It's been almost a year of this crap.
January 5, 2018 8:40 AM   Subscribe

There's a lot going on, but most people are talking about the Wolff book.

Ryan Zinke gives marine life the finger and even at least one Republican (Rick Scott) wasn't cool with it.

South Korea and North Korea agreed to talks, and the US and South Korea postponed joint military exercises that raise tensions with North Korea.

No surprise here: Trump gets his news from Fox & Friends.

Discuss amongst yourselves.
posted by Emmy Rae (2277 comments total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
 
So, his lawyers have threatened a lawsuit to stop the book. Does this have any merit? Is it actually a thing? I can't tell, because the no-longer-reliable mainstream media is all OMG THIS COULD BE THE END OF FREE SPEECH!! Sigh.

Oh, and: It has been _0_ days since the last Trump disaster.
posted by Melismata at 8:44 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


This feels... and I don't want to be presumptuous, because we continue to be in uncharted territory here -- this feels like the beginning of the end of the administration.

It's like the end of a seizure, where muscles have been randomly contracting and then suddenly the body comes back together and there's a coordinated sense of "we won't let this go on any further".

I hope.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:47 AM on January 5 [66 favorites]


So, his lawyers have threatened a lawsuit to stop the book. Does this have any merit? Is it actually a thing?

No. This is not a thing. If it was a thing, Trump would have to submit to discovery and being deposed by lawyers and that's not happening. It's an empty threat.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:47 AM on January 5 [133 favorites]


So, his lawyers have threatened a lawsuit to stop the book. Does this have any merit? Is it actually a thing?

Trump's M.O for pretty much his entire career has been to threaten lawsuits at the drop of a hat for any reason whatsoever. It's largely the bluster of a bully.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:47 AM on January 5 [88 favorites]


So, his lawyers have threatened a lawsuit to stop the book.

If only there was a way to quickly disseminate information far and wide. Some sort of distributed network or something.
posted by diogenes at 8:47 AM on January 5 [51 favorites]


There is almost no chance that they will sue over the book. It would open trump up to discovery, which is the very last thing he wants.

On top of that, courts would have to rule on 1st amendment issues regarding the president attempting to silence a critic, another thing there's no way trump or his laywers want to deal with.
posted by mrgoat at 8:49 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


And all that aside, he's got D list lawyers because all of the good law firms noped out.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:51 AM on January 5 [48 favorites]


Watching the Amazon reviews come in is fun.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:51 AM on January 5 [42 favorites]


Trump gets his news from Fox & Friends.

These tweets remind me of school assignments where we were told to rewrite a paragraph in our own words.
posted by AFABulous at 8:51 AM on January 5 [30 favorites]


>This feels... and I don't want to be presumptuous, because we continue to be in uncharted territory here -- this feels like the beginning of the end of the administration.

I'll say it for as long as it's relevant but if I see so much as even a single insinuation toward "surely, this" I will ground this thread for a week and that means no screen time and no desserts and I'm dead serious.
posted by Tevin at 8:52 AM on January 5 [160 favorites]


Hope the Monday 5pm Fake News Announcement still happens!
posted by armacy at 8:53 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


Tevin, you're too late.
posted by AFABulous at 8:53 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


[Hello! New US politics catch-all thread means new reminder that we're continuing to try to throttle back the chattiness and reset expectations about how these go, with a focus on keeping things more link/information dense and not breakneck paced. That's been going pretty well so far thanks to both collective effort from the community and a lot of active mod intervention; here's me reminding you to please keep it up, or if this is news to you go ahead and give that MetaTalk post I've linked here a read. Thank you!]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:54 AM on January 5 [55 favorites]


This feels... and I don't want to be presumptuous, because we continue to be in uncharted territory here -- this feels like the beginning of the end of the administration.
It's like the end of a seizure, where muscles have been randomly contracting and then suddenly the body comes back together and there's a coordinated sense of "we won't let this go on any further".
I hope.


You and me both, but I've thought this was the end of this administration for months now, and the Republicans that support him seem to always surprise me with the amount of shit they have to eat, on a daily basis, just to remain in control, with control being a very undefined thing at this time.

I hope, and I pray, that, eventually that 100th monkey will tip the scales, on both side of the aisle, and in the nation, back toward kindness, common decency, bipartisanship and doing the work for the people, as opposed to the corporations.
It's difficult.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:54 AM on January 5 [13 favorites]


This feels... and I don't want to be presumptuous, because we continue to be in uncharted territory here -- this feels like the beginning of the end of the administration.

That's a lot of words to basically say "Surely this...", which... I'm not holding my breath. Trump's unhinged tweets are nothing new. Reports of those around Trump talking about how unhinged/childish he is are nothing new. This isn't anything we haven't seen before, even in scope or degree. The book will be talked about a lot over the weekend, one or two anecdotes will be denied or disproven and the Trumperati will claim that as evidence the whole thing is FAKE NEWS!! And the circus will continue.

on preview, sorry Tevin!
posted by Roommate at 8:55 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


>>So, his lawyers have threatened a lawsuit to stop the book. Does this have any merit? Is it actually a thing?

No. This is not a thing.

Plus, also it's out. Via the MeFi amazon link here

(can a mod confirm that's the right link? I used the fund mefi link to amazon then did a search)
posted by petebest at 8:55 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


And yet, the aforementioned-not-reliable media is suggesting that people will cave, because they always do (he sues people, including media companies, who have to settle since they can't afford a drawn-out lawsuit). Here's hoping cooler heads prevail, which happens some of the time.
posted by Melismata at 8:55 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


From Amazon reader W. Christian:

Every once in a great while a book comes along which puts to word such profound and great truths that the whole world cannot help but stop and take notice. The Bible, the Tao Te Ching, Plato’s Republic, Newton’s Principia, Darwin’s Origin of Species and now Wolff’s Fire and Fury, an instant classic concerning the origin of a curious species of orange humanoid currently infesting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
posted by angrycat at 8:55 AM on January 5 [24 favorites]


If you haven't read the excerpt in NYMag, I highly recommend it. Great stuff.

Plus, after the threat, Henry Holt and Co released the book 4 days early. Hilarious. One DC bookstore sold out in 20 minutes. DJT's law suit threat was the best free publicity for the book Wolff could have asked for.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:57 AM on January 5 [64 favorites]


There's a lot going on, but most people are talking about the Wolff book.

This is why, people, this is why. Keep hoi polloi talking about something else, something exciting and damning and flatulent and amidst all the hot takes and covering fire you can get on with the other, much more serious stuff.
posted by chavenet at 8:58 AM on January 5 [22 favorites]


There is a sense I'm getting that, now that the tax bill is passed, the Republican establishment is a little more willing to throw Trump under the bus. Whether this means he's eventually frog-marched out following an impeachment, or just left to moulder until the Midterms is up in the air.

Until then, the only thing that'll really break this administration is, I hope, a massive heart attack and/or stroke that incapacitates Trump and forces him to abdicate.

Either way, if we end up with Pence in charge, I can't see any substantial changes in Republican policymaking. We just need to make it one more year and hopefully flip Congress, if not the House, too, to keep him in some form of check until 2020.
posted by SansPoint at 9:00 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


The Wolff book seems like it would cover much of the same ground all these megathreads have already covered, being both redundant, and a shorter read.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:01 AM on January 5 [16 favorites]


Also, a link to the current outrage/venting thread in Metatalk .
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:02 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


The Wolff book seems like it would cover much of the same ground all these megathreads have already covered.

I dunno man, I had no idea DJT was paranoid of being poisoned and that's why he always eats McD's and that he won't let anyone else touch his sheets and he's like the first president to demand a lock on his bedroom door.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:04 AM on January 5 [35 favorites]


One piece that should definitely carry over from the previous thread (linked last night by zachlipton) is Michael Schmidt's blockbuster NYTimes story:
Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump’s Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation
Whose key details, e.g.,
  • Trump sent WH Counsel Don McGahn II to pressure Sessions not to recuse himself.
  • After Sessions did announce his recusal, Trump blew up at staff, saying "he needed his attorney general to protect him" as RFK and Eric Holder had done for Kennedy and Obama, and demanded "Where's my Roy Cohn?"
  • Sessions sought dirt on Comey from members of Congress days before his firing and "wanted one negative article a day in the news media about Mr. Comey".
  • The initial draft of Comey's firing letter, written by Stephen Miller, started with a sentence saying that the "Russia investigation had been 'fabricated and politically motivated.'"
  • Rosenstein took a copy of said letter with him when he went off to draft the firing memo.
have since been confirmed by other outlets (e.g., WaPost).
posted by pjenks at 9:05 AM on January 5 [71 favorites]


Keep hoi polloi talking about something else, something exciting and damning and flatulent and amidst all the hot takes and covering fire you can get on with the other, much more serious stuff

Nothing personal but I'm tired of these "only dupes worry get distracted by this stuff from the actually important stuff" takes. One, I am capable of paying attention to multiple things simultaneously. Two, it is actually important that the president is nuts and treated like a child by his staff. Three, when it comes to Trump's downfall, I don't give a fuck whether it's this stuff that makes it happen or stuff you think is actually important, and this stuff may actually stick.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:06 AM on January 5 [276 favorites]


this feels like the beginning of the end of the administration.

I doubt it, but "exeunt, pursued by a Wolff" would be a great epitaph.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:08 AM on January 5 [201 favorites]


Just when you think they're on the ropes they start a war.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


@pixelatedboat: Wow, this extract from Wolff’s book is a shocking insight into Trump’s mind
posted by Going To Maine at 9:09 AM on January 5 [22 favorites]


Nothing personal but I'm tired of these "only dupes worry get distracted by this stuff from the actually important stuff" takes.

Also, the linked article is not about the hoi polloi but our allies and world leaders who are concerned about 45's fitness for office and reliability.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:10 AM on January 5 [13 favorites]


There is a sense I'm getting that, now that the tax bill is passed, the Republican establishment is a little more willing to throw Trump under the bus. Whether this means he's eventually frog-marched out following an impeachment, or just left to moulder until the Midterms is up in the air.

We're just not there yet, sorry. They're about to get their second wind. FBI launches new Clinton Foundation investigation.
posted by scalefree at 9:10 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


There is a sense I'm getting that, now that the tax bill is passed, the Republican establishment is a little more willing to throw Trump under the bus.

Wow, I really don't think that's the case - his allies are instead doubling down. This morning, Newsweek and Times reporters are making the rounds to talk about how GOP members are helping to reframe the Mueller investigation by trying to implicate the FBI and DOJ for what they are suggesting is politically-motivated targeting of the Trump administration. This set of moves is quite Hitlerian, and seems to be gaining, not losing, traction among the GOP and right-wing apologists. I am very nervous about it.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on January 5 [120 favorites]


this is the end

Give it 8-9 more months, if Pense the massive grrrarr will be tempered and the mid-term sweep will be minimized.
posted by sammyo at 9:13 AM on January 5


Having spent the past three months monitoring Trump’s Twitter feed professionally
You might think this is a nightmare job, but at least Gertz is getting paid for it. Pity the rest of us who've spent months monitoring the Tweeter in Chief as rank amateurs.
posted by drlith at 9:18 AM on January 5 [16 favorites]


Shortly after the election, his friend Ailes told him, with some urgency, "You've got to get right on Russia”. Even exiled from Fox News, he still maintained a fabled intelligence network. “You need to take this seriously, Donald."

“Jared has this," said a happy Trump. “It’s all worked out.” (Fire and Fury, page 23)
EVERYBODY KNEW.
posted by petebest at 9:18 AM on January 5 [95 favorites]


Yesterday afternoon, the Wolff book was all over the foxnews.com main page. This morning, you have to scroll way down to see one little link. I'd love to know what went into those editorial decisions.
posted by gurple at 9:19 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Stolen from... somewhere, and now I can't track down the original source because the internet:

In case you were wondering how shitty a businessman Trump is, he tried to bluster his way into getting Bannon's publisher to pull the book, and instead succeeded in getting them to move the release up by five days.
posted by Mayor West at 9:23 AM on January 5 [53 favorites]


Either way, if we end up with Pence in charge, I can't see any substantial changes in Republican policymaking.

Maybe. It'll be far more organized, at the very least, with much better co-ordination between POTUS and Congress, which could mean more damage done more quickly. Pence is also a Dominionist (if not by name but by action), though, so there's that legislative/executive-order slippery-slope wildcard in-play with a Pence administration.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:25 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


What I've seen of the book, no-one expected him to win, that was a surprise. Melania cried, but 'not with tears of joy'. Almost everyone thinks he's an idiot. He doesn't read things and doesn't listen. He goes to bed at 6:30pm. He eats McDonalds because he fears poison. He apparently doesn't know how terrible a McDonalds diet is.

He's doing a great publicity job for this book though. They should print big THE BOOK TRUMP DOESN'T WANT YOU TO READ!!!! stickers and put them on the dust covers.
posted by adept256 at 9:26 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


This set of moves is quite Hitlerian, and seems to be gaining, not losing, traction among the GOP and right-wing apologists. I am very nervous about it.
posted by Miko at 12:10 PM on January 5 [14 favorites +] [!]


Absurd. As Corey Robin noted, in Hitler's first year he imprisoned tens of thousands of leftists and passed the enabling act. And is the GOP Hitler in this analogy? Because Trump is incompetent and not really leading anything. I'm so confused.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:28 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Just when you think they're on the ropes they start a war.

Still standing by my prediction of mid-April 2018.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:38 AM on January 5


Trump has tried to imprison people who protested at his inauguration (or laughed at Jeff Sessions). GOP state legislatures have tried to make it legal for motorists to run down protesters and for municipalities to charge protesters fines to cover the costs of policing. It's not the enabling acts, but the Senate did refuse to grant hearings to a Supreme Court nominee, in order to keep the power of the Supreme Court in their own party. And faced with a real and immediate threat to the freedom and fairness of our elections, Congress has conspicuously done nothing.

The GOP is not as competent or as popular as the Nazis, but it's not a ridiculous comparison. There are elements within the GOP which are trying to do the same kinds of anti-democratic things the Nazis actually did. So far they mostly have not succeeded, fortunately. Americans have resisted.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:39 AM on January 5 [142 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. The gorilla thing, as noted in the name field of the twitter account linked in Going To Maine's comment, is a joke. Horrifyingly plausible, but a joke.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


The GOP is not as competent or as popular as the Nazis

Least comforting line of the day
posted by chavenet at 9:42 AM on January 5 [79 favorites]


Oh, and in terms of the legislative branch abdicating power to the executive, let us not forget the apparently unlimited Authorization for the Use of Military Force that last three presidents have had. Congress not only doesn't declare wars anymore, it no longer wants to be involved in authorizing military action. That is a serious problem.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:47 AM on January 5 [29 favorites]


Wolff should have put THE BOOK TRUMP REFUSES TO READ! on the cover of Fire & Fury.

That way Trump would assume that it's just like every other book.
posted by delfin at 9:48 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]


(British GQ also has an excerpt from the Wolff book.)
posted by box at 9:52 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


in Hitler's first year

Sigh. It's a dictatorial tactic. Take a walk through the Holocaust Museum and experience the slow drip of increasingly paranoid and restrictive tactics - many of which included undermining support for formerly reliable state agencies and positions.
posted by Miko at 9:55 AM on January 5 [46 favorites]


There's a 3 episode BBC series called The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler on Netflix if you want an easily-digestible overview of why he rose to power and what he did before we got to the part we all know (the camps). He was obviously much, much smarter than Trump, but many of the tactics are the same - othering everyone except "true Germans," promising to make Germany great again, railing against the press and elites. I can't "highly recommend" it because the production values are poor but it was a good insight into why ordinary Germans bought into the rhetoric so quickly, and why people flocked to Trump and still blindly defend him.
posted by AFABulous at 10:02 AM on January 5 [38 favorites]


I don't know about this book. I skipped to the Bannon and Scaramucci chapter, which I think has been excerpted already, and the way it's written makes it seem like a based-on-a-true-story fictionalization. Funny that Bannon lives in a one bedroom apartment above a mega-mcdonalds. I thought he was rich.

Spicer went back to his office, printed out his letter of resignation, and then took it back to the nonplussed president, who said again that he really wanted Spicer to be a part of things. But Spicer, surely the most mocked man in America, understood that he had been handed a gift. His White House days were over.

What the hell was keeping you there Sean? Jumping before you get pushed isn't a gift. You should have resigned on day one after the blatant and easily disproven lie about the inauguration crowd. Perhaps you wouldn't have been 'the most mocked man in America' if you showed a shred of integrity when you were asked to lie repeatedly.

You clumsily denied the holocaust, at the podium in the White House, in your role as spokesman for the President, at a press conference. You stayed around after that. But the Mooch comes along and it's resignation time, what a gift! Who wrote your letter?
posted by adept256 at 10:03 AM on January 5 [23 favorites]


I am waiting for Dump's medical exam by a legitimate doctor. This book makes me even more eager for it. However, I'm also wondering what "crisis" will be drummed up to give him an excuse to skip it.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:05 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


So, his lawyers have threatened a lawsuit to stop the book. Does this have any merit?

As comedy, yes.

April 2018

I’m starting to think the only reason 45 hasn’t already started a war to distract from his constant humiliating failure is that, deep down, he knows he will fail at that too, and the stakes will be even bigger. Wars are hard, and they require work and concentration. It’s possible his NPD-enabled cognitive decline sees the complexity and difficulty of prosecuting a war — so many meetings where he won’t know what’s going on and will have to bluster his way through it, so many stressful decisions to make for which he is completely incompetent — as an existential threat of narcissistic injury.

Or maybe I’m just grasping at straws. But in my more optimistic moments, I see him lurching from one big bombastic announcements of a nothing project or initiative to another, forever looking for the thing that will make this fun again. He won’t find it.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:05 AM on January 5 [21 favorites]


I wonder if his handlers have pointed out that, in case he pushes the Nuclear Button, they will be required to haul him off to a safe bomb shelter... with no TV and no internet.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:07 AM on January 5 [72 favorites]


Kyle Swenson, WaPo: Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire backer of Bannon and Trump, chooses sides
Robert and Rebekah Mercer’s rise as Republican power brokers was unique.

Robert Mercer is a former IBM computer scientist who made billions later in life by applying complex programming techniques to financial trading as the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, Bloomberg reported. Quiet and socially awkward — he once told a friend he preferred the company of cats to people, according to the Wall Street Journal — Mercer has an extreme views on small government and wealth.

“Bob believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make,” a colleague told the New Yorker. “If someone is on welfare they have negative value. If he earns a thousand times more than a schoolteacher, then he’s a thousand times more valuable.”
Emphasis mine. Rebekah is the second of his three daughters.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:09 AM on January 5 [61 favorites]


CNN: Vice President Mike Pence's chief lawyer and domestic policy director are leaving his office at the beginning of the New Year, according to four sources familiar with the staff turnover.

I'm hesitant to hope that even the Dominionist rats are fleeing the sinking hulk, but this point every resignation of an official's lawyer should perk one's ears.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:10 AM on January 5 [34 favorites]


Funny that Bannon lives in a one bedroom apartment above a mega-mcdonalds. I thought he was rich.

Bannon has multiple "homes" according to sources.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:13 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I am waiting for Dump's medical exam by a legitimate doctor.

In my daydreams about it, I'm imagining the doctor brings in an "assistant" who is secretly a trained psychiatrist, and under the guise of making small talk during the exam, asks questions cleverly designed as a cognitive impairment exam.

Because he's clearly convinced enough of his own physical perfection that he'll have no resistance to a regular physical, but for sure he'll never agree to a mental exam due to the mere suggestion that anything could possibly be wrong. There's gotta be a way to sneak one in, though, right?
posted by dnash at 10:13 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]


I’m starting to think the only reason 45 hasn’t already started a war to distract from his constant humiliating failure is that, deep down, he knows he will fail at that too, and the stakes will be even bigger. Wars are hard, and they require work and concentration.

I just wanted to say that this thought is preposterously chilling and I cant entertain it any longer because it posits a scenario where we are currently being saved from annihilation by trumps shred of self awareness (which I can't believe exists).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:18 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


A slight derail from the ongoing Wolff story, but I'm curious to hear some thoughts on ramifications of the withdrawal of aid for Pakistan. As was mentioned in the previous thread Pakistan has now allowing bilateral trading in the Yuan. Here's an article detailing the issue. Countries switching to the Euro for trade has been a supposed issue in the past, for example Iraq moving to the Euro prior to the Gulf War. How does this fit? Will China or Russia just step in to fill these gaps we're creating?
posted by misterpatrick at 10:18 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Bannon has multiple "homes" according to sources.

please. if his phylactery isn't stored there, it's a house, not a home
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:19 AM on January 5 [78 favorites]


Why is a gossip columnist who relishes being hated, and is known to not stick strictly to the facts suddenly the reason Europe doesn't trust the US? What about the abundant reporting on Trumps business history and his administrations incompetence. What about the self evident nuttiness of his public behavior?
posted by Pembquist at 10:20 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


> Lyme Drop:
"Nothing personal but I'm tired of these "only dupes worry get distracted by this stuff from the actually important stuff" takes."

It's what Trump does best, lean into the shitstorm, double down and play it for maximum distraction (the ridiculous threat of a lawsuit being exhibit A). You might be tired of it, because it's definitely tiresome and tiring, but that's how he rolls. And in our post-nuance world, as a communications strategy, it works. Unfortunately.
posted by chavenet at 10:21 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


> There's a lot going on, but most people are talking about the Wolff book.

On Wednesday I put a hold on it at the library the minute I read about it in the news, and I was 11th in line. As of this moment there are 1178 holds, which is Harry Potter/Da Vinci Code/50 Shades territory.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:21 AM on January 5 [52 favorites]


Going To Maine: "@pixelatedboat: Wow, this extract from Wolff’s book is a shocking insight into Trump’s mind"

I love how perfectly that's written. It starts out just plausible enough for you to almost believe it and ends with him talking to Gorillas on the television. I'm waiting for some right-wing commentator to angrily debunk it.
posted by octothorpe at 10:21 AM on January 5 [22 favorites]


Pembquist: I don't see any evidence of Europe holding Trump in high regards before this book was published. I mean, it's amazing that people's faith in Trump can continue to fall from their already historic low.
posted by el io at 10:21 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


I’m starting to think the only reason 45 hasn’t already started a war to distract from his constant humiliating failure is that, deep down, he knows he will fail at that too

While he has the ability to make the order(s) there is staff that needs to execute the order(s).

Remember the video of something leaving the water that looked like a missile off of CA? Or the announcement of 5 nuclear weapons on a plane? And how the discussion here on The Blue pointed out all the steps needed and how anyone along the way could have made things no-go OR so the end-result would be a failure?

Somehow DJT may actually understand that an order doesn't mean execution at his present mental state. But counting on a reason if he's in the poor mental state is a less safe bet than counting on the staff that has to take the actions opting to fail in some way from executing.

(if anyone knows the publishers/people perhaps a way to get the book/book info to people in the military for $0 is in order.)
posted by rough ashlar at 10:24 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


They went from not trusting the US already to openly questioning whether the President is insane or not.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:27 AM on January 5 [24 favorites]


And all that aside, he's got D list lawyers because all of the good law firms noped out.


Trump's lawyers are literally Matt Groening characters.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:27 AM on January 5 [64 favorites]


I can't stop thinking about the McDonald's thing.
First of all, how does it work in practice? Does he call a delivery service and they just bring it to the front door of the WH? Does he send a secret service agent? One of his sons?

Secondly, how does eating McDonald's reduce the chances of being poisoned? I thought there's a kitchen in the WH with a great chef available 24/7, who has surely been vetted thoroughly and all sorts of protocols in place to avoid poisoning. He could just order great burgers from there.
With McD's on the other hand, there's so much less control over the food and more possibility to poison it on the way from the restaurant.
posted by sour cream at 10:28 AM on January 5 [15 favorites]


The Card Cheat: At the L.A. Public Library, there is already a waiting list of 584 people for 20 copies of the e-book.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:28 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Bannon is enormously wealthy from Seinfeld sitcom revenue alone. Look it up.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:29 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Why is a gossip columnist who relishes being hated, and is known to not stick strictly to the facts suddenly the reason Europe doesn't trust the US? What about the abundant reporting on Trumps business history and his administrations incompetence. What about the self evident nuttiness of his public behavior?

It’s not that they’re suddenly convinced, it’s just suddenly opportune to say out loud in public.

“Bob believes that human beings have no inherent value other than how much money they make,” a colleague told the New Yorker.

Which brings to mind that Dorothy Parker quote, “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:30 AM on January 5 [117 favorites]


@ZoeTillman: Just in: Sens. Grassley and Graham are referring Christopher Steele to DOJ "for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, for statements the Committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier."

Ahhhhhh fuck.
posted by zachlipton at 10:32 AM on January 5 [27 favorites]


Somehow DJT may actually understand that an order doesn't mean execution at his present mental state.

Very early on he showed us that he doesn't know the difference between signing an executive order and signing a law. He seemed pretty surprised when the judges knocked them back.

Obama signed an executive order to close Gitmo. See how well that worked.
posted by adept256 at 10:33 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Trump's lawyers are literally Matt Groening characters.

Work on contigency? No! Money down.
posted by drezdn at 10:33 AM on January 5 [50 favorites]


I thought there's a kitchen in the WH with a great chef available 24/7, who has surely been vetted thoroughly and all sorts of protocols in place to avoid poisoning. He could just order great burgers from there.

According to Politico he told them to replicate McDonald's burgers and they couldn't get the final product shitty enough for his liking.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:35 AM on January 5 [36 favorites]


I'm no longer impressed/moved by impeachment porn, of which Wolff's book is a distinct subgenre. "Look everyone, this administration's going down in flames!!" No doubt the right relished similar fever dreams about Obama.
Check Fox News to verify whether the administration is really in trouble: as long as their top headline continues to be about Clinton/Comey corruption (seriously, that's today's and yesterday's and the day before that), this administration is going nowhere.
posted by simra at 10:37 AM on January 5 [30 favorites]


Just in: Sens. Grassley and Graham are referring Christopher Steele to DOJ "for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001

"knowingly and willfully . . . make any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation" -- really, this admin probably has violated 1001 more than 1001 times.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:39 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Boy that was a weirdly timed discussion:

Trump's no Hitler look at the people he put in prison his first year of power

Senate GOP: Yeah let's put the people who are important to the Russian investigation in prison
posted by angrycat at 10:40 AM on January 5 [50 favorites]


Sens. Grassley and Graham are referring Christopher Steele to DOJ

Graham and Grassley are active traitors, misusing their political power to suppress investigations into the subversion and destruction of our democracy. Do not remember them for their faint Trump complaints last year. Remember them for this. Graham's memory and legacy in particular must never be rehabilitated.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:40 AM on January 5 [98 favorites]


And here's the Times story on that, Republican Senators Recommend Charges Against Author of Trump Dossier
More than a year after Republican leaders promised to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election, two influential Republicans on Friday made the first known congressional criminal referral in connection with the meddling — against one of the people who sought to expose it.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a senior committee member, told the Justice Department they had reason to believe that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, lied to federal authorities about his contacts with reporters regarding information in the dossier, and they urged the department to investigate. The committee is running one of three congressional investigations into Russian election meddling, and its inquiry has come to focus, in part, on Mr. Steele’s explosive dossier that purported to detail Russia’s interference and the Trump campaign’s complicity.

The decision by Mr. Grassley and Mr. Graham to single out the former intelligence officer behind the dossier — and not anyone who may have taken part in the Russian interference — was certain to infuriate Democrats and raise the stakes in the growing partisan battle over the investigations into Mr. Trump, his campaign team and Russia.
This country was attacked by Russia, and there is seemingly nothing that the Republicans in Congress won't do to cover it up. Do Grassley and Graham even fully know what they're covering up? I am also terrified this will shortly lead to the investigation of journalists and their sources.

Also, Trump is headed to Camp David this weekend for "small-group discussion of 2018 legislative priorities and the successful passage of tax cuts and reform" (they're going to discuss what they already did, odd?). Take a look at the list of invitees. Notable absences include: Jeff Sessions, Jared and Ivanka.
posted by zachlipton at 10:41 AM on January 5 [60 favorites]


18 U.S.C. § 1001, for your reading pleasure. In short, it's about making false statements.

More trying to make Steele out to be a liar, which might stick, and take the rest of the truths out with him. Which was a Russian plan, salting truths with fake pieces, so it's possible to be used against Trump, but with a safety release to also save Trump.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:41 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


I've given up assuming anything will lead to his early termination from office. All of this is just seems like a lurid circus act, though the book is probably true. How will it matter at all?
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:42 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Nixon: *tapes incriminating conversations in the Oval Office*

Trump White House: "Good thing we're not as stupid as Nixon!"

Trump White House: *let's outside reporter record literally everything happening in the West Wing*

Trump White House: "We are much, much stupider than Nixon"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:44 AM on January 5 [31 favorites]


No doubt the right relished similar fever dreams about Obama.

This is like the weird mirror-universe version of both-siderism. The analogy has a goatee, that’s how you can spot it.

I mean, the key difference is that Trump actually is a deranged, delusional, dumbass dictator with delusions of competence while Obama wasn’t, in point of fact, the Literal Hitler he was claimed to be.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:44 AM on January 5 [41 favorites]


Whatever happened over the holiday break, it looks like GOP leadership is now all-in on defending Trump/Russia and doing so via undermining the Steele Dossier (Grassley and Graham referring Steele zachlipton notes above; Ryan previously supporting Nunes' demand for documents from the DOJ and FBI relating to the FBI's handling of the Dossier).

Possibly next? They open an actual Congressional investigation into the HR Clinton campaign's involvement with Steele, Fusion, and the Dossier.
posted by notyou at 10:44 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Graham’s endorsement of this bullshit against Steele as about all I need to disbelieve Graham and other “establishment” Republicans who say that firing Mueller is a red line. They will keep covering for trump regardless.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 AM on January 5 [66 favorites]


Re: Bannon & the Seinfeld fortune, I don't know about that. I've been going through my 30-inch pile of unread New Yorkers (thank God I finally got past October/November 2016) and in the May 1 issue there's this great Connie Bruck article on Bannon .

How Hollywood Remembers Steve Bannon
He says that, before he became a senior adviser to the President, he was a successful player in the film industry. But what did he actually do?

It's a super interesting article but in there they talk about the Seinfeld thing, and they cast a lot of doubt on what the actual story is.
Last November, when Bannon was named Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist, many articles highlighted an extraordinary fact about his Hollywood career: that he had negotiated a profit participation in “Seinfeld” in 1993, two years before the show went into syndication. Forbes reported that, if Bannon had a one-per-cent share in the profits, “he would have made about $32.6 million since 1998,” and went on to say that “Bannon’s steady ‘Seinfeld’ income” was supporting his career as a conservative propagandist.
[...]
After Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner, in late 1995, Turner’s Castle Rock came under the Warner Bros. umbrella. Warner Bros. started sending out all “Seinfeld” profit-participation statements, including Westinghouse’s, which goes to CBS. The Castle Rock and the Westinghouse records from the early months of syndication are not readily available. It is possible that Bannon’s deal was capped and paid out at that time. But, since then, neither CBS nor Castle Rock nor Warner Bros. has records of payments to Bannon, if those records are as they were described to me.
The article also describes a lot of unsuccessful ventures - definitely worth reading. If anyone's under the impression that Bannon is some kind of insane evil genius, you may reconsider after it.
posted by cybertaur1 at 10:46 AM on January 5 [23 favorites]


18 U.S.C. § 1001, for your reading pleasure. In short, it's about making false statements.

This very fancy and stern denial of the pee tape. Because it hasn't materialized, that's what they're hanging this on.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:47 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


The article also describes a lot of unsuccessful ventures - definitely worth reading. If anyone's under the impression that Bannon is some kind of insane evil genius, you may reconsider after it.

Bannon's genius is to keep venturing.
posted by notyou at 10:48 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Plus, after the threat, Henry Holt and Co released the book 4 days early. Hilarious. One DC bookstore sold out in 20 minutes. DJT's law suit threat was the best free publicity for the book Wolff could have asked for.

It is possible that by 2020, the Streisand Effect will be renamed.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:49 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


They will keep covering for trump regardless.

They'll keep covering for Trump as long as they think it's in their best interests. They'll drop him the moment they think that is to their advantage. There is no love for Trump in DC, there is only self-serving tactical stances that may change at any moment.

That being said, they've 'invested' so much in him, they've hitched their horses to him, so to attack him is to make their previous defense of him look awful.

Ironically Trump values loyalty above all, and he has virtually none by anyone.
posted by el io at 10:50 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Also from that same article, describing his divorce:
In April, 1997, he submitted an “income and expense declaration,” indicating that his annual salary was roughly five hundred thousand dollars, and that his total assets were around $1.1 million. Any profit participations from “Seinfeld” should have shown up at that time. Either they were not substantial or Bannon failed to disclose them in a sworn statement.
posted by cybertaur1 at 10:50 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


This very fancy and stern denial of the pee tape. Because it hasn't materialized, that's what they're hanging this on.

If they are hanging these charges on the failure of the pee tape to be made public, isn't that basically ensuring that it will be released at some point soon? I mean, these idiots
posted by Existential Dread at 10:52 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Fire and Fury is the #1 book on Amazon--if you buy the print book today, you can expect to receive it in two to four weeks. It's on back-order at Target.

It's sold out at nine out of ten DC-area Barnes and Nobleses. It's sold out at all but two of the stores within fifty miles of NYC. If you're shopping in downtown LA, you'll need to go as far as Burbank or Fullerton. In Arkansas, where I live? I'd need to go to Texas.

The current #1 on the NYT nonfiction list is Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Mark it now--#1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list is Fire and Fury's destiny.
posted by box at 10:53 AM on January 5 [18 favorites]


I didn't want to wait for the physical book, so I ordered the Kindle version sent directly to my iPad. I cannot WAIT to read it tonight.
posted by cooker girl at 10:55 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


If they are hanging these charges on the failure of the pee tape to be made public, isn't that basically ensuring that it will be released at some point soon? I mean, these idiots

Exactly yes. That's what I was saying not saying.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:55 AM on January 5


Of course we won't see Trump leaving office early, but the Wolff book does seem to have opened the doors for the media to actually discuss Trump's mental health and the chaos of his White House. That won't get him out of office either, but it may well help us in 2018 and 2020.

The same primate mental fallacy that made a lot of people think there was something "shady" about Clinton will have its effect on Trump and the Republicans. Where there's smoke, says our monkey brain, there's fire! And given that Wolff seems to be about to get very rich and famous off his book, you can bet others will be looking to cash in too. I have no doubt there will be future Trump tell all books. About his Presidency, sure, but also about his past as a "businessman".

Barring illness or accident, Trump won't leave office until Jan 21, 2021. But all this will make it vastly easier to get him out in 2020, and for us to retake at least one house of Congress and put the brakes on the Republican plan to ruin everything.

So yay Wolff, even if he is a lying scumbag, he opened the gates.
posted by sotonohito at 10:55 AM on January 5 [25 favorites]


Whatever happened over the holiday break, it looks like GOP leadership is now all-in on defending Trump/Russia and doing so via undermining the Steele Dossier

Wild speculation -- Mueller is finding a not insignificant amount of the money spent supporting right-wing candidates is also linked to Russian money laundering.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:55 AM on January 5 [90 favorites]


Bannon's genius is to keep venturing.

Bannon's genius is to keep Rusty Venture-ing.

(Case in point: Bannon's involvement with Biosphere 2 is basically a real life Venture Bros. episode.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:56 AM on January 5 [31 favorites]


Mark it now--#1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list is Fire and Fury's destiny.

As a side effect, the scarcity is probably going to drive sales of kindles.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:56 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


They went from not trusting the US already to openly questioning whether the President is insane or not.

"Don't you think She He looks tired?"
posted by Chrischris at 10:57 AM on January 5 [30 favorites]


Are you feeling that (righteous) fury over the GOP (looking at you, Grassley and co.) capitulating to and covering for these traitorous losers? Good. You should be. Now let’s channel that into an electoral tsunami this year.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:57 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]


This very fancy and stern denial of the pee tape. Because it hasn't materialized, that's what they're hanging this on.

Yeah, no one thought there really was a Rob Ford crack tape, either.

