Do You Hear What I Hear?
December 25, 2017 5:25 PM   Subscribe

 


Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options

[posted by Peeedro at the end of last thread; reposted because it's a useful summary account of the USA's response to Russian interference]
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:37 PM on December 25, 2017 [13 favorites]


Utah paper tells Hatch to 'call it a career' in blistering editorial
Utah's largest newspaper slammed Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) in a Christmas Day editorial on Monday while calling on the senior GOP senator to retire.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s editorial board named Hatch their 2017 “Utahn of the Year,” a designation the paper says is given to someone who has “had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.”

The newspaper said Hatch earned the title based on “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:40 PM on December 25, 2017 [124 favorites]


Currently, Jacob Marley is reminding Scrooge that “mankind was my business” in the Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol (black and white match). Let’s just say it resonates and I’m still hoping for lots of hauntings.
posted by meinvt at 6:14 PM on December 25, 2017 [13 favorites]


Put all his shenanigans aside, Trump Pulled Off the Greatest Long Con in History: After less than a year, he managed to divert over 1,400,000 MILLION DOLLARS from the general pot into his and friends pockets. And their explanations are just lies. That is a stunning achievement.
posted by growabrain at 6:22 PM on December 25, 2017 [103 favorites]


Wow Melania, that's some crafty photoshopping there. The hat!
posted by Namlit at 6:35 PM on December 25, 2017


I can't tell if the animatronic Trump looks more like Ted Cruz or a shrunken apple head doll...and TBH I am afraid to spend much more time with my eyes on that spectacle.

The current administration was pretty roundly condemned at dinner today, among people (from three generations!) who in the past weren't 100% against him. I take that as an encouraging sign.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:53 PM on December 25, 2017 [5 favorites]




Jeff Flake warns Trump that he may be challenged by someone more appealing to the Republican centre, smarter, better looking, and whose name possibly rhymes with "Reff Rake": GOP Sen. Flake Says Trump Is Inviting Challenge From Republican Centrist
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:03 PM on December 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


I didn't look past the headline in the Salt Lake Trib today, I closed the window and vowed to never read that paper again, never even look at it again. But Metafilter has saved my relationship with the Salt Lake Tribune. I go to it like going back to a bad relationship, in most cases. But now I breathe a sigh of relief.
posted by Oyéah at 8:03 PM on December 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


GOP Sen. Flake Says Trump Is Inviting Challenge From Republican Centrist

Centrist? Flake has voted for every radical right Trump initiative including Obamacare repeal and tax cuts for the rich. There is no daylight between Flake and Trump on policy.
posted by JackFlash at 8:12 PM on December 25, 2017 [56 favorites]


Yes, but Flake is nowhere near as wealthy as Trump, so, in Republicanland, that moves him down to the center.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:15 PM on December 25, 2017 [14 favorites]




This is my surprised face:

Report: Kremlin Troll Wrote for Far-Left U.S. Sites
A Russian troll writing under the pseudonym “Alice Donovan” managed to convince a number of American editors to publish their work for the past two years, a new Washington Post report detailed on Monday. In February 2016, the individual reportedly wrote an email to the left-leaning publication CounterPunch with a simple message: “Hello, my name is Alice Donovan and I’m a beginner freelance journalist.” Initially, the troll’s articles published in CounterPunch and some 10 or more other online publications didn’t have much to do with domestic politics. But as the 2016 election intensified, Donovan began to target Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, the FBI tracked Donovan’s work—part of a bureau counterintelligence operation with the codename “NorthernNight.” More than a year after the FBI identified the troll, her work was still being published in CounterPunch, often critical of American policy in the Middle East. Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch’s editor, later tried to get more information out of the troll to verify their identify but received no such substantive information.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:20 PM on December 25, 2017 [64 favorites]


I am wondering (seriously) what it would take for Trump to have to leave office early. It doesn't seem like much short of wiping his ass with the constitution at halftime of the Super Bowl, onstage and national TV, would be enough. I don't think Mueller is going to get anywhere. The Republican leadership just got their tax bill so until 2018 midterms they're likely to stick by him, despite terrible approval ratings. Is it a 2018 Dem landslide, then? Contemplating the prospect of President Pence is hellish too. Can someone just Futurama freeze me so I can fast forward about 7 years?
posted by axiom at 8:34 PM on December 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


The Republican leadership just got their tax bill so until 2018 midterms they're likely to stick by him, despite terrible approval ratings.

If Democrats take Congress in 2018, it's all the more reason for Republicans to stick by Trump to veto any changes to their tax bill. Democrats can do nothing until 2021 without a veto proof majority in both houses.
posted by JackFlash at 8:39 PM on December 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


USA Today, Christmas in Puerto Rico: A holiday season in the dark, a photo series.
posted by zachlipton at 8:46 PM on December 25, 2017 [37 favorites]


This is probably a good time to remind people of this metatalk thread posted by Cortex:

Resetting expectations about U.S. political discussion on MetaFilter


I only found it via the podcast page, it really does belong here, please give it a read and bear it in mind so we can keep this thing under control. Thanks!
posted by adept256 at 8:48 PM on December 25, 2017 [42 favorites]


My question was 100% serious though. I don't have a barometer as to where serious folks think the line is anymore; wherever we all thought it was back in the Nixon era, it's clearly no longer anywhere near there.
posted by axiom at 8:49 PM on December 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't have a barometer as to where serious folks think the line is anymore

THREAT LEVEL: AARON BURR

exceeding parameters in 5…4…3…

posted by Doktor Zed at 8:58 PM on December 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


I know that there are too many remarkable things about the president to be astonished by only one, but isn’t it amazingly remarkable the Trump basically lives in the Truman Show? In the last thread, there was an article about how his handlers can’t control the information he receives in Mar-a-lago and his rich friends can tell him things, like former cast members parachuting in to tell Truman that he’s living a lie. Just imagine if Truman was also an elderly lunatic with nuclear weapons.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:01 PM on December 25, 2017 [22 favorites]


(I'm completely serious about Burr being the only historical precedent the US has for treason and conspiracy on this scale, and Trump's well on his way to outdo it.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:03 PM on December 25, 2017 [16 favorites]


My biggest worry are the midterms. That the Democrats are going to pull out a huge majority but will end up with control of zero chambers due to some combination of gerrymanders, fraud, and suppression. And then what little faith the majority had in the system will be gone, and maybe then there will be serious unrest unseen since the 60s. Maybe worse than the 60s, since many young people don't have much hope.

I'm thinking that's the final line. Not in what the president does but in whether or not the people still believe in the system. Currently, they still do, despite everything that's happened. It'll be chaos when they don't.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:04 PM on December 25, 2017 [29 favorites]


I went back to read the editorial about The Utahan of the Year, it really didn't blister, or advocate anyone hang up politics. It was not like that at all.
posted by Oyéah at 9:06 PM on December 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Did you read the words in the order in which they were presented?
It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:11 PM on December 25, 2017 [25 favorites]


"His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power" is normally considered blistering insofar as newspaper editorials go.

Here's a direct link to the editorial if you want to read it for yourself.
posted by zachlipton at 9:17 PM on December 25, 2017 [17 favorites]


“His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power" is the first line of boilerplate on every job application under the current administration.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:22 PM on December 25, 2017 [77 favorites]


My biggest worry are the midterms. That the Democrats are going to pull out a huge majority but will end up with control of zero chambers

Gerrymandering tends to produce (bad) stability interrupted by wild swings when there's a landslide against the ruling party. There's a decent chance that there's going to be a landslide of that sort in the midterms, but otherwise: yes, the USA will have to recognise that it has a legally entrenched ruling party that has an almost-guaranteed majority with only a minority of the votes. I almost hope there would be a voter revolt under those circumstances, but it's hard to contemplate what could be done to counter a party that controls the police, the courts, and the governorship.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:31 PM on December 25, 2017 [12 favorites]


>Incidentally, Julian Assange's Twitter is back online, without explanation. Whether this was a publicity stunt or merely a technical glitch, Donald Jr. is following him again.

Did he just happen to wipe out all of his historical tweets in the process? If not, did anyone check to see if any are missing?
posted by msalt at 9:36 PM on December 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Did you read the words in the order in which they were presented?

Ack! What a shitty way to express my point. Sincere apologies, Oyéah.

posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:51 PM on December 25, 2017 [12 favorites]


It'll be chaos when they don't.

You have rather a lot more faith than I, it would seem — I’m guessing there will be almost no difference at all. Perhaps a vast audible sigh of disappointment
posted by aramaic at 10:23 PM on December 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


I don't know if it's faith. It's just that there's a lot of anger out there. Enormous amount of anger. Everywhere I turn, whether its centrist-y Democrats or lefty DSA's, they're putting their hopes in the midterms, and focusing their anger there. That even if Mueller gets derailled, the midterms will still save us. They still believe change can be enacted within the system.

If we substantially win the midterms in terms of votes, but don't win the chambers, all that anger, failed hope, and lost belief has to go somewhere.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:10 PM on December 25, 2017 [13 favorites]


Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch’s editor, later tried to get more information out of the troll to verify their identify but received no such substantive information.

I knew even before looking that CounterPunch would turn out to not pay authors, and therefore never had to verify anybody's identity for a 1099. Funny thing, that.
posted by Sequence at 11:15 PM on December 25, 2017 [45 favorites]


Remember Virginia, y'all. Remember Alabama, for god's sake. It's doable. it's going to take a lot of work, but it can be done. If you can walk, go knock doors in 2018.
posted by dogheart at 1:28 AM on December 26, 2017 [64 favorites]


punish us for his mortality

So well put. A year in and I am even more incredulous. I am trying to imagine a worse president and I just can't. No empathy, vindictive, unreflective, stupid. How is this man in charge again?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:49 AM on December 26, 2017 [17 favorites]


This will be hard to believe, but people were worried that his opponent's use of a private email server might possibly expose her to Russian surveillance. Also, Trump explained that his vast wealth meant that he would not only be immune to corruption, but would save the Republic money by refusing to take a salary.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:15 AM on December 26, 2017 [54 favorites]


GOP Sen. Flake Says Trump Is Inviting Challenge From Republican Centrist

I find this laughable. Other than his stumbling over the truth on trade, Trump has delivered two huge windfalls to GOP donors, tax cuts and ending net neutrality. They love the guy! Not to mention getting Genghis Khan on the Supreme Court. Not a bad first year for a reality TV star.

God help us.
posted by Beholder at 2:58 AM on December 26, 2017 [8 favorites]


No empathy, vindictive, unreflective, stupid. How is this man in charge again?

Because a lot of people in the US are like that, and they admire Trump.
posted by thelonius at 3:47 AM on December 26, 2017 [71 favorites]


Really that's the thing that bothers me the most about the last election. Trump should have had no chance, none at all. But a large minority of voters loved him. I admit I underestimated him. The ease with which he defeated his Republican primary opponents was a clear warning that he had a very serious chance of winning the election. And how did he do that? Schoolyard taunts ("little Mario" and the like), nativist/racist othering, and the like. And lots of people loved that. That a large minority of our fellow countrypersons would look at Trump and think: that's the guy, this is who we need to be President.........it's disturbing. As others have said here before, the end of the Trump presidency will not be the end of the problem.
posted by thelonius at 4:23 AM on December 26, 2017 [112 favorites]


Useful perspective from a Venezuelan: To beat President Trump, you have to learn to think like his supporters

"What you call scandal is only a sign that he is fighting back. Indeed: that he is fighting you. To his supporters, this is no scandal at all — he’s doing exactly what he promised he would do.

"It does not matter that he is eroding the nation’s democratic institutions. That this combat is dangerous, hypocritical, built on lies. That you, after all, are innocent. His supporters are convinced that you are to blame. Until you can convince them otherwise, they will cheer him on. The name of the game is polarization, and the rookie mistake is to forget you are the enemy."
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:20 AM on December 26, 2017 [101 favorites]


GrammarMoses-that’s the most heartbreaking thing about this; I don’t want to be in a civil war. I want to be better than them-we’ll never beat right-wing sociopathy with an equal and opposite left-wing sociopathy-that’ll just entrench Trump supporters forever. We need a way out of this bad faith and bad blood. The fundamental bug in American society, is that we have an aristocratic/oligarchic/dictatorial economy fused unnaturally to the hot-wired remains of a democratic political system. Until one or the other system wins out, the problem will go on. That’s why I think the greatest mistake Barack Obama’s ever made was not breaking up the big banks after the 2008 collapse and simply paying off the mortgages of the foreclosed with their assets. If we value justice, justice must be done and be seen to be done-by favoring stability and corporate continuity over visible economic justice, we showed ourselves to be more interested in pleasing Wall Street and CNBC, in doing damage control rather than using the crisis to move the ball forward to a fairer society, than having a reckoning with what came before and actually solving problems in a way that materially impacted peoples’ actual lives, and our eclipse and impotence today is the result of that fundamental act of cowardice. I’ve hated Donald Trump being president every day for almost a year, that crippling sense of distrust, the indignity of being an unwilling participant (almost a hostage) in someone else’s rigged game-that’s what opened the hearts of the used-up former mill workers of the upper midwest to this charlatan. If ever we can leverage Trump’s obvious deficiencies into a position of power again, we’re going to have to seriously fuck with rich people and their money, even nice, Democratic-leaning ones.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 6:05 AM on December 26, 2017 [40 favorites]


Until you can convince them otherwise, they will cheer him on.

That's fine. There are more of us than there are of them. Dead-enders can think that my urban liberal ass is the actual worst until the end of time. I'm not really interested in convincing them otherwise.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:07 AM on December 26, 2017 [29 favorites]


[As a quick reminder, let's please try to stick to current news and developments rather than free-ranging "what about the Trump supporters?" / 2016 election post-mortem / Dems suck / democracy can never work / etc. Even if end of the year thought pieces bring up a lot of the same stuff we've chewed over and repeatedly all year, we don't have to have the same discussions once again.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:23 AM on December 26, 2017 [20 favorites]


Somebody’s up and tweeting in a really grinchy mood:

Trump slams FBI, Clinton for 'garbage' dossier
"WOW, @foxandfriends 'Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.' And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!" Trump tweeted, the latest in his ongoing smear on the FBI.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:25 AM on December 26, 2017 [15 favorites]


Also, Trump explained that his vast wealth meant that he would not only be immune to corruption, but would save the Republic money by refusing to take a salary.

He also claimed during the campaign, "I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf." On Christmas Eve, he visited his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, bringing his annual total to 85 times he's played golf as president.

For those keeping track of Trump's Mirror, last night he Tweeted, "I hope everyone is having a great Christmas, then tomorrow it’s back to work in order to Make America Great Again (which is happening faster than anyone anticipated)!" Yesterday marked his 110th day at a Trump property as president—39 days at Mar-a-Lago alone. (The cost to taxpayers of his vacation travel is estimated at $100 million.)

Somebody’s up and tweeting in a really grinchy mood

Boston Globe: 11 Months, 1 President, 2,417 Tweets

NBC's Kyle Griffin @kylegriffin1 does some back-of-the-envelope calculations from this data:
Since being sworn in on Jan. 20, there have been 2,417 tweets from Trump’s account, including the deleted ones.

If Trump spent only 1 minute on each post, that would be nearly 40 hours spent just on tweets.

On average, it amounts to seven tweets a day.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:21 AM on December 26, 2017 [27 favorites]


Orin Hatch tweets that he's grateful for the honor of being called Utahn of the Year by the Salt Lake Tribune. But he probably did not read the article, as it calls for him to resign citing his "His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power".
posted by peeedro at 7:26 AM on December 26, 2017 [48 favorites]


ha ha Senator Flake tweeted a picture of a Christmas gift he received that is a mug reading "Decency wins--there's hope left" and he was like so inspirational and Twitter was on him like white on rice
posted by angrycat at 8:12 AM on December 26, 2017 [16 favorites]


We are six days away from officially being in an election year. Texas primaries are March 6th (here in Arizona we wait until August, so these super early primaries are weird, y'all.) I'm going to be curious about something - how many Republicans publicly run away from Trump? In 2010, a lot of Democrats ran away from Obama, and he was nowhere near as unpopular as Trump is now. (It should be noted that pretty much all of the Dems that made a big deal of running away from Obama ended up losing, so there's that, but Dem turnout was abysmal in 2010; I didn't think it could get that bad in a midterm again until 2014 said "hold my beer.") We've also seen a lot of election results that should make GOPers really uneasy. I get the feeling we won't see as many of them running away from the Great Orange Menace, because the Republicans tend to be easier to keep on the party line. But hoo boy, are the primaries going to be U-G-L-Y.
posted by azpenguin at 8:16 AM on December 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Tweeted yesterday: I hope everyone is having a great Christmas, then tomorrow it’s back to work in order to Make America Great Again (which is happening faster than anyone anticipated)!

He is currently golfing.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:17 AM on December 26, 2017 [41 favorites]


Hundreds of USGS scientists were prevented from attending the annual American Geophysical Union conference due to new travel restrictions from the Department of the Interior, Government scientists blocked from the biggest meeting in their field (WaPo).
posted by peeedro at 8:22 AM on December 26, 2017 [48 favorites]


That tweet wasn’t saying he would get back to work, lol, more akin to him telling his workers to get back to work, you had your day off, don’t be ungrateful or lazy. He talks to Americans like they’re his employees on a construction site.
posted by erisfree at 8:32 AM on December 26, 2017 [18 favorites]


He talks to Americans like they’re his employees on a construction site.

See, though, that feeds right into that whole American mythology of "hard work = moral superiority" that's been ground into us for seemingly eons. Americans love to be reminded that they are hard-working individuals, doubly-so if they believe they are part of a great cause (like MAGA)
posted by Thorzdad at 8:37 AM on December 26, 2017 [14 favorites]


Meanwhile, The Boss (i.e. Your Better) cuts out early to go golfing while you, The Hard Working American, toil away for peanuts, and you’re cool with it because one day it’ll be you out on that golf course. Have I got this mythos right?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:51 AM on December 26, 2017 [30 favorites]


Charles Barkley, not just helping elect Democrats in Alabama...
The millionaire former NBA star and current uncensored TNT analyst took some time during Monday night’s Timberwolves-Lakers game to sarcastically thank President Trump & Co. for the $1.5 trillion tax slashes signed into law on Friday, which will provide temporary breaks for many individuals and will permanently cut the corporate tax rate, seen as generous to the rich.

“At least we got our tax break,” Barkley said on the air. “We can buy Rolexes like John Wall. All these people just waiting for it to trickle down. They’ve been waiting for like 400 years, it ain’t trickle down yet.” VIDEO

Broadcaster Ernie Johnson laughed and asked Barkley to “please don’t go down that road again.” This was the second time Barkley has weighed in on the sweeping changes to the tax code, as Thursday he used similar sarcasm to credit Washington for helping out an athlete who made about $40 million during his playing career and a good deal more afterward.

“Shaq, they said it’s going trickle down. I’m going to trickle my fat ass down to the jewelry store to get me a new Rolex,” Barkley said. “They’re not going to pass it to nobody. Thank you, Republicans, I knew I could always count on y’all to take care of us rich people, us 1 percenters. Sorry, poor people. I’m hoping for y’all, but y’all ain’t got no chance.”
posted by chris24 at 9:00 AM on December 26, 2017 [151 favorites]


zachlipton: USA Today, Christmas in Puerto Rico: A holiday season in the dark, a photo series.

Recently on TV during NBC Nightly News, I saw a (quite suitably) bleak ad ("Right now, we smile, because that's all we've got") from PRxPR, a 501(c)(3) apparently founded by "five highly respected, senior Puerto Rican born and raised business professionals who bring diverse extensive US and international experience in key areas of operations, legal, financial, technology, government and marketing:"
  • Carmen Báez (Former President, Latin America – Omnicom Group)
  • María Celeste Arrarás (Emmy Award Journalist/Author – Telemundo NBCU)
  • Francisco J. Cerezo, Esq. (Partner /US Head of Latin America – DLA Piper, LLP)
  • Marilú Medina, Esq. (Senior Counsel – Fortune 100 Company, former partner O’Neill & Borges, LLC)
  • Jorge Silva Puras, Esq. (Former Chief of Staff to the Governor of Puerto Rico)
Puerto Rico may be overlooked, but won't be forgotten.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on December 26, 2017 [18 favorites]


how many Republicans publicly run away from Trump?

None. They can't. Everyone and their brother is saying 'well, Roy Moore lost because he's a fruitcake - if Doug Jones had run against a sane candidate, he would've lost by the usual 20%+ for a democrat. All they have to do is find sane candidates' Which is funny, of course, because Luther Strange was perfectly sane (by those standards): they had a sane choice and they didn't choose it. Now, as a Republican, you can either win the primary or you can win the general, but not both with the same rhetoric, and you can't really run from the primary rhetoric, because if you chose to pivot from hardline primary to milquetoast general like the sneaky snake-oil salesmen politicians that you are, you only get one term, if not outright 3rd-Party torpedoed during the general. It's rapidly approaching the point that you'll get primaried if the party doesn't get enough done during term, regardless of your personal standing, and what sane person would subject themselves to that?

And so the obviously insane stand up, and the Ds win another previously-red seat as the Republicans go the way of the Whigs.

2018 is going to be ridiculous.
posted by eclectist at 9:11 AM on December 26, 2017 [31 favorites]


chris24: The millionaire former NBA star and current uncensored TNT analyst took some time during Monday night’s Timberwolves-Lakers game to sarcastically thank President Trump & Co. for the $1.5 trillion tax slashes signed into law on Friday
...
"Sorry, poor people. I’m hoping for y’all, but y’all ain’t got no chance."


Uh, so hopes and prayers from another millionaire? I know he's a millionaire in part because he's an affable TV personality now, and that sports-aligned people, particularly African Americans, are silenced for just speaking about politics, so the fact he's saying something on national television is big, but he can do more. A current search for Charles Barkley political donations gets a lot of hits for him talk about politics in stark terms, particularly on class and his view that Roy Moore was "a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people" while promoting Doug Jones.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:16 AM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Americans love to be reminded that they are hard-working individuals

I actually think every human being has a circuit that is wired for deference to authority, for having a "boss" who tells you what to think and how to act and behave. That's how, throughout history, you get people standing at baseball games, and police forces, and organized religion, and feudalism, and BDSM. These circuits are naturally stronger in some people than others, and like any other aspect of human behavior can be strengthened through deliberate practice.

Thanks to the decimation of unions and the increasing prevalence of automation, the deference circuit is getting activated more and more frequently in more and more people. The huge companies that employ most Americans have little room for employees doing their own things in their own ways. People don't have hobbies or complex independent social lives anymore, and instead they have jobs where they can be fired for showing up 5 minutes late on an ever-changing schedule and have to follow arbitrary rules written by some MBA graduate in a far-off place.

So when the deference circuit is already overgrown in your brain from work, and a politician comes along who tells you exactly what to say and think, who clearly thinks he is superior to common people, you're going to vote for him. That's how we're going to get an oligarchy. And voters are going to like it.
posted by miyabo at 9:20 AM on December 26, 2017 [18 favorites]


Americans Look To Pence For Help In Releasing Their Relatives Jailed In Egypt (NPR, Dec. 25, 2017)
Americans with relatives jailed in Egypt are looking to Vice President Mike Pence to use his trip to Cairo to push for their release. There are nearly 20 Americans among the tens of thousands of political prisoners in Egypt today.
...
Praveen Madhiraju, an attorney with the nonprofit called Pretrial Rights International: We've asked the White House to help these families multiple times over the past eight or nine months, and we haven't heard a thing from them.
Good luck to them - the conditions in Egyptian jails sounds like human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch says Egyptian Torture Epidemic May Be Crime Against Humanity.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on December 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


but he can do more.

Charles was one of the biggest supporters and campaigners for Doug Jones. And he donates. A lot.

Charles Barkley is donating $2 million to two HBCUs

Charles Barkley to donate $125,000 to hurricane relief and Las Vegas Victims Fund

Sir Charles Barkley donates $3 million to charities
posted by chris24 at 9:29 AM on December 26, 2017 [108 favorites]


Relevant: "The goal of German propaganda in the 30's was obvious, but what was the goal of American propaganda? To manufacture consent by way of mass distraction?": Walter Benjamin, Adorno, Erich Fromm, Marcuse... If you want to understand the age of Trump, re-read the Frankfurt School.
posted by growabrain at 9:48 AM on December 26, 2017 [28 favorites]


Charles was one of the biggest supporters and campaigners for Doug Jones. And he donates. A lot.

Thank you very much for the correction, and the references!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:41 AM on December 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm sorta miffed the presidential challenge coin doesn't sport a churchkey.

Opportunity missed.
posted by parki at 10:50 AM on December 26, 2017 [22 favorites]


A current search for Charles Barkley political donations gets a lot of hits for him talk about politics in stark terms, particularly on class and his view that Roy Moore was "a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people" while promoting Doug Jones.

And even if he hadn't energetically promoted Doug Jones's candidacy with his time and money, he wouldn't have been wrong. It isn't a good sign when black voters turn out in record numbers, lots of conservative voters write in a different candidate, and the opposing candidate is a preposterous pedophile, but the victory is by a hair's breadth.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:31 PM on December 26, 2017 [25 favorites]


In the tied election for Va's HD-94, the drawing of a name from a bowl is scheduled for tomorrow, but the Democratic contender has filed a legal challenge of the contested tying vote and requested a delay in the lot-drawing.

If the drawing of lots proceeds, the loser can seek a second recount so expect legal wrangling to continue.
posted by peeedro at 1:43 PM on December 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


Can I just say how idiotic it is to allow another recount after drawing lots? Isn't the whole point of drawing lots to make the candidates commit to no further challenges? The 50% chance of winning is the leverage to make the candidates agree to those terms!
posted by ryanrs at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2017 [16 favorites]


US to make at least $285m cut to UN budget after vote on Jerusalem
The US government has announced significant cuts in its United Nations budget obligations for 2018-2019 in what will be interpreted as a further ratcheting up of pressure from the Trump administration looking to bend decision-making at the international body to its will.

In a statement released over the holiday, the US Mission to the United Nations said next year’s budget would be slashed by over $285m and unspecified reductions would also be made to the UN’s management and support functions.

The announcement didn’t make clear the entire amount of the budget or specify what effect the cut would have on the US contribution.
Again, the bully-tactics. This time not unexpected at all. I wonder how the Trump regime imagines they can handle global politics, and conflicts, outside of the global community? The US is the biggest military power, but that hasn't really been of much use in Afghanistan or Iraq till now. If the US alone imposes "sanctions" on some country, such as North Korea or Iran, it will have no effect on those countries whatsoever. At the end of the day, a global community working around the pathetic US regime will be a huge economic challenge for the US. How can they not know this?
posted by mumimor at 2:01 PM on December 26, 2017 [19 favorites]


Charles was one of the biggest supporters and campaigners for Doug Jones. And he donates. A lot.

It's not like this is a new thing for him, either. His book Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man?, published almost 15 years ago, was quite a good look at how America continues to suffer by refusing to realistically discuss racism. "Racism," Barkley writes, "is the biggest cancer of my lifetime. And I know I can't cure the cancer, but doesn’t somebody have to attack it?"
posted by LeLiLo at 2:02 PM on December 26, 2017 [41 favorites]


The UN budget reduction might not be bullying but another instance of the Trump administration making misleading claims over something that was happening anyway, from NPR's coverage:
But cuts to the U.N. budget are typical: The 2016-2017 budget was roughly $400 million lower than the final appropriations for 2014-2015, which was 2.9 percent lower than the previous biennium's budget.

The U.N. budget is negotiated every two years and is decided by consensus rather than a vote. Wealthier countries that pay the lion's share of the budget — the U.S., Japan, Canada and EU members — routinely push for the budget to be lowered.

The wording of the U.S. mission's announcement, which called it a "historic reduction in spending," led some to misread it as meaning the U.S. was reducing its own contribution by $285 million next year. The extent to which the U.S. contribution would be reduced isn't clear.
posted by peeedro at 2:14 PM on December 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


I actually think every human being has a circuit that is wired for deference to authority, for having a "boss" who tells you what to think and how to act and behave.

This is one of the childhood survival traits that requires training to adapt to adulthood.

Toddlers who do not mindlessly obey any voice of authority often don't survive childhood. We need a strong psychological inclination to follow instructions from anyone who says "Don't go there!"(edge of a cliff) or "Don't touch that!" (fire) or "get away from it!" (smoking appliance) or "hold still!" (broken glass) Those who don't learn this, often wind up dying tragically. Maturity involves learning when to ignore those messages, and which of relay actual danger-info but can allow for different reactions.

Any adult who can hit the same buttons is going to have a lot of followers; it takes both effort and skill to override that kind of command. It's why the "fear and anger" politicking works so well--something very deep in our psyches wants to believe anyone who says, "see that? It's dangerous! You stay here and I'll make it go away!"

This is not a flaw that needs fixing; this is a base human survival trait that needs more attention and education so that gaslighters and frauds are easier to spot.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:21 PM on December 26, 2017 [61 favorites]


At the end of the day, a global community working around the pathetic US regime will be a huge economic challenge for the US. How can they not know this?

You're absolutely right: the US benefits from an amazing collection of privileges that were baked in to the international system in the decades after WW2. It's not just things like hosting the UN, but also being the hub for international financial transactions and travel booking records, being the default location for many major conferences, being the (official or unofficial) head of all sorts of treaty organisations, being the issuer of the default international currency – these are just some of the types of privilege; it would be impossible to list the privileges themselves.

I'm sure that most of Trump's coterie recognise this and would like to keep the privileges collectively, but the government entrepreneurs swarming for moolah are insatiable and they want to grab their own share of the pie. So they're willing to wear the anti-immigrant stuff if it makes Trump happy (even though it necessarily leads to a fall in the USA's standing and ultimately a loss of its international role) because it lets them grab the rights to mine or drill for oil in national parks. They're willing to engage in brinkmanship over the National Debt, which will ultimately lead to a massive devaluation of the US dollar, because in the short term it gets them lower taxes. And so on. This is a classic tragedy of the commons, which was historically solved only with better government.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:24 PM on December 26, 2017 [33 favorites]


At the end of the day, a global community working around the pathetic US regime will be a huge economic challenge for the US. How can they not know this?

I don't think they're all that concerned about the USA; multinational corporations are their constituency.
posted by salix at 2:40 PM on December 26, 2017 [16 favorites]


Peering at the economic tea leaves: The Economic Future, What Does 2018 Hold? (NPR, Dec. 26, 2017) -- Noel King talks to David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institution, for a look back at 2017's economy, and what it teaches us about what we can expect economically in 2018.

+ 2017 got off to a "soft start" but picked up, "growing at a reasonably healthy pace lately"
+ "The unemployment rate, which was 4.7 percent at the end of last year, is down to 4.1 percent at last count"
+ "Most economists see unemployment falling towards 3.5 percent in 2018, which is remarkable. That should be low enough to at last push up wages." (Let's remember that The Brookings Institute kind of buries the fact that all that positive growth has been swallowed by a growing gap in wealth inequality)
+ "Housing is finally coming back. Sales of existing homes have been strong. Builders are picking up the pace building new homes. Nationally, home prices are up about 6 percent over the past year."
+ "Only 5 percent of homeowners with mortgages own more than the value of their homes"

~ "the big tax cut plus some ... other things are going to give the economy a boost in 2018, although some depends on how businesses and rich folks choose to use their tax savings"

- "there are pockets where things are worse [in the housing market] - Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Scranton, Pa."
- "The tax bill does curtail some tax breaks for housing"
- "Any year, there's about a 20 percent chance of recession. And recessions are almost impossible for economists to predict." (In other words, don't blame me if things tank, but let me tell you ways they could tank)
- "the Fed could be spooked by inflation and lift interest rates more than anticipated, slowing the economy, disrupting financial markets"
- "We could see a big confidence-shattering drop in stock markets. It's been up so long, it's bound to come down." - "We could see some problems in the banking system that turns out we didn't put enough seat belts and air bags in." (My dude, those are called regulations and they are intended to stabilize markets and keep consumers safe, or they were until CFPB got the Trump Treatment (link to prior political thread))
- "Trump's talk on trade could turn from tough talk to disrupting global supply chains"

-- and that's the only mention of Trump in this otherwise rosy forecast, which is hi-larious, because all the positive points will be claimed by Trump and the GOP. And there's a lot more terrible things that Trump could do in 2018. Used Ag Equipment Dealers are hopeful for 2018, while farmers in 2017 were just hoping to stabilize in 2017 after declining in the prior 3 years, so maybe the dealers are seeing ahead of the (data) curve, or maybe concerns that California Crops (will?) Rot as Immigration Crackdown Creates Farmworker Shortage were premature as the price increase outlook for 2018 is for a rise between 1.0 to 2.0 percent. "Due to deflation in 2016 and for over half of 2017, expected price increases would still leave overall price levels in 2018 lower than in 2015." Or maybe those forecasts aren't factoring in the lack of new, younger workers and the current workforce aging ("the average farmworker is now 45 years old").

In short, who knows? The economy could buoy the GOP's prospects, or the terrible acts and plans of Trump and his party might still be more important than an economy that is growing despite the GOP. And in the end, tax cuts may be just one of many factors that help the economy in the short-term, while likely having serious long-term implications. What's the good of a steady business economy when your roads are crumpling and your schools are falling into disrepair? After a few more years of that, companies may well move to states with better infrastructure, despite higher taxes. So far, the top-ranking articles (based on a quick Google search) are from late 2016 and early 2017, and it's probably too early to see Trump era impacts ripple through the economy, just like Trump is riding the wave of Obama's economic recovery.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:32 PM on December 26, 2017 [22 favorites]


Here is some clarification about the Salt Lake Tribune article, and then the editorial. The article flatly discusses actions and reactions, and is mostly a history piece. This is bound to be what the Senator read, and he missed the editorial with the sharp criticism, and recommendation to not run again. I had a hard time reading the first article but then I read it twice, and didn't see the strong language. So I looked around and found the editorial with the criticism. So, I read the first article twice, and the editorial once. I am personally averse to looking at images of the person under discussion.

Utah is a theocracy and regardless of all kinds of dissent, the undercurrents that run the state constantly suck at the ankles of those who want anything else but the Wasatch Front to become the Mormon LA. This description is from LDS people who are in on the discussions to create this.

Utahans will not make any money on the coal or Uranium, just low extraction wages. I feel strongly the Uranium milling at Blanding is a treason, because Uranium leaks into the San Juan River, into the ground water of the Navajo Nation, into the Colorado River, The Grand Canyon, Arizona, and then to Lake Mead, then to California. They are poisoning the main water supply of the American Southwest.

Utah is out of water. Utah wants to pipe Lake Powell water to the southwest corner of the state. Now the way is cleared for construction across what was the Grand Staircase National Monument. The way is cleared for coal mining and coal extraction roads, that includes the Hole in the Rock Road. Again, this is the presidential politics thread, and I have veered somewhat, but opening up wilderness for extraction industries will be the hallmark of the Trump Presidency, as steered by the daughter of the ex owner of Peabody Coal, and Ryan Zinke a delusional cowboy who wants the interior department to be about power generation by any means. They keep saying it is all still federal land, but the reality is that when infrastructure sets up, Americans will not be walking, driving, hunting or picnicking within a certain distance of this stuff, anymore. If that cuts off traditional trails and accesses that is not industry's problem. Again these corporations so intent on destroying our National Monuments are not American industries, hence I still feel this is treasonous activity, as something has been taken from the American people, and given to non American people, by Donald Trump, who boasted that, "We, (not we the people,) all just got a lot richer."
posted by Oyéah at 3:32 PM on December 26, 2017 [51 favorites]


The fact that Jeff Flake is able to promote himself as a centrist tells us that the Overton window is now located somewhere between Christian Falangists and the victorious Nazism of The Man in the High Castle.
posted by mondo dentro at 4:16 PM on December 26, 2017 [31 favorites]


The Overton Window has an aperture as well as a midpoint, and it has been busted wide open.
posted by contraption at 4:30 PM on December 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


WaPo: Bitcoin boom a boon for alt-right groups seeking to avoid Web and government scrutiny

I’ve never been so excited for a bubble to burst.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 5:39 PM on December 26, 2017 [41 favorites]


Also unaffiliated with the far right yet profiting handsomely is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

[citation needed]
posted by acb at 6:00 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


Daily Beast: Robert Mueller May Indict Paul Manafort Again "The charges against the former Trump campaign boss appear to have been only an opening salvo in a legal barrage on the president’s confidants, informed observers say."
And no one may feel more heat than Paul Manafort. In Washington legal circles, there’s a broad expectation that Mueller will file what’s called a superseding indictment of Manafort and Rick Gates, his erstwhile business partner—and alleged partner in crime. Gates and Manafort both pleaded not guilty when Mueller’s team filed their indictment on Oct. 30. Legal experts say there may be more charges to come.

“I would expect a superseding indictment to come down relatively soon,” said Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University’s law school.

“There was much in the narrative of the indictment that referenced crimes not charged,” he added. “Prosecutors will often issue a superseding indictment as the grand jury continues its work. There’s also a tactical reason for this, that superseding indictments tend to grind defendants a bit more over time.”

A superseding indictment would essentially replace the current indictment of Manafort. And in that current indictment, Mueller’s team hinted there was more to come. In particular, they hinted at potential tax charges for Manafort’s foreign financial transactions.[...]

A former prosecutor from the Justice Department’s tax division said Mueller handed down what’s known as a “speaking indictment”—in other words, an indictment that contains more information than necessary.

“It’s a way of dirtying up a defendant without having to actually prove the conduct,” he said. “I think, in fairness to them, they probably rushed it because they didn’t want to wait for the tax division approval on those tax counts. That, I assume, would be working its way through the system.”
The Beast also notes that Gen. "Misha" Flynn could similarly be in tax trouble over his foreign payments and that Mueller's recent round of subpoenas to Deutsche Bank could implicate not only Manafort, but also Trump, Kushner, and the Mercers.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:18 PM on December 26, 2017 [46 favorites]


If Mueller catches a Mercer in his net, I am going to bake the biggest, moistest, chocolatiest, cakiest cake in the world and devour every crumb. Mercer (and Koch) wealth has done so much to destroy our democracy.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:01 PM on December 26, 2017 [81 favorites]


Department of symbolism: Iconic White House tree to be cut down
[…] support of the east leader is not an option due to the fragile, almost non-existent lower trunk. There is no longer a sound foundation, and the upper portion lacks sound wood for cabling. This half of the tree is considered a hazard. The west leader, on the other hand, could possibly be saved for a time, but will eventually succumb to the same fate. […] It may fail in an unpredictable way.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:05 PM on December 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


That it's the tree Andrew Jackson planted, I'm surprised they're not doing more to prop it up.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:08 PM on December 26, 2017 [12 favorites]


Old Hickory's magnolia.
posted by peeedro at 7:08 PM on December 26, 2017


Even if it wasn't planted by Andrew Jackson, experts clearly say the tree is compromised and a serious safety hazard. I don't know why people are trying to spin it so shitty.
posted by Talez at 7:10 PM on December 26, 2017 [13 favorites]


If it fell on Trump, the writers could wrap the season up early in perfect form.
posted by perhapses at 7:12 PM on December 26, 2017 [36 favorites]


It's only fitting if the Andrew Jackson tree becomes the Trump Rotten Stump.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:14 PM on December 26, 2017 [22 favorites]




“Where is Trump’s Cabinet?” Emily Holden reports for Politico that “The Cabinet members carrying out President Donald Trump’s orders to shake up the federal government are doing so under an unusual layer of secrecy — often shielding their schedules from public view, keeping their travels under wraps and refusing to identify the people and groups they’re meeting.” Who, of course, often turn out to be the very people and groups they’re supposed to be regulating.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:57 PM on December 26, 2017 [32 favorites]


The Cabinet members carrying out President Donald Trump’s orders to shake up the federal government are doing so under an unusual layer of secrecy — often shielding their schedules from public view, keeping their travels under wraps and refusing to identify the people and groups they’re meeting.
Related.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:38 PM on December 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


peeedro: "In the tied election for Va's HD-94, the drawing of a name from a bowl is scheduled for tomorrow, but the Democratic contender has filed a legal challenge of the contested tying vote and requested a delay in the lot-drawing.

It's officially delayed, pending resolution of court action. James Alcorn, Chairman of Virginia State Board of Elections:
After receiving notice of the pending litigation concerning the HD94 election, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s planned drawing. While our planned drawing for tomorrow was in full compliance with the Code of Virginia, neutral election administrators should not be choosing election winners - or influencing the next Speaker of the House. Drawing names is an action of last resort. Any substantive concerns regarding the election or recount should be resolved before a random drawing is conducted. This will best serve the voters of HD94 and the rest of the Commonwealth.
My understanding is that all three members of the SBE (2 Ds, 1 R) agreed that delay was the best move.

If the drawing of lots proceeds, the loser can seek a second recount so expect legal wrangling to continue."

This is unclear. There are different parts of the election code that appear to be in conflict about whether this could happen. My guess would be that, if such a situation arose, the courts would apply the common sense choice of no do-overs once you draw lots.

My PERSONAL take on the whole situation - based on my extensive training in Virginia elections law (i.e., reading a bunch of stuff online) - is:
1) Counting the ballot was proper - it is in line with SBE guidance, similar votes were counted in other recounts, and in fact apparently some others were counted in the HD-94 recount. Simonds probably actually picked up a couple of votes via these type of overvotes.

2) The GOP's maneuver here - not contesting the ballot at the actual count, but only at the certification - was classless, but did not seem to violate any laws. (The story we are given is that it was not premeditated, and I suppose that's possible; doesn't matter, ultimately). The Dem team should have had a couple of challenges in their back pocket, if necessary.

3) I think the SBE is just playing the "abundance of caution" strategy - we still have two weeks until the HOD is seated, let's not make any irreparable errors. I don't think they ultimately rule in favor of Simonds, and we end up with drawing lots for the seat.
===

Meanwhile, in the *other* VA HOD drama, Dem Josh Cole has decided not to file a contest with the House, and continue pursuing relief through legal action. A House contest would almost certainly have failed on party lines, so the courts are a better bet. Hearing is scheduled for Jan 5.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:50 PM on December 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House:
-- Interesting breakdown of the latest WSJ/NBC poll, comparing it to 2010 polling. Everyone has moved left, some groups (like college educated women) massively.

-- It's "Top X Races in 2018" article season, here is Politico's.
** 2018 Senate -- Bob Menendez should be vulnerable in NJ, but the GOP can't find anyone to run against him.

** Odds & ends
-- Idaho Dems mobilizing behind effort to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot.

-- Inside look at the Doug Jones campaign from chief media strategist Joe Trippi (remember him?) Main takeaway is that the internal campaign view is that things were already pretty tight before the Post story broke. FWIW, this is consistent from what both campaigns were leaking.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:17 PM on December 26, 2017 [28 favorites]


Democrats have to jump through 10 million hoops, cross every i, dot every t just so, and their vote may still not count because their registration was "mistakenly" thrown out. White Republicans get their votes counted even when they don't follow simple instructions written in clear English, even after the ballot was thrown out because the voter couldn't follow simple instructions.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:23 PM on December 26, 2017 [40 favorites]


Simonds apparently picked up several votes from overvote situations during the recount. Throwing out all ballots where "the voter couldn't follow simple instructions" would mean that the Democrat would have lost.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:45 PM on December 26, 2017 [10 favorites]


Just read Ropeladder's link on the use of LRADs at protests, and it's the first I've heard of such a despicable weapon. Boy, those women must have posed a serious safety threat if the police felt the need to deafen everybody in a 3 mile radius in order to control them.
posted by Myeral at 3:07 AM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


LRADs were first used in the US at the G10 protests in Pittsburgh in 2009 (and then in Oakland, NYC, Ferguson, etc.) (bonus link from PGH: LRAD ringtone).
posted by box at 5:00 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


WashPo: Israel’s transport minister wants to name a new Jerusalem train station after Trump -- “Trump Station” will be built in the city’s Jewish Quarter.

Next stop, "Shanda Station."
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:24 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I can't imagine he'll go for having anything named after himself that he doesn't receive royalties for...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:36 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


WaPo: Bitcoin boom a boon for alt-right groups seeking to avoid Web and government scrutiny

I’ve never been so excited for a bubble to burst.


We'll see...I thought it would dip under $10K during this last correction, but it's bounced back up to around $16K for now.

I missed this WaPo op-ed by former CIA deputy director Morrell and the GOP's Mike Rodgers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on the 25th:

Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States
...the United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.
...
In a single week this month, Moscow used these accounts to discredit the FBI after it was revealed that an agent had been demoted for sending anti-Donald Trump texts; to attack ABC News for an erroneous report involving President Trump and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; to critique the Obama administration for allegedly “green lighting” the communication between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; and to warn about violence by immigrants after a jury acquitted an undocumented Mexican accused of murdering a San Francisco woman.
...
More troublingly, other countries are beginning to follow Russia’s lead on social media, according to research provided by the Alliance for Securing Democracy. The Chinese are doing so in Taiwan, where 75 percent of the population consumes media from a Japanese instant messaging app called LINE — a hotbed for fake news, much of it from China. Some of the messages pushed by Beijing — including one incorrectly saying that the Taiwan government was planning to regulate Buddhist and Taoist temples — have resulted in large protests in Taipei. And Turkey is starting to use social media to try to influence European policy debates, specifically by targeting the large Turkish diaspora in Europe.

There's been reporting on how the government in Myanmar has used social media and 'fake news' to enable and excuse the ethnic cleansing of the Rohinga, making me wonder if various forms of blood libel (the antisemitic version most famously) are the ur-form of fake news, historically (which would also make Russia one of its most consistent contemporary practitioners, from the Protocols to Facebook).

Columbia Journalism Review, 11/21/17: In some countries, fake news on Facebook is a matter of life and death

WaPo, 12/08/17: Fake news on Facebook fans the flames of hate against the Rohingya in Burma

The Guardian, 12/23/17:
Aung San Suu Kyi once called for a free press. Now, the dead are used for fake news

relatedly, NYT, 12/02/17: ‘No Such Thing as Rohingya’: Myanmar Erases a History
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:44 AM on December 27, 2017 [40 favorites]


The Tax Law's New Way Of Measuring Inflation Could Take A Toll On Taxpayers (NPR, December 27, 2017)
Among the big changes contained in the tax overhaul signed by President Trump last week is a little-remarked-upon provision changing the way inflation is calculated.

The new method, using the so-called "chained" consumer price index to determine when to adjust tax brackets and eligibility for deductions, is expected to push more Americans into higher tax brackets more quickly. In the past, the tax code used the traditional CPI measure issued by the Labor Department each month.

By switching to this new method, the government will bring an additional $134 billion into federal coffers over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

It comes down to this: The chained CPI makes inflation appear lower, and that means tax brackets will be adjusted upward more slowly — but lots of workers will continue to get raises based upon the faster-rising traditional CPI. In other words, your income may rise faster than the inflation adjustments, forcing you to pay taxes at a higher rate — even though you may not feel any richer.
Best part: the "haw haw" finger pointing photo of Trump heading the article.

Related, from 2011: The Wonky Inflation Tweak Worth Over $200 Billion
The chained CPI is updated every month to reflect changes in people's buying habits, while the regular CPI is updated every two years. (BLS FAQs - old links in the article are dead)

Over the course of a decade, Social Security and other federal benefit payments could rise by $145 billion less under chained CPI than they would under regular CPI, according to the CBO.

Tax brackets and tax deductions are also adjusted based on inflation. Switching to chained CPI could lead to an extra $72 billion in tax revenues over a decade, the CBO estimates.
Reduced security program spending, increased taxes, thanks GOP! (Oh right, it's a slow burn, so there's plenty of time for the GOP to find ways to shift the blame to the Dems, somehow.)
posted by filthy light thief at 6:20 AM on December 27, 2017 [22 favorites]


Prince Harry interviews Barack Obama for BBC Radio 4

They don't mention Voldemort Trump once.
posted by adept256 at 6:25 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Possibly covered previously, but I've seen more coverage of this in the last day: Why Some Homeowners Are Scrambling To Prepay Their 2018 Property Taxes (NPR, Dec. 26, 2017)
Part of the Republican tax overhaul that President Trump signed into law last week has homeowners around the country doing something unusual: rushing to pay their 2018 property taxes well before the due date.

That's because the new law includes a $10,000 cap on the amount of state and local taxes people can deduct on their federal returns. Before, if someone paid $24,000 in property taxes — as some people in higher tax states like New York and California do — and then paid $20,000 in state and local income taxes they were allowed to deduct $44,000 on their federal tax return. Now that number is capped at $10,000. The change could cost some people thousands of dollars.

"I'm sending my checks in today," says Vanessa Merton of Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y. She estimates the law change will cost her between $6,000 and $9,000. She hopes to delay that hit by pre-paying next year's taxes before December 31 so she can deduct them on her 2017 taxes.

Merton says she's the fourth generation of her family to live in her large home. Growing up she says Hastings On Hudson was a factory town but wealthy people moved in and now property values—and taxes—have increased. She predicts without the ability to deduct all local taxes on federal returns some people in her community may have to move.

"We are all really wondering, calculating and trying to figure out if it's going to be possible [to stay] in the homes that we have cherished for a very long time," says Merton.
Emphasis mine -- so with people possibly moving out of high-tax states, wouldn't that mean they might spread their liberal values to other, redder states? That would be a terribly ironic twist to this tax overhaul, if the nation got more liberal as people looked for more affordable places to live and moved out of "liberal havens."
posted by filthy light thief at 6:32 AM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


We'll see...I thought it would dip under $10K during this last correction, but it's bounced back up to around $16K for now.

That's the nominal value, which is a spread of quoted exchange prices. Actually cashing out in any large quantity is a completely different matter, and even getting transactions through is slow and/or requires large fees on the scale of bribes in a third-world kleptocracy. And fewer merchants are accepting Bitcoin because of these problems, so even if the world's garbage-nazis are flush with Bitcoin, Cryptokitties, Rare Pepes or whatever, it's unlikely that these can be easily converted to electricity, hosting, vape juice or other basic needs.

Some analysts are saying that the actual price of Bitcoin may effectively be $0 now.
posted by acb at 6:35 AM on December 27, 2017 [21 favorites]


Ropeladder's link on the use of LRADs at protests

First tested on Iraqi civilians during the war, I believe they were first used in the US at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, 2009. Although I had solidarity with the protestors, I wasn't protesting when I got hit with the soundcanon in Friendship Park. I was just going to the store to get some milk. It's a truly bizarre and terrifying experience, having sound projected right into your head, more inside your head than headphones, yelling "DISPERSE DISPERSE. THIS IS AN ILLEGAL GATHERING. DISPERSE". I guess it's better than shooting people but it was like peeling back the veil of mana and seeing into a dystopian future that has only become more and more real as the years go by.
posted by dis_integration at 6:57 AM on December 27, 2017 [51 favorites]


[BTC-Derail] It's definitely possible to cash out for someone who knows the ins and outs of the market and has passed all the KYC and AML regulations for services, but obtaining that verification can take upwards of a month. Either way though, at any one time there are upwards of 150,000 transactions pending on the BTC network, which while doing so is burning more electricity than the country of Denmark. And while the dream of BTC is to be decentralized from central governments and all, this has been achieved by accepting what amounts to a cartel of 3 or 4 BTC mining operations controlling over half the network. I hope it goes to zero and lots of alt-right idiots lose all their imaginary wealth. Unfortunately the world seems to be getting more stupid by the day. [End BTC Derail]
posted by localhuman at 6:57 AM on December 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


Some analysts are saying that the actual price of Bitcoin may effectively be $0 now.

That would be very sad for some friends of mine, but as mentioned above, also for a lot of Nazis and Kim Jong-Un, so....

Speaking of which, Twitter did a pretty shitty job of it's supposed 'purge' of white nationalists last week. Are you even trying? At all?

Here's a handly list of alt-right/WN digital artist blogs shared in holiday spirit (ugh) I found this crap in five minutes.

Less hand wringing, fewer reporting, algorithms, grow a spine, and hire some goddamned humans to actively search the comment stream and enforce policy.

They're all celebrating the release of Christopher Cantwell, so that should be easy to track. As is their oh-so-clever use of ))))))username((((( and putting Israeli flags in their bios and talking about 'getting shoa'd' by Twitter.

But, no, instead apparently some of these scumbags are managing to get their accounts reinstated instead.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:01 AM on December 27, 2017 [15 favorites]


Given the political implications of crypto currently (seriously, after political trolling it's the number one topic in the MAGA-sphere right now, plus North Korea), and the increasing involvement of the conventional financial markets I don't think it's entirely a derail.

If you want to liquidate a large BTC holding, you still just pay one transaction fee right? And not to make light of the liquidity issues -- or the underlying mempool problem -- but what's been described as 'large bribes' in the form of transaction fees to get on the next block are what...under $40?

