies beginning in the 1950s show that partisan identification is a very stable attribute over the course of a voter’s life. More recently, academic studies from the 1990s confirm this, and an analysis of exit polls from 1972 to 2006 show how the partisanship of each generation’s youth vote make a significant political impact over time. The most extensive longitudinal study of electoral habits, the National Election Studies in the 1950s and 1970s, found that “Party identification was the most stable attitude measured…indeed almost perfectly stable.” In 1964, the seminal work on this issue, The American Voter, echoes this point: the authors note that “…persons who identify with one of the parties typically have held the same partisan tie for all or almost all of their adult lives.

Heckuva job, guys.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:03 AM on December 18, 2017 [16 favorites]


“It’s true, they haven’t started World War III yet. That’s a pretty low bar.” Susan Glasser at Politico discusses Trump Year One with "two charter leaders of the #NeverTrump movement," Republicans Eliot Cohen and Max Boot.

Boot: “In many ways, the damage he’s doing at home is even worse, where he’s undermining the rule of law. He’s obstructing justice. He’s lending the support of the presidency to monsters like Roy Moore. He is exacerbating race relations. He is engaging in the most blatant xenophobia, racism and general bigotry that we have seen from the White House. All these things are very corrosive to the future of American democracy.”
posted by LeLiLo at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2017 [11 favorites]


Peter Beinart, The Atlantic: The Growing Partisan Divide over Feminism

1. I'm shocked that it wasn't bigger before. I'd always thought feminism was used as apolitical proxy for Republicans. Look at Phyllis *spits* Schlafly and the ERA.

2. This will not help them with the suburbs, or with young voters, or with women voters, and especially not with young women voters. When Roy Moore and Donald Trump are the face of your party, and defended by your party, you are sowing the ground with salt for at least a generation when it comes to these voters.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2017 [12 favorites]


our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan

Ah yes, the Privatize All The Things Plan, which worked so very well in Pence's state of Indiana:
Audits obtained by Newsweek also flagged deteriorating conditions after the road was privatized. While the toll road consortium reports noted an improvement in the highway’s pavement, a 2010 report said, “All bridge element conditions have worsened.” A 2014 audit showed that 21 percent of the concrete bridges over the highway had become structurally deficient. That represented a near doubling of the road’s bridge deficiency rate in the eight years since it had been privatized—and it was well above the 5 percent deficiency rate that state officials set as a maximum limit for roads in Indiana.
posted by halation at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2017 [22 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!
---
Of course he's completely unaware that this was a brand-new bypass, not some crumbling bridge, and I'm sure his handlers will work on using this to privatize even more of our needed public infrastructure.


And of course he immediately used a tragedy for his own political purposes. 10 minutes later he finally got around to expressing sympathies for those injured.
posted by chris24 at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2017 [34 favorites]


NBC/WSJ poll: 69% of people under 35 now favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress

...nice
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:15 AM on December 18, 2017 [41 favorites]


Ah yes, the Privatize All The Things Plan, which worked so very well in Pence's state of Indiana:

That's not even the worst one. The worst is when they privatized Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration (they handle food stamps, Medicaid, etc), it was a complete clusterfuck of cronyism (the company that got the contract was the FSSA chief's former employer) that cost millions of dollars, dramatically increased the error rate, and resulting in Indiana getting a judgement against IBM for breach of contract to the tune of $128 million dollars.

They got rid of dedicated caseworkers and moved you to a call-center based system so that you get a new person every time. This is terrible when you've got a complicated Medicaid nursing home eligibility application, for example. And >50% of the folks on the other end of the phone have no clue what they're doing. The amount of erroneous denials to this day is insane.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2017 [41 favorites]


My understanding is that the train that derailed was the first train to use a new faster route between Tacoma and Olympia that just opened after a $181 million infrastructure project. Obviously something went very wrong, but this isn't why we need infrastructure investment.

But the bigger issue is that he's literally saying "this tragedy where people died, it shows why we urgently need this thing I promised on day 1 and haven't gotten around to delivering in 11 months." He's whining about delays on a plan he hasn't even submitted.
posted by zachlipton at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2017 [47 favorites]


On the FSSA privatization:

"As I’ve mentioned before, this bureaucracy seems like a design flaw if your goal is to deliver services to Hoosiers in need. On the other hand, the system seems less flawed if your goal is to transfer taxpayer money to preferred associates and to discourage poor people from applying for and receiving benefits. If that’s the goal, then those lost documents and increased wait times seem less like bugs and more like features."

posted by leotrotsky at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2017 [21 favorites]


[Between] 2004 and 2016, support for feminism—belief in the existence of “societal discrimination against women, and the need for greater female political power”—grew increasingly correlated with support for the Democratic Party.