Until there was.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:58 AM on January 5 [72 favorites]


I'm just curious how long his ol' body is gonna hold up getting as angry as he does ever day at every thing. I'm predicting dead by heart attack or stroke before resignation or ousting.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:59 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


Team-R seems intent on completing a reverse-martingale strategy with respect to obstruction of justice. (Of course with privatized gains and socialized losses.)
posted by H. Roark at 10:59 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Mark Warner wants Steve Bannon to testify about claims made in "Fire and Fury" (Alex Ward, Vox)
Sen. Mark Warner (VA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wants former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to speak with federal investigators about Bannon’s recent claim that the president and some of his close advisers may have laundered money.
The Best People, well oiled machine, omertà, etc.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:59 AM on January 5 [49 favorites]


I think the renewed defense of Trump is an attempt to keep the upcoming primaries orderly. Mollify the base so there aren't many Roy Moores popping up. Between that, and covering up the GOP's direct misdeeds, are the only reasons I can see. They're courting disaster by fully embracing a deeply unpopular and unstable man. Their reasons must make the electoral wipeout seem more palatable by comparison.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:01 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


I think the renewed defense of Trump is an attempt to keep the upcoming primaries orderly.

Why then wouldn't they be agitating to take him down and replace him with the much more stable and aligned Pence?
posted by Miko at 11:02 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I’m starting to think the only reason 45 hasn’t already started a war to distract from his constant humiliating failure is that, deep down, he knows he will fail at that too, and the stakes will be even bigger.

I 100% believe Trump genuinely does not want to be personally involved with anything military or national security-related (including espionage stuff) because he's afraid he'll fuck it up. He won't admit that, not even to himself, but I'm sure it's there. It has been there since the first stories about him getting intel briefings during the campaign.

Much of this is probably from his inability to keep up, which has already been discussed a lot. But it's also evident in his fetish for generals while simultaneously handing off more and more operational decision-making to the Pentagon. I think he looked at his first couple of intel briefings and got scared by both the complexity and the consequences.

It's not entirely a reassuring thing, as I think his tantrums can overcome his fear just like they overcome whatever sensibility he may have once had (years ago). But I really do think that whole arena scares him. (And I also think it's perhaps the grossest aspect of the sexism that propelled him into the White House, because you know who clearly wasn't scared and who was clearly prepared for all that stuff...?)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:03 AM on January 5 [34 favorites]


Okay, lets do a thought exercise and pretend there is a pee tape that the Russians have.

I imagine they would want to hold on to it until they can use it to impose maximum chaos (they don't really need it as blackmail material - they have his collaboration with them during the campaign for that). So that tape will be like throwing a bomb on the administration. But hold-on, Trump has been in chaos since the moment he got in office (and literally started lying about the size of the crowds that greeted him). So they should probably wait for the chaos to subside before releasing it.

They'll never release it.
posted by el io at 11:03 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]


Ruminating further on Graham’s action I realize that he’s cynically playing against a smaller fish in order to keep the bigger fish closer to the corner, while also factoring in GOP donor considerations and it’s not blind trump licking. These assholes all love playing with fire.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:03 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Could be them trying to do something substantial before their Camp David powow on 2018 later today. Gotta come to the meeting with something to show they're trying.
posted by msbutah at 11:03 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Because Republicans still can't handle that Nixon thing. They're too proud to let a president be ousted, even if that is a sound tactical choice.
posted by odinsdream at 11:04 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


indicating that his annual salary was roughly five hundred thousand dollars, and that his total assets were around $1.1 million. Any profit participations from “Seinfeld” should have shown up at that time. Either they were not substantial or Bannon failed to disclose them in a sworn statement.

Additionally, he either lied or he's a complete idiot. There's no way you can have assets of barely a million dollars on a salary of $500,000 a year unless you're incompetent or an addict of unsustainably epic proportions. I would assume he lied. Not that he might not also be incompetent but it's hard to see how you could be that incompetent and remain alive.
posted by Justinian at 11:04 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Why then wouldn't they be agitating to take him down and replace him with the much more stable and aligned Pence?

Any Republican who suggested it would be primaried out of his seat. The crazies run the party, and they looove 'em some Old Man Trump.
posted by Chrischris at 11:05 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


The reactions to this Wolff book are fascinating. The veracity of the stories doesn’t really matter when Trump only sees it as a challenge to his inflated ego and reacts so poorly.

It’s like Wolff’s taken Trump’s tactics and weaponized them against him. Sure, the details may be off here and there, but he’s getting Trump himself to do all the heavy lifting.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:06 AM on January 5 [44 favorites]


Because Republicans still can't handle that Nixon thing. They're too proud to let a president be ousted, even if that is a sound tactical choice.

i mean, i kind of don't blame them. having the only two presidents removed from office for criminality (within living memory, even) be Republican is … not good for the brand
posted by murphy slaw at 11:08 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


I may never read the book, because the subject matter is too unpleasant and we've already been staring at this gruesume trainwreck of a presidency for a year. But I bought it anyway.
posted by Foosnark at 11:08 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


I'm just curious how long his ol' body is gonna hold up getting as angry as he does ever day at every thing. I'm predicting dead by heart attack or stroke before resignation or ousting.

His just as evil (though perhaps less insane) dad lived about 20 years past T's current age. Do not hold your breath: telomeres are one more institution that will not save us.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:09 AM on January 5 [44 favorites]


wolff sounds like a bit of a dick and i'm not crazy about giving him any money but on the other hand having the book be a Failing New York Times Bestseller for several months running would drive Trump fucking nuts
posted by murphy slaw at 11:10 AM on January 5 [27 favorites]


Whooa @Jessie Balmert, Josh Mandel is OUT in OH-Sen vs Sherrod Brown: "BREAKING: @JoshMandelOhio drops out of U.S. Senate race. "I’m writing today to let you know that I am ending my campaign for US Senate in order to be there for my wife and our three children." #ohsen"
posted by lalex at 11:11 AM on January 5 [42 favorites]


> Any Republican who suggested it would be primaried out of his seat. The crazies run the party, and they looove 'em some Old Man Trump.

I'm taking a small amount of dark pleasure in the knowledge that a lot of shitty old Establishment Republicans lived long enough to see their party dragged down by the dogs they've spent their careers whistling at.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:11 AM on January 5 [61 favorites]


Nice graf from that WaPo article:
A veteran prosecutor, Peter Zeidenberg, said he had never heard of anything like the Grassley-Graham complaint and labeled it “nonsense” designed to detract from ongoing inquiries into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“The FBI doesn’t need any prompting from politicians to prosecute people who have lied to them,” said Zeidenberg, a federal prosecutor for 17 years. While members of Congress make criminal referrals from time to time, they are usually related to independent congressional investigations not to material already known to the FBI. “They should stay in their lane,” Zeidenberg said of the Grassley-Graham effort.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:12 AM on January 5 [86 favorites]


I don't normally do DRM'd ebooks, but I'll be picking this up this evening (and stripping the DRM, converting to epub, and throwing it on my ereader); I probably want hard copy eventually, but I'm happy to wait a few weeks or even a few months for cheap used copies, so I can go through with a highlighter and mark that up.

I wonder if T'ump's advisers have explained why he can't file a libel lawsuit, or that he can but it would mean dragging the last 9 months of history of White House gossip into the public record, and almost certainly involve putting him on the stand.

Defendants don't have to take the stand. Plaintiffs pretty much do. If he wants a legal ruling based on "I never told that guy he could be here," he'll have to say so under oath.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:13 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


I'm #120 in line for the book on our library systems waiting list. There are over 600 people on the list as of this morning, and I am sure the list will grow. I also don't know if I will read much of it...just living through it is rough enough. I hope that it spurs people to action, though.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:13 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


(Bloomberg) -- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has told associates he would be willing to lead the Justice Department, should the position become available, according to a person familiar with the matter. 
The former Oklahoma attorney general has discussed the issue in recent days, amid perennial speculation about the longevity of the Justice Department’s current chief, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said the person who asked not to be named describing internal conversations.

“I am here because I really feel called to it,” Pruitt said at the time. “You do what’s before you, you do the best work you can, you bless the president -- I really serve to bless him and his process and help him form decisions and lead with direction here -- and then you see what opportunities present themselves in the future on how to better the agenda overall.”


 


-ugh-
posted by H. Roark at 11:15 AM on January 5 [35 favorites]


So in the past couple days, we've had:

DOJ re-investigating the Clinton emails
DOJ re-investigating the Clinton Foundation
Congress asking DOJ to investigate Christopher Steele

What they're doing here...it's not subtle.

On a related note, Jack Goldsmith (who should be in prison somewhere for authorizing illegal wiretapping during the Bush Administration, but I digress) writes in Lawfare on the question I keep asking, Why Hasn’t Rod Rosenstein Recused Himself from the Mueller Investigation?. Rosenstein was at the center of the efforts to fire Comey, and whether that consitutued obstruction of justice is a focus of Mueller's investigation. Thanks to Schmidt's reporting, we now know Rosenstein took the original draft of Trump's firing memo and knew he was coming up with a pretext to fire Comey. He is, at best, a material witness, and a co-conspirator at worse.

(As an aside lalex (hi!), Twitter apparently decided that the proper response to Mandel dropping out is, indeed just like yours, "whoa.")
posted by zachlipton at 11:16 AM on January 5 [24 favorites]




*coughs* The book is also, unsurprisingly, making the rounds of the torrents, to add to its substantial sale numbers.

From the Austin library system, I believe we had one hardcover copy list as on backorder this morning and it has 33 holds so far. No ebooks yet.
posted by sciatrix at 11:16 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]


> Whooa @Jessie Balmert, Josh Mandel is OUT in OH-Sen vs Sherrod Brown: "BREAKING: @JoshMandelOhio drops out of U.S. Senate race.

This is so great. He's a terrible rat who nakedly cares only about his own self interest. Hopefully he stays out of Ohio politics forever and ever amen.
posted by Tevin at 11:16 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


His just as evil (though perhaps less insane) dad lived about 20 years past T's current age.

His just-as-evil dad wasn't spending time in his 70s being constantly hounded by people he hated, and by supporters who were constantly telling him "no, you can't do that." He wasn't working himself into a sullen rage on a near-daily basis.

I have no particular hope that the president will expire from health problems, but "go into screaming raging arms-waving literally frothing-mouthed fit on live camera, followed by collapse" is not unlikely.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:19 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


I've given up assuming anything will lead to his early termination from office. All of this is just seems like a lurid circus act, though the book is probably true. How will it matter at all?

It won't. Remember "I could kill someone in the middle of Times Square and get away with it?" It's still in full effect. As long as there's a Republican in Congress, nothing will be done about Trump, no matter how blatantly treasonous his actions may prove to be.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:22 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Additionally, he either lied or he's a complete idiot. There's no way you can have assets of barely a million dollars on a salary of $500,000 a year unless you're incompetent or an addict of unsustainably epic proportions. I would assume he lied. Not that he might not also be incompetent but it's hard to see how you could be that incompetent and remain alive.

Um, have you met 40 years of professional sports? Lottery winners? I am pretty sure that the ability to get a big payday, even on an annual basis, and piss all of it away isn't limited to those two groups.
posted by phearlez at 11:23 AM on January 5 [9 favorites]


I'm just curious how long his ol' body is gonna hold up getting as angry as he does ever day at every thing. I'm predicting dead by heart attack or stroke before resignation or ousting.

My operating theory, based on the number of rage-filled, unhealthy-as-fuck old assholes I have known, is that spitefulness has some kind of preservative properties, because they seem to go on forever when by all rights they should have popped off years ago.

But hey, you never know. He could certainly believably claim to need to resign due to health issues, as a face-saving measure, but I'm not sure he's capable of that.
posted by emjaybee at 11:23 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


*coughs* The book is also, unsurprisingly, making the rounds of the torrents, to add to its substantial sale numbers.

For what it's worth: I'm an author myself, and I can't put out a book without it turning up on torrent sites within six hours of release. Sometimes less. As an indie author, this hurts me a lot more than it hurts Wolff and his publisher, but equating torrents to sales is still incredibly shitty.

Please don't do this.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:25 AM on January 5 [84 favorites]


Re: Josh Mandel; his statement says his wife has suddenly and unexpectedly developed health issues, leading to him dropping out. So it's not like (as far as we know) he's quitting because of a scandal about to break or his poll numbers are in the tank. Still, it does ease the pressure on Sherrod Brown, as the only other Republican is a first -time candidate nobody's ever heard of, and the deadline to declare is Feb 7 with Election day May 8. Very little time for anyone to get a campaign up and running.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:27 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


My operating theory, based on the number of rage-filled, unhealthy-as-fuck old assholes I have known, is that spitefulness has some kind of preservative properties, because they seem to go on forever when by all rights they should have popped off years ago.

So you're saying this past year might actually have benefits for my long-term health?
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:27 AM on January 5 [34 favorites]


This is so great. He's a terrible rat who nakedly cares only about his own self interest. Hopefully he stays out of Ohio politics forever and ever amen.

I'm from Ohio and I actively dislike Mandel, but it sounds like his wife has a serious health issue going on and they've got three fairly young kids. I'm not really comfortable with using the word "great" about things like that. I'll say, instead, that I hope the experience gives him some empathy for the number of Ohioans who're struggling right now.
posted by Sequence at 11:28 AM on January 5 [40 favorites]


I dislike Mandel as much or more than the next person and I'm happy he's out of the race. I'm less happy that his wife seems to be dealing with some shit and I hope he's a better partner to her than he is a human being to the rest of us.
posted by cooker girl at 11:34 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]


If Grassley and Huckleberry are acting in good faith, they should consider that "he didn't say what we WANT the truth to be" is not the same thing as "he lied."

Also, if Grassley and Huckleberry are acting in good faith, I am an obese nun named Frieda.
posted by delfin at 11:36 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


I didn't know Mandel's wife was dealing with an illness. I hope she gets better and, like sequence said, I hope the experience is one that makes Mandel into a more empathetic person.
posted by Tevin at 11:37 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


About the Republicans in Congress : way back in some other mega-thread someone pointed out that the Republicans were also hacked by the Russians, and we have never heard anything about it. The Russians (and/or the trumpists may have all sorts of dirt on them which could well explain the reversal some of them have done over the past year).
posted by mumimor at 11:39 AM on January 5 [43 favorites]


Not sure I actually want to read the Wolff, but my Overdrive hold has me at #15 on two copies. The upsides of keeping old library accounts active in more rural areas once you live in a more active library region are many.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:41 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]


The Russians (and/or the trumpists may have all sorts of dirt on them which could well explain the reversal some of them have done over the past year).

Kompromatic For The People
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:49 AM on January 5 [15 favorites]


The Russians (and/or the trumpists may have all sorts of dirt on them which could well explain the reversal some of them have done over the past year).

That would explain the way so many Republicans have started acting as if they're being blackmailed by the mob.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:57 AM on January 5 [36 favorites]


Additionally, he either lied or he's a complete idiot. There's no way you can have assets of barely a million dollars on a salary of $500,000 a year unless you're incompetent or an addict of unsustainably epic proportions.

*cough*
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:59 AM on January 5 [18 favorites]


First of all, how does it work in practice? Does he call a delivery service and they just bring it to the front door of the WH? Does he send a secret service agent? One of his sons?

From my reading in the book, the chapter this was mentioned in was about his difficulties becoming adjusted to the White House. He is not ordering McDs in the White House. It's a thing he did in his previous life. What he liked about McDs was that he could walk in to one randomly and they wouldn't expect him and it would be some "safely premade" food that a poisoner couldn't have gotten to. I imagine sending a courier to pick it up for him would defeat the purpose.
posted by floam at 11:59 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Trump's M.O for pretty much his entire career has been to threaten lawsuits at the drop of a hat for any reason whatsoever. It's largely the bluster of a bully.

This comes up a lot with how he deals with subcontractors: claim some breach, underpay them, then either threaten to sue them or challenge them to sue him. Either way, they back down, as they realize he has the money and resources that would exhaust theirs before they could win.

The catch is, Trump is now playing that game with organizations who have the resources to see a fight through. Or knows they can get the resources. And they realize that the fight would force Trump to display this nastiness in the open--a strategic blunder for a politician.

This is another case of something I've been thinking about a lot lately: the Presidency may be the first time Trump has been held accountable to someone in his life. He could bully small businesses, fire contrary employees, or threaten a large default against banks. He never had an external entity that could hold him in check. In the case of government, however, the rules are different, the folks he's playing with are just as big, and the stakes are real.

Sure, the biggest hypothetical check on him, Congress, is currently controlled by a bunch of cowards who readily put party before country. However, he eventaully may cross a line even they cannot tolerate. If not, that situation may not be forever. And that's not even including 2020.

Mark it now--#1 on the New York Times Best Sellers list is Fire and Fury's destiny.

As a side effect, the scarcity is probably going to drive sales of kindles.


You know, my thought this morning was to buy a dead-tree edition as soon as I could, as threre a precidents for eBooks being "recalled," and that might have been an outcome from a lawsuit. The cease and disist is likely a hollow bluff (as others have said, discovery is a bitch), but that line of thought really makes me nervous about eBooks.
posted by MrGuilt at 12:01 PM on January 5 [17 favorites]


Hey, remember the US Citizen in Syria who has been held for months without a lawyer as DOJ argued this was all well and fine? The ACLU managed to speak to him via video conference on his 114th day of detention, after a legal battle to force the government to allow it. He's confirmed he wants a lawyer.
posted by zachlipton at 12:04 PM on January 5 [51 favorites]


Those unfamiliar with Ohio politics might be interested to read this profile of Josh Mandel. He had a good reputation even among many Cleveland Democrats, at one point. It has been very bizarre to see his true colors come out over the past few years. Josh is Jewish, and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and yet has gone all-in on Trumpism. He even called the Anti-Defamation League a "partisan witch hunt group" and said he sides with the alt-right. Then later convened a faith leadership group consisting solely of white conservative Christians...

I'm glad to hear he's stepping down from the race, though regret it's due to such sad circumstances for his family. I wish his wife Ilana the best.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:14 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


my thought this morning was to buy a dead-tree edition as soon as I could, as threre a precidents for eBooks being "recalled,"

Calibre has a plugin that will strip the DRM and let you save an untouchable copy on your hard drive. There are other methods as well. A lot of us who've played the ebook game for a while always liberate our books as soon as possible after purchase.

The last time Amazon mass-removed ebooks, they settled a lawsuit over it, so they're not likely to just blithely remove purchases based on the outcome of a lawsuit, any more than they'll be sending thugs to people's doors to take away hardcopy books. (A court could order it, but that would literally be unprecedented.)

I suspect DT is only vaguely aware that ebooks exist and has no idea how their publication and distribution works, which would further hamper his attempts to get anything done about them.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:14 PM on January 5 [21 favorites]


The last time Amazon mass-removed ebooks, they settled a lawsuit over it,

I always got a big kick out of the fact that the book in question was "1984."
posted by Melismata at 12:24 PM on January 5 [39 favorites]


From Lawfairblog: An extensive Year in Review: L'Affaire Russe
posted by growabrain at 12:27 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Another 2018 departure in the US intelligence community of an Obama appointee under the Trump administration:

Ellen Nakashima @nakashimae: Adm. Mike Rogers, NSA director and head of Cyber Command, has now told the workforce he is retiring this spring, and he expects POTUS to nominate and Senate to confirm a successor this month.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:34 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


And the sexist attacks on Gillibrand begin.

@thedailybeast
Is Kirsten Gillibrand too transparently opportunistic to be a viable candidate?

The Trouble With Kirsten Gillibrand
posted by chris24 at 12:36 PM on January 5 [28 favorites]


Okay, lets do a thought exercise and pretend there is a pee tape that the Russians have.

I imagine they would want to hold on to it until they can use it to impose maximum chaos (they don't really need it as blackmail material - they have his collaboration with them during the campaign for that). So that tape will be like throwing a bomb on the administration. But hold-on, Trump has been in chaos since the moment he got in office (and literally started lying about the size of the crowds that greeted him). So they should probably wait for the chaos to subside before releasing it.

They'll never release it.


If you're looking for maximum chaos from the pee tape you'd hope for the Mueller investigation to end with some indictments for maybe some campaign staff but not Trump, and right in the middle of his victory tour patting himself on the back while the more craven media bends over backwards to say he's been vindicated, that's when you drop the pee tape.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:39 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Begin? Or simply continue?
posted by agregoli at 12:39 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Remember CHIP? CBO did a new score for what it would take to renew the Children's Health Insurance Program for five years, and it's now just $800M. If we squint at the federal budget, that's roughly $0, or if you prefer comparisons, 0.053% of the $1.5T cost of the tax bill.

Weirdly, one of the reasons it's so cheap is because of all the sabotage of the ACA. Obamacare premiums will be higher, which costs the government more money, which makes covering kids through CHIP more cost-effective in comparison. Also, without the individual mandate, more parents will just get coverage for their kids through CHIP and go uninsured themselves.

So that's all kind of a mixed bag, but what with it costing essentially nothing now, there is no excuse whatsoever for Congress not renewing CHIP today. Maybe give your reps a call?
posted by zachlipton at 12:39 PM on January 5 [47 favorites]


Adm. Mike Rogers, NSA director and head of Cyber Command, has now told the workforce he is retiring this spring, and he expects POTUS to nominate and Senate to confirm a successor this month.

Eugene Kaspersky?
posted by notyou at 12:42 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Lawyers, Guns and Money links to a much better Gilibrand article by Claire Malone at 538.
posted by emjaybee at 12:43 PM on January 5 [9 favorites]


My library system is a teeny tiny two-branch deal where they typically only buy maybe 2 copies of any given book, and I've never seen anything I wanted to check out that had more than 5 holds on it (and frankly, that many holds is a rare thing). But they've got six copies of Fire and Fury, all checked out with 36 holds remaining, and two copies of the audiobook, also checked out. I can't imagine wanting to listen to such a thing, but... you do you, area residents.

I'd put it on my holds list but I'm already trying to force my way through Unbelievable by Katy Tur.
posted by palomar at 12:45 PM on January 5 [9 favorites]


Nothing encourages people to read a book so much as being told they shouldn't be allowed to read it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:50 PM on January 5 [17 favorites]


Eugene Kaspersky?

Russian enough, but not crazy enough. They'll go with John McAfee.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:51 PM on January 5 [25 favorites]


The Gillibrand coverage has made me want to punch random people for the rest of my life, just on the off chance that one of them wrote one of these stories. Wait, you're telling me a politician is politicking? That she may have had one view on an issue many years ago and now has a different view? That she recognized that having a sexual harasser in the Democratic caucus was both a political liability and a danger to those around him at a time when the party needs the votes of women more than ever? These are somehow considered bad things now?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:51 PM on January 5 [94 favorites]


Additionally, he either lied or he's a complete idiot. There's no way you can have assets of barely a million dollars on a salary of $500,000 a year unless you're incompetent or an addict of unsustainably epic proportions. I would assume he lied. Not that he might not also be incompetent but it's hard to see how you could be that incompetent and remain alive.

Um, have you met 40 years of professional sports? Lottery winners? I am pretty sure that the ability to get a big payday, even on an annual basis, and piss all of it away isn't limited to those two groups.


I'd suspect the 1.2 million is NET assets, he's likely highly leveraged if he has guaranteed Seinfeld residuals as income. It'd be foolish not to be deeply mortgaged if you have a relatively assured income.
posted by Keith Talent at 12:55 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Re: Gillibrand. It's the "she don't know she's beautiful" school of politics (or whatever the One Direction version was of that same sentiment). She has to be perfect at politics! But she can't know she is perfect or ever be seen trying! It has to be NATURAL!

A smart woman who is ahead of the political winds and listens to her constituents to the point of actually changing positions sounds like an endorsement, but if a woman does it I guess that approach gets cooties.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:55 PM on January 5 [72 favorites]


Axios, Scoop: U.S. freezes funds to U.N. relief agency, diplomats say
The Trump administration has frozen $125 million in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, according to three Western diplomats who were informed of the move. They said the funding, one third of the annual U.S. donations to the agency, was supposed to be transferred by Jan. 1 but was withheld.

Why it matters: A funding freeze could be seen as a slap against the organization — which the U.S. and Israel consider to be biased against Israel and too politicized — and an attempt to pressure the Palestinians to return to peace talks with Israel. But a State Department official said that the fact the money wasn't transferred on Jan. 1 doesn't mean it was frozen. "There are still deliberations taking place, and we have until mid January to decide what we are going to do,” the official said.
posted by zachlipton at 12:55 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]




> The Gillibrand coverage ...

... is what I expect to show up more and more, to give cover to all those people who said they'd vote for a woman in general, but not *that* woman in particular. In 2016, that woman was Clinton, but I'm sure there will always be good reasons why any particular woman is not someone these people could vote for in good conscience.

The coverage is just providing the fig leaf to enable sexism. Big surprise.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:57 PM on January 5 [31 favorites]


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the War on Whistleblowers, someone burned down the house of one of Roy Moore's accusers.
posted by delfin at 1:03 PM on January 5 [45 favorites]


There is almost no chance that they will sue over the book. It would open trump up to discovery, which is the very last thing he wants.

On top of that, courts would have to rule on 1st amendment issues regarding the president attempting to silence a critic, another thing there's no way trump or his laywers want to deal with.


IANAL, but if the Supreme Court wouldn't endorse prior restraint over the Pentagon Papers, which were at least classified, it seems a slam dunk loss for Trump on First Amendment grounds.

Not to mention how many smear books have been published about other politicians; John Kerry springs to mind, to say nothing of Hillary Clinton.

People far and wide should mock Trump for his whining, to say nothing of deride him for the narcissism it reveals. I believe Harry Truman had a relevant quote; something to do with the temperature in the food preparation area.
posted by Gelatin at 1:03 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Is Kirsten Gillibrand too transparently opportunistic to be a viable candidate?

You'd think that they'd try to be a little more original than that article. It reads like a greatest hits compilation of the most cliched attacks on women candidates over the last thirty years.
posted by octothorpe at 1:04 PM on January 5 [20 favorites]


Any woman who runs is going to get this tired old shit treatment. We as a collective progressive segment need to be able to join some of the gains of #metoo into pushback against the standard defensive male position when women seek power.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:06 PM on January 5 [64 favorites]


hoo boy it is so not the time for this fucked-up purity test that women candidates for president seem to be required to pass
posted by angrycat at 1:08 PM on January 5 [50 favorites]


Twitter gives up, publishes World Leaders on Twitter even though it should just be called "Trump on Twitter," basically says Trump can tweet whatever he wants:
Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.

We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly. No one person's account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions. We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind.

We are working to make Twitter the best place to see and freely discuss everything that matters. We believe that’s the best way to help our society make progress.
posted by zachlipton at 1:09 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Ah god I wish I could get the idiot to attack MY latest book.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:10 PM on January 5 [35 favorites]


I have no idea whether Gillibrand will be the nominee (though it's clear she is running, at least preliminarily). But whether it is Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Warren or any other potential female nominee one thing we have to do if it should come to pass is stop playing nice and accomodating the narrative of either the right wing or purity testers.

How often did people feel like they had to preface every single statement about Clinton in 2016 with "I'm no fan of Clinton, but... (goes on to list ways she's better than Trump" or "Sure, Clinton is corrupt and I don't like her, but... (see above)."

No. Stop. Don't let them do it to the next woman who wins the nomination. If someone starts a sentence like that, cut them off. Don't let them play that game.
posted by Justinian at 1:14 PM on January 5 [79 favorites]


> ErisLordFreedom:
"I wonder if his handlers have pointed out that, in case he pushes the Nuclear Button, they will be required to haul him off to a safe bomb shelter... with no TV and no internet."

That would ALMOST make the nuclear war worth it. Almost...

Got a copy on my tablet. Will crack it open tonight. Metaphorically speaking...
posted by Samizdata at 1:14 PM on January 5


The worst thing is, I've seen Democrats - women as well as men - clutching their pearls and going on about how we "can't afford" to run a woman in 2020 and we need a MAY-UN at the top of the ticket to PLAY IT SAFE and how about that John Hickenlooper or Chris Murphy? Vom.

But it's a long way to 2020, peeps, and we've got 2018 - THIS YEAR - to think about. Women are running for local and state offices by the hundreds. Among them, Stacey Abrams, who aims to be the nation's first African American woman governor, in Georgia. Here is Abrams' webpage. Even though I'm nowhere near Georgia, I'm throwing some $$ her way just because.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:14 PM on January 5 [55 favorites]


Donald Trump in gossipy new book: “Why can’t Medicare simply cover everybody?”

Welcome to the resistance...
posted by drezdn at 1:15 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


please. if his phylactery isn't stored there, it's a house, not a home

For 32 weeks of tweets he raved, but on the 33rd he burst
Back to his lair at Breitbart news
From where he'd try to do his worst.

The Twittersphere spared no salt
When Wolff told us all the rest
And now even the Mercers too
Have abandoned his shitfest.
And Mueller, he's looking on, with more to be unsealed.
Our nation wonders with bated breath: what more will be revealed?
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:17 PM on January 5 [9 favorites]


But it's a long way to 2020, peeps, and we've got 2018 - THIS YEAR - to think about.

And Trump's approval rating is drifting upwards again. Yeah, it's still pretty bad. But his approval is at its highest point in the last 3-4 months and his disapproval is the lowest its been in 3-4 months, and the trendlines are going his way. I have no idea what could possibly have happened in the last month to change how people feel unless they just tuned out for the Holidays and have residual good cheer, but with the economy chugging along (Thanks Obama!) and people apparently unable to remember Trump's suckitude if literally anything else intervenes we can't take 2018 for granted. Any loss of focus and we're looking at a couple more years of total Republican hegemony.
posted by Justinian at 1:19 PM on January 5 [15 favorites]


IANAL, but if the Supreme Court wouldn't endorse prior restraint over the Pentagon Papers, which were at least classified, it seems a slam dunk loss for Trump on First Amendment grounds.

The only possible challenge for the book is libel and defamation, and that claim is hampered by DT's inability to differentiate between "a lie" and "a statement I dislike," along with no awareness of the legality of satire. (This is common in wealthy business owners; see Murray v Oliver, in which Murray believes claiming that he "looks like a geriatric Dr. Evil" is grounds for a defamation lawsuit.)

To ban/block sales of the book, a plaintiff - presumably Trump - would need to prove that it has statements that
1) Are provably false,
2) Will cause damage to his rep or income if people believe them, and
3) Are reasonably likely to be believed.

#1 is the hard part in most of these cases. Opinions are not provably false. Calling him an ignorant buffoon is not defamation. And even for the factually-provable issues (like illiteracy), the bar for defamation of a public persona is much higher than for a more private person. You are allowed to believe wacky conspiracy theories about celebrities; see: all the lawsuits Obama filed against people who claimed he wasn't a US citizen.

Oh wait; he didn't. Because he knew that random wild speculation about politicians is legal.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:21 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


The upward-trending approval ratings are almost certainly tied to the Dow hitting 25K. My Trumpist family is ECSTATIC about it, as though it's

a) meaningful to the actual economy,
b) going to benefit them in any tangible way,
and
c) proves the effectiveness of Donald J. Trump's economic and deal-making prowess, and MAGA. The businessman is doing the businessy things we hired him to do! Etc.
posted by witchen at 1:23 PM on January 5 [28 favorites]


As a New Jersey resident, I'm excited about our new governor. The New York Times today has an interview with that other guy:
Sitting in an upholstered chair in a room at Drumthwacket, the governor’s mansion, Mr. Christie defended Mr. Trump as well as his own role in the transition, which he said went off the wheels after his departure and was the reason for “75 percent” of the president’s woes last year. To this day, Mr. Christie said he is unsure of what the president knew about his dismissal. (A new book about Mr. Trump by the author Michael Wolff suggests that it was at the request of Ivanka Trump).

As for his own thwarted presidential ambitions, he had a simple response to a question of whether he believes that without the Bridgegate scandal and Mr. Trump’s entry into the race, he could have been the Republican nominee in 2016 and living in the White House today.

“I do,” he said, then paused. “I don’t think there’s any other way to answer it.”
posted by monospace at 1:23 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


The worst thing is, I've seen Democrats - women as well as men - clutching their pearls and going on about how we "can't afford" to run a woman in 2020 and we need a MAY-UN at the top of the ticket to PLAY IT SAFE...

I actually kind of do think running a woman for president immediately after finally getting in a person of color may have been a tactical error for the Democrats. It gave the wave of "I'm not a racist but..." a chance to roll straight into "I'm not a misogynist but..." without a speedbump. By the next election, though, 45 himself may have provided that speedbump. I can hope, anyway.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:23 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Secondly, how does eating McDonald's reduce the chances of being poisoned? I thought there's a kitchen in the WH with a great chef available 24/7, who has surely been vetted thoroughly and all sorts of protocols in place to avoid poisoning. He could just order great burgers from there.

Given his fear of poisoning, it's a good thing that Trump hasn't made any shady deals with people known to put polonium-210 in your soup.
posted by benzenedream at 1:25 PM on January 5 [31 favorites]


Trump's M.O for pretty much his entire career has been to threaten lawsuits at the drop of a hat for any reason whatsoever. It's largely the bluster of a bully.
I am always reminded about how he spoke at a black church in Flint, Michigan, but after being introduced he launched into his diatribe about Clinton and the pastor stepped up and told him basically “Yeah, we’re not doing that..” and how quickly he folded like the coward he is.
posted by blueberry at 1:29 PM on January 5 [45 favorites]


The worst thing is, I've seen Democrats - women as well as men - clutching their pearls and going on about how we "can't afford" to run a woman in 2020

Unfortunately I think that may be correct. I don't think the Democrats will be win enough swing voters (who voted for Trump but might not again) with a female candidate. It sucks, but all things considered it feels like the time still isn't right yet.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:29 PM on January 5


Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.

Twitter: We literally would not ban Hitler.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:30 PM on January 5 [120 favorites]


The upward-trending approval ratings are almost certainly tied to the Dow hitting 25K. My Trumpist family is ECSTATIC about it

50% of Americans own no stock. 80% of stock value is owned by the 1%, 90% by the top 20%.

And again, Obama outperformed Trump in year 1 stock market gains.
posted by chris24 at 1:32 PM on January 5 [25 favorites]


Why would Twitter ban anyone? It's all just more business for them.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:33 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Pre-litigating the 2020 primaries is even more pointless than re-litigating the 2016 primaries.
posted by diogenes at 1:33 PM on January 5 [50 favorites]


I don't think the Democrats will be win enough swing voters (who voted for Trump but might not again) with a female candidate.

Fuck this. A woman got 3 million more votes despite Russia, Comey, Clinton derangement, misogyny and voter suppression. She received millions more votes than any white man ever has.
posted by chris24 at 1:35 PM on January 5 [212 favorites]


Pre-litigating the 2020 primaries is even more pointless than re-litigating the 2016 primaries.

I think it is worth highlighting and discrediting the repetitive narratives that are being repurposed from Hillary Clinton attacks to go after any woman who is capable of wielding power.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:36 PM on January 5 [37 favorites]


Seriously. I will NEVER tolerate this bullshit of "it's not time for a woman" in ANY arena, EVER AGAIN.
posted by agregoli at 1:38 PM on January 5 [185 favorites]


As a side effect, the scarcity is probably going to drive sales of kindles.

And the added kick of even more money to Bezos and Amazon!
posted by dilettante at 1:40 PM on January 5


It sucks, but all things considered it feels like the time still isn't right yet.

obviously, self-fullfillingly true, if enough people agree with you: if it is a time when people can openly suggest working against a woman's nomination because she's a woman, it is not a time when a woman is likely to get elected. that is how you make it be the wrong time. don't know why you'd want to, but that's how it's done.

it only works if enough people go along with you on it, though. I have some hope that not enough will. anyway, anyone who argues against a woman politician's visibility or ambition because of her gender for reasons of "the times" is a participant in sexism, not simply a sorrowful observer.
posted by queenofbithynia at 1:40 PM on January 5 [54 favorites]


Trump's very awfulness means that if he falls, the whole party will fall with him. Republicans could conceivably distance themselves from a president who turned out to be a bad manager, or even one who turned out to have been engaged in small-time correction. But when the corruption is big-time, and it's combined with obstruction of justice in collaboration with Putin, nobody will notice which Republicans were a bit less involved, a bit less obsequious, then others. If Trump sinks, he will create a vortex that sucks down everyone involved.

And so now we have the Republican Party as wholy fully complicit in trumps crimes – because that's what they are, whether or not he and those around him ever brought to justice.

What this means among other things, is there expecting the GOP to exercise any oversight or constrain Trump in anyway it's just foolish at this point.
- Paul Krugman
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:42 PM on January 5 [27 favorites]


Hillary Clinton, PV-WOAT*

*popular vote-winner of all time
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:43 PM on January 5 [13 favorites]


There's no such thing as a swing voter anymore. The problem for Democrats is not kissing the non-existent butts of mythical "swing voters," it's 1) apathy and 2) disenfranchisement. Take a lesson from Alabama: I know Doug Jones was up against a garbage fire of a child molesting Republican, but, he could not have won without getting out the Democratic vote. Remember Perman Hardy? People like her propelled Doug Jones to victory.