Well, moving money between one's own accounts via fed wire usually costs about that much after bank fees.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:07 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why Is a Small Montana Town a Hotbed of Far-Right Activity?
As the article concludes: In case your head is spinning, here's a recap: Whitefish Energy’s CEO knows Zinke; Zinke served in the same elite military branch as Erik Prince, who is now pushing Trump to contract a private militia based in Whitefish, which has emerged as a white nationalist hotbed in recent years and was the setting for a personal relationship between far-right extremists and Zinke’s own family. So much for the excuse that Whitefish is just a small town where "everyone knows everybody." There are too many suspicious ties for Zinke's PR team to get away with that one. Smells fishy to us.
posted by adamvasco at 7:07 AM on December 27, 2017 [29 favorites]


The BBC site seems pretty slow right now. Here's a synopsis of the Harry/Obama interview in the NYT.

While neither man mentioned Mr. Trump directly, they discussed the role of social media in leadership, a conversation that brought to mind Mr. Trump’s blunt, unvarnished posts on Twitter.

Mr. Obama warned against the irresponsible use of social media by people in positions of power and expressed his concern about a future in which facts were discarded.
“One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”

“The question has to do with how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but doesn’t lead to a Balkanization of society and allows ways of finding common ground.”
Mr. Obama also mentioned that he had developed a thick skin during his presidency. Mr. Trump, in contrast, has been criticized since the 2016 campaign as thin-skinned and unable to rise above provocation.

posted by adept256 at 7:09 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


blunt, unvarnished

That's a nice way of saying "deranged and semi-literate."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:15 AM on December 27, 2017 [13 favorites]


Part of the Republican tax overhaul that President Trump signed into law last week has homeowners around the country doing something unusual: rushing to pay their 2018 property taxes well before the due date.

This is causing a bit of chaos throughout New York State. Our governor signed an executive order last Friday allowing people to prepay their 2018 property taxes in 2017. So there's a way to do it at the state level.

But it's the last week of the year, and "Counties need to issue tax warrants before local tax collectors can accept property-tax payments. After that, the tax collectors have to get bills out to property taxpayers and it's up to them whether to accept payments." So now, some counties have to scramble to arrange things so their towns can accept the early tax payments and protect their residents. Westchester has already announced it won't be possible. Monroe is making the forms available on Friday -- the very last business day of the year.

It's a mess.

What's worse: no one even knows whether or not this will make a difference on federal tax returns. The tax plan doesn't say whether prepaid 2018 property taxes can be deducted in 2017. It does prevent people from deducting prepaid state income taxes.
posted by zarq at 7:31 AM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


It's officially delayed, pending resolution of court action. James Alcorn, Chairman of Virginia State Board of Elections

James was a law school classmate of mine. Good guy, good Democrat, and I feel for him dealing with this craziness.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:32 AM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Our tax collector is only open for a small number of hours each year to collect taxes in person. I emailed the office last week, and was told that they are not accepting early property tax payments.

I'm more than a bit pissed, honestly, that the last-minute chaos of the bill will cost us ~$2000. Seems like a large amount to be left up to basically luck of whether your county is on top of it, or not.
posted by Dashy at 7:45 AM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


I reported a tweet from one of those listed in snuffleupagus' comment. I'm at work but will do the same with the others as soon as I get off. Revolting and terrifying stuff.
posted by Myeral at 7:49 AM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Our tax collector is only open for a small number of hours each year to collect taxes in person. I emailed the office last week, and was told that they are not accepting early property tax payments.

Ours sent an email to everyone on the city's email list confirming that they will indeed accept early payments, but you have to call to find out how to do it (I assume you can't just show up with a check). I assume I'd also have to talk to my mortgage company, who collects funds for the bill in escrow and pays the bills as they arrive, to make sure they don't double-pay. Seems like a lot for most people to deal with in a short amount of time.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:11 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Even if it wasn't planted by Andrew Jackson, experts clearly say the tree is compromised and a serious safety hazard. I don't know why people are trying to spin it so shitty.

Really pissed at Slate for their headline: "Melania Trump Orders Removal of 200-Year-Old Tree From White House Lawn". We have enough trouble with fake news.
posted by Melismata at 8:12 AM on December 27, 2017 [33 favorites]


What's worse: no one even knows whether or not this will make a difference on federal tax returns. The tax plan doesn't say whether prepaid 2018 property taxes can be deducted in 2017. It does prevent people from deducting prepaid state income taxes.

Huh. You're now capped at $10K in total deductions of property tax + state income tax, which means that anyone making, say, the median national wage and owning a house of the median national value, will easily exceed the cap. And now all that money that used to be deductible from federal taxation will be subject to the dreaded... double taxation.

I'm sure we'll hear the conservative press pipe up about this outrage any minute now.
posted by Mayor West at 8:18 AM on December 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


Over the course of a decade, Social Security and other federal benefit payments could rise by $145 billion less under chained CPI than they would under regular CPI, according to the CBO.

Obama once proposed chained CPI for Social Security as a concession to Republicans for a tax bill. The Republicans immediately turned and claimed he was killing grandma by cutting her Social Security payments.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:25 AM on December 27, 2017 [14 favorites]


There's no way that will work. I mean, I can prepay all my business expenses for 10 years and claim a massive one-year tax loss followed by 9 years of record profits, but that won't work because accountants aren't stupid and there are precise definitions about what it means to incur an expense.
posted by miyabo at 8:27 AM on December 27, 2017


Obama once proposed chained CPI for Social Security as a concession to Republicans for a tax bill. The Republicans immediately turned and claimed he was killing grandma by cutting her Social Security payments.

Rebroadcast those ads with a needle scratch and a Trump reveal.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:40 AM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


[One deleted - let's not go off into "does Bitcoin use too much electricity vs other electricity uses"; there are other threads to rehearse those arguments.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:40 AM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


In case anyone is interested, according to Corey Robin and others, Trump is now neither an authoritarian or a puppet of Putin because the US has taken a harder line prosecuting five individuals under the Magintsky act.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:43 AM on December 27, 2017


And in news that will surprise no one but will still make Trump angry should he hear about it, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton once again top Gallup's poll of most admired.
posted by asteria at 8:48 AM on December 27, 2017 [43 favorites]


You're now capped at $10K in total deductions of property tax + state income tax, which means that anyone making, say, the median national wage and owning a house of the median national value, will easily exceed the cap. And now all that money that used to be deductible from federal taxation will be subject to the dreaded... double taxation.

And it's $10k regardless of filing single or as a couple, so there's also a marriage penalty in addition to double taxation.
posted by chris24 at 8:57 AM on December 27, 2017 [22 favorites]


If you want to liquidate a large BTC holding, you still just pay one transaction fee right? And not to make light of the liquidity issues -- or the underlying mempool problem -- but what's been described as 'large bribes' in the form of transaction fees to get on the next block are what...under $40?

That's assuming you can find an exchange to give you a large holding's worth of hard currency. Some have put limits on cash-out sizes, others are having unspecified technical difficulties.

Also, that hard currency has to come from somewhere. Now that BTC is not a highly liquid medium of exchange (due to fees, delays and other hassles; even the ransomware mafiyas are having trouble with it), the only place that cash can come from is other people wishing to buy BTC, in the hope that its value will keep rising and that, some months' down the track, they can cash out and be rich. In other words, greater fools. These days, the effective differences between Bitcoin and a ponzi scheme are increasingly thin.
posted by acb at 9:08 AM on December 27, 2017 [16 favorites]


I have a modest proposal for any editors in the crowd: If you the word "lie" is too high a bar to clear, then you must avoid the word "believe" as well, as in "Republicans believe X about the Mueller probe." Although if this continues, the English language is going to need more concise synonyms for "falsely accuse".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:19 AM on December 27, 2017 [16 favorites]


If we can't say "lie," then how about "claim" or even "purport"?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


In other words, greater fools. These days, the effective differences between Bitcoin and a ponzi scheme are increasingly thin.

In terms of political implications it would seem that it's the hard-right Libertarians and the straight-up racist and nationalist crowd who are queuing up to be those greater fools (they already are, one might observe) so I guess that's good. Although not entirely good if they're bailing out North Korea and ransomware maifyas. (And in doing so buying back their own stolen bitcoins from various bust exchanges?) Ugh.

It's been such a weird year.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:47 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I would like to see (read) entire modifying phrases tacked onto those verbs:

Republicans claim, without offering evidence, that Mueller is biased.

GOP operatives stated their belief, easily disproved, that Moore had never been to the mall.

Mnuchin stated, despite CBO analysis showing 13M would lose insurance coverage, that the new law would ensure health care access for everyone.

There are ways to identify false statements without using the term 'lie'. But they rely on fact presentation, rather than simple repetition of 'he said, she said' (or my pet peeve, 'hit at').
posted by Dashy at 9:51 AM on December 27, 2017 [74 favorites]


I have a modest proposal for any editors in the crowd: If you the word "lie" is too high a bar to clear, then you must avoid the word "believe" as well, as in "Republicans believe X about the Mueller probe." Although if this continues, the English language is going to need more concise synonyms for "falsely accuse".

I'd like to see more use of the word 'assert.' As in [this asshat] asserted [this nonsense]. Or [these asshats], who assert [this nonsense], are [doing stupid thing].
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:51 AM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


At Mar-a-Lago, Trump told club members 'you all just got a lot richer.'

If it's anonymous, Trumpsters will say the reporter made it up.
If it's attributed to a named credible source, Trumpster's will say they're lying.
If it's on video, Trumpsters will say it's a fake.
If it's on live TV, Trumpsters will say we shouldn't believe our lying eyes, even if they were present in person.
I double-guaran-damn-tee it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:01 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


Mental Wimp: not to forget "he's obviously joking"
posted by idiopath at 10:05 AM on December 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


"Republicans claim, contrary to publicly available facts and basic critical reasoning, that..."
posted by biogeo at 10:19 AM on December 27, 2017 [20 favorites]


The ease with which he defeated his Republican primary opponents was a clear warning that he had a very serious chance of winning the election.

What misled me was that I assumed that Trump had found the red meat center of the core of the core of the GOP and had ridden that to a Quixotic GOP nomination that would be crushed in the general, because most people aren't really like that. What I miscalculated was a) that most GOP adherents stay adhered through thick and scam, and b) that there are far more rabid nativist, racist, xenophobic, neo-confederate Nazi-lovers than I could ever have imagined, many of them drawn to the polls out of excitement of seeing one of their kind on a major ticket. I'm still flabbergasted after a year and some.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:25 AM on December 27, 2017 [45 favorites]


The tax plan doesn't say whether prepaid 2018 property taxes can be deducted in 2017.

Wait, I thought the tax bill applies to 2017 taxes? Otherwise why are they doing it now, if they’re not expecting to give back checks come February-April?
posted by corb at 10:27 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Nope, 2018 taxes. I guess their hope is that the IRS and employers will move quickly enough implementing the bill for withholding to change by mid-2018.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:42 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Wait, I thought the tax bill applies to 2017 taxes? Otherwise why are they doing it now, if they’re not expecting to give back checks come February-April?

The law applies to 2018 taxes, not 2017.

Lots of folks probably expect to see their refunds go up this March/April. They will see their withholding drop a bit (and their take home rise a bit) in February once the IRS re-jggers the withholding calculations. There is some discussion whether the acting IRS commissioner, a Trump appointee with another tax-policy job in the White House, will goose those calculations so folks will see a bigger boost in their paychecks (which wouldn't be "fixed" until taxes are due in 2019).
posted by notyou at 10:44 AM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


I mean, there are so many problems with the tax bill it's hard to know where to start criticism, and I leave real details to the experts among us, but the fact that this bill kicks in in a couple of days, and nobody, from the irs to accountants to payroll admins has any idea what the fuck it means is deliberate legislative malfeasance, imho.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:17 AM on December 27, 2017 [56 favorites]


>The tax plan doesn't say whether prepaid 2018 property taxes can be deducted in 2017.

>Wait, I thought the tax bill applies to 2017 taxes? Otherwise why are they doing it now, if they’re not expecting to give back checks come February-April?


For 2018, there is a $10,000 cap on deductions for state property and income taxes. So by pre-paying property taxes in 2017, they may come out ahead by getting a deduction on their 2017 taxes which will go away in 2018.

However, some states do not allow pre-paying property taxes.
posted by JackFlash at 11:20 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Mrs. Fish is a banker in Virginia and has told me that her branch has had a huge surge of business as people are trying to set up prepayment for three years of property taxes before the new law takes effect.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


In other news: Library of Congress will no longer save every tweet -- High volume, longer tweets, and growth of embedded content all fed into decision. (John Timmer for Ars Technica, Dec. 27, 2017)
Yesterday, the US Library of Congress announced a change to its social media archiving policy. In 2010, the LOC had been given a complete archive of every tweet sent to that point; it has been grabbing every single new one since. But starting on the first of January, the archiving will become selective; only tweets that are deemed newsworthy will be kept.

The LOC describes the decision in a very short white paper (PDF). Part of the reasoning is the sheer volume of data; the number of tweets is up, and their possible length has been doubled recently. But it's also a matter of being able to actually preserve content. Tweets now embed pictures, videos, and previews of the content of any links they contain. The LOC has been preserving only text and, therefore, is missing out on an increasingly important portion of the information content of any tweet.

In addition, the Library's normal role is as a curator, preserving information that's thought to be most significant or valuable. In this sense, the change will bring its Twitter policy more in line with its general approach to collecting.
It'll be interesting to see how LOC will try to designate news-worthy (and likely more important for posterity) from meme-tastic (those cultural blips that might be interesting to cultural anthropologists of the future, but otherwise fade from reality in a Scaramucci* or two).

* Fun fact of the day: The Hill is just now reporting that some White House aides are calling a short period of time a "Mooch."
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on December 27, 2017 [17 favorites]


For 2018, there is a $10,000 cap on deductions for state property and income taxes.

Also, the new standard deduction means that some people may no longer be itemizing, so they want to get it in one last time.
posted by Candleman at 11:34 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ours sent an email to everyone on the city's email list confirming that they will indeed accept early payments, but you have to call to find out how to do it (I assume you can't just show up with a check). I assume I'd also have to talk to my mortgage company, who collects funds for the bill in escrow and pays the bills as they arrive, to make sure they don't double-pay.

I'm struggling with understanding how prepaying and escrow would work too. If anybody has any helpful links on this subject, please pass them along.
posted by diogenes at 11:43 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Mrs. Fish is a banker in Virginia and has told me that her branch has had a huge surge of business as people are trying to set up prepayment for three years of property taxes before the new law takes effect.

NPR pointed out in the last hour that taking extra deductions such as tax prepayments in 2017 can expose you to Alternative Minimum tax, which I think is not repealed until the 2018 tax year. File carefully.
posted by puddledork at 12:27 PM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


I have an escrow account and called my mortgage company yesterday to ask about this. In my situation, the escrow account plans to pay for the second installment of my 2017 property tax bill in April, but I would like to pay this week. I was told that if I pay this week, I could send my mortgage company proof of payment, and then the mortgage company would honor that and not pay the second installment to the county assessor. The company would retain the funds in my escrow account. Then in November, when my mortgage company does their annual true-up of the escrow account, anything over-and-above the legal limit of my escrow account would be returned to me via the normal process.

So basically, it works out to: "Pay the tax bill this week, and get refunded in November."

YMMV with your mortgage company.
posted by samthemander at 12:52 PM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


Maybe "what will happen in my specific tax situation" can become it's own MetaTalk (for the emotional support) or AskMe (for the important answers)?
posted by agregoli at 1:05 PM on December 27, 2017 [27 favorites]


I'm a bit dubious about how much the Republican tax scam will actually help them in November. Even though they rigged things so that the poor and working class will see the biggest tax cuts they'll get out of the mess starting in February, they couldn't bring themselves to actually give the non-billionaire class much.

Even assuming it works out to the full $1,500 or so they claim working people will get that's about $28 extra per week. And I'm very doubtful most people will see even that. When you're working for minimum wage $28/week is nothing to sneer at, but it isn't anything amazing or loyalty buying either. The Trumpers will try to make it out to be the best thing ever, but I don't see most people who are't already part of the cult being impressed.

And then there's the very likely backlash thanks to the SALT cut, which for many Americans will totally wipe out any gains they might have gotten for the next few years (before the non-billionaire tax cuts sunset), not to mention higher health insurance bills. The Republicans will do their best to blame the higher tax bills on the evils of Obamacare, but I don't see that floating too well. They have control of the entire government, I think most people will blame them for whatever happens.

I'm a lousy political prognosticator, but I really don't see the tax scam bill helping the Republicans in the general election. I suppose it'll keep the Koch money flowing, and maybe it'll keep some of the primary challenges from the right suppressed, but what'll happen to them in, for example, California?

California Republicans are likely to see a fairly large tax increase thanks to the SALT elimination. There's 14 Republicans in the House from California. I'm betting they're feeling less secure in their re-election chances than they were before they voted to pass the tax scam bill. There's 9 Republicans in the House from New York, same deal.

Sure, they're representing the conservative parts of those states, but Republican voters are likely to feel a lot less eager to get out and vote when their taxes go up, and the Democrats are fired up and pushing for wins anywhere they can find them.

I think all those stories about McConnell and Ryan being worried about losing the majority in at least one house of Congress are likely true. It's going to be an uphill battle, gerrymandering in the House and more Democrats up for reelection than Republicans in the Senate, but there's a point where gerrymandering turns around and bites you on the ass, and we may be reaching that point.

snuffleupagus They're all celebrating the release of Christopher Cantwell, so that should be easy to track.

I had to google to remember who that guy was, for those who didn't he's the crying Nazi.
posted by sotonohito at 1:09 PM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]




Trump legal team readies attack on Flynn’s credibility (WaPo)
President Trump’s legal team plans to cast former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn as a liar seeking to protect himself if he accuses the president or his senior aides of any wrongdoing, according to three people familiar with the strategy.

The approach would mark a sharp break from Trump’s previously sympathetic posture toward Flynn, whom he called a “wonderful man” when Flynn was ousted from the White House in February. Earlier this month, the president did not rule out a possible pardon for Flynn, who is cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Attorneys for Trump and his top advisers have privately expressed confidence that Flynn does not have any evidence that could implicate the president or his White House team. But since Flynn’s cooperation agreement with prosecutors was made public earlier this month, the administration has been strategizing how to neutralize him in case the former national security adviser does make any claims.

Flynn is the most senior former Trump adviser known to be providing information to Mueller’s team. The lenient terms of his plea agreement suggest he has promised significant information to investigators, legal experts said.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:33 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm a bit dubious about how much the Republican tax scam will actually help them in November

...which means thats probably not going to be the message? Can we look forward to 11 months of full-on culturewar? Team (R) is really good at framing the debate.
posted by H. Roark at 1:35 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Researchers have found more fake comments on proposed rulemaking actions, this time from the Labor Department's fiduciary rule, where a WSJ-commissioned analysis found a number of people saying they didn't write the comments that were submitted under their name and contact information. You'll recall this happened en masse with large numbers of anti-net neutrality comments. The WSJ has also found fake comments submitted to the CFPB, FERC, and SEC.
posted by zachlipton at 1:41 PM on December 27, 2017 [39 favorites]


Sure, they're representing the conservative parts of those states, but Republican voters are likely to feel a lot less eager to get out and vote when their taxes go up, and the Democrats are fired up and pushing for wins anywhere they can find them.

In California, the conservative parts of the state are also generally the poorest parts of the state (Orange County notwithstanding). I'm hoping that the higher taxes and public service cuts will help Republican voters reconsider their political support.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:48 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


Republicans as we know them now and thier donor base must be prevented from gaining political power by any means necessary

Winning elections isn't enough, because those with money still have more political power. We need to move to public financing of elections and overturning Citizens United.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:03 PM on December 27, 2017 [19 favorites]


I'm a bit dubious about how much the Republican tax scam will actually help them in November.

So am I, and I think some arguments can be crafted to win over conservatives. In my state (Montana), there was a big headline pointing out how the tax plan would hit state revenues hard.

Pointing out that 1) getting a federal tax break is of little use if the state's have to raise taxes, and 2) that if you believe in local government rather than the federal government, this is just the opposite of what should be happening; are both things that could have traction with conservative voters.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:12 PM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


WaPo Breaking, IRS says taxpayers trying to use deduction that will be scaled back can prepay 2018 property taxes only under limited circumstances
The Internal Revenue Service confirmed Wednesday that taxpayers will be able to take advantage of the maneuver — but only under limited circumstances.

The IRS said that taxpayers can claim an additional property tax deduction when paying their 2017 taxes if they pay the tax this year and if the local tax authority has notified homeowners prior to 2018 of how much they owe in property taxes, known as a tax assessment. State and local laws vary as to when this occurs.

For individuals who rushed to prepay their property taxes based on estimates about how much they’d owe, the decision could prove a frustration as it may be difficult to cancel those payments. Local tax officials in affected localities will now be forced to interpret the decision for their residents.
Here's the advisory from the IRS. This is the kind of chaos that could have been avoided if they bothered to work out the details before passing the bill with provisions that have consequences just weeks in the future.

Politico, ‘We have tapped into something’: Impeachment drive builds digital army to take on Trump, in which Tom Steyer is closing in on 4 million signatures on his impeachment petition (which I can now report he's advertising with billboards in Times Square; I'm not sure that's very effective, but it did make the Canadian woman behind me at the TKTS booth today launch into an anti-Trump diatribe), but more importantly, he's got close to 4 million email addresses, and everyone is asking what he's going to do with them.
posted by zachlipton at 2:19 PM on December 27, 2017 [35 favorites]


Man those Republicans sure know how to govern!
posted by tittergrrl at 2:31 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Winning elections isn't enough, because those with money still have more political power. We need to move to public financing of elections and overturning Citizens United.

But doesn't that assume that political parties are a good idea? Or that, somehow, things will be magically better even though no effort is being done to have things be more than an effective binary "us or them" system?

Money seems to act as an amplfyer of propaganda (or are we still using the renaming of propaganda to public relations?). How does shutting off the amplification fix the binary "us VS them" problem?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:48 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Here's the advisory from the IRS.

They made the tax code so simple that you could almost fit one of the examples in this advisory onto a postcard!
posted by diogenes at 2:56 PM on December 27, 2017 [27 favorites]


From zachlipton's Politico article:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week showed that 41 percent of Americans now back impeachment hearings — higher than the percentage that would support Trump in a 2020 election.
posted by box at 3:04 PM on December 27, 2017 [40 favorites]


How does shutting off the amplification fix the binary "us VS them" problem?

There is no "us vs. them" problem. Comity is not inherently good, partisanship is not inherently bad. And the people who keep telling you the opposite do so to get you to not look at the actual conflict. The problem we have is that there is a toxic alliance of plutocrats and bigots who are clutching at every straw they can to retain power, because they know that once they lose it, it's game over. And they want you to see it as "us vs. them" because there's no other way they don't look like the villain.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2017 [57 favorites]


Surprised that this story hasn't come up yet: Vanity Fair decided that it would be a cute idea to post a video of well dressed magazine staffers drinking champagne and telling Hillary Clinton to take up knitting or any hobby that would distract her from running again. This hasn't been well received on Twitter.
posted by octothorpe at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2017 [28 favorites]


The approach would mark a sharp break from Trump’s previously sympathetic posture toward Flynn, whom he called a “wonderful man” when Flynn was ousted from the White House in February. Earlier this month, the president did not rule out a possible pardon for Flynn, who is cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Can you attack someone as a liar and also pardon that person of the thing you say they're lying about?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:42 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


You can if your party controls congress
posted by saturday_morning at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


Can you attack someone as a liar and also pardon that person of the thing you say they're lying about?

When you're a star, they let you do it.
posted by scarylarry at 3:47 PM on December 27, 2017 [47 favorites]


The year in Nazi propaganda: images of white supremacy in Trump's America
How should staged neo-Nazi acts of intimidation be handled? Some say they should be ignored, others insist the media must bear witness

posted by Joe in Australia at 3:58 PM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Can you attack someone as a liar and also pardon that person of the thing you say they're lying about?

Have you met Trump?

(also, while I was clinging frantically to the Herman-Chomsky conspiracy improbability conspiracy theory hypothesis, it seems like the tax bill is way (way) beyond the point of plausible deniability. What they've done can't be explained away as a bunch of greedy incompetents with the same general aim and subject to similar external pressures and enticements. If they were genuinely incompetent and looking to drown the government in a baby there wouldn't be all these surreptitious tax not-deductions and the like to balance the amount going out to their own (patrons, and buddies) pockets.)

[Not to say they aren't greedy incompetent shits. But it is an actual instance of a cabal of greedy incompetent shits (and other assorted selective-sociopaths) who have deliberately conspired in a premeditated fashion to start napalm bombing in a previously tepid class war they had already won.]

I would say it's unprecedented, but it's essentially the re-implementation of slightly mercantile european aristocratic stratification.
posted by Buntix at 4:10 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


On the bright side of this train wreck that is the Trump administration, 2017 Was the Year I Learned About My White Privilege.
I used to be a smart-alecky conservative who scoffed at “political correctness.” The Trump era has opened my eyes.
In the last few years, in particular, it has become impossible for me to deny the reality of discrimination, harassment, even violence that people of color and women continue to experience in modern-day America from a power structure that remains for the most part in the hands of straight, white males. People like me, in other words. Whether I realize it or not, I have benefitted from my skin color and my gender — and those of a different gender or sexuality or skin color have suffered because of it.

This sounds obvious, but it wasn’t clear to me until recently. I have had my consciousness raised. Seriously.
If anything Trump is at least proving that, yep, women and minorities are certainly getting raw deals and smarter people with their heads in the sand previously are waking up.
posted by Talez at 5:31 PM on December 27, 2017 [53 favorites]


Donald Trump is 'running a criminal enterprise out of the White House', says former US governor
'There hasn't been a president in my lifetime whose done anything like this,' Howard Dean says

posted by Joe in Australia at 5:48 PM on December 27, 2017 [44 favorites]


late to the game...wrt to 'lie' and editors...i like "x asserted, against all available evidence, that________." fwiw.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:15 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


2017 Was the Year I Learned About My White Privilege

Imagine my surprise when some of my conservative in-laws recently were sharing a video on Facebook that explained white privilege explicitly using Peggy McIntosh's "Unpacking the invisible knapsack". It showed a diverse group of young people lined up in a field and asked them each to take a step forward if something applied to them, and it was meeting with a lot of approval from the conservative in-laws' friends.

I was afraid to even ask how they found it.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:18 PM on December 27, 2017 [38 favorites]


Donald Trump is 'running a criminal enterprise out of the White House'

Well, he moved his criminal enterprise into the White House.

That's the thing with real estate - location, location, location.
posted by mrgoat at 6:20 PM on December 27, 2017 [34 favorites]


So, like, how do folks feel about The Intercept as a source (and why)? Because I don't know much about it, but there's this:

Trump White House Weighing Plans for Private Spies to Counter "Deep State" Enemies

...which is terrifying if true, but who knows any damn thing anymore.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:34 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was afraid to even ask how they found it.

I'm afraid they might use it to justify their own prejudices because they feel like they only got to take a single step.
posted by Talez at 6:35 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


a video on Facebook that explained white privilege explicitly using Peggy McIntosh's 'Unpacking the invisible knapsack'

Is there a link? I did a Google search and there are a bunch of videos but I didn't see one with people in a field.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:35 PM on December 27, 2017


CNN: Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon has cut ties with Paul Nehlen, the far-right activist who is challenging Paul Ryan for his congressional seat and who has received extremely favorable coverage from Breitbart in the past.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:36 PM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


smarter people with their heads in the sand previously are waking up.

that's a very generous way to characterize it. Boot spells out exactly why it was such a revelation for him to see video evidence of police brutality and harassment: because, he says, of course he'd heard of "driving while black" etc. before, but he'd naturally assumed that every black person in America was lying about that and all the other manifestations of racist policing until he saw it for himself [1]. he is painfully explicit about the progress of his thinking on the subject, though not what I would call remorseful for the right things. He is honest enough to acknowledge proof when he sees it, but seems to think it perfectly natural that he assumed women and black people were making "oppression" up all these years until the proof appeared before his eyes. and he seems partially, but incompletely aware that he was therefore not simply oblivious, but complicit. he says he is embarrassed and ashamed of not having understood the extent of the problem, but he didn't fail to understand people telling him about it; he failed to believe them.

I'm not going to attempt a historical survey of police brutality in America, but I will note two reference points from the long-long-ago. Max Boot is a good decade older than me, which means he is more than old enough to vividly recall the name Abner Louima. And in particular he is more than old enough to have seen the Rodney King beating video on a tv screen many, many times. so it's not like this year was a new and eye-opening journey into a new technoworld where there's suddenly visual proof! of all these rumors he'd been sensibly disregarding his whole life, like a good skeptic. not unless there's something very special about footage shot on iPhones that's just plain more trustworthy than footage from any other amateur source. proof isn't new. pictures aren't new.

I could have written a couple of similar paragraphs on his revelations re: feminists having a point about oppression of women after all, but why bother. it's pretty much the same thing: he heard plenty of women he knew personally talking about detailed instances of sexism in their lives, but he never realized it was something that mattered. until this year, this magical year of years.

but yeah, it's a lot better than nothing. at least he's come this far.

[1] "African-Americans have long talked about being stopped for “driving while black.” I am ashamed to admit I did not realize what a serious and common problem this was until the videotaped evidence emerged. The iPhone may well have done more to expose racism in modern-day America than the NAACP."

to his credit, he does say he's ashamed. but the bolded part is specially shameful, and it's his current opinion, not a former one: civil rights organizations, he says, may lie, but iPhones don't. women and black people can testify all they want but a rational good-hearted conservative needs to see it on video, thank you very much.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:40 PM on December 27, 2017 [81 favorites]


The video with people in a field might be this one.
posted by Unwandering star of the North at 6:43 PM on December 27, 2017 [9 favorites]


Revealed: The Secret KGB Manual for Recruiting Spies

Crazy interesting long read.
posted by Talez at 6:56 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


I was afraid to even ask how they found it.

If it's the one I'm thinking of, a Christian youth ministry organization produced it, so it's probably making the rounds becuase of the "Christian" tag.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


TPM, Josh Marshall, Devin Nunes’ Latest Scam, Explained
From the Devin Nunes Intelligence Agency, we have theory 14 why Donald Trump should be immune from the rule of law. Remember, Nunes is the House intelligence committee chair who got involved with Mike Flynn’s effort to surveil and disrupt the Russia investigation in the first days and weeks of the Trump presidency. Nunes was bounced from running the House Russia probe in part because of that. But now he’s back, largely in the form of mounting a counter-probe, a probe into alleged bias in the probe itself. To that end, he has subpoenaed a man named David Kramer, who played a role in Sen. John McCain’s bringing a copy of the Steele ‘dossier’ to then-FBI Director James Comey in late 2016. (Comey already had a copy.) This is all prologue to a new, or newly refined theory: the Steele dossier was not a perhaps imperfect guide to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. It was the interference itself.

Byron York approvingly lays out the theory in a new column here in The Washington Examiner.

There is a growing belief among some congressional investigators that the Russians who provided information to Steele were using Steele to disrupt the American election as much as the Russians who distributed hacked Democratic Party emails. In some investigators’ views, they are the two sides of the Trump-Russia project, both aimed at sowing chaos and discord in the American political system.
WaPo, In a House divided, Democrats say Va. GOP is offering perks for speaker votes
According to an internal Democratic email warning the caucus to stick together, House Republicans are trying to woo an unknown number of Democrats to side with them when the House elects a speaker on Jan. 10, offering plum committee assignments as enticements.

“Despite their best efforts, Republicans have so far failed to undermine our unity by offering deals to various members in exchange [for] a vote for Speaker,” Democratic Leader David Toscano (Charlottesville) wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.
...
In his email to Democratic lawmakers, Toscano warned them against calling in sick when the legislature convenes for the 2018 session on Jan. 10 — or even taking an ill-timed bathroom break during the floor session, fearing that in an evenly split chamber, the GOP might seize any opportunity to call a vote and take control.

“If you are sick, you still need to come, even if we have to wheel you in (with my bad back, this actually might happen), provide cough medicine, or whatever else you need,” Toscano wrote. “If you need child care, let us know so we can work something out. Because if you are not in the chamber at the time of the vote on the Rules and Speaker, we will definitely lose the votes, and all of our energized voters will know that your absence kicked control over to the Republicans.”

posted by zachlipton at 7:34 PM on December 27, 2017 [25 favorites]


Because if you are not in the chamber at the time of the vote on the Rules and Speaker, we will definitely lose the votes, and all of our energized voters will know that your absence kicked control over to the Republicans.”

While that would always have been a threat, it is also 100% true. And it's not just constituents, I've never been aware of out-of-state politics to the degree that I am now.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:48 PM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]




I think that what we're finding in general is that policy is only a minor component of what drives people to vote for a candidate.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:01 PM on December 27, 2017 [16 favorites]


On the bright side of this train wreck that is the Trump administration, 2017 Was the Year I Learned About My White Privilege.

lol this guy, Max Boot, worked for the Project for a New American Century and spent the 2000s promoting American imperialism in Iraq and elsewhere, and his new awakening to the fact of racism won't stop him from urging for the continued bombing and shooting of Arabs unto the crack of doom. If anything, he pines for the day when America might bomb and shoot Persians, too. He's just an opinion journalist, but in his own small way, he's one of the people who got the country to the point where Trump could win. It's great that he feels compelled to rebrand himself as a kinder, softer conservative, but let's not be fooled: He still loves his savage wars of peace. Warmongers like him need to be run out on a rail.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:04 PM on December 27, 2017 [38 favorites]


Yeah, Max Boot is trying the Woke Glenn Beck (Kristol, Rubin, etc.) thing on for size in order to distance himself from what he hath wrought.
posted by rhizome at 8:10 PM on December 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


Unwandering star of the North, that's the video I was thinking of.

Empress Calipygos, being distributed by a Christian ministry would definitely explain it. I didn't want to think too hard about what the angle might be, just happy to see some baby steps.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:12 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think that what we're finding in general is that policy is only a minor component of what drives people to vote for a candidate.

Whomever you credit the platform's progressiveness to, Clinton won the popular vote on her party's most progressive platform yet. It's not electoral poison the way centrists and "pragmatists" have often claimed. It's not a panacea, either - Sanders lost the primary - but it's still probably worth a shot. One poster's opinion.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:15 PM on December 27, 2017 [12 favorites]


Oh, agreed. That's what I'm getting at - properly sold, I think we can get much leftier policy than was considered possible recently.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:16 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


It would be delicious to use Trump as a wrench against the left-centers who caution against rocking the boat, but I'm not sure if that qualifies as normalizing Trump. Which would be bad.
posted by rhizome at 8:20 PM on December 27, 2017


[Let's not make this an extended excursion into theorizing - we've done that before enough times. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:25 PM on December 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


Rev. Dr. William Barber II, NYT: Trump’s Terrible Choice for Judge
Among President Trump’s worrisome nominees to the judiciary, perhaps none is as alarming as Thomas Alvin Farr, a protégé of Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator, and a product of the modern white supremacist machine that Mr. Helms pioneered.

Mr. Farr, nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, began his career as counsel for Mr. Helms’s Senate campaigns, where he participated in racist tactics to intimidate African-American voters. This alone is reason to reject his nomination, as is his apparent lying on the topic to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Mr. Farr’s connections to Mr. Helms’s white supremacist causes and political network go much deeper.
The best people.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:57 PM on December 27, 2017 [37 favorites]


"Mr. Helms’s white supremacist political network" have never even started to go away; it has barely even 'gone underground'... the potential greatest benefit of surviving "The Trump Years" would be lifting the rock all these bugs are under and getting them where they can be stomped on. We've already had a few Trump nominees shamed away, maybe Thomas Alvin Farr can be the next...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:30 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Roy Moore files lawsuit to block Alabama Senate result

Moore filed a lawsuit Wednesday evening in Montgomery Circuit Court. The filing occurred about 14 hours ahead of Thursday's meeting of a state canvassing board to officially declare Jones the winner of the Dec. 12 special election.

He really is a Trump candidate. It requires no imagination at all to see Trump doing this last November if it didn't go his way.

You lost, go away.
posted by adept256 at 3:36 AM on December 28, 2017 [31 favorites]


More grift. Prison firms that restructured as real estate investment trusts see substantial tax cut – more good news for those who benefit from increased incarceration.
Is this kick back for Private prison executives holding their conference at a Trump golf resort?
posted by adamvasco at 4:44 AM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


Thom Tillis voted for the tax omnishambles bill, and spends our tax dollars arguing with WaPo about BoJangles fucking biscuits. NC is so fucked.
posted by yoga at 4:48 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


He really is a Trump candidate. It requires no imagination at all to see Trump doing this last November if it didn't go his way.

You lost, go away.


Don't treat this as a joke. The Alabama SoS himself is a rabidly racist believer in voter fraud who is currently in a lawsuit about how racist his state's voter laws are. And many state and federal courts, including SCOTUS, also subscribe to the same racist voter fraud conspiracy theories. This is a perfect opportunity for McConnell to refuse to seat Jones until it all works itself out in the courts, which could take a very long time. And that's before Trump and his racist voter fraud group get involved. Even your neighborhood nevertrumper has likely spent years spouting this nonsense and defending voter suppression, so there's no guarantee they'll make any complaints.

Don't sleep on this at all. These people have already stole a lifetime appointment SCOTUS seat and many lower court seats. Stealing a Senate seat in a deep red state to further that behavior would be perfectly in line with everything they've already done.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:43 AM on December 28, 2017 [83 favorites]


@OhNoSheTwitnt: "We all know Roy Moore doesn’t believe that black peoples should have the right to vote but I’m starting to think Roy Moore doesn’t KNOW that black people have the right to vote."
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:50 AM on December 28, 2017 [45 favorites]


Bishop of Liverpool criticises Christian Trump supporters
Bayes told the Guardian: “Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalises the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country.

“Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable.”

...

“And if what I believe are the clear teachings of the gospel about love for all, the desire for justice and for making sure marginalised and defenceless people are protected, if it looks as though those teachings are being contradicted, then I think there is a need to say so.”
posted by adept256 at 5:51 AM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


The Alabama SoS himself is a rabidly racist believer in voter fraud who is currently in a lawsuit about how racist his state's voter laws are.

NYT:
John H. Merrill, the Alabama secretary of state, has dismissed complaints, from Democratic and Republican critics, of election fraud. In an interview on Dec. 15, Mr. Merrill, a Republican who voted for Mr. Moore, flatly declared: “I have not seen any irregularities or any inconsistencies that are outside the norm.”

In a text message early Thursday, Mr. Merrill said he did not intend to postpone the certification proceedings that would ultimately allow Mr. Jones to take office.
posted by chris24 at 6:04 AM on December 28, 2017 [32 favorites]


They filed this complaint at 10:30p last night. Certification is scheduled to happen at a 1:00p session in Alabama today.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:11 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


On the lighter side, "Christmas is Here!", the new Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump, is pretty great.

Christmas is here, yeah Christmas is here
Grab a friend's hand and yank them near

posted by a car full of lions at 6:12 AM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


The GOP leadership is relieved not to have to deal with Moore anymore. If it was Luther Strange on the losing side of this vote, for sure they'd be raising all kinds of imaginary hell about voter fraud, all the way up to Trump and McConnell. Since it's Moore, they're not blowing their stack. They'll save it for when they lose Congress in November and go to court to block all the new Dem reps from their seats.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:15 AM on December 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Following up on yesterday's subthread about journalists, editors, and terms identifying lies, props to Dave Weigel and the WaPo for this headline:

Roy Moore asks Alabama court for a new election, alleging fraud, which has been refuted
posted by Dashy at 6:45 AM on December 28, 2017 [20 favorites]


5 Points On The Threat Of Trump Issuing Pardons In The Russia Probe (TPM)
The family of Michael Flynn this week reignited an ongoing national conversation about the power of presidential pardons, by urging President Donald Trump to clear the former national security adviser’s name.

“About time you pardon General Flynn who has taken the biggest fall given the illegitimacy of his confessed crime in the wake of all this corruption,” the retired lieutenant general’s brother, Joseph, said on Twitter.

The White House offered no official response to the social media exhortation, but Trump has confidently asserted his authority in this arena, tweeting in July that “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.”

Presidential pardon power is indeed extensive, but any move Trump took to absolve associates under investigation for aiding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election could come at a steep political—and even legal—cost for the embattled President.

TPM surveyed legal experts about the limits of this power, and how Special Counsel Robert Mueller can work around it.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:52 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


John H. Merrill, the Alabama secretary of state, has dismissed complaints, from Democratic and Republican critics, of election fraud. In an interview on Dec. 15, Mr. Merrill, a Republican who voted for Mr. Moore, flatly declared: “I have not seen any irregularities or any inconsistencies that are outside the norm.”

While these feelings of "thank god someone actually kept to norms" are definitely real, it's kind of disturbing that I can be pleasantly surprised when the process of government works as normal.
posted by corb at 7:19 AM on December 28, 2017 [26 favorites]




Roy Moore files lawsuit to block Alabama Senate result

Moore will be back in the next Alabama primary. Jones will be up for reelection in 2020 and Shelby will be up for reelection in 2022. Wonder if Moore will try for a House seat? What's Moore's House district?
posted by jointhedance at 7:34 AM on December 28, 2017


Oh hey New York State Mefites, here’s a nice little project for you end the year with

New York State is looking to block the giving of all things to inmates except through licensed vendors, no more used books, higher prices, banning selling cats and gloves, credit card payments only - it’s naked exploitation of the poor.

Books Thrugh Bars and Legal Aid NYC has a planned postcard mailing event. It takes a few minutes and hopefully the govener comes back to office with a flood of them waiting.

Some sample language you can include on your postcard:

Dear Governor Cuomo,
This holiday season is about giving, not taking away. I object to the new DOCCS package rules.
From,
(Your Name)
(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)

Dear Acting Commissioner Annucci,
The new DOCCS package pilot punishes innocent families. Having a loved one in prison is already expensive and difficult—the new rules make it worse. Rescind the package pilot!
From,
(Your Name)
(Your relationship to people in prison, if applicable)

———-

Where to send

Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci
NYS DOCCS
Building 2, State Campus
Albany, NY 12226

————

Thank you and happy new year.
posted by The Whelk at 7:46 AM on December 28, 2017 [90 favorites]


He really is a Trump candidate. It requires no imagination at all to see Trump doing this last November if it didn't go his way.

And now the bigger problem will be in three years when he's the President and refuses to recognize if he loses. I can't picture a scenario where Trump accepts a loss.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:17 AM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


CNN: Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon has cut ties with Paul Nehlen, the far-right activist who is challenging Paul Ryan for his congressional seat and who has received extremely favorable coverage from Breitbart in the past.

Huh, surprising that a candidate could be too white supremacist for Bannon/Breitbart.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:35 AM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Huh, surprising that a candidate could be too white supremacist for Bannon/Breitbart.

My question is: are they actually breaking ties, or just acting like they are are public?
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:44 AM on December 28, 2017 [17 favorites]


Most Republicans have a dog whistle on racial and ethnic issues. Trump has a bullhorn. Nehlen uses speakers and amplifiers with roughly the same output as jet engines.

The lesson is that in this day and age, Repubs are fine with moving backwards on the Atwater Progression, but not all the way back to its beginning.
posted by delfin at 8:46 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


One other I-can't-believe-this-is-what-counts-as-encouraging thing I was thinking recently is, at least we don't seem to be backsliding on capital punishment, so far? I managed to miss the fact that the last execution by drawing and quartering was in 1820 in the UK, and simply trying to make sure that people who are hanged die quickly from their necks being broken, rather than being slowly strangled, is actually a late-19th-century/early-20th-century thing. I'd somehow gotten the misapprehension that those were practices dating from around medieval times, and that recent progress to more "humane" execution methods in the West involved changing from guillotining and long-drop hangings to methods like lethal injection. (And to abolition of capital punishment, of course, in the more-genuinely-civilized parts of the U.S. and the world.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:15 AM on December 28, 2017


overturning Citizens United

This is a popular topic but personally - and I am not a lawyer, just a person interested in 1A law and media - I wouldn't bet on it ever happening. The history of the 1A as it applies to commercial speech is one of ongoing expansion of applicability, but it's a fairly new but consistent expansion. Before the early 20th century it was considered not at all applicable to commercial speech. I suspect the early expansions are ones most of us would think pretty reasonable.

If CU's impact is impeded in any way it's going to be not in removing the ability for corporations to spend money on politics but rather by somehow limiting everyone's ability to spend unlimited money on politics. If your premise for improvement requires changing the implications of CU itself I think you're tilting at windmills, or maybe even just the wind.

I was afraid to even ask how they found it.

If it's the one I'm thinking of, a Christian youth ministry organization produced it, so it's probably making the rounds becuase of the "Christian" tag.


I suspect it's more palatable to a lot of people because a lot of the advantages the person calls out are ones they can point to as things they believe are moral failings, just not the kids' moral failings. A home with two parents is the basis of at least two of the questions, as I recall. So when the rubber meets the road I'd wager a lot of these people would end up with well yeah that's a disadvantage for those kids but there's nothing we can do about it oh well so sad.

One other I-can't-believe-this-is-what-counts-as-encouraging thing I was thinking recently is, at least we don't seem to be backsliding on capital punishment, so far?

The fact that we're not making MORE progress on the capital punishment issue is, to my mind, a sign of just how absolute shit the left continues to be on controlling the verbiage and message. Condemning the killing of citizens by government is a slam-dunk easy-peasy thing to slot into messaging to appeal to folks critical of government overreach. It's an action that allows a small number of usually unelected bureaucrats to decide whether a citizen lives or dies and it can't be undone later. The fact that none of the left's messaging goes after this is a huge failure.

Lots of those folks will listen to their bloodthirst and use their exclusion for cops & prisons to justify ignoring this problem, but they should not be able to beat their think about the victim's family drum without hearing at every step that there's been demonstrated wrongful executions and have those families trotted out as refutation.
posted by phearlez at 9:25 AM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


Facebook link and non Facebook link for sharing the whole “stop private vendors from getting a state monopoly in prison donations and care” in New York State prisons

https://www.facebook.com/booksthroughbarsnyc/posts/1821816631193100 http://kersplebedeb.com/posts/say-no-to-the-new-package-restrictions-in-nys-prisons/

Think of it as a fun holiday project you can do over the weekend for New York State Mefites.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


If your premise for improvement requires changing the implications of CU itself I think you're tilting at windmills, or maybe even just the wind.

Citizens United is a weak ruling (it should have been 4-4, for one), so I don't see how a shift in court makeup wouldn't lead to it being overturned.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


Video: Farewell Address - It's Not Going To Stop - The President Show

Doesn't get any blunter and funnier than this. It even suggests a recipe for taking on Trump.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:59 AM on December 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


The lesson is that in this day and age, Repubs are fine with moving backwards on the Atwater Progression, but not all the way back to its beginning.

If anyone else didn't recognize this off the bat, I'm guessing this is in reference to Lee Atwater's career.

Of course, there's a lot of Atwaters out there, so I might be incorrect.
posted by wires at 10:07 AM on December 28, 2017


Specifically about Lee Atwater's most famous quote, about the progression of the Southern Strategy, which others have requested to be referenced subtlely rather than blatantly.
posted by delfin at 10:11 AM on December 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


AL.com reports the secretary of state's office in Alabama has dismissed the four most egregious allegations of pro-Jones voter fraud as nonsense. One involved busloads of out of state voters, another vanloads of Mexicans who tried to vote but who were arrested. The third was that guy on TV who turned out to be an actual Alabamian. And:
Another concerned suspiciously high turnout at a community near Birmingham that does not exist.

"Somebody just made that up and started circulating it on the Internet," Merrill said.
posted by adamg at 10:24 AM on December 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


Lee Atwater, speaking of tax cuts.

Lee Atwater, speaking of forced busing.

Lee Atwater, repeating an ugly word.
posted by RobotHero at 10:37 AM on December 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


AL.com reports

Roy Moore thread is over there
posted by rhizome at 10:44 AM on December 28, 2017


Stopped Clock Jennifer Rubin, WaPo: Blue states may get their revenge for the GOP tax bill
After a great deal of confusion, wishful thinking and uninformed guesswork, the reality sank in on Wednesday: Republicans have hurt an awful lot of taxpayers, and the latter won’t be able to do anything about it. […]

All those taxpayers in high-tax states or with high property bills can blame President Trump and their GOP members of Congress for their tax headaches. Republicans figured that it would be clever to stick it to blue-state residents who have had the advantage of itemizing (with ample use of the SALT deduction). Never before has such a pointedly partisan tax bill been cooked up to punish people who generally don’t vote for the party in power. Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore, who worked strenuously for the bill, stupidly wisecracked that the bill was “death to Democrats.” (Odd for a scholar from a tax-exempt think tank to extol such base partisanship, isn’t it?). Others noticed as well. (Jonathan Chait remarked, “For eight years, the notion of a gangster government using its power to punish its enemies existed as a lurid persecution fantasy on the right. Now it is being touted as a governing blueprint.”)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:49 AM on December 28, 2017 [48 favorites]


Capital punishment is government overreach, sure, but let's not kid ourselves that these folks give a damn about government overreach when it's not being carried out by Democrats.
posted by ominous_paws at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Others noticed as well. (Jonathan Chait remarked, “For eight years, the notion of a gangster government using its power to punish its enemies existed as a lurid persecution fantasy on the right. Now it is being touted as a governing blueprint.”)

The SALT deduction was never very fair and this establishes a precedent of very open strategic wealth redistribution that will really bite the wealthy in the ass going forward. People are going to be looking very hard at all deductions and loopholes now that they have been deployed as partisan weaponry by the Republicans.

It is going to get very hard to sneak gifts into large tax bills going forward.
posted by srboisvert at 11:05 AM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


> It is going to get very hard to sneak gifts into large tax bills going forward.

I admire your optimism, but the fact that a "gift" gets reported on and worked around by some who have enough time and attention (or enough financial resources to hire an accountant) doesn't mean it will fail as a policy to distribute wealth to those who are the targets of the gift. Meanwhile, no matter what shape the distribution is before and after, the massive gift to the tax prep / accounting industry is self-evident. The most nauseating part of the reporting about this SALT / property tax deadline stuff has been reporters matter-of-factly saying "check with your accountant", as if everyone has the resources to have an accountant, or that everyone should have an accountant, given that this whole pile of shit was sold as a means of simplifying everything.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:13 AM on December 28, 2017 [38 favorites]


Trump Signed 96 Laws in 2017. (NPR, Dec. 27, 2017)
When President Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill on Friday at the White House, he made a bold claim — that his "legislative approvals" were off the charts. "No. 1 in the history of our country," he said, citing 88 as the number of bills he had signed into law.

The actual number of laws Trump signed this year is 96. His claim of historic achievement isn't accurate, either.
88? A little too on the nose, writers. But let's continue:
But that didn't stop him from repeating the erroneous claim Wednesday during a visit with firefighters in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"We have signed more legislation than anybody," Trump said.

He hasn't. In sheer numbers of bills signed into law during a president's first year in office (Jan. 20-Dec. 31), Trump is behind his six most recent predecessors.
Here's the stats:
Trump: 96
Obama: 124
W. Bush: 109
Clinton: 209
H.W. Bush: 242
Reagan: 158
Carter: 249

He's also wrong on his boast that he had exceeded even former President Harry S. Truman's record for the number of bills signed.

One thing he does have is a ton of federal judges appointed, thanks in a huge part to GOP's refusal to confirm almost all of Obama’s judicial nominees once they gained the Senate in 2014, and now they're making the bench less diverse.

We also have the list of executive actions by Donald Trump, another area where Trump has excelled over his predecessors for the last 50 years. Huh, funny counter-correlation between passing laws and signing EOs. I wonder why the deal maker is more fond of slap-dash proclamations?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2017 [24 favorites]


[There's actually a whole thread for the Milo editorial notes thing so let's leave that there.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2017


Agree Moore discussion should be in the Moore thread, but just to note that the Alabama has now certified Jones the winner.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:21 AM on December 28, 2017 [35 favorites]




Citizens United is a weak ruling (it should have been 4-4, for one), so I don't see how a shift in court makeup wouldn't lead to it being overturned.

If not, how about a simple constitutional amendment: "The expenditure of money does not constitute free speech. Corporations do not enjoy any of the rights enumerated to individuals in this consitution."
posted by msalt at 11:39 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Via dKos, a bright point today:

Federal Judge permanently blocks AZ from banning Mexican-American studies.