Which is why the calls for Franken to unresign, like the support for pro forced-birth candidates, are so incredibly tone-deaf. I mean seriously, go and take the vigorous core of the party, and throw them under the bus, just to support one sexual harasser. And then wonder where the enthusiasm went.

The utterly bizarre argument is that because the Republicans have Trump and Moore, the Democrats should ignore Franken and other Democratic harassers. Evidently since the Republicans support sexual predators, the Democrats should follow in their footsteps.

I confess I can make no sense out of their reasoning. But it really seems like a self-inflicted backstab.
posted by happyroach at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2017 [38 favorites]


From the NBC "House Russia Investigation says OK all done bye bye" story:

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., confirmed to The New York Times that he told California Democrat Jackie Speier, who is also on the committee, that the end of the year offered a "natural boundary" for the panel's work.

1) It's such a dead giveaway that they House investigation never cared about results, and doesn't even care about appearing to care. Like a child given a chore it's uninterested in completing, "I tried and then I had tried for a while and then I stopped."

2) The New Year isn't a natural boundary, dumbass. If you want a natural boundary, why don't you end the investigation on the Winter Solstice, when you can wear deer antlers and dance naked as you burn a Wicker Mueller to ensure a bountiful crop of tax cuts in the new year?
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2017 [76 favorites]


Politico, HHS holds back critical comments on faith-based rule. This is not really what the Administrative Procedures Act has in mind for notice-and-comment rulemaking.
HHS is refusing to make public more than 10,000 comments on a Trump administration proposal to reduce federal regulations for religious and faith-based groups that could affect access to abortion and care for transgender patients, according to sources with knowledge of the decision.

The agency has instead posted 80 comments — less than 1 percent of all submissions — that overwhemingly back the administration’s anti-abortion policies or attack regulations advanced by the Obama administration, such as a rule forcing health care providers that accept federal funding to provide services to transgender patients.
...
According to regulations.gov, HHS received 10,729 public comments, of which 10,649 have yet to be posted. HHS did post 71 comments that strongly support its proposal or raise related religious concerns. Those positive comments were heavily front-loaded at the start of the comment period; for the first two weeks, all 36 comments that the agency made public supported its position.

Meanwhile, HHS made public just nine critical comments, six of which were included in its final batch of posting. A person with knowledge of HHS' decision said that administrators, facing questions from outside the agency, posted a flurry of last-minute criticism in hopes of making a curated selection of comments appear more balanced.
On a related note, the ACLU is suing on behalf of two more undocumented teens in ICE custody who say the government is preventing them from getting abortions.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2017 [33 favorites]


What are the chances Trump doesn't know that the House investigation is a different thing from the Mueller investigation, and that's the reason he's been so direct about things coming to a conclusion by the end of the year? He's going to flip out when January rolls around, his pals in the House have closed up shop, but for some reason people are still talking about Mueller.
posted by odinsdream at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2017 [29 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly.

@Philip_Elliott (TIME)
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
The President's budget request on trains was described thusly: "a nearly 13 percent reduction in transportation spending over fiscal 2017 ... and a $630 million reduction in subsidies for long-distance Amtrak routes."

WaPo (May '17): Trump budget slashes federal aid for rail, long-distance Amtrak routes
posted by chris24 at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2017 [68 favorites]


Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., confirmed to The New York Times that he told California Democrat Jackie Speier, who is also on the committee, that the end of the year offered a "natural boundary" for the panel's work.

At least Republican Senators seem to want to have a political future after 2018.

Trey Gowdy needs to get back to wrestling his underworld empire away from Sofia Falcone.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:45 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


When Roy Moore and Donald Trump are the face of your party, and defended by your party...

And on that note about the partisan divide over feminism: when I talked about Roy Moore on my social circles online, the immediate Republican clapback I got was--I shit you not--basically #NotAllRepublicans. Because some Republicans, you see, didn't completely support him.

I'm positive this is going to be the talking point of 2018. I am 100% sure this will become a major media narrative, too, replacing the