2018 is important in that regard because Democrats are notorious for taking long, cozy naps in between Presidential elections. We can't afford to let the midterms go to rot. I don't live in a lovely blue state because the Democrat Fairy sprinkled her magic pixie dust all over us and turned the state blue. If Democratic voters turned out in their millions for every single damn election, and fielded viable candidates for every single office, we too could have nice things.

Eyes on the 2018 prize!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:44 PM on January 5 [98 favorites]



Fuck this. A woman got 3 million more votes despite Russia, Comey, Clinton derangement, misogyny and voter suppression. She received millions more votes than any white man ever has.



Seriously. I will NEVER tolerate this bullshit of "it's not time for a woman" in ANY arena, EVER AGAIN.

anyone who argues against a woman politician's visibility or ambition because of her gender for reasons of "the times" is a participant in sexism, not simply a sorrowful observer.


I hope you're all right about that.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:44 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


The only thing I’ve done on Twitter in the past year is troll trump’s account (along with millions of other fellow randos). It really just should be renamed Trumpr.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:50 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Why would Twitter ban anyone? It's all just more business for them.

Everyone wants to be the Facebook, not the Myspace. Twitter needs to be careful to not become the first-to-market also-ran that was eclipsed by a superior product.

We complain about how awful Facebook is now, but at the time, Facebook was clean and streamlined compared to the mess that Myspace was. Twitter has been hemorrhaging users as they move away from its firehose of shit business model. An competitor may be able to gobble them up.
posted by explosion at 1:52 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


50% of Americans own no stock. 80% of stock value is owned by the 1%, 90% by the top 20%.


The catch is that Trump supports either:
  • Believe they are a One-Percenter--they just haven't made it yet, probably due to their own fault. But boy do they want the "Trump Market" when they do.
  • Buy into the rhetoric of supply side economics, and the stock market is a good barometer for how business is doing. Wealth will trickle down at any moment.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:52 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


I hope you make sure to refer to him as "failing @realDonaldTrump".
posted by Grangousier at 1:53 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Liquidwolf, your reply doesn't make sense. The first statement IS correct. The second is about my own tolerance, so yes, I am right about it. And the last, if correct, means YOU are participating in sexism, which, I do believe anyone who says the kind of thing you did, is. So...wha?
posted by agregoli at 1:54 PM on January 5 [14 favorites]


they just haven't made it yet, probably due to their own fault

No no no; they haven't made it yet because of all the liberal SJW bias in the business world - if it weren't for affirmative action holding them back, they'd be on top of the world! If all those pesky regulations supporting special interest groups weren't in the way, their business plan would be THE BEST! If the gov't weren't stealing all the corporate money in the form of taxes, their benefits would be awesome!
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:56 PM on January 5 [14 favorites]


Liquidwolf Unfortunately I think that may be correct. I don't think the Democrats will be win enough swing voters (who voted for Trump but might not again) with a female candidate.

We will never win if our strategy is chasing after Trump voters, or Republicans.

Democrats do not win elections by convincing Republicans to vote for them. Democrats win elections by getting their own base out to vote, and by convincing non-voters to vote. While it is true that on an individual level it is possible for Republicans to flip, in the larger sense such people are far too rare to bother spending resources on.

I'll campaign and vote for whoever the Democrats nominate [1]. But I hope for a woman to be that nominee. If that woman is Gillibrand then I'll be fully and unreservedly behind her. Right now I'm hoping for Kamala Harris, but either way I'm good.

I'd **LOVE** Barbara Lee to be the nominee, but unfortunately she's too old. And really so is Elizabeth Warren. I think we'v had enough septuagenarians in the White House.

[1] Well, almost. If the Democrats nominate someone with Trump style treason and grifting then I wouldn't.
posted by sotonohito at 1:56 PM on January 5 [47 favorites]


Another R talking point blown up by facts they'll never see or believe.

FBI documents: Andrew McCabe had no conflict in Hillary Clinton email probe
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whom President Trump has blamed for influencing the decision not to criminally charge Hillary Clinton for her use of private email server, did not oversee that inquiry while his wife was running for state office in Virginia as a Democrat, according to bureau records released Friday.

The internal documents, published on the FBI's website, support what the bureau has asserted previously: that McCabe had no conflicts when he assumed oversight of the Clinton investigation. His role began in February 2016, following his appointment as deputy director and three months after his wife, Jill McCabe, lost her bid for a state Senate seat.
posted by chris24 at 1:58 PM on January 5 [29 favorites]


Because Republicans still can't handle that Nixon thing. They're too proud to let a president be ousted, even if that is a sound tactical choice.

Nixon being forced to resign has informed Republican strategy ever since. They thought they were going to even the score with Clinton. But, when that came to naught, it only steeled their resolve. They will never, ever, ever allow another Republican President to fall ala Nixon.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:06 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Beyond the obvious bullshit PR basis for their stunt...

@brianbeutler
To my knowledge, Steele has not testified to Congress and has only spoken to the FBI about the Russia investigation. What possible fucking basis could Grassley and Graham have for their bullshit referral that wouldn’t constitute a major scandal in its own right?

---

@renato_mariotti
1/ As I told @NatashaBertrand of @businessinsider, the criminal referral by Senators Grassley and Graham appears to either be a PR stunt or an attempt to use their position to influence DOJ charging decisions. BI: Senate Judiciary Republicans refer dossier author Chris Steele to DOJ for criminal investigation
2/ It raises a lot of questions. Why not make this referral in private? What information do they have that is not already in the possession of the FBI? Why not wait until their investigation is complete?
3/ It appears to be an effort to undermine the Russia investigation or feed into a talking point used to criticize the investigation.
4/ The way the referral was made is consistent with that intent. Criminal referrals are meant to provide information to the FBI that it doesn’t otherwise have, not to produce press coverage. /end
posted by chris24 at 2:07 PM on January 5 [56 favorites]


Yea verily, let's remember that a bunch of women - including women with other marginalized identities - got elected in the midterms.

I think that 2020 could very well be a fantastic time to run a charismatic woman candidate - the right woman will read as the polar opposite to Trump, partly because of stereotypes about women. Where Trump is greedy, a charismatic woman will be/seem altruistic. Where Trump is a corrupt, fascist Father, a charismatic woman will read as principled but caring parent/mother. Trump is disgustingly sexual; the tendency to see public/powerful women as sexless will work in favor of a woman candidate.

Culturally, I think a lot of people are fleeing from the old model of White Cis Straight Masculinity, including a lot of white cis straight men. I think that's one reason that the type of people who really identify with White Cis Straight Masculinity are so angry - they can see that even people who should share their values are jettisoning them. Now, I'm not saying "everyone is becoming better and better people" - you can move away from White Cis Straight Masculinity and still be a terrible person - but there are ways of being that no longer appeal to a lot of people. (Consider the marijuana thing - that would have been a cultural winner in the eighties, and now it's not. Whether people are good, bad or indifferent, no one wants to be a buttoned-up drug warrior anymore except Jeff Sessions.)

The best thing anyone can do now is to pay attention to how we judge candidates on gendered lines. If women run in the primary, it won't matter (in gender terms) if they win or lose as long as the whole primary hasn't been a long slog of misogyny. Women candidates need to win or lose on their platforms, and I think that the best thing we can do to insure that is to intervene in conversations that use classic misogynist criticisms or hold women candidates to standards that men aren't held to. We need to do this not only to insure women candidates a fair shake but also to keep the electorate together instead of having it become dangerously factionalized.
posted by Frowner at 2:07 PM on January 5 [75 favorites]


Liquidwolf, your reply doesn't make sense. The first statement IS correct. The second is about my own tolerance, so yes, I am right about it. And the last, if correct, means YOU are participating in sexism, which, I do believe anyone who says the kind of thing you did, is. So...wha?

Yeah I wasn't clear there. What I meant was I hope everyone's right that a woman will be the candidate. I knew I'd get shredded for my original comment, but the reactions made me reconsider my original point.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:08 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


One of the main themes so far in the ice crea- er, in the Wolff book is the plain explanation of Trump's certainty in losing. The Trump campaign was more surprised about winning than most groups - they had no plans for winning; none, zero, nada, doughnut, not a sausage.

Almost every one of every major-party candidates ever, had at least worked or networked with politicians, but not Trump. (Rude and Reek excepted). So on day one after the election, they're scrambling to find anyone to do anything; part of the reason for the motley assortment of racist elves and vermin we see today.

Their "(insert governmental person/agency/position/etc.) is biased/fake/terrible" is explicitly drawn from sheer willful ignorance. It's seriously grotesque.
posted by petebest at 2:09 PM on January 5 [14 favorites]


Vanity Fair, Gabe Sherman, “Steve Can Be Kind of Delusional:” Did Steve Bannon Talk Himself Out of His Own Movement?. In which Bannon originally drafted a statement praising Don Jr. and bashing Wolff, planning to hand it to one of his favorite reporters, Jonathan Swan, but Trump his "he not only lost his job, he lost his mind" statement first, so Bannon said fuck it and dug in.
posted by zachlipton at 2:10 PM on January 5 [15 favorites]


I think we'v had enough septuagenarians in the White House.

I would agree with you but this has been true for a long time and somehow it's only on the brink of becoming officially true in the way of becoming common knowledge now, when it might be a reason to discount a bunch of qualified women. Old women paying the penalty for old men's record of inability to perform adequately in office would be aggravating enough by itself, but added to the fact that women generally live longer and have better health, it's extra aggravating. Added to the fact that a lot of women started the visible part of their political careers later than men did because the generation that's now in its seventies is the generation that, like Clinton, either worked hard for decades for slower and less advancement and recognition, started serious engagement after raising children, subordinated their ambitions to their husbands' ambitions until their husbands were finally done, or all three, it's most aggravating.

I would probably enjoy voting for Gillibrand more than Warren, Clinton is lost to us, and Pelosi is honest to god too old for real. so it's not like this new rule, if followed, will deprive me of my favorite fantasy candidate. but I wish for once we could collectively decide to change our standards in a way that primarily affects those people who made it necessary.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:13 PM on January 5 [53 favorites]


Could someone please answer this question: in the period between Trump firing Sessions and successfully having a replacement confirmed by the Senate, would Rosenstein continue to have authority over Mueller, or would Trump be able to temporarily appoint a lackey as Acting Attorney General, as he did with Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:17 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Also, on the "I don't really like Hillary Clinton, but...." theme: One thing that a lot of us will have to figure out is how to talk about supporting candidates that we don't really like without playing along with vote-killing or misogynist narratives.

For instance, I don't like or trust the kind of super-rich politicians we get at the national level. They all prove to have unsavory ties eventually, because that's how things go when someone has a lot of money and moves in social circles with other people who also have lots of money.

But inexorably this plays into the "I would vote for a woman but not this woman [or that woman, or the other woman...only the perfect woman]" thing, and I feel like I need to come up with some better framing.
posted by Frowner at 2:18 PM on January 5 [59 favorites]


"Where's Donald?"
posted by growabrain at 2:19 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


I think we'v had enough septuagenarians in the White House.

This a thousand times. I actually shouted out loud last week when my BFF Howard Dean said the Boomers need to step out of politics. Seriously. The mid-range Gen Xers like myself are right at the edge of the age qualification for President, and it is time. Gillibrand, Harris, whoever, I don't care as long as they have to pay full price for dinner at IHOP. The last president we had who started in his mid-40s was lovely. I want that back.
posted by teleri025 at 2:22 PM on January 5 [60 favorites]


I think part of it is that you vote for the candidates/primary-winners/etc you have in each round of elections, not the ones you want. In a vacuum, sure, maybe HRC's connections to X, Y, or Z aren't ideal, but if you're in 2016 voting in the general election, it's gonna be her or DJT. Mark your ballot accordingly.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:24 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


One problem with Kirsten Gillibrand for President is that she's from a state that Democrats are going to win anyway. If she were from Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida or something then she'd be a much more exciting possibility (same for Kamala Harris).

We need someone from a swing state to step up and start making some noise.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:29 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Wolff was just on NPR. He was unequivocal in standing behind everything he says in the book, including stuff that directly contradicts spin from the White House. He pretty much doubled-down on the veracity of his book without so much as a hem or haw.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:31 PM on January 5 [32 favorites]


Frowner But inexorably this plays into the "I would vote for a woman but not this woman [or that woman, or the other woman...only the perfect woman]" thing, and I feel like I need to come up with some better framing.

You're 100% right. I'm sure my own lingering dislike of Gillibrand is rooted more in subconscious misogyny than in reality. I have excuses, I really hate that she was both a Blue Dog and had an A+ rating from the NRA, but would a man who had such a past and then claimed to have seen the light leave me with such lingering dislike? I'd like to say yes, but I'm self aware enough to know that the answer is probably no.

Any woman who gets the nom will be attacked with "I like women in general, but **SHE** is too [insert problem here]".

queenofbithynia RE: age. You make a very good point here. And I certainly agree that it is a standard that would be deeply unfair in how it affected women who struggled up through the patriarchy. My problem is that I do think there are perfectly legitimate reasons to favor younger candidates, beginning with lower chances of senility in office and nodding off to sleep while meeting with the Pope.

At least with elderly women as candidates we won't have to rehash the Vietnam War and whether the candidate dodged the draft or not yet again. I'd entertained the hope we were past that when Obama got the nom in 2008, but Trump proved I was wrong.

So I don't know. You make a very good point, but I still think we need a mandatory retirement age for politics.

I'll vote for and campaign for whoever wins, that goes without saying. But I do think our descent into geritocracy is harmful.
posted by sotonohito at 2:31 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Frowner: "One thing that a lot of us will have to figure out is how to talk about supporting candidates that we don't really like without playing along with vote-killing or misogynist narratives."

What do you think of, "Of course they're not perfect. No one is. But here's what I like about them:" ?
posted by kristi at 2:33 PM on January 5 [38 favorites]



Also, on the "I don't really like Hillary Clinton, but...." theme: One thing that a lot of us will have to figure out is how to talk about supporting candidates that we don't really like without playing along with vote-killing or misogynist narratives.


well, look, I didn't and don't like or trust Bernie Sanders, on a very personal and visceral level. although I can point to a number of votes and actions attitudes and statements I disagree with for concrete reasons, and have done so. but although every other reluctant Democrat can do the same re: calling attention to his less leftist positions, and although every other suspicious mistruster of politicians in general could have made the same prefatory disclaimer I did when saying sure, they'll vote for him in the general if they have to, but they just don't like him

somehow, not very many of them did.

so I mean, I don't say this to you personally as some kind of directive, because you seem entirely non-sexist and self-aware and not like you need to be told to be consistent. but the answer to the general question for the general mass of Democrats is: if you wouldn't say whatever negative thing about whatever establishment male candidate you favor, because he is our terrific national uncle Biden or sexy dad Obama or confused nice neighbor Kaine, don't fuckin say it about Gillibrand or whoever. this is such a tepid cliche but there isn't a better answer, this is it. people can't really get rid of their double standards without a good-faith active effort, and all the rest of us can do is keep bothering them to make that effort. it's not mostly about how to talk, it's actual inner feelings and thoughts about women. fix the gendered resentment and the gendered rhetoric will take care of itself. I keep a hostile eye out for sexist ways of talking because it's all I can address until mind control technology improves, but it's the wrong way around.

the other thing is, maybe a little less attention to the harsh judgments on women, since examining them for any speck of truth often strengthens them, and a lot more attention to the sentimental helpless affection we feel for so, so, so many men in public life. we should collectively cut that out. I don't exempt myself, I still want to give Cory Booker a big hug for rescuing that puppy dog that time, but I don't allow that stupid goodwill to accompany me into a serious assessment of his positions. at least, I try.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:35 PM on January 5 [70 favorites]


One problem with Kirsten Gillibrand for President is that she's from a state that Democrats are going to win anyway.

Going to need citations showing that this would actually have a meaningful impact, rather than just conventional wisdom, because everything I’ve heard is that the impact is negligible.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 2:35 PM on January 5 [17 favorites]


I still think we need a mandatory retirement age for politics.

I don't (although I might like a health exam with verification of general soundness released to the public), but I'd like campaign runs to feature a lot more focus on a candidate's history, so that a younger person would be arguing, "I don't have much history with that, but here's my plans," and an older one would be stuck facing questions about, "so, in 1982 you said/your business did X. Is that still what you believe? If not, what changed your mind, and is there any public record that backs up that change?"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:36 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the War on Whistleblowers, someone burned down the house of one of Roy Moore's accusers.

For what it's worth: "Etowah County Sheriff: "The ongoing investigation does not lead us to believe that the fire is in any way related to Roy Moore or the allegations made against him.""

I mean, that's quite the coincidence, but I just hope someone trustworthy is doing the investigation.
posted by zachlipton at 2:37 PM on January 5 [19 favorites]


As intriguing as it is to think that Trump didn't (a) believe or (b) want to win, (a) presupposes that throughout the campaign he was actually capable of rational probabilistic inferences, and (b) requires believing that he was cool with being dubbed the loser. But there is achingly little evidence to support either.
posted by Beardman at 2:38 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


she's from a state that Democrats are going to win anyway

So identify an up-and-comer from whatever strategically ideal state you have in mind, add them to the ticket as VP, and your problem is solved. Seriously, no offense but this is a trivial issue at best.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:40 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


Obama, a black man with a Muslim name, was from Illinois, a state Ds were going to win. I think we can have a woman from NY or CA.
posted by chris24 at 2:44 PM on January 5 [121 favorites]


As intriguing as it is to think that Trump didn't (a) believe or (b) want to win, (a) presupposes that throughout the campaign he was actually capable of rational probabilistic inferences, and (b) requires believing that he was cool with being dubbed the loser. But there is achingly little evidence to support either.

I think it's simpler and more complex. I think that NOBODY expected him to win, but that didn't stop Trump from projecting himself as a winner (it's been his hollow persona his whole life).

While he'd never admit (to himself or others) that he wasn't going to win, it seemed pretty clear he was gearing up for the post election fight with Hillary in the White House.
posted by CheapB at 2:46 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


six copies of Fire and Fury, all checked out with 36 holds remaining

Here's the numbers at the Toronto Public Library right now.
posted by Beardman at 2:50 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


zachlipton:
"Meanwhile, elsewhere in the War on Whistleblowers, someone burned down the house of one of Roy Moore's accusers."

They have a suspect & it sounds like he's just a local idiot who likes to drink too much & do dumb shit. From Roy Moore accuser's Gadsden home burns; arson investigation underway:
According to Johnson and neighbor Kevin Tallant, other neighbors witnessed a young man who had a history of public intoxication walking around the house before and during the blaze.

"He's been trouble in the neighborhood for a while," said Tallant, who lives across the street from Johnson and her family. He got a call from another neighbor that morning who said smoke was coming from the home and that somebody might be inside.
[...]
She said a woman neighbor told her that the young man in question approached her as she was getting in her car that morning and asked if she thought Johnson's house was going to burn. The neighbor didn't know what he was talking about, she said, because flames weren't visible at the time.
posted by scalefree at 2:58 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


In which Bannon originally drafted a statement praising Don Jr. and bashing Wolff, planning to hand it to one of his favorite reporters, Jonathan Swan, but Trump his "he not only lost his job, he lost his mind" statement first, so Bannon said fuck it and dug in.

It hurts my head to think about how clearly I saw exactly this play out in my head when Trump responded so quickly with "Fuck Steve." He didn't even stop to check and see if it was all bullshit. Trump believed from the start that Bannon would say that, which says a lot.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:02 PM on January 5 [16 favorites]


she's from a state that Democrats are going to win anyway
I will be a very happy person when Democrats stop thinking in these terms and start concentrating on finding the best candidate.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:04 PM on January 5 [62 favorites]


A strongly-worded ad (YT) for Kentucky's Amy McGrath who is not from a state the Democrats are going to win anyway.
posted by bz at 3:12 PM on January 5 [41 favorites]


So, Amy McGrath just made it on to my donations list.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 3:22 PM on January 5 [19 favorites]


Enter: Steve Bour- er, Bannon:

In the early 2000s, [Bannon meets Bossie/Breitbart/Mercer]

Bannon focused his entrepreneurial talents on becoming courtier, Svengali, and political investment adviser to father and daughter. Theirs was a consciously quixotic mission. They would devote vast sums—albeit still just a small part of Bob Mercer’s many billions—to trying to build a radical free-market, small-government, home-schooling, antiliberal, gold-standard, pro-death-penalty, anti-Muslim, pro-Christian, monetarist, anti-civil-rights political movement in the United States.

Bob Mercer is an ultimate quant, an engineer who designs investment algorithms and became a co-CEO of one of the most successful hedge funds, Renaissance Technologies. With his daughter, Rebekah, Mercer set up what is in effect a private Tea Party movement, self-funding whatever Tea Party or alt-right project took their fancy. . . And yet his political beliefs, to the extent they could be discerned, were generally Bush-like, and his political discussions, to the extent that you could get him to be responsive, were about issues involving ground game and data gathering. It was Rebekah Mercer—who had bonded with Bannon, and whose politics were grim, unyielding, and doctrinaire—who defined the family. “She’s . . . like whoa, ideologically there is no conversation with her,” said one senior Trump White House staffer.
I think it's right after this that Steve builds his first ligtsaber. But damn, those Palpatines eh?
posted by petebest at 3:34 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]



A strongly-worded ad yt (YT) for Kentucky's Amy McGrath who is not from a state the Democrats are going to win anyway


That was a great ad, but McGrath may have been screwed over by Jim Gray's entry into that race. Previously, she was running against a black man who is a state senator and a very effective speaker but who is not widely known and who might be at a disadvantage in the rural parts of the district, both due to race and educational background (Dartmouth and then Harvard Law). Gray, however, is very well known and fairly popular as mayor of Lexington He is a gay white man, the former owner of a large construction company in the state, and has just arranged for a fiber network to come in to the city to complete with our hated cable company and improve our astoundingly crappy internet options.

I'd like to see McGrath take on Paul or McConnell, though. Gray and Thomas either one would have problems in a state wide race but McGrath might do quite well against either of those.
posted by dilettante at 3:36 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


[Folks, let's not rehash arguments about theory here. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:43 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


> box:
"British GQ"

It's your soaraway collectible Corbyn issue, to boot.
posted by chavenet at 3:57 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Twitter gives up, publishes World Leaders on Twitter even though it should just be called "Trump on Twitter," basically says Trump can tweet whatever he wants:

I.e., the time-honoured conservative principle of Rank Hath Privilege.
posted by acb at 3:58 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


no time for that nonsense

2018/2020 Democratic slogan: IDENTIFIED
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:59 PM on January 5 [48 favorites]


Beardman: As intriguing as it is to think that Trump didn't (a) believe or (b) want to win, (a) presupposes that throughout the campaign he was actually capable of rational probabilistic inferences, and (b) requires believing that he was cool with being dubbed the loser. But there is achingly little evidence to support either.

Well, it's clear that he was overjoyed at the inauguration. No, wait ...

Personally I feel that he was fine with being dubbed a loser as long as he could laugh all the way to the bank. Because if he could make money from running, and we know that this was his plan because he said as much, he would not feel like he lost. He would feel like he gamed the system, and won.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:00 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


Twitter: We literally would not ban Hitler.

Perhaps from now on, the bird silhouette should no longer be depicted in light blue but, instead, in black, in a white circle, on a red field?
posted by acb at 4:02 PM on January 5 [19 favorites]


Personally I feel that he was fine with being dubbed a loser as long as he could laugh all the way to the bank. Because if he could make money from running, and we know that this was his plan because he said as much, he would not feel like he lost. He would feel like he gamed the system, and won.

Back when it all went down there was a persistent but largely unproved rumor that Trump was "really" gunning to create a TV network with himself at its center. Is there anything in the Wolff material to support that?
posted by scalefree at 4:07 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


If 45 doesn't leave office until he's voted out in 2020, will Twitter ban his account on Jan 21, 2021?

Then NYT should push a lawsuit against Twitter for aiding and abetting defamation and libel. Or someone else should scrounge up proof of harassment and incitement. The reason social media sites have a TOS is in part to reduce their liability; if they knowingly allow people to break the rules against illegal speech, they're directly accountable.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:10 PM on January 5 [17 favorites]


If it's a matter of "public interest," Twitter should ban RealDonaldTrump for TOS violations, and leave the POTUS45 account live.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:16 PM on January 5 [77 favorites]


Also, if it's a matter of public interest, twitter should not allow trump to block people. They want a conversation to happen? let's have a conversation.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 4:21 PM on January 5 [47 favorites]


The book is really good, and insightful. It's a long telling (i.e. a book) of everything we know - or suspected - but in the process of weaving a good 18+ months into a book it's blowing up all the media coverage of Trump to date. It's got the benefit of hindsight and the luxury of page space to tell the story of this gruesome business and cable news - ain't doin it. That alone is kind of shocking. How far off all the breathless breaking news segments are - they're right, or at least correct, just doing it wrong. The book is not playing.
posted by petebest at 4:31 PM on January 5 [40 favorites]


Book: Have read the Comey chapter and have looped back around to the beginning. I agree with petebest; it's really good. Importantly, it is truthy without being overly factual, which many would find off-putting. It provides reasonable speculations as to motives, and fills in quite a bit of important context on a personal level. Just enough to make it work, not so much as to be obnoxious. This book seems to be generally intended for the set of people who watch the news and read some news or magazines, but don't spend all of their time glued to Twitter or specialist blogs or this thread.

I think it is engagingly written in such a way that it does not make the reader feel stupid for not knowing what was, and is, going on inside the Trump circle and just how much there is to know. But I could be wrong, and I maight change my mind by the time I finish.
posted by monopas at 5:09 PM on January 5 [9 favorites]


petebest, you're my favorite beatle.

Twitter needs to come up with something other than the checkmark, then, to signify those accounts which are above reproach. Maybe some strongly-iconic symbol, a "plus-sign" but with "tails" on each arm?
posted by maxwelton at 5:11 PM on January 5 [22 favorites]


If she were from Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida or something then she'd be a much more exciting possibility (same for Kamala Harris).

This feels like something of a catch-22. Look at how many women are in the House and Senate at the national level from New York. (Throw in governors, why not.) Now look at California. Now look at Ohio.

Ohio's only female governor was a Republican who held the position for a total of two weeks in the 90s because the elected governor won a Senate seat and honestly I'd forgotten she existed before I went to confirm that there hadn't been one I'd forgotten or before I was born or something; Ohio's never had a nonwhite governor. Ohio has never had a woman in the US senate, or a nonwhite person. Ohio has a total of three US reps who are women. If you want to say that you'd like to see Marcia Fudge run for president, I like her okay. I don't think she's super compelling but I'd be glad to hear if you do. But if you're just talking about A Generic Woman, the reason that you see more strong candidates from blue states is that those states have drastically higher numbers of women in elected office.

If you want a candidate who is a member of an underrepresented group, putting the qualification that it's only exciting if they're from the states that are still incredibly hostile to the participation of those groups in politics is an incredible hurdle. Not an impossible one, potentially, but I think people forget that a woman succeeding at this level in American politics, to be in the US senate? Still novel no matter what state you're in. If we're only interested in women getting to be US president if they've already made huge inroads on state politics in states that are generally still rough for women in politics, then we're not going to get a woman president for awhile, and a woman as president is one of the things that could theoretically make a huge difference to actually letting women succeed in politics at the state level in less reliably progressive places.
posted by Sequence at 5:18 PM on January 5 [94 favorites]


In the course of discussing different factions in the Democratic Party and the need for a re-dedication to ideals, Mark Shields on PBS Newshour tonight mentioned this quote which I'd never heard before:
Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. —Abraham Lincoln, First Annual Message, December 3, 1861
Another interesting bit of commentary by a Republican president from back before they cast themselves out from heaven and, among other things, made acknowledgement of the fundamentally socialist nature of the Union a political thoughtcrime, are these 1909 newspaper columns by Teddy Roosevelt: “Where We Can Work With Socialists” and “Where We Cannot Work With Socialists”. The two most interesting things I saw in these, among many notable elements, are Teddy's Freudian absolute terror of "free love" and an assertion that the construction of the Erie Canal was waaaay more socialist than many of the things being derided as socialism in his time.
posted by XMLicious at 5:29 PM on January 5 [27 favorites]


VA HOD update: A judge has declined to issue a preliminary injunction in HD-28, where voters were provided ballots with another district's candidates, meaning the GOP candidate would be seated, at least initially. The lawsuit can still continue, and that declination could also be appealed to a higher court. It does look likely that that GOP will at least have an initial 51-49 advantage, and thus be able to control organizational items (Speaker election, committee assignments).
posted by Chrysostom at 5:30 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Perhaps from now on, the bird silhouette should no longer be depicted in light blue but, instead, in black, in a white circle, on a red field?

It may be too subtle.
posted by Justinian at 5:36 PM on January 5 [22 favorites]


So apparently somebody pointed out to the Washington Post's Mark Berman that Wolff's book places him in the Four Seasons having breakfast when that's something he never actually did:

Spotted in the new Michael Wolff book about Trump: A Four Seasons breakfast featuring "Washington Post national reporter Mark Berman"

(I have never had breakfast at the Four Seasons, never actually been there) (but now I wonder if I can use this to go eat there and expense it?)

[...]

Update to this thread: Turns out the person actually having breakfast at the Four Seasons that day was the lobbyist Mike Berman, who confirms to me he was there the same day as Ivanka


He points to a WaPo piece about said lobbyist, which includes a picture of him actually eating at the Four Seasons (albeit on a different occasion).

He closes with: And it turns out I can also say with 100% certainty again I wasn't at the Four Seasons that morning because it turns out this breakfast was the same morning my kid was being born, per this story.

It's an obnoxious factual error. Not fatal to the book mind you, but still. COME ON.

I say that as someone who broke down and preordered the book. My husband said "Pffft. You're going to read that book, aren't you?" and I hung my head and said "In fact I've already preordered it," in the same way I would say something like "Why yes, I bought that whole sheet cake that's in the fridge for myself. Now please turn out the lights and leave me alone with the cake."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:49 PM on January 5 [41 favorites]


Flynn. Lynchpin Flynn. Bestie Flynn. from the Wolff book (emphasis mine)
On Monday morning, Kellyanne Conway appeared on MSNBC and offered a firm defense of the National Security Advisor. “Yes,” she said, “General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president.” And while this seemed to many an indication that Conway was out of the loop, it was more accurately an indication that she had been talking directly to the president.

A White House meeting that morning failed to convince Trump to fire Flynn. He was concerned about what it would look like to lose his National Security Advisor after just twenty-four days. And he was adamant about not wanting to blame Flynn for talking to the Russians, even about sanctions. In Trump’s view, condemning his adviser would connect him to a plot where there was no plot. His fury wasn’t directed toward Flynn but to the “incidental” wiretap that had surveilled him. Making clear his confidence in his adviser, Trump insisted that Flynn come to Monday’s lunch with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

Lunch was followed by another meeting about the furor. There were yet more details of the phone call and a growing itemization of the money Flynn had been paid by various Russian entities; there was also increasing focus on the theory that the leaks from the intel community—that is, the whole Russia mess—was directed at Flynn. Finally, there was a new rationale that Flynn should be fired not because of his Russian contacts, but because he had lied about them to the vice president. This was a convenient invention of a chain of command: in fact, Flynn did not report to Vice President Pence, and he was arguably a good deal more powerful than Pence.

The new rationale appealed to Trump, and he at last agreed that Flynn had to go.
(Trump reeeeeealllly likes Flynn.) The story is fascinating for one by the "full confidence of the President" line, which we understand to be a death knell, and in this particular case it probably was true - showing how little Trump has to do with things. He's kind of a Magic 8 ball president, but only with 2 or 3 answers: "Blargh" "Nah" "Me"

The other thing is the Pence part of it - Pence is shown as being wholly incidental to the whole story - which we already knew, particularly the weirdness of Flynn being fired for lying to Pence, as if Pence was some pious fainting dandy who's insult was more than the whole administration could bear. So weird. No, they just needed to make up something so Donny Two Scoops didn't have to fire his buddy, y'know for the whole collusion thing.

He really liked Flynn.
posted by petebest at 5:53 PM on January 5 [18 favorites]


It sucks, but all things considered it feels like the time still isn't right yet.

I remember reading the National Post at my parent's home in the late 80's or early 90's and there was an editorial that said "Now is not the time for Human Rights in Canada" and detailed all the economic struggles and hardships we faced at the time and how adding human rights would only make all those worse.

It turned out the economic performance of Canada at that time was stronger than the 2000s.

The lesson to take from this is that now is the only opportunity we ever have. If you wait for the future you won't change it.
posted by srboisvert at 5:56 PM on January 5 [75 favorites]


Am I gonna have to be the first person to point out that the gorilla channel joke mirrors the actually-actual-fact thing about Trump watching Bloodsport, having one of his large adult sons fast-forward through all the non-fighting scenes

Because that actually was a real thing
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:56 PM on January 5 [42 favorites]


Wolff's book places him in the Four Seasons having breakfast when that's something he never actually did:

I actually just finished that part, and he doesn't say he was there. It seemed implicit to me that it was reconstructed from eyewitness accounts, but not his. He doesn't say "I saw" or "then I said to Ivanka" or anything like that.

Media goin' berzerkaroo man tell you whut dang ol'
posted by petebest at 5:56 PM on January 5 [22 favorites]


I've been loosely following the initiative to get more women on boards (in both the EU and the US) with both interest and despair for over a decade now. It's brought me to this conclusion: the only way we are going to get any kind of meaningful gender parity in business is basically by blunt force.

Here are just a few quotes from the article about getting more women on boards in European countries that don't have quotas for it:
Men also mentioned quite frequently that they wanted “qualified” and “strong” directors first and foremost.

“I think it is dumb and destructive — demeaning to people who are only on the board because they are in a specific category.” Female directors also expressed doubts. “No one wants to be a second-class citizen.”

Many companies have a historic DNA — all male — and they are not open to thinking about including women. ”Executive recruiters also talked about the difficulty of bringing on more women. One U.S. executive recruiter said that men are reluctant to advocate for more women on boards because of concerns that “I don’t know if I want to be the one that rocks the boat.”
And from a CEO in Norway, where there are quotas:
“In my opinion, what happened in Norway when affirmative action was introduced was that the entire recruitment process of boards was sharpened. The requirements were clarified, the election committee’s responsibility was acknowledged. And the focus on the composition of the boards in general was improved. With that law, the importance of the board was upgraded, and the composition of the board. That is positive. And it might also be because you don’t have to go far back before you see that the recruitment to boards and board members was heavily influenced by a sort of networking mentality, and the close network that you belonged to yourself.”
So where we don't have outright, conscious resistance to having women on boards, we have unconscious bias. If I had a nickel for every time I read an article that quotes a man saying how much he would like to see more women in exec positions/on boards, but bemoans that there aren't any "qualified" women out there or that he couldn't find women who were a "good fit" or "strong" or somesuch, I'd be a rich woman by now.

Because words and phrases like "qualified," "good fit" and "charisma" are easily recognizable to most women who have worked for any length or time in any male-dominated profession and have aspired to climb the ladder. What those words and phrases mean, even if the person speaking them doesn't realize it, is "she doesn't look like me, think like me, talk like me. A woman isn't a man. I can only relate to men, and I am unwilling or unable to expand my mind/horizons to understand or recognize the talent/potential of people who are not like me."

I think we're looking at something similar in politics. If we wait until the Democratic party is "ready" to run a woman candidate for president or is in a good position to do so, we will never run another woman again. Because all we fucking do is find reasons why we don't like her and she's not good enough. And I'm just talking about the Democrats! Elizabeth Warren - too shrill. Amy Klobuchar - too moderate. Kamala Harris - too uppity (double the bias!) Hillary Clinton - too everything. Kirsten Gillibrand - Al Franken.

Just like I believe that the only way to get gender parity in the upper echelons of business (absent affirmative action/quotas), is literally by people just deliberately deciding to hire women, even if their gut bias feeling says otherwise; I also believe that we won't get gender parity in government without fucking just picking the woman, absent any glaring ineptitude or disqualifications (e.g. Sarah Palin).

What this means is I would vote for a Claire McCaskill or a Heidi Heitkamp over a Bernie Sanders or, god help me, a Jason Kander. Representation really matters. You know what kind of an effect seeing women in leadership positions has on girls? They become more ambitous. Which translates to more women running in the future, which by sheer numbers gives us.....more women in politics! We don't get more women unless we have more women and we've shown that we are unwilling or unable to choose more women (in meaningful numbers) on our own. Unless we make a deliberate, conscious, concerted effort. There was a comment in one of the other megathreads on a great system to use when voting, which I used in the most recent elections in November, and will likely continue to use for the forseeable future:

(1) Vote for all the Democrats
(2) If there's more than one Democrat to pick from, vote for women and people of color to the extent you can infer those from names.
(3) If it's a nonpartisan election, vote for women and people of color again.
(4) If it's a ballot proposition, vote no unless I can think of a decent reason to vote yes.

posted by triggerfinger at 6:00 PM on January 5 [92 favorites]


Trump was preparing to be a loser by laying the groundwork that the election was rigged and that he might not even accept its result. Then when he lost, as expected, he could claim it was rigged but accept the result anyway (eventually at least) - so: win, win, he’d be Martyred President of the 27% and not have to do any work or be accountable.
posted by Rumple at 6:08 PM on January 5 [20 favorites]


If it's a ballot proposition, vote no unless I can think of a decent reason to vote yes.