This issue is near and dear to my heart. I’ve campaigned against (and even had my own political arguments with) John Huppenthal, the racist AZ politician at the heart of that terrible effort. Fortunately, between his unvarnished, self-aggrandizing racism and his unexamined need to hear himself talk, talk, talk, write, talk and write some more, he sabotaged his own atavistic, unconstitutional scheme to keep Hispanic students down.

With this ruling, the state is also responsible for paying the defendants’ legal costs.

Huppenthal lost his job in politics, and lost the larger battle, even on fronts he wasn’t even fighting. Because of the publicity he gave to the Mexican-American studies program in Tucson when he tried to kill it, other states and districts learned about its strengths and implemented similar programs.

So, John Huppenthal, now a two-time loser in the culture wars he tried so hard to inflame, the self-proclaimed Christian who wrote racist online sockpuppet posts attacking immigrants, the “tough kid from south Tucson” who cried at a press conference when those posts were revealed, has now been tossed in the dustbin of history.

He’s only one of many racists in power we have to deal with, but with this legal ruling, our civil society got just a little bit better, today.
posted by darkstar at 11:41 AM on December 28, 2017 [103 favorites]


If not, how about a simple constitutional amendment: "The expenditure of money does not constitute free speech. Corporations do not enjoy any of the rights enumerated to individuals in this consitution."

You'd be causing trouble for entities like The New York Times Company and the Washington Post Company. That said it is immaterial since such an amendment has a zero percent chance of passing.
posted by Justinian at 11:57 AM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


You'd be causing trouble for entities like The New York Times Company and the Washington Post Company. That said it is immaterial since such an amendment has a zero percent chance of passing.
posted by Justinian at 11:57 AM on December 28 [3 favorites +] [!]


Plus, commercial speech is already regulated, so it can be constitutionally proscribed. The problem is a right-wing-stacked court that purposely conflates money with speech and corporations with people. Stupidity cannot be fixed by Constitutional amendments.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:42 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Citizens United is a weak ruling (it should have been 4-4, for one), so I don't see how a shift in court makeup wouldn't lead to it being overturned.

At this point, screw precedent. The Court is already nakedly political and nakedly Republican. If there was any doubt after Bush v. Gore, there can be none now after Gorsuch*, and CU, and ending the VRA. Any ruling can be overturned simply by appointing 5 liberal politicians in black robes. Maybe even by packing the Court with 5 new seats. Overturning Citizens United should be a non-negotiable litmus test for every Democratic SCOTUS nominee. Anything less than a firm public commitment should be viewed as if RBG suddenly proposed overturning Roe. v. Wade.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:54 PM on December 28, 2017 [29 favorites]


New PPP Poll has Mark Cuban beating Trump in Texas.

The poll, provided exclusively to Business Insider, found Cuban beating Trump by a 47% to 44% spread. A Democrat has not won a presidential election in Texas since former President Jimmy Carter in 1976.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:55 PM on December 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


Although 2017's not over yet, the Trump Administration has already a set a record for departures in its first year—twice as high as any in the last four decades.

Wall Street Journal: Trump White House Saw Record Number of First-Year Staff Departures "Administration’s 34% first-year turnover rate is twice that of Reagan’s 17% in 1981—the next-highest in the past 40 years"
According to Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has tracked White House turnover rates over three decades, the Trump administration’s 34% turnover rate—21 of the 61 senior officials she has tracked have resigned, been fired or reassigned—is much higher than that of any other administration in the last 40 years, which is as far back as Ms. Dunn-Tenpas’s analysis goes. The presidency with the next-highest first-year turnover rate was Ronald Reagan’s, with 17% of senior aides leaving the administration in 1981.

“Not only is the percentage double, the seniority of people leaving is extraordinarily high,” said Ms. Dunn-Tenpas. “That’s unprecedented to me. The first year always seems to have some missteps on staffing, often because the skills that worked well running a campaign don’t always align with what it takes to run a government. In this case, it’s a president with no experience in government and people around him who also had no experience,” she continued. “So it’s not surprising that it’s higher than normal, but it’s still surprising it’s this high.”[...]

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. A senior administration official, speaking to reporters last week said the turnover shouldn’t be interpreted as a series of hiring mistakes.

“Is it a mistake to have to fire people? You’re asking, did he make a mistake in hiring them in the first place? You have to be more specific about people,” the senior administration official responded. “I know we love to learn the more generic points of palace intrigue than the finer points of policy sometimes, but we have a really good team here.[...]”[...]

If history is any guide, turnover will be even higher in the second year. According to Ms. Dunn-Tenpas’s research, Mr. Reagan’s turnover jumped from 17% in 1981 to 40% in 1982. Mr. Clinton lost 27% of his key advisers in year two and President George W. Bush, who lost just 6% of senior aides in a first year, saw 27% of them leave the following year.
Fine. Tuned. Machine.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:04 PM on December 28, 2017 [31 favorites]


Here's the release where the Dept. of Interior is rescinding a 2015 rule to set standards for fracking on federal land. (fwiw, the rule was not yet implemented due to legal wrangling).

The last 2/3's of the document is responses/rebuttals to comments submitted. I found it interesting (although depressing) reading.
posted by H. Roark at 1:18 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Regarding Trump's unprecedented appointment of federal judges, I leave you with a quote from the Hon. Gerald Ford, House Minority Leader:

"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."

This is also something to consider if you are, for example, a very opinionated juniormost justice of the Supreme Court, prone to shooting your mouth off.
posted by eclectist at 1:21 PM on December 28, 2017 [13 favorites]


WaPo: How Sen. Pat Toomey turned the Republican tax bill away from populism

"Away from populism", you say?
As they scrambled to finish their sweeping tax bill in late October, House lawmakers arrived at a surprising decision: They wouldn’t cut the income tax rate for the wealthy.

That choice broke with conservative economic principles, which call for lower rates for high earners to spur investment and boost the economy. But House leaders wanted to use that money to pay for cuts elsewhere in the bill, and the White House was eager to avoid the impression the legislation would disproportionately favor the richincluding President Trump and his top economic advisers.

Then Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) went to work.
Oh, so what you really mean is that he turned the Republican tax bill away from the appearance of populism, which is probably still too charitable, since it's not like the House was going to raise taxes on the rich. This framing casts the House GOP as populist stalwarts for... leaving taxes on the wealthy where they already were.

But hey, if Pat Toomey and his supporters want his name all over this tax bill, I say bring it.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:50 PM on December 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


Every once in awhile, a discussion of whether some presidential action is or is not an impeachable offense causes me to picture an impeached president suing Congress on the basis that the cause for impeachment was not constitutional, and then the suit would be appealed to the Supreme Court, who would issue a ruling. It makes Bush v. Gore look like a routine day in traffic court.
posted by chrchr at 2:08 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yglesias: The political lesson of 2017: resistance works
posted by Chrysostom at 2:10 PM on December 28, 2017 [17 favorites]


picture an impeached president suing Congress on the basis that the cause for impeachment was not constitutional […]

Trump couldn't, of course, because that decision is very much left to the legislature – and necessarily so, because judges are also subject to impeachment and it would cause constitutional gridlock if they could determine the validity of proceedings against them.

Anyway, the grounds for impeachment include "high crimes and misdemeanours", which is an extremely broad term. According to Jon Roland of the Constitution Society it includes every occasion when an official fails to uphold their oath of office; and since every President swears to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" it means that they can be impeached for maladministration, not just those things that would normally be considered crimes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Thinkprogress: "Breitbart quietly deletes recent interview with openly racist congressional candidate: The site's leadership falsely claims it has not covered the candidate in 'months.' "

Nehlen's twitter has been a sight to see for the last day or so. Attacking Breitbart, attacking the very idea of political endorsements (keep up the good thinking, numbnuts). Pizzagater Mike Cernovich wrote a break-up article and Nehlen and his people are laying into him with full force. The amount of direct intra-alt-right vitriol is new and wonderful: Cernovich and Nehlen's venn diagram of fans had a huge amount of overlap, so this infighting between the factions of open and concealed antisemitism is damaging the heart of the alt-right. While it's not great that Nehlen's attempting to drag the Overton Window to encompass 4chan Hitler memes (I'll bet the book of racial pseudoscience that he recommended a couple days back will sell a few thousand extra copies this week), I think that overall he's helping to weaken the far right.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:19 PM on December 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


Via dKos: NYC crime rates reach new lows, further proving that stop-and-frisk was racist and ineffective

From the NYT article:
If the trend holds just a few more days, this year’s homicide total will be under the city’s previous low of 333 in 2014, and crime will have declined for 27 straight years, to levels that police officials have said are the lowest since the 1950s. The numbers, when taken together, portray a city of 8.5 million people growing safer even as the police, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, use less deadly force, make fewer arrests and scale back controversial practices like stopping and frisking thousands of people on the streets.
From the dKos post:
One notable outlier is reports of rape have increased in the latter part of this year. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rape is vastly underreported and an increase of reports could be a reflection of more victims coming forward in the post-#metoo era.
posted by darkstar at 4:09 PM on December 28, 2017 [39 favorites]


I think that overall he's helping to weaken the far right.

So maybe sunlight is the best disinfectant after all.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:35 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


The way many in the alt-right's excuse for an intelligentsia are putting it is that Nehlen's "showing his power level too early." They don't want full exposure until they have a competent monopoly on state violence.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:39 PM on December 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


Joe in Australia: "According to Jon Roland of the Constitution Society it includes every occasion when an official fails to uphold their oath of office; and since every President swears to "faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" it means that they can be impeached for maladministration, not just those things that would normally be considered crimes."

People hit on that Gerald Ford quote ("an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history") and rightfully so, but he wasn't wrong.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:45 PM on December 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


The way many in the alt-right's excuse for an intelligentsia are putting it is that Nehlen's "showing his power level too early." They don't want full exposure until they have a competent monopoly on state violence.

2017 has the shittiest nazis, they aren't even smart enough not to lead with threatening genocide…
posted by murphy slaw at 5:14 PM on December 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Trump: US could use some ‘good old Global Warming’ to heat up cold states
President Trump took to Twitter Thursday to note the record-breaking cold weather currently slamming much of the eastern U.S., saying the country could use some “global warming” during the cold snap.

“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,” Trump tweeted. “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up”
Fuck this guy.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:28 PM on December 28, 2017 [84 favorites]


Idiot. It’s cold because normally the jet stream keeps arctic air in the arctic. When global warming weakens the jet streams the arctic air starts to meander. If it’s coldest on record it means a fuckton of arctic air is over the US landmass.
posted by Talez at 5:35 PM on December 28, 2017 [60 favorites]


First update in more than 2 years; still timely: http://ifglobalwarmingisrealwhyisitcold.tumblr.com/
posted by kurumi at 5:37 PM on December 28, 2017 [14 favorites]


Idiot. It’s cold because normally the jet stream keeps arctic air in the arctic. When global warming weakens the jet streams the arctic air starts to meander. If it’s coldest on record it means a fuckton of arctic air is over the US landmass.

...and not in the fucking arctic where it's supposed to be. Which means less sea ice in the arctic, which means lower albedo, which means warmer water, which means more redirection of the cold mass farther south and less sea ice in the arctic. It's called positive feedback, and it's why we're fucked.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:54 PM on December 28, 2017 [61 favorites]


He's an incredible idiot. Yes, it's all a big conspiracy to get the US to "pay" trillions while nobody else does and I CAN'T EVEN FUCKING ENGAGE WITH HOW STUPID THIS ALL IS.
posted by odinsdream at 5:55 PM on December 28, 2017 [22 favorites]


Also, if I have it right, the record snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania is lake-effect snow, which shows up in higher quantities when the water temperature in the Great Lakes is higher. (Or at least when the difference between the water and air temperatures is greater.)
posted by XMLicious at 6:00 PM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Maybe even by packing the Court with 5 new seats. Overturning Citizens United should be a non-negotiable litmus test for every Democratic SCOTUS nominee. Anything less than a firm public commitment should be viewed as if RBG suddenly proposed overturning Roe. v. Wade.

Absolutely. The 'nuclear option' has already been detonated. If there is a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate in 2017, Dems need to finish the job that FDR couldn't.

That gets back voting rights, public financing of elections, fair electoral districts and -- god forbid! -- maybe even a positive right to education, healthcare and housing.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:01 PM on December 28, 2017 [19 favorites]


NYT with another cream puff interview with Trump, notable only because Trump's advisers didn't know anything about it.

Fine-tuned machine.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:25 PM on December 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


Mueller is reportedly zeroing in on the Trump campaign's data operation -- and the RNC
Whereas Deep Root, TargetPoint, and The Data Trust responded to the documents request, [Cambridge CEO Alexander] Nix did not.
CA not returning documents. Yes. Mmmhmm. What would a Republican say? That if you've got nothing to hide... Oh oh oh oh! That's not even the shadiest part of it!
[Brad] Parscale’s letter, meanwhile, 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.
Brad Parscale is apparently too smart to be caught in a lying to the feds charges... So he'll just leave a question mark on some light treason charges.

Our Republic will survive because these people are so fucking inept at running a conspiracy.
posted by Talez at 6:35 PM on December 28, 2017 [34 favorites]


The way many in the alt-right's excuse for an intelligentsia are putting it is that Nehlen's "showing his power level too early."

So, on the 4chan anime boards, there has long been the concept of hiding your power level, which means not revealing how much you're into anime, because otherwise the normies would know that you're a disgusting freak. I guess this is just one more dimension of the persecution complex underlying the whole alt-right.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 6:39 PM on December 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


Yglesias: The political lesson of 2017: resistance works
posted by Chrysostom at 2:10 PM on December 28 [13 favorites +] [!]


Yes, it does, but it takes a lot of concentrated, sustained energy. I'm wondering right now whether the focus on the Roy Moore race in Alabama pulled some energy away from resisting the tax bill. The GOP is using a variant of the Gish Gallop, tossing so many abhorrent acts into the mix at one time that the opposition can only focus effective energy on a few of them, leaving the others to pass without sufficient resistance.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:41 PM on December 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm not so sure Jones was an impediment to effective action against the tax bill. The campaigns were in very different spheres, and most of the people campaigning for Jones weren't in a position to do much against the tax bill. Also, the bill was always going to pass. The Republicans have majorities in both Houses; if they weren't so incompetent and incomprehensibly awful (even to each other) it would have passed a long time ago. If the Democrats had been able to block it, it would have been a short-term victory and the Democrats would have been accused of obstructionism. At least with Jones in the Senate it's going to be a bit harder to ram things through, and there's a useful moral victory to encourage people in future campaigns. Well worth it IMO.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:05 PM on December 28, 2017 [15 favorites]


I don't think the tax bill "was always going to pass". There's too much chaos in this system to make Game Theory Time really a good explanation for things.

Shit comes down to what Trump, or McCain, or Snowe had for breakfast as often as not, I think. Which is kind of terrifying (ok, very terrifying) but also is better than lawful, competent evil.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:09 PM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


(sorry, I know that wasn't really your point)
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:11 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I agree: we can never say the bill was always going to pass, X was always going to win, etc. Painful though it may be to consider, there are quite a few alternate timelines where the tax bill was stopped. Anything that comes down to two votes can potentially be halted. Who knows what it might have taken, or what precise lessons can be drawn about Obamacare Repeal vs Tax Bill, but it's not fall 2018 yet -- there will certainly be multiple chances between now and then to revisit those swing Senate votes on fresh new terrible bills, and we have to believe that at least some of those bills will be stoppable. The flip side of optimism is allowing that some of your past failures might have succeeded had you been a bit more clever or hardworking.
posted by chortly at 7:25 PM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Oh, I'm not mistaking myself for an optimist. I expected the ACA to be repealed within the first 100 days, and it hasn't quite happened yet (though the tax bill will hollow it out to some extent).

But I guess I'm philosophically opposed to full determinism; comes, I suppose, of having grown up a Calvinist.

Small things matter. Individuals sometimes can make the difference. There's always hope.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:29 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


NYT with another cream puff interview with Trump, notable only because Trump's advisers didn't know anything about it.

The NYT's excerpts from its transcript are, if anything, more damning. He rambles incoherently about geopolitics and international trade, refights the 2016 election, and complains about unfair/dishonest press coverage and the Mueller investigation. His repetition of "no collusion" throughout the interview sounds like the guilty tic that hack screenwriters create for their villains in the third act.
TRUMP: Maybe I’ll just say a little bit of a [inaudible]. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very nice man. And I found him to be an honorable person. Paul only worked for me for a few months. Paul worked for Ronald Reagan. His firm worked for John McCain, worked for Bob Dole, worked for many Republicans for far longer than he worked for me. And you’re talking about what Paul was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?

SCHMIDT: A very short period of time.

TRUMP: Three and a half months. [Inaudible] So, that’s that. Let’s just say — I think that Bob Mueller will be fair, and everybody knows that there was no collusion. I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion. She’s the head of the committee. The Republicans, in terms of the House committees, they come out, they’re so angry because there is no collusion. So, I actually think that it’s turning out — I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion.
Wall Street Journal: Trump White House Saw Record Number of First-Year Staff Departures

And they're already planning how to rearrange their deck chairs on this Titanic!

Washington Post: White House Looks to Make Internal Changes Amid Worries of a Tough Year Ahead "And this week in Palm Beach, Trump has been minimally staffed, especially around Christmas — a period during which he called outside friends and advisers, receiving another round of warnings about the upcoming political cycle. [...] How nervous Trump is about the upcoming year is unclear. Several friends who have seen him at Mar-a-Lago in recent days described him as relaxed and smiling, cocooned in his manicured villa and seeming without a political worry."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:33 PM on December 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


This really was less of an interview than it is Trumpito ambushing the NYT reporter at the dinner table to run his mouth.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:35 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


The transcript of the Times interview is worth reading in full. One lowlight is when he essentially says he wouldn't have screwed over blue states on SALT as badly if Democrats had done a bipartisian tax deal, which sound like revenge.

And this:
And No. 2, I know more about the big bills. … [Inaudible.] … Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes. Especially taxes. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have persuaded a hundred. … You ask Mark Meadows [inaudible]. … I couldn’t have persuaded a hundred congressmen to go along with the bill. The first bill, you know, that was ultimately, shockingly rejected.

I’ll tell you something [inaudible]. … Put me on the defense, I was a great student and all this stuff. Oh, he doesn’t know the details, these are sick people.
...
But Michael, I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.

Now here’s the good news. We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people. That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch. It could be as high as 50 percent of the people. You watch. So that’s a big thing. And the individual mandate. So now you have associations, and people don’t even talk about the associations. That could be half the people are going to be joining up. … With private [inaudible]. So now you have associations and the individual mandate.
So he's trying to talk about association health plans, but that's just gibberish. But more importantly, instead of asking the absurd follow-up question "And you think you can do it [have a great health care plan]?" why not ask about some of those details he claims to know more about than any president that's ever been in office? I don't even mean asking him his views on whether association health plans should be required to use community rating or what percentage if any of the FPL should be used for the threshold for subsidies (these are pretty fundamental questions tbh), but more like "Mr. President, can you tell me what sort of deductibles and copays people should expect to be paying?" Or "Mr. President, what's a copay?"

Daniel Dale is fact checking, since the Times didn't.

He also still thinks the diversity visa lottery is a mechanism for countries to export their least favorite citizens, and the fundamental wrongness of that is the kind of detail I'm pretty sure past presidents were aware of.

Oh, and his basis for concluding that China was caught "RED HANDED" sending oil to North Korea was "I hate to say, it was reported this morning, and it was reported on Fox. Oil is going into North Korea." The original report came from the South Korean press citing South Korean officials citing US intelligence since October, but Trump seems to have bypassed the whole intelligence system in favor of Fox News, to the extent that even Christopher Ruddy is trying to ask if the pictures are recent or from months ago.
posted by zachlipton at 7:36 PM on December 28, 2017 [47 favorites]


TRUMP: Maybe I’ll just say a little bit of a [inaudible].

That about sums him up
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:36 PM on December 28, 2017 [35 favorites]


Oh and the closer is a real treat:
We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, “Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.” O.K.
posted by zachlipton at 7:38 PM on December 28, 2017 [26 favorites]


Oh, and his basis for concluding that China was caught "RED HANDED" sending oil to North Korea was "I hate to say, it was reported this morning, and it was reported on Fox. Oil is going into North Korea." The original report came from the South Korean press citing South Korean officials citing US intelligence since October, but Trump seems to have bypassed the whole intelligence system in favor of Fox News, to the extent that even Christopher Ruddy is trying to ask if the pictures are recent or from months ago.

What's even more telling is that the Russians were doing the exact same thing and guess who Trump conveniently forgot to admonish. If he's trying to tell the world he's not a Russian asset he's doing a hell of a job of failing.
posted by Talez at 7:39 PM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


Well, that was a pretty good explanation why The Liberal Media 'let him win' in 2016... we'll see if it holds up four years later.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


The NYT's excerpts from its transcript are, if anything, more damning. He rambles incoherently about geopolitics and international trade, refights the 2016 election, and complains about unfair/dishonest press coverage and the Mueller investigation

Imagine trying to re-run the Alzheimer's study of Reagan's public vocabulary on Trump.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:46 PM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, “Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.” O.K.

Yeah, that sounds alarmingly prescient, actually. That, no matter how obviously, absurdly, over-the-top corrupt, incompetent and corrosive to the country that idiot is, the media must have their horse race and viewership numbers. And if normalizing President Dumbass is what it takes, they’ll do it, because they’ve done it before.
posted by darkstar at 7:50 PM on December 28, 2017 [24 favorites]


Ominous sentence from the Times interview:

“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department, but for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”

In other words: the Justice Department will exonerate me, or else.
posted by bluecore at 7:56 PM on December 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


This is not helpful. @maggieNYT: "Hslf of Twitter thinks the Schmidt interview was revealing about the POTUS because it was his unfiltered thoughts. The other half is angry that @nytmike did not audition as an extra for the courtroom remake of "A Few Good Men" and interrupt him constantly."

THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT HAPPENS IN THAT MOVIE is that a very arrogant man gets asked a simple question like a handful of times, and that causes him to spontaneously confess to a serious crime.
posted by zachlipton at 7:58 PM on December 28, 2017 [95 favorites]


And if normalizing President Dumbass is what it takes, they’ll do it, because they’ve done it before.

They'll find a way to demonize Gillibrand while leftists will complain that Trump isn't that bad and she once supported guns.

Is there any way I can place a bet on it?
posted by Talez at 8:04 PM on December 28, 2017 [13 favorites]


This is not helpful.

We can get his unfiltered thoughts most mornings at 6am EST. What we need is someone who can actually press him on his talking points until he breaks down like the weeping overwhelmed manchild that he is.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:05 PM on December 28, 2017 [21 favorites]


Maggie Habermann is why Trump's characterization of why the media "will let him win" is 100% accurate, she's been doing her best to re-elect him since November 9th, after doing her best to elect him to begin with. He might not have the best words, but when it comes to the New York Times, he's not wrong.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:07 PM on December 28, 2017 [31 favorites]


“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion. And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times. There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion.”

Man.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:24 PM on December 28, 2017 [37 favorites]


Well, it's logically sound but rhetorically... leaves something to be desired.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:04 PM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Trump Inc. Had a Rough Year, but His D.C. Hotel Is Killing It.
President Trump himself appears to be interested as well. Since his inauguration, he has maintained that he isn’t involved in the management of his businesses. But an email from the director of revenue management for the Trump Hotel in Washington, which The Daily Beast reviewed, indicates that may not be the case.

Jeng Chi Hung, who holds that position, sent that email to an acquaintance on Sept. 12 of this year. The email opens with a few pleasantries. Then, Hung writes that he met with Trump, and that the president asked him specific questions about banquet revenues, demographics, and how his presidency impacted the business.

The email says this:

The company is interesting to work for being under the Trump umbrella. DJT is supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he's definitely still involved... so it's interesting and unique in that way. I had a brief meeting with him a few weeks ago, and he was asking about banquet revenues and demographics. And, he asked if his presidency hurt the businesses. So, he seems self aware about things, at least more than he lets on. I am far left leaning politically, so working here has been somewhat of a challenge for me. But, it's all business.
posted by scalefree at 9:06 PM on December 28, 2017 [17 favorites]


Surely this will rouse the Republicans to impeach him.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:27 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


I see [inaudible] has made a roaring comeback in our President's rapidly diminishing vocabulary. Part of me agrees that simply reprinting his ramblings should be damning enough, but most of me feels that Trump doesn't need any more stenographers, particularly in the NYT, which has done plenty of that already. And even remotely challenging questions are likely to either stump him into another incoherent ramble, or get him to admit things explicitly, like he did in continually sinking the Muslim ban.

They'll find a way to demonize Gillibrand while leftists will complain that Trump isn't that bad and she once supported guns.

Can we not with these strawman swipes at the left
posted by Existential Dread at 9:44 PM on December 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


Looks like 2018 is going to be a GREAT year for the Republicans... according to Newt.
from a site that read his 'column' on Fox News... so we don't have to.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:49 PM on December 28, 2017


It's hardly a strawman, its a view that was espoused many times in past megathreads completely seriously until it was slapped down finally. Just because you disagree with a view doesn't make it a strawman.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:51 PM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


Try to imagine the NYT giving that interview to Obama or Clinton without a single serious followup question, without challenging one single assertion. This isn't nearly the first time they've done this. We're long past the point of reasonable journalistic differences in tactics, or even pretending to follow the most basic journalistic standards at all, and well into active and intentional aiding and abetting of an attempted authoritarian regime.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:08 PM on December 28, 2017 [53 favorites]


Left Twitter has spent the past week engaging in a one-last-dance rematch with Not-Left-Enough Twitter on the topic of whether one H. Rodham Clinton is a decent enough person to be left alone now even though she is clearly never going to run for President again. So, that strawman is giving me some very real hay fever. And don't get me started on Greenwald.

I did see some guy trying to slut-shame Kamala Harris in advance of any presidential run, signaling what is likely to be done to any female candidate throwing a hat in the ring, while at the same time trying to appeal to uber-lefty objectors to her history as a prosecutor. So that's definitely a thing.
posted by dhartung at 11:28 PM on December 28, 2017 [18 favorites]


Can you please send me a link to the bit about Harris? Critiquing her prosecutorial record is permissible, but slut shaming seems rather out of line.

In general, I find it weird that the right And the left spend so much time talking about Hillary, tbh.
posted by bootlegpop at 11:32 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's like he's giving out a free sample lesson from the Donald Trump [Inaudible] of Law:

"Look, No. 1, I don't even need to make a case, but No. 2, Alan Dershowitz says this is not Wookie collusion, he said that very strongly. And remember, No. 1: I don't even need to make a case."
posted by riverlife at 11:41 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think it's actually a good sign so many political asshats can't stop talking about Hillary Clinton... it reduces the amount they can work on discrediting anybody else...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:45 PM on December 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Surely this will rouse the Republicans to impeach him.

Too soon!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:55 PM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Well, it's logically sound but rhetorically... leaves something to be desired.

It leave out the whole: The Russians committed a crime offering the Trump Campaign information that would hurt his opponent, and the Trump campaign Hayulped! ( as opposed to reporting the Russian's criminal act to the FBI )
posted by mikelieman at 5:09 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


What We Learned From Trump’s Rambling New York Times Interview (NYMag)
1. Trump doesn’t sound like he’s on the verge of firing Mueller.

2. However, Trump still thinks he has the right to fire Mueller.

3. Trump also maintains that Justice Department officials should be “loyal” to their president.

4. Trump claims it was his duty to endorse Roy Moore.

5. Trump is a policy wonk beloved by nearly all Republicans in Congress. (And don’t forget, he’s also “much more humble than you would understand.”)

6. Trump gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News.

7. Trump is going to win in 2020 because the media is biased … in his favor.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:24 AM on December 29, 2017 [24 favorites]


I did see some guy trying to slut-shame Kamala Harris in advance of any presidential run, signaling what is likely to be done to any female candidate throwing a hat in the ring, while at the same time trying to appeal to uber-lefty objectors to her history as a prosecutor.

I'm not sure the prosecutorial stuff is her biggest liability in terms of her political track record, her role in the subprime/robosigning mortgage settlements that preempted peoples' ability to sue personally wasn't so great either.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:46 AM on December 29, 2017 [9 favorites]


What We Learned From Trump’s Rambling New York Times Interview (NYMag)

A dear friend of mine married a woman who turned out to have significant clinical issues with objective reality, and gave me this analogy:
"It is futile to try to find common ground about the sky with someone to whom the sky really is green."
I have since learned much more about Cognitive Framing's relationship with resolving issues. I am still saddened by seeing someone like that not given the needed care.
posted by mikelieman at 5:51 AM on December 29, 2017 [11 favorites]


I am still saddened by seeing someone like that not given the needed care.

Really? A billionaire, with the best health insurance money can can't buy, surrounded by personal physicians and advisors, whose sole obstacle to needed care is his own refusal to point at an underling and say "You, help me, now"? Who delights in dragging an entire country down out of spite at the fact that nobody can make him get the help he needs, for the good of himself and literally the entire planet?

I'm not saddened. I'm pissed off.
posted by Rykey at 6:10 AM on December 29, 2017 [51 favorites]


The Risk of an Anti-Consumer CFPB
"[T]he installation of Mick Mulvaney has echoes of the Merrick Garland Supreme Court seat battle. If Mulvaney is entrenched at CFPB, we can expect that President Trump will be in no rush to nominate a permanent director any time soon. Instead, the President may be tempted to leave Mulvaney in place as long as possible. If President Trump takes the most aggressive posture (and when does he not?), he could wait to nominate a permanent director until the end of his first term in office approaches. That way, a permanent director would serve for another five years—long after Trump’s first (and possibly only) term in office has expired. The next President might not be allowed to appoint a director at all."
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:14 AM on December 29, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm not saddened. I'm pissed off.

These are not mutually exclusive conditions.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:52 AM on December 29, 2017 [10 favorites]


These are not mutually exclusive conditions.

I don't want to get chatty, but I would be enraged if I had any energy left. Publicly, THANK YOU Rykey for raging in my stead.
posted by mikelieman at 7:00 AM on December 29, 2017


The Daily Beast reports that Trump has just fired the entire Presidential HIV/AIDS advisory committee, by Fed-Ex letter but without explanation.
posted by Devonian at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2017 [33 favorites]


Soon all the Executive Branch will be is the Pentagon and law enforcement.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 AM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


Try to imagine the NYT giving that interview to Obama or Clinton without a single serious followup question, without challenging one single assertion. This isn't nearly the first time they've done this. We're long past the point of reasonable journalistic differences in tactics, or even pretending to follow the most basic journalistic standards at all, and well into active and intentional aiding and abetting of an attempted authoritarian regime.

The reporter didn't even ask obvious, basic questions in the face of obvious, transparently arrogant lies. Worse, the paper didn't rebut or fact-check anything Trump said. They simply chose to print his words without performing journalistic due diligence in any way.

That's a damned travesty.

The first defense that's usually given when reporters don't push back against Trump is that they are probably afraid of causing offense. Which is a garbage excuse that any first year journalism student would reject as ridiculous.

The second defense that's usually brought up is that the reporter or outlet is afraid of losing access to the President. Which may very well be a valid concern for the Times -- except it hasn't been one for the Washington Post, who have gone after Trump with claws out and teeth bared for at least a year. And the Times is a larger newspaper than the WashPost, with wider domestic and international reach. So we can toss that excuse into the garbage as well.

Meanwhile, Maggie Haberman is defending the reporter:

@maggieNYT: Hslf of Twitter thinks the Schmidt interview was revealing about the POTUS because it was his unfiltered thoughts. The other half is angry that @nytmike did not audition as an extra for the courtroom remake of "A Few Good Men" and interrupt him constantly.

@maggieNYT: Trump talking unfiltered has historically been vastly more revealing than jousting matches where he shuts down. The most revealing and significant things he's said in the last year were in these kinds of interviews.

Let's ignore a journalist's responsibility and ethical obligations to their readers for a moment and assume she's right.

So why didn't the Times pick apart the interview afterward? The Post does it. They often print an interview and then also offer analyses in a sidebar or separate article. The Times has spent years doing the same for other administrations as well as in a vast range of other transcribed interviews and speeches.

Journalism is more than an exercise in recording what a subject says. In printing their words, the media is expected to place them in larger context. That's their responsibility to the public. If the journalist isn't going to do that, then the media outlet they work for should be doing so. Otherwise, what is the point of having a Fourth Estate at all? Why bother having news media if they're not going to report news properly? They're failing their mission and their readers by omitting that step.
posted by zarq at 7:53 AM on December 29, 2017 [87 favorites]


@maggieNYT: Hslf of Twitter thinks the Schmidt interview was revealing about the POTUS because it was his unfiltered thoughts. The other half is angry that @nytmike did not audition as an extra for the courtroom remake of "A Few Good Men" and interrupt him constantly.

This metaphor is nonsensical. An extra is a non-speaking background part.
posted by zakur at 8:17 AM on December 29, 2017 [29 favorites]


It's hardly a strawman, its a view that was espoused many times in past megathreads completely seriously until it was slapped down finally. Just because you disagree with a view doesn't make it a strawman.

The idea that leftists and left-wing Democrats are so unwilling to compromise on guns that they would help the press sabotage Gillibrand over it is pretty funny when you consider the 2016 primary, which does indeed make it a pretty unfair swipe.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:34 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


This metaphor is nonsensical. An extra is a non-speaking background part.

Media: "We're proud to not be representing you're interests and catering the whims of the powerful."
Public: *your
posted by carsonb at 8:42 AM on December 29, 2017 [23 favorites]


But Schmidt didn't let Trump speak unfiltered. When Trump stumbled for words Schmidt was very helpful in completing his sentences for him, suggesting phrases that made Trump look good. You might call this "collusion" rather than interview.
posted by JackFlash at 8:49 AM on December 29, 2017 [53 favorites]


when you consider the 2016 primary

what even is that
posted by beerperson at 9:00 AM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


trump thinks out loud to himself through the media. He’s living in the funhouse mirror shack and loving it.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on December 29, 2017 [6 favorites]


VA HOD update: Random drawing for winner in HD-94 is now scheduled for Jan 4, 11 am ET, unless courts order otherwise.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:36 AM on December 29, 2017 [9 favorites]


What We Learned From Trump’s Rambling New York Times Interview (NYMag)
1. Trump doesn’t sound like he’s on the verge of firing Mueller.

2. However, Trump still thinks he has the right to fire Mueller.
As Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand points out, Team Trump has switched tactics. In the NYT interview, Trump doesn't threaten to fire Mueller outright - because he was repeatedly warned not to until it finally sunk in - but instead he sets up nebulous expectations of "fairness" from his investigation: "I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair. And based on that [inaudible*]. There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair. And if he’s fair — because everybody knows the answer already, Michael. I want you to treat me fairly. O.K.?" Whatever Trump's concept of fairness, he clearly implies that it would show no collusion, so if Mueller finds otherwise, then that must be, ipso facto, unfair.

He then proceeded to repeat how there's "no collusion", for the benefit of his partisans who have been attacking Mueller: "Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up. If you look at what’s going on — and in fact, what it’s done is, it’s really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it’s ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion."

Trump's stupid, but he's not completely stupid. Although he lies incessantly and egregiously, he does understand, on some level, that he needs to frame any discussion about the Mueller investigation before it concludes in order to have a hope of combatting its findings. Since he can't do that directly, he has to supply his partisans with pretexts.

Sure enough, Team Trump has been hard at work (unlike Trump himself). On Fox News this morning, WSJ editorial writer James Freeman took up Trump's making-the-country-look-bad line of attack: "If it turns out that [the Russia probe] really was just a Democratic opposition research effort that morphed into a government investigation, I think it has been bad for the country..." Recused-but-not-recused Rep. Devin Nunes continues to feud with Dept. AG Rod Rosenstein over turning over FBI documents related to the Steele Dossier, with support from SC Rep. Trey Gowdy on Laura Ingraham's show and FL Rep. Francis Rooney on Fox and Friends. And Fox's 2017 Awards bestowed Mueller with their Never-ending Story Award ("any chance you’ll wrap this up soon?"). By comparison, Fox hardly seems to have covered Trump's NYT interview directly.

* Incidentally, why were there three dozen occasions in the transcript where Trump was "inaudible"? Did the NYT reporter's recorder fail repeatedly or was there too much background noise? Would it be more accurate if the NYT had described these lapses in Trump's rambling as "unintelligible"? In which case, wouldn't that be a significant sign of, you know, cognitive impairment, not just geriatric rambling?
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:49 AM on December 29, 2017 [34 favorites]


They'll find a way to demonize Gillibrand while leftists will complain that Trump isn't that bad and she once supported guns.

For what it's worth, the data I've seen suggest that the more liberal you are, the more you disapprove of Trump. Pew's affluent, white "solid liberals" disapprove of Trump the most, but 91% of the majority-minority "disaffected Democrats" disapprove of his job performance, a strong second-place showing, and none of Pew's divisions actually support him. Now of course left is not liberal - it's hard to imagine that those white, affluent solid liberals are communists - but it's tough to find a survey that splits that particular hair.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2017 [6 favorites]


Incidentally, why were there three dozen occasions in the transcript where Trump was "inaudible"?

Yeah, if you're going to interview the President for an article in the NYT, maybe do it in such a way that large portions of it aren't inadudible.
posted by diogenes at 9:57 AM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's been noted before in these threads that "inaudible" means that Trump's advisers purposely talked over him so that the transcript couldn't reflect a particularly wrong or likely to cause legal trouble statement. I assume that's the case here. The NYT doesn't have the balls to just say that, unfortunately.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:02 AM on December 29, 2017 [16 favorites]


Yeah would it kill them to note it as [interruption] or, as would be noted in pretty much any other interview, [crosstalk] ?
posted by phearlez at 10:04 AM on December 29, 2017 [15 favorites]


It's been noted before in these threads that "inaudible" means that Trump's advisers purposely talked over him so that the transcript couldn't reflect a particularly wrong or likely to cause legal trouble statement. I assume that's the case here.

Trump was flying solo, according to the NYT: "No aides were present for the interview, and the president sat alone with a New York Times reporter at a large round table as club members chatted and ate lunch nearby."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:11 AM on December 29, 2017 [17 favorites]


> I did see some guy trying to slut-shame Kamala Harris in advance of any presidential run, signaling what is likely to be done to any female candidate throwing a hat in the ring...

I don't doubt that this happened, because assholes exist. I do, however, object to trotting out stuff like this from some random jackass on Twitter, or wherever you found it, as 'proof that anybody who supports paid family leave or universal access to health care is a misogynist bigot who hates women.' These are policies both Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand support. Gillibrand has introduced family leave legislation five times since she's been in the Senate, which suggests it's something she actually cares about, something she thinks a lot of her constituents care about, and wants to be known for supporting.

If either Harris or Gillibrand ends up running, I think moderate Democrats who oppose these policies will need to come up with better arguments against them than just attacking everyone who supports them as a racist, misogynist bigot and trying to drive them out of the Party. You must have some reasons why you think the actual policies you hate are so terrible, right?
posted by nangar at 10:13 AM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


Digby asks Why Are All These Florida Republicans Attacking Robert Mueller?
Maybe it’s a coincidence that Florida congressmen benefited from Russian hacking, and now bemoan the "deep state."
posted by adamvasco at 10:18 AM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


@maggieNYT: Hslf of Twitter thinks the Schmidt interview was revealing about the POTUS because it was his unfiltered thoughts. The other half is angry that @nytmike did not audition as an extra for the courtroom remake of "A Few Good Men" and interrupt him constantly.

Nonsensical metaphor or not, it's also a bullshit argument as Daniel Dale who's been covering Trump for the Toronto Star since the beginning and Rob Ford before that points out. You don't have to go full Lt. Kaffee to add value to an interview.

@ddale8
I think people can wrongly frame the idea of "challenging him" as if it means "fighting with him." It often means asking for simple clarification - as simple as saying "could you be more specific there?" or "what's your evidence for what you said there?"
- There's a ton of space in between show-boatily cross-examining Trump and cheerfully doing what interviewers do with almost every other politician every day - respectfully prod for logical errors, respectfully encourage to be specific, respectfully request facts and evidence.
- Many of these Trump interviews would be improved by the reporter saying things as basic as "sorry, what does that mean?" I'm not demanding people go Johnnie Cochran, I'm requesting elementary interview "tactics" used on student council politicians.
- Finally, I'd like to reiterate that a huge part of the issue is the post-interview handling of the nonsense. In print, we don't have to challenge every one in real time; it's not performance like TV interviews are. We do, however, have an obligation to challenge in our articles.
- I think "he might walk away!" is not a concern. We learned almost nothing from the no-challenge NYT interview; he spoke how he speaks, lies how he lies to Fox and on Twitter. If he walks away because you politely ask for evidence, that's his embarrassment.
posted by chris24 at 10:31 AM on December 29, 2017 [90 favorites]


It is going to be sweeter than mana from heaven if Rs lose a couple of tight congressional seats because the candidates themselves, as well as the head of the party, are embroiled in shady deals with Russian hackers.

1984 - Strong on defense, Fiscal responsibility, Traditional values.
2018 - Russian Puppets, Reverse Robin Hood, Roy Moore.
posted by eclectist at 10:36 AM on December 29, 2017 [13 favorites]


C'mon. The only difference between 1984 republicans, all of them, and the ones today is that they now don't care that the Potemkin village has been exposed for what it is.
  • "Strong on defense" is one of the easiest ways to redistribute wealth upwards (and also satisfies their need to bully)
  • Republicans have never been "fiscally responsible", see previous point
  • Roy Moore is the very embodiment of "traditional republican values"
posted by maxwelton at 10:44 AM on December 29, 2017 [28 favorites]


Not to mention 1980s Republicans were more than happy to secretly work with a sworn enemy of the United States if it meant they could get electoral advantages and bypass existing laws. So, no real difference between now and then.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:16 AM on December 29, 2017 [19 favorites]


And you can substitute just about any moral, political or scientific issue for climate change and the tweet still works.

@SeanMcElwee
genuinely amazing that the media will hold jenna fischer to account for tweets about tax code arcana but has let the entire republican party lie about the science of climate change for two decades
posted by chris24 at 11:53 AM on December 29, 2017 [67 favorites]


Some inspirational writing The Democratic Party Is Yours For The Taking “It will take some work, but I guarantee that it will be easier than you think. This and unionizing your workplace are good new year’s resolutions, if you don’t have one already.”
posted by The Whelk at 11:55 AM on December 29, 2017 [29 favorites]


As long as parties have an organizational need to protect themselves and survive as institutions and legal entities over the long term, the pols affiliated with whatever party will continue to have strong institutional incentives to put the interests of the party organization ahead of legislating their conscience freely and purely in the public interest. So while the best short to mid term plan for repairing the damage to American democracy without a doubt is to support and push the Democratic party to the left and help it win, we still won't see the public interest take front and center reliably in our system ahead of wealthy private and industrial interests IMO without public campaign financing reform and drastically weakening if not eliminating the party system.

The Dems, too, have to be mindful not to piss off their funders, even if they haven't gone all in on abandoning every higher principle and standard of decency in that pursuit the way the Republican Party has in recent decades.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:36 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


You'd be causing trouble for entities like The New York Times Company and the Washington Post Company [with a constitutional amendment stating that corporations don't share individual rights].

I don't think so, because the First Amendment specifically grants separate rights to "the press," which is by definition a collective (corporate) endeavor.
posted by msalt at 12:37 PM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


But a constitutional amendment stating that corporations don't share individual rights might be worded to specifically apply to "press" owned by larger "non-press" entities... Jeff Bezos would have to sell the WaPo and Comcast divest NBC News, and the AT&T/Warner merger would be dead... it gets fuzzy with looser definitions of "press"... think of the media-but-not-really-press parts of Disney.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:10 PM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't think so, because the First Amendment specifically grants separate rights to "the press," which is by definition a collective (corporate) endeavor.

But more recent amendments are generally read as superceding earlier amendments, so an amendment which prohibits rights to collective corporate endeavors would reasonably be read to, uh, amend that right. But then we're getting in to legal weeds.
posted by Justinian at 1:15 PM on December 29, 2017


Facebook is showing me Trump had a bunch of Coast Guard guys out to his golf club to say thanks and whatever. (Notably, it's all white dudes, but that fits with his base.) I thought when I was discharged I wouldn't feel this nauseous anymore because I wouldn't have to fight seasickness, but somehow the Coast Guard has me feeling pukey once again.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:18 PM on December 29, 2017 [6 favorites]


Incoherent, authoritarian, uninformed: Trump’s New York Times interview is a scary read

The president of the United States is not well
. (Ezra Klein, Vox)
Imagine how we would react to literally any other president speaking like this. Trump has bludgeoned us into becoming accustomed to these kinds of comments but that, too, is worrying.

This is the president of the United States speaking to the New York Times. His comments are, by turns, incoherent, incorrect, conspiratorial, delusional, self-aggrandizing, and underinformed. This is not a partisan judgment — indeed, the interview is rarely coherent or specific enough to classify the points Trump makes on a recognizable left-right spectrum. As has been true since he entered American politics, Trump is interested in Trump — over the course of the interview, he mentions his Electoral College strategy seven times, in each case using it to underscore his political savvy and to suggest that he could easily have won the popular vote if he had tried.

I am not a medical professional, and I will not pretend to know what is truly happening here. It’s become a common conversation topic in Washington to muse on whether the president is suffering from some form of cognitive decline or psychological malady. I don’t think those hypotheses are necessary or meaningful. Whatever the cause, it is plainly obvious from Trump’s words that this is not a man fit to be president, that he is not well or capable in some fundamental way. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, and so many prefer not to say it, but Trump does not occupy a job where such deficiencies can be safely ignored.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:46 PM on December 29, 2017 [98 favorites]


The Whelk: Some inspirational writing The Democratic Party Is Yours For The Taking “It will take some work, but I guarantee that it will be easier than you think. This and unionizing your workplace are good new year’s resolutions, if you don’t have one already.”

I've seen a lot of these kinds of articles lately. It's all well and good to say hey you should become involved in and/or take over your local Democratic party but I would love it if they could do anything to say what that even means.

Like, maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but for someone like me who cares but has no idea where to go or who to talk to or how to get started or, hell, what my local government even does (other than erecting a lot of barriers to installing solar panels), it mostly just makes me feel even more soul-crushingly useless.

So, great! yes! I want to help! ...now what?
posted by ragtag at 2:30 PM on December 29, 2017 [10 favorites]


Ella Nilsen, Vox: Republicans control Washington. Progressives are trying to reclaim the rest of America.
“I don’t think there’s a position too small to start building progressive power, especially with all the energy you’re seeing among progressives this year not just in opposing Trump, but also recognizing how important it is to push for progressive policies like minimum wage to universal health care,” Democracy for America spokesperson Vivek Kembaiyan told McClatchy’s Alex Roarty this summer.

Groups like the Working Families Party, Bernie Sanders’s group Our Revolution, Run for Something, Democracy For America, Mobilize America, and Sister District all either endorsed or assisted local candidates in different ways, whether it was with field organizing or fundraising assistance. These groups either complemented or filled in for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Democratic Party’s arm focusing on state legislative races.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:37 PM on December 29, 2017 [13 favorites]


Ragtag, school boards, community councils and local Democratic Clubs are usually cited as easy entry points did you making change as well as looking at local activist groups or canvassing and collation building.
posted by The Whelk at 2:44 PM on December 29, 2017


So, great! yes! I want to help! ...now what?

In terms of actually changing things?

In order of importance:
Senator
House Member
State Upper House
State Lower House

Do any of these have a reasonable chance of being flipped if they aren't blue already? Find out who's tossing their hats in for the Democrats, figure out which one you like, and contact their war machine to find out how to help. If you have rich friends or industry connections get them to toss in if possible. After the primaries, go to the primary winner's war machine and help them flip it.

Town Council - If this isn't blue run for it yourself.

If you're like me and live in a solid blue everything area, find your nearest purple district and go ask what you can do to help. For me it involved going to New Hampshire to help Maggie Hassan and Carol Shea-Porter get elected.
posted by Talez at 2:50 PM on December 29, 2017 [16 favorites]


That Vox article is scary, but I've been especially horrified lately to realize that no one is even talking anymore about how the POTUS, one year into term, continually criticizes and belittles his former opponent. STILL. This is not fucking normal. I can't think of a single POTUS before that continued harassing their opponent. And I can only imagine the outrage if Obama had tweeted even one pissy tweet about Romney in 2012.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:52 PM on December 29, 2017 [64 favorites]


Charles Pierce in Esquire:
What Schmidt actually got out of this interview is a far more serious problem for the country. In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.
posted by zakur at 3:07 PM on December 29, 2017 [37 favorites]


So, great! yes! I want to help! ...now what?

Do a search and find out when the primaries/caucuses are in your state for the Democratic party. They will be sometime in spring or summer of 2018, because there are general elections in November, 2018.

At a minimum, plan to vote in the primaries or attend the caucuses. That's your most direct influence on the direction of the party. Of course, first you'll have to figure out who you support!

If you do figure out who you support, go to their website and look for links to volunteer for their campaign (or use their contact form and ask how you can help.)

If there's no one you support, you could start planning your own run for office, or encourage someone you could support to run...

If you want to help other candidates around you (not necessarily your own district), I find that joining some "indivisible" Facebook groups is a good place to find out about door knocking, post card writing, and phone banking events. The name of the game is TURN OUT. You are trying to find people who might be willing to vote for the candidates you like and get their asses into voting booths. Social media is another good way to do this. Like and share news about the candidates you support -- help them get their message out there. You can also host your own events! Fundraisers don't have to be $1000 per plate -- you can throw a party with a $5 door charge or hold a bake sale, and donate the proceeds to the candidate of your choice (though you should try to find out the relevant campaign finance laws first!) And you can protest. You can show up at public events holding banners. You can march in parades. You and your friends (after reading up on campaign finance laws) can rent a billboard. You can get T-shirts and bumper stickers made. The message can be whatever YOU want the message to be.

If you are a donor, a fundraiser, a primary voter/caucus-goer, a campaign volunteer, a person with a social media following who promotes candidates... You'll inevitably get to know people and form personal relationships with people in politics too, with all that. I think you will find you quickly become very influential in your local Democratic party, especially if you bring a bunch of friends with you who ALSO do all those things!
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:20 PM on December 29, 2017 [16 favorites]


All of that, absolutely. Go knock doors. Midterms are already gearing up.
posted by dogheart at 3:25 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]




You could use that formulation with a lot of things, though

"Neighborhood cat knows more about nuclear triad than Trump"

"Potted plant knows more about supreme court than Trump"
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:00 PM on December 29, 2017 [38 favorites]


It looks like David A. Clarke Jr. has been pulled into the web.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer asshole.
posted by Talez at 4:26 PM on December 29, 2017 [18 favorites]


That request for a search warrant on David Clarke is from March, though. What is the relevance now?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 PM on December 29, 2017


They've executed it and let the public know today.
posted by Talez at 4:31 PM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


The FBI seems to have closed that Clarke investigation back in May. Nobody is quite sure why the warrant surfaced now, except endbof the year housekeeping perhaps, but it seems over and done with now as far as anyone knows.

Harassing that man at the airport was certainly an abuse of his power, but I’m more concerned with why he was never prosecuted for running a jail that denied inmates water.
posted by zachlipton at 4:34 PM on December 29, 2017 [9 favorites]




ProPublica, Trump Justice Department Pushes for Citizenship Question on Census, Alarming Experts
The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them. That, in turn, could have potentially large ripple effects for everything the once-a-decade census determines — from how congressional seats are distributed around the country to where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.

The DOJ made the request in a previously unreported letter, dated Dec. 12 and obtained by ProPublica, from DOJ official Arthur Gary to the top official at the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department. The letter argues that the DOJ needs better citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act “and its important protections against racial discrimination in voting.”
...
“This is a recipe for sabotaging the census,” said Arturo Vargas, a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Census and the executive director of NALEO Educational Fund, a Latino advocacy group. “When you start adding last-minute questions that are not tested — how will the public understand the question? How much will it suppress response rates?”
posted by zachlipton at 4:57 PM on December 29, 2017 [43 favorites]


Atom Eyes: "A little photo fun for your weekend [via Twitter]"
"This media may contain sensitive material. Learn more"

I guess that's Twitter's way of saying the sadfucks are easily triggered…
posted by Pinback at 5:19 PM on December 29, 2017 [6 favorites]


@SheriffClarke
Red Square near the Kremlin with a Russian officer. Met earlier with Russian Foreign Minister who spoke on Mid East.
10:42 AM - 10 Dec 2015

@SheriffClarke
Visited a Russian gun manufacturer today and test fired weapons including an Orsis T5000M sniper rifle. 338 cal.
2:29 PM - 11 Dec 2015

Daily Beast: Clarke reported that Butina’s organization paid $6,000 for his meals, hotel, transportation, and excursions during his time in Russia. Brownell, the CEO of a prominent firearms company and an NRA board member, paid for the remainder, including his airfare and visas. [...] In another photo, Rogozin is at a conference table with Clarke and Brownell. Putin ally and former Russian senator Alexander Torshin is also seated with the group, along with a number of other unidentified individuals.