Please don't do this (and yes, I am cherrypicking from an otherwise excellent comment, for which I apologize). I know it's a bunch of work, but please do some research instead of just adopting a default curmudgeony stance. You don't have to be an expert—it can be as simple as looking at a couple endorsements or asking your friendly internet wonks on MetaFilter—, but take a moment to look at the arguments.

I've had multiple smart, engaged people express some form to me of "well this is what we pay the legislature to do, so I won't vote for any of them." Depending on the locality, that thinking makes schools and libraries and parks that much harder to fund, not to mention making it harder to pass important measures like major criminal justice reform. They sometimes have deceptive names or are put there by people who are out to trick you. Ballot propositions (and candidates) matter a lot; please don't just use heuristics to decide on them.
posted by zachlipton at 6:17 PM on January 5 [80 favorites]


NT Alexandra Petri, WaPo: I read ‘Fire and Fury’ so you didn’t have to, President Trump
Just to give you a sense of the general flavor of the thing, so you do not have to read it (you, like Trump, may be “post-literate,” a terrifying new Orwellian term the book coined that makes it sound as if we are moving right on the evolutionary scale instead of left):

In the corner of Trump’s office sat Steve Bannon, like Drosselmeier, flapping his wings and cackling. He did not look so hot, because he was going through everything Trump had said and looking for clues in it, but now he had a flawless 18-point plan which he had written on a white board for all to see. Jared had tried this, too, but he had gotten bored halfway through because he was a mental lightweight and wanted to go try on another suit. Trump was sitting on the floor trying to glue two televisions to one another so that the personalities on them would appear to kiss. This, he felt, would solve the Middle East. Then he ate six hamburgers, which he had sent Reince Priebus, wearing a full face of unflattering powder, to retrieve for him, in case they contained poison. Paul Ryan was a nobody and Bannon disliked him. Who were Steve Miller and Hope Hicks, and what were they doing there? Nobody knew!

It goes on in this vein for some time.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:29 PM on January 5 [23 favorites]


@brianbeutler
To my knowledge, Steele has not testified to Congress and has only spoken to the FBI about the Russia investigation. What possible fucking basis could Grassley and Graham have for their bullshit referral that wouldn’t constitute a major scandal in its own right?


Later this afternoon, Brian Beutler went on a quick Twitter-tear about this week's events and the Dems' lack of opposition:
I get that it’s a lot to process, but I find the Democrats’ lackadaisical response to everything that’s happened this week pretty stunning.

If a senile Dem president were ginning up investigations of Mitt Romney, leading an obstruction conspiracy that inculpated the White House counsel, the Speaker, the House Intel chair, and others, Republicans would stage walkouts, hold emergency press conferences, etc.

As near as I can tell, the only thing Dems have done this week is try to negotiate a government funding deal with the White House and let Adam Schiff furrow his brow a bit to @ThePlumLineGS.

[Bannon calls Trump-campaign Russia ties treasonous, Republicans admit Trump is unfit to serve]

PELOSI AND SCHUMER:

“We had a positive and productive meeting and all parties have agreed to continue discussing a path forward to quickly resolve all of the issues ahead of us.”
And let's not even bring up the Dem leadership's silence on Trump's personal appointment of Rudy Giuliani's law partner Geoffrey Berman as an interim US attorney for the Southern District of New York, despite the conflict of interest this presents with the ongoing Zarrab trial (and which would cover any cases involving the Kushner Companies and Trump Org). Incidentally, Gillibrand at least said she'd oppose this nomination, while Schumer did not respond for comments.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:31 PM on January 5 [41 favorites]




It was during Trump’s early intelligence briefings, held soon after he captured the nomination, that alarm signals first went off among his new campaign staff: he seemed to lack the ability to take in third-party information. Or maybe he lacked the interest; whichever, he seemed almost phobic about having formal demands on his attention. He stonewalled every written page and balked at every explanation.

“He’s a guy who really hated school,” said Bannon. “And he’s not going to start liking it now.”
However alarming, Trump’s way of operating also presented an opportunity to the people in closest proximity to him: by understanding him, by observing the kind of habits and reflexive responses that his business opponents had long learned to use to their advantage, they might be able to game him, to move him. Still, while he might be moved today, nobody underestimated the complexities of continuing to move him in the same direction tomorrow.


We do a lot of that here - trying to parse the tweets and spittle. But it's really as simple as understanding NPD or

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings.[2][3] People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance.[3] They often take advantage of the people around them.[3] The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations.[3]

And what's made clear in the book is Trump is . . . "funny" about psychological things. In the standard, "don't talk about it, don't want to know, I'm fine, no no no". The passage above from the book is one of several where Trump basically shuts down when given *any* information. He's either talking or you've got 5 seconds to slap him into your reality before he toddles off again. All day. Every day.

He has no James Baker, no fixer, no sidekick - it's all about him now and $organizing_principle help the person who upstages him. So all those vacant governmental positions are likely to atrophy and just die with nothing ever happening, because nobody can jam two names between his ears before he gets distracted by a moth and tweets out another nation-rattling exclamation. Like, literally nobody. We're presided over by a self-absorbed, racist, tiny-handed rock.
posted by petebest at 6:43 PM on January 5 [23 favorites]


I'm waiting for some right-wing commentator to angrily debunk it.

What, like Gavin McInnes?
posted by scruss at 6:44 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


I Don’t Know How to Feel About This Shocking Trump Tell-All
Everyone is talking about the explosive forthcoming book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Literally everyone. I walked into my coffee shop this morning and the barista screamed, "Honey, all we're serving is TEA today, honey! Scalding hot!... Also we have, like coffee, too. I'm just excited. Sorry."
...
The excerpts are a masterpiece of spurious gossip, mixing commonly held beliefs with dialogue that crackles with shade. It can't possibly all be true. But also probably is. We are living in middle of what future historian will refer to as the Hot Mess Ages, also known as Dumpster Fire Times. The book is sure to be an instant hit. Next week's New York Times bestseller listing is just going to be four fire emojis and this GIF.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:24 PM on January 5 [18 favorites]


All these implications of potential discovery at the top of this thread, why don't more reporters and informant types leverage that?

Call his bluff.

Push for discovery.

Over and over again.
posted by filtergik at 7:51 PM on January 5 [15 favorites]


Hey, totally unrelated to the gossip book:

Any MeFites in Idaho, d'you know anything about Paulette Jordan? What's the good money on her gubernatorial run? Is she a candidate worth heavily supporting? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

Because this is a profile that has me really interested in her as a potential upset local candidate, and it sounds like she's a person to watch in her upcoming election. I'm really enjoying the slates of women, particularly women of color, building up to run for office at all levels this coming fall, and I like to have an eye on who is seriously running and who can use a boost of support well ahead of the game. I can't donate much right now, but knowing who looks particularly savvy is useful to help get the word out about some of the more local elections that aren't receiving as much attention as our federal dumpster fire.

(I've already sorted out my likely votes for my state House rep, who is up for election in a seat that's contested after the incumbent, ah, got involved in a major scandal and nearly was impeached; the woman challenging her I like best is another black woman, so that makes me happy. I want to see more women in office, and Cole has easily the most experience of the slate of candidates challenging for the post. I like my incumbent state Senate and federal House reps just fine and will request to keep them, and I'm cautiously very about Beto O'Rourke, but I'm also watching a bunch of offices that aren't in my district and trying to keep an enthusiastic eye out in particular for interesting women of color with good local support. We have a lot of women running in office this fall in Texas, so there's plenty to choose from! I'm newly interested in and excited about the candidacies of Gina Ortiz Jones, for one thing. And there's never been a Texas Latina in Congress, which is absurd. We've got a lot of good shots to make that happen this fall here, though--Jana Lynn Sanchez in DFW, Sylvia Garcia in Houston, Veronica Escobar in El Paso--I'm actually really excited and hope to see someone break that particular barrier soon. There's no shortage of good local talent here, and we should have representatives who share the backgrounds of their constituents.

And god, if Lupe Valdez can win her gubernatorial bid, I'll be fucking beside myself: it's a long shot, but it'd be fucking amazing to get Abbott out of office, and I think she's got better positions than her main rival for candidacy. Plus there's this interview highlighting several other good women to watch in Texas this fall. Dani Pellett sounds kickass in particular--someone who's a progressive trans woman, an ex-conservative who knows how conservatives think, and who has solid recommendations for organizing for people new to the whole thing? I like it.)

What local candidates are the rest of you interested in and watching?
posted by sciatrix at 8:11 PM on January 5 [14 favorites]


Speaking of local candidates and female candidates, in the district over from mine, TX-31, Dr. Christine Mann is running for Congress and today one of her large campaign signs had a noose hanging from it. [Link to photo on her FB campaign page.] So...that's fun.
posted by threeturtles at 8:23 PM on January 5 [15 favorites]


*delighted* And I put all that in before I read triggerfinger's excellent comment on going out and pushing for support of women in office. I am lucky: here in Texas there are currently many women of color in particular running. But there are women running everywhere, and I deliberately support women before men because she's precisely right: representation matters.

Seriously. Y'all, that internalized misogyny will fuck us every time. The only way you fight it is by proactively going out and looking for women to be excited about. Find people you hadn't thought to hear about and talk about them. Think of things you like about these women. Think about how you're framing them, and what makes each candidate exciting. You're probably "expecting" a candidate to be, well, male, and the media will not help you if you just sit and wait to be impressed. Go find someone who is cool and doing cool things you can get behind, and if you can support diversity of experience, perspectives, and underrepresentation at the same time, by all means count that as a plus on its own. Lupe Valdez is not a perfect candidate, but she's a damn sight better than milquetoast Andrew White and her minority status means that she is going to bring a wildly different perspective than he does to her constituency and her campaign. These things are important.

As for ballot propositions, for god's sake, don't be a curmudgeon on principle if it's going to yield ground to Republicans you might otherwise win. Check in with your local League of Women Voters if you aren't sure about ballot props--that's how I've always formed my opinions about mine, and they helpfully lay out all the pro and con arguments right next to each other for you so you can see what the ups and downsides of each are. It's really not hard to form an informed opinion with those fine ladies putting together all that work.
posted by sciatrix at 8:24 PM on January 5 [27 favorites]


holy shit, threeturtles. Well.

That's a hell of a thing to take and weaponize, at least, if you're choosing to take the optimistic view? Imagine chanting at a rally: "Do we obey threats from lynchers?"
posted by sciatrix at 8:26 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


What local candidates are the rest of you interested in and watching?

I met a guy who is on the city council a couple of towns over from me, he's running for county supervisor and I think I will get involved in the local campaign. It's pretty low stakes in the middle of an ocean of blue, but the idea of going door to door is still way past my comfort zone. But I want to contribute more time and less snark. I've also started going to city council meetings, a community clean up group and plan to sign up as an election volunteer this year. Welcome to 40!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:28 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


teleri025: "I actually shouted out loud last week when my BFF Howard Dean said the Boomers need to step out of politics. Seriously. The mid-range Gen Xers like myself are right at the edge of the age qualification for President, and it is time."

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:35 PM on January 5 [21 favorites]


Danica Roem will be 35 in 2019, in time to run for president. Not that I'm suggesting she run, but - look, we've established that "political experience" is absolutely irrelevant to the office. Let's start looking at people who are going to be innovative and energetic enough to push back against the fetid heap of sludge that's going to be left at the end of this administration.

I want candidates who will look at the raw legal structure of the government and say, "here's my plan that works within that," and are willing to absolutely ignore a couple-hundred years of precedent, social norms, and delicate maneuvering for later political power. I want a candidate who says, "I'm a one-term candidate - I want to get stuff done and not give a thought to re-election. I'm here to fix our government, 'establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty,' not make friends with lobbyists."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:45 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


The mid-range Gen Xers like myself are right at the edge of the age qualification for President

I hate to break it to you, but if you’re at the edge of 35, you’re a millennial.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:47 PM on January 5 [66 favorites]


All other books are canceled in America, we only read one book now.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:49 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom: "Danica Roem will be 35 in 2019, in time to run for president. Not that I'm suggesting she run, but - look, we've established that "political experience" is absolutely irrelevant to the office. "

Feels like we're currently establishing just the opposite.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:49 PM on January 5 [35 favorites]


Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 8/19/2017: "White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best"

Donald Trump, tonight: "Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!"

A mutual decision indeed. This also marks the return of the "like a dog" construction, which has long been one of Trump's favorites but has been largely missing in action lately. Trump does not appear to know what a dog is or what they do. Please see the 2016 classic on this topic, Donald Trump Clearly Doesn’t Understand How Dogs Work.
posted by zachlipton at 8:52 PM on January 5 [48 favorites]


we've established that "political experience" is absolutely irrelevant to the office.

Feels like we're currently establishing just the opposite.


We've established that experience is irrelevant to getting elected to office.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:52 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


Sciatrix - Possible candidate of interest to you in Pat Spearman, who is running for the Dem nom in NV-04. She's got an interesting bio (she's a black, gay Army vet and a minister), and I believe is well regarded by Nevada progressives.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Experience is irrelevant to getting elected. Skill and ability aren't irrelevant to being able to do the job well, but I'm long past the point of believing those are best shown by years or decades of experience in elected positions, which mostly show the ability to get elected.

In this year and the next couple, I'll be looking as much at a candidate's trusted advisors as at the candidate's track record - I'm happy to support someone with little direct experience but a good talent for choosing knowledgeable, sensible aides who can accurately condense an array of complex details into a set of options for decision-making. In short, I'll be looking for someone who can delegate responsibly, not for Monarch of America.

I don't expect that person to be younger than 50, but I'm not discounting the idea that they might be under 40.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:09 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 Senate:
-- Good bit of discussion about this earlier, but GOP candidate Josh Mandel has dropped out of the OH Senate race unexpectedly, due to some serious health problems his wife is having. Politically, this is could be be good or bad (obviously, personally we wish the best for his wife's recovery). On the one hand, Mandel is extremely conservative, and the filing deadline is only a month away (Feb 7). On the other hand, Mandel was seen as a lousy candidate, and two of the gubernatorial candidates are considering switching races and jumping in. Sherrod Brown is still the favorite to hold the seat, but this might make it a little tighter.

-- DSCC chair Van Hollen seems to be getting markedly more optimistic about flipping GOP-held Senate seats.
** 2018 House:
-- Ron DeSantis [R-FL-06] is retiring to run for FL governor. District is distinctly red (Trump 57-40, Romney 52-47), but in the current environment it might be possible.

-- WP: Trump moves this week on pot and offshore drilling may prove to be most unpopular in the very areas most vulnerable to Dems picking up seats.

-- GOP seats with no Dem challenger now down to 16.
** OH-12 special -- Dates have been set for the special election to fill Pat Tiberi's seat - May 8 primary (which is the regular primary), and Aug 7 general.

** PA-18 special -- Race round-up from local TV station WPXI. Not much news here yet, although interesting tidbit that Dems and GOP were tied in the judicial races in the district in November.

** Odds & ends:
-- Cities and counties are trying to help voters register, in the face of state suppression efforts.

-- Oklahoma group trying to get an initiative on the ballot to move redistricting to an independent commission. OK Mefites, check them out!
===

Fun fact: We're pretty sure Chris Van Hollen stays at the house across the street from us when we go to the beach every year.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:23 PM on January 5 [34 favorites]


I hate to break it to you, but if you’re at the edge of 35, you’re a millennial.

Early Gen-Xrs are over 50 now, just.

Trudeau, at 46, is mid-cycleish. Macron, at 40, is towards the tail. Arden, in NZ, at 37, born in 1980, is just about the last birth year of the cohort.
posted by bonehead at 9:31 PM on January 5 [16 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned Drumpf should stay on Twitter. Any arena in which he can potentially self-immolate faster is fine with me.
posted by bendy at 9:46 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Natasha Bertrand for Business Insider: Trump Campaign Digital Director: 'Not One Person Made A Decision' Without Kushner and Eric Trump's 'Approval'
The digital director of the Trump campaign said Friday that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and son Eric Trump "were joint deputy campaign managers" whose "approval" was required for every decision before the 2016 election.

"Nobody else. Not one person made a decision without their approval," the digital director, Brad Parscale, tweeted. "Others just took credit for this family's amazing ability. I'm done with all these lies. They will be embarrassed!"

Kushner was Parscale's "patron," according to a person familiar with the campaign's inner workings, which could explain their closeness.

Kushner got Parscale hired, the person said, "despite the fact that a number of people in the campaign wondered whether he had any idea what he was doing."

"He's Jared's boy," the person added. "I had [campaign] deputies telling me they couldn't question anything the guy did or said, and they were unhappy about that."
Sounds like Parscale is rattled after Sen. Feinstein summoned him to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Incidentally, Feinstein also wants to know if his campaign colleague and Trump social media director Dan Scavino had "corresponded with Russian nationals regarding Trump campaign social media efforts."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:48 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


When 45 tweets the word "dog," he is using it in place of the word "bitch." Go through the otherwise nonsensical examples in the article zachlipton linked to and the intended usage will become clear.

On another note, I was able to vote an all-female ticket in November. I was considering choosing a white guy who was running for the board of supervisors in my district, but after the Access Hollywood tape and all that, I just couldn't. I went for the incumbent woman of color instead (whom I have always liked as my supe just fine), marking pretty much my whole ballot for women from president on down.

Then last month the mayor suddenly died and now my supervisor, London Breed, is the new Mayor of San Francisco, and will be running to fill the mayoral vacancy permanently. I don't know what the takeaway is there, really, except that things happen, so vote!
posted by obloquy at 9:52 PM on January 5 [38 favorites]


Trump does not appear to know what a dog is or what they do.

We learned in the Access Hollywood tape that when Trump says "dog" he means "bitch".
posted by dirigibleman at 9:58 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]


Ha, dirigbleman, yeah, I realized in retrospect that my two different comments were actually related after all.
posted by obloquy at 10:05 PM on January 5


Drew Magary for GQ: Michael Wolff Did What Every Other White House Reporter Is Too Cowardly to Do

Trump ascended into power in part because he relied on other people being too nice. It’s fun to rampage through the china shop when the china shop owner is standing over there being like, “SIR, that is not how we do things here!” If Trump refuses to abide by the standard (and now useless) “norms” of the presidency—shit, if he doesn't even KNOW them—why should ANYONE in the press adhere to needless norms of their own?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:51 PM on January 5 [94 favorites]


For those whose access to the book is or forever will be nonexistent, there's a Twitter read-along thread to bookmark.
posted by dhartung at 10:55 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


I would like to know how many people in the white house watched House of Cards and thought that Michael Wolff was just a guy like Thomas Yates from the TV show and that letting a novelist follow the president around was a totally normal thing and not something that some writers completely made up.
posted by Quonab at 11:22 PM on January 5 [23 favorites]


(The inevitable climax of the book news cycle is that the President will tweet that the book is inaccurate because he never asked for the gorilla channel to be installed.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:48 PM on January 5 [27 favorites]


I'm sure by the end of next week there actually will be a Gorilla Channel. Which will be declare fake news in a tweet.
posted by Grangousier at 1:21 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Who can wait a week? VICE News presents: The Gorilla Channel.

It's very [fake], but I'm sure you sussed that.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 1:46 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


[Leaving these last two, mainly because we'll just have to keep re-deleting, but now please drop the Gorilla Channel. It didn't happen, it wasn't in the book, it was a twitter joke, we all laughed, people keep reporting it as actual news. okay! Now plz stop.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:10 AM on January 6 [25 favorites]


FT Politico article on Fox & Friend:
Trump also uses his DVR vigorously, often starting at the beginning of a program even if it started hours before he sits down to watch it, then fast-forwarding through commercials and segments that don’t interest him.

Does this mean John Oliver's money has been mostly to waste? Brief googling gives me nothing useful.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 2:27 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


All other books are canceled in America, we only read one book now.

Well, that's one more than Trump.

I went to see a theatre production of George Bernard Shaw's 1919 play Heartbreak House last night, where the idea of letting a businessman/politician run the world is described as "like giving a torpedo to a badly brought-up child to play at earthquakes with". I can't think why, but that line seemed to jump out at me for some reason.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:39 AM on January 6 [16 favorites]


A strongly-worded ad (YT) for Kentucky's Amy McGrath who is not from a state the Democrats are going to win anyway.

This reminds me: among the truly stupid things the Republicans have done in this past two years, letting Democrats filch 'patriotism' as a value was a tremendous own goal. I mean, there are bigger ones, but after they rid themselves of Trump they're going to be dealing with Democrats making attack ads about Republicans not standing up for America and American values for years, if not decades.
posted by Merus at 3:55 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


The President is up and threatening individual journalists:

Trump: ABC News reporter ‘should have been fired!’
President Trump on Saturday took aim at a reporter who made a mistake in his reporting on over a month ago, sending a fresh tweet decrying the reporter’s ability to do his job.

“Brian Ross, the reporter who made a fraudulent live newscast about me that drove the Stock Market down 350 points (billions of dollars), was suspended for a month but is now back at ABC NEWS in a lower capacity. He is no longer allowed to report on Trump. Should have been fired!” Trump tweeted.
Between this and his calls for prior restraint censorship of the Wolff book, it’s been a banner week for free speech and this White House.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:33 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


He's tweeting strongly and bigly this morning. Apparently we have got this guy all wrong:

From the President*'s twitter:
1. Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.....
2. Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star.....
3. ....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!
posted by stonepharisee at 4:42 AM on January 6 [45 favorites]


^ Those are verbatim, folks. I just checked. Aghast (but not, like, really surprised). Yikes.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:47 AM on January 6 [60 favorites]


These Camp David meetings are going to consist almost entirely of Trump going around the table one by one and asking Ryan, McConnell, etc., "I'm smart. You think I'm, like, really smart, right?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:48 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


....and a very stable genius at that!

*registers new sock puppet*
posted by petebest at 4:52 AM on January 6 [39 favorites]


That's definitely not him tweeting this morning. Way too coherent. Independent clauses set off by commas, "at that"... no way he's that sophisticated.
posted by neroli at 4:53 AM on January 6 [24 favorites]


A strongly-worded ad yt (YT) for Kentucky's Amy McGrath who is not from a state the Democrats are going to win anyway.

That was a great ad, but McGrath may have been screwed over by Jim Gray's entry into that race.

I'd like to see McGrath take on Paul or McConnell, though. Gray and Thomas either one would have problems in a state wide race but McGrath might do quite well against either of those.


McGrath's follow up on those two youtube videos has been really poor, that's one reason Jim Gray got in the race. She has no real support from the state Democratic party (not necessarily bad, given how fucking terrible the KY Dems are at...life?), but more importantly didn't secure much donor support outside the initial video's drop, and her perception as an outsider isn't going over well in the district. The Barr people weren't scared of her, they didn't want Gray in the race. Gray is a popular mayor, and won the district even while he got blown out statewide.

Who knows what 2020 will look like and McConnell is hated even in the state...but he can raise almost infinite money to outspend anyone, and KY Democrats have run the same absolute shit campaign in the last three (at least) Senate races. Jack Conway, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and Jim Gray, all ran with essentially the same staff of paid to lose KY Democratic consultants, with essentially the same message of being a Republican who doesn't like Obama but somehow not as Republican as Paul and McConnell. Grimes famously refused to even admit she voted for Obama, when she was a Democratic convention delegate. Whoever runs that same campaign again will lose, like they've lost the last 30 years. The only way to unseat McConnell is to do something different and run an outsider effort. Maybe that could be McGrath, but she's got a lot of work to do.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:09 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!

It's a small point, but 2016 was not his first try. Either he didn't write this, or he's trying to photoshop out his own history like a Stalinist ouroboros, or he does not remember his own presidential campaign. Any of these is equally plausible.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:19 AM on January 6 [89 favorites]


Stable? There's that word again. For those into portents, Theresa May was banging on about 'strong and stable' government just before she lost her majority in an election. It remains a figure of ready ridicule to this day
posted by Devonian at 5:20 AM on January 6


You guys I'm super stable right now. Like, so stable. I'm not drinking wine out of a ziplock bag at all. I'm also, like, really smart and my eye is for sure not twitching. Like,at all.

Is this real life?
posted by Bacon Bit at 5:23 AM on January 6 [48 favorites]


Up here in Canada, Stephen Harper was also big on the whole “strong, stable” thing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:29 AM on January 6


> my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.

He clearly didn't write this part, since he wouldn't know to put commas there. But if I was writing it for comedic effect, I'd add the 'like' aside-- if you told me it was a line from the movie Clueless I would've believed you. So is he dictating this to an underling? Someone who has enough sense to add the commas but not enough clout to tell him how silly it makes him sound? I guess I'm trying to make sense of someone being tasked with transcribing this but not quitting immediately.
posted by bluecore at 5:36 AM on January 6 [33 favorites]


This reminds me: among the truly stupid things the Republicans have done in this past two years, letting Democrats filch 'patriotism' as a value was a tremendous own goal.

To be fair to them, Democrats had been leaving it on the table and carefully pretending it wasn't there for decades. Or do you not remember the push a year ago even on Metafilter for actual pride in the nation to be acceptable on the left?

Because I very, very distinctly remember snarling and snapping at the usual leftist cynical denouncement of the USA and its actions, as if not caring will protect you from the consequences of failure to be involved. I remember the Whelk picking up that standard, too, and I remember an actual shift just in the last year pushing national pride into a comfortable leftist sentiment.

Frankly, I'd less call that a Republican own goal than a reliance on the leftist own goal that Democrats had reliably made since my parents were toddlers.
posted by sciatrix at 5:38 AM on January 6 [16 favorites]


Trump essentially replied to the (apt) characterization that he’s like a child with: “NO I AM VEWY BIG BOY!”

Hamill wrote this in response to the Wolff/Bannon crying/begging like a dog tweet, but it works for pretty much any Trump tweet.

@HamillHimself
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
Congratulations, sir! This dignified, statesman-like tweet is the perfect way to counter the book's narrative that you're an impulsive, childish dimwit.
posted by chris24 at 5:45 AM on January 6 [148 favorites]


All these implications of potential discovery at the top of this thread, why don't more reporters and informant types leverage that?
Call his bluff.
Push for discovery.
Over and over again.


I'm all for calling a blustery lawyers bluff.

But discovery is not magic. 1st you ask and when they FAIL to produce you then have to go in front of a Judge. A Judge who gets campaign contributions from various sources - including the attorneys who appear before them.

And the Judge can say "NO" to discovery. Or can say "I will not approve or hear any motions to compel discovery in this case." and then never actually issue a written order to that end. So you can make the motion and nothing happens.

Then you have to properly preserve the objections every time so the appeals court will be able to make the ruling on no proper order existing.

The shitshow that is court is why the costs are a concern and why most people just settle VS the multi-year fight.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:45 AM on January 6 [9 favorites]


> Stable? There's that word again.

Up here in Canada, Stephen Harper was also big on the whole “strong, stable” thing.


You know who else emphasized "strong and stable" leadership?

Seriously, Godwinning aside, this trope in the authoritarian leadership style tries to appeal to people's anxiety in times of uncertainty and change. Add a cult of personality/celebrity-worship on top of that, and Trump was guaranteed to use it in regard to himself.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:53 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.

That "like" is haunting me. Is the person who typed that tweet messing with Trump? Messing with us? How and why is it there?
posted by diogenes at 5:58 AM on January 6 [91 favorites]


The always thoughtful David Remnick at the New Yorker weighs in on the stability/fitness question, with a particular emphasis on Trump’s use and abuse of Twitter:

The Increasing Unfitness of Donald Trump
Chaotic, corrupt, incurious, infantile, grandiose, and obsessed with gaudy real estate, Donald Trump is of a Neronic temperament. He has always craved attention. Now the whole world is his audience. In earlier times, Trump cultivated, among others, the proprietors and editors of the New York tabloids, Fox News, TMZ, and the National Enquirer. Now Twitter is his principal outlet, with no mediation necessary.

Last week, when Trump returned to Washington from Mar-a-Lago, he set a White House record with a sixteen-tweet day. He behaved less like a President than like a teen-ager locked in his room with an ounce of Purple Skunk, three Happy Meals, and a cell phone. In one tweet, directed at the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, he arguably narrowed the odds of nuclear confrontation—and did so with a reference to an anatomical feature that is a subject of keen and ongoing concern to the President.

Future scholars will sift through Trump’s digital proclamations the way we now read the chroniclers of Nero’s Rome—to understand how an unhinged emperor can make a mockery of republican institutions, undo the collective nervous system of a country, and degrade the whole of public life.

And so the West Wing in the era of Trump has come to resemble the dankest realms of Twitter itself: a set of small rooms and cramped hallways in which everyone is racked with paranoia and everyone despises everyone else.

Nero had hoped to last long enough on the throne to re-brand the month of April “Neroneus” and the city of Rome “Neropolis.” He did not succeed. When he was thirty, having spent thirteen years in power, he was condemned by the Roman Senate as hostis publicus, a public enemy. He was doomed. One of his last utterances seemed to mark the despair of the politician-performance artist: Qualis artifex pereo! “What an artist dies in me!”

Scandal envelops the President. Obstruction of justice, money-laundering, untoward contacts with foreign governments—it is unclear where the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will land and what might eventually rouse the attention of the U.S. Senate. Clearly, Trump senses the danger. A former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been indicted. A former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, has admitted to lying to the F.B.I. and has become a coöperating witness. The President sees one West Wing satrap and Cabinet official after another finding a distance from him. “Where is my Roy Cohn?” he asked his aides angrily, according to the Times, when his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, defied his wishes and recused himself from the Russia investigation.

In the meantime, there is little doubt about who Donald Trump is, the harm he has done already, and the greater harm he threatens. He is unfit to hold any public office, much less the highest in the land. This is not merely an orthodoxy of the opposition; his panicked courtiers have been leaking word of it from his first weeks in office. The President of the United States has become a leading security threat to the United States.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:03 AM on January 6 [83 favorites]


After this mornings tweet I've been shouting at my wife about rebublican gerrymandering and the insane double standard Democrats have to meet to be elected. Happy Saturday everyone. I think I'll go over to the Meta fucking fuck thread and scream there for awhile.
posted by photoslob at 6:04 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


The like is there because he's trying to connect with the youths of 1983 when he was last coherent. Unfortunately, I am not kidding. He pings back to the early 80s ALL THE TIME.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:04 AM on January 6 [25 favorites]


That "like" is haunting me. Is the person who typed that tweet messing with Trump? Messing with us? How and why is it there?

My first thought is that Millennial Santa Monican Stephen Miller wrote that tweet and dropped the "like" in as a shibboleth message to twitter kremlinologists that he's wielding power. It really doesn't seem like something T would write, particularly not the correct punctuation.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:05 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


Was there anyone on Fox this morning that way? 'The President is you know, like, awesome and smart.'

I don't think he wrote those either but him hearing someone speak like that is also a plausible. He also could be repeating what some, probably youngish, staffer was saying to soothe him. 'Yes Mr President. We know it's all lies. You are like, so smart. A genius. Yes yes, stable. A stable genius'
posted by Jalliah at 6:17 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


What a perfect day for a constitution to have a 25th amendment
posted by Going To Maine at 6:20 AM on January 6 [34 favorites]


Trump often uses the “like” when he says he’s smart. Examples here. The idea that it was dictated does make a little sense but it’s so hard to imagine a stenographer actually keeping that tic in. I think he typed it himself.

He peppers qualifiers into his lies so frequently that I wonder if the “like” when he says this is a form of that.
posted by rustcellar at 6:35 AM on January 6 [15 favorites]


Trump varies between dictating his tweets and writing them himself, so that "like" could be simply a verbal tick.

What's important is how Trump's using Twitter to manipulate public discourse and communicate with his base (and, of course, fuck with the rest of us).

Cognitive linguist George Lakoff (previously, previously, ) created a "Taxonomy of Trump Tweets", outlining them in this tweetstorm:
Trump uses social media as a weapon to control the news cycle. It works like a charm. His tweets are tactical rather than substantive. They mostly fall into one of these four categories.

[1) Preemptive Framing (Be the first to frame an idea); 2) Diversion (Divert attention from real issues); 3) Deflection (Attack the messenger, change direction); and 4) Trial Balloon (Test public reaction).]

The tweets either get his framing established first, knowing that whoever frames first tends to win. Or when things look bad for him, he diverts attention or attacks the messenger. And when he wants to test public opinion, he puts out an outrageous trial balloon.

Each tweet gets his message retweeted so he dominates social media. Reporters, social media influencers, and many others fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Every time. They retweet, share, and repeat his messages ad infinitum. This helps Trump tremendously.

They may think they’re negating or undermining him, but that’s not how human brains work. As a cognitive scientist, I can tell you: repeating his messages only helps him.

First, it focuses all attention on Trump’s antics. This makes his nonsense seem like the most important thing in the world. It’s called the “focusing illusion” – and it’s a large part of why he got elected in the first place. It makes him larger than life.

Second, constant repetition of his Trump’s messages embeds them deeply in the brains of millions of people. Whether it’s locking up his opponents or threatening nuclear war, he has the power to control tens of millions of brains via tweets. He focuses them on his chosen topics.

Third, the constant attacks and outrage increase his credibility with his base. He can portray himself as a victim of the “establishment” – under constant attacks (which he provokes with tweets). He acts, his opponents only react. He is in heroic control.
Fortunately, Lakoff does have practical advice for the media and Twitter on how to counteract Trump's tactics: "1) Talk about the Truth (Frame the real issues, like Russia, foreign policy, business connections); 2) Note Attempt to Divert Attention (Say that he's diverting attention. When claims are false, say why.; 3) Go Back to Real Issues (Don't spend too much time on diversions. Get right back to the issues at hand.)"
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:41 AM on January 6 [39 favorites]


Guess what they were talking about on Fox right before El Presidente tweeted.
posted by PenDevil at 6:41 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]




That "like" is haunting me. Is the person who typed that tweet messing with Trump? Messing with us? How and why is it there?

It stopped me dead in my tracks as well. I thought about him going through the trouble of typing those commas. It makes sense that someone else does the typing. Is it possible he just says them into his phone and they are transcribed for automatically? But if that were true how would the transcriber know to keep it under the character limit. Aren't the commas basically wasted characters?

I think I need to go for a walk...
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:48 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


You can't claim mental stability as something you're particularly know for. It's the assumed default. It's like claiming you've always been known for your lack of senility. Mental stability only becomes noteworthy when you don't possess it.
posted by diogenes at 6:52 AM on January 6 [72 favorites]


As rustcellar posted, he often uses "like" when talking about how smart he is. It's a verbal tic he uses to emphasize just how intelligent he is – 'I'm not just smart, I'm, like, smart' – that he includes when writing/dictating. But of course instead of emphasizing how smart he is, it just comes off as Valley Girl/Clueless/Fredo speak that refutes the point he's trying to make.
posted by chris24 at 6:54 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


I'm fairly convinced that the actual person typing into the Twitter is frequently Hope Hicks. She's a permanent fixture at this side, indeed Comms is her job title. She not doubt knows where and how to hang a comma.
posted by bonehead at 6:55 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


Interviewer: Tell me your greatest strengths.
You: Well, I'm mentally stable, lucid, and intelligible.
posted by diogenes at 7:00 AM on January 6 [67 favorites]


Doesn't the "like" distinguish between actual intelligence and deviousness? Since he is already using up all his quotation marks for running-text-emphasis, he has no other tools left to make this distinction.

The whole "genius" bit sounds more and more like Wile E. Coyote, which generation-wise would make some profound sense. This is not even meant as tongue-in-cheek: can't it be that his entire world view ultimately is modeled on the heroes from Loony Tunes? It would explain everything.
posted by Namlit at 7:19 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


I'm flying back to the states tomorrow night. I've just caught up on Donnie's morning dump. Is it too much to ask for my flight from HKG to SFO to just fall out of the sky? I volunteer as tribute to be a blotch on Donnie's perfect aviation record.
posted by Talez at 7:36 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Hope graduated from SMU, here in Dallas. If you were to go to the neighborhood where smu students live, and listen to the patterns, "like" is used regularly as a pause word. It's not used in quite the same way as valley speech from the 80s, but has a lot of similar usage. I would bet that Hope, by virtue of constant contact has tripped the 80s trigger in 45s brain, and thus the linguistic tic.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:51 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


More of the best people, Former NPS Official Found To Have Overlooked Environmental Regs Said To Be Next Acting Director
A former top National Park Service official implicated more than a decade ago for improperly paving the way for the owner of the Washington Redskins to cut down trees on a 2-acre scenic easement along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is expected to become the agency's next acting director, possibly as soon as next week, National Parks Traveler has learned.
...
Mr. Smith, at the time special assistant to then-NPS Director Fran Mainella, was found by the Interior Department's Inspector General to have "inappropriately used his position to apply pressure and circumvent NPS procedures" to permit Redskins owner Dan Snyder to have trees up to 6 inches wide at breast height on the easement cut down to improve the Potomac River view from his mansion.
...
Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, was disappointed that Secretary Zinke would bring Smith back into the Park Service.