I don't know if Clarke was successfully cultivated into an asset, but they sure tried to woo him.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:26 PM on December 29, 2017 [22 favorites]


but I’m more concerned with why he was never prosecuted for running a jail that denied inmates water.

Well, it looks like the people serving the warrant are concerned, too.

"Section 241 makes it unlawful for two or more persons to agree together to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the Unites States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same)."

"Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States."
posted by tllaya at 5:34 PM on December 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


Politico: Two Republican senators have called off a planned trip to Russia after the Kremlin denied a visa to a Democratic colleague, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Shaheen was a strong backer of the sanctions bill. Still, seems dumb on Russia's part.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:10 PM on December 29, 2017 [8 favorites]


Holy fucking shit people *already* irrationally distrust the census. Adding such a question would be hideous.
posted by odinsdream at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2017 [11 favorites]




Could we refuse to answer any citizenship question on a census form? I mean everyone, not just immigrants. Is it legal to refuse to answer?
posted by Gadgetenvy at 6:24 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


Chris Geidner (who, as an end of year aside, has done really kickass work all year), The Trump Administration Has Stopped Fighting The Jan. 1 Deadline For Accepting Trans Military Recruits. They will continue to fight at then district court level to ban trans recruits, but DOJ has dropped appeals and appear to be prepared to meet the January 1 deadline.
posted by zachlipton at 6:49 PM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


Prepare yourself for how fast the narrative will change to “That poor sick old man can’t be held responsible for his actions and decisions...none of which need to be re-examined or reversed, of course” if and when it needs to.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:51 PM on December 29, 2017 [36 favorites]


Daily Kos: Senate Republicans want to change the rules again to jam the courts with Trump appointees.

This is the last thing they need from Trump, using him to pack the courts they'd been keeping empty throughout Obama's presidency.
posted by scalefree at 7:05 PM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]


This is the last thing they need from Trump

...we hope.
posted by MrVisible at 7:13 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's the first thing they wanted from any Republican President... but Trump is being slow in making nominations and some of the nominees have embarrassed themselves in front of the Senators so much that they have lost support from some of the partisan Rs or withdrawn. So speeding up the confirmation process will help them but not solve all their problems.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:26 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


Trump was flying solo, according to the NYT: "No aides were present for the interview, and the president sat alone with a New York Times reporter at a large round table as club members chatted and ate lunch nearby."

The Washington Post describes it this way,
The interview was enabled by Christopher Ruddy — a club member with a level of personal access to the president in Florida that rankles White House staffers. He invited New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt as his personal guest to lunch at Trump International Golf Club, sat near Trump’s regular table and brought the reporter over to meet the president, who was still in his golf clothes.

As word trickled back to the White House, advisers worked to reach the president, with Trump’s personal aide interrupting at one point to hand him a cellphone with White House communications director Hope Hicks on the line; she checked in on the interview from afar.
Also included is that the Troll-in-chief loved the attention, it got people talking about him on tv again:
Trump was enthusiastic about the interview and was pleased that the Times was at his golf course, people briefed on the interview said. The president, they added, enjoyed the coverage afterward and noted that it dominated TV most of Friday.
posted by peeedro at 7:34 PM on December 29, 2017 [9 favorites]


The media is being played by this dotard.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:41 PM on December 29, 2017 [17 favorites]


They're not being played, they're fully aware that he's using them and happily abetting his authoritarianism because the benefit to them is ratings and subscriptions. Just like they did throughout 2016.

If you haven't canceled the New York Times yet, today would be a great day to do it and cite their sycophantic stenography as the explicit reason. Or Maggie Habermann's twitter account.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:09 PM on December 29, 2017 [38 favorites]


I mean, but every newspaper in the land said trump was the bad bet in their editorial pages, and it didn’t make a difference. Honestly, I get you saying they should follow every sentence trump says with a “but actually” but the bottom line is reality tv is americas darling and now we have a reality tv president. Our best hope is in knowing that guy fieri hadda close a restaurant; eventually even duck dynasty slips in the ratings.
posted by valkane at 8:30 PM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]


This is the last thing they need from Trump

They might get the last thing they need, but don't think they'll lift a finger to get rid of him if and when they do. It's not just that they don't want to piss off their base and be electorally or literally murdered by it: the GOP are lazy and feckless and haven't shown competence in day-to-day governance in aeons. They're unwilling or unable to do their basic housekeeping, and after they have their Christmas Day, Trump will be a gross and useless dead tree standing in the living room forever.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:43 PM on December 29, 2017 [7 favorites]


Honestly, I get you saying they should follow every sentence trump says with a “but actually” but the bottom line

This is literally what journalism is. And it's what the NYT has declined to do at every turn with the Trump campaign and now administration.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:51 PM on December 29, 2017 [27 favorites]


Donald Trump made 25 false claims in his latest New York Times interview
U.S. President Donald Trump sat down Thursday for a rare interview with a media outlet other than Fox News, holding an impromptu 30-minute session with New York Times reported Michael Schmidt at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He made nearly one false claim per minute — 25 false claims in all.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:31 PM on December 29, 2017 [21 favorites]


Contra Trump, Collusion Is Already a Slam Dunk
To me, there is abundant evidence already in the record that the Trump campaign sought to gain information from the Russians that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton. Trump actually asked the Russians to hack into Clinton’s private server, which would be a crime, and retrieve the 33,000 emails she failed to turn over because, she says, they were not work-related. Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner had a meeting with the Russians where they were promised dirt on Clinton. The head of Cambridge Analytica, a contractor for the Trump campaign, actually contacted WikiLeaks and requested access to Clinton’s deleted mails. Roger Stone and Randy Credico actually communicated with Guccifer 2.0 and Julian Assange to get advanced warning about what kinds of information would be forthcoming in each batch of leaks.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:34 PM on December 29, 2017 [18 favorites]


Donald Trump made 25 false claims in his latest New York Times interview

Daniel Dale: I won’t have a full weekly update until Tuesday, but Trump’s clutch last-minute NYT interview pushed him over the 1,000-false-claim barrier for 2017.


NT Alexandra Petri, WaPo: Republicans’ New Year’s delusion
Not unlike Congress, I have always been addicted to futile and meaningless resolutions. […]

The recent tax plan suggests that Congress shares my approach of assuming that for no reason something unspeakably wonderful will happen. And President Trump has signed it into law.

They are certain that people will come to love the bill, once they get to know it. Given that the bill was scrawled hastily in Sharpie on the back of a Best Buy receipt at 3 a.m., then snuck through during a week when most people had abandoned hope and gone on vacation, I am not sure how Republicans know that we will love it, but who can say.

The fewer details you know about a thing like that, the better. It has “tax cuts” in the name.

The good news is that nothing like this has happened since the 1980s, so probably we were overdue for it. Then again, this is also true of smallpox.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:40 PM on December 29, 2017 [22 favorites]


Oh god. I just realized that after the big tax cut of '81 they started closing loopholes in '82 and '84 to plug the giant hole in the budget.

That's not going to happen this time.
posted by Talez at 3:00 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


*reading all the morning headlines which all say that the interview was problematic* why are people still surprised by this??? He’s given a hundred similar interviews!!
posted by Melismata at 4:53 AM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


Like, maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but for someone like me who cares but has no idea where to go or who to talk to or how to get started or, hell, what my local government even does (other than erecting a lot of barriers to installing solar panels), it mostly just makes me feel even more soul-crushingly useless.

So, great! yes! I want to help! ...now what?


Ragtag, and whoever else might find this helpful, if you want to MeMail me the city/town you live in, I can try to find the local Democratic party committee for you.

How it works in Massachusetts, and I think in most other states, is that there is a state Democratic party. Under that umbrella, there are city/town committees. Under that umbrella, there are ward committees. The city/town committees are comprised of the members of the ward committees. In MA, ward committees are elected as a slate every four years on the presidential primary ballot. To get on the slate, you can gather signatures of registered Dems in your ward, but the easier way is to join the ward committee after the election, if it has empty seats available (and it probably has empty seats available), you can get voted in by a majority of the ward committee, and then if you remain a member you'll be on the slate for the next election. I dove into local politics hardcore last year, and it's been both frustrating and rewarding. I'm now the secretary of my ward committee, and that's really because I'm one of the few people that shows up to almost all the meetings. A subcommittee of our City Dems group runs fundraisers for Dems running in red states, again, I'm heavily involved in that because hardly anyone shows up to the meetings, and I like getting things done.

I live in Salem, MA, which is pretty extraordinary for people being politically active, and for the Dems to be welcoming to new people and eager for all hands to be on deck. I totally get that it might be more of a old boys club thing in other places, but if you can figure out when they meet, the meetings should be open to the public, and you can just start showing up.

In Mass, our local Dem committees all have caucuses in the winter/spring every year to choose delegates to the go to the state Dems convention that's held every summer. The delegates are the people who vote for the nominees who will be endorsed by the state Democratic party. There may also be voting on the state party's platform- last summer there was a lot of work done to make the MA Dems' platform more progressive.

Sometimes our state Dem party members show up to our local meetings, to hear what we're working on and what our concerns are. We've had some pretty intense discussions (including people storming out of the room in anger) about the state party's reluctance to move as far left as we'd like to see locally. This is our opportunity to really have our voice heard by "the party." There are bigger state Dems party meetings that I think we can all go to, but in truth, I have no time to get to those. And then, who are the people who are delegates to the national DNC conventions? They're usually people who are active members of the party locally, so if you want to have some impact on the national party, jump in locally. Really, there aren't that many people interested in being members of the local party, so the barrier to entry is super low here.

I'm super happy to answer anyone's questions on MeMail, and I really feel like if we want the Democratic party to change, we have to be people in the room to push for that change.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:13 AM on December 30, 2017 [34 favorites]


why are people still surprised by this??? He’s given a hundred similar interviews!!
That is the "surprise". I don't think anybody is actually surprised, more they are depressed and worried because there has absolutely no development, good or bad, after a year of Trump holding the presidency. Trump was dangerously stupid, ignorant and defensive when he came in, and he still is. I know some people who imagined that the office of the presidency in itself would change the man, you know, daily intelligence briefings, great responsibility, meeting international heads of state, etc. These people thought that regardless of how ignorant and narcissistic a person is, they will be humbled but the reality of the office. That hasn't happened.
In Donald and the Limits of the Reality TV Presidency (NYTimes Op-ED), Jon Meachum points out that This month, The Times reported that before taking office, Mr. Trump told aides “to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals.”. It was never a secret, and what is happening is what we could expect would happen.
posted by mumimor at 6:13 AM on December 30, 2017 [16 favorites]


The Gateway Tunnel project -- one of the nation's largest and most critical infrastructure projects -- was quietly cancelled by the Trump administration yesterday.
posted by schmod at 6:42 AM on December 30, 2017 [37 favorites]


Contra Trump, Collusion Is Already a Slam Dunk

I've been thinking about this and Mueller's job is really a lot easier than that.

1. The Russians reach out looking for a meeting to provide valuable dirt on Trump's opponent. 52 U.S. Code § 30121 has now been violated by the RUSSIANS.
( 52 U.S. Code § 30121 prohibits a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election)
2. The Trump Campaign does NOT inform the FBI of the Russians Criminal Act.

3. The Trump Campaign schedules and attends a meeting with the RUSSIAN CRIMINALS, furthering the Russian scheme.
( 18 USC 2 states "Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principle"
4. The Trump Campaign lies about their participation in Russia's illegal act.
( 18 USC 1001, never fib to a fed, AKA The Martha Stewart Rule, and since there's all these people involved, let's toss in an 18 USC 371, Conspiracy against the United States )
Mueller's at the point where he needs to decide WHEN to stop, and deliver indictments wrapped up in pretty bows.

I am prepared to wait if this shakes out as Jan 22nd, 2019 -- Speaker of the House Pelosi, due to the indictment of the Vice President, and the resignation of President Trump will now serve as President Pelosi.
posted by mikelieman at 6:43 AM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


I know some people who imagined that the office of the presidency in itself would change the man, you know, daily intelligence briefings, great responsibility, meeting international heads of state, etc.

Dude's still getting his briefings filtered through Fox News. There are plenty of developments he's commented on which would surely be featured in depth in any competent daily briefing, and he's still not talking about them in a way indicative of any sort of inside knowledge fueled by the best information our intelligence services could gather. No, he reiterates Fox News talking points. The intelligence agencies might as well not bother to tell him what they know, since he doesn't listen anyways.

One thing that gives me hope is that, in contrast to Reagan, where the nation let what was plainly an unwell man slide for at least his second term (whether he was already impaired during the first term is not, AFAIK, clear), Trump is so willfully unpleasant. Reagan was (at least in public) affably malleable, willing to do pretty much whatever his handlers told him to, and you can keep a demented person who's willing to be steered under wraps surprisingly well if you constantly tell them what to do (and for God's sake keep them out of uncoached interviews). Trump appears temperamentally incapable of playing along --- and if all the indications of progressive illness are correct, he's likely to become even more so to the extent that disguising his disability is going to become impossible.
posted by jackbishop at 7:31 AM on December 30, 2017 [13 favorites]


why are people still surprised by this??? He’s given a hundred similar interviews!!

That is the "surprise". I don't think anybody is actually surprised, more they are depressed and worried because there has absolutely no development, good or bad, after a year of Trump holding the presidency.


Mmmmm. . . . . I kinda think, though, that every time he gives one of these interviews people are surprised by the apparent deterioration of his mental faculties, even compared to whatever the previous interview was. This NYT one seems to have pushed a bunch of people over the edge from "He's not a good President and he's a terrible speaker" to "This guy is seriously unwell."
posted by soundguy99 at 7:36 AM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


One thing that gives me hope is that, in contrast to Reagan, where the nation let what was plainly an unwell man slide for at least his second term (whether he was already impaired during the first term is not, AFAIK, clear), Trump is so willfully unpleasant. Reagan was (at least in public) affably malleable, willing to do pretty much whatever his handlers told him to, and you can keep a demented person who's willing to be steered under wraps surprisingly well if you constantly tell them what to do (and for God's sake keep them out of uncoached interviews). Trump appears temperamentally incapable of playing along --- and if all the indications of progressive illness are correct, he's likely to become even more so to the extent that disguising his disability is going to become impossible.

And Reagan had a wife and advisers who were loyal and willing to prop him up. I doubt Trump can command anything like that same loyalty and devotion. (Melania is no Nancy Reagan, and this really is a huge difference. Nancy, for better or worse, was an advisor and partner to Reagan, and Melania is...not, to Trump.) This is what happens when you're an asshole to everyone around you for decades on end: When the chips are down - and they inevitably will be - people will abandon you rather than stick by you.

Maybe this is wishful thinking and Trump does command some loyalty. But I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:39 AM on December 30, 2017 [12 favorites]


From the Crains report on the Gateway Project linked by Schmod:
Sources have previously suggested to Crain's that the president's handling of the project has political overtones, as its greatest champion has been Schumer, the most powerful Democrat in Washington.

Trump has repeatedly hyped an infrastructure plan that he has promised to release in the New Year. Such a plan would require a large number of votes from Schumer's conference in order to pass the Senate. Folding Gateway into a Trump infrastructure bill would pressure Schumer to deliver those votes. Elaine Chao, Trump's transportation secretary, is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which could increase the White House's leverage.
Northeast commuters will now join Dreamers, individuals seeking health insurance, and Blue State taxpayers among the hostages Trump has taken.
posted by notyou at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2017 [25 favorites]


The WaPo has more coverage on how easy it is to manipulate Trump by showing him some pictures, Why Trump lashed out at Saudi Arabia about its role in Yemen’s war:
Intelligence officials highlighted deteriorating conditions in Yemen as part of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) the morning of Dec. 6, as Trump prepared to meet with Cabinet officials, according to officials familiar with the day’s events. Hours after the briefing, which included imagery related to the crisis, the White House issued Trump’s terse, first-person statement.
Also, there is no foreign policy apparatus anymore, only Trump's whims.
posted by peeedro at 7:48 AM on December 30, 2017 [11 favorites]


There was a comedian in the 80s who did a bit like, When I die, I want to go in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming and crying like his passengers.

I feel like the passenger every single day.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:55 AM on December 30, 2017 [50 favorites]


Celebrating [ 0 ] Days Without Golf

Trump travels to golf club for fifth straight day
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:57 AM on December 30, 2017 [8 favorites]


Maybe this is wishful thinking and Trump does command some loyalty. But I'll believe it when I see it.

People who command loyalty don't have to spend time talking about it.

Russia's GDP is around an eighth of the United States' GDP. Russia has one sorta working aircraft carrier. Donald Trump is president of the United States. Why doesn't Trump turn on Putin? Trump could admit on national TV to money laundering and collusion and I don't think it would matter very much to his political future. Putin really doesn't have anything of significance to hold over Trump's head because the Republicans will tolerate anything Trump does. If Trump stopped being Putin's servile puppy he'd get a nice bump in his polls. What can Putin still give to Trump?
posted by rdr at 8:03 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Things are such a mess and this man so horrible that it's gotten to the point where I read that he is yet again playing golf and my 'OMG the nerve..' reaction is very quickly overruled by a "Oh thank god he's just playing golf again,' one. I think that a Trump sans golf would be way, way worse to behold. His pathological need for it is keeping things from entirely going to shit because of his mental state and it means that he is spending less time directly trying to 'govern'.
posted by Jalliah at 8:07 AM on December 30, 2017 [9 favorites]


One thing I remain absolutely certain of: trump will never resign, no matter what. He’d rather kill himself before choosing resignation. So whatever you’re thinking about the future, don’t count on that particular thing being part of the scenario. He needs to be arrested or physically unable to do anything.
posted by odinsdream at 8:08 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


What can Putin still give to Trump?

Cover for all the money laundering for Russian billionaires through Deutsche Bank?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:09 AM on December 30, 2017 [8 favorites]


The RNC and the Trump reelection fundraising committee released an "Inaugural Year Approval Poll." Here's the first two questions: notice the difference? You can't make this shit up.

1. How would you rate President Trump's first year in office (2017)? [Great/Good/Okay/Other]
2. How would you rate President Obama's first year in office (2009)? [Great/Good/Okay/Poor/Other]
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:10 AM on December 30, 2017 [49 favorites]


What can Putin still give to Trump?

The feeling of being a Big Man among other Big Men.

It's toxic masculinity all the way down.
posted by saturday_morning at 8:11 AM on December 30, 2017 [19 favorites]


I think he's golfing so much because it was announced that he has that physical at Walter Reed on the 12th and he is exercising in the only way he will allow. He may even forego the second scoop for a few days.
posted by readery at 8:19 AM on December 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


Putin isn’t giving anything to Trump. His objective has always been to destroy western liberal democracy and to incapacitate NATO and the EU. The only thing about Trump is he was cultivated as an intelligence asset, probably due to his money laundering, and all the people around him are criminals. Anything else is just a cherry on top for Putin.
posted by gucci mane at 8:19 AM on December 30, 2017 [14 favorites]


Mueller's at the point where he needs to decide WHEN to stop

While the June Trump Campaign-Russians meeting certainly would catch Manafort, Kushner, and Donald Jr. in Mueller's dragnet, Trump and Pence could escape if they were able to claim ignorance convincingly (at least convincingly enough for an impeachment trial in congress and/or federal court). Mueller's coming for the king, and he doesn't intend to miss.

Newsweek, for instance, argues in an article posted today that it's entirely possible that Flynn's cooperation with Mueller will provide the basis for him to charge Mike Pence and/or Donald Trump Jr. in the New Year. The next step would, of course, be the current occupier of the Oval Office.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


Speaker of the House Pelosi, due to the indictment of the Vice President, and the resignation of President Trump will now serve as President Pelosi.

That's a pleasant fantasy, but there's nothing to stop Pence from being sworn in because he's under indictment, unless the Supreme Court decides to step in one way or another. It just depends how far the administration willing to go. There's no Constitutional bar on even a convicted felon running or being sworn into the Presidency. And an indictment is not a felony. And once he got in office they might try to moot the proceedings.

Plus if this does happen, Trump's last act as President will be to pardon Pence. Pence's first act as President will be to pardon Trump. And then that's that.

As per the usual, the remedy is impeachment. You need both chambers. Or else, a massive shift in public opinion that makes holding on GOP political suicide for generations, beyond its current conduct.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:43 AM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]




According to a new NYT report, the Russia investigation was prompted by Papadopoulos getting hammered and telling an Australian diplomat that Russia was feeding Hillary dirt to the Trump campaign.

How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:45 AM on December 30, 2017 [37 favorites]


And that's why you never talk about your criminal conspiracy within earshot of the coffee boy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:48 AM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


The awesome Pat Bagley's take on 2017.
posted by Oyéah at 9:57 AM on December 30, 2017 [8 favorites]


I hope that a little bit of fantasy spinning is still acceptable, because reading the tail end of this thread

Dude's still getting his briefings filtered through Fox News. There are plenty of developments he's commented on which would surely be featured in depth in any competent daily briefing, and he's still not talking about them in a way indicative of any sort of inside knowledge fueled by the best information our intelligence services could gather. No, he reiterates Fox News talking points. The intelligence agencies might as well not bother to tell him what they know, since he doesn't listen anyways.

I am wondering about how the Fox and Friends hosts, producers, and others there feel about it. I have not seen Fox News in years and don't keep up with them aside from getting the echoes from Drumpf's tweets, but surely they must think about it? Maybe once in a while Steve Doocey feels responsible, culpable. They all must see the influence they wield over this man?

So here is my (I think plausible) fantasy/prediction. Once/If the Republican machine starts to turn on him, and Fox also gets on board, we see the hosts there on Fox shows explicitly calling him out on air:

"Mr. President, if you are watching, please get to work. Please listen to your briefings, the American government knows more than we do. We beseech you, please, turn off the TV."
posted by Meatbomb at 9:58 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


never talk about your criminal conspiracy within earshot of the coffee boy.

That's not exactly what happened. This is worth some pull quotes...
During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.
...
Traveling in Italy that March, Mr. Papadopoulos met Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor at a now-defunct London academy who had valuable contacts with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Mifsud showed little interest in Mr. Papadopoulos at first.

But when he found out he was a Trump campaign adviser, he latched onto him, according to court records and emails obtained by The New York Times. Their joint goal was to arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow, or between their respective aides.
...
Mr. Mifsud connected Mr. Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev, a program director for the prestigious Valdai Discussion Club, a gathering of academics that meets annually with Mr. Putin. The two men corresponded for months about how to connect the Russian government and the campaign. Records suggest that Mr. Timofeev, who has been described by Mr. Mueller’s team as an intermediary for the Russian Foreign Ministry, discussed the matter with the ministry’s former leader, Igor S. Ivanov, who is widely viewed in the United States as one of Russia’s elder statesmen.

When Mr. Trump’s foreign policy team gathered for the first time at the end of March in Washington, Mr. Papadopoulos said he had the contacts to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Trump listened intently but apparently deferred to Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama and head of the campaign’s foreign policy team, according to participants in the meeting.
...
Mr. Papadopoulos was trusted enough to edit the outline of Mr. Trump’s first major foreign policy speech on April 27, an address in which the candidate said it was possible to improve relations with Russia. Mr. Papadopoulos flagged the speech to his newfound Russia contacts, telling Mr. Timofeev that it should be taken as “the signal to meet.”

“That is a statesman speech,” Mr. Mifsud agreed. Ms. Polonskaya wrote that she was pleased that Mr. Trump’s “position toward Russia is much softer” than that of other candidates.
...
Mr. Mifsud proposed to Mr. Papadopoulos that he, too, serve as a campaign surrogate. He could write op-eds under the guise of a “neutral” observer, he wrote in a previously undisclosed email, and follow Mr. Trump to his rallies as an accredited journalist while receiving briefings from the inside the campaign.

In late April, at a London hotel, Mr. Mifsud told Mr. Papadopoulos that he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents.
...
Once the information Mr. Papadopoulos had disclosed to the Australian diplomat reached the F.B.I., the bureau opened an investigation that became one of its most closely guarded secrets.
...
Mr. Steele had shown some of his findings to an F.B.I. agent in Rome three months earlier, but that information was not part of the justification to start an counterintelligence inquiry, American officials said.
Go read the whole thing if you can. Sergei Millian is in it. Lots of previously unreported details here, all of them damning.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:59 AM on December 30, 2017 [50 favorites]


I am wondering about how the Fox and Friends hosts, producers, and others there feel about it.

Fox and Friends is famously the dumbest show on television made by the dumbest people on television for the dumbest people who watch television.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2017 [31 favorites]


Ah, the joy in Trumpville today learning that not only is their dossier straw man on the origin of the FBI investigation gone, but the main character in the real story is a cooperating witness. This will make my New Years better.
posted by chris24 at 10:17 AM on December 30, 2017 [18 favorites]


At the same time, it's one more confirmation that a lot of the damage done in 2016 came from everyone telling themselves that Trump couldn't possibly win.
posted by mumimor at 10:20 AM on December 30, 2017 [13 favorites]


The White House Is Reportedly ‘Embarrassed’ By Trump’s Off-The-Cuff ‘NY Times’ Interview
According to the Washington Post, as soon as word got back to Trump’s advisers, a personal aide was instructed to interrupt the interview with a call from communications director Hope Hicks — with one “frustrated” aide reportedly calling the interview “embarrassing.”

The interview is apparently just a symptom of a larger problem, however. Schmidt supposedly was able to gain access while dining at the club with another member who has personal access to Trump — who had just come from the course and was still wearing his golf clothes — which is why the White House was so blindsided.
This is not normal.
posted by zakur at 10:21 AM on December 30, 2017 [39 favorites]


I'm honestly impressed that white house staffers are still capable of feeling embarrassment.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:23 AM on December 30, 2017 [64 favorites]


The interview is apparently just a symptom of a larger problem, however. Schmidt supposedly was able to gain access while dining at the club with another member who has personal access to Trump — who had just come from the course and was still wearing his golf clothes — which is why the White House was so blindsided.

You'd think by now they would have figured out that they can't let Don wander about unattended.
posted by lydhre at 10:26 AM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


You'd think by now they would have figured out that they can't let Don wander about unattended.

No kidding. We’ve been admonished by the mods to not repeat ourselves, and yet all the stories coming out of Washington now are doing exactly that.
posted by Melismata at 10:33 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


banjo_and_the_pork: "How it works in Massachusetts, and I think in most other states, is that there is a state Democratic party. Under that umbrella, there are city/town committees. "

In a lot of states, there's a county level party that may be intermediate, or may replace the city/town committee. MA obviously is small enough not to really need county level committees.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:41 AM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Maggie Haberman sure had a different view on challenging Susan Rice in April.

@maggieNYT
Flaw in the Rice interview was not challenging her on earlier answer she gave weeks ago re unmasking
posted by chris24 at 10:50 AM on December 30, 2017 [40 favorites]


From Doktor Zed's link:
The former Indiana governor recently gave a far different statement about whether he knew Flynn had lied to him about meetings with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "What I can tell you is I knew that he lied to me," Pence told CBS News during a trip to Afghanistan earlier this month, "and I know the president made the right decision with regard to him." […]

Pence’s admission of knowing Flynn lied to him appeared to contradict what he said on national television in January just five days before Trump was inaugurated. Pence stated Flynn had not discussed removing the sanctions with Kislyak and instead offered best holiday wishes and condolences after a Russian military plane crashed, killing all 92 people aboard.
So begins the backtracking 🍿

Also: Mike Pence’s Colorado neighbors troll him with a ‘Make America Gay Again’ banner (WaPo)
Buglione, the sheriff’s deputy, told the Aspen Times that the Secret Service agents were not bothered by the banner and were cordial with the residents who posted it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:10 AM on December 30, 2017 [19 favorites]


I’m worried this NYT article is very important and it was dropped on a day most people aren’t paying attention. On the other hand, it seems like a strategic leak to stop the dossier discrediting, which is very encouraging.
posted by Brainy at 11:11 AM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


You'd think by now they would have figured out that they can't let Don wander about unattended.


Have you ever tried to ride herd on an angry person of limited rationality? They tell you to fuck off, and that's just for starters. This angry idiot is now your boss and POTUS, so if he tells you to fuck off, you really have to fuck off.

So to explain this pile of poo, answer me these questions two.

Question 1: Is it plausible that 45 will get angry at his minders?

Question 2: Is it plausible that 45 regularly tells his minders to fuck off out of his face when he's angry at them?
posted by Devonian at 11:12 AM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


Question 1. Is it plausible that 45 will get angry at his minders?

Question 2: Is it plausible that 45 regularly tells his minders to fuck off out of his face when he's angry at them?


Absolutely, which is why you have disposable minders. If the fiction is to persist that there is at least one (1) adult in the White House invested in preventing Don from one day verbally self-immolating himself to the press, then Javanka/Kelly/McMaster/McConnell/someone-anyone-please better have interns whose sole job is to get fired by Trump while sounding the alarm that the president is off the leash.

I mean, if any of these people had a shred of cunning, which apparently they don't.
posted by lydhre at 11:17 AM on December 30, 2017 [8 favorites]


You really, really need to be reading the Papadopoulos story Rust Moranis posted upthread.

As I see it, the crux of the Trump campaign's defense now relies on the proposition that George Papadopoulos did not tell anyone at the campaign that he knew as early as April that Russia had dirt on Clinton, despite constantly wanting to seem helpful and connected and knowledgeable, but was happy to drunkenly blab this information to an Australian diplomat.
posted by zachlipton at 11:17 AM on December 30, 2017 [52 favorites]


Speaker of the House Pelosi, due to the indictment of the Vice President, and the resignation of President Trump will now serve as President Pelosi.

Mueller is a republican. He is not going to facilitate them losing the White House.
posted by winna at 12:05 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Trump unchained: staff leaves, hardline ideas rise
If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it's not Robert Mueller's probe. It's that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump's actual instincts take over.

Next year will bring "full Trump," said one person who recently talked to the president.
Full Mental Trump. Great.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:09 PM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


Next year will bring "full Trump," said one person who recently talked to the president.
Well, that might make the Republicans in Congress think about their futures.
posted by mumimor at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts

Operation "put a shrimp on the barbie"
posted by srboisvert at 1:04 PM on December 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, it seems like a strategic leak to stop the dossier discrediting, which is very encouraging.

If Team Trump spends weeks attacking the FBI, expect the FBI to strike back.

Meanwhile, the NYT also reported today Republican Attacks on Mueller and F.B.I. Open New Rift in G.O.P.
“As an institution we have to make it clear that we are dealing here with a scalpel not a sledgehammer,” said Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican who sits on the Intelligence and Homeland Security committees. “Because you can’t have a situation where people say, ‘Oh, you can’t trust the F.B.I.’ That creates a spirit of anarchy.”

Of his fellow Republicans pressing a public case against the agencies, Mr. King said, “I think some of them have been too strong on that.”
When Pete King feels that the situation is getting out of hand, you know you've got problems. (Fox News doesn't have a problem, however, since their attacks on the FBI are pulling in ratings and page views, with plenty of fringe GOPers ready to spout that line if it means they appear on national TV.)

The interview was enabled by Christopher Ruddy — a club member with a level of personal access to the president in Florida that rankles White House staffers.

Ruddy's more than Donald's golfing buddy and confidante, he's the CEO of the rightwing online tabloid Newsmax. And if anyone is wondering about his public opinion of the interview, he tweeted yesterday, ".@realDonaldTrump gives home run interview @nytimes, crushes media spin & anonymous aides complain? Makes no sense."

Of course it makes perfect sense. Stirring shit up is his business model, and mainstream media is his main competition/opposition. Naturally aides hate him whispering in Trump's ear.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:19 PM on December 30, 2017 [20 favorites]


Why didn't Newsmax conduct the interview for themselves?
posted by rhizome at 1:34 PM on December 30, 2017 [3 favorites]


This link probably fits here...via dKos: According to Columbia Journalism Review, New York Times coverage of 2016 was more harmful than fake news.

CJR documents the persistent the anti-Clinton, pro-Trump bias in NYT reporting through 2016.
posted by darkstar at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2017 [78 favorites]


Why didn't Newsmax conduct the interview for themselves?

I suspect it would be too unseemly, even for Team Trump, for Ruddy to arrange for a Mar-a-Lago interview, especially when the White House press pool is scratching at the door. Besides, this way, Newsmax gets to cover the interview, especially when Trump lays into the mainstream media, and criticize the NYT and Trump's aides. (Newsmax quoted Ruddy: "Many of the president's aides don't know him well or fully appreciate how important Mar-a-Lago had been for him to build the relationships with conservatives, media and donors that laid the groundwork for his successful presidential run.") Win-win.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:46 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Trying to outdrink an Australian diplomat while being party to an international political conspiracy" should be right up there with "starting land wars in Asia" and "invading Russia in winter" as Obvious Things Not To Do When Trying To Take Over The World.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:09 PM on December 30, 2017 [119 favorites]


From the times article on Papadopoulos,

Although Ms. Polonskaya told The Times in a text message that her English skills are poor, her emails to Mr. Papadopoulos were largely fluent.


That's how journalism is done.

The NY Times got their hands on quite a few private emails from what looks like the early phase of the investigation. Wild speculation but would that suggest the leak came from members of the FBI that aren't part of the Mueller team? That team has been pretty tight lipped so it's unlikely to have done this and the FBI has plenty of reason to start hitting back.
posted by euphorb at 2:23 PM on December 30, 2017 [11 favorites]


tivalasvegas: ""Trying to outdrink an Australian diplomat while being party to an international political conspiracy" should be right up there with "starting land wars in Asia" and "invading Russia in winter" as Obvious Things Not To Do When Trying To Take Over The World."
It was Alexander Downer though. William Booth could probably have out-drunk him, unless the drink of choice was Pimms…

By all accounts, though, Downer is one of those people who is simultaneously affable, very intelligent, and good at their job, while being just enough of an upper-class Hooray Henry twit to appear incompetent. Famous for making tasteless jokes and once being photographed putting on fishnet stockings, his whole poiitical career has been a case of having opportunities slip through his fingers before landing in his lap. It really doesn't surprise me that's he's involved in a minor yet pivotal way.
posted by Pinback at 2:41 PM on December 30, 2017 [16 favorites]


(googles Alexander Downer) Wait! Why was the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom having drinks with Papadopoulos in the first place? This timeline is beyond crazy.
posted by mumimor at 2:52 PM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


Why was the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom having drinks with Papadopoulos in the first place?

The NYT said, "The meeting at the bar came about because of a series of connections, beginning with an Israeli Embassy official who introduced Mr. Papadopoulos to another Australian diplomat in London." That's how diplomacy is done (and the sausage gets made...).
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:03 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Additionally, this leak is almost certainly a not-so-gentle reminder by the Feds to Papadopoulos to keep his nose clean and mouth shut after his tweet on Thursday "What a year #2017 almost #2018 #Mykonos #family #summer time @simonamangiante" with a picture of himself and his girlfriend on the beach. (Unfortunately, he's a goddam moron, like the rest of Team Trump.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:23 PM on December 30, 2017 [10 favorites]


From the NYT article:
It is unclear whether Mr. Downer was fishing for that information that night in May 2016. The meeting at the bar came about because of a series of connections, beginning with an Israeli Embassy official who introduced Mr. Papadopoulos to another Australian diplomat in London.


Describing Alexander Downer as a diplomat is burying the lede. For historical reasons Australia is represented in the UK by a High Commission, not an embassy. Alexander Downer is Australia's High Commissioner and has the diplomatic rank of an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He's our top guy representing us to the country that is our oldest ally and with which we still have huge commercial and social ties. Anyway.

What was an Israeli diplomat doing introducing Papadopolous to an Australian diplomat? There's basically no common area of interest. But, there may have been a common area of concern. And the Australian High Commissioner isn't going to do spy stuff in London without the knowledge and tacit approval of MI5.

This meeting with Downer was after Papadopolous edited Trump's foreign policy speech, in which Trump held out the promise of better relations with Russia. It was also within two weeks of a furore over Papadopolous' call for British Prime Minister David Cameron to apologise for his criticism of Donald Trump's remarks on Muslims. We now know that around this time the British and Dutch governments were concerned about Russian overtures being made to the Trump team; they may been aware of Papadopolous' contacts, or Carter Page's, or perhaps others. But it's clear that the meeting between Downer and Papadopolous was a unified approach involving the diplomatic and security at least three, perhaps four countries (Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, and the UK) and that it was being taken seriously at the highest levels.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:53 PM on December 30, 2017 [56 favorites]


Downer was also Foreign Minister for about 10 years. Attaching his name to the story might be an attempt to pre-empt attacks about credibility.
posted by um at 5:48 PM on December 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


Postcard people:
We're vacationing in FL near Margaret Good's district, and our VT town's group had signed up to do a couple thousand postcards for her, so we stopped in to see her.
She is super excited about the postcard project, and is thankful to everybody out there around the country who are helping.
posted by MtDewd at 5:52 PM on December 30, 2017 [39 favorites]


Indeed. US/UK intelligence is joined at the hip. and AU/NZ/CA barely less so. While there'll be many areas where national interests of the parties moderate intel exchange, Russian cyber is common ground - although I rather imagine that stance is now a considerable pain point between the US admin and the US security community.

If an Aussie senior diplo is chatting up a known interesting chap with Russian links in a London wine bar, the cc list on the report email will have multiple .gov.* recipients.
posted by Devonian at 5:56 PM on December 30, 2017 [22 favorites]


(Hmn. This new Papadopoulos story casts an ironic light on Trump's unpleasant phone call to Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull in February.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:11 PM on December 30, 2017 [19 favorites]


Well, the NYT did get around to fact-checking Trump and identifies 10 lies.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:39 PM on December 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Only ten?
posted by elsietheeel at 9:49 PM on December 30, 2017 [18 favorites]


Melbourne's The Age newspaper has some more details: Alexander Downer named as crucial link in US investigation into Russian interference

I think the most interesting bit of The Age's report is one that we know is wrong, sourced from someone described as a foreign policy expert and friend of Downer:
"Downer's well known in conservative circles in America and I think Papadopoulos probably just thought he'd drop in to say g'day," Mr Switzer said. "He probably fancied himself as a bit of a player when he wasn't actually that big a deal.

"Downer might have smelled a rat and thought this guy's just a bit of a dodgy character. ... Downer's done everything right."

Mr Switzer said he had not discussed the matter with Mr Downer.
Well, we know that it certainly wasn't a casual meeting. I'm a bit sceptical that Downer is really "well known in conservative circles", too: as a mainstream conservative here in Australia he's practically a socialist in US terms. So either Switzer had already heard the bones of the story before it was reported by the NYT, but didn't know the meeting had been set up by the Israelis working together with Australia, or he did know it was a setup but was trying to downplay the meeting's significance. Either explanation is interesting IMO.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:31 AM on December 31, 2017 [4 favorites]


I regret my earlier (deleted) comment about Alexander Downer not being a Crocodile Dundee type, and apologize to whoever I offended.

I'd just meant that he's not the kind of guy to make a point of drinking people under the table out of some jingoistic notion of Australian masculinity, but given the feminizing connotations of the way he used to be mocked (the reference to fishnet stockings in The Age reminded me), I can see how it looked like I was saying something uglier.
posted by Coventry at 1:50 AM on December 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


Alexander Downer was the Australian Foreign Minister during the commencement of the Afghan and Iraq wars during which the Australian Government was pleased to be a prominent ally of the USA. I would imagine he is very well connected with the Bush-flavour circles of the Republican party even if he's not well recognised by the Tea Party or other circles of influence.

And jokes aside about his masculinity and competence aside or whatever, I'm pretty sure Alexander Downer has been in the game long enough to know when to tip a drink in the potplants when a nearby idiot starts gossiping about the presidential candidate he works for.
posted by chiquitita at 4:34 AM on December 31, 2017 [19 favorites]


I thought pizzagate was over, I was so wrong. I assumed that once the shooter showed up at Comet Pizza and discovered there was no basement, no children waiting to be rescued, the whole conspiracy would collapse. I don’t have the mindset of a conspiracy theorist obviously because this just made them more emotionally invested.

The most shocking revelation to me was they believe Trump ran for office specifically to bring the international pedo ring to justice. I don’t see how they can look at his actions and words and reach that conclusion; it boggles the mind. Nonetheless the story now being told is that secret arrests and secret trials have already occurred. This is what Mueller is really doing. A number of Democrats and celebrities have been seen wearing long pants which is evidence that they are wearing ankle restraints. This includes both Hillary and Chelsea. It’s a little difficult to understand that if they have already been found guilty then why aren’t they in prison but apparently this has something to do with keeping the investigation hush hush until all the suspects are rounded up.

Any celebrity or politician who talks about eating pizza or pasta or who has used the pizza emoji is now suspect. If you are interested in seeing how widespread this is check the hashtags Pizzagate, QAnon, and FollowTheWhiteRabbit.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:25 AM on December 31, 2017 [45 favorites]


I thought pizzagate was over

I stumbled onto another thriving ultra-right-wing conspiracy theory a few days ago when I tried to figure out where the Obama Christmas picture was taken (it was from 2013... therefore the Obamas have been rendered or something).

After Trump's ominous/ridiculous "calm before the storm" quip in October, the crazy people have latched onto "#TheStorm" as shorthand for the imminent imprisonment of the deep-staters, democrats and liberals... a upcoming cleansing of the nation of all Trump haters. NYMag did an explainer a couple weeks ago.
posted by pjenks at 6:54 AM on December 31, 2017 [9 favorites]


Racist alumni strike back at apology issued by Yale's Party of the Right for "Resolved: Reform the Savages" debate topic
The most vehement critics of the apology, surprisingly, came not from the campus left but from the P.O.R.’s own alumni. In the Party’s private Facebook group, the Yale Daily News reported, graduates from decades ago tore into the undergrads for releasing a “dreadful” statement caving in to political correctness. “Only good injun is a dead injun,” wrote one. At another point, Class of 1970 alum David Zincavage suggested that the students “put on an old time Minstrel show in blackface.”
Further confirmation that the racist, pro-Trump base of American conservatism isn't limited to middle and lower-class voters from the heartland, but extends all the way up the economic scale, with the cherry-on-top consisting of Yale-educated elites.
posted by Gordion Knott at 7:00 AM on December 31, 2017 [48 favorites]


been in the game long enough to know when to tip a drink in the potplants when a nearby idiot starts gossiping about the presidential candidate he works for.

Oh for the love of Pete, find a ficus or a spider plant. Those are a lot of work!
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2017 [11 favorites]


Further confirmation that the racist, pro-Trump base of American conservatism isn't limited to middle and lower-class voters from the heartland, but extends all the way up the economic scale, with the cherry-on-top consisting of Yale-educated elites.

Ask your Yale and Harvard etc. friends about "The League." Dating app for Ivy League grads and people making over $$$?K/year. I'm not sure, 'cause it ain't me.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:13 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


The idea of Trump running to bring anything to justice let alone a child sex abuse ring would make me want to laugh if I weren't so appalled.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:44 AM on December 31, 2017 [14 favorites]


After Trump's ominous/ridiculous "calm before the storm" quip in October, the crazy people have latched onto "#TheStorm" as shorthand for the imminent imprisonment of the deep-staters, democrats and liberals... a upcoming cleansing of the nation of all Trump haters. NYMag did an explainer a couple weeks ago.
posted by pjenks at 6:54 AM on December 31 [+] [!]


I read the linked NYMag article and read about Q, the supposed high-security-clearance intel-op Trump insider posting breathless predictions about what the administration would do next. I ran across this absolutely Bushian statement from Q about the administration's efforts that made me giggle.
Rest assured, the safety and well-being of every man, woman, and child of this country is being exhausted in full.
Good end to the year, eh?
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:56 AM on December 31, 2017 [15 favorites]


...every man, woman, and child of this country is being exhausted in full.

I’ll say!

I can’t remember a year of news, international or domestic, as emotionally draining to just keep up with — let alone to try to empathize with.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:12 AM on December 31, 2017 [13 favorites]


Roseanne Barr defends her Trump support with "Trump is fighting pedophiles".

I think she missed a "for" in there.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:17 AM on December 31, 2017 [32 favorites]


The most shocking revelation to me was they believe Trump ran for office specifically to bring the international pedo ring to justice. I don’t see how they can look at his actions and words and reach that conclusion; it boggles the mind.

Remember back in 2008 and 2009, when Obama won, the rightwing hive mind fell back to a defensive position based on sneering about Obama supporters seeing him as their "savior"? The idea that millions of people voted for Obama because they thought he would be the superior President, or agreed with his policy, not because they idolized him as an ascended master or thought that he should be made First Citizen of a new one-world government? That seemed beneath consideration, to them.

It is now clear to me that some of these people were completely sincere: they assumed that was how Obama supporters thought, because that is how they do. Good guys. Bad guys. A Big Daddy President is no longer enough for them - the President has to be at least Batman, working in secret to crush evil. They built r/TheDonald in mockery of Obama For America, like how Morgoth made the orcs.
posted by thelonius at 8:27 AM on December 31, 2017 [39 favorites]


The ongoing dynamics of the QAnon conspiracy are pretty fascinating. Despite being obvious bullshit, the 4chan posts were enough to turn the key that immediately reactivated the entire Pizzagate core orthodoxy. Furthermore it also drew in some fresh support: the airy, text-based, Louise-Menschian style is a little more subtle than the original Pizzagate, which was primarily visual (based on social media screencaps and Instagram photos). The conspiracy itself is also broader and more diffuse, and therefore more stable: hopes in this case are not entirely pinned on the basement of a pizzeria that does not have a basement. Instead, it's big, shadowy forces against other big shadowy forces, but your guy's got your back. The effect therefore is to attract a wider selection of paranoiacs and suckers than Pizzagate 1.0.

I suspect that QAnon (and similarly FBIanon last year) were either created, or more likely, opportunistically boosted, by hostile state actors. It's no coincidence that accusations of pedophilia have been the go-to demonization for years in Russia. It's also worth thinking about the conscious or unconscious underlying motive of this conspiracy. Pizzagate was clearer: in the last few days of the election, overwhelm the actual treasonous conspiracies on your side with accusations that the opponent literally eats babies for Satan. In the case of QAnon, there's no obvious date at which the conspiracy expires or outlives its usefulness: it's closer to a tone than a simple narrative. The vastness and diffusion mean that it can continue indefinitely.

Also, guys, did you know that the last 4 US presidents are already in Gitmo, awaiting execution? This is a common belief in the Calm Before The Storm community.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2017 [19 favorites]


The NYT's Max Fisher comments on the protests in Iran and the debate over the Iranian Republic in DC:
I don't know what's happening in Iran (and neither do you), so I will tell you about something I do know: DC, and why any discussion about Iran makes it absolutely completely 100% insane.

[...]

Iran forces DC to confront these questions about itself because the Islamic Republic, by merely existing, challenges American global preeminence. Especially in the MidEast, where that preeminence is most fraught and a topic that also makes Americans crazy.

The continued existence of Iran forces Americans to consider whether it's okay to have corners of the world beyond our control and influence, or if this is an affront and inherent threat to the United States.

(You can tell the debates are not really about human rights, democracy, or "American values" because the loudest voices say Iran must be opposed by supporting Saudi Arabia, one of the few countries worse than Iran on all measures.)

At core it's an intra-DC debate about our national identity. Are we just a country that happens to be big, powerful, and democratic? Or are we an intrinsic force for good in the world?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2017 [11 favorites]


Roseanne Barr defends her Trump support with "Trump is fighting pedophiles".


By endorsing them for Senate!
posted by darkstar at 9:40 AM on December 31, 2017 [24 favorites]


From my perspective, if there is one thing that went right on the POTUS front in 2017, this is it:

Donald Trump becomes the first president in 40 years not to visit Canada in his first year:

With 2017 about to end, Trump is set to become the first U.S. president in 40 years, since Jimmy Carter, not to visit Canada in his first calendar year in office.

For four of the six presidents who preceded Trump — Obama, Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Reagan — Canada was the very first foreign destination. For Trump, it will be, at earliest, the 15th, and probably lower.


Stay the course!

Oh, rats...

Trump is likely to attend the G7 summit in Quebec in June. There are no current plans for him to come earlier, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has visited Trump twice at the White House, has issued invitations.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:48 AM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


Given that Trump's understanding of the world and politics were fully formed c. 1980, I'm certain he is confusing the current Trudeau with his father, to some extent.

I'm not joking — lots of people who aren't demented get stuck in time at some point, and I think it is a common factor for the Trump regime. It's not just Trump but his whole team who are fighting long gone conflicts.
posted by mumimor at 10:03 AM on December 31, 2017 [12 favorites]


Donald Trump becomes the first president in 40 years not to visit Canada in his first year

Another record first for Donald: Where's the Party? No State Dinner In Trump's First Year (Associated Press)

He also has had the fewest solo press conferences in his first year of any modern president—just one, back in February.

The simplest explanation for all this is that Trump is cognitively impaired and his aides/minders have to minimize his diplomatic and public appearances, limiting him to the tightly controlled events.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:07 AM on December 31, 2017 [31 favorites]


though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has visited Trump twice at the White House, has issued invitations

Trump's probably still sore about all those unflattering comics.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:28 AM on December 31, 2017 [15 favorites]


Donald Trump becomes the first president in 40 years not to visit Canada in his first year

Speaking as a Canadian, that's probably the only decision by him that I can get behind. I hope he never visits.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:52 AM on December 31, 2017 [12 favorites]


Pizzagate comes for Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and they are having none of it (Buzzfeed).
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:44 AM on December 31, 2017 [17 favorites]


Andrew Reynolds, News and Observer: North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy
When we evolved the [Electoral Integrity Project] I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.

In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.

Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank alongside Iran and Venezuela. When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project. (emphasis mine)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:44 AM on December 31, 2017 [88 favorites]


Please note that, while damning, that Electoral Integrity Project op-ed is over a year old.
posted by ragtag at 11:49 AM on December 31, 2017 [15 favorites]


Just a note: Trump might very well might be mentally ill, demented etc. but it is not really ... helping. There's two sides to it, one it diminishes his agency in all the terrible things he does. "He's a moron/mentally ill, what do you expect?" If he were genuinely in the beginning stages of dementia then we should start a write in campaign to congress-people to get him vetted and ultimately if he fails 25th amendment-ed out. Two, the other side, it diminishes the very important calling out of all the things he is doing that damage/subvert/undermine the constitution or the well-being of Americans at large.
I wish a simple
Visit to the doctors would invoke the 25th and we could get on with things. But, well, I've never been that optimistic about politics in the US.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


Politico, Mar-a-Lago hikes New Year’s Eve party ticket prices
Partying with President Donald Trump on New Year’s Eve is getting more expensive.

Ticket prices for the annual Dec. 31 bash at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida are going up to $600 for dues-paying members and $750 for their guests, according to members of the private Palm Beach club. Last year’s tickets went for $525 for members and $575 for guests.

The lavish party in the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom and the surrounding grounds has plenty of perks, including a red-carpet entrance, a multi-course meal, a popular cover band and the chance to meet celebrities — Sylvester Stallone and Fabio were there to welcome in 2017 — as well as the president himself.
What better way to ring in the new year than with hundreds of people paying the president personally to be in the same room as him?

Or as Sam Stein put it: "Imagine President Hillary Clinton hosting a NYE’s event at the Clinton Foundation HQs and charging people to attend. It would cause a country-wide fever panic… and for good reason. This isn’t even for a charity. It’s for his own club."

On a related note, TPM's Golden Duke Awards for the year's political scandals.

Happy New Year everyone!
posted by zachlipton at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2017 [41 favorites]


Weeping_angel: Pizzagate comes for Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and they are having none of it (Buzzfeed).

I was watching that unfold on Twitter last night. It was crazypants.
posted by Superplin at 12:27 PM on December 31, 2017 [5 favorites]


McClatchy, DHS weighs major change to H-1B foreign tech worker visa program
The Department of Homeland Security is considering new regulations that would prevent H-1B visa extensions, according to two U.S. sources briefed on the proposal. The measure potentially could stop hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from keeping their H-1B visas while their green card applications are pending.

The proposal, being drafted in memos shared between DHS department heads, is part of President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” initiative promised during the 2016 campaign.

The administration is specifically looking at whether it can reinterpret the "may grant" language of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act to stop making the extentions. The act currently allows the administration to extend the H-1B visas for thousands of immigrants, predominantly Indian immigrants, beyond the allowed two three-year terms if a green card is pending.

“The idea is to create a sort of ‘self- deportation’ of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States to open up those jobs for Americans,” said a U.S. source briefed by Homeland Security officials.
I have friends who are in exactly this situation. They've been here for years, done everything legally exactly as required, have made the US their homes, and are looking to live her permanently. This would screw them over for absolutely no reason. Fuckers.
posted by zachlipton at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2017 [56 favorites]


“The idea is to create a sort of ‘self- deportation’ of hundreds of thousands of Indian tech workers in the United States to open up those jobs for Americans,” said a U.S. source briefed by Homeland Security officials.
But who are those "Americans"? How do they plan to run the country if they deport the workers who keep entire industries working? Tech is one thing, but there was another article about dairy foods, and plenty articles about crops needing harvest. I'm not thinking that those retired miners are going to move to Florida to clean Mar a Lago any time soon.
posted by mumimor at 12:44 PM on December 31, 2017 [10 favorites]


Charlie Warzel, Buzzfeed: 2017 Was The Year That The Internet Destroyed Our Shared Reality
None of this seems to be going away anytime soon. Just take Alabama. If you were asked to draw up a post-truth nightmare scenario at the start of the year, it would probably look a lot like the Alabama special election: A contentious, polarizing political contest is turned on its head by seemingly clear-cut sexual abuse allegations, backed up by a wealth of credible media reports. But rather than form consensus, these reports served only to divide. Far-right media and the Republican candidate Roy Moore’s campaign itself repeatedly tried to discredit those reports, the accusers, and the entire political opposition party, effectively transforming a local election into a full-blown national culture war. It became a referendum on Republicans, Democrats, the media and its bias, conspiracy theories, sexual harassment and treatment of women, religion, and, of course, our current president. And like every battle in 2017, it was fought by two sides armed with their own sets of facts. The race felt like a near-perfect encapsulation of how we got to now. And as practitioners of the online information wars grow more sophisticated, it will likely only get worse. Indeed, 2016's tenuous grasp on shared facts feels almost quaint by 2017 standards. Just as 2017 saw the professionalization of all the dirty tricks and tactics learned in 2016 election, there’s reason to believe this year was yet another prelude — proof of concept for ideas and behaviors that will be perfected in the year to come.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:08 PM on December 31, 2017 [24 favorites]


You’re right, NYT, Nazis are certainly invigorated. Well done and fuck you.

@nytimes:
President Trump has brought a reality-show accessibility to a once-aloof presidency, invigorating voters who felt alienated by the establishment http://nyti.ms/2DDJii3 (For Trump, a Year of Reinventing the Presidency)
posted by chris24 at 2:00 PM on December 31, 2017 [18 favorites]


That's NYT's Peter Baker, who's apparently getting into the heavy psychedelics early this New Year's Eve.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:06 PM on December 31, 2017 [9 favorites]


This kind of shit — normalizing a leader’s pathology and authoritarianism to make him relatable and sell papers — isn’t new for the NYT:
One haunting piece, published in the New York Times magazine in August of 1939, portrayed Hitler at home, showing off his tomato garden and his stylish living room. The story’s title was “Herr Hitler at Home in the Clouds.” The front page of the very same newspaper discussed how Jews were being beaten and their businesses ransacked, while Nazi troops amassed on the Polish border.
posted by darkstar at 2:19 PM on December 31, 2017 [60 favorites]


Some more of Peter Baker's Greatest Hits:

And Views Differ
Shorter Peter Baker: “When it comes to obstructing justice, Both Sides Do It but the Clintons did it first.”
False Equivalency Watch
Peter Baker in the Week in Review section of The New York Times, noting the tenth anniversary of Bill Clinton's impeachment:
... the impeachment represented the triumph of partisanship on both sides of the aisle, a partisanship that remains today. Democrats made a calculated decision to stick by a president of their party no matter his transgressions and to promote partisan division in the Congressional proceedings so they could discredit the other side. Republicans were so intent on turning out Mr. Clinton that they turned away from opportunities for a bipartisan solution.
Yup, that's right -- it was a "triumph of partisanship on both sides." Not bending over and acceding to the attempt to drive Clinton from office for sex lies was just as partisan as trying to drive him from office for those lies.

By this logic, if you're brutally assaulted in a dark alley and you scratch up your assailant's face trying to defend yourself, the proper characterization is that there is "violence on both sides."
Our Comity! Our Precious Comity!
Peter Baker of The New York Times is concerned about civility -- but not for the reasons you and I might be: [...]

Like The Washington Post's Abby Phillips, Baker seems to be worrying about the tone of our political not because Trump and other Republicans are in permanent attack mode but because Democrats aren't meekly enduring the attacks. How dare they!
It's like WaPo's David Broder was reincarnated, but even Broderer.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:21 PM on December 31, 2017 [27 favorites]


Roseanne Barr defends her Trump support with "Trump is fighting pedophiles".

I think she missed a "for" in there.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:17 AM


Like most Trumpers who can’t won’t say their real reasons for supporting his movement, Roseanne is racist, antisemitic, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist, homophobic, and transphobic, and if you don’t agree with her then she will sic her Twitter bot army on you.
posted by SakuraK at 2:25 PM on December 31, 2017 [20 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House:
-- Final Decision Desk forecast for the year - Dems have 59.1% chance of retaking House control. On the downside, gerrymandering/clustering means that there's a 39% change of winning a popular vote majority, but not retaking control. On the upside, there's a decent shot of Dems winning more than 250 seats (recall that gerrymanders suppress narrow leads, but magnify large leads).

-- Final 538 generic ballot average is D +12.9.

-- WP: Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows says he's worried about 2018.

-- Wasserman: Trump/GOP may be looking at a turnout problem in 2018.
** Odds & ends:
-- In the PA state gerrymandering case, the Commonwealth Court has found that while there was political interest in how districts were drawn, it did not find that the districts needed to be re-drawn. The case now moves to the PA Supreme Court. Note that the Commonwealth Court is GOP-controlled, the Supreme Court is Dem-controlled.

-- Year end wrap-up memo from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is fighting against GOP gerrymandering. Related article on Dem efforts to retake state legislatures.

-- American Research Group poll has Trump at -39 (27/66) approval in New Hampshire.

-- DKE wrap-up of the year in special elections.

-- Politico: Top 10 governor's races for 2018.

-- SCOTUS to take up case involving Ohio purging "inactive voters" from voting rolls.
===

Best wishes to all MeFites for a happy new year.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:35 PM on December 31, 2017 [79 favorites]


Was never a regular viewer of Barr’s show, but I do recall seeing one episode that struck me as quite liberal. Upset with unfair treatment by their factory management — played by actor and later GOP Senator and Presidential Candidate Fred Thompson — Roseanne leads a walkout.

At the end of that episode, if I recall correctly, she’s haranguing a political canvasser on the importance of unions and how “right to work” means “right to work for less.” I respected her for that.

Reading the article SakuraK posted is like...what? I don’t know. But it seems that whatever brain slug infected her is the same one that’s infected millions of Americans, though.
posted by darkstar at 2:43 PM on December 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


Thank you for all your hard work Chrysostom.
Happy New Year to all Metafilter.
May the odds turn in our favor!
posted by Gadgetenvy at 2:44 PM on December 31, 2017 [14 favorites]


Happy New Year to you, Chrysostom! Thank you for all the hard work you do in pulling together local election news. It's helpful for me (and other MeFites) to read about what's going on in the wide world of Democratic candidates and local elections.

Happy New Year to everyone on Metafilter. Remember, the Democratic resistance (large and small D) is working! Doug Jones, a Democrat, won the Alabama Senate race - the first time in 25 years a Democrat was elected there! Women are running for office in droves!

Resistance is NOT futile, in other words. So happy New Year and champagne and cake for all, and may 2018 be better for us!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:03 PM on December 31, 2017 [67 favorites]


2018: What would make you whole again?
Me: Indictments.
posted by lydhre at 3:32 PM on December 31, 2017 [16 favorites]


Convictions.
posted by puddledork at 3:53 PM on December 31, 2017 [30 favorites]


Indictments [...]
Convictions.


It's like a fairy story. People were mean to Little Prince Trump because he was a man without convictions. He searched and searched for some and couldn't find any! But the kind wizard Mueller blessed Trump with indictments, and soon he had all the convictions anyone could want.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:00 PM on December 31, 2017 [44 favorites]


A monkey’s paw!

am I doing this right
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:04 PM on December 31, 2017 [14 favorites]


Elections!
posted by saturday_morning at 4:07 PM on December 31, 2017 [5 favorites]


Friends, Romans, Tovarishi, "DonaldJDrumpf" has some final 2017 words for you.

(I have enjoyed this sharp parody twitter account this year. Per Google Translate, above tweet is basically a Happy New Year greeting, even to our dishonest news media.)
posted by NorthernLite at 4:07 PM on December 31, 2017


[No murder fantasies, not even for the holidays, and it's not a thread for any random news of the moment -- just US politics. Thanks!]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:14 PM on December 31, 2017 [12 favorites]


MetaFilter: no murder fantasies, not even for the holidays
posted by uosuaq at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2017 [91 favorites]


[Please rein in the chatter. We're in the chat room if you want to chat!]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:12 PM on December 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


[Yes, there is a happy new year thread at MetaTalk.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:25 PM on December 31, 2017 [3 favorites]


Jailings... I'll take jailings
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:44 PM on December 31, 2017 [7 favorites]


There was a comedian in the 80s who did a bit like, When I die, I want to go in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming and crying like his passengers.

Emo Phillips. What a great joke.

Speaker of the House Pelosi, due to the indictment of the Vice President, and the resignation of President Trump will now serve as President Pelosi.

It's improbable that Pence and Trump would be impeached at the same time, because the witnesses, hearings, etc. would operate on different timelines. Even if Dems tried to orchestrate that, Pence could just resign before final vote and Trump appoint a moderate, safe choice (who promised to pardon him.)

That is in fact exactly what Nixon and Spiro Agnew did in 1972.
posted by msalt at 10:55 PM on December 31, 2017 [5 favorites]


From the BBC: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has said he has a nuclear launch button on his desk at all times

Nuclear launch button. Diet Coke button. Welcome to 2018. It's a lot like 2017 so far.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:08 PM on December 31, 2017 [15 favorites]


Even if Dems tried to orchestrate that, Pence could just resign before final vote and Trump appoint a moderate, safe choice (who promised to pardon him.)

That is in fact exactly what Nixon and Spiro Agnew did in 1972.


I've certainly seen it alleged that Nixon agreed to stop fighting and resign in exchange for Ford's promise to pardon him - purportedly SecState Haig was feeling Ford out about this in early August 1974, a few days prior to the resignation. But I don't think I've ever heard that he had originally picked Ford as VP on those conditions. When Agnew was clearly going to have to go, Nixon surveyed Congressional leaders, and they told him to go with Ford (who was House Minority Leader) as the replacement. Watergate was certainly heating up at this point, but the Agnew corruption case was becoming critical in September 1973. That was weeks before the Saturday Night Massacre really put Watergate into overdrive.

I don't think the evidence really supports Nixon picking Ford for VP on the condition that he would pardon him. The timeline is off, we have the testimony of Congressional leaders (Dem Speaker Carl Albert, for one) that they told Nixon to pick Ford, and I don't see Nixon's personality admitting to the possibility that he might not squeak out of this one.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:42 PM on December 31, 2017 [16 favorites]


[Australia's ambassador to the USA,] Joe Hockey discussed Alexander Downer's Russia revelations with FBI
The ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey personally steered Australia's dealings with the FBI on explosive revelations of Russian hacking during last year's presidential campaign in a sign of how politically sensitive the Australian government regarded the bombshell discovery, Fairfax Media understands.

It is also understood there is now annoyance and frustration in Canberra that the High Commissioner to Britain Alexander Downer has been outed through leaks by US officials as the source of information that played a role in sparking an FBI probe into the Trump campaign's dealings with Moscow.

Fairfax Media has confirmed independently that the conversation first reported by The New York Times took place[....]
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:18 AM on January 1 [16 favorites]


It is also understood there is now annoyance and frustration in Canberra that the High Commissioner to Britain Alexander Downer has been outed through leaks by US officials

It's almost as if the administration has been compromised by an enemy state and has an active agent at a very high level working to destroy the intelligence alliances with its allies.

Odd that.
posted by Devonian at 7:35 AM on January 1 [36 favorites]


Annalisa Merelli, Quartz: On January 1, California becomes even more liberal: Legal weed, protection for immigrants, birth certificates will not require gender, free menstrual supplies from grade 6 on, are some of the new laws going into effect in 2018.

I'm proud to be a Californian! And glad we're not taking our marbles and CalExiting, but setting an example for the rest of the US to follow. I'd rather not call it "states rights" because of the dogwhistle (or really not even a dogwhistle anymore) - maybe "local autonomy" is better.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:38 AM on January 1 [83 favorites]


"Extended protections of people's rights and dignity when the Federal government won't act", in contrast to the more typical historical situation where the Federal government was a protector of rights.

To paraphrase Mao, we don't care if the cat is federal or local, as long as it catches mice.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:55 AM on January 1 [12 favorites]


uh, heheh, by Mao I mean Deng, of course... years of Chairman Meow jokes have destroyed my meager knowledge of Chinese communist leaders
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:57 AM on January 1 [5 favorites]


https://twitter.com/KyleClark/status/947693230904115201

"The man suspected of shooting several Douglas County Sheriff's deputies, killing one, had a Facebook page filled with images associated with the alt-right."
posted by bootlegpop at 8:00 AM on January 1 [8 favorites]


As Garfield said, you don't have to believe in the bus company to get across town
posted by thelonius at 8:01 AM on January 1 [6 favorites]






Donald Trump Rages Against Iran, Pakistan In First Tweets Of 2018
As I heard an analyst say on the radio today: the international community is waiting for the Trump administration to come up with a coherent foreign policy.
posted by mumimor at 9:14 AM on January 1 [11 favorites]


The standard rule for administrations is to antagonize 1 unstable nuclear power per year.
posted by localhuman at 9:17 AM on January 1 [18 favorites]


Anything coherent would be an improvement, really. I'll take a coherent joke or well-told aphorism. Not that I have high hopes...
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:18 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


It's just so frustrating when our President can't understand the nuance of a muslim majority country having to walk a fine line working with US imperialists. I can imagine an advisor comes up to him and says "sir, they're doing all they can to help us without appearing as our lap dogs" and Trump comes back with "why the hell can't they be our lap dogs?".
posted by Talez at 9:26 AM on January 1 [19 favorites]


Politico, Mar-a-Lago hikes New Year’s Eve party ticket prices

The WaPo's version of the same story has this tidbit:
In 2010, singer Rod Stewart, talk show host Regis Philbin and a Tiger Woods impersonator showed up at the party. Afterward, Trump told the Palm Beach Daily News: “People came up to me to say that the Rod Stewart and Regis impersonators were great but that the Tiger guy was so-so. I don’t think they realized Rod and Regis were the real ones.”
2010 was the year that Tiger had his infidelity scandal, lost most of his endorsement contracts, stopped playing golf, and was divorced. So having a Tiger Woods impersonator at your West Palm Beach party reads as a minstrel show way of kicking a once-successful black man for having a bad year.
posted by peeedro at 9:28 AM on January 1 [32 favorites]


Donald J. Trump‏
@realDonaldTrump

The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
New year, new shitfight for no reason.
posted by Talez at 9:14 AM on January 1 [1 favorite +] [!]


Yes, and with small, fragile countries possessing nukes. Trump is off his rocker.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:41 AM on January 1 [6 favorites]


They've given us nothing in return ... ?

The United States and allied forces mostly rely on ground and air lines of communications through Pakistan for transporting supplies to about 13,000 foreign soldiers in landlocked Afghanistan. The numbers are expected to increase to more than 16,000 in the wake of pledges to implement a U.S. and NATO troop surge following President Donald Trump’s new Afghan strategy, which was announced in August.

Well, I guess we could always go through Iran, or Russia...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:07 AM on January 1 [23 favorites]




So who was at maralago lobbying against Pakistan last night?
posted by great_radio at 11:34 AM on January 1 [15 favorites]


[California s]chools won’t be allowed to deny school lunch to children who can’t afford it

No more shaming kids whose parents have student lunch debt!

Full text of SB 250 here
.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:19 PM on January 1 [33 favorites]


WP: It sure looks as if Kirsten Gillibrand is running for president

eagerly awaiting all the reasons someone would obviously vote for a woman, just not this woman. As usual.

As I heard an analyst say on the radio today: the international community is waiting for the Trump administration to come up with a coherent foreign policy.

That's gonna be a while.

Trump seems to be trying to decide if North Korea or Iran are where he wants to fight. I don't have any idea what this Pakistan business is about. Maybe a dark horse contender?

Trump's supposed physical is in a week and a half is it not? The one at Walter Reed where we get a readout? I don't think they can get around releasing it without causing a lot of speculation.
posted by Justinian at 12:52 PM on January 1 [35 favorites]


eagerly awaiting all the reasons someone would obviously vote for a woman, just not this woman. As usual.

To the usual, "I'd vote for Elizabeth Warren if she were running" response, I'd point out the results of this WBUR poll in Liberal Massachusetts:
Elizabeth Warren, who's up for reelection in 2018, has solid support in the state -- a 55% favorable rating, as opposed to 38% unfavorable. But there's a huge gender gap. Among women, her approval rating is 65%-27%; for men, it's 44%-50%.

The gender gap for Donald Trump is half the size -- among women, Trump's favorable-unfavorable rating is 22%-72%, while among men it's 34%-60%. And both genders like the state's moderate Republican governor, Charlie Baker (women, 68%-10%; men, 65%-19%).

Why is Warren underwater with men in one of the most progressive states in the union, a state where men as well as women despise Trump? I'm guessing it's not ideology.
posted by octothorpe at 1:02 PM on January 1 [66 favorites]


Why is Warren underwater with men in one of the most progressive states in the union, a state where men as well as women despise Trump? I'm guessing it's not ideology.

She's probably just too shrill
posted by thelonius at 1:06 PM on January 1 [48 favorites]


I don't think they can get around releasing it without causing a lot of speculation.

I think we'll get a report, but I have no confidence that the readout we see will have anything to do with the actual physical or mental health of trump. It shouldn't be hard to fake or redact.

eagerly awaiting all the reasons someone would obviously vote for a woman, just not this woman. As usual.

I'm cautiously optimistic, the right-wing hate machine hasn't had nearly as much time to poison the well on Gillibrand as it had on Clinton. Though, maybe it doesn't need it these days.

I will say though, I believe there should be a proper primary process to determine the nominee, and if she chooses to run, and if I see any skullduggery trying to sink Gillibrand on the grounds that it's too risky to run a woman, or that specific woman, against trump, I will be mighty pissed. I've been happy to vote for her for Senate, and I would be happy to vote for her for President. (No asterisk.)
posted by mrgoat at 1:11 PM on January 1 [5 favorites]


Sees WSJ editorial: First, They Came for the Biologists

Thinks wow, good for the Wall Street Journal, they printed a presumably pro-science article presumably speaking out against the federal repression of those trying to slow or mitigate the ongoing mass extinction.

Sees subheader: The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself.

Forget it Rust, it's WSJtown.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:13 PM on January 1 [32 favorites]


"postmodernist" is the new "cultural marxism" is the new "socialist" is the new pointing a finger at a person and yelling Jew. Just love it when a mainstream paper runs antisemitic dog whistles.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:16 PM on January 1 [39 favorites]


Sees subheader: The postmodernist left on campus is intolerant not only of opposing views, but of science itself.

They don't believe men and women are DIFFRUNT! Something something human biodiversity! That means they are evolutionarily illiterate! Or something. The right loves pseudoscience when it bolsters its own (racist, sexist) worldview. (The bona-fide biologists I know are all at least center-left, FWIW.)

eagerly awaiting all the reasons someone would obviously vote for a woman, just not this woman. As usual.

"Shrill." "Gawwwd, her VOICE." "Not a team player." "Too ambitious! There's something wrong with her!" "Not loyal enough." "Not principled enough." Here come the dogwhistles. Though I think HRC had an unfair burden with her years of bad press, covering not just her, but her husband, with whom her career was inextricably entwined. No plausible woman candidate starting out now will have quite that disadvantage.

A really good thing about all the women who are fired up to run for Democratic office from local on up is that we will build a nice deep bench of seasoned politicians to run for the big-time offices. And, maybe I'm too optimistic, but I think that having a lot of women in local offices will normalize the idea of women in office so maybe the next generation of Presidential candidates won't have it so hard.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:23 PM on January 1 [51 favorites]


One can only hope that Kirsten Gillibrand has never done anything as reckless as:
1. use email
2. catch pneumonia, or
3. speak in public
posted by Golem XIV at 1:32 PM on January 1 [60 favorites]


That is in fact exactly what Nixon and Spiro Agnew did in 1972.

I don't think the evidence really supports Nixon picking Ford for VP on the condition that he would pardon him. The timeline is off

I'm with Chrystostom on this. I think it's a serious misreading of history and of Nixon, who probably did not actually realize he was finished until the final weeks of summer 1974. Certainly the last time we know his thoughts on the matter (from the Oval Office tapes, which were discontinued soon afterward when their existence was revealed), he was dismissive of Watergate as a "crappy little thing", "nothing there", "they didn't get anything". [Reminiscent of "no collusion!", naturally.] So the idea that Nixon was somehow brokering his own impeachment almost a year in advance is pretty dubious (and wouldn't the existence of a popularly supported successor only make his trial more likely to result in removal?). Additionally there is a solid paper trail (and oral testimony) that shows there was an open call for Congressional input on filling the office. (Notably, the Senate required Ford to submit several years of tax returns....) The possibility that their selection would advance to the White House was clearly in the back of everyone's mind, but it was not a necessarily probable outcome until after the Saturday Night Massacre, which came after Agnew's resignation and Ford's nomination (though prior to Ford's confirmation), the triggering event for the House Judiciary Committee's first consideration of impeachment on October 30, 1973 (the infamous vote would not take place for nearly a whole year). My personal assessment is that the concern about Ford succeeding accelerated what might have otherwise been a more sedate confirmation process (indeed, by November, some panic had set in as this Ted Sorensen contingency paper suggests) but it seems pretty speculative that the entire thing was orchestrated from the beginning. Keep in mind that the House and Senate were both firmly in Democratic hands; additionally a Presidential resignation was, at the time, unprecedented. If the plan was to make an Agnew/Ford swap to get Nixon out a very different paper trail would exist. Really, the entire summer and fall of 1973 was a rollercoaster for the investigation as the existence of the Oval Office tapes accelerated both concern about Nixon's legal vulnerability and the constitutional crisis that would, in fact, culminate with resignation.

I go into this particularly because I feel, and have felt, we may almost certainly end up with a similar period of madness where all predictions are off. There are a lot of moving parts here and the concept of a neatly tied off narrative seems overly optimistic or cynical, depending.
posted by dhartung at 1:54 PM on January 1 [31 favorites]


This kind of shit — normalizing a leader’s pathology and authoritarianism to make him relatable and sell papers — isn’t new for the NYT

Godwinning the NYT is almost letting them off too easily for the B.S. they pulled last year on behalf of Trump. This is what their reporter Julie Davis admitted to on Twitter last July:
WH retroactively releases transcript of Trump off-record q/a w AF1 press after POTUS says he thot he was on record, but excises some points

Among pts WH omitted, per pool: Trump said of Jr mtg "In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point" but he wasn't told it was abt HRC & dirt [emphasis added, because WTF, how was that not news?]
The NYT's transcript quotes Trump saying only "Don is -- as many of you know Don -- he's a good boy. He's a good kid. And he had a meeting, nothing happened with the meeting. It was a short meeting as he told me -- because I only heard about it two or three days ago." CNN, on the other hand, reported, "He added, 'In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point,' but then when asked if he had been told that it was about Hillary Clinton and dirt against her he said no."

Incidentally, on CNN's Sunday talk show State of the Union, former Washington Post reporter turned D.C. insider–whisperer, Carl Bernstein was reluctant to invoke Watergate in regard to Trump but happily passed along scuttlebutt from his lawyers:
There's no reason to believe almost anything Donald Trump says, because what we know is that the president of the United States and his presidency is characterized, above all else, by the lying of the president of the United States. That doesn't mean that lying by the president is a crime. It does mean that we see him covering up events, but not necessarily criminally covering up events.

And where this is going definitively, we don't know. But there are -- many times, he has expressed, I'm told by people in the White House, the desire to fire Mueller, the desire to pardon people under investigation, including his family.

And one of the things that is going on now is that his lawyers are telling him what he wants to hear. And that is what I'm told by lawyers in the White House. They are telling him what he wants to hear to keep him [...] from acting precipitously and to go off and fire Mueller in a rage or fire Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, in a rage. They have an out-of-control client. The president of the United States, in their view, is out of control a good deal of the time, especially when it comes to this investigation.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:23 PM on January 1 [41 favorites]


They have an out-of-control client. The president of the United States, in their view, is out of control a good deal of the time, especially when it comes to this investigation.
Also, he lies to his lawyers
posted by mumimor at 3:30 PM on January 1 [14 favorites]


"Shrill." "Gawwwd, her VOICE."

Every time I hear a Dem/lib-identifying dude complain about Liz Warren or any other woman being "shrill," I'm going to hand him noise canceling headphones with a two-hour stretch of Donald Trump talking about anything. You really think the way women talk is something to complain about, dude? Okay. Here's your alternative.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:57 PM on January 1 [84 favorites]


A really good thing about all the women who are fired up to run for Democratic office from local on up is that we will build a nice deep bench of seasoned politicians to run for the big-time offices.

Well, we'll see how the backlash against women goes. A lot of the same people who were going on about "due process" and "Franken should unresign" will find all kinds of excuses to not support women politicians. Misogyny runs deep on both the Left and Right.
posted by happyroach at 5:07 PM on January 1 [19 favorites]


I've certainly seen it alleged that Nixon agreed to stop fighting and resign in exchange for Ford's promise to pardon him - purportedly SecState Haig was feeling Ford out about this in early August 1974, a few days prior to the resignation. But I don't think I've ever heard that he had originally picked Ford as VP on those conditions.

According to Victor Navasky, in this Democracy Now interview from a few days after Ford died in December 2006, that first part is true: “In August of 1974, which was about a week before Nixon resigned, General Haig took Jerry Ford for a walk in the Rose Garden and told him that Nixon was going bonkers and they had to get him out of there. And there were four possible ways to do that. The first three turned out not to be realistic. But the fourth, he said, was, ‘If you would promise to pardon him after you become president, I think he would agree to resign.’” But, as dhartung mentions, this is before Ford became president, not vice-president.
posted by LeLiLo at 5:34 PM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Unverified but awesome if true.
Looks like the GOP Tax Scam is ILLEGAL! The 'Revenue Act of 1862' stated that federal tax liability was to be calculated only after state & local taxes were deducted first.

The deduction was then enshrined in the Revenue Act of 1913, which created the modern federal income tax.
posted by scalefree at 6:00 PM on January 1 [24 favorites]




Congress can pass laws that supercede previous laws - not sure this is an actionable resistance path.
posted by SakuraK at 6:14 PM on January 1 [9 favorites]


It's not quite gold fringed flag level but, yeah, that argument is going nowhere fast. Congress is perfectly within its rights to fuck over blue states in this manner.
posted by Justinian at 6:17 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Unverified but awesome if true
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:25 PM on January 1 [13 favorites]


It's still pretty shocking, I hope, to live in a world where the President of the United States should have no idea who the Shah was or why the Iranian Revolution, approve of it or not... happened.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:45 PM on January 1 [17 favorites]


If it weren't for the whole Islam thing, I suspect Trump would be baying for Iranian protestors' blood. A repressive pro-Russian regime with blurred lines between state and commercial interests? We'd be seeing the Tehran Trump Tower before you could blink.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:01 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


thelonius: "As Garfield said, you don't have to believe in the bus company to get across town"

Oh, are we re-starting the 19th century Presidents discussion? I've got tons of fascinating Millard Fillmore facts!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:05 PM on January 1 [21 favorites]


Looks like the GOP Tax Scam is ILLEGAL!

This response sums up my skepticism:
The 1913 legislation, and many subsequent bills on tax policy, are *statute,* and can be amended by statute. The SALT deduction has been changed before and is now being changed again. There's no legal issue here.
posted by Coventry at 8:53 PM on January 1 [11 favorites]


with small, fragile countries possessing nukes

Fragile and nuke-possessing it may be, but Pakistan is the fifth most-populous country in the world.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:12 PM on January 1 [25 favorites]


Pakistan is the fifth most-populous country in the world.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:12 PM on 1/1
[6 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


I stand corrected.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:59 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Well, we'll see how the backlash against women goes. A lot of the same people who were going on about "due process" and "Franken should unresign" will find all kinds of excuses to not support women politicians

I've a constituent, and I've seen a lot of that, specifically, they liked Gillibrand until she "railroaded Franken" and "Turned on Clinton, who supported her"
posted by mikelieman at 10:11 PM on January 1 [8 favorites]


[A couple deleted. Hey, sorry, but the Nixon derail is getting out of hand. If someone wants to make a post where folks can dig into that history, no problem, and let me know if you want the text of your comments, but this thread is for current news about Trump/WH.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:19 AM on January 2


Who are these people who attack Gillibrand for going after Franken? Is it crazy to wonder if they are actual people? Someone on twitter claimed she was only targeting “men on the left” which cannot be said in good faith, so I was thinking it might be a troll. If the trolls are targeting her she is probably seen as a credible threat.

I just can’t imagine a world where Franken’s your big issue, especially when Gillibrand has so accurately captured the zeitgeist of the moment and was immediately anti-Trump in the strongest possible terms. She called for Franken to resign, said Clinton should have resigned, and called for Trump to resign. That is absolutely internally consistent. I do believe misogyny runs deep, but the vitriol on social media seems engineered.

Other points for Gillibrand: She was also one of the few elected officials aware enough to attend the women’s march, and has been completely aligned with the resistance since then. I see her as a candidate with very little baggage (as compared to HRC) and a very good record. She could even appeal to moderates with her straight talk and apparently moral personal life (seems to go to bible study).

But I’m a totally dedicated democratic voter and I’ll take anyone who can get elected in 2020 to be honest, and focusing on the midterms is a better idea in the meantime. We don’t need to start divisive primaries early.
posted by rainydayfilms at 3:46 AM on January 2 [45 favorites]


I do believe misogyny runs deep, but the vitriol on social media seems engineered.

It's not cynical at all to think that these are probes, looking for a gap in the armor: if they can crack D solidarity, that can't hurt them.

I see her as a candidate with very little baggage (as compared to HRC) and a very good record.

It's also not cynical at all to think that in the current political environment (the head of the opposing party has colluded with a hostile foreign power, ffs), they won't just invent all the 'baggage' they need, and make no mistake, they need it. They have to get their base fired up against the opponent - it's really the only tactic they have left since they won't get their base to the polls on policy alone.
posted by eclectist at 3:56 AM on January 2 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I'd say focus on midterms, for right now. We're gonna have a way clearer picture of the playing field after this year.
posted by dogheart at 4:07 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]




In the old days, we'd call that "blatantly illegal witness intimidation," but for him, it's Tuesday.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:24 AM on January 2 [58 favorites]


Clicking on those Trump tweet links is like opening the gates of hell
posted by Myeral at 5:28 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


I just can’t imagine a world where Franken’s your big issue

Well that’s because it’s not an issue so much as a rationalization for why they have a problem with this particular woman. (All women.)
posted by schadenfrau at 6:01 AM on January 2 [19 favorites]


He's taking credit for air safety statistics now. 2018 is off to a suitably surrealistic start.
posted by Devonian at 6:49 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


I'm glad he managed to convince his Russian friends not to shoot down any passenger planes last year, that probably helped. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by lydhre at 6:52 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Wow he's going after the NYT--maybe Melania has shown him the negative coverage of the interview--so perhaps giving the man a chance to dementedly ramble without any pushback was an act of resistance after all.
posted by angrycat at 7:10 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Donald Trump’s Year of Living Dangerously
It’s worse than you think
. (Susan B. Glasser / Politico)
By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict. No matter how prepared they were, eight months into an American presidency like no other, this was somehow not what they expected. A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. “Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,” the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. “The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’”

...

Over the course of the year, I have often heard top foreign officials express their alarm in hair-raising terms rarely used in international diplomacy—let alone about the president of the United States. Seasoned diplomats who have seen Trump up close throw around words like “catastrophic,” “terrifying,” “incompetent” and “dangerous.” In Berlin this spring, I listened to a group of sober policy wonks debate whether Trump was merely a “laughingstock” or something more dangerous. Virtually all of those from whom I’ve heard this kind of ranting are leaders from close allies and partners of the United States. That experience is no anomaly. “If only I had a nickel for every time a foreign leader has asked me what the hell is going on in Washington this year … ” says Richard Haass, a Republican who served in senior roles for both Presidents Bush and is now president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

...

Because a year into his presidency, this is where we are: Trump’s national security team and his allies are engaged in a silent conspiracy of sorts to guide and constrain him. America’s enemies in China and Russia have taken their measure of the man and are preparing to test him more decisively than they have yet ventured. Opportunists in the Middle East and elsewhere are taking what they can get. War talk with North Korea grows ever louder. And in Washington, the America Firsters have been purged from the White House staff—but not from the Oval Office itself.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:21 AM on January 2 [67 favorites]


Only 18 GOP seats lack Democratic challengers as we enter 2018 (Daily Kos):
This level of candidate recruitment is unprecedented. Typically, Democratic state parties enter a midterm election year worried that they’ll be able to land candidates in the most winnable seats. However, as of right now, it appears only 14 states have any seats without Democratic candidates.
I know how tempting it is to focus on the 2020 Presidential elections already (and I badly want a Gillibrand/Harris ticket!) but midterms and local elections are important, too, and I think - hope! - that the Democrats are waking up to that fact. Leave no seat unchallenged or election sat out. When we show up and vote, we win, right, Doug Jones? Show up and vote, and eventually you, too, can live in a nice blue state like California that believes all kids should eat lunch - because you voted to turn that state blue.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:46 AM on January 2 [54 favorites]




US counter terror air strikes doubled in Trump’s first year.
In 2013, Obama introduced measures that meant that strikes in areas of countries that were not active war-zones, such as Pakistan and Yemen, had to go through an elaborate sign-off process with the White House.
The Trump administration effectively side-stepped the restrictions by declaring parts of Somalia and Yemen to be areas of “active hostilities”.
posted by adamvasco at 8:03 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Visitors to Tennessee state legislature will be allowed to carry guns, but not “hand-carried signs,” which “represent a serious safety hazard”

Tape your revolutionary-slogan-bearing sign to the barrel of your rifle. Problem solved.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:13 AM on January 2 [66 favorites]


@PoliticsReid: Visitors to Tennessee state legislature will be allowed to carry guns, but not “hand-carried signs,” which “represent a serious safety hazard”

Well, with all those guns around, it turns out strongly worded political speech can be quite dangerous.
posted by dis_integration at 8:13 AM on January 2 [13 favorites]


You can lead a gun to Congress, but you can't make them think.
posted by delfin at 8:17 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Tape your revolutionary-slogan-bearing sign to the barrel of your rifle. Problem solved.

This is literally what I expect to happen.

I would laugh at Tennessee, but I live in Texas, where it became legal to open-carry machetes and swords yesterday.

This includes openly carrying the famous Jim Bowie knife, as well as daggers, dirks, throwing knives, stilettos, poniards, swords, machetes and spears.
posted by emjaybee at 8:19 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


It's part of a larger, more ominous pattern of the 2nd Amendment de facto overriding the 1st, one which is being encouraged by conservatives and abetted by an almost completely silent population of gun owners regardless of political affiliation. The time for silence or dumb excuses around this problem has come and gone, and whether or not someone supports the increasingly authoritarian behavior of modern American conservatism, it's frightening that 2A supporters are essentially united in being complicit in furthering it.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:28 AM on January 2 [28 favorites]


Newsweek: A golfing buddy of Donald Trump has said the president did not stop to take calls during their round of golf because he “wants to play a good game.”

Kelly is president whenever Trump is golfing. I suspect that wherever and whenever the war happens, that will be the time of day for Oval Office decision-making.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:32 AM on January 2 [15 favorites]


The 1913 legislation, and many subsequent bills on tax policy, are *statute,* and can be amended by statute. The SALT deduction has been changed before and is now being changed again. There's no legal issue here.

I would assume the issue is whether this hastily done bit of legislation actually amends the statute in question versus just writes new ones that conflict. Not that there's some magical seniority or no-backsies in play, but because now you have two conflicting bits of law and someone has to decide what supersedes what. The IRS will write their rules for 2018 returns based on statute... but which one? Presumably they'll do what is really the right thing to do - attempt to honor the will of the legislature. The one that's actually still above ground and in power.

But presumably anyone who doesn't want to lose that deduction will file suit. As we saw with the ACA and the bits of it that were in conflict or inadequately spelled out, there's one of two theoretical ways that goes: Congress behaves like a functioning body and irons out the fuckups [pause for laughter] or the lawsuit goes the distance and the Supremes decide what governs.
posted by phearlez at 8:34 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


The Future of Trumpism Is on Campus

At colleges across the country, young supporters of the president are demanding that College Republicans fall into line. (Elaine Godfrey / The Atlantic)
College Republicans form an integral component of the party’s grassroots campaign efforts. While it’s true that College Republicans aren’t exactly representative of Trump’s base, these young people represent the next generation of Republicans—and what now seem like low-stakes debates on college campuses will ultimately come to define the party’s future. If Trumpism has a political future, these young people will likely be its torchbearers.
Torchbearers, you say?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:45 AM on January 2 [50 favorites]


Nothing more depressing than College Republicans. At my uni they invited Ollie freakin' North (in the early 90s, mind you) to give a talk. I went because I was curious to see a spectacle. Someone interrupted North's speech with something about the Iran-Contra affair and one of the CRs in front said over him "the 60s are over, man!". Got a laugh from North and then back on track. I walked in not really having a political party leaning (was too young to vote for POTUS in 92) and walked out loathing anyone who had decided to be a Republican. Couldn't remember a thing about the speech except for that moment. How could kids be shutting down dissent like that? I was into punk rock and rap and couldn't believe these kids wanted to be their parents already. Youth wasted on the young, etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 AM on January 2 [24 favorites]


The Russia Investigations: 4 Big Storylines To Watch In 2018 (NPR, Jan. 2, 2018)
  1. The midterm election -- One-third of the Senate and every member of the House of Representatives is running for re-election this year. Current and former U.S. intelligence bosses say they expect the return of what they call "active measures" aimed across the United States, designed to amplify controversy and divide people as much as possible.
  2. Paperwork avalanche -- At least three congressional committees have said they could release their final reports into the Russian attack on the 2016 election or related events, but that may result in twice as many reports, with Dems looking to issue their own if the GOP pretends this is all a bunch of nothingburgers.
  3. President Putin -- Russia has an upcoming election and no one doubts Putin will win, as Russian elections are "widely faulted as un-free and unfair at best."
  4. The special counsel -- Outside legal experts have said they believe Mueller's work might not even be halfway complete, and that, based on past large, complex cases, the investigation might last through 2018.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on January 2 [15 favorites]


Pff. Between the GOP’s disdain for higher education and their desire to turn it into a system for indenturing entire generations to the banks, the only way Trump supporters are going to wind up on a college campus is if they’re sweeping the floor or working in the kitchen. The future of young Republicans is in the church, not the college classroom. That’s where they’re being radicalized.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:05 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Newsweek: A golfing buddy of Donald Trump has said the president did not stop to take calls during their round of golf because he “wants to play a good game.”

Are we trying to rival the nutters on their nonsense during the Obama administration? Because come on, who gives a shit? If the President, whoever it is, needs to be consulted then they'll get interrupted no matter what they're doing. It would be news if Trump refused calls because he's mid-hole or a staffer tells Newsweek that he'd told them never to interrupt him, no matter what. This? Someone he golfs with says he didn't take any calls. Which maybe means there's nothing that demands the President's attention for a few hours.

Aside from Trump's huge hypocrisy in his shitty dogwhistle attacks on Obama's relaxation, well established by now, this is at best nothing and more likely counter-productive. Because I don't want a President who can't have some moments of relaxation. I'd like Trump to do some extended relaxing in prison, yes, but I'd also like - when this is all over, Grodd willing - to have a President who gets to be a person without torment for taking a break here and there and me to be free of the torment of fucking hearing about it every time they do.
posted by phearlez at 9:06 AM on January 2 [21 favorites]


Back in the early 00s the College Republicans on my campus held in contempt by most, and the only thing I remember them getting up to were those reprehensible 'Affirmative Action Back Sales.' They had a skinhead guy in fatigues and wraparound shades stomping around in combat boots yelling about affirmative action, and a crowd gathered around heckling them. They've always been protofascist. Now we have James Allsups on campus actually attending white supremacist rallies.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:07 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


College Republicans form an integral component of the party’s grassroots campaign efforts. While it’s true that College Republicans aren’t exactly representative of Trump’s base, these young people represent the next generation of Republicans—and what now seem like low-stakes debates on college campuses will ultimately come to define the party’s future.

If memory serves me correctly, a young Karl Rove rose to the head of one of those young conservative groups, complete with the kind of underhanded shenanigans that would come to characterize his later political career.

In short, keep an eye on these people.
posted by Gelatin at 9:07 AM on January 2 [8 favorites]


This is a better—and more troubling—analogy than Hitler.

Catherine Rampell, WaPo: America’s own Cultural Revolution
…in both periods: Higher education is demonized. National symbols and cultural artifacts once seen as unifying, such as the Statue of Liberty and the American flag, become politicized. Specific words and ideas are stricken or banned from government communiqués.

Both Mao’s decade-long tumult and today’s Cultural Revolution with American characteristics also feature cults of personality for the national leader, who thrives in the surrounding chaos. Each also gives his blessing, sometimes explicitly, for vigilantes to attack ideological opponents on his behalf.

But the most troubling parallel is the call for purges.

Then, Mao and his allies led purges of political and military ranks, allegedly for seditious or just insufficiently loyal behavior. Today, White House officials, right-wing media hosts and federal lawmakers have called for a “cleansing” of the nation’s top law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, because the “deep state” is conspiring against the president.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:16 AM on January 2 [44 favorites]


Paul Ryan got his start as a member of the College Republicans. It's been a center of radicalization for decades, "Trumpism" is just the latest name for the steady progression of the radical right from the shadows of John Brichers to today's openly fascist and violent eliminationist rhetoric from Republican elected officials. As always, Trump and "Trumpism" is the symptom, not the cause of anything.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:16 AM on January 2 [14 favorites]


Megan Wilson, The Hill: Roger Stone, a longtime political operative with ties to President Trump, has retroactively registered as a lobbyist for a venture capital firm wanting to invest in commodities in Somalia.

His registration, which showed up in a federal lobbying disclosure database last week, says the work began on May 1 of last year. [...] The advocacy work, according to the disclosure forms, revolves around “[c]ommodity rights and security of the same in Somalia.”

Here he is on Infowars in September falsely claiming that al-Shabab is exporting Uranium to Iran and advocating for an increase of drone strikes in Somalia.

Jack Moore, Newsweek, 12/19: Luke Hartig, a former counterterrorism advisor in the Obama administration, told the Bureau that it was troubling that the Trump administration had given no justification for the increase in strikes in Somalia. "We don't have any real basis to assess, for example, why strikes have doubled in Somalia, or if any of these operations are being conducted in direct support of partner forces on the ground rather than as unilateral actions against the threats we face as a nation," he said.

NYT, 12/10: Pentagon Foresees at Least Two More Years of Combat in Somalia
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:22 AM on January 2 [27 favorites]


This is a better—and more troubling—analogy than Hitler.

Nazi students did, however, sgnificantly take over the culture of German universities. I think they were the ones organizing book burnings, for example.
posted by thelonius at 9:25 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


> Roger Stone, a longtime political operative with ties to President Trump, has retroactively registered as a lobbyist for a venture capital firm wanting to invest in commodities in Somalia.
> NYT, 12/10: Pentagon Foresees at Least Two More Years of Combat in Somalia

So, straight-up war profiteering, then?
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:27 AM on January 2 [7 favorites]




I know it's not Infrastructure Week 2018 yet, but: Taxpayers Lose and Banks Win in This Trump Infrastructure Deal
The Trump administration’s insistence on paying for infrastructure with private finance risks draining public coffers to pad profits for banks. In fact, a story from Rhode Island suggests that’s already happening.

The projected cost of a local highway project — the Route 95 viaduct — has ballooned more than 50 percent in a year, the Providence Journal reports. Much of the increase is due to special perks for private lenders that the state hopes will win favor from the Trump DOT. [...]

Why would Rhode Island spend all that money on private financing when it can borrow directly at a lower rate? There aren’t even tolls on this stretch of highway, so there is no projected-related revenue stream to pay back the loan.
On the one hand, NYC subway tunnels are too expensive. On the other hand, here's ~$115 million in free money for Wall Street, paid out of infrastructure funds, because that's how 45 likes it.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:55 AM on January 2 [20 favorites]


When I was in college (~2005) someone wrote a hilarious article for the school paper congratulating the head of the College Republicans on his amazing commitment to his Stephen Colbert-esque caricature performance of a know-nothing conservative. The article went on to point out how effective his satirical persona was at highlighting the incredible stupidity of standard Republican talking points.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:58 AM on January 2 [22 favorites]


When I was in grad school at Duke, the two heads of the College Republicans were notorious around campus for their unpleasantness and shit-stirring. They were Stephen Miller and Richard Spencer. I am not joking. Miller graduated and went to work for Sessions. Spencer dropped out of grad school because why work hard when you could just be a Nazi. Please do not doubt for a second the dangerousness of College Republicans.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:21 AM on January 2 [112 favorites]


I have to dig back and find the article but national college republican leadership is elected via a process where rat fuckery and justifying cheating by saying the ends justify the means is a way of life. It's a pressure cooker designed to churn out the next generation of Lee Atwaters and Karl Roves. The base may be in rural towns but the leadership is groomed on campuses.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:30 AM on January 2 [14 favorites]


This is just a suggestion to tame the attention desperate. I wish all news publications would start calling 45, The Current Government. The current government says this, the current government does that. So and so thinks this about the current government. No name repetition at all. But we all know, F and Fiends won't do this. Anyway.
posted by Oyéah at 10:32 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


rat fuckery and justifying cheating by saying the ends justify the means is a way of life.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:58 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


When I was in grad school at Duke, the two heads of the College Republicans were notorious around campus for their unpleasantness and shit-stirring. They were Stephen Miller and Richard Spencer. I am not joking. Miller graduated and went to work for Sessions. Spencer dropped out of grad school because why work hard when you could just be a Nazi. Please do not doubt for a second the dangerousness of College Republicans.

The head of the conservative student paper at my tiny liberal arts college is now Spencer's communication guy. He used to write obnoxious all student emails about “diversity” and would target the queer student orgs I helped run. Fuck ‘em all.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:01 AM on January 2 [20 favorites]


"Mad Dog" Mattis, whom I personally would follow into Hell and back and help destroy Fallujah on the way, and whose moderating influence is surely felt throughout the halls of power, defended the United States's attempts to minimize civilian casualties on the part of Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen:
“We are being held to a standard – ‘we’ being us and anyone associated with us – that has never been achieved before in warfare,” he said.

The comments came after two separate airstrikes on Dec. 26 by a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen killed dozens of people and prompted a rebuke from a top United Nations official in the country. Initial U.N. reports said that at least 54 civilians, including eight children, were killed in a strike on a crowded market, and an additional 14 people from one family were killed in a bombing on a farm.

The United States does not drop bombs as a part of the Saudi-led air war against the Houthis, but provides aerial refueling to Saudi jets, shares intelligence to improve their targeting and attempts to teach Saudi pilots how to be more accurate. Mattis bristled Friday when a reporter suggested that the effort isn’t working, saying “that’s your call.”
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:06 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Orrin Hatch to Retire from Senate, Opening Path for Mitt Romney

Jonathan Martin, NYT
Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Senate Republican, plans to announce on Tuesday he will retire at the end of the year, rebuffing the pleas of President Trump to seek an eighth term and paving the way for Mitt Romney to run for the seat.
posted by cybertaur1 at 11:12 AM on January 2 [30 favorites]


Mitt Romney can't wait to get in the Senate so he can get in on all the concerns having.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:22 AM on January 2 [57 favorites]


Maybe with Romney we'll get a strong never-Trump GOP senator who'll finally stand up to...oh, right.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:23 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


Romney would at least probably be an improvement on Hatch but you're right that's not saying much. He's still a reliable vote for the oligarchy. Baby steps, I guess.
posted by Justinian at 11:24 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


I adore Mitt's face in that photo. "Ahh, crap, you're...you're gonna photograph thi...hi, yeah, we're having...fun"
posted by middleclasstool at 11:26 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


Maybe with Romney we'll get a strong never-Trump GOP senator who'll finally stand up to...oh, right.

Try the Mittballs; they're delicious!
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on January 2 [11 favorites]


"Concerns" or no concerns, as far as I am concerned it is Reeks all the way down. If you have an "R" next to your name, I'm going to assume you'll fall in line like the rest of them. Not counting on any of the Party of Reek turning back into Theon anytime soon.

It's probably a better focus of Dem's and the left's time, energy, and money to get as many Democrats as possible into as many offices as possible.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:27 AM on January 2 [10 favorites]


Mitt Romney can't wait to get in the Senate so he can get in on all the concerns having.

I'm terribly excited to be lectured/concern trolled at by "moderate" conservatives about not being welcoming enough to Romney for putting words together in a worried fashion, all the while voting to send the country's poor to the Soylent mines.

See also: literally the entire Nevertrump movement.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:28 AM on January 2 [21 favorites]


Is there any statewide, well known, progressive candidate who could even run against Romney? Anyone at all? Or is Utah doomed to be either Far Right, Right, or moderate-right?
posted by anastasiav at 11:33 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


And right on time, Egg McNothing is here to remind us that not only was Hatch a Good And Decent Man, but that he's totally ready for a real leader, i.e., one that's willing to go the extra mile when rolling over and getting his belly scratched by Nazis.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:36 AM on January 2 [10 favorites]


Reporter: Does he believe the entire Justice Department with it's 100 000 employees is part of the Deep State?

Sanders: He does not.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:46 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


The only person who could challenge Mitt Romney in Utah would be Joseph Smith himself.
posted by BeginAgain at 11:48 AM on January 2 [6 favorites]


So uhh, if Hatch retires, Senile Thad Cochran who can't find his office or the committee rooms would become 3rd in line to the Presidency if Republicans retain the Senate.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:55 AM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Do I even want to know what Trump means about "sailors pictures on submarine"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:00 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


The only person who could challenge Mitt Romney in Utah would be Joseph Smith himself.

Jon Huntsman just shed a single tear into a bowl of borscht.
posted by box at 12:01 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


Is there any statewide, well known, progressive candidate who could even run against Romney? Anyone at all? Or is Utah doomed to be either Far Right, Right, or moderate-right?

The last 5 governors of Utah have all been Republican. The last Democratic governor, Scott Matheson, was in office in the early 80s. The last Democratic Senator from Utah left office in the late 70s. All of Utah's current reps are Republicans. But they have elected Democratic representatives recently, the last leaving office only in 2015! However, he was chair of the Blue Dog coalition and regularly voted for hawkish bills in Congress. He had a 0% rating from Pro-Choice America in 2010, voted against raising the debt limit, voted against No Child Left Behind, voted AGAINST Obamacare, opposed same sex marriage, and so on.

In other words, no, there isn't a progressive candidate who could win. There probably isn't a Democrat who could win. If a Democrat did miraculously win through some sort of pedobear explosion as in Alabama he would be the sort of Democrat many here think should be run out of town on a rail if not hung as a quisling traitor.
posted by Justinian at 12:02 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]


Could we remind Utah that Mittens wanted Paul Ryan to be Vice President?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:05 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Do I even want to know what Trump means about "sailors pictures on submarine"?

Having just visited home for the holidays, I'm all caught up on the Fox news talking points. According to my father, this is a BUT HER EMAILS reference which claims that a sailor taking classified photographs inside a nuclear submarine was prosecuted, despite the damage being less severe than that caused by Clinton.
posted by Slothrup at 12:07 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Do I even want to know what Trump means about "sailors pictures on submarine"?

US ​​Navy sailor jailed for taking photos of classified areas of nuclear submarine
posted by Bovine Love at 12:08 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


There was a sailor who took and kept photos on a submarine, including the reactor area, in 2009, and later destroyed his laptop, camera, and memory card and dumped them in the woods when investigators came asking. Trump referred to him a bunch during the campaign, about how unfair it was this guy was prosecuted for mishandling classified information when Clinton wasn't and teased him with the prospect of a pardon. The former sailor now works as a garbageman and said he sometimes felt used like a campaign prop until today's tweet.