"It is disturbing but perhaps indicative that the Trump people would resurrect a political hatchet man to take the helm at the National Park Service. In the Snyder-gate affair, Smith demonstrated a complete lack of respect for protecting park resources or for following established safeguards," Mr. Ruch said in an email Thursday. "It is also noteworthy that the IG investigators found Smith to be untruthful and that his mendacity prolonged the investigation at taxpayer expense – showing a troubling comfort level with alternative facts.

"Besides being a political-fixer, Smith also presided over a campaign of retaliation against the whistleblower, Chief Ranger Rob Danno, who reported the illegal tree-cutting to the IG. A recent survey of Interior employees found not only high rates of harassment but also reported retaliation," the PEER official added. "If promises by Secretary Zinke to change the culture of the Park Service are to be believed, then bringing in someone like Dan Smith is not only at cross-purposes but reinforces the very worst aspects of the deep dysfunctionality plaguing NPS."
posted by peeedro at 7:55 AM on January 6 [27 favorites]


The Republicans are now the party of identity politics by Lucia Graves/The Guardian
When I was in Maine visiting my husband’s family this summer, a prominent former lefty leader bemoaned his party’s “emphasis on identity politics”, adding what Democrats really need is a more “masculine” candidate and a focus on the white working class.
This is the most pernicious form of identity politics of all: identity politics for me but not for thee. Trump and others on the right and sometimes the left have sought to dress it up as a form of populism, but it’s just old-fashioned nativism with a new 21st-century twist.

There were glints of it with the rise of the Tea Party but never have white identity politics – the costumed politics of bigotry – reached such great heights, all while still passing for invisible. If there’s a three-legged stool to the GOP now its legs are all of a piece: whiteness, wealth and masculinity.
posted by mumimor at 8:04 AM on January 6 [40 favorites]


This has been said, but I'm kinda worried about the trend of medicalizing politics. It diverts attention from and warps narratives of politics. It doesn't help with the stigma of mental health.

If Donald Trump has a psychiatric / neurological / psychological condition, he deserves benefiting from health care and professional help, like everyone else. But politics is far bigger than Trump the person. It's about why and how a nation ended up with Trump as the president, and the future implications of the Trumpogenic societal state and process for countless people. We cannot medicate this reality of pre-existing political hell beyond illness as metaphor.
posted by runcifex at 8:05 AM on January 6 [15 favorites]


"That "like" is haunting me. Is the person who typed that tweet messing with Trump? Messing with us? How and why is it there? "

Out of curiousty I read the info wars comment section on this and everyone agrees he's trolling libruls. You can't win with trumpers because they will celebrate his "successes " and say his failures are "tactical trolling".
posted by Tarumba at 8:08 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


As someone with years on the internet, I can tell you that when someone is ranting about how not-mad they are, they are definitely not upset. They are laughing. You are the one who is mad.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:16 AM on January 6 [26 favorites]


But politics is far bigger than Trump the person. It's about why and how a nation ended up with Trump as the president, and the future implications of the Trumpogenic societal state and process for countless people. We cannot medicate this reality of pre-existing political hell beyond illness as metaphor.

Hmmm yeah but the dynamics of abuse are not metaphorical. That’s what keeps blowing my mind. The ways authoritarians and narcissists abuse people on the personal scale are the ways Trump and the GOP abuse the country on the political scale. It’s not even a metaphor.

The personal really is political. I keep doing a Keanu “whoa” every time I see it anew.

And I don’t think you can separate Trump the man, with all his obvious mental, cognitive, emotional, and psychological issues with political support for that man. Because those traits are part of why people support him. There are always people who support abusers.

You’re right that we need to reckon with that. But you can’t separate it from the man himself. He’s not the cause, but he’s the shitty little diagnostic test strip telling us exactly how we’re sick.

The personal is political. It’s freaking me out.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:18 AM on January 6 [39 favorites]


To be fair to them, Democrats had been leaving it on the table and carefully pretending it wasn't there for decades. Or do you not remember the push a year ago even on Metafilter for actual pride in the nation to be acceptable on the left?

No? This was clearly before I joined, slightly less than a year ago, and before that it didn't really come up on Twitter. Part of the problem is that the American left pay enough attention to the rest of the world to notice that when Americans start getting patriotic, the rest of the world starts getting really uncomfortable. But the rah-rah flags-and-pledges approach isn't particularly impressive when it also means you're saluting Donald Trump, so maybe we'll see a different way to express patriotism in the near future. We can but hope.
posted by Merus at 8:20 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


@huntthesnark on Twitter:

I am the very model of a Very Stable Genius.
I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius.
I have no time for television, golf, or social media
Since my brain is way way better than the best encyclopedia.

posted by emjaybee at 8:22 AM on January 6 [184 favorites]


Maybe we could, like, agree that the President's use of the word "like" is indeed an affectation of curious employment and questionable origin, and leave it there, in the interest of conserving thread space? It's gonna be a big next couple of weeks, we don't want our browsers pissed off at us prematurely.
posted by Rykey at 8:26 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]


She has to be perfect at politics! But she can't know she is perfect or ever be seen trying! It has to be NATURAL!

It’s not just women. The problem is, you elect a representative, and then they are there for four years. You don’t know how other people will change their minds in four years: you think you know how you will. So it makes more sense for you to vote for someone where your issues are important to them not because they are popular but because they are deeply held moral values.

Politicians who change their minds because a thing is popular is how we get GOP politicians covering for Trump even though they know he’s incompetent, because he’s popular with the base who will be voting in primaries. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want people who have strong personal ethics instead of people who act as weathervanes.
posted by corb at 8:28 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


McGrath's follow up on those two youtube videos has been really poor, that's one reason Jim Gray got in the race. She has no real support from the state Democratic party (not necessarily bad, given how fucking terrible the KY Dems are at...life?), but more importantly didn't secure much donor support outside the initial video's drop, and her perception as an outsider isn't going over well in the district. The Barr people weren't scared of her, they didn't want Gray in the race. Gray is a popular mayor, and won the district even while he got blown out statewide.

Who knows what 2020 will look like and McConnell is hated even in the state...but he can raise almost infinite money to outspend anyone, and KY Democrats have run the same absolute shit campaign in the last three (at least) Senate races. Jack Conway, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and Jim Gray, all ran with essentially the same staff of paid to lose KY Democratic consultants, with essentially the same message of being a Republican who doesn't like Obama but somehow not as Republican as Paul and McConnell. Grimes famously refused to even admit she voted for Obama, when she was a Democratic convention delegate. Whoever runs that same campaign again will lose, like they've lost the last 30 years. The only way to unseat McConnell is to do something different and run an outsider effort. Maybe that could be McGrath, but she's got a lot of work to do.


Is there anything that local organizers can do to push her? I'm curious: I know that watching some of the candidates I linked to here in Texas, many of the women I've watched consider runs required a lot of encouragement and support when they even considered picking up a challenge. Many of us don't have the blind arrogance confidence that men can capitalize on, and that's in part because women often experience social consequences and pushback for putting themselves forward.

Is her local Indivisible checking in with her? Can folks from out of state help her move forward and check in with her? Does her campaign have support?

IDK. I'm sympathetic to criticism that she's just not doing things well enough, but I'm also really, really cognizant of how much supportive work is needed for any candidate to mount challenges in these districts, especially when conventional wisdom is that running is a waste of time. How do you build enthusiasm against that? How do you maintain it, and how do you convince people you're worth investing in? That video shows a lot of ability to capture some initial enthusiasm: is it inexperience or lack of confidence or what that's keeping her from pushing forward?

These are questions I am always asking myself as I look at local progressive challengers for office, especially here in Texas. If Democrats are going to do well in the House and Senate in 2018, it's crucial that we get these kinds of "no follow-up?" and "good start but what now?" issues ironed out immediately. And that's especially, especially true when I look at women who are amassing campaigns. That's a huge reason I keep collecting these names of women who look like they're mounting good starts and passing them around with some praise for the things I like: it's just straight up harder to push back through that inertia, as we talked about upthread.

So I guess... what's going on with local Kentucky progressives? Is there organizing happening at all, and if so, what is it coalescing around? Looking at the momentum in Texas and the people I know in Kentucky, I find it hard to believe there aren't lots of people who are angry and depressed and disgusted, especially if you can point to and revive the old union promises in the state. The trick is to convince everyone that it can be done: that, after all, is how we manage to do the impossible. And we do it on the local level first, because that's how we build a foundation.
posted by sciatrix at 8:29 AM on January 6 [13 favorites]


> It’s not just women.

Name some male Democrats who have been punished by the Democratic base for moving to the left on an issue. Assuming you can name one, tell me what their constituency was like when they held the more conservative position, and what that constituency is like now.

Comparing what lickspittles like Ryan and Graham are doing to cover for Trump with a Senator expanding the scope of her views because the scope of her constituency was expanded by moving from a conservative (for NY) House district to representing the entirety of NY is asinine.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:05 AM on January 6 [35 favorites]


1. Macron and I are the same age? Jesus.

2. I can tell that we're in the darkest timeline because I now like Gilbert and Sullivan. (Okay fine, just the parodies. But still.)
posted by elsietheeel at 9:08 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


No? This was clearly before I joined, slightly less than a year ago, and before that it didn't really come up on Twitter.

Yeah, sorry; I'm probably talking about something closest to.... let's see, the memories that I have of talking about it are slightly more than a year ago, probably closer to eighteen months. There was this moment right after the election when it felt like the left was torn between despair and rage, around when #Calexit was trending, when it felt like the left was poised to choose flight rather than fight--or else start litigating 2020 all over again in the wake of 2016, with not a thought spared for 2018. And I distinctly remember very deliberately pushing back against that here and elsewhere, and I remember other people doing likewise, by claiming my history and my Americanness and where I'm from and leaning heavily on American values.

We'd been getting bits and pieces of this back, of course. I'd argue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe portrayal of Captain America, and the general work that Chris Evans does portraying the same sentiments off the field, has been a huge driver of that kind of reminder to progressives that there are good things about America, too. (One of my strongest memories of the Woman's March is actually nonasuch, marching with me in DC, holding a Cap shield against her back.) And I've noticed it from the Whelk in part because hof his tendency to mention his own organizing and pride in the same breath as he does his fondness for Cap fandom, and I know an awful lot of other progressives who've done similarly--Cap shield stickers often denote security at local organization events in my area, for example. Many people have adopted Captain America as a sort of totem of the best of American ideals. Hamilton is another example of this kind of progressive patriotism rising again, for that matter.

I've also been here for a few years now pushing back sharply on a general tendency to write off particular states--the South, Texarkana, and the Midwest in particular--as monolithic redstate partisans who ought to be abandoned, and I strongly perceived Calexit in particular as part of that. And you know, that writing off huge swathes of America, and being generally embarrassed about taking pride in anything American because the rest of the world gets antsy when that happens.... well, it has ripple effects, you know? We on the left are quickest to distance ourselves from our country, to pretend to be Canadian abroad, to slump in our seats and mumble "but I'm not from there" when people outside the US panic because the conservative screamers are in power. We don't, historically, get up and snarl "That's not my America!" because the American progressive front has been deeply ashamed of itself, and its nation, since approximately Vietnam.

That's fine. We certainly have a lot to be ashamed of. But shame doesn't push us forward. Shame makes us hide. It launches us into despair. Anger, now--angry pride, disapproval, fighting for ideals you believe in--that pushes for action. And that shift to "Oh, fuck you, Americans everywhere have something to be proud of and it's not this" in messaging and national mood was I think something that had longer roots than just the last year... but I think the last year or two has been a precipice for the left, and I don't think it was inevitable to see this shift happen.

I think there's something to be said for nationalistic pride when it's self-critical pride, and I think that's a thing that tends to get missed in conversation, especially when we're talking to people from other nations. "My country, right or wrong" is not what I'm talking about, but it's absolutely how the left has characterized patriotism since before I can remember... and I think it's more of a thing that upsets Europeans in particular because of the history of European nationalism, which has tended to result in border wars over long-standing ethnic arguments along geographical lines.

That's not the case in the US, though; frankly, our long-standing ethnic shame is a colonialist narrative rather than a nationalist one, and we simply have different traditional pitfalls to nationalism than Europe does because of both our own size and those of our relative neighbors. Historically, the default mode of American nationalistic sentiment rising isn't expansionism; it's isolationism. And while that changed after WWII and again after Vietnam, it's swinging back again: most progressives I know are much more concerned about domestic issues than international ones, and our own personal narratives about making America great again tend to involve looking homeward, intervening less in the business of others, and actually creating a safety net for our own citizens. Isolationism is in some ways on an upswing after nearly seventy years of interventionism.

Anyway, though, I started very consciously and deliberately pushing that kind of patriotic my-country-isn't-this, my-country-is-better-than-this narrative here after the election about a year ago, and I know I'm not the only person.

Here's some of the exchanges I'm thinking about:

You can see me declaring pride in democracy here, using patriotism rhetoric to shut down conservative talking points. And you can also see me sharply insisting that it's a good idea because it works, much better than the idea of anemotional, apolitical attempts to have a logical discussion about best interests.

This is a comment I made last February making a point of Texan pride in its progressive champions to drive home a larger point about national integrity. You can also see me making a point that the South gives rise to civil rights champions, and that we in the Left should be proud of them and remember where they came from as part of our national heritage. If you don't know who Barbara Jordan was, incidentally--you ought to. She's a big reason I am throwing my weight behind so many women of color in Texas, because I want to see another woman like her come out of this state.

This comment here is me pushing against a person complaining of rhetorical excess by doubling down on my commitment to patriotic rhetoric.

This is another December 2016 comment explicitly invoking pride in national offices and institutions as a way of criticizing Trump and Republicans generally.

Here's a comment in January with me aggressively invoking national honor to criticize conservatives and Republicans--and you can actually see me making the conscious choice to explain a little bit about why I was using that rhetoric. On my part, the decision to frame my posts this way was very, very conscious.

And another December comment explaining my decision to go Full Patriot on the GOP. This was actually when I was hoping that there might actually be something to the NeverTrump faction, and my rhetoric was shaping in a way as to force the cognitive dissonance inherent in supporters of the GOP to sit uncomfortably in the mindset of American conservatives.

Here's another December comment where you can see me literally arguing to cloak myself in a rhetorical American flag. I would never have written something like that two years ago, in part because of, as you say, paying attention to European sensibilities about patriotism and national pride. But this kind of deep national pride is actually something I was raised with, and as a DC native it's something I feel very deeply and strongly. As a progressive, I'd previously kept it tucked neatly away from polite company; after the election you can see me using it very bluntly and openly as a weapon.
posted by sciatrix at 9:13 AM on January 6 [77 favorites]


Sens. Grassley and Graham are referring Christopher Steele to DOJ "for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001

Steele is a British citizen. I hope he is smart enough to never set foot in the U.S. again.
posted by JackFlash at 9:13 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


For another round of schadenfreude courtesy of Michael Woolf, here's today's interview with him by the Hollywood Reporter. One fascinating exchange in it is how Wolff maintained his fly-on-the-wall status with his White House sources:
HR: You say you still have sources inside the White House. Have you heard anything?

MW: I hear that the president is very angry, or, let me be precise: I hear that he is truly bouncing off the walls.

HR: I assume he feels very betrayed by you?

MW: I don't know if I would use that word. I don't think he thought about this in any way. I literally think you go in there and say, "I'm writing a book," and they go, "Oh. A book." It's like a cloak of invisibility. And then also they would do this thing that would be like, "Oh, this is off the record." And I would say, "I would like to use it for the book." And they would say, "Well, when does that come out?" And I would say, "Next year." "Oh, oh, yeah, OK, fine."

[...]The distinct feeling that you have when you say that you're writing a book is that these guys don't care about you. You're a kind of non-entity. "A book." Trump is not getting excited about somebody writing a book.

HR: Because he places no importance on books.

MW: Yeah. They almost can't imagine what it is. I remember when the Murdoch book came out and Murdoch's guy [former News Corp. marketing and corporate affairs exec] Gary Ginsberg, called me, furious, and said, "What is this? The book is all about him!" I said, "It's a biography." And Ginsberg says, "But it's so personal." That's when I realized, these guys don't just not read books — they don't know what books are.
It would certainly be ironic if the first nail in the coffin of this post-literate presidency were hammered home by a book.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:19 AM on January 6 [219 favorites]


I hope he is smart enough to never set foot in the U.S. again.

That mainly seems to be what that crap Grassely and Graham pulled was meant to accomplish. Now Steele won't ever testify to a grand jury, Congress, etc. Good job, obstruction crew!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:27 AM on January 6 [14 favorites]


Thank you, sciatrix. You really put into words a lot of what I’ve been feeling about my own patriotism over the last year.
posted by rustcellar at 9:27 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


The tabloid caught up with Trump’s daughter in Los Angeles on Friday and asked about her father’s love of McDonald’s. “That’s what he does, he loves McDonald's,” she said.“Does he eat it every night in bed?” TMZ asked. “He wishes, right,” Tiffany Trump responded.

The estranged daughter of the president is describing him like he's a 5 year old. Also, more Wolff confirmation. Also, he's not the only one who wishes that he could eat McDonald's all day every day. Indulge yourself, Donald. You deserve it.

Context from Kate Sheridan at Newsweek: Trump could destroy the entire human species, says Yale psychiatrist who warned congress members

“As more time passes, we come closer to the greatest risk of danger, one that could even mean the extinction of the human species,” she said. “This is not hyperbole. This is the reality.”
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:28 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want people who have strong personal ethics instead of people who act as weathervanes.

I dunno, if you're elected to represent a body of people, and then they change their opinion on something, aren't you sort of obliged to do the same? Back before the current braindead tabloid void when things like that mattered, I mean. I can see an argument the other way, but I don't know that I agree.

But sure, part of the massive distrust of American institutions is that the politicians themselves constantly make cracks about politicians being corrupt and capricious. Chuck Grassley tweeted the other day: It's so cold in the upper half of the USA Today that politicians will put their hands in their own pockets.

More to the point of the slightly narrower topic at hand, I started composing something on "like," but I wonder if hermeneutics of the president's tweets to the point of sifting through his usage of a valley-girl-ism might be better spent parsing some legislation or baking a cake or just day-drinking, so I'm gonna go try to do those things.

And specifically on the Wolff book, I'd already decided I didn't need to read it before Kramerbooks sold through their copies in 20 mins. yesterday, but the part that keeps hitting me is that even if everything in the book is a fabrication, no one disputes that this fucking clown was just hanging around the White House for months, as far as we know without anything approaching a real clearance.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:28 AM on January 6 [17 favorites]


This morning from the LA Times:

Mueller calls back at least one participant in key meeting with Russians at Trump Tower
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has recalled for questioning at least one participant in a controversial meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016, and is looking into President Trump's misleading claim that the discussion focused on adoption, rather than an offer to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Some defense lawyers involved in the case view Mueller's latest push as a sign that investigators are focusing on possible obstruction of justice by Trump and several of his closest advisors for their statements about the politically sensitive meeting, rather than for collusion with the Russians.

Investigators also are exploring the involvement of the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, who did not attend the half-hour sit-down on June 9, 2016, but briefly spoke with two of the participants, a Russian lawyer and a Russian-born Washington lobbyist. Details of the encounter were not previously known.

It occurred at the Trump Tower elevator as the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and the lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, were leaving the building and consisted of pleasantries, a person familiar with the episode said. But Mueller's investigators want to know every contact the two visitors had with Trump's family members and inner circle.

Mueller long has sought to nail down details of the unusual gathering at the height of the presidential race between three of Trump's top campaign aides — his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his campaign manager, Paul Manafort — and Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin, plus a Russian language translator, a U.S.-based employee of a Russian real estate group, and a British music promoter with Russian business ties who helped bring the group together.

After the New York Times first reported the meeting last July, 13 months after it had occurred, the White House issued a misleading statement while Trump flew back to Washington from the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. It said that Trump Jr. had said he and the Russian lawyer had "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children," and was unrelated to the campaign.

Mueller's team is trying to determine if Trump and others involved in drafting the language aboard Air Force One knew it was inaccurate and whether it was aimed at deceiving federal investigators looking into whether the Trump campaign actively assisted a Russian intelligence operation aimed at interfering in the U.S. campaign.
posted by chris24 at 9:33 AM on January 6 [28 favorites]


> Trump could destroy the entire human species, says Yale psychiatrist who warned congress members

Yeah, but...a small number of people would probably survive even the largest-scale nuclear holocaust, and imagine how low their tax bills will be!

> It would certainly be ironic if the first nail in the coffin of this post-literate presidency were hammered home by a book.

That's kind of what I was getting at with this comment. It's such a perfect little illustrative scene, with Trump *instantly* filing Wolff away in his "losers nobody cares about" mental file the second he says the word "book."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:38 AM on January 6 [14 favorites]


So is he dictating this to an underling? Someone who has enough sense to add the commas but not enough clout to tell him how silly it makes him sound? I guess I'm trying to make sense of someone being tasked with transcribing this but not quitting immediately.

The book gives *lots* of examples where the team has to bridge the Trump-text divide. As an example, Bannon culls through hours and hours of stump speeches to try and fashion a platform Trump won't dismiss immediately (if he can't be tricked into thinking he wrote it). This is after they've moved into the West Wing, i.e. there's no way to avoid it.

Twitter may be his favorite because it's a text medium he can finally get behind. Guttural, monosyllabic, instant.

Agree the commas are likely transcribed by a person, it's essentially the opposite of what Bannon was doing. He cannot communicate normally. EVERYTHING to date has been a tightrope of his inner sanctum protecting that secret. The book may have just cut that rope.
posted by petebest at 9:48 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


I guess I'm trying to make sense of someone being tasked with transcribing this but not quitting immediately.

If I'm right and this is Hicks, she's making almost 180k/yr (PDF) as his PA and "Director of Strategic Communications". She has a degree in English as well, so presumably she does know how to word goodly enough. She's making considerably more than even "Senior Policy Analysts".
posted by bonehead at 9:53 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


And Sessions was certainly not going to risk his job over the silly Russia business, with its growing collection of slapstick Trump figures. God knows what those characters were up to—nothing good, everybody assumed. Best to have nothing to do with it.

Without consulting the president or, ostensibly, anyone in the White House, Sessions decided to move as far as possible out of harm’s way. On March 2, the day after the Post story, he recused himself from anything having to do with the Russia investigation.

The news of the attorney general’s recusal exploded like an IED in the White House. Sessions was Trump’s protection against an overly aggressive Russian investigation. The president just could not grasp the logic here. He railed to friends: Why would Sessions not want to protect him? What would Sessions gain? Did he think this stuff was real? Sessions needed to do his job!

In fact, Trump already had good reason to worry about the DOJ. The president had a private source, one of his frequent callers, who, he believed, was keeping him abreast of what was going on in the Justice Department—and, the president noted, doing a much better job of it than Sessions himself.


Over and over so far in the book (*musical sting/ringtone*), Trump is completely outside his own government. Never using any of the intelligence, resources, or anything. It's like he drove his metaphorical RV across the rose garden and just started living out of it.

And there's a very common refrain - Trump doesn't read squat. So any press that isn't picture-based is summarized for him, usually by Hope Hicks, and that kind of goes through a few filters first anyway. The short version is: cable news is Trumps Brain which we all knew but here it is. The whole thing is laid out like a smørgäsbord of known crispy facts, choice quotes, fresh reminders of events, and warm adjectives with just a dash of narration. mmmm!
posted by petebest at 9:55 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]


I hope he is smart enough to never set foot in the U.S. again.

That mainly seems to be what that crap Grassely and Graham pulled was meant to accomplish. Now Steele won't ever testify to a grand jury, Congress, etc. Good job, obstruction crew!
Is there any law on the books that says someone must be on U.S. soil to testify to a grand jury or Congress? I could imagine a statute that says one must appear before the grand jury or Congress, but a Skype call should take care of that. As Steele is not a U.S. citizen, Grassley and Graham couldn't force him to testify anyway, right?

They could extradite him, sure. But, I bet he could be in a non-extradition country whenever he saw fit.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 10:01 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Now Steele won't ever testify to a grand jury, Congress, etc. Good job, obstruction crew!

You can do a deposition, with video if you like, anywhere. Being out of the U.S. doesn't mean Steele has no voice.
posted by JackFlash at 10:03 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Here's what I think about that correctly punctuated "like." I think the book came out and a whole flood of staffers who'd been hanging around waiting for the last straw for a million years said "THERE it is!" and ran. The lonely tweetscribe hugged them all on the way out and sighed with envy. This morning that person heard the president start his oldguy wakeup snotgargling routine and raced to raid the departed colleagues' abandoned stashes and is now hopped all the way up past the eyebrows on expired egg nog and speed. I'm imagining a scene like the end of Sedaris's Santaland Diaries, a lawless free-for-all, except instead of noisy and crowded with assholes, it's bleak and eerily silent, but for the occasional screaming from Trump and the constant, low, drugaddled giggles from whoever is stuck in there with him. All bets are off and the tweeter is going to tweet whatever amuses the most because what even matters anymore.

But you're right, more likely it's a dutiful Hope Hicks or that little pissant Stephen Miller thinking there's anybody left to troll.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:23 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


Angela Helm: The U.S. Tried To Get Cute on Iran But Were Promptly Rebuffed by the Russians Who Asked About Black Lives Matter
The old adage when you point the finger, you have three fingers pointing back at you, rang true in the United Nations on Friday, as the U.S. Ambassador and former Republican governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, unexplainably called an emergency session to lecture the Iranians about their crackdown on protests in that country.

“Let there be no doubt whatsoever,” said Hailey, “the United States stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves.”
[...]
France’s ambassador, François Delattre, was having no parts of this special session, and warned that the U.S. might want to be careful moving forward.

“We must be wary of any attempt to exploit this crisis for personal ends, which would have a diametrically opposed outcome to that which is wished,” he said.

The Russian ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzya, said “hold my beer.”

The Times reports that not only did Nebenzya ask why the Security Council had no special session when Black Lives Matter protesters descended on Ferguson, Mo. (and were also met with a violent state response), but that he was hip to the skip, too.

“The real reason for convening today’s meeting is not an attempt to protect human rights or promote the interests of the Iranian people, but rather as a veiled attempt to use the current moment to continue to undermine” the Iranian deal, Nebenzya said, a reference to what the Times hails as a “signature diplomatic achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama.”
posted by zombieflanders at 10:30 AM on January 6 [102 favorites]


South Korea and North Korea agreed to talks

So naturally, Trump the Great Dealmaker suddenly says he's open to discussions, reports the Associated Press, since the two Korean governments have apparently realized they can make better progress without him involved.
Trump tells reporters at Camp David that he "always believes in talking."

North and South Korea have agreed to discuss cooperation on the upcoming Olympics in South Korea, as well as other issues, in rare talks set to begin Tuesday.

Trump calls that "a big start." He says if "something can come out of those talks that would be a great thing for all of humanity."

He says North Korea's Kim Jong Un — who's threatened the U.S. with a nuclear attack — "knows I'm not messing around, not even a little bit, not even 1 percent."
One of the many ironies of Fire and Fury's publication is that Kim Jong-un now seems like the more stable negotiating partner on the global stage

c.f. As ‘Fire and Fury’ Is published, Europe Openly Debates: ‘Is Trump Still Sane?’ (Washington Post)
Some of the United States’ closest international allies, including Britain, Germany and France, are now openly debating whether the most powerful man in the world and de facto leader of NATO — an alliance on which their entire military strategies are based — can still be trusted.

“In many European capitals, the prevailing sentiment is helplessness and frustration that Trump won’t engage in a rational dialogue,” argued Stephan Bierling, a professor for transatlantic relations in Germany, who said that he had long admired the United States but that his beliefs were now “shaken to the core.”

“Once a relationship is in disorder there is no easy way back. Trump has succeeded at destroying Europeans’ trust in himself and the United States more broadly,” according to Bierling. The mental health concerns now raised in Wolff’s book and widely debated across Europe, he said, were exacerbating European politicians’ existing skepticism of Trump.
The longer term damage to the US's reputation may not come from learning the true extent of Trump's instability but from the discovery of his administration's willingness to enable, normalize, and conceal it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:40 AM on January 6 [29 favorites]


That mainly seems to be what that crap Grassely and Graham pulled was meant to accomplish.

How recently was Steele in British intelligence because these veiled threats to an ex-agent must be really warming hearts over there at MI6.
posted by PenDevil at 10:43 AM on January 6 [16 favorites]


I've always been known for, like, wearing pants.

Those rumors are entirely baseless.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:48 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]


My local B&N seems to have copies of The Book in stock. I'm so conflicted. I need no convincing that Trump is a dangerous malignant narcissist in protracted cognitive decline. I'm not sure I really want to know exactly how many times the people in his orbit indicated they are well aware of that and then enabled him anyway, laughing the whole time.

On the other hand, I want to annoy Trump in any way I can and this seems like pretty low hanging fruit.

I already contribute monthly to Pro Publica. Does that absolve me of lining the pockets of Michael Wolff?
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:49 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


Later this afternoon, Brian Beutler went on a quick Twitter-tear about this week's events and the Dems' lack of opposition:

Democrats seem to have no idea they're in politics. They're like Mr. Magoo, who think he's on the uptown bus but is somehow riding an elephant.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:54 AM on January 6 [20 favorites]


Bad news, everyone, 2018's writers are just as hacky in their on-the-nose symbolism as 2017's were...

David Nakamura‏ @DavidNakamura: “It appear[s], per pooler @Jordanfabian, Trump and GOP leaders watched 'The Greatest Showman' at Camp David last night. Per, IMDB, the movie 'celebrates the birth of show business, and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation'”

As someone said of one of Barnum's notorious hoaxes, "There's a sucker born every minute."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:11 AM on January 6 [9 favorites]


soren_lorensen: yes, it does. Go. Read. It's all good.

Trump is portrayed sympathetically, as is Ivanka, if not Kushner. Unlucky victors in a grand scheme that was as much standard Trump pathology as criminality. What do you do when your racist, demented, if doting dad gets elected and is utterly drowning?

(Ivanka, if you're reading, the answer is tell the truth and get help. Get him out.)

The longer term damage to the US's reputation may not come from learning the true extent of Trump's instability but from the discovery of his administration's willingness to enable, normalize, and conceal it.

Agreed, but I see it as the media and the establishment - including Chuck 'n Nancy - as complicit to an extent and therefore damaged by this. He (Trump) is so abnormal and unfit, it's just flooring to read it at this level of detail and length. To live it? On the ground? That's fucked up, dude.

It's worse than we thought but not in the way we thought (necessarily).
posted by petebest at 11:22 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


A Twitter thread on the odd phrasing of this morning's tweets by former New Yorker theater critic Mimi Kramer.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:52 AM on January 6 [18 favorites]


Resistbot did an interesting analysis of the counties where they get the most users, relative to population. Interestingly, almost all of the top ten counties contain public universities, and most of them are in red states.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:05 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


I admit to getting The Book. And I'm about 2/3 of the way through. One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet in this thread (unless I've overlooked it in the deluge) is the role of the Mercers in resurrecting the Trump campaign. Kellyanne Conway is a protege of the Mercers - in particular Rebekah. Steve Bannon was hired by the Mercers to work on the Trump campaign.

Robert Mercer is described as an extreme introvert and a rather garden-variety conservative, but Rebekah - hoo boy, people do not like her and describe her as "extreme" even among asshole rich people. She comes off as a real Serena Joy whackadoo hate-filled extremist.

Rebekah Mercer hitched her car to a clown show this time around, but if she had chosen better, or if she picks better next time, watch out. She worries me more than anyone, even the santorum-smeared circus peanut, because of her deep pockets and because most people probably have never heard of her or at least don't give her much thought.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:08 PM on January 6 [60 favorites]


Is President Trump Mentally Ill? It Doesn’t Matter (Josh Marshall / TPM)
We are now back on to the feverish debate about whether or not Donald Trump is mentally ill or suffering from the onset of dementia. The most important thing to know about this debate is that it simply doesn’t matter. Diagnoses are something for trained professionals and even they are challenged to make them without a proper in-person examination. But again, it doesn’t matter.

For public purposes, clinical diagnoses are only relevant as predictors of behavior. If the President has a cognitive deficiency or mental illness that might cause him to act in unpredictable or dangerous ways or simply be unable to do the job, we need to know. But My God, we do know! We see him acting in these ways every day – and not just in multiple news reports from an abundance of different news organizations. We see it with our own eyes: in his public actions, his public statements, his tweets. All the diagnosis of a mental illness could tell us is that Trump might be prone to act in ways that we literally see him acting in every day: impulsive, erratic, driven by petty aggressions and paranoia, showing poor impulsive control, an inability to moderate self-destructive behavior. He is frequently either frighteningly out of touch with reality or sufficiently pathological in his lying that it is impossible to tell. Both are very bad.

One of the diagnoses you often hear tossed around, rightly or wrongly, is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a Class B personality disorder. I think most psychologists and psychiatrists would tell you, privately if not publicly, that a number of Trump’s behaviors could (I stress, “could”) be explained by NPD. But that doesn’t tell us that much. Lots of symptoms and behaviors can be explained by many different diseases and disorders. Or no disorder or problem at all. That’s why you need a proper examination. (This applies of course to both somatic and mental illnesses.) Some shrinks may say they’ve seen enough to know; others would say, no, never without a full examination. Again, for our purposes, it doesn’t matter. If the entire psychiatric profession got together and examined Trump and pronounced him entirely free of any mental illness, his behavior wouldn’t be any less whacked or dangerous in a President. ...

That brings us back to the point. It’s really only the behavior that matters to us as citizens. A diagnosis would only be helpful to learn about behavior we don’t know about or predict future endangering behavior. Since we know about the behavior we’re talking about, none of that matters or applies. In common sense, every day rather than clinical language Trump is clearly unstable, erratic, impulsive. In a word, he’s nuts and not well. As citizens, we are entirely able and entitled to make these determinations. They are ordinary English language descriptors that the psychiatric profession doesn’t control and shouldn’t want to control. The entire debate over whether Trump is “mentally ill” is simply a diversion, premised on the idea that we need either permission or dictation to say he is not able to safely or competently fulfill the job of President. We don’t. The observed behavior is really all that is necessary and all that matters. It’s very clear.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:30 PM on January 6 [73 favorites]


Dan Rather
@DanRather

Dear Mr. President,
A good rule of thumb is that when you've got it, you don't have to say it. People know. That holds true for wealth, compassion, faith, and yes, being a "very stable genius."
Sincerely, Dan

11:54 AM · Jan 6, 2018
posted by blueberry at 12:37 PM on January 6 [75 favorites]


I am no constitutional scholar or lawyer or a person who has taken any law classes besides zoning law. But here is part of the 25th amendment (emphasis mine):
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
Unless he's like, literally comatose, I don't see how this is going to happen with our current Congress. Republicans, obviously Do. Not. Care. how irrational and dangerous he is. Privately, maybe, but there's no way a majority of them will vote for his removal. Trump has been acting like this for years! They know who he is; a psychiatrist's note won't change that. It's not as though they believe in science and mental healthcare to begin with. And I don't think that Democrats will take 2/3rds of the House and Senate this year.
posted by AFABulous at 12:51 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


As others have pointed out, Trump is so "mentally stable" that he can't even remember that he first ran for president 18 years ago.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:52 PM on January 6 [16 favorites]


Also, he's not "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" - he's just doing it in a way that most of us find appalling.
posted by AFABulous at 12:52 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Mother Jones: The GOP’s New Year’s Resolution: Make Russia Go Away.
“They’re trying to shut us down,” Schiff tells Mother Jones. “I think external pressure from the president and others is having an effect. The buck stops with the Speaker.”
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:55 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


From The Astoria Bookshop's facebook post (via a friend):
We believe the current occupant of the White House has fostered a toxic national environment. We are hopeful for a future where honest, thoughtful political discourse is once again possible.
In an effort to offset this toxicity, we are donating our profits from sales of Fire & Fury to the Voting Rights Institute and The New York Immigration Coalition, split evenly between the two organizations.
Ensuring that every citizen has the ability to vote, and that immigrants have access to healthcare, housing, education, and legal representation are two missions that we believe will make America a better place for everyone who lives here.
(The Astoria Bookshop is in Astoria, Queens, NY)
posted by maggiemaggie at 12:55 PM on January 6 [80 favorites]


Donald Drumpf's Dank Meme Stash is full of gold
posted by growabrain at 12:55 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


How recently was Steele in British intelligence because these veiled threats to an ex-agent must be really warming hearts over there at MI6.