It might have helped if Trump said "sailor's pictures on submarine," but communicating information with words is hardly his strong suit.
posted by zachlipton at 12:09 PM on January 2 [15 favorites]


Re. the Cultural Revolution analogy:

Thomas P.M. Barnett: A truly fascinating comparison. In China, the CR reflected aging revolutionary leaders facing own mortality/fear of irrelevance. Maybe this is last desperate self indulgence of godawful Boomer generation of political leaders, arguably worst in US history.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:15 PM on January 2 [16 favorites]


the only way Trump supporters are going to wind up on a college campus is if they’re sweeping the floor or working in the kitchen. The future of young Republicans is in the church, not the college classroom. That’s where they’re being radicalized.

The Trump supporting leadership of the College Republican group where I am currently enrolled as an undergrad are the people who invited Milo to speak on campus... and it was during the protests outside that event that a right-winger whipped out a gun and shot a left-wing dude in the stomach. Remember that? Anyway, the UW College Republicans are uniformly terrible little assholes who worship the alt-right, the former president of WSU's College Republicans group has also been discussed here before thanks to his association with the alt-right... but sure, let's pretend that these organizations are dying out, despite all evidence to the contrary that plenty of young assholes are finding their way to the right wing and using college orgs like these to make a name for themselves and rise to power. Pretending something isn't happening has served us all ever so well in the past, hasn't it.
posted by palomar at 12:15 PM on January 2 [31 favorites]


Pff. Between the GOP’s disdain for higher education and their desire to turn it into a system for indenturing entire generations to the banks, the only way Trump supporters are going to wind up on a college campus is if they’re sweeping the floor or working in the kitchen. The future of young Republicans is in the church, not the college classroom. That’s where they’re being radicalized.

lol according to The Washington Post's exit polling, 44% of voters who graduated from college voted Trump, and 51% of voters with some college education or an associate degree voted Trump as well. Plenty of educated, well-to-do people voted Trump, and plenty of working people didn't vote at all.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:23 PM on January 2 [29 favorites]


the only way Trump supporters are going to wind up on a college campus is if they’re sweeping the floor or working in the kitchen. The future of young Republicans is in the church, not the college classroom. That’s where they’re being radicalized.

Yeah, no, this is not ok or correct. And it's really classist as a statement.

The new alt-right youth tends towards atheism and libertarianism, they're highly active on college campuses (How do you think Milo keeps getting invited to speak at places like Berkeley?) and many of them are white collar tech/IT workers.

True, the alt-right is willing to mobilize the traditional Republican base, especially when it comes to anti LGTBQ or anti gender equality stuff.

This new alt-right is younger, smarter, more urban and a lot less blue collar than most people think it is, and it's kind of terrifying.

This is why for like the past two years I keep trying to get people to pay attention and take it seriously. It's not just a bunch of old rednecks and fundamentalist Christians, it's something pretty much entirely new.
posted by loquacious at 12:29 PM on January 2 [92 favorites]


This new alt-right is younger, smarter, more urban and a lot less blue collar than most people think it is, and it's kind of terrifying.

I keep thinking back to this Seattle Stranger article, "We Snuck into Seattle's Super Secret White Nationalist Convention," and what it says about the makeup of today's white nationalists.
According to my observations, the standard Seattle Nazi is a white male under 30 who either works in the tech industry or is going to school to work in the tech industry. “You’re also a coder? Do you mind if I send you something I’ve been working on?” I heard that more than once.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:36 PM on January 2 [21 favorites]


Mittens!
Wait — Mitt Romney? Isn’t this violating the longstanding ironclad rule (est. Nov. 2016) that losing presidential candidates refuse to ever again appear in public? How will Republicans ever find candidates to run for any elections again with Romney CONSUMING OXYGEN?

Anyway, this is sure to be major political development. A Republican senator who is a lockstep vote for Trump’s agenda and appointments and a lockstep vote against any attempt to investigate him will be replaced by a Republican senator who is a lockstep vote for Trump’s agenda and appointments and a lockstep vote against any attempt to investigate him but occasionally gives quotes to the media suggesting that he finds Trump vaguely distasteful. No more will civility be thrown under the bus! It will be a game changer on steroids!
posted by tonycpsu at 12:41 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


This is probably old news to many, but it seems that the architect of gerrymandering in North Carolina ("North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank it alongside Iran and Venezuela") is the person now in charge of the 2020 US Census.
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:41 PM on January 2 [54 favorites]


If a Democrat did miraculously win through some sort of pedobear explosion as in Alabama he would be the sort of Democrat many here think should be run out of town on a rail if not hung as a quisling traitor.

Actual professionals or Utahans should chip in, but it would, I think, take even more than pedobear. Per Wiki's latest population numbers, Alabama is roughly 40% comprised of racial minorities, broken down about 31% Black folks, 7% Hispanic (including white Hispanics), and 2% Asian. We've all seen the numbers about how Black women are the single most reliable voting bloc for Democrats anywhere, and we've all seen the articles about how Black women showed up in astounding numbers for Jones with, like, a within-the-margin-of-polling-error number going for Moore.

Utah is just about 14% racial minorities, and just 1 of those percents is Black.

tl;dr: We should fight everywhere, but Utah is whiter than Alabama, and therefore even harder, because white conservatives would actively have to decide in significant numbers that a pedophile is worse than a Democrat, OR somebody would invent a time machine and use it to change the racist-as-fuck history of Utah, OR the alien abduction/Rapture would show up on the morning of election day, but leave all the unworthy sinners in Salt Lake City/Park City/Moab, the first of which has had a Democratic mayor since the late 70's and has an all-Democratic delegation to the state house.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which one of these is the most likely to occur.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:48 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Because politics aren't dumb enough yet: Michelle Bachmann Weighing Run For Franken’s Senate Seat
posted by octothorpe at 12:52 PM on January 2 [11 favorites]


Wait — Mitt Romney? Isn’t this violating the longstanding ironclad rule (est. Nov. 2016) that losing presidential candidates refuse to ever again appear in public? How will Republicans ever find candidates to run for any elections again with Romney CONSUMING OXYGEN?

He who laughs last laughs best. If Pence is out before Trump is, Mittens is the natural for the Ford role when control reverts back to the traditional GOP.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:55 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Oh, to be in the center of a Bachmann-Pence-Trump prayer circle in the Oval Office. So divine.

/barf
posted by Burhanistan at 12:59 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


As I understand it Mitt Romney believes he is the subject of the White Horse prophecy. How can he not run?
posted by gerryblog at 1:09 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


the traditional GOP no longer exists. When 45 goes, he'll leave a party that's had whatever sense of truth and logic it ever had ripped out, and morphed to an explicitly authoritarian model. I'm quite sure the next generation of GOP leadership is even now working out how to cement the new order into place while appearing not to have 45's obvious deficiencies, and they'll be very well funded and very capable of lying with far greater skill. The 'traditional' GOP, however you choose to define it, is dead, and the only way the future GOP will be less awful and less dangerous is when the Dems get back control and somehow persuade people that decency, honesty and pragmatic humane competence have a place in government.
posted by Devonian at 1:10 PM on January 2 [16 favorites]


Because politics aren't dumb enough yet: Michelle Bachmann Weighing Run For Franken’s Senate Seat
posted by octothorpe at 12:52 PM on January 2 [1 favorite +] [!]


Oh, please, GOP, nominate this nutbag. It'll be a DFL win in a cakewalk.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:10 PM on January 2


when control reverts back to the traditional GOP.

Objection, assumes facts not in evidence
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]


Oh, please, GOP, nominate this nutbag

NO. That's what we said about Trump, and look where it got us!

Re: Hatch... Every Republican retirement is a good thing, to me. Even if we have no chance at his seat -- it means his loyalty can no longer be bought by campaign donations or extorted through primary threats. Now he is free to vote for impeachment if he wants to. (Which is a big "If" I know, but...) And Mitt might vote with the plutocrats 99% of the time, but he also might vote for impeachment. I have no doubt that he would prefer Mike Pence to Donald Trump.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:12 PM on January 2 [24 favorites]


This is probably old news to many, but it seems that the architect of gerrymandering in North Carolina ("North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank it alongside Iran and Venezuela") is the person now in charge of the 2020 US Census.

Why is this N&O article from a year ago getting renewed attention now? It's super, super valid and important, but did I miss something that would explain why this tweet, dated 30 Dec 2017, links to an article dated 31 Dec 2016? It was already posted upthread here, too.
posted by witchen at 1:14 PM on January 2


The best thing about Michelle Bachmann is Marcus Bachmann.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:17 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


@witchen, I assume it's because the architect of NC's gerrymandering is the current administration's pick to lead the 2020 US Census. And that piece is a quick read on just how bad of a pick he is.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:28 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]


At this point, I doubt anyone is going to give a crap that Marcus Bachmann is actually gay (assuming that’s true). The party already ran a child molester for the Senate, and evangelicals lined up in droves to support him. They’re not going to care about a gay husband in a straight marriage with a female candidate. They’re really not going to care in 2020 after God only knows what has transpired in the interim.

Michele Bachmann already has a well-established reputation for being crazy and embarrassingly ignorant while also being completely ineffective in office. After multiple consecutive years of Trump fatigue after all his crazy, she will simultaneously manage to be too insane to elect AND too establishment to elect, seeing as how Trump has stacked his administration full of crazy ignoramuses. Even if she ramps up the crazy, it will just seem like she’s trying to jump on the bandwagon, and Trump won’t stand for someone trying to use his own schtick to bogart some of his camera time.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:51 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Oh, please, GOP, nominate this nutbag. It'll be a DFL win in a cakewalk.

The last thing Minnesota needs is Bachman–Trumpist Overdrive.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:00 PM on January 2 [67 favorites]


would also have accepted “Bachmann-Turner Diaries Overdrive”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:04 PM on January 2 [48 favorites]


They’re not going to care about a gay husband in a straight marriage with a female candidate.

It would probably help her. He may be gay, but he's fighting it! Maybe someday, he'll overcome it, but in the meantime, he's repressed and miserable, and the GOP is all about making gay people repressed and miserable.
posted by emjaybee at 2:15 PM on January 2 [10 favorites]


WaPo: Trump urges Justice Department to ‘act’ on Comey, suggests Huma Abedin should face jail time
... A president meddling in such investigations and suggesting that someone working for a former political rival face “Jail!” is considered a serious breach of normal protocol; even former attorney general Michael Mukasey, a frequent Clinton critic, said Trump’s campaign-trail idea to have a special prosecutor reinvestigate and jail Clinton “would be like a banana republic.”...
"A serious breach of normal protocol" is, like, so 2016. We're in a brave new world now.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:20 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


Things that gave me a bit of a chuckle amidst the general daily rage
Roy Moore's Jewish Lawyer Voted for Doug Jones
and
The Hill's round-up of the social media response to Trump taking credit for aviation safety.
posted by TwoStride at 2:22 PM on January 2 [16 favorites]


Mitt Romney changed his Twitter location from "Massachusetts" to "Holladay, UT" literally this afternoon, if you're wondering how this campaign is shaping up.
posted by zachlipton at 2:58 PM on January 2 [53 favorites]


"Mad Dog" Mattis, whom I personally would follow into Hell and back and help destroy Fallujah on the way, and whose moderating influence is surely felt throughout the halls of power

The thing that still leaves me astounded about this regime is the continued exceptions people make for Mattis and the loyalty the express for him despite everything we've seen.

Okay, great. He's against torture and he pushed against the transgender ban. That's why we should still have faith in him? That's like applauding an able-bodied forty-year-old for being able to tie their own fucking shoes.

If somebody can make a case for Mattis doing any actual good in this regime that doesn't rely on "we haven't nuked anyone (yet)," I'd appreciate it. So far all I see him do is lend his personal credibility to a horrifying shitshow.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:06 PM on January 2 [32 favorites]


It's because for some, the military and military service is kind of a cult. There is a strain of thinking--mainly in conservatism, but not exclusively so--that posits that the military should be a form of "super-citizenship," much like the way that Starship Troopers impresses upon readers (and the viewers of the IMO far superior Verhoeven film who aren't in on the joke) that "service guarantees citizenship." Of course, almost all of the people that buy into this bullshit also denigrate civilian service as furthering the power of the government to support those that they see as lazy, undeserving leeches that are a drain on the noble bootstrappers such as themselves. You can work for decades in a government job helping to provide singlepayer healthcare, or rescuing victims of sex trafficking, or food for impoverished mothers and children, and you will somehow still be less deserving of your place in society than even some desk jockey who managed to get a couple of stripes on their shoulder.

So you have a figure like Mattis, who is inspiring to the enlisted ranks because of his reputation as a straight shooter (pun intended) and willingness to act when they deemed it necessary. Nevermind that he's an actual butcher of innocent human beings, or that he's complicit in a whole mess of really horrible policies from the Trump administration, he's "Mad Dog" and that's all that really matters. All he has to do is display the slightest modicum of basic human decency, just enough to prove that he's Not Trump and there are people who will still believe he's some sort of savior. It's more than a little cultivated by Mattis and his flunkies, naturally, but when you're already enraptured by the mythos they've built up around him, it doesn't really matter. Again, it's about the belief that military service demonstrates qualities that are supposedly inherently superior to a lot of qualities one can demonstrate without ever having so much as looked at their local recruiting office. By and large, the Mattis cultists seem to believe military intervention in civilian affairs is the panacea to wannabe autocrats like Trump, despite millenia of evidence that in pretty much every single instance ultimately proves this to be a foolish and extremely dangerous philosophy.

Given this evidence, it should be clear by now that putting our trust into people who have devoted their entire lives to destruction and violence against their fellow humans is a Very Bad Idea, but we're talking about a form of brainwashing here. It's not the same as the brainwashing that we see around the sociocultural and economic spheres, but it largely comes from the same place and can very easily co-exist with it. Unfortunately, like most forms of brainwashing, it's insidious and deeply rooted in some people's worldview regardless of support of or opposition to Trump, and it won't be easy to overcome.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:48 PM on January 2 [56 favorites]


Daniel Dale, Toronto Star: Happy 2018! Trump begins the new year with a bizarre Twitter storm
U.S. President Donald Trump attacked his own Justice Department, called for the imprisonment of a political opponent, inaccurately criticized the New York Times, took unearned credit for airplanes not crashing, made a nonsensical claim about the politics of immigration, conducted high-stakes foreign policy while referring to North Korea’s dictator by a derogatory nickname, and responded to a Fox News program he was watching.

All on Twitter. All in three hours.

Happy 2018! In Washington, it looks a lot like 2017.
And here's his final tally on Trump's lies: Donald Trump made 1,012 false claims in 2017
 
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:01 PM on January 2 [36 favorites]


There should be a parenthetical there, i.e. (in public) and/or (that we know about) to that tally.
posted by Green With You at 4:20 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


So I thought I was going for Comstock. Apparently I'm going for Pete Sessions. Mefites in Dallas, hit me up. We're going to flip the 32nd this year.
posted by dogheart at 4:22 PM on January 2 [27 favorites]


Oh hey, I'm in Pete Sessions zone because gerrymandering. I'm all about defeating him, even though I know him personally. In fact, BECAUSE I know him personally and there is no excuse for his teahadist turn.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 4:39 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]




Here’s what’s interesting about this Trump tweet that just came across that hellscape that is the internet, is that the article is from a few days ago. Did it just get mentioned on television?
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
posted by Brainy at 4:53 PM on January 2 [10 favorites]


That tweet is only a few minutes old as of posting. Must've been embedded or something on whatever it was you saw. It's also absolutely fucking bonkers, naturally.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:56 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


I'm not one to get all Freudian about everything but really now

someone get grandpa his cialis
posted by tivalasvegas at 4:57 PM on January 2 [27 favorites]


I mean, the POTUS just made the launch of nuclear weapons about his dick.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:59 PM on January 2 [28 favorites]


I'm not one to get all Freudian about everything but really now

Codpieces at Dawn!
posted by jointhedance at 5:00 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Contact your physician if you have a Nuclear Button for more than four hours.
posted by peeedro at 5:04 PM on January 2 [14 favorites]


"Mad Dog" Mattis, whom I personally would follow into Hell and back and help destroy Fallujah on the way,

I know that this comment has been addressed but I'm still somewhat confused. Why do you want to destroy Fallujah?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:05 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Russia probe grand jury looks like ‘a Black Lives Matter rally,’ says witness
The federal grand jury handing down indictments for special counsel Robert Mueller doesn’t appear to include any supporters of President Donald Trump, according to one witness who recently testified before the panel.

“The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally,” my source said. “Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley [Calif.]”

Of the 20 jurors, 11 are African-Americans and two were wearing “peace T-shirts,” the witness said. “There was only one white male in the room, and he was a prosecutor.” Mueller was not present.
N.B. DC is 49% black. If they didn't want a black jury they should try committing crimes in jurisdictions like Montana.
posted by Talez at 5:08 PM on January 2 [109 favorites]


@Max_Fisher: People are understandably focused on the button thing, but note well: he is responding, only now, to a speech Kim gave 48 hours ago. I’m less worried about the size of his button than his apparently garbled sources of intelligence on nuclear conflict matters.

Meanwhile, we've moved on to scheduling the airing of grievances. @realDonaldTrump: "I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!"
posted by zachlipton at 5:08 PM on January 2 [19 favorites]


It is impossible to say whether or not this is actually going to happen. Does it even matter?

@realDonaldTrump
I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!

posted by Rust Moranis at 5:09 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


ZOMG I have such a fucking time teaching developmental English with folks who think it's okay to randomly capitalize nouns. Granted, this is mostly a developmental English thing that I often see with ESL folks. And POTUS.
posted by angrycat at 5:09 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]




I know that this comment has been addressed but I'm still somewhat confused. Why do you want to destroy Fallujah?

I don't. My comment is a joke at the expense of people who hold Mattis in high regard despite his having overseen war crimes in the siege of Fallujah, his having protected soldiers accused of murdering civilians, and his present job making excuses for Saudi Arabia's wanton destruction of Yemen and America's wanton destruction of the Middle East generally.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:15 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


He’s been especially insane today even for him, let’s hope that means it’s Mueller time again behind the scenes. Something set him off.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:16 PM on January 2 [24 favorites]


“Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley [Calif.]”

Of the 20 jurors, 11 are African-Americans . . .
N.B. DC is 49% black.
Meanwhile, Berkeley is only 10% black.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:21 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


Thank you, I guess that I'm 0 for 1 in sarcasm detection for 2018.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:37 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


“Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley [Calif.]”

So ... am I to understand from this that Stephen Miller got called to testify before the grand jury? That sounds good.
posted by Emera Gratia at 5:43 PM on January 2 [14 favorites]


There must be poor saps working for KGB and every other intelligence service watching Fox News at all hours to know the president's thoughts ahead of time. And keeping track of the Freudian dick-measuring contest between T and KJU for the latest escalations.

Of course, those predictions are only valid for about 5 minutes until they fall back into the disheveled mess that is Trump's mind and forgotten entirely.
posted by hexaflexagon at 6:11 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


I understand why it’s illegal to disable the President from watching TV, but jfc it’s some pretty egregious shit that Fox News is able to basically pipeline foreign policy into the White House and manipulate the president like this. People here have talked about there being a “shadow government” by the Democrats, but Fox News is basically a shadow government as it is.
posted by gucci mane at 6:20 PM on January 2 [33 favorites]


“Hello? Uh, hello? Hello, Dmitri? Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? A-ha, that's much better. Yeah, yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then, as you say, we're both coming through fine. Good. Well, it's good that you're fine, and - and I'm fine. I agree with you. It's great to be fine. [Laughs] Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The BOMB, Dmitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now, what happened is, uh, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of - Well, he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing.
~ President Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
posted by Fizz at 6:23 PM on January 2 [29 favorites]


“The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally,” my source said. “Maybe they found these jurors in central casting,

A group of black people looks like a Bernie Sanders rally? Erm...Black voters heavily favored Hillary Clinton. And thanks to gentrification, Berkeley is only about 10% African-American.

I know it sounds petty to pick at stuff like this but it exposes the ignorance (and casual racism) of these "best people" and fine Republican minds.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:25 PM on January 2 [33 favorites]


People want to ban Trump from twitter but honestly the only thing that makes sense short, medium, and long term is to completely destroy Fox News in all of its forms and have its owners, organizers and on air talent punished and humiliated.
posted by The Whelk at 6:26 PM on January 2 [51 favorites]


Then he'll switch over to OAN. (Not that Fox News doesn't need to go up against a wall.)
posted by Burhanistan at 6:28 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Stephen Colbert Unloads on Trump’s Unhinged 2018 Tweets
Stephen Colbert is back from his long holiday hiatus. And he had plenty to talk about Tuesday night thanks to the particularly disturbing string of tweets President Donald Trump used to ring in the new year.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:39 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


I didn't see this posted here, but from Politico: Doug Jones hires African-American chief of staff.

He will be the only Senate Democrat to have an African-American chief of staff.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:47 PM on January 2 [54 favorites]


[Folks, let's dial back the snark and fluff. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:50 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


The founders of Fusion GPS wrote an NYT op-ed, The Republicans’ Fake Investigations (emphasis added):
Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators.

We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.

The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation.
The FBI received a report from inside the Trump camp? Please, do go on.
posted by zachlipton at 7:02 PM on January 2 [77 favorites]


The FBI received a report from inside the Trump camp?

That could be Papadopolous, who blabbed to a bunch of people including (in what looks to me like a sting) Australia's ambassador to the UK, Alexander Downer. It was Australia's own security services that later informed the FBI, but since the information originated with Papadopolous it could reasonably be described as "a source within the Trump camp".
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:16 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


People here have talked about there being a “shadow government” by the Democrats, but Fox News is basically a shadow government as it is.

Shallow state?
posted by The World Famous at 7:39 PM on January 2 [11 favorites]


"I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!"

The President said this.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:41 PM on January 2 [50 favorites]


Yeaaaaaaaaa no seriously that source is probably Miller.
posted by odinsdream at 7:58 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


i can't believe human beings on earth honestly believe that W O M E N are the ones who are emotional and irrational and hysterical when we have a shrill squealing diaper baby in office whose erectile dysfunction mantrum will kill all life on earth
posted by poffin boffin at 7:59 PM on January 2 [158 favorites]


Evan Perez, CNN: Trump lawyers talked with special counsel team

The Trump lawyers are no longer putting dates on when they expect the investigation to end, after previously predicting an end by Thanksgiving, then Christmas or the end of the year.

Think this is what ground his gears today? Not the meeting itself, since it happened before Christmas, but maybe this was the first he'd heard of there being no end in sight to the investigation, contrary to what his lawyers have been telling him (per Bernstein). Finding out via CNN that his lawyers have been lying to him might have been enough to make him blow his twitter O-Ring.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:02 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


Daniel Dale @ddale: "This is Trump's level of calm after ten days off, seven days of playing golf."

Community creator Dan Harmon @danharmon: "If I could shed some light on this as a narcissist: it’s his level of panic after ten days of the universe functioning without him. An adult’s vacation is a baby’s unchanged diaper. I know because I’ve tweeted like 70 times today."

(There are of course any number of other reasons Trump could be ranting even more than usually on Twitter lately, but his pathology is always going to factor in.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:05 PM on January 2 [18 favorites]


Dear 45: you can still just quit! You can totally do it! Tell us we're not worth it! You're too good for us! You're bored and everything is stupid and you're going to play golf and put your big stupid name on big stupid buildings forever! Tour the country talking about how awesome you were to your MAGAhats! My dude, the door is open. So very very open. All you gotta do is walk through it.
posted by emjaybee at 8:12 PM on January 2 [29 favorites]


Russia probe grand jury looks like ‘a Black Lives Matter rally,’ says witness

To be fair, a jury of their peers would be selected from the membership at Mar-a-Lago.
posted by JackFlash at 8:32 PM on January 2


The FBI received a report from inside the Trump camp?

Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand @NatashaBertrand: "There was no mole inside the Trump camp, person with knowledge of Fusion's testimony and the op-ed tells me. This is a reference to Papadopoulos.
"Fusion said in Aug. that the FBI had info from someone inside the Trump camp — didn't say it was a direct source, & didn't name names."

On the other hand, kudos to Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch for phrasing that in exactly the way to make Team Trump even more paranoid. 😘👌
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:42 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "So uhh, if Hatch retires, Senile Thad Cochran who can't find his office or the committee rooms would become 3rd in line to the Presidency if Republicans retain the Senate."

It's widely expected that Cochran will be resigning in the next couple of weeks.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


maggiemaggie: "I didn't see this posted here, but from Politico: Doug Jones hires African-American chief of staff.

He will be the only Senate Democrat to have an African-American chief of staff.
"

BTW, Doug Jones and Tina Smith will both be sworn in tomorrow at noon ET.

Fun Fact: Smith will have seniority - state population is the tiebreaker.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:54 PM on January 2 [20 favorites]


With Devin Nunes's attacks on Mueller and the FBI alarming Democrats (and even some Republicans), Dems on the House Intelligence Committee are seriously exploring the possibility of issuing a minority report that details the degree to which Republicans tried to impede a full investigation (Washington Post). “If the investigation gets wound up too quickly, the minority report would be largely about outstanding questions that were never examined,” Rep. Jim Himes told the Post.

As it's become known that Nunes has blocked dozens of requests for interviews and subpoenas for additional testimony, including from Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump Jr., it's worth remembering that since he served on the the executive committee of Trump's transition team, Mueller may well have copies of any e-mails from this period that either he sent or that were sent to him through its server.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:25 PM on January 2 [46 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 Senate:
-- As mentioned upstream, Orrin Hatch finally announced he would not run for re-election; Mitt Romney is the prohibitive favorite for the GOP nom - although apparently Bannon is making noises about running - and in the general. If anything, this probably reduces the odds for the Democrats from slim to near zero (if you were wondering, the last statewide victory for a Dem in UT was in 1996).

-- Ted Cruz released a poll showing him with a 52-34 lead over O'Rourke. The polling firm is headed by a Cruz adviser, so we may want to take this one with a grain of salt.
** 2018 House:
-- House Transportation chair Bill Shuster [R-PA-09] announced he would retire. The 9th is super red (Trump 70-27, Romney 63-36), so this should be a safe seat. That said, Shuster is corrupt af, and I'm not sorry to see the back of him.

-- GOP still hasn't found a candidate for NJ-02, where the Dems are expected to mount a strong effort to flip the seat.

-- The GOP also isn't finding anyone for FL-27, and indeed, appear to be on the verge of writing off the seat.

-- Since 1946, the party that holds the White House loses an average of about 3% on the generic ballot between Jan 1 and Election Day. That would imply a gap of ~15% at the election.


** Odds & ends:
-- NY GOP lost another potential governor candidate, as hedge fund manager Harry Wilson has dropped out. The Republicans are in danger of not having a credible candidate for governor, which generally suppresses turnout overall - something they don't need in a pro-Dem environment.

-- WP: Record number of women running for governor this year.

-- Reminder that the drawing for the winner of VA HD-94 is scheduled for this Thursday, barring any other legal actions. Meanwhile, HOD Republicans have been trying to bribe Dem members with good committee assignments in exchange for voting for a Republican for House Speaker (in the event Simonds wins the drawing, and the House is 50-50).
===

-- We've got about a dozen special elections coming up in February, I'll write them up in the next day or so.

-- On a personal note, I was sworn in tonight. If you need anyone to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States OR the Constitution of Pennsylvania, drop me a line.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:48 PM on January 2 [132 favorites]


Chrysostom, I particularly like article fourteen:
XIV. That a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles and a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality are absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty, and keep a government free: The people ought therefore to pay particular attention to these points in the choice of officers and representatives, and have a right to exact a due and constant regard to them, from their legislatures and magistrates, in the making and executing such laws as are necessary for the good government of the state.
That seems to imply that you have a duty to execute not all laws, but such laws as are necessary for the good government of the state.
posted by MrVisible at 10:11 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


"I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock...”

Did he really tweet “at 5:00 o’clock”? Like, does he not realize that the :00 means o’clock? So what he typed reads “at five o’clock o’clock.”

Remember when our president wasn’t stupid? That was fun.
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:28 PM on January 2 [26 favorites]


I believe that's the PA Constitution of 1776, though, not the current version.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:30 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Dear 45: you can still just quit! You can totally do it!

If he quits he can no longer pardon co-conspirators or fire prosecutors. He's cornered and he knows it.
posted by contraption at 10:51 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Trump had tweeted "watch Sean Hannity at 9:00" (Hannity responded by apparently talking about how great the emperor's tweets are -- that was the segment). That's been deleted, which apparently happens more often than obsessed WHology followers like myself might notice. I also learned that somehow the Office of Government Ethic's page on "A Refresher on Misuse of Position" from a year ago has also not been deleted. What things this year is teaching us!
posted by Theiform at 11:13 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


I think he deleted it because of a typo, he meant “watch Sean Hannity at 9:00 o’clock.”
posted by BeginAgain at 11:35 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


There’s no way Trump will quit. There’s no way he could ever set aside the power and the spotlight. Pardoning crimes, appointing judges, ordering around generals, brandishing a nuclear military, having every brain fart of a tweet discussed by the national media, being cheered by throngs of devoted followers that would kill or die for him...

How in the world could an ego of his magnitude ever set that aside voluntarily? Hell, it’s power I wouldn’t be inclined to just let go, and I don’t have NPD.
posted by darkstar at 12:05 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Trump's Tweets Are a 'Narnian Wardrobe to His Lizard Brain'
A conversation with the writer Jonah Goldberg about dysfunction on the right and why the president of the United States can’t stop tweeting about Hillary Clinton.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:25 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Just wanted to report in that the holiday break gave me a wee window of time with no Trump, no megathread, nothing. It was sweet. And, as it happens, always available.

I mention this to the good people of River City because on awaking this morning I wondered if Crysostom had any updates on the upcoming mid-terms, and will there be a separate thread to track those races an - ooh maybe multiple threads, like, by state or something . . .

Anyway, I'm going to try and . . . moderate . . a heh heh . . my Trump intake to only those articles that really tell me what I don't know, which, at this point, is primarily down to who gets indicted when.
posted by petebest at 3:54 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Anyway, I'm going to try and . . . moderate . . a heh heh . . my Trump intake to only those articles that really tell me what I don't know, which, at this point, is primarily down to who gets indicted when.
posted by petebest at 7:54 PM on January 3 [+] [!]


Yep. Not trying to be a know-it-all, but the things summed up in this thread and the attending speech are things I've felt for a good long while, and it drove something home for me - Trump, reality TV, and the whole fricken circus in Washington, like so much of the internet these days, are basically lower-order rage hacks on the human brain. They're addictive, like smoking and porn. Republicans and a good number of Democrats are addicts, political parties are "slow AI", etc.

This is not particularly groundbreaking to say, but we're human and our receptors get burned out, so give up, filter your intake, and know you're dealing with a virus designed to piss you off, keep you coming back for more, and encourage hive lifeform behavior. Ask a raver if they'd ever ingest MDMA 3 days in a row, the answer is no, because you only have so much of the happy chemicals to unleash at once, and ain't nobody gonna waste their stash unleashing hormones they already used up yo.

To further confuse the metaphor, worker ants die when they burn out. I set up my donations and skim these threads for developments and call reps when swarm action is warranted, but I can't think of any situation when full emotional engagement with this stuff is healthy. I'll commit my anger and passion if armed revolution ever comes, but until then, this deserves all the attention I give to the dishes - gotta be done, kinda gross, but I'd rather not and I'm glad when the daily duty is done.
posted by saysthis at 4:37 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


We all need to take a breather sometimes, but retreating into private life and "internal exile" is what allows dictators to k control. And Lord knows we don't need so much commentary in our lives, but being informed about th facts and helping to inform others is, I think, the number one duty of good people in this post truth moment.

I've recommended before, but I think it's worth mentioning again... if you can't handle drinking from the fire those anymore but are still thirsty for good information, you could do lot worse than checking in on http://weeklysift.com once a week.

Or if you have a decent local newspaper still, just subscribe to it and get your news from there instead of trying to read the entire internet.

But please, after you take a break, go back to calling your members of Congress, showing up at protests, donating to good causes and candidates, writing letters to the editor and postcards to Voters. The danger is not yet passed.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:20 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


I'm with OUAT: the problem isn't being informed, it's the bonkers 24/7 news/outrage cycle (and the corporations feeding it, including NYT, WaPo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). For my part, I strongly recommend burning any financial bridges you have with any of those corporations (including ad blocking at a minimum and purging your account at a maximum), but I recognize that's not an option for everybody. (For example, it seems that all the nearby lefty groups organize via Facebook, which seems pretty myopic? Urging them to organize via different means and using Facebook solely for outreach seems a good step, though.)

I can second the recommendation of The Weekly Sift, it's been valuable to me in the last month or two.
posted by ragtag at 5:29 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Remember when our president wasn’t stupid? That was fun.

Recently, President Obama released his list of his favorite songs and books from 2017. Some of it seemed a little purposefully broad (how many Kendrick Lamar fans listen to The National or U2? I'm not sure), but most of it, especially the books, seemed genuine and real. It's the list of a man who has actually read and listened to these things, who did not need to be coached on their existence, who deems it a worthwhile enterprise to share with others the books and songs he has loved.

And I read it, and I read it again, and one thought, we were not that long ago governed by a man with a vibrant inner life, filled me with such sadness that I didn't know what else to do but take my dog for a walk in the hope that the cold would yank it out of me.

There is a far greater urgency to the malicious and tangible harm the Republicans are wreaking on this country. People have been hurt, people are going to die because of their policy. But the husks currently occupying the White House and a substantial part of Congress have also strangled much of our country's soul. They rattle like dry leaves when they talk, these walking corpses elected by voters who without a trace of irony call themselves "pro-life".
posted by middleclasstool at 5:30 AM on January 3 [95 favorites]


um holy shit, Bannon in this Guardian book review

WTF is Bannon's agenda? Just to fuck shit up?
posted by angrycat at 5:32 AM on January 3 [30 favorites]


um holy shit, Bannon in this Guardian book review

Michael Wolff no doubt had to settle on the title Fire and Fury for his book since "Shitstorm" wouldn't have been publishable:
Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”[...]

The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”
While any number of factors could be triggering Trump lately, Wolff's book could easily be one of them: " Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him." Its publication date is next week...
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:49 AM on January 3 [44 favorites]


> WTF is Bannon's agenda? Just to fuck shit up?

Pretty much. He's been pretty clear that he wants to destroy current political establishments.
posted by papercrane at 5:50 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


> WTF is Bannon's agenda? Just to fuck shit up?

Pretty much. He's been pretty clear that he wants to destroy current political establishments.


And amass personal power and wealth while he's at it.

Pointing out the obvious about Trump, and distancing oneself before the crowd has always seemed like an obvious play to me. Although it would work better for someone who wasn't intimately involved during the worst of it.
posted by diogenes at 5:55 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


"Why didn't you call the FBI?" seems like a problematic line of questioning for Bannon.
posted by diogenes at 6:01 AM on January 3 [26 favorites]




Bannon is setting up Kushner and Don Jr to take the fall?
posted by Slothrup at 6:20 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


WTF is Bannon's agenda? Just to fuck shit up?

Not many people know this, but Bannon was the inspiration for Heath Ledger’s Joker

I mean I assume

What the actual fuck
posted by schadenfrau at 6:31 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Bannon is a seriously weird fucker whose highly idiosyncratic set of ideologies doesn't really line up with the sort of standard left-right alignment of most Western politics. Fucking shit up is definitely on his agenda, as a consolation prize if not as the actual goal. He wants to destroy "crony capitalism" as exemplified by the relationship between Wall Street and establishment Republicans, and I think he's bitter that the Trump family and staff and supporters (especially Kushner) are deeply entwined with that world and managed to get him booted out of the White House. And he's nationalist to the point of isolationist xenophobia, where any country that isn't the US gets treated as a potential enemy; so of course he views any collaboration with Russia as treasonous.

So, yeah, now that he's back on the outside, he's down with fucking the Republican establishment and the Trump staff & family (although not Trump himself) over financial shenanigans and Russian collusion. I bet he's figuring that once the whole thing explodes he can swoop in and pick up the pieces and remake the Trump administration and the Republican party to conform to his own agendas.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:35 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Happy New Year, thread-friends! Here are Josh Marshall's Thoughts on 2018 and his reasons for some cautious optimism.
Looking back over these two years I see some clarity. 2017 was the year we collectively had to pay the price for what happened in 2016, what we collectively did. This is my abiding memory of it, a daily forced march of dreck and awful that simply had to be endured because the key facts and events had already happened. Like a brutal hangover over after a party that went too far or, more aptly, the capture and abuse after an attack that was insufficiently prepared for or guarded against. There’s that bleak and morbidly hilarious joke about the guy who falls out of a 50 story building and gets asked how it’s going, as he flies by floor 25. “So far, so good!” That’s 2017. All of the awful unfolding was inevitable once the country had ingested the poison of Trumpism. The unique features of our constitutional system make the fact of the presidency, in many respects, an all or nothing proposition.

This may sound like it leaves little reason to imagine 2018 will be any better. Trump is still President. There’s little near-term prospect of that changing. His ability and willingness to do damage are not only undiminished but growing. The tax cut wasn’t the license Republicans needed to cut him loose – that never made sense. Republican fealty to Trump is growing rather than ebbing. But a lot of galvanizing happened in 2017, a lot of regrouping and building. We’ve already seen hints of it in Virginia and Alabama. Indeed, this was evident on a clear view in Georgia and Montana and other states over the last six months. We can’t know what 2018 will bring. But I sense it will be a year of recovery.
I know I sure could use some national recovery.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 6:37 AM on January 3 [41 favorites]


My family in Italy just called and said they all felt very sorry for the TV anchors there who tried to read out Trump's dick tweet with a straight face. "Trump wrote. uh. that he has. an. uh. bigger? button?"

We're making the world a funnier place, I guess.
posted by lydhre at 6:40 AM on January 3 [19 favorites]


Bannon is setting up Kushner and Don Jr to take the fall?

Absolutely. The Bannon and Jared camps have were always at each other's throats last year (not least because of Bannon's anti-Semitism), and the Guardian notes, "The rancour between Bannon and ‘Javanka’ – Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump – is a recurring theme of the book."

Besides, Bannon clearly sees the writing on the wall: “You realise where this is going. This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face. [...] It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

Whether that will be enough to save Bannon remains to be seen, however. Bannon was running Trump's "war room" for the Russia scandal, and his maintaining contact with the White House after his departure last August may be illegal, not to mention entangling him in Trump's continued obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:02 AM on January 3 [22 favorites]


Besides, Bannon clearly sees the writing on the wall: “You realise where this is going. This is all about money laundering."

I like how he's trying to position himself as someone with deep insight for figuring out what anybody who is paying attention figured out a long time ago.
posted by diogenes at 7:15 AM on January 3 [61 favorites]


I like how he's trying to position himself as someone with deep insight for figuring out what anybody who is paying attention figured out a long time ago.

Yeah, I'm reading this all as "I totally meant to do that."
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:17 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


It's (hopefully) like someone jumping off the Titanic into the freezing Atlantic ocean. "Sure am glad I got off the boat in time!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:19 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


He wants to destroy "crony capitalism" as exemplified by the relationship between Wall Street and establishment Republicans ... nationalist to the point of isolationist xenophobia, where any country that isn't the US gets treated as a potential enemy; so of course he views any collaboration with Russia as treasonous.

This is who Steve Bannon wants people to think he is, but I don't think this is really who he is.

Here are some stories about Steve Bannon: Trump Advisers Secretly Met With Jordan’s King While One Was Pushing A Huge Nuclear Power Deal

The crown prince (of the UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.

Report: Congressional Trump/Russia Probe Looking Into Breitbart And Cambridge Analytica

Steve Bannon, Trump's fierce antiglobalist, made his fortune as a global capitalist

A former Breitbart News writer alleged the site was acting as an illegal influence operation for its Washington, D.C. landlord, an obscure Egyptian politician
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:22 AM on January 3 [27 favorites]


Bannon was the campaign manager, and Mueller is looking at the data operation, not just the Trump’s money. If there was collusion and coordination with the Trump campaign feeding info for the Russian botnets, Bannon certainly knew too. Him trying to deflect to Don Jr. tells me Bannon knows he’s in the crosshairs.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:29 AM on January 3 [25 favorites]


I like how he's trying to position himself as someone with deep insight for figuring out what anybody who is paying attention figured out a long time ago

Bannon clearly feels ready to boast about his perspicacity only because the rest of Team Trump makes him feel astute by comparison—“They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

His other motive in going on the record like this is obviously to protect himself. If Mueller comes calling for him - Bannon is conspicuously absent from the list of White House advisers the investigation has interviewed, not to mention his upcoming House Intel Committee testimony - he's going to sing like a canary to save his neck.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:30 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Twitter says Trump's taunting North Korea with a 'nuclear button' does not violate its terms of service

A credible threat of violence toward a person theoretically gets one banned from twitter. A credible threat of violence to every living human being is A-OK with Jack.

The Verge: Protestors project ‘@jack is #complicit’ on Twitter HQ after Trump’s latest nuclear threat
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:35 AM on January 3 [51 favorites]


Steve Bannon, Trump's fierce antiglobalist, made his fortune as a global capitalist
Never let it be forgotten that Bannon made money as a WoW gold seller. Among WoW players, that's like saying he made money as a purveyor of fried infants.
posted by xyzzy at 7:46 AM on January 3 [19 favorites]




‘Javanka’ – Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump

No. This will not do. It’s “Jar-Jar Vanks” or nothing.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:50 AM on January 3 [126 favorites]


Bannon was the campaign manager, and Mueller is looking at the data operation, not just the Trump’s money. If there was collusion and coordination with the Trump campaign feeding info for the Russian botnets, Bannon certainly knew too.

Absolutely. And since the Trump campaign's digital operations department was Kushner's domain, Bannon's even more likely to throw him under a bus in order to cut a deal with Mueller. (Especially since, inconveniently, before Bannon came on board the Trump campaign, he was employed by Cambridge Analytica, and he was also tied up with Nigel Farage, Julian Assange's longtime visitor at the Ecuadorian Embassy.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:58 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


he was also tied up with Nigel Farage, Julian Assange's longtime visitor at the Ecuadorian Embassy - For those who need a little reminding, from only last october.
Trump, Assange, Bannon, Farage… bound together in an unholy alliance.
posted by adamvasco at 8:08 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


A credible threat of violence toward a person theoretically gets one banned from twitter. A credible threat of violence to every living human being is A-OK with Jack.

Fuck Jack and Biz forever. I ditched active participation in Twitter awhile back, but I still would come when called and have my blog auto-tweet when I put up a new post. That stops today.

Twitter's failure to deliver on its promise is a like a shitty microcosm of the failure the boomers wrought on the entire country, and surprise, money and influence are at the core of the rot.

I think a lesson here may be "never take venture capital" or "never let your company go public" or maybe "be comfortable with concepts like 'successful enough'" but right now I'm going to go with "fuck nearly every CEO in Silicon Valley forever and ever, world without end."
posted by middleclasstool at 8:11 AM on January 3 [30 favorites]


Much as I hate Twitter and don't want to defend any of this allowing Trump to do whatever he wants, what do y'all think would happen if Trump was banned from Twitter? I don't think he'd just accept the ban and go quietly and uh, not do anything else about it to the company, do you? If you were running Twitter, wouldn't you be worried about that?
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:16 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Jack needs to step down. Move back home. Take some bog standard IT desk job out in the county and fade off into obscurity in some Ballwin McMansion.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:19 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


I don't think he'd just accept the ban and go quietly and uh, not do anything else about it to the company, do you?

i honestly think he would send seal team 6 for jack
posted by poffin boffin at 8:23 AM on January 3 [18 favorites]


I don't think he'd just accept the ban and go quietly and uh, not do anything else about it to the company, do you? If you were running Twitter, wouldn't you be worried about that?

No. If I were running twitter, I would modify the @realdonaldtrump account so that everything he posted would as read "I am an insane fascist dictator with the power to destroy humanity. Remove me from office post-haste," or "I am a tiny poo-poo diaper baby man."

Jack's rich forever and I'm sure he has great private security. He has nothing to worry about from Trump and would be a hero of the internet. But instead, now and forever, his philosophy is "one death threat is a tragedy, a million death threats is a statistic, seven billion death threats is corporate revenue."
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:24 AM on January 3 [38 favorites]


I can't say that I'm sympathetic to Twitter's management but they really have painted themselves into a tight corner. It's obvious that they have no idea how to deal with what they've unleashed. I mean can you imagine the reaction from Trump and his supporters if they locked him out of his account? He'd probably send the national guard to arrest them.
posted by octothorpe at 8:24 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Why doth treason never prosper?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:29 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Tweet from Comey - Where are the voices of all the leaders who know an independent Department of Justice and FBI are essential to our liberty? “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.” — Martin Luther

Is this guy going to take a run for potus as an R? Wouldn't that be something.
posted by H. Roark at 8:35 AM on January 3 [20 favorites]


If he does, I hope that Hillary puts out a press release in October that damages his campaign. Seems like the only possible karmic response.
posted by delfin at 8:39 AM on January 3 [81 favorites]


During a segment on Fox & Friends Wednesday — President Trump’s favorite morning news show — host Brian Kilmeade argued that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was not “demographically pursuing justice“ in the Russia investigation because his federal grand jury included too many black jurors. The comment was in response to a leak published in New York Post, during which an anonymous source claimed grand jury panel looked like a “Black Lives Matter rally.”

"Demographically pursuing justice." That's a new one.

I guess "this machine discourages demographic justice pursuers" is too long to write on a guitar.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:42 AM on January 3 [40 favorites]


This is who Steve Bannon wants people to think he is, but I don't think this is really who he is.

That's kinda the problem with Bannon - it can be hard to suss out what he really thinks. This transcript of a speech he gave to a group of conservative Catholics in 2014 seems to be some of the most open remarks he's given about his worldview.

A fair amount of stuff posted to Breitbart is more rabble-rousing than sincere positioning, and given that it's pretty clear that Bannon thinks he's always the smartest guy in the room - or at least the most dedicated to a cause - I think he thinks he's got a strong streak of realpolitik "politics makes for strange bedfellows" pragmatism, where he'll ally with almost anyone who can help him, whether he entirely agrees with or trusts them. For example, his support of Roy Moore - Bannon's not an out-and-out "10 Commandments on every courthouse" theocrat like Moore, but he does seem to honestly think that we're in the middle of a century-defining clash of civilizations, between the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic and/or atheist East. So Moore, being openly Christian and a rabble-rousing "non-establishment" Republican, got Bannon's support. And Bannon participating in secret meetings with potential allies in the Middle East also doesn't seem out of line.

Hell, you could argue that Bannon's involvement with Trump in the first place was him making an alliance with someone he doesn't like or respect, but who had some qualities and beliefs Bannon felt he could use in establishing a mainstream political beachhead for his beliefs.

As far as the "made his money in global capitalism" thing goes, in that speech I linked above and elsewhere, Bannon has claimed that the '08 financial crisis and the response from both Democrats and Republicans radicalized him. Which happened after he made his fortune.

All of which is not to say that Bannon is some kind of seekrit super-genius - this Vanity Fair profile from just a couple weeks ago makes it obvious that he's actually got a fairly limited toolset for advancing his agenda. I just think he's more driven by a peculiar ideology than a lot of people, especially those currently in the Trump administration, so his actions and statements often don't make a lot of sense viewed through the standard lens of assuming anyone in his position is mostly aiming to line his pockets and/or promote the "standard" Republican agenda. He's looking to promote the Bannon agenda, and he's got some off-the-wall ideas about how to do that.

Put it this way - he's essentially the right-wing Lyndon LaRouche who somehow actually wound up with his hands on some of the levers of power rather than just being the kooky outsider.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:47 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Is this guy going to take a run for potus as an R? Wouldn't that be something.

He's definitely making a run for Platitude Dispenser in Chief.
posted by diogenes at 8:48 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


H. Roark: "Tweet from Comey - Where are the voices of all the leaders who know an independent Department of Justice and FBI are essential to our liberty? “You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.” — Martin Luther

Is this guy going to take a run for potus as an R? Wouldn't that be something.
"

Looking at Article II, I'm pretty sure Martin Luther does not meet the qualifications for the office of President.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 AM on January 3 [25 favorites]


petebest: "I mention this to the good people of River City because on awaking this morning I wondered if Crysostom had any updates on the upcoming mid-terms, and will there be a separate thread to track those races an - ooh maybe multiple threads, like, by state or something . . . "

435 House + 33 Senate races + 36 governor's races + all the other state races means that to offer comprehensive coverage would be getting pretty far into GYOB territory (and also you would need to pay me).

So, I think probably just the usual daily news plus special elections notes and a thread at Election Day. I can recommend the daily elections digest from DKE, if you want minutiae.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:01 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Looking at Article II, I'm pretty sure Martin Luther does not meet the qualifications for the office of President.

yes but he is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more
posted by entropicamericana at 9:03 AM on January 3 [72 favorites]


Looking at Article II, I'm pretty sure Martin Luther does not meet the qualifications for the office of President.

Isn't one President who nails up his toilet epiphanies in the public square enough?
posted by delfin at 9:04 AM on January 3 [21 favorites]


Criticism of the New York Times has reached fever pitch. Here’s why. - Margaret Sullivan
Sulzberger has inherited the tough task of running an essential — and distinctively flawed — institution, and doing so under klieg lights. (Not to mention the severe economic challenges to an industry whose longtime business model has disintegrated.)

What are these distinctive flaws?

With unique access to power, the Times is addicted to it — too-often allowing those at the top of government and business to seize its megaphone, sometimes while wearing the invisibility cloak of anonymity.

Under constant attack from all quarters, the Times often reacts self-protectively, with “both-sides” reporting and presentation, giving equal weight to unequal claims.

And, the Times is distinctively defensive. Often great and sometimes wrong, it mostly likes to talk about that first part, and has trouble acknowledging the second, which may be one reason its public-editor position lasted less than 14 years.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:19 AM on January 3 [22 favorites]


soundguy99: " I just think he's more driven by a peculiar ideology than a lot of people, especially those currently in the Trump administration, so his actions and statements often don't make a lot of sense viewed through the standard lens of assuming anyone in his position is mostly aiming to line his pockets and/or promote the "standard" Republican agenda. He's looking to promote the Bannon agenda, and he's got some off-the-wall ideas about how to do that. "

So, while I broadly agree with all the things you said, I don't think Bannon's ideology is "peculiar". I think he's just an unusually smart (but not *actually smart*), honest, and open-eyed white supremacist. He believes America is a white state and he moreover has made his personal peace with that belief, which is why he seems so inhumanly purposeful all the time. So the implications there are that he has had to intellectually reconcile a lot of things that eg Trump is happy to leave unsynthesized. Bannon just knows he's "evil", but he's probably thinking of it as "doing the right thing, damn the consequences". It's an incredible amount of arrogance to invest in your own world beliefs.

Frankly, his tendency this way reminds me of my tendencies this way and I fucking hate that, but I am absolutely sure that that is who he is.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:21 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


To clarify myself: Steve Bannon is absolutely not honest as in "does not lie to people". I think he doesn't lie to himself, however.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:23 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Criticism of the New York Times has reached fever pitch. Here’s why. - Margaret Sullivan

That link doesn't work: this one seems to.
posted by octothorpe at 9:23 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


WaPo: ‘Smothered’ and ‘shoved aside’ in rural America
Rural farmers felt ‘shoved aside’ under Obama. Now some fear an unregulated ‘Wild West.’
In Iowa, former president Barack Obama’s promotion of “Meatless Mondays” irked cattle farmers, and rules targeting farm runoff in waterways felt like a threat. Donald Trump pledged to reverse much of what Obama had done, but now there are new worries. “People don’t like to be told what to do,” one farmer said. “[But] we need clean water.”
I thought my New Year's resolution to be kind would last a little bit longer, but ...
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:28 AM on January 3 [76 favorites]


Re, demographically challenged grand juries...I will take that complaint seriously as soon as I see parity in jury selection for people of color. Brown folks have been being convicted by white juries for centuries in this country.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:32 AM on January 3 [39 favorites]


> But nothing galled Sweeney more than a regulation Obama issued in 2015 called Waters of the United States or WOTUS. The Environmental Protection Agency said it was aimed at keeping pollutants — including fertilizer, manure and other farm runoff — out of streams and creeks that feed the nation’s waterways.

What a monster. Finally, I understand where Trump voters are coming from.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:38 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


I thought my New Year's resolution to be kind would last a little bit longer, but ...


"But the price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:39 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


you'd think they would be familiar with the adage you reap what you fucking sow
posted by poffin boffin at 9:44 AM on January 3 [68 favorites]


More from the Michael Wolff book, excerpted in New York Magazine:

Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President
Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” ­Flynn assured them.

Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears—and not of joy.
posted by dnash at 9:47 AM on January 3 [89 favorites]


it’s ok, point them to the raw water thread and somebody’ll make a killing
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:49 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


VA HOD update: A court has denied the Dem request to reconsider its findings in the HD-94 recount, meaning the drawing for the winner will proceed tomorrow morning (weather permitting - there's a nasty snowstorm headed for the area).

If the Republican loses, the GOP plans to ask for another recount - the election code seems to state two different things in two different places about whether that's possible. The game here is, even if a court rejects that request, they may be able to delay the seating of the Democrat long enough to control the House 50-49 briefly, and select a GOP speaker and make the committee assignments (in the VA HOD, the majority party makes ALL committee assignments, so the GOP has been giving the lousy seats to people they don't like).
posted by Chrysostom at 9:49 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


WaPo: ‘Smothered’ and ‘shoved aside’ in rural America

That article soft-pedals Sweeney's prominence: Not only is she a business owner with the politics of a business owner, but she used to be a state legislator and she now has a job with the Trump administration itself. She shouldn't be taken to represent a large part of Iowa's population, and she isn't among the people regretting her reactionary politics' effects. It would have been good if the article had featured an actual normal person, a wage-earner or a smaller farmer, from her part of Iowa.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:56 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


I thought my New Year's resolution to be kind would last a little bit longer, but ...

No, this is what we WANT them to say. It's a step in the right direction.

Delfin's First Rule of Politics is a simple and oft-repeated one: Average Americans do not care about politics at all unless something is smacking them in the face personally. It can affect their wallet, their job, their taxes, their family, their civil rights, their close friends, their neighbors, whatever, but it has to be something that hits home directly. This is the "Now that I live near friendly gay people and my son came out I feel compelled to support gay rights" principle. This is the "I consider government subsidy of healthcare to be wasteful BUT now that my daughter has cancer I fully support government research into curing it" principle.

There is a percentage of people, probably close to the fabled 27%, who will simply never ever waver from their tribal support of reactionary conservatism no matter how badly it screws them over. But there are another chunk who can put two and two together and get at least three-and-a-half when their own personal interests and livelihoods are in danger. They won't believe that Republicans are responsible unless they see it for themselves -- the Republicans took control, Republicans enacted Policy X, and Policy X hurt them directly. The bleatings from the Mirror Universe Media don't match up with what they themselves see and experience, and a few of them start going "Hey, wait a minute..."

It's a trickle, not a flood. But every drop that flows our way is a start.
posted by delfin at 9:57 AM on January 3 [29 favorites]


Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears—and not of joy.

On one hand, it's gratifying to know that they shared the same horror that most of America did that night.

On the other hand, this makes me so amazingly, blindingly furious for Hillary. That she wanted this so badly and worked so hard--SO HARD, LIKE SERIOUSLY--and lose to this fucking simple greedy clown man who didn't even want it?!?!?? I still can't get my head around it.
posted by witchen at 9:58 AM on January 3 [133 favorites]


From the NYMag excerpt* of Wolff's book:
“I wouldn’t give Donald too much to think about,” said an amused Ailes.

Bannon snorted. “Too much, too little—doesn’t necessarily change things.”

“What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?” pressed Ailes.

“Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”
Also this, about advice for Reince in his first meeting:
“Here’s the deal,” a close Trump associate told Priebus. “In an hour meeting with him, you’re going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they’re going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.”
I know we know this already N times over, but the main thrust of the piece is that everyone knows Trump is a complete moron, and dangerously so.

* Which, going by his omnipresence, seems to have Roger Ailes as its primary source... "What a fucking idiot," he says, after getting off the phone with Trump.
posted by pjenks at 9:58 AM on January 3 [35 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit: Oops. I equated Murdoch and Ailes. I guess there are two sources. Murdoch is the one who called him an idiot, that time.
posted by pjenks at 10:03 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


WaPo: ‘Smothered’ and ‘shoved aside’ in rural America
Sweeney, 60, raises Angus cows and corn on the flat, green farmland of central Iowa. One in 7 Americans live in places like this: Rural counties have 72 percent of the nation’s land but a shrinking population as urban areas have ballooned in size and wealth.

...Incredibly, Sweeney said, Obama’s Agriculture Department even started pushing Meatless Mondays, an insult to Iowa’s pork, beef and chicken producers. “I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday,” Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R) tweeted in response. Meatless Mondays felt like a “slap in the face” to Sweeney, who has this bumper sticker on her Buick: “EAT BEEF: The West Wasn’t Won on Salad.”


This is kind of a great juxtaposition of ratios considering that meatless Monday is also... one in seven days you could maybe consider not eating meat. Like, it's sort of ironic that they go straight from "one in seven Americans is smothered" to "we eat meat 6 days and we want the seventh too".
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:04 AM on January 3 [21 favorites]


WaPo: ‘Smothered’ and ‘shoved aside’ in rural America

isn't this how you order at waffle house
posted by poffin boffin at 10:05 AM on January 3 [55 favorites]


More from the Michael Wolff book
“[John Bolton]’s a bomb thrower,” said Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.”

“Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”

“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.”

“If I told Trump that,” Bannon said slyly, “he might have the job.”
My sentiment in Ailes' obit thread that pissing on his grave was a terrible insult to the urine will only get stronger with the passage of time.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:09 AM on January 3 [27 favorites]


Unsane's Scattered, Smothered &
Covered
full album is appropriate listening these days. (Cover image & lyrics probably NSFW.)
posted by soundguy99 at 10:10 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


No, I just don't buy the idea that Trump would get to the finish line and feel terror at winning. I don't buy that an ego like that would undertake a plan with the explicit goal of losing. We'll do this and I'm so clever that I win either way I buy as a starting motivation. A Candidate-type OMG what now? Nope. This guy lacks all self awareness of his inabilities. Once he started thinking he could win he'd start thinking he should win and be sure he'd be awesome at it.

If he looked pale during the election results it was withdraw from the uppers or something.
posted by phearlez at 10:12 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


From the excerpt:
Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 administrations, tried to impress on Trump the need to create a White House structure that could serve and protect him. “You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff,” he told Trump. “And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington. You’ll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don’t know Washington.” Ailes had a suggestion: John Boehner, who had stepped down as Speaker of the House only a year earlier.

“Who’s that?” asked Trump.
Oh boy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:18 AM on January 3 [57 favorites]


I don't think he *wanted* to lose. But I do think that Election Day, he *expected* to lose, and was not prepared for winning.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:18 AM on January 3 [27 favorites]


The game here is, even if a court rejects that request, they may be able to delay the seating of the Democrat long enough to control the House 50-49 briefly, and select a GOP speaker and make the committee assignments (in the VA HOD, the majority party makes ALL committee assignments, so the GOP has been giving the lousy seats to people they don't like).

The lawsuit was a collosal fuckup by the incoming Dems, VA law was clear that a strikethrough was not considered an overvote, and by dragging out the window for GOP recount ratfuckery they lost the chance at powersharing in the House, even if the Democrat wins the coin flip. If they had won the initially scheduled toss, they could have been seated before the rules vote. Just skullcrushingly stupid malpractice that only the Democrats are capable of committing and somehow find a way to salvage a demoralizing defeat from certain victory, every. single. time.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:19 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Newsweek: A golfing buddy of Donald Trump has said the president did not stop to take calls during their round of golf because he “wants to play a good game.”

Are we trying to rival the nutters on their nonsense during the Obama administration? Because come on, who gives a shit?

posted by phearlez at 12:06 PM on January 2

If I was a stockholder and the CEO of a corporation I owned shares in golfed 1/3 of his days and refused to take phone calls during that time? You can be damn sure I would be irate. The Presidency is a full-time gig not a hobby.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:22 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Bannon, Trump, Assange, Beelzebub... Just adding eye of newt to that stew, Rupe the Dirty Digger lets rip...
posted by Myeral at 10:24 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


WTF is Bannon's agenda? Just to fuck shit up?
  1. Crisis is extremely profitable for certain people. The deeper the crisis, the greater the profit.
  2. The kind of power people like Bannon (and many others who are currently circling the executive on both sides of the Atlantic) fantasise about is not achieved even by landslide elections, it is seized during a crisis. Therefore, in order for that power to be realised, a crisis of suitable proportions must be induced.
posted by Grangousier at 10:26 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


For Ivanka, it was all business — building the Trump brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House. She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.
Bold emphasis mine, but this seems like an article built to tear the family apart.
posted by Brainy at 10:26 AM on January 3 [55 favorites]


If I was a stockholder and the CEO of a corporation I owned shares in golfed 1/3 of his days and refused to take phone calls during that time? You can be damn sure I would be irate.

This is at least 2 CEOs I've had
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:29 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Trump's statement on Steve Bannon reads like Steve wrote it himself.
posted by gladly at 10:31 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


This is stunning. Seriously, if you haven’t read the Wolff excerpts, it’s just nuts. They are what we thought they were.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:31 AM on January 3 [9 favorites]


(Incidentally, my comment above was speculating on Bannon's agenda, and I don't wish to imply he has the capacity to achieve it. Though breaking shit is relatively easy.)
posted by Grangousier at 10:31 AM on January 3


Gladly posted it but this line deserved to be called out.
Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.
posted by Brainy at 10:32 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Per Politico:

POLITICO BREAKING NEWS
BREAKING NEWS: Steve Bannon 'lost his mind,' Trump says
Published: 01/03/18 01:26 PM EST
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon "has nothing to do with me or my presidency," after his onetime campaign chief made scathing comments about the president and his associates in a new book.

"When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Trump said of Bannon, who left the White House in August. "Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books."

Bannon's comments were reported in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.

posted by carmicha at 10:32 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


From Steve Holland (Reuters) on twitter:

Trump on BANNON: "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. "


So I guess this is what happenes when Trump's mirror stares into another mirror and multiplies its reflection for infinity.
posted by lydhre at 10:33 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


Well now we know wtf the crazy-out-of-the-2018-gate tweets were about. I'm guessing the Granuiad wasn't the only paper who got hold of a copy of the book.
posted by petebest at 10:34 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


He almost made it three whole days into the new year before calling his campaign chairman and Breitbart-head insane.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:35 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom — the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He ­reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.



Does this mean he pees on his on bed too?
posted by gnuhavenpier at 10:37 AM on January 3 [23 favorites]


The experts sound like fanfiction. Is Wolff reliable?
posted by armacy at 10:38 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


> On the other hand, this makes me so amazingly, blindingly furious for Hillary. That she wanted this so badly and worked so hard--SO HARD, LIKE SERIOUSLY--and lose to this fucking simple greedy clown man who didn't even want it?!?!?? I still can't get my head around it.

"You don't even care! YOU DON'T EVEN CARE!!!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:42 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


armacy, there's a box at the end of the article with how he got his sources, it seems like...he was kind of just there? Reposting here because it's probably relevant enough.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” — an idea encouraged by the president himself. Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became “more a constant interloper than an invited guest.” There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.

Since then, he conducted more than 200 interviews.
posted by Brainy at 10:43 AM on January 3 [45 favorites]


Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.)
This is gold.
posted by gucci mane at 10:47 AM on January 3 [18 favorites]


“What?” said the president. “What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when I could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!”

i just

does he think he's the captain of the USS White House
posted by poffin boffin at 10:47 AM on January 3 [48 favorites]


I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW A MAN THIS STUPID CAN EVEN BE ALIVE

I BET THEY HAVE TO PHYSICALLY RESTRAIN HIM FROM EATING TIDE PODS
posted by poffin boffin at 10:48 AM on January 3 [123 favorites]


> Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” — an idea encouraged by the president himself.

I bet Trump's thinking was something along the lines of "I'll let this guy hang around to see how awesome I am and then he'll write a book about it."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:50 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


“The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally,” my source said. “Maybe they found these jurors in central casting,

So this is intriguing. The person anonymously leaking racist attacks on the Mueller grand jury sounds a lot like Trump.
posted by scalefree at 10:50 AM on January 3 [37 favorites]


I’m thinking now the narrative will definitively shift away from “collusion” and to money laundering for Putin thanks to this spat with Bannon. It’s always about the dough.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:51 AM on January 3


That Trump statement is a perfect illustration of this (from the excerpt):
Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate.
Trump released an entire statement about Bannon because that's the headline that's been playing on cable all day. But if you read any portion of the excerpt you see it's not just Bannon that shits on Trump, it's everyone, including each of his advisors and family members, including his dearest friends that he calls on the phone every night.
posted by pjenks at 10:53 AM on January 3 [34 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior: “Steve Bannon has a record of lying, and his primary interest is Steve Bannon.

Michael Wolff has a record of lying, and his primary interest is Michael Wolff.

Trump has a record of lying, and his only interest is Trump.

Take everything with a grain of salt...”

So what’s the word on this stuff? The whole “if it seems too good to be true...”
posted by gucci mane at 10:53 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


armacy: The experts sound like fanfiction. Is Wolff reliable?

I looked up Michael Wolff and was troubled to see (at least according to Wikipedia) he's been accused of fabricating quotes in the past. So I consider his personal reliability suspect. However, there have been a lot of "inside the White House" accounts, ones I consider pretty trustworthy, that sound just as much like fanfiction... because Trump really is so Trumpy. (Heck, his most infamous recent tweets also sound like bad parodies.) The anecdote about McDonald's and poisoning paranoia especially passes the smell test, in meshing well with many established character traits.

Chrysostom: I don't think he *wanted* to lose. But I do think that Election Day, he *expected* to lose, and was not prepared for winning.

This seems about right. There's something contradictory in how braggarts react when their bluff is called, because human minds are complicated. The braggart truly believes, in the confines of his own mind, that's he's the greatest who ever lived, that he'd show them all if only they'd let him, that his talents are bottomless. He never once thinks "I'm a loser who can't do it, but they mustn't know". Yet when it's suddenly, unexpectedly time to put up or shut up... his outlook kinda shifts to "Oh, shit."

(As my fave pundit Alexandra Erin puts it, the simplest man in the world, who may well be Donald Trump, contains multitudes. Horrible people contain horrible multitudes. So there's almost never a single reason for a single behavior.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:54 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


Isn't one of Trumpito's sore points that he's not as wealthy as he's publicly presented? He doesn't give a shit about collusion and probably doesn't even understand the word. Bannon saying he's shady and bad with money, that riles up King Baby.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:55 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Trump released an entire statement about Bannon because that's the headline that's been playing on cable all day. But if you read any portion of the excerpt you see it's not just Bannon that shits on Trump, it's everyone, including each of his advisors and family members, including his dearest friends that he calls on the phone every night.

Excellent catch.

I’m also not sure if the Founders ever envisioned a moment wherein the republic would be rooting for the president’s functional illiteracy as a check on the further abuse of his power, but here we are.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:02 AM on January 3 [20 favorites]


but he does seem to honestly think that we're in the middle of a century-defining clash of civilizations, between the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic and/or atheist East.

Stop. Just stop. Bannon is a noted anti-semite. He doesn't care about the "Judeo-Christian West" He cares about the Christian west. Please. PLEASE note to everyone in the world, please stop putting the prefix "Judeo" on the word Christian. It never makes sense, especially when talking about a man like Bannon. Jewish culture is very different from Christian culture. This isn't necessarily aimed at anyone in particular, just... pls stop.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:06 AM on January 3 [86 favorites]


So what’s the word on this stuff? The whole “if it seems too good to be true...”

On that note...

NBC's Peter Alexander‏ @PeterAlexander: “SIREN: 'Steve Bannon was certain that after the (July 2016 Trump Tower) meeting, Trump, Jr. had taken the participants to see his father," per excerpts from new Michael Wolff book, 'Fire & Fury.'
“Trump has claimed he was unaware any meeting with Russians took place.”

(Then again, as mentioned above, CNN has reported Trump saying he did know about this meeting afterward...)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:10 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


The call went on for 26 minutes.

dear god, please let there be audio of this call, thanks

also please overlook the bacon i ate this morning
posted by poffin boffin at 11:13 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


A Bannon who jumped on the Trump bandwagon halfway through and claimed to be the one who made him, with a poor track record of putting any other candidates over the top and a damp squib of a "war" on McConnell, is a pretty useless personal brand.

A Bannon who can claim to have made and unmade Trump with his base keeps him in the game. I could see him thinking he can pull that off.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:14 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


If I was a stockholder and the CEO of a corporation I owned shares in golfed 1/3 of his days and refused to take phone calls during that time? You can be damn sure I would be irate. The Presidency is a full-time gig not a hobby.

Nobody, even that pointless article, has actually said that Trump has refused to take calls. The unnamed golfer says he didn't take any calls. "Because there were none to take" is a perfectly possible thing.

Now, are there none to take because Trump is a dipstick who is being managed by those around him and he's abdicating his actual responsibilities? Reasonable thing to be concerned about. Can he spend 1/3 of his time out of the WH because he's doing a deliberately neglectful job? Also fair.

But focusing on this one game and the input of some doof who wouldn't even go on record? Please. This is the stuff of pointless political hit pieces and encouraging them, even against garbage like Trump, is bad for all of us. I do my work from my sofa with my laptop and the internet. Sometimes I go out of town with my family and spend my work day at a dining room table somewhere else. And I'm just a doofus programmer without a support staff and entourage. The President can be President from anywhere and the attack on Obama was dumb and bad and it's bad aimed at Trump.

Trump is a bad President but not one iota of that badness is a result of his time outside the WH. It is at best an indicator but mostly irrelevant.
posted by phearlez at 11:16 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


“Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part.

I don't understand how Bannon's ... uh, look, was good with Trump.

At least Miller and Gorka seem to brush their teeth and wash.
posted by jgirl at 11:16 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


At least Miller and Gorka seem to brush their teeth and wash.

I just figured Gorka had his acolytes transfer his essence into a fresh clean vat-grown flesh vessel every night.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:20 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


Writer Kelsey Atherton finds a newsworthy angle, via Twitter:

"Trump Condemns One Nazi"
posted by kelborel at 11:21 AM on January 3 [73 favorites]


Setting aside the treasonous unpatriotic bad shit for a second, more bad shit: the DACA situation. A bipartisian group of former Homeland Security Secretaries have signed a letter warning that the real deadline is just weeks away to have enough time to implement it without disruption to people's lives (and, as a sidenote, their employers).

The Daily Beast reports on Republicans Up Against the Wall on DACA, because the White House keeps changing what it wants after Trump gets tired of the last thing he's mad about:
Aides on Capitol Hill now say that the administration’s emphasis appears to be more on ending so-called chain migration—the ability of immigrants to come to the U.S. because they are sponsored by lawful permanent residents.

Two congressional sources told The Daily Beast that members of the White House legislative affairs staff, including liaison Paul Teller, have mentioned chain migration at each of their meetings with lawmakers, sending a signal to Congress that the White House will insist on it being part of any final compromise with Democrats. As for the wall, a conservative House GOP aide privy to ongoing negotiations told The Daily Beast that “members aren’t willing to die on a hill for [it].”
..
In the House of Representatives, there are already warring factions, with one camp opposed to a border wall and another against any deal at all that codifies DACA. There’s also a growing sense of confusion and frustration over, what appears to be, a continuous shift in demands emanating from the administration.

“The White House just rolls over and plays dead, says we’ll just fight on [the border wall] next time,” the conservative House aide added. “Congress doesn’t know if they’re for real.”

In the Senate, the politics are less tricky. Any DACA deal will need 60 votes to pass through that chamber. And Senate Democratic aides say that all their members are on board with passing the DREAM Act and border security funding, but they have little to no appetite for a border wall—let alone a ban on chain migration—as a trade off.
Conway doesn't seem to have gotten the memo though: she was on Fox News today insisting no DACA without a wall.

Washington State is suing Motel 6 for a years-long practice of routinely handing over its guest registries to ICE so they could investigate people with "Latino-sounding names." This as the acting director of ICE gave a Fox News interview where he said politicians in sanctuary cities need to be charged with crimes.

In other news, Rep. Tom Garrett, newly elected VA Republican, wrote an op-ed proposing that people should have the option to exchange their Social Security benefits for student loan forgiveness, taking $550 off your debt for every month you increase your retirement age. Which...I suppose makes for some interesting betting options if you believe there's no way in hell Social Security will still exist for you by the time you'll retire anyway.

Spencer Ackerman reminds us that The Iran Nuclear Deal Could Be Dead in 11>10 Days if Trump uses the deadline to reimpose sanctions.
posted by zachlipton at 11:33 AM on January 3 [22 favorites]


Play shitty games, win shitty prizes...this is not a tight ship, this is the Bounty post-mutiny. Trump and Steve Bannon turning on one another? A tell-all book (no matter how fictional) after only one year in the White House?

I've said it before, but I think that these wanna-be authoritarians are missing something that successful authoritarians have - loyalty. People were loyal to Reagan, they were loyal to Nixon, but Trump? Nope. I'd be shocked if anyone except maybe Ivanka will stick by him to the bitter end.

Hillary Clinton took a lot of flack for being loyal to the "wrong" people (well, that and the pesky "woman" thing) - but I think it speaks so well of her that she would stand by people who were loyal to her. I'm no fan of blind idiot loyalty, or "because faaaamily," but it says so much bad about the current admin that they all seem prepared to stab one another in the back for very little cause.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:35 AM on January 3 [21 favorites]


Washington State is suing Motel 6 for a years-long practice of routinely handing over its guest registries to ICE so they could investigate people with "Latino-sounding names." This as the acting director of ICE gave a Fox News interview where he said politicians in sanctuary cities need to be charged with crimes.

BRB, calling my reps to push them to abolish ICE
posted by Existential Dread at 11:36 AM on January 3 [38 favorites]


Uh... so @Team_Mitch, "the official account of Mitch McConnell for Senate" (blue checkmark) tweeted out a gif of McConnell smiling just 50 minutes ago. There's nothing else. Just his icky grin.

Are they seriously subtweeting the regime's inner circle meltdown?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:38 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


Do they seriously think that gif is endearing rather than creepy and unsettling? It's like the scene in a horror movie where an evil doll comes to life.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:41 AM on January 3 [28 favorites]


I want to enjoy that gif for Bannonfreude, but my viscera have trained themselves to clench and spasm in animal fear when I see McConnell smiling.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:41 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


Guys, I want to point out I told you ahead of time there was nothing there but McConnell's creepy smile. I linked out of due diligence but I was hoping nobody would feel like they had to click. Nobody better hold me accountable for their nightmares on this one.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:46 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


I was picturing McConnell doing the Herman Cain slow smile before I clicked, and thankfully it's not that level of horrifying. Just your standard scary Mitch grin.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:50 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


McConnell's creepy smile.

I know the noble turtle is the creature most unfairly tarred by comparison to McConnell, but for my money he most closely resembles the Scammers from Futurama.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:50 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


[We've been pretty loosey-goosey today, but consider this a friendly nudge back in the direction of less chitchat, random links, and "ugh these fuckers" reaction stuff.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:56 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.
Just for Men contains lead acetate.
posted by tomierna at 11:59 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


Ok, now it gets fun: Paul J. Manafort, JR. v. United States Department of Justice, in which Manafort claims Mueller has exceeded his authority (indeed, that Rosenstein gave Manafort too much authority to investigate anything) and wants a court to un-appoint Mueller and cancel anything he's done, or at least not investigate anything outside the original scope of the investigation.
posted by zachlipton at 12:03 PM on January 3 [22 favorites]


A little bit of US Politics positivity:

In Cincinnati today, Tamaya Dennard took the oath of office for the City Council.

She carried a folding chair with her in honor of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, who said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:05 PM on January 3 [94 favorites]


The End of the Beginning (Josh Marshall / TPM)
So where are we now in this story? A series of revelations in the final weeks of 2017 placed us at what we should think not as the beginning or the end but the end of the beginning. We are still only at the front end of this investigation. We still know only the outlines of what happened and how. But we are past any serious question about whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. There was. It’s no longer a matter of probability, even high probability. We know it from either undisputed facts or sworn statements from Trump associates now cooperating with the Mueller investigation.
It’s Josh’s take on where things go from here, Russia-wise. Good read.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:06 PM on January 3 [17 favorites]


I believe that exact McConnell smile video was in a bunch of audio-less McConnell footage his people released publicly a number of years back, so that SuperPACs could use it without illegal campaign coordination. On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart encouraged people to edit the stuff (Mitch smiling, talking, golfing, etc) and add soundtracks.

No idea what the point of the GIF is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had to do with some relatively inside-baseball Senate GOP success or something. Or just the staff testing how to GIF on Twitter.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:11 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


How to Survive Trump’s Second Year: Engage Politically (John Cassidy / New Yorker)
Although some commentators have lamented the opposition to Trump as evidence of growing political polarization, it actually indicates healthy democratic resistance to a rogue President, who, in the words of Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times, “violates the behaviour and attitudes the world expects of a US president” on a daily basis. And this year, unlike 2017, will provide an opportunity to deliver a rebuke of Trump where it counts most: at the ballot box, in nationwide elections. If Republicans lose control of Congress in November’s midterms, Trump will become a lame duck, and the chances of his being impeached may rise sharply. For Trump’s foes, the prospect of such an outcome should provide sufficient motivation to overcome @realDonaldTrump fatigue.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:23 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Just for Men contains lead acetate.

Lead(II) Acetate , for those playing along at home. ( Neurotoxic, probable human carcinogen ) (MSDS)
posted by mikelieman at 12:24 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Here's what gets me about the Wolff book stuff and the Bannon quotes in particular: my first instinct is to be skeptical, because it's all so explosive and who the hell is this Wolff guy, anyway? It's all a little too on the nose (like all of 2017, I know).

But notice how Trump seemed to believe it all right away? He says the book is a phony book and all, but he doesn't skip a beat before believing Bannon actually said that stuff. Wolff could've made half that shit up, but Trump believed it instantly. There isn't a moment of "Steve would never say that." He jumped straight to "Fuck Steve, I don't even know Steve, he doesn't even go here."

Kinda says a lot about the situation right there.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:28 PM on January 3 [74 favorites]


Sorry, it's not clear which article that quote above from Ivanka about the hair dye is from? Can someone re-link, plz?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:30 PM on January 3


Washington State is suing Motel 6 for a years-long practice of routinely handing over its guest registries to ICE so they could investigate people with "Latino-sounding names." This as the acting director of ICE gave a Fox News interview where he said politicians in sanctuary cities need to be charged with crimes.

BRB, calling my reps to push them to abolish ICE


Anecdotally, I had a nice, close-up view of this when I was checking into a Motel 6 in Newport, RI this past fall. Stepping into the office to check in, I had to wait for ICE officers to finish grilling the night clerk looking for whoever. They took a while. Then I still got to wait, as the poor night clerk needed to vent on someone about how this all wasn't right, and as a vet, this isn't what he fought for. Both the night clerk and the ICE officers seemed to realize that this was a bullshit exercise they all had to go through, but the officers were really dumping on the night clerk, who just wanted to get through his shift and go home to his family, and I just wanted to check in and take my shoes off, and my take-out dinner for in the room was getting very, very cold. It was all just so depressing.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:32 PM on January 3 [35 favorites]




@ReutersWorld: JUST IN: Trump administration to announce as soon as Wednesday or Thursday plans to cut off security assistance to Pakistan - congressional sources

2017 was some crazy shit, but apparently 2018 already found someone to hold its beer.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:33 PM on January 3 [50 favorites]


(Possible) good news dept:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask the New York State Legislature to eliminate cash bail for many crimes and to speed up the disclosure of evidence in trials as part of a package of proposals intended make the criminal justice system fairer for indigent defendants, his aides said.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:34 PM on January 3 [31 favorites]


MoJo, Sen. Feinstein Says Trump’s Social-Media Guru “May Have Corresponded With Russian Nationals”
President Donald Trump’s social-media manager, Dan Scavino, “may have corresponded with Russian nationals regarding Trump campaign social media efforts,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote Wednesday in a letter asking Scavino to agree to an interview this month with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein’s letter says the committee, where she is the ranking Democrat, has “received information” regarding Scavino’s potential communications with Russians. The California senator did not elaborate.
She also requested an interview and documents from Brad Parscale.

It's not clear whether she's referring to the time a VK executive tried to get Don Jr. and Scavino to create a page on the Russian social network, or whether she knows about more. It's also telling this is coming solely from Feinstein rather than Grassley on behalf of the committee.
posted by zachlipton at 12:35 PM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Trump administration to announce as soon as Wednesday or Thursday plans to cut off security assistance to Pakistan - congressional sources

Maybe this is part of a plan to force closer ties to Russia, and try to push down the Mueller investigation, since Russia may soon be our only supply route to Afghanistan? The irony of using the same railroads the Soviets used for their adventures in the 1980s will be palpable.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:47 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Just for Men contains lead acetate.

I don't see evidence for that in the linked video (nor in an admittedly brief Google search). The video cites Grecian Formula and Youthair as containing lead acetate, but not Just for Men. In fact, a 1997 article claims Just for Men is lead-free, in contrast to Grecian Formula.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:48 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


@ReutersWorld: JUST IN: Trump administration to announce as soon as Wednesday or Thursday plans to cut off security assistance to Pakistan - congressional sources

This -- among many other things in the news over the past 14 months -- makes me feel like we're in a Roko's basilisk situation here: anyone who is aware of the Trump administration and is not actively doing whatever they can to encourage its dissolution should have a high fidelity future simulation of themselves horribly and eternally punished.

Especially since so many of us are being horribly punished by the Republicans here in the present.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:49 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Don Jr. on the twitters just now: Andrew Breitbart would be ashamed of the division and lies Steve Bannon is spreading!

They'll tear each other into pieces, Jesus Christ it will be ugly and suck, and fuck them all.

La di da da dahhhh...
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:52 PM on January 3 [20 favorites]


[Enough on the hair dye thing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:55 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I have to see this as a good thing. Bannon v Trump loses some of how Neo-nazi base. Also, Trump sparring with the Neo-Nazi crown prince means Trump ISN'T sparring with a country with nuclear capabilities or one of our allies.

Am I way off on this? Cause if not, let the shit flinging continue I say.
posted by Twain Device at 1:00 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


So, I think probably just the usual daily news plus special elections notes and a thread at Election Day. I can recommend the daily elections digest from DKE, if you want minutiae.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:01 AM on January 3 [7 favorites +] [!]


Don't really need the minutiae, but Chrysostom, you seem like just the one to identify the, what, 20 (?) most flippable seats in the House, so that we can concentrate our fire on them? Knowing the ranking of the Senate seats in terms of vulnerability would be excellent, too. Maybe we could get one of the newly formed resistance organizations to fund your work.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:01 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Am I way off on this? Cause if not, let the shit flinging continue I say.

You're not. A quick glimpse at the reddit trumposphere shows a hot smorgasbord of confusion, denial, intramural squabbling, and even a tiny, tiny bit of critical self-examination. There's no coherent counter-narrative, at least not an instant one. That's good.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:22 PM on January 3 [47 favorites]


Bannon said: “You realise where this is going. This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy.”

Is Weissmann only a money laundering guy? Because he tried a bunch of cases involving the Colombo, Genovese, and Gambino families, was all of that dealing with money laundering?

On top of this, Weissmann also was involved with investigating the Russian mob and one of Trump’s associates, Felix Sater, and that case did involve money laundering. IIRC, Felix Sater was turned into an FBI informant during that.
posted by gucci mane at 2:03 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


So, y'know how several folks have posited that getting out the vote is the key to defeating Republicans in 2018 and 2020? And provided links to articles in support of that argument?

I'm trying to round those up across our miles of election threads, but in the interest of not clogging up this one, I've asked for help in MeTa.
posted by Rykey at 2:08 PM on January 3 [13 favorites]


Highlights of CNBC's 10 Wild Claims About Trump's White House From the Upcoming Book 'Fire and Fury' range from the dismaying to the incriminating:
• One of Trump's earliest campaign aides tried to educate the candidate about the Constitution, but Trump grew too bored to make it past the Fourth Amendment: "Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. 'I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,' Nunberg recalled, 'before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.'"

• Wolff reports that a spokesman for Trump's legal team left the job because he feared possible obstruction of justice related to a statement drafted aboard Air Force One that defended Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. "Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone. Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome—and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice—quit. (The Jarvanka side would put it out that Corallo was fired.)"

• The book says top Trump aides questioned his intelligence in colorful terms. The revelations follow reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron" last year. "For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an 'idiot.' For Gary Cohn, he was 'dumb as sh-t.' For H.R. McMaster he was a 'dope.' The list went on."

• Wolff also writes at length about former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, who leads the president's National Economic Council. Cohn has privately disagreed with Trump a number of times in the past year. But an April email that, Wolff writes, circulated around the White House "purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn" takes this to a new level: "It's worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won't read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored."
Fine. Tuned. Machine.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:21 PM on January 3 [44 favorites]


One of Trump's earliest campaign aides tried to educate the candidate about the Constitution, but Trump grew too bored to make it past the Fourth Amendment

Shouldn't take him too much longer to get to the Fifth Amendment.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:24 PM on January 3 [50 favorites]


@KatyTurNBC has a copy of Fire and Fury and is posting some new pieces, this one on womanizing:
A close Trump friend who was also a good Bill Clinton friend found them eerily similar --- except that Clinton had a respectable front and Trump did not.

...

Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living was getting your friends' wives into bed. In pursuing a friend's wife, he would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she thought. Then he'd have his secretary ask the friend into his office; once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or less constant sexual banter. Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had a better fuck than your wife? Tell me about it. I have girls coming in from Los Angles at three o'clock. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I promise... And all the while, Trump would have his friend's wife on the speakerphone listening in.
posted by pjenks at 2:25 PM on January 3 [25 favorites]


Via Katy Tur, Fire and Fury features a section on how Trump would try to sleep with his friends' wives by quizzing the husbands on their relationship and offering them "girls coming in from Los Angeles" while he had the wife listening on speakerphone.

I do think this book is basically entirely a work of fiction; the only thing that makes it mysterious is wondering what's Michael Wolff's fiction and what's someone else's, if anything.
posted by zachlipton at 2:25 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]




Scott Wong, The Hill: Rosenstein meeting with Paul Ryan about Russia investigation

Rosenstein walked by a number of reporters who were staking out budget negotiations between top White House officials and top congressional leaders. [...] The meeting came at the request of Rosenstein, the aide said. FBI Director Christopher Wray also was invited to the meeting, but reporters did not see him.

Any guesses?
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:30 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Shouldn't take him too much longer to get to the Fifth Amendment.

Hopefully the indictments happen first.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:31 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Kaleb Horton [via Twitter]: Michael Wolff's book on Trump has the distinct and specific odor of wish-fulfillment pornography manufactured by someone who wants to make a million dollars very quickly and doesn't care how many lies it takes to get there.

Its been a hell of a day so im confused here - does this describe Wolff or Trump (or both).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:36 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Rosenstein walked by a number of reporters who were staking out budget negotiations between top White House officials and top congressional leaders. [...] The meeting came at the request of Rosenstein, the aide said. FBI Director Christopher Wray also was invited to the meeting, but reporters did not see him.

Any guesses?


Per Kyle Cheney: This is directly related to House intel chairman @DevinNunes's demand for documents -- by today -- related to FBI's handling of the Steele dossier.
posted by scarylarry at 2:36 PM on January 3 [17 favorites]


So what's the analysis on Manafort's lawsuit? Are there ways it will backfire on him (she asks, hopefully).
posted by TwoStride at 2:52 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I do think this book is basically entirely a work of fiction; the only thing that makes it mysterious is wondering what's Michael Wolff's fiction and what's someone else's, if anything.

Yes, there seems to be a lot of skepticism about Wolff's "reporting", e.g.,
@sarahkendzior: The Bannon quotes sound both like something Bannon would say, and something that Wolff would make up.
A 2004 profile of Wolff in the New Republic (Michelle Cottle), describes his style of writing, specifically for the "This Media Life" column in New York Magazine that made him famous:
Much to the annoyance of Wolff's critics, the scenes in his columns aren't recreated so much as created--springing from Wolff's imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events. Even Wolff acknowledges that conventional reporting isn't his bag.

...

He has a reputation for busting embargoes and burning sources by putting off-the-record comments on the record. ... Half the New York-area media is still aghast at Wolff boasting in print about enlisting his son to serve as a spy while on a play date at Steve Rattner's home. ("What kind of person uses his child like that?" asked one outraged editor.)
The piece ends by speculating that "Wolff's growing political focus [after moving to Vanity Fair] may prove a poor fit," and lamenting that his first foray into political writing "lacks the insiderishness and juicy details to give it the authoritative feel of his [media] mogul writing."
Of the new job, Wolff admits, "I'm not sure I exactly know how to do this yet." But, as he adjusts to the longer lead times and the higher word counts, New York's mogul-slayer may want to consider whether--with only twelve columns a year--he wants to waste his time on political commentary that is unlikely ever to be buzzworthy.
posted by pjenks at 2:59 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


I'm of the opinion we should curb our enthusiasm with regard to Michael Wolff's book. Certainly the kernel of it feels true, but is absolutely embellished--he has at the very least taken dramatic liberties. (For example: "'He's [Kusher is] my partner,' said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message." That's getting pretty specific from a "tone").

I would not be surprised if this were 90% fabrication and 10% not-true-but-close-enough. The Trumps' reactions (and so far Bannon's lack of reaction) certainly make it seem like at least the flavor is accurate, but the unrealistic level and depth of access, combined with the purple prose, sure makes it seem like the reality is somewhere else.
posted by Room 101 at 3:01 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


I mean, I honestly don't know what truth is anymore you guys, I think when I learned there was an actual person named "Reality Winner," my brain snapped. Since then, I just shrug. So maybe the whole book is fiction, maybe half, maybe none. How could I possibly ever know? Does it even matter, for this particular administration, what is true and what is not?
posted by emjaybee at 3:01 PM on January 3 [31 favorites]


Well, Trump seemed to believe it.
posted by valkane at 3:01 PM on January 3 [26 favorites]


Yeah, that's kind of my point with my earlier comment on Trump's response. He jumped straight into attacking Bannon.

My first thought on seeing the Guardian article was this couldn't be for real. It had to be out of context or maybe even fabricated. Because the first question to Bannon after a statement like that is, "Why didn't you go to the FBI, motherfucker?" Bannon seems batshit, I'll grant, but it's hard for me to think he's quite that reckless.

...except Trump clearly thinks he said that. (And Trump, Jr., for what it's worth.) That to me seems like the real hook to all this. My eyes stopped rolling the moment the quotes got a reaction like that. Hell, at this point, the book doesn't even have to be true at all for it to do significant damage to the whole circle. It already put in a new dent.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:06 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


whether it’s true or not, it appears to be sticking hot knives into various open wounds of members of the trump campaign. if they didn’t hate each other as much as wolff claims before the book leaked, they will soon.

a president who commanded any loyalty at all wouldn’t be losing his shit about tabloid trash like this. when you can’t trust anyone, you’ll believe anything bad said about everyone.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:10 PM on January 3 [23 favorites]


So maybe the whole book is fiction, maybe half, maybe none. How could I possibly ever know? Does it even matter, for this particular administration, what is true and what is not?

Did it matter that some of the documents providing evidence that George W. Bush shirked his National Guard duties couldn't be authenticated back in 2004, since everybody knew it was most likely true, anyway?
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:12 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


also the thought of trump going bananas over what turns out to be “fake news” is like rich chocolate cake with buttercream frosting to me
posted by murphy slaw at 3:13 PM on January 3 [26 favorites]


I don't think Trump knows or cares if it's true. All he knows is that Bannon is throwing punches so he has to punch back.
posted by VTX at 3:17 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


TwoStride: So what's the analysis on Manafort's lawsuit? Are there ways it will backfire on him (she asks, hopefully).

Well, according to this article from ThinkProgress, it does not seem like a super-strong case:
The bottom line, in other words, is that Manafort’s tactic is unlikely to succeed. He’s claiming a right he doesn’t have, in a courtroom he shouldn’t be in, based on facts that probably don’t exist — and, even if Manafort’s lawyers are right about everything, Mueller and Rosenstein can cure the alleged problems Manafort raises with a phone call or a few emails.
If the case is as weak as the article implies, I wonder what his lawyers are thinking? Is this just a straight-up desperation move? Or are his lawyers just really bad at their job?

A bit of googling reminds me that not only did Manafort switch law firms last year from the very big firm WilmerHale to more boutique-y and specialized Miller & Chevalier, the lawyer representing him left the firm two weeks after taking him on as a client, ostensibly due to conflicts with other firm clients. I'm not super familiar with the practice of law so I don't know how much it might impact Manafort that his legal representation appears to be, essentially, a solo practitioner (and possibly one without any specific expertise in the relevant areas of law).
posted by mhum at 3:18 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


whether it’s true or not, it appears to be sticking hot knives into various open wounds of members of the trump campaign. if they didn’t hate each other as much as wolff claims before the book leaked, they will soon.

a president who commanded any loyalty at all wouldn’t be losing his shit about tabloid trash like this. when you can’t trust anyone, you’ll believe anything bad said about everyone.


A hit dog always hollers.
posted by azpenguin at 3:19 PM on January 3


He has a reputation for busting embargoes and burning sources by putting off-the-record comments on the record.

We've seen the Trumpets not - be concerned about "the record", I've not read anything yet that seems impossible, or even that outlandish. I mean, for a guy hanging out on a White House couch unchallenged for weeks and months? In this gallery of schnooks? He seems like the guy to not care just enough. He was criticized for saying journalists should be stenographers. In this case, that's probably the best course.

. . . lamenting that his first foray into political writing "lacks the insiderishness and juicy details to give it the authoritative feel of his [media] mogul writing."

Not a problem. This crowd stops to pick up women on the highway to take selfies with at Mar-a-Lago. How "inside" is there in the Trump administration?? It leaks like a sieve, they're manically incompetent, and they don't care. None. None more inside. Is there anything yet that doesn't read like a well reviewed BuzzFeed "a day at Trump's White House" articles they used to run every single day?
posted by petebest at 3:19 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Did it matter that some of the documents providing evidence that George W. Bush shirked his National Guard duties couldn't be authenticated back in 2004, since everybody knew it was most likely true, anyway?

Ask Dan Rather.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:26 PM on January 3 [17 favorites]


Re: Wolff, there is a place in this world for gonzo journalism. As a longtime HST fan, I'm fully on board with that. The trick is to know when to trust a journalist source and when to just enjoy the ride.

A lot of what I've read of Fire and Fury rings true. A fair amount smells like Ibogaine.
posted by delfin at 3:29 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


If the case is as weak as the article implies, I wonder what his lawyers are thinking? Is this just a straight-up desperation move? Or are his lawyers just really bad at their job?

The idea is not to win in actual court, but in the court of public opinion (at leas among the deplorables and the conspiracy theorists), much as Trump is far less interested in policy and legalities than in reality-TV style "winning" with the Breitbart and Fox News crowd....well, maybe not the Breitbarters anymore.

More broadly, this move is is an opportunistic one -- or perhaps a coordinated one -- to give further cover to the GOP legislators to push back on Mueller's investigation. It is perhaps less a move from desperation than a calculation that the Republicans will seize any opportunity to put party above country and propaganda above legality.
posted by kewb at 3:32 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


The thing about the book is that none of the quoted stuff I've seen thus far has been worse than things that T rump and his shitbucket of turd cronies have already loudly, publicly, and factually said, on record, with neither a moment of self reflection nor remorse.

in actual fact a lot of the ways they describe trump's behavior reminds me absolutely of my former boss when the first undeniable signs of his parkinson's really started showing, which would make me feel sympathetic if it were anyone other than a nazi collaborating racist rapist like trump.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:33 PM on January 3 [16 favorites]


Maddow is reporting (as of 5 mins ago) via a single unnamed source that the Rosenstein-Ryan meeting that just went down was about Nunes.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 3:35 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Feeling dumb here...what is the significance of this meeting being about Nunes?
posted by saturday_morning at 3:42 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


a president who commanded any loyalty at all wouldn’t be losing his shit about tabloid trash like this. when you can’t trust anyone, you’ll believe anything bad said about everyone.

Very good observation. Also, the White House has zero (negative?) epistemic credibility. SHS decrying this stuff as “tabloid trash” was particularly rich. This environment only fuels any new drama (embellished or no) that gets Theon on the fire.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:45 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


leaving that super-nerdy auto-correct typo for posterity
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:46 PM on January 3 [16 favorites]


Ask Dan Rather.

That was indeed the point I was trying to make.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:47 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


what is the significance of this meeting being about Nunes?

Nunes lately has been attacking the DoJ and FBI, and has been generally behaving like a treasonous git since burning the House investigation from the start.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:51 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]


Right, but what would this meeting have been about, then? Rosenstein putting pressure on Ryan to get him off the committee? Ryan putting pressure on Rosenstein to act on Nunes' "conclusions"?
posted by saturday_morning at 3:55 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Trump has dissolved his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Fraud, citing states not handing over their voter information to his voter suppression committee.
posted by zachlipton at 3:56 PM on January 3 [101 favorites]


So I was poking around online earlier and discovered that you can get a 30 second spot on Fox News for about $9000.

Should we take up a collection and buy an ad, or a few ads, on Fox and Friends and just read excerpts of that book that will really piss him off? Maybe under the guise of an online bookstore selling it or something if Fox won't go for what would otherwise effectively be an anti-Trump PAC ad.

I think Tom Steyer should look into this. Seems at least as useful as his impeachment campaign.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:58 PM on January 3 [18 favorites]


Trump has dissolved his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Fraud, citing states not handing over their voter information to his voter suppression committee.

^ resistance works
posted by saturday_morning at 3:59 PM on January 3 [82 favorites]


Trump has dissolved his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Fraud

The fraud was coming from inside the (White) house!
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:01 PM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Also:
He has a reputation for busting embargoes and burning sources by putting off-the-record comments on the record.
That doesn't exactly mean his stories are false. Has Bannon even denied saying any of these quotes?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:01 PM on January 3


You can also enjoy the fact that it's a "Statement by the Press Secretary" that appear's to be a first-person statement from the President, in case you somehow thought they figured out the basic idea of how to write a statement or something.
posted by zachlipton at 4:02 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Right, but what would this meeting have been about, then? Rosenstein putting pressure on Ryan to get him off the committee? Ryan putting pressure on Rosenstein to act on Nunes' "conclusions"?

My WAG would be that it isn't primarily about pressure either way, more that Rosenstein is sharing sensitive details of the investigation that includes Nunes' behavior to forewarn Ryan. Though that really can't be separated from pressure to act.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:12 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Should we take up a collection and buy an ad, or a few ads, on Fox and Friends and just read excerpts of that book that will really piss him off?

When thousands of people have GoFundMes for far less money trying to pay their medical bills, it's an insult to give that money to the people who are hell-bent on dooming even more people to that fate. Don't give money to the enemy.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 4:12 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


I'm in UTC+8 right now and I've just caught up on the 200+ comments overnight.

What in the hell did I just wake up to?
posted by Talez at 4:14 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


What in the hell did I just wake up to?


The gubmint finally done gone to shit
posted by Burhanistan at 4:15 PM on January 3 [20 favorites]


Is Weissmann only a money laundering guy? Because he tried a bunch of cases involving the Colombo, Genovese, and Gambino families, was all of that dealing with money laundering?

Interesting. I wonder if Trump’s name came up in any of those cases. He has documented connections to all of those families, even entirely aside from the whole “he was in construction in NYC, it’s inevitable” thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:15 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


(Sorry, there just isn't any other recognizable zeitgeist or gestalt for this Wolff piece for me other than "shit's bananas in all directions". Not even covfefe. I'll shut up now.)
posted by Burhanistan at 4:19 PM on January 3


You're not. A quick glimpse at the reddit trumposphere shows a hot smorgasbord of confusion, denial, intramural squabbling, and even a tiny, tiny bit of critical self-examination. There's no coherent counter-narrative, at least not an instant one. That's good.

they think this is some kind of con, and next week all the news outlets that have reported on what Bannon said are going to get a Fake News Award from Trump.

Seriously.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:21 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Uhhhh.... gab.ai has people using (((Breitbart))) unironically.

t_d on the other hand is barely noticing the lovers' quarrel and is focused purely on the Clinton house fire (I'm guessing from the Fire and Fury excerpts that she must have thrown a hell of a glass of vodka at the fireplace) and the Nunes deadline.

Maybe there's a break between nazis and memes coming.
posted by Talez at 4:25 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Let the games begin. State lawmakers eye plan to help Californians get around higher federal taxes
Senate President Kevin de León said Wednesday that he’s planning to introduce legislation that would allow Californians to get out of paying the higher federal taxes they will face under the Republican tax overhaul.

The GOP overhaul caps state and local tax write-offs on the federal income tax return at $10,000, a move expected to jolt high-local tax states such as California, where the average state and local tax writeoff was $22,000.

But de León’s plan would allow Californians to get around the cap by allowing them to donate any amount of owed taxes above $10,000 to a charitable fund created by the state. That donation — in lieu of taxes — would allow the donor to write-off the gift on their federal tax return.
This is a large-scale shenanigan that California has no reason not to do, and it's precisely the sort of gimmick that everyone saw coming but wasn't counted in the CBO score for the tax bill. This thing is going to end up costing trillions by the time all the games are played.
posted by zachlipton at 4:29 PM on January 3 [66 favorites]


Has the IRS ever cracked down on a state for tax evasion before?
posted by Coventry at 4:34 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


This thing is going to end up costing trillions by the time all the games are played.

Which is of course the entire point all along, starving the federal government of all revenue to then kill all social services. They're starting with Phase II: The Catfood For Grandma and Millennials Never Retire Act in a few weeks.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:35 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


They're starting with Phase II: The Catfood For Grandma and Millennials Never Retire Act in a few weeks.

Cause the deficit is just so darn big!
posted by Talez at 4:36 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Next time the Democrats are in power, which one hopes is in the next 3 years, they damn well better stop caring about Republican whining about deficits. Deficits don't particularly matter. If anybody thought they did we'd raise taxes and cut the military. Since nobody proposes that, I am forced to conclude that nobody actually cares about deficits.
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on January 3 [54 favorites]


Yeah seconding what Ray Walston, Luck Dragon said. I just spent a couple hours poking around in the cesspool that is r/the_donald and the consensus is that this is all a big elaborate ruse so that they can say "Look how easy it is to make fake news!!" while Bannon and Trump hug and make up. These are some very dumb people.

ok I have to go shower
posted by mannequito at 4:39 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I just read Wolff's article in New York magazine, upthread, from the Fire and the Fury. I am inclined to think it's legit.

For example, remember Melania’s famous face morph from smiling when Trump turns around to engage her at the inauguration, and then how she drops that expression like over ripe roadkill... And goes to full-on misery as soon as he turns away from her?

And how he left her and sprinted up the stairs to meet the Obamas, once their car got to the WH? The Obamas kinda looked at each other, and then went to rescue her, arms around Melania’s waist. All that is SUPER congruent with the notion that M. is in absolute despair over that “win”. There’s stuff like that all through that article, all those things that made us go WTF at the time...

So yeah. It makes sense. Also, my old prof Jeff Smith did the illustrations for that article!! Excellent work with acrylic ink as always, Jeff! I think he did an excellent job of capturing Melania's despair.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 5:03 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


you can get a 30 second spot on Fox News for about $9000

John Oliver and his team has already been on that, but I haven't heard what impact, if any, they've had.
posted by porpoise at 5:07 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


It’ll be interesting to see staffers try to figure out exactly which incidents they’re supposed to deny.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:08 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


These are some very dumb people.

@LauraLoomer:
Starting to think all of this Trump vs Bannon drama is a planned distraction from the fact that @HillaryClinton and @BillClinton’s house conveniently caught on fire today...
posted by chris24 at 5:16 PM on January 3


(For context, there was a small fire in an outbuilding used by the Secret Service. The fire was extinguished, nobody was injured, and the Clintons weren't home. But there have been all sorts of "they're burning the evidence" conspiracy theories.)
posted by zachlipton at 5:19 PM on January 3 [13 favorites]


The most surprising thing about the book really is that Bannon was able to take so much time away from sucking his own cock to give interviews

He also had time for an article in Vanity Fair that was rather flattering. I read it looking for anything revealing about Bannon to hate on, but there's nothing there. It's like he Svengalied Gabriel Sherman. It's full of unchallenged claims and Bannontastic exaggerations; the whole thing comes across as complimentary of Bannon while giving him a platform for the airing of grievances against his enemies, Jared Kushner mostly.
posted by peeedro at 5:25 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


From the New Yorker excerpt:

Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch. Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.

Poisoned toothbrush, germs, and senility. Got it. Any . . . other irrational fears plaguing our brittle, tender Grand Wig?