He was in Six from 1987 to 2009. He was a NOC in Moscow in the early 90s, ran the Russian Desk for several years & was the case officer for Alexander Litvinenko, the FSB defector who was poisoned with Polonium in 2006. Not to be too obvious about it but he's probably one of the greatest living experts on Russian intelligence & he's racked up many friends across the global intelligence community including Russia.
posted by scalefree at 12:59 PM on January 6 [45 favorites]


Corey Lewandowski's book publicity photos are hilarious, and Sean Spicer seems to agree.
posted by zachlipton at 1:18 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


>On the other hand, I want to annoy Trump in any way I can and this seems like pretty low hanging fruit.

I wanted to annoy Trump, so I got a subscription to the failing Vanity Fair. The only problem is I now have a subscription to Vanity Fair.

Sigh. I also wanted to annoy Trump by reading Al Franken's book, and now I have a book I don't know what to do with.
posted by acrasis at 1:26 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I want to annoy Trump by having the Democrats take back the House and Senate in November. That would annoy him much more than the crappy book, and I wouldn't have to read a crappy book.

I dunno. I understand the impulse, but that book doesn't seem like a good use of my time or money.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:30 PM on January 6 [20 favorites]


reading Al Franken's book, and now I have a book I don't know what to do with.

I have a signed and inscribed copy, and it's got a little picture of him on the spine. I keep giving it this "what the hell are you doing here?" side-eye whenever I see it on the shelf, yet nothing happens.
posted by zachlipton at 1:33 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


> I keep giving it this "what the hell are you doing here?" side-eye whenever I see it on the shelf, yet nothing happens.

Looks like you need to pick up this book and put it on the same shelf.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:40 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


A Twitter thread on the odd phrasing of this morning's tweets by former New Yorker theater critic Mimi Kramer.

Oh my! It includes shade like this:
Who is writing this stuff, David Mamet? Who's directing it, Julie Taymor?
posted by mikelieman at 1:51 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Sloppy Steve? Worst President of all time, perfectly adequate namer of Garbage Pail Kids.

At least this one is sustainable given the number of sloppy Steves there are in his administration.

[I remember all the Steves jokes because I too am a Stephen and it brings me shame to even share a given name with these people].
posted by srboisvert at 2:02 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


Natasha Bertrand has an interview with Papadopoulos' fiancée. Most interestingly, she worked for Joseph Mifsud for a couple months in late 2016:
"I knew something was wrong from the first day I arrived there," Mangiante said. "It all felt very artificial. I had worked in real diplomatic environments and this didn't feel that way at all. I never even had clarity about who [Mifsud] actually was."

Mangiante left the organization in November 2016. By that point, she had already begun chatting with Papadopoulos, who had messaged her on LinkedIn two months earlier after seeing that they shared a mutual professional connection — Mifsud.

"How do you know him?" Mangiante said Papadopoulos asked her at the time, referring to Mifsud. "What does he do?"

"Not even George really knew anything about him," Mangiante said.
The Sydney Morning Harold also weighed in with 'Romantic encounter' set off Australia's role in triggering Donald Trump investigation:
It was a chance romantic encounter by George Papadopoulos that set in train the events that led to the Australian government tipping off Washington about what it knew of Russian hacking efforts to swing the US presidential election.

Fairfax Media can reveal a woman in London with whom Papadopoulos became involved happened to know Alexander Downer and told the Australian High Commissioner about Papadopoulos, a newly signed staffer for Donald Trump. Downer, being a canny diplomat, followed it up and arranged a meeting with the young American, who was mostly living in London at the time.

What followed was the now infamous May 2016 conversation over many glasses of wine at the swanky Kensington Wine Rooms, during which the 28-year-old Papadopoulos spilled to Downer that he knew of a Russian dirt file on the rival Clinton campaign consisting of thousands of hacked emails.
The original Times report about the Downer meeting said the meeting started because an "an Israeli Embassy official" introduced Papadopoulos to an Australian diplomat. I guess what I'm saying is that Papadopoulos's romantic entanglements seem to tie into many parts of this story.
posted by zachlipton at 2:13 PM on January 6 [21 favorites]


The original Times report about the Downer meeting said the meeting started because an "an Israeli Embassy official" introduced Papadopoulos to an Australian diplomat.

The Mossad are well known for using honey traps...
posted by PenDevil at 2:24 PM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Also, he's not "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" - he's just doing it in a way that most of us find appalling.

The Book has absolved me of that particular notion. He's doing it appallingly, without question. If we are attacked, or face a banking crisis or - anything. We are in deep shit.

But the discussion of Trump or Trumpism has been, as it would normally be, strategic, political, with an eye to history and its influence, or lack thereof. The book says that all of that is in the very far reaches of influences on Donny Two Scoops. His racist, alt-right proclivities are not necessarily in question, or in play, on any subject at any time. It says, if Ivanka and Hope wanted him to save the whales, he'd probably go for it.

Having achieved the highest political office, he just wants his TV stardom to go with it. He just wants favorable press. And to talk about himself all day. Critical decisions are not. To him. Consider this part about hiring McMaster:
McMaster had been the default choice, a fact that Trump kept returning to: Why had he hired him? He blamed his son-in-law.
After the president fired Flynn in February, he had spent two days at Mar-a-Lago interviewing replacements, badly taxing his patience.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Bannon’s consistent choice, made his aggressive light-up-the-world, go-to-war pitch.
Then Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, presented himself with what Trump viewed positively as old-fashioned military decorum. Yes, sir. No, sir. That’s correct, sir. Well, I think we know China has some problems, sir. And in short order it seemed that Trump was selling Caslen on the job.
“That’s the guy I want,” said Trump. “He’s got the look.”

But Caslen demurred. He had never really had a staff job. Kushner thought he might not be ready.
“Yeah, but I liked that guy,” pressed Trump.
Then McMaster, wearing a uniform with his silver star, came in and immediately launched into a wide-ranging lecture on global strategy. Trump was soon, and obviously, distracted, and as the lecture continued he began sulking.

“That guy bores the shit out of me,” announced Trump after McMaster left the room. But Kushner pushed him to take another meeting with McMaster, who the next day showed up without his uniform and in a baggy suit.
“He looks like a beer salesman,” Trump said, announcing that he would hire McMaster but didn’t want to have another meeting with him.
Shortly after his appointment, McMaster appeared on Morning Joe. Trump saw the show and noted admiringly, “The guy sure gets good press.”

The president decided he had made a good hire.
posted by petebest at 2:42 PM on January 6 [27 favorites]


I'm going to go back and read the rest of this thread in a minute, but y'all were talking about women running in Texas. I'm going to go work for Lillian Salerno, who is the only woman running in the 32nd district. (Dani has dropped out since the link sciatrix dropped was published.) She's a fantastic candidate, and is going to need serious help to get to the run offs. If you know anyone in the 32nd, which is north Dallas, or live there, please memail me. I'm coming in blind from Virginia, and I'd really like to get a feel for the lay of the land before my boots hit the ground.
posted by dogheart at 2:45 PM on January 6 [19 favorites]


As others have pointed out, Trump is so "mentally stable" that he can't even remember that he first ran for president 18 years ago.

In the linked Wikipedia page, there is a quote from his February 14, 2000 press release announcing he was dropping out:
So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman—Mr. Duke, a Neo-Nazi—Mr. Buchanan, and a Communist—Ms. Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep.

-- Donald Trump
Yes, obviously it would be appalling to have a president with links to white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and communists. Unthinkable.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:55 PM on January 6 [44 favorites]


As it turns out, when B&N's website says a book is "in stock" at a particular location, all it means is that it was at one point in stock, but whether it's in stock right now is anyone's guess. (The answer is no, it is not, and the people working there looked at me like I was crazy for even suggesting a website might contain accurate information.) So instead I bought my son a hot cocoa, a homeless guy some dinner, and gave him some cash so he could get a room for the night because it's literally fatally cold here right now. I suspect this would annoy Trump just as much, so mission accomplished.

(Spoiler alert: I am probably going to cave and get the ebook in a moment of weakness anyway.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:56 PM on January 6 [44 favorites]


I'm waiting for the inevitable Pop-Up Book edition of "Fire and Fury".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:37 PM on January 6 [16 favorites]


As evidence of the "Trumps gonna do such-and-so" that isn't the case, here's the explanation of our (?) new Middle East Policy and/or position:
Casting aside, in very quick order, previously held assumptions—in fact, not really aware of those assumptions—the new Trump thinking about the Middle East became the following: There are basically four players (or at least we can forget everybody else)—Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. The first three can be united against the fourth. And Egypt and Saudi Arabia, given what they want with respect to Iran—and anything else that does not interfere with the United States’ interests—will pressure the Palestinians to make a deal. Voilà.

This represented a queasy-making mishmash of thought. Bannon’s isolationism (a pox on all your houses—and keep us out of it); Flynn’s anti-Iranism (of all the world’s perfidy and toxicity, there is none like that of the mullahs); and Kushner’s Kissingerism (not so much Kissingerism as, having no point of view himself, a dutiful attempt to follow the ninety-four-year-old’s advice).

But the fundamental point was that the last three administrations had gotten the Middle East wrong. It was impossible to overstate how much contempt the Trump people felt for the business-as-usual thinking that had gotten it so wrong. Hence, the new operating principle was simple: do the opposite of what they (Obama, but the Bush neocons, too) would do. Their behavior, their conceits, their ideas—in some sense even their backgrounds, education, and class—were all suspect. And, what’s more, you don’t really have to know all that much yourself; you just do it differently than it was done before.
We'd probably have just as good a chance with a random number generator. In fact, that's kind of what we have.
posted by petebest at 3:45 PM on January 6 [14 favorites]


We'd probably have just as good a chance with a random number generator. In fact, that's kind of what we have.

random blunder generator
posted by uosuaq at 4:03 PM on January 6 [63 favorites]


Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shows Trump She Isn't Going Anywhere by Hiring Law Clerks for 2019 Term.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dashed any hope President Donald Trump might have had that she would resign before the end of his term, announcing on Thursday that she had hired a full slate of clerks through 2020.
Notorious RBG FTW!
posted by scalefree at 4:52 PM on January 6 [154 favorites]


This is a particularly evocative scene from the Days of The Mooch era (June). The scene is Bannon's nest in Virginia, and everyone's eating takeout Chinese. In this, it seems like Wolff must have been there, or at least had a recording of it - there are more ellipses here than in any other part of the book - although he doesn't say either way.
Just then Bannon took a call, the caller telling him that it looked as if Scaramucci might indeed be getting the job of communications director. “Don’t fuck with me, dude,” he laughed. “Don’t fuck with me like that!”
He got off the phone expressing further wonder at the fantasy world of the geniuses [Ivanka and Jared]—and added, for good measure, an extra dollop of dripping contempt for them. “I literally do not talk to them. You know why? I’m doing my shit, and they got nothing to do with it, and I don’t care what they’re doing . . . " . . .

“The FBI put Jared’s father in jail,” said Preate. “Don’t they understand you don’t mess—”
“Charlie Kushner,” said Bannon, smacking his head again in additional disbelief. “He’s going crazy because they’re going to get down deep in his shit about how he’s financed everything. . . . all the shit coming out of Israel . . . and all these guys coming out of Eastern Europe . . . all these Russian guys . . . and guys in Kazakhstan. . . . And he’s frozen on 666 [Fifth Avenue]. . . . [If] it goes under next year, the whole thing’s cross-collateralized . . . he’s wiped, he’s gone, he’s done, it’s over. . . . Toast.”
Huh.
posted by petebest at 5:43 PM on January 6 [16 favorites]


ICE to move forward with deportation of paraplegic boy's caregiver

Federal immigration officials late Friday afternoon told The [Cincinnati] Enquirer that they will proceed with the deportation of a Springdale man who is the sole provider and trained medical caregiver of a 6-year-old paraplegic boy.

ICE is a criminal organization.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:51 PM on January 6 [80 favorites]


Speaking of 666 5th Avenue wasn’t the balloon payment due this month?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:19 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


The scene is Bannon's nest in Virginia, and everyone's eating takeout Chinese. In this, it seems like Wolff must have been there, or at least had a recording of it - there are more ellipses here than in any other part of the book

My brain immediately filled the ellipses in with the sound of Sloppy Steve chewing and swallowing Chinese food in between his words.

And it's not a pleasant image. Jesus Christ this guy Wolff really figured out how to thread the needle between nonfiction and Lovecraftian horror, didn't he?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:27 PM on January 6 [12 favorites]


The GOP Tax Bill Was a Deliberate Attack on Blue States—And California Plans to Fight Back.

My state is the best. tl;dr - gonna use some of the Republicans bullshit tax scamming against them.
posted by Justinian at 6:46 PM on January 6 [40 favorites]


A modest proposal in response to Republican perfidy; when Democrats come back into power they should reform the tax system by establishing a baseline minimum acceptable state tax level. Residents of any state which do not meet that baseline would pay additional federal taxes. This would prevent states from jumping into the hellpit that is the Kansas experiment as there would be no incentives for a state to cut its taxes back so far.

Actually, that's not a modest proposal. I like it. If we're gonna have a class war let's start fighting back.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on January 6 [62 favorites]


I guess - even with this section summarized in one of the book's excerpt articles, I wasn't clear how Trump had fired Comey all by himself without telling anyone. That alone is boggling. But the way it went down is insight into what we're looking at:
[Tuesday May 9th] . . In fact, the president, in order to avoid embracing conventional process—or, for that matter, any real sense of cause and effect—merely eliminated everybody else from his process. For most of the day, almost no one would know that he had decided to take matters into his own hands. In presidential annals, the firing of FBI director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own. . .

At some point that afternoon Trump told his daughter and son-in-law about his plan. They immediately became coconspirators and firmly shut out any competing advice. . .

Just before five, in fact, the president, having not too long before notified McGahn of his intention, pulled the trigger. Trump’s personal security guard, Keith Schiller, delivered the termination letter to Comey’s office at the FBI just after five o’clock. The letter’s second sentence included the words “You are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.”

. . . But the president seemed also to want it known that he, aroused and dangerous, personally took down Comey. Forget Rosenstein and Sessions, it was personal. It was a powerful president and a vengeful one, in every way galled and affronted by those in pursuit of him, and determined to protect his family, who were in turn determined to have him protect them.

The next day, as though to further emphasize and delight in both the insult and his personal impunity, the president met with Russian bigwigs in the Oval Office, including Russia’s Ambassador Kislyak, the very focus of much of the Trump-Russia investigation. To the Russians he said: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Then, to boot, he revealed information supplied to the United States by Israel from its agent in place in Syria about ISIS using laptops to smuggle bombs onto airlines—revealing enough information to compromise the Israeli agent.
That was nine months ago.
posted by petebest at 7:40 PM on January 6 [48 favorites]


Republican talking points on the book [twitter]

- Bannon doesn’t work here
- Wolff is unreliable
- it’s a distraction from issues that matter most to Americans and “a blatant attempt to detract from the accomplishments of the Trump administration”
posted by rainydayfilms at 7:48 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


@NickMerrill, also on Twitter:
The GOP’s top point on why @MichaelWolffNYC is a liar is a quote taken out of context that is actually about the lying within the White House.

In short, the GOP is lying about Wollf lying by misquoting the White House’s constant lying. Got it.


(Attached is a pic of the GOP's talking point of Wolff admitting he has made stuff up and a comparison to the line in the book--where, in proper context, Wolff is talking about the White House's sketchy relationship with the truth.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:55 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


I'm reading the book and there is no denying how much the team thought he would lose and just how bored, yet frantic everyone is. If you've ever been waiting for mass layoffs at work, that seems to be the feeling in the White House. I'm thinking of the end game:

He likes watching TV, tweeting, and firing people, so why not give him what he wants? I wish someone would offer him The Apprentice back and quadruple the salary. Put it on FOX News since he loves it so much. It seems like the most sensible thing.

If he goes through an actual medical exam with ethical doctors that confirm some kind of dementia, sleep deprivation, or other issues, I'm confident he will feel humiliated enough to quit and take a bigly TV job. He is just too rich and old to really consider the opinions of experts on any issue.


Getting back on TV will allow him to ignore others, repeat himself, feel important, and stay famous.

*He doesn't like reading or writing. This is completely normal behavior from mediocre managers, based on my own experience ghostwriting and transcribing things for them in different industries.
posted by Freecola at 8:12 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


If you're looking to geek out on a Saturday night, here's a thread from Miles Coleman (Decision Desk maps guy) about Orange County.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:30 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


My state is the best. tl;dr - gonna use some of the Republicans bullshit tax scamming against them.

Oh wow. Turning taxes into optional (federal-tax-deductible) charitable contributions is....unconventional, but absolutely hilarious in the best way.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:42 PM on January 6 [10 favorites]


If you're looking to geek out on a Saturday night, here's a thread from Miles Coleman (Decision Desk maps guy) about Orange County.

CA District 31 could be taken, if the the Democrats could get their shit together. (Outlying areas north of L.A. -- huge non-voting Spanish speaking population. And if it went, 8 would follow -- the desert towns along US-395, up to Mammoth Lakes.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:47 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


So, I've now read Fire and Fury, and I found it . . . problematic.

Yes, it's a takedown of Trump and his highly dysfunctional administration. It lays out the incompetence of Trump to govern. He's an arrogant, petulant toddler with an insatiable appetite for adulation, zero tolerance for critique, and a whopping case of Dunning Kruger when it comes to his lack of knowledge of national or world affairs. But we all knew that. I learned a few things--Trump basically equates receiving a briefing with being lectured at, which he equates with being condescended to, which he cannot tolerate. But at this point I don't know how much more insight into Trump's character there is to be delivered. And I don't think it's really healthy for us to become obsessed with his every quirk. I feel like I can see myself and whole swaths of the nation acting like abuse victims who obsess over our abuser's motivations and moods, seeking to gain some control over the situation--but that's not a path to agency. It's doing what the abuser wants: making him the constant focus of our energies.

The thing that makes the book a page-turner is that it describes in juicy detail the battle for influence between the factions in Trump's inner circle. There's "the kids" (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner), the Bannonites, and the establishment Republicans, engaging in ongoing, convoluted battles for power--kind of like Game of Thrones but with unflattering leaks to the media as the weapons. (Fire and Fury even sounds like a totally plausible title for a season of Game of Thrones.) Yes, it's admittedly compelling to follow the twists and turns, read the various insults and disses, and the fact that this is real life more than compensates for the lack of dragons and greatswords. Instead of a fantasy world, we get a Washington gossip column. What makes it compelling is that this alternately farcical and ugly battle has been producing national policy for a year, in a manner at best erratic and at worst dangerously incoherent. This too is something readers of the MeFi political threads already know. But Wolff is good at handing out juicy little tidbits of information that kept me turning the pages. You can't help but gape at the level of incompetence of so many of the players.

The thing is, this gossip-column approach is really problematic. Gossip columns are meant to entertain, to build celebrity culture, and to foster adulation and schadenfreude equally. And approaching the Trump presidency as newsertainment is disturbing to me; it seems almost a form of collaboration. Because the book paints Trump et al. in an unflattering light, it's being framed as "liberal." But I don't think it is. To the extent Wolff is presenting a critique of Trump and his West Wing, the fault Wolff is pointing out is incompetence. These people don't know how the game is played. They have personality flaws: Ivanka and Jared are naive, Bannon has hubris, Priebus is weak. All of them are self-serving and manipulative, yet ineffective, in their approach to Trump, the most incompetent character of all.

Ultimately, this is book in the horse-race vein of political coverage, just looking at battles inside the Trump administration instead of at a campaign between candidates. And I'm completely sick of horse-race media coverage. For me and I believe the majority of Americans who don't like Trump, what matters are issues, and the incompetence of his administration has been a saving disgrace. It's his administration's stance against immigration from places other than Western Europe, the nods to white supremacists, the climate-change denial, the framing of homophobia as religious liberty and transphobia as necessary to national security, etc. etc., that keep me up nights. Yes, the fact that Trump could lead us into nuclear war due to his fragile ego, fragile masculinity, and lack of impulse control is terrifying. But policies are central to why politics matters, and Wolff doesn't address policies through a moral lens. Politics come across as a game. Wolff actually demonstrates no more interest in policy analysis than the Donald Trump he describes.

This is not a progressive book. In fact, the person who most comes across as a hero in it is Steve Bannon, the smartest and most self-aware character in the book's palace intrigues. And the mainstream media are periodically portrayed as objectively anti-Trump, motivated by elitist disdain, and hysterical in the tone of their reporting on him. These are not positions I'm comfortable with at all.

So. Yes, I'll own that I'm happy to have bought and read a copy of Fire and Fury because that makes me part of a thing that is driving Trump nuts. But that's a petty thing. What really matters to me are the real issues. And one of those issues is that in pursuit of eyeballs, our media have become addicted to horserace political reporting, bothsiderism, and the pursuit of celebrities to fawn at or to mock--all things contributed substantially to the election of Trump. And Fire and Fury is, I feel, fully in that vein. That's my take, anyway.
posted by DrMew at 9:00 PM on January 6 [111 favorites]


So, I've now read Fire and Fury, and I found it . . . problematic.

I must respectfully disagree. Usually we get this sort of inside look at the functioning of a presidency well after the fact. To see just how things are working in an ongoing administration is not only fascinating, but provides insight into where the levers are and where the weak points lie. I don't find it trivial at all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:40 PM on January 6 [20 favorites]


@DrMew, millions of American voters are learning how backasswards the Trump regime is for the first time because they tune out of politics until the water they bathe in is boiling and it suddenly hurts. The important part isn’t whether the author employed a sufficiently distant academic style, it’s whether his assertions are true and whether they are heard. Finally, a lot of numb people are listening.

No, it’s not a progressive book from our perspective. We need a lot of progression before progress will seem progressive.
posted by SakuraK at 9:41 PM on January 6 [58 favorites]


And one of those issues is that in pursuit of eyeballs, our media have become addicted to horserace political reporting, bothsiderism, and the pursuit of celebrities to fawn at or to mock--all things contributed substantially to the election of Trump.

And that’s why I think President Trump stands a good chance of being re-elected in 2020.

Otherwise, DrMew’s by far the best review I’ve read of this book.
posted by Kwadeng at 10:20 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


I'm with DrMew. People will notice that the water is boiling when their personal circumstances deteriorate sufficiently. For example, when the government announces that it is effectively insolvent right as the harvest fails and the price of bread equals a week's wages, leading to demonstrations in the capital by ordinary citizens, to which the Household Guard responds with live fire.

You can probably come up with more contemporary scenarios, but my point remains: your average punter is unlikely to be driven to action by some book that breathlessly points out (accurately) that the West Wing is staffed by dipshits who hate each other.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 10:32 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


I kind of wish we could take a poll here somehow to advise those of us who have not bought the book (yet?) but read everything else they could on it as to whether or not to buy it.

I'm undecided because on the one hand I suspect there's at least somewhat good odds of the facts of this being at least partially taken down and then I'll be annoyed I bought it, kinda like how I feel after having bought and liked Giant of the Senate. On the other hand, it's juicy drama AND would tick off Trump AND if this lawsuit or whatever goes down I may lose the option to decide about buying it later.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:01 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


" if this lawsuit or whatever goes down I may lose the option to decide about buying it later."

Have literally zero fear of that. Trump, as THE most public figure in American life, has almost zero ability to claim libel. The publisher knows that, which is why they give zero fucks about his threats. It's just publicity for them. I can't imagine a court even agreeing to hear the case, let alone deciding in Trump's favor.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:04 PM on January 6 [25 favorites]


If Alabama can elect a Democratic Senator, then people are listening. Your average punter is horrified that an idiot controlled by his favorite fembot child possesses nuclear weapons.

Traditional horserace journalists are horrified, too. Maggie has been all kinds of vicious on TV and Twitter because she spent a year fluffing Trumpers for access and she’s irrelevant now. Who wants to read a creampuff Trump-approved book now? That’s a sign that this book did something right.
posted by SakuraK at 11:06 PM on January 6 [27 favorites]



Traditional horserace journalists are horrified, too. Maggie has been all kinds of vicious on TV and Twitter because she spent a year fluffing Trumpers for access and she’s irrelevant now.

Traditional horserace journalists are horrified because the book plays fast and loose with the facts while essentially telling the same story that they've been telling the whole time.

If Alabama can elect a democratic senator, it means people have been listening and the book isn't necessary. Like, people have talked about how the President's agenda is to make the truth meaningless. In a broader cultural context Wolff is contributing to that program. It might be a thrilling account, but I'm pretty glad that more diligent ones are being written.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:23 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


I seem to have a passel of historical references to drop in here.

But sure, part of the massive distrust of American institutions is that the politicians themselves constantly make cracks about politicians being corrupt and capricious. Chuck Grassley tweeted the other day: It's so cold in the upper half of the USA Today that politicians will put their hands in their own pockets.

This may in a sense be true, but you should be aware that Grassley was just repeating what is arguably Washington's oldest political joke (to remain in constant use). First known use dates to the 1840s.

The like is there because he's trying to connect with the youths of 1983 when he was last coherent.

Nah, "like" as filler, interjection, or vague simile or even punctuation has a longer history than Valley Speak. There's even a citation in the New Yorker in 1928 (a cartoon) -- so it may even have originated as a New York regionalism. It's thus one of the least worrying things he's ever tweeted.

not only did Nebenzya ask why the Security Council had no special session when Black Lives Matter protesters descended on Ferguson, Mo.

Although this was followed by a pivot to the Iran deal, it should be noted that the USSR's go-to whataboutism play was literally "...and you are lynching Negroes", to the extent it has its own Wikipedia entry. To be sure, the dynamics of this response by Nebenzya aren't quite as strictly grounded in deflecting criticism of Russia, partly since the current administration hardly ever ventures onto the human rights pulpit, but here it sort of was, just not to a Russian target per se. I suspect at least some older diplomats understood this context, and I'm certain it whizzed right over the heads of the likes of Haley.

Which brings me to
because the American progressive front has been deeply ashamed of itself, and its nation, since approximately Vietnam.

Substitute slavery for Vietnam, certainly. Let me just point out here that this isn't a new phenomenon, but a longstanding game of, somewhat literally, capture the flag. There has always been a tendency to try to make Americanism a simple search-and-replace jingoism (indeed, it's been said that America is the only country where nationalism is not seen as a disease). But there's just as long a history of reclaiming the flag for protest and liberalism, e.g. suffragists to Selma (heck, even disability rights activism). I think there is a rich lode of left patriotism to be mined if one wishes. It is true that often the flag is used prophylactically, to defend against being cast out of the realm of legitimacy politics, but also often it is about defending the tradition of redress of grievances within which these movements have been operating. Additionally, it seems frequently necessary to remind elements of the reactionary, ressentiment-ridden right and left, even that petitioners are citizens, are human, and are deserving of rights under the law, a presumption often denied them. Frustratingly, it is still necessary, even through apparent happenstance. But let us remember that Barack Obama -- President so long ago it seems an age -- once spoke of "a more Perfect Union"^, but in the context of continuous perfection as an act of conservation and care, making our "union grow stronger". I admit to flagging confidence in this process, but I also see no better alternative than to put our hopes in it, because without it I see only disunion, a weaker United States, and a country that may only see that improvement take place in certain regions while vast others will turn backward or worse. So that's my left patriotism.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 PM on January 6 [27 favorites]


Before I forget and dash off some casual snark as my next post, I'd just like to dedicate my 1000th comment on Metafilter to these threads, which have brought me far more information and sanity than they have cost me. I'm sorry that my brain, like Metafilter itself, has endured a semi-permanent transition towards this great preoccupation, but if it had to happen, I'm so glad it happened here. Grim as 2016-2018 has been, a far darker timeline would be one with only Twitter, Facebook, and the newspapers to rely on. So thanks to everyone here for one more sanity preserved, and for literally thousands of days a little bit brightened.
  (And apologies to the hard-working mods for straying OT : )
posted by chortly at 11:37 PM on January 6 [96 favorites]


I kind of wish we could take a poll here somehow to advise those of us who have not bought the book (yet?) but read everything else they could on it as to whether or not to buy it.

Frankly, the book doesn’t add much to the debate and will probably just reinforce the opinion of both sides of the political divide.

If you’ve read everything there is to read, it’s more than enough. The rest is just tidbits and pieces with not much added value. It’s not even well written (and I say this as a non native speaker); more of a glorified magazine article than a book of substance. This thread and the excerpts already published pretty much capture the entire book.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:41 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


If Alabama can elect a Democratic Senator, then people are listening.

Alabama elected a Democratic Senator because enough white people were so disgusted with the possibility of choosing either a pedophile or a Democrat that they just stayed home. Almost every Hillary voter came out for Jones.

The only thing you can take from that is that some white people eventually hit a limit of disgust with a candidate not that red states are turning progressive.
posted by Talez at 11:57 PM on January 6 [15 favorites]


The thing is, this gossip-column approach is really problematic. Gossip columns are meant to entertain, to build celebrity culture, and to foster adulation and schadenfreude equally. And approaching the Trump presidency as newsertainment is disturbing to me; it seems almost a form of collaboration.

Sorry, but this feels like it's demanding too much. I haven't read the book and doubt that I will beyond the various excerpts that are finding me. That said, I can already feel its value as an Emperor's New Clothes moment that will make the history books. Will it single-handedly take down the naked fool in question? Of course not. But then no single individual or incident brought down McCarthyism. More of an overall sea change with certain situations more notable (historically) than others.
posted by philip-random at 12:05 AM on January 7 [35 favorites]


The only thing you can take from that is that some white people eventually hit a limit of disgust with a candidate not that red states are turning progressive.

Alabama is a complicated comparison, I agree. But expecting red states to "turn progressive" in response to a bad Republican in power (or a tell-all book) is like expecting a single MRA video to successfully red-pill someone. If people (in the right states) had hit their limit of disgust when HRC ran in 2016, she'd be president. They hit it when they were asked to vote for Moore, and they've been hitting it through 2017, and hopefully the trend will continue.

That said, I can already feel its value as an Emperor's New Clothes moment that will make the history books.

The idiocy that let it get made and the response by the executive will remain mind-blowing for their amateurishness, insanity, and predictability.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:21 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


At least people are reading. Maggie plays loose with facts for a tabloid audience, too.
posted by SakuraK at 12:21 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


And for the record, that comparison is because Maggie writes Republican propaganda and if she’s angry and unable to say why, it means the book hits home. Her Riefenstahl urges have been stymied. Be on the lookout for her return.
posted by SakuraK at 12:33 AM on January 7 [10 favorites]


At least people are reading. Maggie plays loose with facts for a tabloid audience, too.

Maybe I missed it (apologies, tired), but the linked article didn't seem to mention her screwing up the facts. There's a note about her interviewing Roger Stone and Trump calling to correct the record, but that isn't the same thing as what people have said about Wolff. Haberman is without a doubt more conservative in her reporting, and there is a good reason why that is disliked. But I think it's worth rejecting any false dichotomy between accuracy and reporting salacious details. Haberman gets things correct but should be bolder. Wolff should get things correct so that reporters (including Haberman) don't drill him for screw-ups. (Incidentally, I think Jonathan Swan going after him about the McConnell haircut story was pretty substantial.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:39 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Her Riefenstahl urges have been stymied. Be on the lookout for her return.

Also, while I appreciate the sentiment and outrage that must be felt to have typed this, we live in an age of Fox News and InfoWars. Any attempt to compare the NYT to state propaganda without normalizing against that is getting off the rails and deserves a few seconds of reconsideration.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:00 AM on January 7 [26 favorites]


They'll keep covering for Trump as long as they think it's in their best interests. They'll drop him the moment they think that is to their advantage. There is no love for Trump in DC, there is only self-serving tactical stances that may change at any moment.

It doesn't matter if they love him or not. What matters is the fact that there is never going to be any advantage to dropping Trump, so they never will.

Rational people look at the poll numbers and Trump's failure to even get Luther Strange nominated as the GOP candidate in the Alabama primary and then his failure to get Roy Moore elected despite campaigning for him and accurately assess that Trump's ability to positively affect Republican candidates is somewhere in between very limited and completely nonexistent, and conclude from this that the GOP will accordingly eventually dump Trump because his negatives outweigh his positives. The problem with this reasoning is that while Trump's ability to positively affect politics is extremely low, his ability to negatively affect politics is higher than just about anybody else in America in a long, long time; if you make it onto his enemies list, he will tell his base that you are the devil incarnate and they will listen, and at this point his base is the majority of the GOP base.

Trump almost certainly cannot politically help the GOP, but he can definitely harm them, and harm them to an extent that would potentially kill the party as an effective political organization as the money men permanently move to whatever thing the lunatics call themselves next. They will never risk his wrath and they will never drop him unless they think the base will be agreeable to it, and when is that going to happen?
posted by mightygodking at 1:05 AM on January 7 [10 favorites]


When they fear the anti-Trump mob with pitchforks more than the pro-Trump mob with pitchforks.
posted by benzenedream at 1:34 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Rational people look at the poll numbers and Trump's failure to even get Luther Strange nominated as the GOP candidate in the Alabama primary and then his failure to get Roy Moore elected despite campaigning for him and accurately assess that Trump's ability to positively affect Republican candidates is somewhere in between very limited and completely nonexistent, and conclude from this that the GOP will accordingly eventually dump Trump because his negatives outweigh his positives.

But it was a peculiar situation where Trump was trying to ally himself with Congressional Republicans instead of being his usual intransigent shithead. It was obvious that Moore was loudly talking the talk and walking the walk on Trumpism. Hell, he had previously martyred himself twice in service to it even if it wasn't called Trumpism back then. If Trump was going to be Trump at that point (and if he had a clue about Alabama politics) in time he would have loudly gotten behind Moore.

Every politician knows that Trumpism brings out the nutjobs in the primaries and without them they're dead in the water. So they'll go along with it to make sure they don't get Cantored or Stranged and then they'll worry about pivoting and winning the general depending on where they are. The key to R victory this cycle seems to be not turning off as many Republicans from each extreme as possible. For once a traditionally D problem is now an R problem for which I am very gleeful about. As Congress has shown, it's a very small needle to thread.
posted by Talez at 1:40 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


The thing is, this gossip-column approach is really problematic. Gossip columns are meant to entertain, to build celebrity culture, and to foster adulation and schadenfreude equally. And approaching the Trump presidency as newsertainment is disturbing to me; it seems almost a form of collaboration.

I wouldn't go so far as to say collaboration, but I do share your disquiet. Thing is, though, gossip and serious policy analysis aren't mutually exclusive. You'll seldom get them both from the same source, but they are both out there and both can help in the fight to bring Trump down. It's not an either/or.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:21 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Thing is, though, gossip and serious policy analysis aren't mutually exclusive. You'll seldom get them both from the same source

Consider Procopius and his, uh, Wars of Justinian to pick a completely random example. Now contrast with his Secret History. So it's not like both dry history and scandalous gossip don't coexist.

And it's the latter that brings the eyeballs and moves opinion, in mine.
posted by Justinian at 2:47 AM on January 7 [26 favorites]


It's pretty obvious from the (global) media reaction that the book is having a "The Emperor has no Clothes" - effect. Just look at how Trump's own reaction is undermining the Republicans' attempts to discredit the book, there is no going back from this.
Every time someone here, or in an editorial, tells us all to look behind the distractions and worry about the policy, my first thought is that there is no policy. What we see is all there is. There is no big secret plan behind the blundering idiot, none of the cynical dark princes of the Bush era. It's just a fools parade that can barely get anything done. The Republican party has lost all other ideas that corruption, greed, hate, racism, misogyny and ignorance.
What is important is to keep the Resistance growing and going, and if this book or some of all the coverage can awaken some independent voters, it's good for everyone.
posted by mumimor at 3:15 AM on January 7 [59 favorites]


The book is completely entertaining. So far nothing new has come up for me, but I follow this stuff obsessively. The joy in the book is the deft skewering of all parties involved and the narrative threads pulling together the stories we were living last year. It’s basically an accessible chronicle of the total insanity of 2017, which allows a little emotional distance to remind us how utterly and horrifically bad this White House is. Wolff is not making any political statements at all. He is mean to the press and liberals in an equal opportunity way. In some ways I think that makes the book even more powerful because his point is just “wow, the Trump administration is a bunch of losers.” I think that hits Trump where it really hurts and is more accessible to the general public than liberal outrage. In fact, one of the points of the book is that Bannon et al are tremendously interested in riling up liberals (why they dropped the immigration EO on a Friday night, for instance.)

I still haven’t seen anyone cite actual factual issues besides the Four Seasons breakfast where he identified the wrong person with the last name Berman. That was a tiny piece of the book where he is just listing people in the room to show it was a Washington power location, so I don’t consider that to be a big deal. Otherwise it seems about as accurate as somethig sourced mostly by gossip could be.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:33 AM on January 7 [26 favorites]


Any attempt to compare the NYT to state propaganda without normalizing against that is getting off the rails and deserves a few seconds of reconsideration.

Maybe the Times could take a few seconds of reconsideration before tweeting things that make them look like a propaganda outlet.

@NYTNational
Snappy, alliterative, essentially true — President Trump had coined another one. For the first time, the target of his executive nicknaming was one of his own: “Sloppy Steve” Bannon, his ousted strategist.

@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 5:39 AM on January 7 [46 favorites]


People are acting as though if "Fire and Fury" were a meticulously researched and sourced scholarly tome, that the Republicans in Washington would throw up their hands and say, "You got us now, we surrender!" This is a party and administration which is at active war with the truth. In a sense it might be worse if the book were more incontrovertible, because it would elicit a more deranged counter-reaction. It would require the creation of a more pervasive counter-truth to provide an alternative to reality, perhaps even culminating in the prosecution of Wolff's sources with forced shaming and recantation. But in the guise of nigh-gossip, it bears a stronger chance of evading the anti-truth barrage of the ruling party. And it yields a much stronger chance of being actually read instead of ubiquitously purchased yet sitting unopened on shelves everywhere as if it were "Capital in the 21st Century."
posted by xigxag at 5:52 AM on January 7 [35 favorites]


I still haven’t seen anyone cite actual factual issues

Nor have I, although if his snark about the date of Mitch McConnell's haircut is where they're at . .

If you haven't read it, and have been in the MegaThread trenches lo these last many years, you're not likely to find a good summation. Half of it's strength and appeal is that it's a book-length narrative with no commercial breaks that consolidates the most wtf in those first few months after The Unthinkable.

It's a hard fact that TV news, twitter, and newspapers aren't structurally capable of discussing what the hell happens in Trump's mind. They don't have the time. This does.

It's an accessible read but it's not tabloidy. There are a lot of events that have been given color that could be argued all day: "Bannon nodded to the tv as if to say Watch for yourself." which - I don't find the slightest bit problematic compared to the utter unwillingness, inability, or ineffectiveness of those other forms of media to discuss this. There are some new revelations, but as the book intones over and over, We Knew He Was Unfit. We Still Know. So why the hell does anyone think Trump has a platform (other than twitter)?

The book is an alarm. It's as loud and clarion as is possible to be in a media-conglomerate landscape that says, "Hey. Hillary was right about this guy. You were right about this guy. Not only is he a crook and desperately trying to be a Russian stooge, but he doesn't know anything!" And the billionaires know it. The foreign governments know it. Congress knows it. His own family knows it. So why do we keep pretending?

Because - as much as he didn't expect to win, or didn't even want to win, he "won". And that spun his head, now he thinks that's right. He won for being so good and bigly. Yeeeaaaahhh. And nobody can tell him anything.

Governmentally, as a nation, we've locked our keys in the car and it's running. We have to get somewhere. Now.
posted by petebest at 5:53 AM on January 7 [105 favorites]


Trump, and a big part of the GOP, believe that if it’s in the news it’s real. It’s how they’ve created this whole alternate facts reality. The mainstream media outlets don’t know how to deal with this mindset, because when trump lies and other Republicans corroborate the lie it doesn’t matter how much fact checking they do, the lie has been spread into existence.

Fire and Fury is amazing because Wolff adheres to Trumps philosophy of reality. But he’s weaponized it against him. I don’t care how honest or accurate it is. I’m tired of evil lies dominating the narrative. Let some half truths and innuendo that help save the world populare the discussion for a while.
posted by Glibpaxman at 6:08 AM on January 7 [18 favorites]


David Frum: Donald Trump Goes Full Fredo
Who and what Donald Trump is has been known to everyone and anyone who cared to know for years and decades. Before he was president, he was the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist. Before he was the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist, he was a celebrity gameshow host. Before he was a celebrity gameshow host, he was the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate. Before he was the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate, he was the protege of Roy Cohn’s repeatedly accused of ties to organized crime. From the start, Donald Trump was a man of many secrets, but no mysteries. Inscribed indelibly on the public record were the reasons for responsible people to do everything in their power to bar him from the presidency.

Instead, since he announced his candidacy in mid-2015, Donald Trump has been enabled and protected.

The enabling and protecting not only continues. It accelerates.
Obviously, David Frum has been part of the problem, but it is still a good comment, and again: when someone sees the wreckage they have created and changes their ways, they should be welcomed, not shamed. We need a broad coalition against the racists and robbers. (And this is a global issue, not just an American one).
posted by mumimor at 6:08 AM on January 7 [67 favorites]


Re the Mark vs Mike typo, I'm willing to add that to the dozen or so typos I've found already, rather than assuming he meant the wrong person. The ebook is filled with typos.

As to the content, it rings true to me, and I've been in The Threads since well before the election. Is it dressed up and told in an entertaining way such that the 70 year old establishment republicans in my family will read it, and be shocked and disturbed? Yes, yes it is. I have seen Teahadists in Texas eating chicken fried steak while reading the book, I have seen clerks in the main street shops of my little blurb reading it behind the counter. This book is everywhere, and it's not just the resistance.

This book is moving the dial in arenas we can't otherwise touch.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:11 AM on January 7 [109 favorites]


Another reason not to fear a woman candidate in 2020; the Dem wave is being powered by women.

@SeanMcElwee
Wow. The 2017 elections dramatically increased diversity in VA House of Delegates, but almost exclusively among Democrats. Great piece by @williamjordann.

@PoliticsWolf
Whoa: Over half of Virginia state House Democrats are women. Just 10% of Republicans are. Only 31% of House Dems are white men, but 86% of Republicans are
- After 2016, 32% of U.S. House Dems were women, but just 9% of Republicans were. 43% of Dems were people of color while just 5% of GOP was. Those party disparities could grow even wider after 2018's impending Dem wave is poised to be powered by women @SeanMcElwee @williamjordann


William Jordan: THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WILL PROBABLY GET A WHOLE LOT MORE REPRESENTATIVE AFTER 2018 (A VIRGINIA STORY)
posted by chris24 at 6:45 AM on January 7 [45 favorites]


Black Hole Sun God - Patrick Blanchfield
Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is a kind of “Purloined Letter” for the dark 21st century. A chronicle of the first eight months of the Donald Trump Administration, the book promises revelations that the author has suggested will bring down the presidency. Fire and Fury does contain plenty of palace intrigue and compromising stories, but its promised revelations are not really revelations at all. The fundamental scandal, the book’s centerpiece truth—that the President is breathtakingly unfit, and his administration is a slow-motion train wreck—has been obvious all along. The Trump catastrophe has not been hidden in plain sight. It has filled our entire national field of vision such that, for those who follow the news even irregularly, there is little else to see.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:47 AM on January 7 [10 favorites]


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
13 minutes ago

I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!
What's the under on someone in the White House talking about Saint Ronnie before this tweet.
posted by Talez at 6:54 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Interesting that Miller wouldn't say a definite no with Jake Tapper this morning. And by interesting I mean suspicious as hell.

@joshrogin (WaPo)
Stephen Miller can't say if Trump met with the Russians at Trump Tower. @CNNSotu

---

And the appearance went about as well as you'd think.

@davidaxelrod
Miller had an audience of one who undoubtedly was pleased by his bizarre performance on @CNNSotu. But does a WH aide going on TV, acting obnoxious and unstable, help a @POTUS who is under siege for being obnoxious and unstable?😳

@edatpost (WaPo)
"There's one viewer that you care about right now," @JakeTapper tells Stephen Miller on @CNNSOTU as he cuts off the White House official and goes to commercial.

@colvinj (AP)
Tapper returns from break post-Stephen Miller with the words “Welcome back to planet earth."

@djrothkopf
Stephen Miller is making a very strong case that he is a very very stupid man.
-If the best advocate for intelligence and stability WH could offer for the president is Stephen Miller things are worse than we thought.

@Mr_Berman (Buzzfeed)
Stephen Miller, mad on CNN, says Steve Bannon’s role “has been greatly exaggerated,” and CNN isn’t doing enough covering Trump’s genius or “slaughter” in sanctuary cities.

@OhNoSheTwitnt
On behalf of the Jews I give you all permission to call Stephen Miller a white supremacist.
posted by chris24 at 6:57 AM on January 7 [57 favorites]


Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!

Trump’s ill-advised claim that the media are covering his mental fitness like Reagan’s (WaPo)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:59 AM on January 7 [16 favorites]


What's the under on someone in the White House talking about Saint Ronnie before this tweet.

And this is the second time in as many days that Trump's Twitter has mentioned Reagan. This is what George Lakoff meant about Trump using the medium for preemptive framing and trial balloons.

My betting is that the White House is trying to come up with a media strategy in case of a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease when Trump undergoes his medical checkup next week...
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:01 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Trump's nominee for the head of Indian Health Services is qualified for the position because he was a patient as a child, HHS says.
Weaver claims he had a financial role at the hospital and that he held "supervisory and management positions." Augusto Noronha, the chief financial officer at the hospital from 1999 to 2005, said: "I don't recall [Weaver's] name whatsoever." The director of patient financial services, Bob Henderson, said he did know the name Rob Weaver, and that the man had worked to register E.R. patients.

The hospital was unable to officially verify what Weaver's position was because of a 2011 tornado that damaged records. A Health and Human Services spokeswoman said Weaver's own employment records were destroyed in the same tornado.

When asked by the Journal if such a position was a leadership role, Henderson said: "Well, I guess it would depend upon how you look at leadership."
I can't. I just can't. How is this even possible?
posted by scalefree at 7:07 AM on January 7 [17 favorites]


Seriously, just watch this 15 second clip of Tapper ending the interview with Miller as Miller tries to yell over him to get a sense of the whole shitshow.

@matthewchampion
"I think I've wasted enough of my viewers' time" is an iconic way to end an interview

VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 7:10 AM on January 7 [47 favorites]


The sudden identification with Reagan is really interesting. It does give them a way out via the 25th while still wearing some tattered 'doing the right thing' robes that they might be hoping that blasted base will cling on to.
posted by Devonian at 7:11 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!

We are not doing ourselves any favors by taking things out of context and pretending they mean what we want; this obviously refers to the "fake book" in the preceding sentence.
posted by thelonius at 7:13 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


We are not doing ourselves any favors by taking things out of context and pretending they mean what we want; this obviously refers to the "fake book" in the preceding sentence.

Respectfully, I don't think it does. It refers to people saying Reagan was stupid and mentally unfit. As his earlier tweet makes clear.

@realDonaldTrump
Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.....
posted by chris24 at 7:15 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Donald J. Trump
‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump
3m3 minutes ago

Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky!

[ Link mine, msl ]
posted by mikelieman at 7:19 AM on January 7 [11 favorites]


The beauty of Trump repeatedly talking about his mental state is that the media has been reluctant to do so. Now that he's constantly yammering about it, they now have an excuse to cover it and in fact kinda have to.
posted by chris24 at 7:26 AM on January 7 [84 favorites]


I’ve had to put up with the Fake News from the first day I announced that I would be running for President. Now I have to put up with a Fake Book, written by a totally discredited author. Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!

What's the under on someone in the White House talking about Saint Ronnie before this tweet.


The "Trump LiveTweets Fox" guy Matt Gertz noted yesterday that Trump got the "the media are doing the same thing to Trump that they did to Reagan" riff directly from Fox, where he gets lots of his tweeting content.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:28 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Oh what fun if you enjoy watching slow motion car crashes.
I found the following two extracts from articles instructive.
Firstly from the Vanity Fair article
“The larger story,” one of Haberman’s colleagues told me, “is the increasingly tabloid-y evolution of the mainstream political press.
This is referring to the US paper of record.
The second is from the Guardian
Wolff’s portrayal of a man prone to wild mood swings, liable to call someone a friend one moment, an enemy the next, is also redolent of actor Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the film The Last King of Scotland.
“You’re a child,” his despairing doctor tells him. “You have the mind and ego of an angry, spoiled, uneducated child. And that’s what makes you so fucking scary.”
posted by adamvasco at 7:29 AM on January 7 [11 favorites]


Trevor Noah made the Idi Amin comparison on The Daily Show in October 2015.
posted by mikelieman at 7:36 AM on January 7 [22 favorites]


A hall of famer for lack of self-awareness. "I am always amazed at the lengths people will go to to lie for money and for power.”

@saletan
On ABC, Haley says she hasn't read Wolff's book, but dismisses it: "I am always amazed at the lengths people will go to to lie for money and for power. ... No one questions the stability of the president.”
posted by chris24 at 7:38 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


The beauty of Trump repeatedly talking about his mental state is that the media has been reluctant to do so. Now that he's constantly yammering about it, they now have an excuse to cover it and in fact kinda have to.

That's just it - whether the book is true, somewhat true, or a tissue of lies, the fact that Trump reacted so strongly, and can't stop flapping his gums about it, means that it's not going to go away quietly (Streisand effect!). Trump and his merry crew can't grasp "Least said, soonest mended."

I hope that this helps Democrats realize that their Republican opposition is not some chess-playing, unstoppable juggernaut, but a clown car of stupid propped up by, IMO, the truly scary Rebekah Mercer. Souls to the polls, beat feet to the booths, get out the vote, etc.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:39 AM on January 7 [42 favorites]


Said it before - we’re gonna need a 9/11 style commission once Trump is bounced, whether by impeachment, 25th Amendment, or 2020 election, to find out exactly how the hell we got to this point. And if it’s not until Dems take office and congress in 2020, then it’ll also have to go into how no one with the power to do so did anything for so long. I mean we know why, but it needs to be laid bare for history in the congressional record. Hopefully we are less than a year from a Democratic Congress being seated to start to curb the abuses and start some investigations with real teeth. (You know those endless Benghazi investigations, GOP? Wait until the shoe is on the other foot, and this time with facts to back the investigations up.)
posted by azpenguin at 7:45 AM on January 7 [25 favorites]


(You know those endless Benghazi investigations, GOP? Wait until the shoe is on the other foot, and this time with facts to back the investigations up.)

I support a democratic legislative agenda that effectively moves the Overton Window back towards "Promote the General Welfare". Go for broke guys, it's time to fix the broken "Run Government like a business" model that got us here, by giving back to government all the tasks that aren't profit centers by their very nature.
posted by mikelieman at 7:51 AM on January 7 [32 favorites]


Said it before - we’re gonna need a 9/11 style commission once Trump is bounced, whether by impeachment, 25th Amendment, or 2020 election, to find out exactly how the hell we got to this point.

We know exactly how we got here. And Republicans would undermine any Truth and Reconciliation commission like they're doing with the Mueller investigation. They're not good faith actors, and any process that treats them as such cannot be considered credible from the outset, it's doomed to be poisoned by their very participation. There's no more reasoning or bargaining or negotiating with the people that did this to us, there's only defeating them, and keep defeating them forever.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:51 AM on January 7 [41 favorites]


Oh, and while you're at it, I understand the need for Artificial Legal Entities, and it's not just limiting personal liability. But it's time to put in legislation that defines these ALEs as distinctly inferior to Real People who should have the political power ( the vote ).
posted by mikelieman at 7:53 AM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Reagan killing the Fairness Doctrine, which gave rise to right-wing talk radio, and left us with no base law to expand to cable "news" channels and Internet news sites.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:00 AM on January 7 [24 favorites]


Electoral College

Former Republican congressman.

@DavidJollyFL
Remarkable historical stat: Bush 41 was elected 30 years ago this year.

In the 7 presidential elections since, the GOP has won the popular vote **once** (Bush 43 in '04 w 50.7%).

A lot to reflect on. Time to make some changes.
posted by chris24 at 8:13 AM on January 7 [76 favorites]


Washington Examiner: CIA Director Mike Pompeo: Trump does read

1) How would the GOP have reacted 2 years ago to a CIA director announcing "Obama can read?"

2) Pompeo uses a lot of words that definitely don't mean "to read": “This president reads material that we provide to him, he listens closely to his daily briefing,” he said. “This president is an avid consumer of the work product that our team at the CIA produces and we do our best to convey that to him nearly every day.”
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:13 AM on January 7 [41 favorites]


Bannon has apologized in a statement to Axios that is 1) so pathetic it is making me cringe with fremdschämen and 2) basically confirms the reporting wrt Bannon is accurate.
posted by lalex at 8:20 AM on January 7 [16 favorites]


Interestingly, despite the article title "Exclusive: Bannon apologizes" and the total obsequiousness, neither "sorry" nor "apologize" appears in the statement. And the one time "regret" appears, it's not for what he said, it's for taking too long to issue this statement. And as lalex says, it basically confirms that Wolff's account is true, Bannon's just trying to put a paint job on it and kiss Trump's ass.
posted by chris24 at 8:40 AM on January 7 [10 favorites]


In Bannon’s case, it’s possible that two gin-scented tears really did run down his face while he made his ritual abasement.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:53 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


A good refresher on Reagan's mental state during the presidency. Even in 1980 he was candid with reporters discussing the possibility that he might (someday) have hereditary dementia (like his mother).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:56 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Jennifer Rubin calls for the 25th amendment.

WaPo: The ‘stable genius’ isn’t even functioning as president
To defend his continued occupancy of the office or to insist he’s “better than Hillary” is to reject the notion of democracy. We cannot accept, let alone applaud, courtiers scurrying around to create the appearance of a functioning government. He, not they, is the chief executive and commander in chief. We have a vice president elected specifically to take over if the president is incapable of serving; the 25th Amendment does not say “but in a pinch, let the secretaries of defense and treasury run the show.” What we have is a type of coup in which the great leader is disabled. He is propped up, sent out to read lines written by others and kept safely away from disastrous situations. This is not how our system works, however.

We’re playing with fire, counting on the ability of others to restrain him from, say, launching a nuclear war and, nearly as bad, jettisoning our representative democracy. Vice President Pence, the Cabinet and Congress have a moral and constitutional obligation to bring this to a stop.
posted by chris24 at 8:58 AM on January 7 [77 favorites]


@NYTNational: Snappy, alliterative, essentially true — President Trump had coined another one. For the first time, the target of his executive nicknaming was one of his own: “Sloppy Steve” Bannon, his ousted strategist

While we're on the subject: could someone explain to me the heaps of praise that 45 garners for his oh-so-cover nicknames, like Sloppy Steve and Lyin' Ted? It's long been a mystery to me why so many otherwise sensible people seem to view 45's nicknames as a manifestation of a subtle political genius or something. It’s not just the NYT; I’ve defintitely seen other outlets react with genuine amusement to this stuff. To my ear, these are precisely the same types of names that my friends and I used to make up for people we didn’t like in, say, third grade, no more and no less. For example, our horribly mean third grade teacher was “Mental McCain.” (This was around 1975, so.) But now out of the mouth of a 70-year-old, it’s some sort of sterling wit or wily political strategy? I don’t understand it at all.
posted by holborne at 9:33 AM on January 7 [51 favorites]


the book promises revelations that the author has suggested will bring down the presidency. Fire and Fury does contain plenty of palace intrigue and compromising stories, but its promised revelations are not really revelations at all. The fundamental scandal, the book’s centerpiece truth—that the President is breathtakingly unfit, and his administration is a slow-motion train wreck—has been obvious all along

so can we just call them confirmations then? And then focus on what to f***ing do now that nobody has the luxury anymore of pretending that it's not official, that the President of the United States of America is as big and crazy and dangerous and naked as any emperor the world has known since at least Nero.
posted by philip-random at 9:35 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


While we're on the subject: could someone explain to me the heaps of praise that 45 garners for his oh-so-cover nicknames, like Sloppy Steve and Lyin' Ted?

Maybe it's nostalgia for Bush
posted by thelonius at 9:39 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]




Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!

So he's hoping to rely on his wife to prompt him? That'll be .... interesting.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:48 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


“No one questions the stability of the president.”

Well, yeah. None of us here are questioning his stability. We're absolutely certain we know how stable he is.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:48 AM on January 7 [25 favorites]


On ABC, Haley says she hasn't read Wolff's book, but dismisses it: "I am always amazed at the lengths people will go to to lie for money and for power. ... No one questions the stability of the president.”

Does she mean this in a kind of "no one puts Baby in a corner" kind of way?? Everyone questions the stability of the President, except those who are certain, I suppose. (on preview: jinx ErisLordFreedom)

This is part of the EMP blast that the book should be - Nikki Haley (and all defending this indefensible travesty) is a lying sack of shit for perpetrating this madness. It's our national duty and responsibility to have a competent leader whether they're Fuckface Republican or Santa Claus. Comments like this are such an insult.

And "Haven't read the book", fuck you Haley it talks about you for 10 pages, you know you read it!
posted by petebest at 9:53 AM on January 7 [32 favorites]


Bannon's use of the phrase to "stand in the breech [sic]" in his apology is super interesting to me. It's from Ezekiel 22:30, "And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none."

The five verses preceding it are also deeply poignant, and although Bannon might believe they're best applied to his enemies, there truly could not be a more apt description of this current administration, and everyone presently and formerly involved with it:

"25 There is a conspiracy of her princes[b] within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. 26 Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. 28 Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice."
posted by Ornate Rocksnail at 9:55 AM on January 7 [70 favorites]


Ronald Reagan, for all his (many) faults, commanded loyalty. His chief of staff was James Baker, considered a model for effective Chiefs of Staff. He also had Nancy, who, again despite her many faults (eff that Just Say No thing) was intelligent, capable, and a partner in their marriage. You marry and pick good people and they will prop you up even when the brain chips are down.

Melania is not a partner in the Trump marriage and I doubt she even wants to take on a Nancy Reagan role - as it is she's pretty obviously doing the bare minimum as First Lady and hates every minute. John Kelly is...more capable than Reince Priebus I guess? One of the smarter clowns in the car is still a clown. That leaves Jar Jar Vanks (thanks, Sys Rq!) who, given a choice between propping up Daddy and saving their own skins, will choose...? (Betcha it's option B.)

I worry most about: 1) what Trump might do in the throws of dementia or an overgrown toddler tantrum, and 2) Rebekah Mercer being smarter about her next scary fascist pick for higher office.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:06 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


The One Thing Jake Tapper Got Absolutely Wrong in that Stephen Miller Interview
This seems like a way to commit political suicide. But the Americans who are going to pump their fists watching Miller "own the lib media" might constitute a third of the country. And when you add the people who believe that, yes, it would be better if Trump's aides (and Trump himself) had better manners but who nevertheless think that Tapper is the villain in this clip -- why does he have to express so much contempt for the president of the United States, who deserves some respect? -- you start approaching 50% of the country, and a clear majority of white voters. Throw in vote suppression, gerrymandering, and lots of plutocrat cash and you have a formula for repeated electoral victories, which is why the GOP mainstream is exceedingly tolerant of this approach.

Virginia and Alabama suggest that this strategy has its limits. Nevertheless, even in Virginia the Democrats won the overall House of Delegates vote 55%-45, but couldn't do better than 49 of 100 seats, and would have won no more than 50 if the Democrat's name had been picked out of that bowl.

Miller did this for the same reason a baseball manager runs onto the field to get in an umpire's face in response to a disputable call. The purpose is not to impress the team owner -- it's to fire up the crowd and the ballclub. Trust me, this will work.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:12 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]


That Jake Tapper interview is the first time I've seen Miller 'talking' at any length... The guy is seriously... I can't even find the right adjective, but repulsive, bombastic and pathetic sort of suggest themselves
posted by Myeral at 10:14 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Dear Jake Tapper (and the rest of the media): please stop giving air time to odious toads like Stephen Miller.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:22 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Trust me, this will work.

I have no doubt it fires up the nutjobs. I do doubt that nominally sane people watch this and add to that racist fascist third of people and approach 50%. Like most of what Trump & Co. does, it appeals to his shrinking base and turns off a majority of people.
posted by chris24 at 10:24 AM on January 7 [17 favorites]


The only thing Tapper got wrong was to not cut that dead-eyed fuck off 30 seconds earlier.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:25 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Watching that clip, all I could think was Trump isn’t the only one who repeats himself again and again. Maybe it’s catching?
posted by valkane at 10:26 AM on January 7


Miller did this for the same reason a baseball manager runs onto the field to get in an umpire's face in response to a disputable call. The purpose is not to impress the team owner -- it's to fire up the crowd and the ballclub. Trust me, this will work.

It's a compelling argument/prediction, but I'm not sure I'm sold. This was totally part of the calculus all through the election. The dynamics were different then. Journalists across the board were struggling to find ways to draw an equivalency between two candidates so as to avoid the appearance of unfairness. In doing so, they catastrophically lowered the bar on one candidate and raised it on another.

At this point, a year into the regime, when the effort to show deference to the office is both farcical and terrifying (as it was in the election), we'd all be better off if more of the media dropped the pretense. They've been doing work to make him seem credible so they don't seem biased. The farther this goes, the more ridiculous that looks.

I can't remember who said it, so I can't cite, but the problem with speaking the truth about the Republican party is it always sounds like an attack--because the truth is all so damning. It's time to stop worrying about being damning and worry more about the truth.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:27 AM on January 7 [52 favorites]


I have no doubt it fires up the nutjobs. I do doubt that nominally sane people watch this and add to that racist fascist third of people and approach 50%. Like most of what Trump does, it appeals to his shrinking base and turns off a majority of people.

It certainly seems to have turned off a lot of people in Virginia, and even Alabama. Sure, the nutjobs will be fired up, but it doesn't take much to fire them up - Kenyan Muslim In The White House, FEMA Camps, They're Tekking Our Gunses, etc. They don't need Donald Trump, or indeed any one particular person.

In any case, that "No More Mr. Nice Blog" linked to was also shaking in his boots about "If we nominate a woman candidate in 2020 we will LOOOOOOOOOOSE! We need a MAYUN for President!" so I take his fearful pearl-clutching with a grain of salt.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:27 AM on January 7 [10 favorites]


I can't remember who said it, so I can't cite, but the problem with speaking the truth about the Republican party is it always sounds like an attack--because the truth is all so damning. It's time to stop worrying about being damning and worry more about the truth.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:27 AM on January 7


Yes, pointing and laughing is the appropriate response to this shitshow that they've created for themselves.

Derision is perfectly appropriate.
posted by yesster at 10:34 AM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Miller shouldn't be able to go on TV without the text of his editorial about "political correctness" at Santa Monica High being thrown in his face.
just in case your son or daughter decides at their tender age that they are gay, we have a club on campus that will gladly help foster their homosexuality. Do they notify parents if their teenagers have chosen an alternate lifestyle? Of course not.
...
I suppose then, that our country would have been better off if our soldiers never killed anyone, and we watched as our nation was obliterated by the evil in the world, as we sung songs of peace and love...Or, better yet, we could have lived with the Indians, learning how to finger paint and make tepees, excusing their scalping of frontiersmen as part of their culture. Forget about being the nation that stopped Hitler, brought communism to its knees, and feeds more hungry people around the world than any other country -- forget all of that, and let us just agree that we're a horrible nation. Or, we can raise our flags, lift our guns, and proclaim that we are Americans, that we enjoy personal freedoms Islamic nations could only dream about, we are the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Sadly, my school has forgotten all of this. That is why we do nothing for American holidays but everything for Mexican holidays. That is why history teachers denounce the US as wickedly imperialistic, some supplementing standard history texts with something comfortably more liberal. That is why teachers insult and demean the President. That is why we invited a Muslim leader to the school to explain the splendor of Islam, but no such proclamation was ever made about America.
...
Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School.
What do you think they're saying about this president, you slimy shitheel?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:43 AM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Walter Shaub: It's embarrassing to see the American government dispatch representatives like this to extol the grandeur of the leader. His outfit, haircut, mannerisms, and words seem like those of the evil regional commissar from a B-movie about a fictional East bloc country named Bruteslava.


the problem with speaking the truth about the Republican party is it always sounds like an attack

“If the Republicans will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” —Adlai E. Stevenson
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:43 AM on January 7 [56 favorites]


the problem with speaking the truth about the Republican party is it always sounds like an attack

"I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them, and they think it's Hell."
posted by octobersurprise at 10:43 AM on January 7 [28 favorites]


Miller shouldn't be able to go on TV without the text of his editorial about "political correctness" at Santa Monica High being thrown in his face.

Or that he jumped into the final lap of a girls' high school track race to show he was more athletic than women. Cuz nothing screams 'better than' than skipping most of the race.
He jumped, uninvited, into the final stretch of a girls’ track meet, apparently intent on proving his athletic supremacy over the opposite sex. (The White House, reaching for exculpatory context, noted that this was a girls’ team from another school, not his own.)
posted by chris24 at 11:04 AM on January 7 [19 favorites]


> I have no doubt it fires up the nutjobs. I do doubt that nominally sane people watch this and add to that racist fascist third of people and approach 50%. Like most of what Trump & Co. does, it appeals to his shrinking base and turns off a majority of people.

Turns them off enough to vote "disapprove" in a Gallup poll? Sure. Turns them off enough to not vote R in 2018, or for Trump in 2020 if he's still around? That's debatable.

Let's say that 45% meets the bar for "approaching 50%" with some margin for error. That's only 12% of the population that has to fit into the category of passively supporting the fascists to add to the third that's actively supporting them. We saw how this political calculus played out with the tax bill -- once you're within striking distance of a "win" for your side, the leaners will do pretty much anything to close the deal.

Now, POTUS45 is certainly a lot more toxic than he was a year ago, so maybe it's going to be harder to pull the leaners in the next time around, but a rock-solid base of 33-ish percent makes every battle a nail-biter, especially when Republicans have shown themselves to be better at winning the messaging war. I'm encouraged by recent improvements to Democratic messaging, in that they're focusing on firing up the base rather than trying to hold on to independents, but that cuts both ways. We *will* lose some votes from independents as our candidates run on a more outwardly progressive. This is a risk worth taking, but it's a risk.

> It certainly seems to have turned off a lot of people in Virginia, and even Alabama.

It's turned off a lot of people, sure, but as noted in my pull-quote, the end result for Democrats, even with all of the anti-Trump win at their backs, was still falling just short in VA. There were headwinds as well -- gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. But those aren't going away. Meanwhile, AL-Sen was clearly more about Moore's disgusting predatory behavior than a Trump endorsement -- Jones did everything he could to make the race about Alabama instead of nationalizing it and making it about Trump. So I don't think either of those data points is a sign of massive Trump/GOP weakness.

> In any case, that "No More Mr. Nice Blog" linked to was also shaking in his boots about "If we nominate a woman candidate in 2020 we will LOOOOOOOOOOSE! We need a MAYUN for President!" so I take his fearful pearl-clutching with a grain of salt.

This is a pretty uncharitable paraphrase of the post in question. He is expressing concern about sexism undermining a female candidate, which should be a pretty uncontroversial position. Never does he imply that Democrats shouldn't nominate a woman. I'm concerned about sexism undermining a female candidate, and I will be very disappointed if our nominee *isn't* a woman. Noting polling trends that show men who disapprove of female officeholders helps us understand what we'll be up against going forward. That's not the same as saying we should let the misogynists win.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:14 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Heck, the saddest part of the Miller interview was that he baldly claimed that trump dictated a 20 paragraph speech on the trump flying jalopy and “flawlessly delivered” at touchdown at a rally. The speech was obviously wholly Miller’s writing. Nothing like giving the boss credit on TV! No doubt he’s already getting giant framed artistic prints of that laudatory tweet ordered up now.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Interestingly, Wolff will be on both Morning Joe and Last Word on MSNBC tomorrow, bookending their daily content. Fake News conspiracy!

Those of us who have been sucking down the evening MSNBC power trio won’t be surprised by anything in the book and will only fill in more z-axis links in the mind maps. I like it and don’t mind that the crazy subject matter is allowed to fester in favor of a more rigorous narrative.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:32 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Trump, and a big part of the GOP, believe that if it’s in the news it’s real. It’s how they’ve created this whole alternate facts reality.

I think it’s really important to note that, while Trump and his ilk have capitalized on the triumph of mediated reality over empirical reality, they hardly created it; our devices conditioned us all to live in that place, and created the stage that Trump merely dominates temporarily.

That’s an important distinction because, after Trump, we’re still all completely vulnerable to the next iteration of fake reality, unless we shake off or counter-balance the mesmerization of mediation that fills our heads daily.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:35 AM on January 7 [16 favorites]


Turns them off enough to vote "disapprove" in a Gallup poll? Sure. Turns them off enough to not vote R in 2018, or for Trump in 2020 if he's still around? That's debatable.

I agree that gerrymandering, vote suppression, and partisanship make 2018 and 2020 not the slam dunk for D control it should be in a sane world, and will be a real tight battle. But I also don't think we and the media should not call out Rs and Trumpettes for the awful things they do because we're afraid of angering them, motivating them, whatever. The media pampering Rs heinous beliefs and acts is a big part of why we're where we are. Placating abusers doesn't work. Never has.
posted by chris24 at 12:11 PM on January 7 [24 favorites]


I think it’s really important to note that, while Trump and his ilk have capitalized on the triumph of mediated reality over empirical reality, they hardly created it; our devices conditioned us all to live in that place, and created the stage that Trump merely dominates temporarily.

Well, if devices includes radios and cable television, okay. If you're trying to put this on smartphones and the facey pages you need to expand your time horizon backwards about 30 years to include Rush Limbaugh etc. But if you want to say we and talk about vulnerability to propaganda and fake reporting then you need to go back and look at, say, how newspapers took a firm anti-suffrage stance, or entirely made up British atrocities to help sell the revolutionary war.

I don't want to dismiss the unique challenges of modern instant news and social media, etc, but looking at the current condition as if it represents some sort of 180 from the great way these things use to be, when the Fairness doctrine still existed, is as whack as the people looking back to the 50s as some golden American ideal. It never was.
posted by phearlez at 12:12 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


But if you want to say we and talk about vulnerability to propaganda and fake reporting then you need to go back and look at, say, how newspapers took a firm anti-suffrage stance, or entirely made up British atrocities to help sell the revolutionary war.

Absolutely correct, mass media and the enthrallment of mediated realities are the problem, and our latest media technologies have merely accelerated and intensified our mesmerization. (I’ve posted a fair bit about this in prior politics threads, so don’t want to be a one-note-repetition on this. But I think we all need to pay much better attention to critical media analyses by, e.g., Boorstin, McLuhan, Baudrillard, Postman, Lanier, etc. Boorstin in particular saw this emerging and his The Image is maybe more timely today than when it was first published in 1961. My comment was definitely not intended to articulate a local problem, temporally speaking. The difference today is in degree, and is substantial.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:26 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]




I agree that gerrymandering, vote suppression, and partisanship make 2018 and 2020 not the slam dunk for D control it should be in a sane world, and will be a real tight battle. But I also don't think we and the media should not call out Rs and Trumpettes for the awful things they do because we're afraid of angering them, motivating them, whatever. The media pampering Rs heinous beliefs and acts is a big part of why we're where we are. Placating abusers doesn't work. Never has.
posted by chris24 at 4:11 AM on January 8 [3 favorites +] [!]


I completely agree. The way out is through. We can't let them control the media environment or the message, and we need to be very, very aggressive about fighting lies with truth, no matter how unpalatable to the abusers.

I worry this will turn us into abusers, but unlike them, I have a conscience. Is this a weakness? Maybe. Bring on the ethical dilemmas and let's solve problems like adults, incrementally and with massive amounts of attention to detail, and let's start by shredding every untruth the abusers throw up.
posted by saysthis at 12:31 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


(For clarification: the medium is the message. This isn’t a truth of the 20th/21st century, it’s always been true: if you know reality and facts by any kind of mediation—pamphlets, newspapers, smart phone, town crier, TV, your uncle or some guy down at the bar—there are basic vulnerabilties in how you know what you know, that can be fairly easily exploited. As the scale and complexity of mediation, of how we each know the world beyond our doorsteps, grows and grows, so do those vulnerabilities. As the Russians have been gleefully exploiting for some time now.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:33 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Ana Mardoll: Will we ever reconcile:

(1) People on the left criticized Hillary in 2017 for not believing women with regards to a man she knew well.
(2) People on the left criticized Gillibrand in 2017 for believing women with regards to a man she knew well.


I think we can easily "reconcile" them as being two instances of the Anything a Powerful Woman Does Is Wrong phenomenon.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:20 PM on January 7 [51 favorites]


I scanned through some of the talking head shows and was un-surprised to see blatant lying and coverups across the board from current officials (Pompeo, Paul, Haley) but also from some reporters who were overeager to bothsides it by saying "oh he used sources off the record, we all hear that but using that information that is just so bad"; yeahY'know what's worse? A functionally illiterate president. And how is that not tacit admission that you're covering this up?