Oh, well, baldness. I guess.
posted by petebest at 5:32 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Mental Wimp: "
Don't really need the minutiae, but Chrysostom, you seem like just the one to identify the, what, 20 (?) most flippable seats in the House, so that we can concentrate our fire on them? Knowing the ranking of the Senate seats in terms of vulnerability would be excellent, too.
"

That's more workable. I'll try to knock something together, maybe one a day.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:39 PM on January 3 [18 favorites]


All that is SUPER congruent with the notion that M. is in absolute despair over that “win”

If only there were some legal mechanism by which one could dissolve a marriage and go on to do (almost) whatever the fuck one wanted without regard to the wishes of their former spouse. Ah well, guess she's stuck forever.

This photo from the Trump war room as it became clear he was going to win has always stuck with me. First, note who is conspicuously absent. Second, the look on their faces says everything. Don Jr is joyous but we know he's a complete idiot. Don Sr... well, can you imagine any caption except this one?
posted by Justinian at 5:46 PM on January 3 [21 favorites]


Hasn't SwingLeft already identified the 24 most swingleft-able House races?
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:47 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I mean, there are lots of Top X lists out there. You certainly don't need to listen to me, just thought I might write up some of the races.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:49 PM on January 3 [13 favorites]


zachlipton: "Senate President Kevin de León said Wednesday that he’s planning to introduce legislation that would allow Californians to get out of paying the higher federal taxes they will face under the Republican tax overhaul."

Worth noting that de León is running against Feinstein for the Dem Senate bid, this could certainly be a popular thing for him to tout.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:53 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


I can't remember why I think Michael Wolff is a creep, but I know I do for some reason or other. definitely not because he names names and uses spies, I am in favor of that. maybe just because he writes for Vanity Fair, the compost heap where overripe dana milbankalikes go to end their life cycles in an fretful spasm of decay and unpleasantness. anyway, though I believe him to be a creep, I do not care how much of this he made up except that the more of it he made up in his head and still gets people and Trumps to believe, the better an artist he is and the greater a service he has done the public. one of the more artful touches is the way he layers his implausible reports like a fine flaky pastry. like so:

Bannon, who had coined the term “Jarvanka” that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him. “They didn’t say that?” he said. “Stop. Oh, come on. They didn’t actually say that? Please don’t tell me that. Oh my God.”


so did they actually say that? or did they not actually say that, but did Wolff tell Bannon they had, and did Bannon actually say that, in response? probably yes to both! but that is such a good way to report made-up gossip, if any of it is made up, which doesn't matter -- just include a bit about how he told this guy and this other guy and the one guy couldn't believe it, but the other guy said, yeah, sounds just like them. this is craftsmanship.

(or it's all true)
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:58 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Looks like a couple dozen people protesting at the “@jack is complicit” protest in SF.

I’ll be honest. I don’t really see the point. I’d rather just Twitter admit they will never ever suspend the President rather than playing this stupid game where they claim to have policies and then make up increasingly absurd justifications why they don’t apply, but of all the things to be outraged about, that he still has a Twitter account is low on my list. I don’t object; I just don’t see how it makes a difference.
posted by zachlipton at 6:00 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]


Being a hard-working, somewhat well off introvert, a lot of my contributions to the resistance are in the form of cash donations. I can just donate money the DNC and pat myself on the back but I'm concerned about funds being mismanaged. I'd much much MUCH rather make my donations directly to the campaigns that will make the best use of that. There are plenty of lists but if Chrysotom is going to put together some info on flip-able seats, I'd trust that more than anything else and use it as my primary decision making resource for where to direct my donations.
posted by VTX at 6:06 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


I can't remember why I think Michael Wolff is a creep but I know I do for some reason or other.

sounds legit
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:07 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Politico, Annie Karni, Washington's growing obsession: The 25th Amendment
Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.

In private meetings with more than a dozen members of Congress held on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers – all Democrats except for one Republican senator, who Lee declined to identify. Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”

In an interview, she pointed to Trump “going back to conspiracy theories, denying things he has admitted before, his being drawn to violent videos.” Lee also warned, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”
posted by zachlipton at 6:25 PM on January 3 [42 favorites]


From the late great David Carr, in his review of Michael Wolff's prose style in his biosponge of Rupert Murdoch:
This sort of protective irony, walking slowly up to a conclusion and then summarily dropping it, is mannered to the point where you can almost visualize Wolff licking his paws between sentences.
ooo. catty.
Please to be reading Carr's further takedowns of Wolff's factual indiscretions. Knowing this about Wolfe, I can only conclude that Fire and Fury is the work of a slippery AF narrator, who has too much of a mind to what the reader wants to be true. He'll make it true for you, vividly, but at what cost to your credulity?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:27 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Since we'll be wash'd asea like so much . . kelp? anyway, here's another fascinating puzzle piece: the leaker was Trump! All along! /(Tom_Hulce)Mozartian_giggle

If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.

As details of Trump’s personal life leaked out, he became obsessed with identifying the leaker. The source of all the gossip, however, may well have been Trump himself. In his calls throughout the day and at night from his bed, he often spoke to people who had no reason to keep his confidences. He was a river of grievances, which recipients of his calls promptly spread to the ever-attentive media.


I thought it was the covfefe boy in the admin building with the skype. But it was Colonel Mustard, all along.
posted by petebest at 6:27 PM on January 3 [22 favorites]


I can't remember why I think Michael Wolff is a creep but I know I do for some reason or other.

I saw a Salon.com article earlier suggesting that Wolff has a reputation as being a bit of a fabulist... I didn't get the impression that he writes things that are completely invented, more that maybe he takes a general set of facts but writes embellished quotes to make the truth sound even more extreme.

The impression I have, at the moment, is that some of Wolff's quotes may not be accurate, may be massaged into a form that creates maximum drama, though remain true in underlying essence. Like the one about Trump's staff think he may be barely literate - I can imagine that no one said that in direct seriousness, but that if anything it was a chunk of hyperbole based in the fact that Trump doesn't read anything. So the truth of Trump's incuriousness, his ignorance of basic facts, unwillingness to do any actual thinking - those all remain true, but then if the "barely literate" quotation turns out to be not really accurate, then there's the excuse for his supporters to insist the entire argument must be dismissed.

This is why it sucks to be smart enough to understand nuance, shading, and subtext. Not only can I see why the gist of the Wolff book is almost certainly true, I can also see why it may be easily dismissible by those with a need to do so, and how that might create a problem for furthering the anti-Trump case. Sigh.
posted by dnash at 6:36 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


VTX: "Being a hard-working, somewhat well off introvert, a lot of my contributions to the resistance are in the form of cash donations. I can just donate money the DNC and pat myself on the back but I'm concerned about funds being mismanaged. I'd much much MUCH rather make my donations directly to the campaigns that will make the best use of that. "

Ha, you and me both.

In general, I definitely favor direct candidate donations over the party organizations. Beyond what we can cover here, I'd suggest checking out the target race list from the DLCC, which tries to flip state legislative seats.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:46 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]




... I didn't get the impression that he writes things that are completely invented, more that maybe he takes a general set of facts but writes embellished quotes to make the truth sound even more extreme.

If this is the case, and I’m not directing this to anyone but generally...why would serious outlets like The Guardian publish uncritical excerpts?

I did not know anything about the guy, other than based on comments he sounds iffy, but based on content the assertions are completely plausible.

Is this like the Steele dossier where it sounds true, aspersions are cast, yet in the end you look at it and go, ‘seems right’.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:49 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


> ... quotes may not be accurate, may be massaged into a form that creates maximum drama, though remain true in underlying essence.

In other words, Stephen Colbert's truthiness at work.

And looking back at that clip, from those innocent days of yore when W had nominated Harriet Miers (remember her?) to the Supreme Court - either Colbert was a few years ahead of his time, or the Republicans took satire and decided to use it as an operating manual.
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:50 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Like the one about Trump's staff think he may be barely literate - I can imagine that no one said that in direct seriousness

I dunno, we've said it in direct seriousness plenty. The actual quote was probably just a deadpan expression. These quotes and stories are all hand-worked - shiny and curvy - but nothing yet has stuck out as even unlikely.

It's just bogglingly literal, in the . . literary sense. The Emperor Really Has No Fucking Clue. What's it *supposed* to read like?
posted by petebest at 6:51 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


@maggieNYT: As of next week, West Wing staffers have been told they can’t use personal cell phones anymore per multiple aides. They were told this early in the term but it’s now being enforced, with security concerns being cited.

They thought John Kelly's phone was compromised back last summer, but they seem to have taken their time responding.
posted by zachlipton at 6:54 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]




Also from the Post, Trump slams Bannon: ‘When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind’, but ignore the headline and scroll down:
Bannon has in recent weeks also alienated his main financial backer, Rebekah Mercer, after he told several other major conservative donors that he would be able to count on the Mercers’ financial support should he run for president, a person familiar with the conversations said. The person said Mercer now does not plan to financially support Bannon’s future projects — and that she was frustrated by his moves in Alabama and some of his comments in the news media that seemed to stoke unnecessary fights.
"Future projects" leaves a lot of wiggle room, since continuing to find existing projects like Breitbart is still more than enough damage, but wow has this man not played his hand well.
posted by zachlipton at 7:03 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]




That cover is a thing of beauty.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:08 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


In private meetings with more than a dozen members of Congress held on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers – all Democrats except for one Republican senator

Was McCain out for treatment then? Or Cochran?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:13 PM on January 3


From The Hill, describing an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid, Intel Dem: I’ve Heard Evidence of Crimes by the Trump Administration where the Dem in question is Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX).

Pee tape gets an honorable mention or three.
posted by lydhre at 7:25 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


those innocent days of yore when W had nominated Harriet Miers (remember her?) to the Supreme Court

Of course I remember when Bush nominated "My Little Crony" because she "stood out as exceptionally well-suited to sit on the highest court of our nation" and "I know her heart."

Ms. Miers also handed President Bush the "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001. Bush replied "All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.” His itinerary between August 6 and September 10, 2001 doesn't show a lot of concern about bin Laden.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:27 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Some excerpts From Barak Spinoza's link "Confusion over Trump's border wall delays spending talks":

Senate negotiators say a lack of clarity from President Trump about his plans for a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is holding up talks to avoid a government shutdown.

“That’s something we’re waiting on the White House to give us clarity on,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the negotiators. “When you talk to [the Department of Homeland Security] and the other individuals, they talk about technology, they talk about personnel, they talk about physical barriers.

“The president has just said, ‘I call it wall.’ Everything is ‘wall.’ But I don’t think he really means 30-foot high wall for 2,000 miles,” Lankford added.

He wants wall. Not that I want to give Republicans any help, but how have they not figured out that there is not going to be any direction from the White House? There's no clarity forthcoming, you're going to have to do it all yourselves, with no way to know which way the trump will blow. Stop waiting, deal with Democrats as best you can, and roll the dice.

Really though, it's obvious, he just wants praise. He wants to be praised for wall. Doesn't matter what wall is.
posted by mrgoat at 7:30 PM on January 3 [13 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House -- Rothenberg: House Seats You Think Can’t Flip but Might

** 2018 Senate -- Pro-Roy Moore PAC is pushing Mia Love [UT-04] to run for the GOP nom for the Orrin Hatch seat. UT-04 is considered a winnable seat for the Dems, and Love is almost certainly not going to beat Romney, so this doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. On the other hand, they backed Roy Moore.

** Voting rights:
-- Noted above, Trump has ended the Kobach Commission on "voting integrity." This a) good news, since this was manifestly a scam to roll out voter suppression measures, but b) still bears watching, since DHS is tasked with investigating voter fraud. Good summary from Rick Hasen.

-- A court has denied request for summary judgment in the ACLU's suit against Kansas's onerous requirements for voter proof of citizenship. This is not unexpected, necessarily; case goes to trial in March.

-- NH Senate has passed a bill that would make it difficult for college students to vote. This is part of an ongoing theme of voter suppression efforts since the GOP took unified control last year. A similar law was thrown out in 2017 by the NH SC, but this one has a tweaked definition of residency, so who knows.
** Odds & ends:
-- Gallup is ending its daily presidential approval tracking poll, and moving to a weekly model.

-- You may remember that disgraced Blake Farenthold said he'd pay back the $84k sexual harassment settlement that the government funded. Shockingly, he hasn't.

-- We're only two and a half years out from the 2020 election, so we're starting to see articles trying to handicap the field.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:39 PM on January 3 [32 favorites]


"Future projects" leaves a lot of wiggle room, since continuing to find existing projects like Breitbart is still more than enough damage, but wow has this man not played his hand well.

The Bannon-Mercer alliance evaporating is one of the best pieces of news for people who aren't corporatist or fascist in a long time.
posted by Talez at 7:40 PM on January 3 [28 favorites]


Today has gotten even fucking stupider. ABC News, Trump attorney sends Bannon cease and desist letter over 'disparaging' comments
Lawyers on behalf of President Donald Trump sent a letter Wednesday night to former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon demanding he refrain from making disparaging comments against the president and his family.

The letter, comes after excerpts from a forthcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff were made public Wednesday, causing a stir.

In the letter to Bannon, Trump attorney Charles Harder, writes, “You [Bannon] have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company [the campaign], disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members.”

In the letter, Trump’s attorney says that “remedies for your breach of the agreement include but are not limited to monetary damages” though no dollar amount is disclosed.

During the campaign, then-candidate Trump had all campaign staff sign a non-disclosure agreement which required all staff, according to campaign sources, to refrain from any disparaging comments against the candidate, his family or the Trump campaign and organization.
posted by zachlipton at 7:41 PM on January 3 [33 favorites]


I’ll be honest. I don’t really see the point. I’d rather just Twitter admit they will never ever suspend the President rather than playing this stupid game where they claim to have policies and then make up increasingly absurd justifications why they don’t apply, but of all the things to be outraged about, that he still has a Twitter account is low on my list. I don’t object; I just don’t see how it makes a difference.

The problem of which Trump is emblematic is that Twitter's rules are enforced in a very lopsided way, and their enforcement overwhelmingly favors people in power, which will probably never change, and conservatives and white nationalists, which could change but would likely require the ouster of at least Jack Dorsey and a significant part of their enforcement team. No, Twitter will never ban Trump, and I doubt anyone at the protest thinks they will. But drawing as much public, not-extremely-online attention as possible to Twitter's enforcement policies could help to demolish one of the easiest and most powerful tools that white nationalists use to recruit and strengthen their following.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:44 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Today has gotten even fucking stupider. ABC News, Trump attorney sends Bannon cease and desist letter over 'disparaging' comments.

Man, they just cannot stop themselves from lending more and more credence to Wolff by the minute, can they?
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:47 PM on January 3 [40 favorites]


Oh good, since Trump's lawyer was the first to mention the NDA then it's likely the Bannon team will be able to get that puppy fully disclosed.

Let's see if the Trump legal team he's had in his stable for decades was able to craft a credible NDA.
posted by yesster at 7:59 PM on January 3 [14 favorites]


and breach of his written confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement with our clients

Very little can surprise me when it comes to Trump. But as a lawyer, I am dumbfounded that Trump's legal team would say this in a letter made public. Of course Trump paid Bannon for a confidential non-disparagement agreement. That is unsurprising. But you don't publicly accuse someone of breaching a confidentiality and non-disparagement agreement! Doing so discloses the existence and substance of the agreement, and tells the world that the only reason this person is not disparaging you right and left is that you paid him not to!

Do you hear that, world? Trump's lawyers just publicly announced that Steve Bannon - and obviously lots of other people with insider knowledge - have been paid in exchange for a promise never to say anything negative about Trump.

That Wolff's book appears to be largely fictional and Bannon may not have actually made any of the alleged disparaging statements makes Trump's lawyers' letter even more bizarre.
posted by The World Famous at 8:05 PM on January 3 [74 favorites]


Man, they just cannot stop themselves from lending more and more credence to Wolff by the minute, can they?

It's a rapper's spat and Wolff is TMZ.
posted by rhizome at 8:06 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLFF. This is what being a crazy-acting, lying piece of shit gets you.

Christ, to think we went from a statesman like Obama, to the Desperate Housewives of D.C. pulling each other’s hair on the front page.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:07 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]


I am really quite astounded how quickly I went from not believing a word of Wolff's story to believing it down to the very fucking comma
posted by saturday_morning at 8:19 PM on January 3 [51 favorites]


Going on a limb to say The only plausible reason I could see a cease and desist letter is that Trump's cognitive function is bad enough that these stories are actively influencing what he thinks happened because he can't really remember.
That would make it especially dangerous.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:22 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Maybe the best correction in history: CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story misidentified the fictional character name Bannon uses to refer to Jared Kushner as Frodo, a “Lord of the Rings” reference, rather than Fredo, a reference to “The Godfather.”
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:23 PM on January 3 [131 favorites]


It's a testament to Bannon's poor judgment that he would call Jared "Fredo" after having met Don, Jr.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:26 PM on January 3 [16 favorites]


That's the thing, they're all Fredo.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:30 PM on January 3 [50 favorites]


I dunno, I can see Don Jr. as a Carlo Rizzi.
posted by Behemoth at 8:36 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Also, re: the lawyers' letter to Bannon, I'm pretty sure POTUS is a public figure.

I'd love to see the courts address the question of whether the President of the United States can enforce a non-disparagement agreement with a former WH staff member during his term.
posted by The World Famous at 8:42 PM on January 3 [25 favorites]


What was the deal between Bannon and Trump anyway? Did Bannon think Trump would be a pliable, useful idiot, and that he could play the Cardinal Richelieu of the West Wing only to discover that Trump's ego and stupidity made him uncontrollable?

We know it wasn't ideology, since Trump doesn't have one. Rumors that Bannon wants to run himself sort of imply that's what he was after.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:58 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


What was the deal between Bannon and Trump anyway?

Buzzfeed has published some suspiciously well-timed e-mails on just that topic: Steve Bannon Privately Called Trump A "Narcissist" Before Taking Over His Campaign
Steve Bannon privately expressed ambivalence about Donald Trump as a presidential candidate before taking over his campaign, calling Trump a "narcissist" and stating that he didn't care if Trump won, according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News.[...]

On Jan. 13, 2016, three weeks before the Iowa caucuses marked the beginning of the Republican primary election season, then-Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos sent Bannon, along with Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow, a draft of a story titled "How Trump Can Win Iowa."

"Why r we doing this," Bannon responded.

"We want him to win, don't we?" Yiannopoulos wrote back. "Well, I do..."

"No," Bannon replied, and told his staffers to hold the story. "I'm totally indifferent. I'm darwinian...he who wins, wins."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:07 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Remember that time Obama had to send a cease-and-desist letter to David Axelrod in two-thousand-and-of-fucking-course you don’t. Because he didn’t. Because he didn’t have to. This clown show is exhausting.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:07 PM on January 3 [53 favorites]


Oh my...I am cracking up — I mean I am in tears, cracking up — over the Frodo/Fredo correction!

Reality Show President, indeed. We haven’t even finished his first year in office. You know the books about this guy are gonna be a hoot, assuming there’s anyone left to read them.
posted by darkstar at 9:08 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


[Folks, we're getting pretty jokey and unfocused again. Let's rein it in. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:11 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Don't really need the minutiae, but Chrysostom, you seem like just the one to identify the, what, 20 (?) most flippable seats in the House, so that we can concentrate our fire on them? Knowing the ranking of the Senate seats in terms of vulnerability would be excellent, too."

Washington's 8th Congressional District.
Currently held by fucking coward and two-faced snake David Reichert, who is a nice, moderate sane Republican who votes with Trump 87.9% of the time. Reichert's been elected since 2004, which is no mean feat in a district that went Gore-Kerry-Obama-Obama-Clinton. He was helped by Washington's bipartisan political redistricting, which works to favor incumbents.

Reichert, out of step with the district, has announced his retirement, and will not be seeking re-election in 2018.
This district is very, very gettable.

I've already signed up to help. We're going to take the fight to them in the cities of Enumclaw, Eatondale, Ellensburg and Wenatcheee, Chelan and Kittitas counties - places Republicans have never had to campaign.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:14 PM on January 3 [55 favorites]


As of next week, West Wing staffers have been told they can’t use personal cell phones anymore per multiple aides.

Is there literally anyone who thinks this is driven by any sort of security expert concerns? This is 100% Trump and possibly some of the kids worried that people will quietly record conversations on their phones.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:50 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


So, I'm honestly confused here...

Is it the White House official position that the upcoming book is entirely fiction and a complete fabrication... While simultaneously publicly threatening to sue Bannon for defamation? And then publicly denouncing Bannon as if everything that Wolff claimed that Bannon said was indeed said by Bannon?

Also somewhat annoying is that the media is attributing the Bannon quotes as Bannon quotes, and not always clarifying that these are assertions from a reporter that has been accused of fabricating quotes in the past.

Also, it's super confusing that Wolff was ever granted access... I mean, it's not like the accusations against Wolff were hard to find (I looked at Wikipedia to find the accusations).

Normally I wouldn't give Trumps reaction (to much) any credence, but he certainly is selling the veracity of Wolff's work.

In reading the book excerpt, it was pretty much everything I would have expected (and I read the excerpt before the coverage of the book).
posted by el io at 9:56 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Is it the White House official position that the upcoming book is entirely fiction and a complete fabrication... While simultaneously publicly threatening to sue Bannon for defamation? And then publicly denouncing Bannon as if everything that Wolff claimed that Bannon said was indeed said by Bannon?

It's called alternative pleading.
posted by Talez at 10:25 PM on January 3 [14 favorites]


Currently held by fucking coward and two-faced snake David Reichert,

once I was a fairly useless young political intern dispatched by NARAL, to whom I had pledged my uselessness and whose favors I wore into the field of battle, to assist Darcy Burner in some vague way I barely remember now, in her valiant, noble, and spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to beat worthless slimeball David Reichert, called "Dave" by me not in familiar friendship but because I like the name David and hate the nickname Dave

IN TWO THOUSAND AND SIX, which is twelve years ago now because time crushes us all into dust

and it was heartbreakingly obvious from the first day that she would never do it, because she was bright and highly educated and sober and responsible and visibly well-off in that Harvard-Microsoft suburban way that ought to have appealed exquisitely to the kind of Republican voter who likes to believe he worships wholesome success and moral responsibility, not bigotry and monsterism, as if anybody but himself is fooled, but in spite of all her wholesome businesslady aura and her extreme intelligence and her really pretty reasonable policy positions, she lost before she even got started because she was 1. a young woman, and therefore a joke, not a person, and 2. woe to anyone who speaketh ill of the mighty self-styled green-river-killer-catcher, as they must love murder and hate our manly snake-sheriff.

all I really wanted for the last twelve years was for someone to really humiliatingly defeat him and it did not happen even when I gave it my all, and can never now happen. all that is left is to beat his dumb old ghost. but this must be done. spiritus reicherti delendus est. or whatever.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:34 PM on January 3 [64 favorites]


That's what is so weird about this. It feels like disinformation. But they're not smart enough for that, and their attempted denials add to the legitimacy.

But there's still something fishy about how the narrative fits my expectations.
posted by yesster at 10:35 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


I can't remember why I think Michael Wolff is a creep but I know I do for some reason or other.

Well, there was this 2014 hit piece on Mia Farrow and her children: The Woody Allen - Dylan Farrow case: media spin for the Farrow family?
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:36 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Fake news is usually exactly what you want to hear, or already believe, so I’m suspicious of what Wolff is selling. But Trump’s response to it guarantees more in-fighting and backstabbing anyway, so I think it’s worth a moment of schadenfreude.
posted by harriet vane at 12:47 AM on January 4 [9 favorites]


Veracity of quotes aside, Michael Wolff's description here rings true to me:
Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise ­— no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”
*shudder*
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:36 AM on January 4 [13 favorites]


Also somewhat annoying is that the media is attributing the Bannon quotes as Bannon quotes, and not always clarifying that these are assertions from a reporter that has been accused of fabricating quotes in the past.

The US Corporate News Media are highly efficient and modernized, with the capability to wipe out an entire generation's political future. But their defenses are designed around a number of direct, large-scale talking points.

An analysis of the plans reveal a potential attack vector - it's a small entertainment port right below the news port. A precise hit, and only a precise hit, could start a chain reaction that should destroy the administration. The port is ray-shielded, so you'll have to use proton excerpts.
posted by petebest at 2:54 AM on January 4 [33 favorites]


It's definitely suspicious, but moreover it's not exactly meaningful, either. We already had something of an inkling that Trump was not very smart, and there's nothing you can say to Republicans that will change their current position on Trump. If they were ever inclined to believe that Trump is bad, they would have already arrived at that position.

Just because Wolff says that Bannon says that Trump broke the law isn't going to make Republicans in Congress and the House agree that Trump broke the law and he has to be removed.
posted by Merus at 3:33 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


WaPo has a couple of pieces out casting doubt on Wolff...

Aaron Blake: "Michael Wolff’s unbelievable — sometimes literally — tell-all about the Trump administration"
Wolff recounts how Roger Ailes recommended former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to serve as Trump's chief of staff. Trump's response, according to Wolff: “Who’s that?”

Never mind that Trump had golfed with Boehner in 2013 and mentioned him several times on the 2016 campaign trail.
...
In another anecdote, billionaire Robert Mercer — a former Ted Cruz backer and Brietbart investor — offers Trump's campaign $5 million, and Trump is clueless as to why Mercer would invest in him. “This thing,” Trump reportedly told Mercer of his campaign, “is so f---ed up.”

But Mercer couldn't give $5 million to Trump's campaign — not legally, anyway. He spent his money on Trump through a super PAC.
...
Then there is the apparent re-created conversation between Stephen K. Bannon and Ailes, the New York Times's Nick Confessore points out, which raises questions about accuracy.
...
For whatever reason, Wolff seems to have arrived at a stunning amount of incredible conclusions that hundreds of dogged reporters from major newspapers haven't. Whether that's because he had unprecedented access — Wolff says he had “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing” — or because his filter was just more relaxed than others, it's worth evaluating each claim individually and not just taking every salacious thing said about the White House as gospel.
Paul Fahri: "Michael Wolff tells a juicy tale in his new Trump book. But should we believe it?"
A provocateur and media polemicist, Wolff has a penchant for stirring up an argument and pushing the facts as far as they’ll go, and sometimes further than they can tolerate, according to his critics. He has been accused of not just re-creating scenes in his books and columns, but of creating them wholesale. [It goes on to cite examples from Wolff's past]
...
Wolff, for example, writes that Thomas Barrack Jr., a billionaire friend of Trump’s, told a friend that Trump is “not only crazy, he’s stupid.” Barrack on Wednesday denied to a New York Times reporter that he ever said such a thing.

Katie Walsh, a former White House adviser, has also disputed a comment attributed to her by Wolff, that dealing with Trump was “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:40 AM on January 4 [8 favorites]


Mike Allen, Wolff taped interviews with Bannon, top officials
Michael Wolff has tapes to back up quotes in his incendiary book — dozens of hours of them.

Among the sources he taped, I'm told, are Bannon and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh.

So that's going to make it harder for officials to deny embarrassing or revealing quotes attributed to them in "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," out Tuesday.

In some cases, the officials thought they were talking off the record. But what are they going to do now?
He claims that Wolff knows the content of the Bannon/Ailes conversation because it was actually at a dinner for six that Wolff hosted at his own home.

Why the hell did they invite this guy to hang around so much?
posted by zachlipton at 3:43 AM on January 4 [52 favorites]


INTERIOR DEPARTMENT TAPPED WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS FUNDS FOR RYAN ZINKE HELICOPTER TOUR (Celeste Katz, Newsweek, 12/29)

But after Newsweek questioned the line item, an Interior Department spokeswoman said this week that the chopper—listed in an accounting of Zinke’s travel as costing $39,295—“was charged to the account in error.” She added that the BLM would pay for the helicopter from “a more appropriate account.”

Zinke, Zinke, Zinke. Ugh. Reporters were told that Zinke's subsequent "Whooaaayy lookit me! I'm a tanked-up loser in a whirlybird!" were off-the-record.
posted by petebest at 3:47 AM on January 4 [16 favorites]


Even if Wolff is completely full of shit you can still laugh/cringe at the Trump shitshow and that complete bullshit and intellectual dishonesty is working against Donnie Two Scoops for a change.
posted by Talez at 3:50 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]




Just because it deserves a second look, let's look at the replay:

Aaron Blake, WaPo:
Then there is the apparent re-created conversation between Stephen K. Bannon and Ailes, the New York Times's Nick Confessore points out, which raises questions about accuracy.

(The Nick Confessore link, to Twitter, is "I should say: Apparently recreated. Maybe Wolff was at the table? Story doesn't say.", which, zowie what insight it should be linked to)

Axios article above:
How could Wolff possibly know for sure what Steve Bannon and the late Roger Ailes said at a private dinner?
It turns out Wolff hosted the dinner for six at his Manhattan townhouse.


Wolff: 1. Now back to Aaron Blake, WaPo:
For whatever reason, Wolff seems to have arrived at a stunning amount of incredible conclusions that hundreds of dogged reporters from major newspapers haven't.

The reason is, it was at his house, where he was? And Trump's Rumps do. not. give. a. damn. Wolff apparently had the divine insight to quote these bastards verbatim - possibly by request - without playing it off, couching it in "sources said", and - oh, that's right: the bothsidesisms.

Trumpets: That wasn't us, no way man
Wolff: I have the tapes
Trumpets: . . nuh-uh
Wolff: The dinner was at my house, I was right there
Trumpets: n- . . nooo?

It's like the publisher used some sort of alien technology to see into the future and expected these kinds of stories, then prepared a stinging rebuttal.
*golf clap*
posted by petebest at 4:47 AM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Wow this is going to be like Mooch/Lizza x 2000
posted by angrycat at 5:06 AM on January 4 [15 favorites]


Trump's cease-and-desist letter: A ‘desperate’ attempt to silence Bannon (Samantha Schmidt / WaPo)
It all sounds so tough. But in this case, it probably isn’t.

A cease and desist letter doesn’t actually carry any legal weight — it is simply a warning letter asking someone to stop certain behavior or else the sender will pursue legal action. It is often a form of intimidation, or simply an attempt to settle an issue outside of litigation, said Orly Lobel, a law professor at the University of San Diego School of Law whose research has often focused on employment issues.

It can be effective against someone who can’t afford a pitched legal battle and gets scared off. But for a recipient who can afford a fight — like Bannon — it’s another story.

Without legal action, specifically a lawsuit, such a letter is just a piece of paper. So should Bannon refuse to comply with the letter, Trump would have to sue to enforce it.

But would Trump really want to start a court fight with Bannon? Suing Bannon would potentially require Trump to testify under oath, and would open them both up to discovery, in which all sorts of explosive revelations could come tumbling out. The president’s critics would probably welcome that. These things can get ugly.

But, experts say, it seems unlikely that the feud would reach that stage. Trump is a public figure. So suing for defamation, as the letter threatens, could require Trump to prove that a statement made by Bannon was false, damaging and delivered with actual malice, meaning that Bannon knew his comments were false and made them anyway. ...

“It’s hard to see how it helps him here,” said Orin Kerr, a law professor at the University of Southern California. Other lawyers and critics of the president expressed similar views on Twitter.

“This reeks of desperation,” one post read.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:23 AM on January 4 [22 favorites]


There is a a danger that some sensational bullshit from the Wolff book blows up, gets disproven, and then every complaint about corruption and stupidity in the Trump administration is dismissed as "more of that Wolff bullshit that was disproven".
posted by idiopath at 5:24 AM on January 4 [23 favorites]


This is a large-scale shenanigan that California has no reason not to do, and it's precisely the sort of gimmick that everyone saw coming but wasn't counted in the CBO score for the tax bill. This thing is going to end up costing trillions by the time all the games are played.

Kind of makes you wonder how things will play out for the Republican Governorships that are up for grabs in states with SALT. Like say Illinois. This is a hell of a lever.
posted by srboisvert at 5:26 AM on January 4


Why the hell did they invite this guy to hang around so much?

There are enough sycophantic press lackeys in this world that when one of them actually bothers to report something people in DC are shocked.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:33 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


There's more from Wolff today in the Hollywood Reporter: My Insane Year Inside Trump's White House
There was some effort to ascribe to Trump magical powers. ... Everybody in the West Wing tried, with some panic, to explain him, and, sheepishly, their own reason for being here. He's intuitive, he gets it, he has a mind-meld with his base. But there was palpable relief, of an Emperor's New Clothes sort, when longtime Trump staffer Sam Nunberg — fired by Trump during the campaign but credited with knowing him better than anyone else — came back into the fold and said, widely, "He's just a fucking fool."
Lots and lots more anti-West-Wing fan-fiction within.
posted by pjenks at 5:38 AM on January 4 [26 favorites]


And there's plenty of (certainly intentionally highlighted) 25th amendment fodder:
There was more: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he'd repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions — he just couldn't stop saying something.

...

[Hope] Hicks' primary function was to tend to the Trump ego, to reassure him, to protect him, to buffer him, to soothe him. It was Hicks who, attentive to his lapses and repetitions, urged him to forgo an interview that was set to open the 60 Minutes fall season. Instead, the interview went to Fox News' Sean Hannity who, White House insiders happily explained, was willing to supply the questions beforehand. Indeed, the plan was to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions.
posted by pjenks at 5:46 AM on January 4 [13 favorites]


Donald Trump's small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country's future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.

At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.

Happy first anniversary of the Trump administration.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:55 AM on January 4 [18 favorites]


For all the bluster from the White House and the criticism of Wolff from his press peers, all these provocative quotes from Fire and Fury don't particularly differ from the steady stream of anonymous/background leaks that have issued from the Trump administration and its hangers-on and enablers since Day 1. For example, the New Republic collected dozens of them for their Oral History of the Trump Administration As Told Through Anonymous Quotes from White House and Republican Officials. Wolff's simply dispensed with the convention in D.C. journalism that anonymous attribution is the exchange currency for access and publicity, which is why people in the administration and chattering classes alike are freaking out.

While Wolff's veracity remains up for debate—his career is one long caveat lector, although, as mentioned upthread, he claims he has tapes—the reason why the tales he tells sound so believable is because we've been hearing this sort of thing for the past year. What's different this time is that names are attached.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:55 AM on January 4 [50 favorites]


The document on W's draft evasion was also believable, we have every reason to think he evaded the draft. But Dan Rather reported on a forged document, ruined his own career, and sunk the story.
posted by idiopath at 6:15 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Michael Wolff has tapes to back up quotes in his incendiary book — dozens of hours of them.

I agree with scaryblackdeath above - the ban on personal cell phones is to prevent people taping conversations.

If ONLY there were some way to record audio without using a phone. Like, say, the quick google I just did that turned up $100 voice recorders that will record 15 hours of audio and is the size of a USB stick.
posted by winna at 6:16 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


Here come the dispensary raids in California:

AP NewsBreak: US to end policy that let legal pot flourish
The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. Sessions is rescinding that memo...
Sessions’ policy will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts, the people familiar with the decision said.

posted by T.D. Strange at 6:17 AM on January 4 [9 favorites]


How is this anything other than a colossal “fuck you” to the entire state of California?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:28 AM on January 4 [10 favorites]


I'll panic about dispensary raids when I actually see them happen. As it is with California threatening an end run around the new tax code, will the Feds want to swoop in and antagonize a state with an economy larger than most countries?

As it is, California is softening a lot of the "tough on crime" rhetoric, and one of its new laws is that it's a sanctuary state.

I hope we in Cali continue to thumb our noses.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:28 AM on January 4 [35 favorites]


Breaking, from Washington Post: Trump lawyers warn "Fire and Fury" author, publisher to stop release of book, saying its "false statements" are being investigated

Just a few new opening paragraphs on the existing story, but one more excuse for popcorn.
posted by martin q blank at 6:39 AM on January 4 [9 favorites]


> No, I said. I'd like to just watch and write a book. "A book?" he responded, losing interest.

I keep reading this bit over and over again as though it were a gif.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:42 AM on January 4 [84 favorites]


I'd love to see the courts address the question of whether the President of the United States can enforce a non-disparagement agreement with a former WH staff member during his term.

It'd be an interesting question. Offhand, I'm seeing an argument which would the flip side of Presidential Immunity. I am certainly no expert on that, but if you can't drag the President into court on the basis that he's too busy running the country, then he's necessarily too busy running the country to drag citizens into court in his personal capacity, either.

You could also argue that as the senior public official in the land, there's a legit public interest in disclosure that would override and invalidate NDA interest, other than national security details. And an argument to be made along freedom of information grounds. And other stuff. I hate it that this stuff moves before I can get in my first cup of coffee...
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:46 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Fuck, they're rescinding the Cole memo? They don't need to raid anyone for that to be a problem, it may un-bank an already tenuously banked industry.

There will be a need for states or cities to set up semi-public industry banks, it won't happen overnight, and if the administration is serious about this they can try to enjoin it before it happens, pending litigation over banking regulation.

I'm a CA lawyer who's been trying to get into this space over the last year. This will get ugly. Our clients will ignore us and start doing shady shit. The bitcoin mafiyas will profit.

FWIW, the guy who co-wrote (ghostwrote) the Cole memo himself is in the industry now, working on banking etc. It will be interesting to see if he has anything to say today.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:53 AM on January 4 [29 favorites]


Even if everything in the book and the contents of the Hollywood Reporter article are true (and I'm skeptical) I'm not sure why it does/should matter.

Taking the HR article, it doesn't describe anything we don't know about President Trump's administration: it's fueled by infighting, disorganized, and decisions infrequently have anything to do with Trump himself. Like someone commented up above, these stories all feels true because they're all stories we've heard before but now we have names attached.

So ... what? Does that make a difference? Is there any hope that a single person who voted for Trump be swayed by this? Is it preaching to the choir? Will it make any difference in elections in '18 or '20? I can already hear people in the political circles I volunteer in starting to quote these passages at self-evidence of the danger Trump represents. My fear is that it will be exhibit A for Democrats who want to run "anti-Trump campaigns" and not "Democrats have actual solutions for jobs and healthcare" campaigns.

Maybe a better way to put it is "What is the responsible reaction to this book?" Ignore it? Take it with a grain of salt? Shout it from the rooftops? I'm probably overly cautious, I just don't want "but Wolff has tapes!" to be an excuse for why any Democrat anywhere doesn't have to run on their own platform and not the insanity of the sitting President and the complicit congressman who allow him to continue to sit there.
posted by Tevin at 6:54 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


I hope we in Cali continue to thumb our noses.

California is not a monolith, and the US Attorney is not a state official.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:57 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


And there's plenty of (certainly intentionally highlighted) 25th amendment fodder:
The problem I have with the 25th amendment route, is that once used, is likely to be weaponized. It's not going to be that hard for either side to find "experts" that will declare someone mentally unsound. Without Trump literally drooling and shitting himself in public, I'd far rather see Meuller's team take him down.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:57 AM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Times like this it's good to remember trump was speaking the truth about his hypothetical gun murder of someone on 5th Avenue. It seems he's about due for another NYC visit, even.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:59 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Breaking, from Washington Post: Trump lawyers warn "Fire and Fury" author, publisher to stop release of book, saying its "false statements" are being investigated


Who would most LOVE a big court case where details of the book are tested for truth? Who would most NOT want this to happen?
posted by Devonian at 6:59 AM on January 4 [20 favorites]


Just for clarity's sake, the FinCEN guidance for financial institutions regarding cannabis is based on the Cole Memo.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:01 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


> I'd far rather see Meuller's team take him down.

Me too. The 25th Amendment would also give Republicans an out; "We didn't know he was mentally ill! Why are you stigmatizing mental illness?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:02 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


Where do I contribute to a defense fund that could have Don, Jr, Melania, Ivanka, and Jared all deposed in a civil case?
posted by cmfletcher at 7:03 AM on January 4


The problem I have with the 25th amendment route, is that once used, is likely to be weaponized.

It can only be implemented by the cabinet appointed by the president. Which means exclusively or almost exclusively members of his/her own party and friends/supporters. How can that be weaponized for partisan purposes? If it gets used, it means it really needed to be used. I'm all fucking for it.
posted by chris24 at 7:03 AM on January 4 [31 favorites]


> And there's plenty of (certainly intentionally highlighted) 25th amendment fodder:

God as my witness if the 25th Amendment is used to remove President Trump from the White While Republicans have majority control of both the House and Senate I will live stream myself eating an entire jar of Marmite. I can make this promise because President Trump will never be removed from office via the 25th Amendment while Republicans enjoy majority control of the House and Senate.
posted by Tevin at 7:04 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


> I'd far rather see Meuller's team take him down.

Me too. The 25th Amendment would also give Republicans an out; "We didn't know he was mentally ill! Why are you stigmatizing mental illness?"


We have a man who is destroying the institutions of democracy in this country, threatening to destroy the world with nuclear fire, and accelerating the demise of our climate. Not that I think it'll happen, but if it takes the 25th amendment to get him out sooner rather than later, please and thank you. The 25 million people in Seoul, 7 billion on the planet, million of Muslims and POC may not have time to wait for the possibility of Mueller getting enough to make an R congress act.
posted by chris24 at 7:09 AM on January 4 [16 favorites]




Why is Sessions announcing interim US Attorneys rather than actual nominees?

My guess: interim US Attorneys are hobbled by their status and more dependent on the administration for their authority and position not having been formally approved. The decisions all get made in DC/the WH and anybody unhappy about it is easy to drop.
posted by notyou at 7:11 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Trump needs to be impeached, because he is a criminal. He may or may not be a senile criminal, I don't care.

I've ordered Fire and Fury — this year I get a huge discount on books, so I have nothing to lose, and I have a feeling it will be good for my mental health. Since I am not in the US, I'll probably get it next week with no legal issues.
posted by mumimor at 7:13 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Attention Important Democratic Party People.

Do you want to retake the house and senate?

Because getting the feds out of states' marijuana industry is how you retake the house and senate.
posted by mikelieman at 7:17 AM on January 4 [41 favorites]


how you retake the house and senate.

Which states with legal marijuana are not already represented by Democrats?
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:25 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Which states with legal marijuana are not already represented by Democrats?

Nevada, Colorado, and Maine.
posted by Talez at 7:28 AM on January 4 [51 favorites]


Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he'd repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes.

Not sure a close friend confirming on the record that Trump does repeat things a lot with an obviously bullshit reason for it is the winning defense they think it is.

@PhilipRucker
"Donald Trump likes to repeat things for effect," @ChrisRuddyNMX tells @HallieJackson of Trump telling the same stories in the span of minutes. Ruddy says he has no concerns about Trump's mental fitness.
posted by chris24 at 7:29 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Which states with legal marijuana are not already represented by Democrats?

Nevada, Colorado, and Maine.


Don’t forget Florida. The newly passed medical marijuana legislation has been so popular with the elderly that dispensaries aren’t able to keep up with demand.
posted by photoslob at 7:30 AM on January 4 [28 favorites]


colorado, for one. cory gardner is not pleased.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:30 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Which states with legal marijuana are not already represented by Democrats?

Alaska
Colorado
Arizona
Arkansas
Florida
Georgia
Louisiana
and many others.

Most states have made cannabis legal for medical purposes.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:31 AM on January 4 [28 favorites]


Which states with legal marijuana are not already represented by Democrats?

Arkansas for one. Medical marijuana passed as a ballot issue in 2016. I'm not sure how the Cole memo affects medical marijuana, but I think it definitely has the potential to be a wedge issue in red states I think.
posted by sporkwort at 7:31 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Plus any Red pols in Blue states with legal weed should be forced to buck Sessions/Trump on the issue. Wedge wedge wedge.
posted by notyou at 7:31 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Re: marijuana, just go to govtrack and find the states. Colorado is one senator and four House of Representatives who are republican. Oregon has one house seat red also.

We need to flip atleast 24 seats, we shouldn’t overlook any of them.

California has 14 red seats also. Washington 4. Combined that’s 23 seats in the four most popular states for legal marijuana.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:33 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Not only wedge, a great motivator of youth vote turnout in 2018 and 2020.
posted by chris24 at 7:34 AM on January 4 [18 favorites]


If the national Dems don't fold on the pot issue to appear more "law-and-order" friendly in 2018, I'd probably faint on the spot. Yes, that's pessimistic, but they largely still live in the Reagan era when it comes to legalization.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:36 AM on January 4 [8 favorites]


That Cory Gardner tweet thread is fun - "I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation."

States' rights, y'all.
posted by Devonian at 7:38 AM on January 4 [22 favorites]


And don't underestimate the political power of "sin" taxes. Especially as states reduce corporate income taxes to compete against each other and, now with the tax bill, have less political ability to impose personal income taxes; meanwhile, their power to impose sales taxes on remote sellers is still up for debate. Even state pols that are against marijuana are in favor of politically palatable revenue raisers like taxes on cannabis, alcohol, gambling.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:38 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


If the national Dems don't fold on the pot issue to appear more "law-and-order" friendly in 2018, I'd probably faint on the spot. Yes, that's pessimistic, but they largely still live in the Reagan era when it comes to legalization.

64% support legalization, 51% of Rs. It has support equal to gay marriage (and higher among Rs).

Support for marijuana legalization reaches a record high — and even a majority of Republicans back it
posted by chris24 at 7:40 AM on January 4 [20 favorites]


Don’t forget Florida. The newly passed medical marijuana legislation has been so popular with the elderly that dispensaries aren’t able to keep up with demand.

Oh my. Want to turn a red state blue, or at least purple? Give "nice" middle-class white people a taste of the criminal justice system. It might even flip actual Republicans. I have always surmised that many white people get away with political apathy because "bad things don't happen to people like US!"

I do not want bad things, like being swept up in the criminal "justice" system, to happen to anyone. But I think a lot of white, middle-class people feel invulnerable - and if the DEA means what it says and is "do" as well as "threaten," and if otherwise "respectable" middle-class people are swept up in the net, I predict it will energize the Dems even more.

The majority of Americans now support legal weed - the only majority opposition is among those over 70.

I don't think Dems who cave and fold are going to find the support, even among older people, they think they will find.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:42 AM on January 4 [23 favorites]


I've been consistently amazed at how far behind national democrats are on the legalization issue.
posted by octothorpe at 7:50 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]


I do not want bad things, like being swept up in the criminal "justice" system, to happen to anyone. But I think a lot of white, middle-class people feel invulnerable - and if the DEA means what it says and is "do" as well as "threaten," and if otherwise "respectable" middle-class people are swept up in the net, I predict it will energize the Dems even more.

Oh, it most assuredly won't be middle-class white folks targeted by a Sessions DOJ.
posted by jetsetsc at 7:51 AM on January 4 [54 favorites]


I'm not sure how the Cole memo affects medical marijuana, but I think it definitely has the potential to be a wedge issue in red states I think.

It's the same, as far as the banking aspects are concerned. The Cole memo established Federal enforcement priorities regarding how the DOJ etc. would evaluate whatever individual States authorize (medical or retail). It has, up til now, been the guidance for both medical and retail cannabis.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:52 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


But, you see, Maureen Dowd ate a pot-infused candy bar once and
posted by delfin at 7:54 AM on January 4 [13 favorites]



Even if everything in the book and the contents of the Hollywood Reporter article are true (and I'm skeptical) I'm not sure why it does/should matter....Is there any hope that a single person who voted for Trump be swayed by this?


I think a few people at least, are swayed not so much by the allegations, but by Trump's outlandishly spoiled reactions to them. After a while, even people who are predisposed to sympathize with him grow disgusted with his whiny and churlish behavior. And the more that happens, the better for us, as a nation and planet.
posted by xigxag at 7:57 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


zombieflanders: "If the national Dems don't fold on the pot issue to appear more "law-and-order" friendly in 2018, I'd probably faint on the spot. Yes, that's pessimistic, but they largely still live in the Reagan era when it comes to legalization."

Maybe let's not pre-catastrophize.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 AM on January 4 [33 favorites]


BREAKING

Republican David Yancey has won the drawing in the VA HD-94 race.

There will likely be another recount request. Virginia law appears self-contradictory about whether another recount can be requested at this point, though. Any ruling on that (and subsequent recount, if allowed) would likely not be complete prior to the organizational meeting of the House of Delegates on Jan 10, leaving the GOP with a 50-49 majority, and the ability to select a speaker and make committee assignments.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:11 AM on January 4 [19 favorites]


> I think a few people at least, are swayed not so much by the allegations, but by Trump's outlandishly spoiled reactions to them.

Yeah, even a lot of the people attending his rallies before the election who thought he was a combination of Winston Churchill and Alexander The Great were quoted with variations on "I wish he'd tweet less."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:12 AM on January 4


Haven't seen this here yet: Nunes: DOJ Will Turn Over Mueller Probe Documents .

I'm guessing this was the subject of yesterday's meeting between Rosenstein, Ryan and Nunes. Based on Nunes's past behavior, I can only imagine he will now not only be running interference for Trump, but feeding the administration information about the probe, too. What a little shit--I'm still baffled by how Nunes is involved in all this after "stepping down" last year.

The only upside I can see here is that maybe he'll somehow get caught up in the obstruction of justice case.
posted by cudzoo at 8:16 AM on January 4 [8 favorites]


Even if everything in the book and the contents of the Hollywood Reporter article are true (and I'm skeptical) I'm not sure why it does/should matter....Is there any hope that a single person who voted for Trump be swayed by this?

OK, can we please stop with the giving any fucks what Trump voters think. He lost the popular vote by a lot. He would have lost the electoral college to literally any other Democrat. His supporters are a minority of a minority. His most fervent supporters exist in a fever swamp. If they could convince themselves that he would be anything but an existential threat to American democracy, they sure as hell aren't going to be swayed by any of this shit.

The issue here is how the checks and balances of government are used (or not used) to deal with a dangerously incompetent president who is very clearly spiralling into incapacity.
posted by dry white toast at 8:22 AM on January 4 [55 favorites]


Haven't seen this here yet: Nunes: DOJ Will Turn Over Mueller Probe Documents .

I think he was already set to get that from DoJ but the meeting with Rosenstein and Ryan put that off per Maddow last night. I guess we'll see soon if Nunes managed to go around that.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:22 AM on January 4


Nunes said only "After speaking to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein this evening, I believe the House Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will provide the committee with access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested."

According to Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand, the DOJ is declining to comment on Nunes’ claim that he and the department reached an agreement. (Rosenstein at least looked happy coming out of his meeting with Ryan.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:24 AM on January 4


Here's another scary thing happening right now: Fewer family visas approved as Trump toughens vetting of immigrants.

It's almost like this administration has an infinite capacity to harm everything and everyone it touches.
posted by orangutan at 8:27 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


(From the Hollywood Reporter article)
At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.

I would think that alone would be cause for official . . . serious . . . y'know, no foolin' . . uh, real concern.

But then I remember: Republicans.
/sad_foghorn
posted by petebest at 8:29 AM on January 4 [11 favorites]


That Hollywood Reporter last line:
At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.
Maybe they will take him away on the 12th.
And I can only hope that there are list keepers somewhere who note every single slimy fuckwit who has hitched their wagon to this charlatan and reminds the public of it every single time they try to stand for any office, elected or otherwise anytime in the future.
posted by adamvasco at 8:36 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


The New Reformer DAs -- As cities grow more progressive, a new breed of prosecutors are winning office and upending the era of lock-’em-up justice. They may hold the key to resisting Trump’s mania for mass incarceration.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:36 AM on January 4 [21 favorites]


I've been consistently amazed at how far behind national democrats are on the legalization issue.

Don't be. It's all about the money. The beer and liquor industry will spend almost anything to keep weed out of acceptability and they're opportunistic in a way that defies belief. Years ago they got into bed with temperance people to prevent losing a regulation in FL that limited beer sizes to 8, 12, and 40oz sizes... effectively preventing importation of anything bottled in metric measurements.

I'd bet you'll find a lot of lobbying dollars in the pockets of those pols, and the ability of pro-legalization operations to compete with that amount of (legal) cash is limited.
posted by phearlez at 8:38 AM on January 4 [17 favorites]


And there's plenty of (certainly intentionally highlighted) 25th amendment fodder:

I'd be very surprised if they 25th him, for the simple reason that if they do he goes back home and starts shit-tweeting about everything and stirring up his pot of embarrassing yahoos. I still think if the Republicans get sick enough of his bullshit to get rid of him, they're going to put him and his immediate circle in prison to shut them up.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:45 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Why is Sessions announcing interim US Attorneys rather than actual nominees?


Maddow hinted that they were specific in first naming the NY US Attys so that if anything happened to Mueller, the evidence, and indeed, the investigation, would fall into the lap of Rudi Guliani's law partner.

(I get Maddow via this rss the next day. Hopefully this will help anyone like me, who only consumes coffee, water, single malt, and podcasts. Added bonus: no ads.)
posted by eclectist at 8:48 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


So the point of DOJ going all 'But her emails' again is just to keep trying until they can jail her for something? Is there a point where she could get a restraining order against t