It was pretty gross although at least they brought it up. Thanks, talking head shows. A credit to your masters, I'm sure.
posted by petebest at 1:43 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I'm almost done with The Book and just came across a quote I haven't seen excerpted yet. The New Yorker's fact-checking department is truly legendary:
Bannon learned about the [Scaramucci] piece when fact-checkers from the magazine called him for comment about Scaramucci's accusation that he sucked his own cock.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 2:11 PM on January 7 [131 favorites]


I read the book cover-to-cover: loadsa typos, pure gossip, immensely entertaining read. As was noted upthread, there is surprisingly little condemnation for the fascists, compared to how often Bannon is noted as the Svengali intellectual; the smartest guy in the room. I guess being the smartest guy in those rooms at this time doesn't mean much on the global scale, but I would have expected a little more room for making explicit what Bannon's plans are for the USA. The book is more of an Internetty "LOL look at this car-crash" than a campaigning "What are we going to do about this crashing car?" (which is maybe for the good: which of those headlines garners more clicks?).

I'm horrified and fascinated by the response though — at this point, Trump has forced anyone with a position to conclude that he is one of (a) a braggart man-child, or (b) a literal stable genius. I mean, there is a group of the public that will choose option (b) until they die, but every public figure that supports it is going to look pretty ridiculous in the post-Trump era.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:11 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


I'm wondering who the next writer/person is who will angle to confirm these even further, probably in a bid to scoop up those mighty dollars. I hope Wolff's tapes get airtime.
posted by petebest at 2:21 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]




how often Bannon is noted as the Svengali intellectual; the smartest guy in the room. I guess being the smartest guy in those rooms at this time doesn't mean much on the global scale,

Bannon obviously has terrible ethical and political judgement, but it does seem likely that he is unusually intellectually capable. He was near the top of his cohort at Harvard Business School, and swung a job at Goldman Sachs despite prejudice about his age and humble background. At least, that's the account given in Devi'ls Bargain
posted by Coventry at 2:25 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


loadsa typos

I'm only on Chapter 6, but I find the typos curious. I mean, yes, they happen with virtually any book, but there seem to be more than usual. Henry Holt is a pretty well-respected publisher, and while it was released a few days early, they had the books already printed. Lack of proofreading because they were rushing to get it in print, or because they were trying to limit how many people saw it? Maybe both?

I've only just started Chapter 6 - is the chapter title "At HQME" a typo or a play on HQ and Home? With the typos it is hard to tell.
posted by Preserver at 2:31 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Just a reminder to all y’all Floridians: February 1st is the deadline to sign and submit the super important Restore the Vote petition. (The practical deadline if you are mailing it in is TOMORROW, Jan 8th, to make sure it’s processed by Feb 1st.)

It’s a pretty crucial referendum to restore the civil rights of over a million Floridians, whose disenfranchisement from voting is pretty much the only thing keeping Florida a swing state in GOP hands and corrupt assholes like Rick Scott in power.

For more background, this link via dKos is pretty good (also featuring the segment on the issue by Samantha Bee last year).
posted by darkstar at 2:34 PM on January 7 [31 favorites]



As was noted upthread, there is surprisingly little condemnation for the fascists, compared to how often Bannon is noted as the Svengali intellectual; the smartest guy in the room. I guess being the smartest guy in those rooms at this time doesn't mean much on the global scale, but I would have expected a little more room for making explicit what Bannon's plans are for the USA.


I just read this about the latest UK political scandal with Toby Young. It ends with some conservatives condemning homophobia and misogyny while leaving the middle of the article bit, the tweeted joke about masturbating while watching African children starve, completely un-repudiated.

A government minister who jokes about masturbating through several boxes of tissues while watching african kids die is apparently fine in conservative circles these days and the lack of apology or comment on this is pretty remarkable when compared to his other comments which are drawing almost all the fire.

White nationalism, you're soaking in it. Must be mild! It's more than mild and the suds last a lifetime.
posted by srboisvert at 2:39 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I'm almost done with The Book and just came across a quote I haven't seen excerpted yet. The New Yorker's fact-checking department is truly legendary:
Bannon learned about the [Scaramucci] piece when fact-checkers from the magazine called him for comment about Scaramucci's accusation that he sucked his own cock.


I'm betting this was done on speakerphone.
posted by srboisvert at 2:42 PM on January 7 [47 favorites]


A government minister who jokes about...

He's not a government minister. God forbid. He was appointed to an advisory council thing, only the most junior member of fifteen people.

The Toby Young... thing... deserves its own FPP, though it's beyond my skills. He is Tim Nasty-But-Dim. He has the manner of Boris Johnson with the social skills of Gollum.

Ironically, for someone whose entire career was built on connections, sinecure and privilege, his father was Michael Young, author of The Rise of the Meritocracy.
posted by Grangousier at 2:56 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


The only other document I can recall being widely referred to as "The Book" is, of course, Emmanuel Goldstein's Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, and that and he were both fictional.

What our Book does have in common with Goldstein's is that it's circulating like samizdat, through channels above and below and alongside the official one. Last night someone in my extended family sent out a mail blast with the Wolff volume enclosed as a PDF. I guess that's better than getting it from O'Brien, right?
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:57 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


And he (Rob Ford) haunts us still...

Daniel Dale: I wrote this exact story about Rob Ford: Trump’s schedule has shrunken significantly, @jonathanvswan reports, and it is now filled with “executive time,” code for “sitting by himself watching TV and such.” (For Ford, the term was “constituent meetings.”)

This is in reference to this story...

1 big thing: Scoop: Trump's secret, shrinking schedule:

President Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump’s demands for more “Executive Time,” which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us.

The schedules shown to me are different than the sanitized ones released to the media and public.

The schedule says Trump has "Executive Time" in the Oval Office every day from 8am to 11am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am.

That's far later than George W. Bush, who typically arrived in the Oval by 6:45am. Obama worked out first thing in the morning and usually got into the Oval between 9 and 10am, according to a former senior aide.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:03 PM on January 7 [48 favorites]


Slow clap to Wolff’s publisher for hiring a voice actor who sounds like Ron Howard for the audiobook.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:06 PM on January 7 [59 favorites]


Trump postpones his fake “Fake News Awards”
The article rightly wonders what these "awards" were about in the first case.
posted by mumimor at 3:07 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


The mid-range Gen Xers like myself are right at the edge of the age qualification for President

I hate to break it to you, but if you’re at the edge of 35, you’re a millennial.


My bad, I somehow got it in my head that you had to be 45 to be president and never bothered to check. So obviously I’m a perfect candidate now cause I’ve been eligible for 8 years without realizing. I’m also, like, a really stable genius.
posted by teleri025 at 3:12 PM on January 7 [48 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior on how the book shies away from talking about criminal actions.

Kendzior, an independent American journalist who has been one of the most insightful critics of the Trump era, zeroes in on how the portrayal of Trump in Wolff's book as dumb rather than corrupt could help him in the long term, despite the short term humiliation. On her indispensable Twitter account, she also makes some sharp points about how Wolff doesn't really address the media's coverage of Trump outside of the context of how the White House attempted to influence it.
I had a few other thoughts on "Fire and Fury" that I couldn't touch on in this article due to space. They add to my belief that the book is in many respects helpful for Trump. So I'll tweet them out here.

Wolff often writes about his subjects through their own eyes, imagining their thoughts. This narrative device conveys Trump as sincerely believing himself to be innocent -- afraid of being framed, not found out.

This narrative of course flies in the face of all evidence in the public domain (emails, meetings) as well as Trump's own admissions of obstructing justice.

To my surprise, Wolff -- a very sharp media critic -- largely takes Trump's portrayal of the media as an enemy at face value. There is almost nothing on how the sycophantic members of the press or even the sheer volume of coverage helped Trump.

Some of the most obsequious journalists -- who write fawning profiles and who Trump actively seeks out -- are presented as if Trump truly considers them his enemies. It's odd that a savvy media critic like Wolff did not break these relationships down.
Incidentally, Wikileaks is pirating Fire and Fury, as a reminder that even Trump's ostensible allies prefer him embattled.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:12 PM on January 7 [14 favorites]


And he (Rob Ford) haunts us still...

Daniel Dale: I wrote this exact story about Rob Ford: Trump’s schedule has shrunken significantly, @jonathanvswan reports, and it is now filled with “executive time,” code for “sitting by himself watching TV and such.” (For Ford, the term was “constituent meetings.”)


Well, although in Rob Ford's case the "constituent meetings" were code for nursing a wicked hangover, which as far as we can tell isn't part of 45's morning routine. I guess whatever behaviours you are addicted to, they must become more and more comforting the more time you spend in office as a woefully underqualified cretin.
posted by saturday_morning at 3:14 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


@jayrosen_nyu
From @chucktodd's interview with Wolff and other things he's said, it's clear how this book happened — and the way he punked them. 1/
- Wolff was going to do the contrarian thing: go deep on liberal media bias. Sales would come from that controversy + a cheering right wing. 2/
- He was perfectly positioned for this. Enjoys being hated, gives as good as he gets, loves scandalizing "elites," wrote the predicate pieces. 3/
- Wolff conned Bannon into thinking him a fellow traveler, a mutual hater of the "opposition" media. Trump was dimly aware, not opposed. 4/
- Everything was in place for Wolff's 'surprising genius of Donald Trump' book, trolling the national media to jump start sales. 5/
- Then the shock: Wolff realized that if anything the press was under-playing the chaos and unfitness. So he switched narrative tracks. 6/
- His new spectacle generator: the demolition job he'd do on Trump. The game became to conceal this intention as long as possible. 7/
- His track-switching worked brilliantly. The marks for his con wrote the checks he silently cashed. Just one minor hitch. 8/
- His book puts the lie to what he wrote earlier: that Trump got a raw deal from the liberal media. @chucktodd asked about that. 9/
- Wolff skated. My paraphrase: 'At the time they didn't know what I learned by being that fly on the wall. So yeah... bias!" Ha, ha. END
posted by chris24 at 3:18 PM on January 7 [61 favorites]


From what I saw on MTP that's a spot on analysis. Wolff simply didn't have an answer for Todd's question about his earlier pieces on liberal media bias. "They were correct but they didn't have the facts to back up being correct until I discovered them" is not a credible answer.

That said, the clear fact that this is not the book that Wolff set out to write actually lends it credibility in my eyes. If there was any way to write that the media was being unfair to Trump then that's what Wolff would have written.

Also, Joy Reid is the only one on MTP speaking the truth. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that there is an AEI shill being given a microphone and yet somehow I am.
posted by Justinian at 3:32 PM on January 7 [22 favorites]


the only surprising thing about trump postponing his “fake news awards” is that he didn’t punt on it for the customary “two weeks”
posted by murphy slaw at 3:53 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


“Stable genius” sounds like something that should be on Wile E. Coyote’s business card.
posted by 4ster at 4:40 PM on January 7 [44 favorites]


"They were correct but they didn't have the facts to back up being correct until I discovered them" is not a credible answer.

Especially because my middle-aged non-journalist reasonably-well-read ass figured out all of this by the spring of 2016. It is not rocket surgery to look at this person and realize they are a dangerous imbecile with delusions of grandeur and a raging personality disorder, nor is it way out there to look at all these other people and understand what they're trying to pull by enabling this person. I called that Trump didn't actually want to be president (he wanted to win, he did not want the prize), and that Melania definitely didn't want to be first lady, and that Javanka don't give a single solitary fuck about anything but Javanka veritable millennia ago. This was not some kind of deep cover stealth operation. I might not have been privy to the actual conversations where people said things like "Trump is a dangerous imbecile but I'm going to enable him to enrich myself, good thing he's not going to win ha ha." I didn't have to be because it's been obvious for two years.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:46 PM on January 7 [51 favorites]


It is not rocket surgery to look at this person and realize they are a dangerous imbecile with delusions of grandeur and a raging personality disorder, nor is it way out there to look at all these other people and understand what they're trying to pull by enabling this person. I called that Trump didn't actually want to be president (he wanted to win, he did not want the prize), and that Melania definitely didn't want to be first lady, and that Javanka don't give a single solitary fuck about anything but Javanka veritable millennia ago.

It-- it really isn't. People were willfully blind to the absolute, obviously inevitable incompetency of this set of complete clowns.
posted by tivalasvegas at 4:54 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


When I hear the words "stable genius" I think of Clever Hans, who could reportedly do simple arithmetic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:58 PM on January 7 [29 favorites]


I should say that Trump resembles a horse in no other way, being neither handsome, loyal, friendly, or useful.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:59 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


Clever Hans works for the Lucksmiths song too...because the administration is running around blind. And also in the end Trump is just the arse.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:07 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Stellar example of mental stability.

Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN's set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails
White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was politely asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.
posted by chris24 at 5:40 PM on January 7 [77 favorites]


But it seems like the narrative is sticking: the President is dumb, lazy, and dangerous.

All true, but that's only half the truth. The other half is he's a criminal traitor and foreign intelligence asset. The second part is what could get him out of office. Dumb, lazy, borderline mentally invalid, all those are features, not liabilities, for the Republican Congress, who want a warm body to sign tax cuts and Granny starving. The narrative that he's a fucking moron who is literally incapable of understanding what his staff did with Russian treason may actually be helping him and helping Republicans defend him.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:41 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Hope someone at CNN got a cellphone video.
posted by saturday_morning at 5:41 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


Incidentally, Wikileaks is pirating Fire and Fury, as a reminder that even Trump's ostensible allies prefer him embattled.

@samswey: Has anyone checked to see if Michael Wolff’s book that Wikileaks just posted was edited/had portions withheld like they did with the DNC documents?

(Seems like a damn good question to me.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:41 PM on January 7 [14 favorites]


But it seems like the narrative is sticking: the President is dumb, lazy, and dangerous.

All true, but that's only half the truth. The other half is he's a criminal traitor and foreign intelligence asset.


Oh, of course!
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:48 PM on January 7


Incidentally, Wikileaks is pirating Fire and Fury, as a reminder that even Trump's ostensible allies prefer him embattled.

Plus, they probably want to try to undercut Wolff's profit to punish him for telling the truth about Trump.
posted by octothorpe at 5:48 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Michael Wolff, judging from a very cursory look at his history, is an asshole. So is Trump, who comes from a line of assholes. My own sense is that one of the big name 'respectable' journalists, say a Dan Rather or a Bob woodward, would have written a very respectable tome that doesn't quite touch on the insipid craziness of the Trump Whitehouse, and that an asshole, who willing to lie about intent, was what was needed.

In Hunter S Thompson's scathing obituary of Nixon what stood out was the line 'It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.' He was referring to Objective Journalism, and how false equivalencies allow utter scum a free ride, such as Nixon and Trump, helping them immensely in their quest for political power.

So yeah, assholes.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 5:56 PM on January 7 [78 favorites]


Wikileaks is pro-Russia, not pro-trump. The whole thing is there. Fire and Fury will also be the top ebook torrent for some time to come. The genie is, like, way out.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:59 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior

It should be noted that being too dumb to understand you're breaking the law isn't usually an effective defense
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:14 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


It should be noted that being too dumb to understand you're breaking the law isn't usually an effective defense

If we're still doing the Rob Ford as precedent for Donald Trump thing: it literally worked (well, sorta) for Rob Ford.
posted by mightygodking at 6:16 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


When I hear the words "stable genius" I think of Clever Hans, who could reportedly do simple arithmetic.

By cheating. So... apropos!
posted by srboisvert at 6:29 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


being too dumb to understand you're breaking the law isn't usually an effective defense

it literally worked (well, sorta) for Rob Ford.


He's not exaggerating.

posted by saturday_morning at 6:34 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
“His is turning out to be an enormously consensual presidency. So much so that...there has never been a day that I wished Hillary Clinton were President. Not one. Indeed, as Trump’s accomplishments accumulate, the mere thought of Clinton in the W.H., doubling down on Obama’s....."

This is a (mis)quote from a NY Post editorial. The original word was "consequential." I disagree with the new, distinctly Freudian version.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:35 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


Ok so I just realized the president tweets and that means autocorrect errors are a real thing that could like, cause a nuclear war.
posted by odinsdream at 6:39 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


that means autocorrect errors are a real thing that could like, cause a nuclear war.

Duck Rocket Man.
posted by Talez at 6:43 PM on January 7 [19 favorites]


My own sense is that one of the big name 'respectable' journalists, say a Dan Rather or a Bob woodward, would have written a very respectable tome that doesn't quite touch on the insipid craziness of the Trump Whitehouse

Also, that's because It Takes A Shitbag. Like, the shitbags in the WH are going to keep it together enough when they speak with a Respectable Journalist. That's what the bags are for! Cinch it up! But, when they meet a fellow shitbag, they can slosh it all out. It's on the WH Shitbags that they did not recognize how many folds the shitbag they spilled shit with had.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:45 PM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Now he just tweeted out the guy's email address.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:57 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the understanding is that Wolff spoke their language. Assholese. Hell, Bannon seemed to have warmed up and ingratiated himself to him.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 7:02 PM on January 7


I miss Hunter S Thompson. Link to his Nixon obit if you haven’t seen it. Choice quote about Nixon’s first TV debate:

When Nixon finally had to face the TV cameras for real in the 1960 presidential campaign debates, he got whipped like a red-headed mule. Even die-hard Republican voters were shocked by his cruel and incompetent persona.

Those Republicans died and were replaced by ones who consider cruel and incompetent to be core values for the Republican presidency, which is why we need gonzo journalism now more than ever. At least Michael Wollf showed up for a year, lived in the thick of it, and and told us his version of events while reminding us that he is but one narrator. I’ll take a dozen Wollfs over one Jake “hosts white nationalists for the views and blocks critics on Twitter before and after” Tapper or one Maggie “sucks up to Trump for a year and gets angry when her secret book retirement plan gets scooped by someone who worked harder” Haberman.

Show up. Do what you do. Tell other people what you saw. That is journalism. NYT still calls itself the “paper of record”, and I really wonder what that is meant to convey in today’s authoritarian culture. It shocked people when I suggested that NYT writes propaganda, and it shocked me that people think they couldn’t possibly. Same applies to every self-appointed authority.
posted by SakuraK at 7:24 PM on January 7 [29 favorites]


(and it can't, it takes a unanimous decision by all states to alter the structure of the Senate)

That bit of Article V does not similarly protect itself. Amend Article V, via the normal process, to remove that clause, then the Senate can be dissolved by another normal amendment.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:29 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


The red states will ride the Senate until it results in the country fragmenting, and it will.

By 2040 70% of the population will reside in just 17 states represented by only 34 Senators. The other 30% will have an near-supermajority 66 Senators. That's not fixable.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:35 PM on January 7 [54 favorites]


In fact a quick look at some figures tells me that the three biggest US cities have as many people as the thirteen or fourteen smallest states. There's no easy answer to this problem within a federal system, and it hits Democrats disproportionately.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:15 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


SakuraK: "I miss Hunter S Thompson. Link to his Nixon obit if you haven’t seen it. Choice quote about Nixon’s first TV debate:

When Nixon finally had to face the TV cameras for real in the 1960 presidential campaign debates, he got whipped like a red-headed mule. Even die-hard Republican voters were shocked by his cruel and incompetent persona.
"

And those voters were so shocked that Nixon would go on to lose the election by less than a quarter of a percent in the popular vote, and quite possibly only lost the election at all thanks to some shenanigans in IL and TX.

Thompson was not one to be overly concerned with facts, in my experience.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:36 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


That bit of Article V does not similarly protect itself. Amend Article V, via the normal process, to remove that clause, then the Senate can be dissolved by another normal amendment.

There's no way this would pass judicial muster. It's government by D&D rules lawyering. Turns out that sometimes the Constitution really is, as they say, a suicide pact.
posted by Justinian at 8:53 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Could there be some loophole left over from territorial disputes between states, or some legalistic black magic, that could force the transfer of land from one state to another? If so, perhaps small regions of the highest density from populous states could be converted to exclaves of lower-population states, thus ensuring a more even distribution of the U.S. population among senate districts. I mean, what could possibly go wrong
posted by XMLicious at 9:03 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


David Roberts on Tapper/Miller is good:
Imagine being Stephen Miller.

I actually think this Tapper/Miller episode is important -- and not because of Miller's sycophancy & hackery, which are the same as they've always been. What's new here is not that Trump is surrounded by bad-faith cultists. What's new is Tapper's reaction. The idea of Tapper's show is to inform viewers by exposing them to a range of perspectives. The pretense is that Tapper & his guests are engaged in a common pursuit of *an accurate view of the world*. People are saying what they believe, arguing for what they see as true. This is almost always honored in the breach, of course. Political guests are always spinning, trying to argue for their side's angle. This often involves intentional omissions, misleading statements, & sometimes outright lies. But the *pretense* of truth-seeking is important.

What Trumpkins represent is a US conservative movement gone so far down the rabbit hole that it no longer honors the pretense. The idea of truth that transcends & restricts partisan interest has simply faded out - like a wavelength of light they no longer perceive. So Miller goes on the show to slavishly praise Trump & dismiss all criticism of him, just like an old Soviet apparatchik or some North Korean functionary. There is no longer any shred of pretense that Miller respects truth or is offering a reasoned judgment. He is purest hack.

What's new is that, finally, in the end, Tapper *acknowledges this*. He says, explicitly, that Miller is only there as an apparatchik and, as such, *offers no value to Tapper's viewers*. He cuts the interview short! Of course, to media critics, this will seem too little, too late. It's been obvious what the Trumpkins are about since they arrived. And the US conservative movement has been heading in a purely tribal direction for decades. The premise of shared truth is long, long gone. Folks like @jayrosen_nyu, @brianbeutler, me, & many many others have been yelling for years that journalists must grapple with this -- they can't keep pretending that pure hacks are part of a shared pursuit of truth. It only gives cover & legitimacy to hacks.

So to me, it is new & heartening to see @jaketapper - a real media traditionalist - finally decide that there's *no value to his viewers in exposing them to North Korea-style hackery*. It's simply a net negative, a subtraction from the world's store of understanding. Obviously I think this should have come sooner & should extend farther. (Is there any value in putting, say, KellyAnn Conway on TV?) Journalists have to draw some line, to defend the norms & premises that make journalism possible. It's too soon to say whether Tapper's revelation/decision will reverberate or make any difference. But it does seem to me like, at the very least, a crack in a door, a way for media traditionalists to broach this overdue discussion. So, small victories!
I like Jake Tapper well enough, but he's always represented a view-from-nowhere with a nearly endless willingness to assume good faith, even where it is blatantly evident such faith is not deserved. I said "nearly" though. I hope this sticks.
posted by zachlipton at 9:05 PM on January 7 [68 favorites]


People who are taking Fire & Fury with a grain of salt without reading it may not understand that it's not actually reportage, or history. As far as I can tell, the only facts and events in the book are easily verifiable ones, like "Trump gave a speech on this date" or "the Unite the Right rally happened on that day." So Wolff is taking a framework of things we know happened, and then telling us what people in the White House were saying about those events at the time. As far as I know only one person disputes what's attributed to her.

Wolff is the kind of privileged white guy whose daily life isn't directly affected by who occupies the White House so he's cynical about anyone else's political convictions. The tone he takes is that when liberals decry something it's performative outrage -- insincere, elitist posturing. "Liberals hate this just because the conservatives like it." He paints Bannon as smart guy who is overconfident about the political viability of his working man populism. I think Wolff thinks he's a sophisticated realist, but it's not a particularly clear-eyed view of the world to believe that all politics is all just a game, played for personal glory, with no real differences between parties.

Anyway, I wouldn't say the book is required reading, but it's entertaining and I believe it's basically accurate. It's also an interesting glimpse, not into Trump's mind, which we already know, but into Bannon's.
posted by mrmurbles at 9:10 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


There's no way this would pass judicial muster.

Wait. What? Are you suggesting that the courts could reject an amendment? How? On what possible authority? I mean, there's no way that an amendment striking out parts of Article V would ever be proposed to the states, let alone be ratified, but assuming it was, I don't see how the courts could say anything about it.

Could there be some loophole left over from territorial disputes between states, or some legalistic black magic, that could force the transfer of land from one state to another?

As long as we're imagining impossible things that will never happen, there is a simple mechanism, specified in Article IV, Section 3, whereby a large state such as California could be divided into arbitrarily many smaller states upon a simple majority vote in that state's legislature and a simple majority vote in the Congress. Doesn't even require the President to sign off on it. If I were looking for a way to destroy the federal power of the Republicans forever, I would, as soon as I had a majority in both houses of Congress, push to break California into 40 one-million-ish person states divided in such a way as to give comfortable margins for Democratic senators in those newly-minted states. Then we see how the Senate works when it is routinely something like 124 Democrats to 54 Republicans.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:18 PM on January 7 [28 favorites]


UPCOMING SPECIAL ELECTIONS - FEBRUARY - PART 1

A fair number of February specials, so I will split this into two chunks.

Boilerplate: Lots of law comes out of state legislatures, plenty of it bad. These elections don't get much attention, doubly so for special elections. Because of the small scope, a small amount of your money or time could help elect these folks! Please pitch in, if you can!

Also, we've got some tight gaps between primaries and generals for a few elections here. There's an NH primary Jan 9 for a Feb 27 general, which isn't too bad, but there are two MN specials Feb 12 that don't have primaries until Jan 29, which ಠ_ಠ. I'll give full details on them then, but if you want to help the almost-certain-to-get-the-nomination Dems now, we've got Philip Spagnuolo, Melissa Wagner, and Karla Bigham.
====

February 6 - Missouri House 39 - Ethan Perkinson

HD-39 is currently an R seat (the incumbent was elected to a judgeship); no D ran in 2016 or 2014, R won 56-44 in 2012. The rural district east of Kansas City was won by by Trump 71-24 and by Romney 61-37. The Rs control the Missouri House by about 65 seats.

=> Probably not really winnable, but good to see someone running.

====

February 6 - Missouri House 97 - Mike Revis

HD-97 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned to run for county office); no D ran in 2016, R won 67-33 in 2014 and 52-48 in 2012. The St.Louis exurban district was won by by Trump 61-33 and by Romney 55-43.

=> District looks like it used to be more purple, but definitely would be quite a reach.

====

February 6 - Missouri House 129 - Ronna King Ford

HD-129 is currently an R seat (the incumbent was elected to state senate in an August special); no D ran in 2016, R won 83-17 in 2014 and 77-23 in 2012. The very rural district was won by by Trump 80-16 and by Romney 70-28.

=> These MO House districts are tough, no two ways about it.

====

February 6 - Missouri House 144 - Jim Scaggs

HD-144 is currently an R seat (the incumbent took a job in the state executive branch); no D ran in 2016 or 2014, R won 66-34 in 2012. The very rural district was won by by Trump 78-19 and by Romney 61-36.

=> Another heavily red district.

====

February 13 - Florida House 72 - Margaret Good

HD-72 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned for personal issues); R won 58-42 in 2016, no D ran in 2014, R won 54-46 in 2012. The Sarasota-area district was won by Trump 51-46 and by Romney 51-48. The Rs control the Florida House by about 35 seats.

=> This looks like a serious opportunity for a Dem pickup.

====
Part 2 anon.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:27 PM on January 7 [31 favorites]


The ‘stable genius’ isn’t even functioning as president...

"20 Reasons Why The World Is Full Of Dumb People Who Think They’re Smart."
posted by LeLiLo at 9:45 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I went to the best colleges
posted by growabrain at 9:47 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


UPCOMING SPECIAL ELECTIONS - FEBRUARY - PART 2
====

February 13 - Oklahoma Senate 27 - Amber Jensen

SD-27 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned after being charged with sexual assault); no D ran in 2012. The rural district northwest of Oklahoma City was won by by Trump 84-11 and by Romney 85-15. The Rs control the Oklahoma Senate by about 30 seats.

=> On paper, you'd say this is unwinnable. But Dems have seriously overperformed in OK specials, as the state government is incredibly unpopular. Still a likely R hold, but in the current environment, it's possible. It probably also doesn't hurt that in the wake of a sexual assault scandal, the Dem candidate is a woman.

====

February 17 - Louisiana House 86 - Michael Showers [no website]

HD-86 is currently an R seat (the incumbent is resigning for personal reasons); no D ran in 2015, D did not make runoff in 2011. The rural district near Hammond was won by by Trump 73-23 and by Romney 73-25. The Rs control the Louisiana House by about 20 seats.

=> Very red district, but there's one Dem running against 3 Republicans. The D has a decent chance of going to the runoff, but still seems unlikely he would win there (or beat 50% in the first round).

====

February 20 - Kentucky House 49 - Linda Belcher

HD-49 is currently an R seat (the incumbent committed suicide - this was the child sex abuse guy); R won 50-50 in 2016, D won 53-47 in 2014, R won 53-47 in 2012. The district was won by by Trump 72-23 and by Romney 65-33. The Rs control the Kentucky House by about 25 seats.

=> Presumably Linda has already heard your Bob's Burgers jokes. Very red district at the presidential level, but Belcher has actually held this seat at least twice in the past. Also, the GOP candidate is the sex abuser's widow; I am guessing that the usual widow effect is going to work in reverse here. This should be an excellent opportunity to pick up a seat.

====

February 20 - Mississippi House 60 - Morris Mock, Jr. [no website]

HD-60 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned, purportedly for health reasons, but seemingly to dodge sexual harassment issues); no D ran in 2015 or 2011. No prez numbers, sorry. The Rs control the Mississippi House by about 25 seats.

=> Hard to say exactly how red the district is with no real numbers (although as a rural district east of Jackson, I have some guesses). That said, although MS specials are nominally non-partisan, there seems to be only one Dem and three Republicans running; it's not impossible the Dem could squeak through.

====
posted by Chrysostom at 10:10 PM on January 7 [33 favorites]


RE statehood: making D.C. a state and admitting Puerto Rico to statehood are probably the two changes that are next on the horizon, and both long overdue. The local citizens want it, the rest of the nation is mostly okay with it, and it’s probably going to happen.

Republicans will scream bloody murder, of course, as both would be expected to be Democratic strongholds. Four new Dem Senators, about a dozen new Dem Representatives, and several new Dem electoral votes in the Presidential election would arise out of statehood for DC and PR when it finally happens.

As for California, their economic power as the sixth largest economy in the world makes it a tough sell to split it up. It would surely complicate water rights agreements, which are already so fraught in the West. But there have been serious efforts to break it up! pushed mainly by Republicans in the rural north that want more political power in their state.

More recently, a referendum petition to break CA into six states a couple of years ago failed, and an effort by the same guy to split it into three states is under way for 2018. Though I must say, he has chosen borders that still fly in the face of cultural realities in CA, so it again seems unlikely to succeed.

CA may eventually split if it’s citizens get really tired of having the same amount of representation in the Senate as, say, Wyoming, while having 100 times the population. But DC and PR becoming states...I think those are much more likely to happen in the next 20 years.
posted by darkstar at 10:17 PM on January 7 [20 favorites]


VA HOD update - Dems are filing an emergency appeal of Friday's ruling that would at least initially let the GOP candidate be seated from HD-28 (this is the one that has some voters receive ballots with the wrong House candidates).
posted by Chrysostom at 10:30 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


...DC and PR becoming states...I think those are much more likely to happen in the next 20 years.

Once they get the lights back on, I think Puerto Ricans would be well within their rights to come together and tell Uncle Sam to piss right off.

All right, that's just a gut feeling. I know most people over there have other concerns, but does anyone have any actual knowledge on how political sentiments in PR have shifted since Maria? Both on relations with the US and otherwise? Thanks.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:00 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


To finish my thoughts on statehood for PR and DC, here are the approximate 2016 populations (World Bank stats, via Google) for comparison:

California - 39.3 million (the most populous state by about a 10 million person margin)

Connecticut - 3.6 million (Representation includes 2 Senators, 5 Representatives, and 7 electoral votes)

Puerto Rico - 3.4 million (As a state, it would fall right after Connecticut in population ranking, with similar representative weight. PR would be more populous than 20 other US states. It would also be more populous than both of the other noncontiguous states — Alaska and Hawaii — combined.)

Washington D.C. - 681,000 (would be closest in population to Vermont, though slightly larger.)

Vermont - 625,000 (Representation includes 2 Senators, 1 Representative, and 3 electoral votes)

Wyoming - 586,000

...compare also to...

Guam - 163,000

U.S. Virgin Islands - 103,000
posted by darkstar at 11:14 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


I dare say that, had PR been a state with 2 Senators and 5 Representatives caucusing with the Dems and voting, it seems likely there would have been much more legislative pressure to have an effective recovery and aid package, etc. I think PR is getting especially screwed right now probably because they have no real representation in the US Congress, so there is no electoral downside to neglecting them.

Not to mention that two more Dem Senators would eliminate the GOP’s government-drowning stranglehold on power.
posted by darkstar at 11:26 PM on January 7 [23 favorites]


Educated guesstimates put an extra 200,000 Puerto Ricans in Florida, clustered around Orlando, thanks to post-hurricane displacement. The question is how many of them will get registered and vote. The electoral difference in FL in 2016 was just over 100,000.
posted by holgate at 12:26 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


All right, that's just a gut feeling. I know most people over there have other concerns, but does anyone have any actual knowledge on how political sentiments in PR have shifted since Maria? Both on relations with the US and otherwise? Thanks.

I managed to find exactly one data point which is not surprising given the situation. Make of it what you will.

Op-Ed: Hurricane relief or abandonment? Independence or statehood? Puerto Rico waits, like always.
All my adult life I’ve yearned for a free, sovereign, independent Puerto Rico — one with its own president, constitution, currency, ambassadors, embassies, treaties, Olympic teams and seats at the United Nations. An independent island would be in control of its borders. It would be able to accept aid from Cuba, Colombia, Brazil or Norway. The international community has proved its compassion time and again, and I have no doubts that it would open its heart to a small, wounded nation in the Caribbean. I’ve often asked myself: What creative powers, what initiatives, what native genius would be unleashed if the island were truly free?

And yet, after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, for the first time in my life, this die-hard independentista has begun to think the previously unthinkable. If independence is out of reach — the romantic dream of an artist who doesn’t live there? — wouldn’t it be better for the island to end its Twilight Zone status forever and become a state of the United States? Isn’t statehood better than the never-ending limbo of commonwealth-hood? Statehood would give the island two U.S. senators, five members in the House of Representatives, seven electoral college votes. The political voice of Puerto Rico, an island of 3.7 million, would be impossible to ignore. We could help write the laws that dictate our destinies. In a close election, we the people could decide America’s next president.
posted by scalefree at 12:37 AM on January 8 [34 favorites]


Shakespeare's As You Like It gives Touchstone the perfect answer to anyone boasting how smart they are: "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."
posted by Paul Slade at 2:00 AM on January 8 [21 favorites]


His is turning out to be an enormously consensual presidency.

So is the safeword "covfefe", or...?

Asking for 320 million friends.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:26 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


Initial talks underway about Trump interview in Mueller Russia probe
WASHINGTON — Anticipating that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ask to interview President Donald Trump, the president’s legal team is discussing a range of potential options for the format, including written responses to questions in lieu of a formal sit-down, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Lawyers for Trump have been discussing with FBI investigators a possible interview by the special counsel with the president as part of the inquiry into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

The discussions were described by one person with direct knowledge as preliminary and ongoing. Trump’s legal team is seeking clarification on whether the president would be interviewed directly by Mueller, as well as the legal standard for when a president can be interviewed, the location of a possible interview, the topics and the duration. But the president’s team is also seeking potential compromises that could avoid an interview altogether, two of those interviewed told NBC News.
posted by Brainy at 4:25 AM on January 8 [26 favorites]


Trump’s legal team is seeking clarification on whether the president would be interviewed directly by Mueller, as well as the legal standard for when a president can be interviewed, the location of a possible interview, the topics and the duration. But the president’s team is also seeking potential compromises that could avoid an interview altogether, two of those interviewed told NBC News.

Everything they need to know will be in the subpoena. Trump's biggest weakness is that the courts don't give a shit about negotiation for an interview. This isn't a civil action that can be settled. When that sinks in, shit's gonna get even crazier.
posted by mikelieman at 4:49 AM on January 8 [29 favorites]


Everything they need to know will be in the subpoena. Trump's biggest weakness is that the courts don't give a shit about negotiation for an interview. This isn't a civil action that can be settled. When that sinks in, shit's gonna get even crazier.
Yes, it says in the article:
Justice Department veterans cast doubt on the possibility that Mueller, who served as FBI director for 12 years, would forgo the chance to interview the president directly.

“Prosecutors want to see and hear folks in person,” said Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and chief of staff to FBI Director Comey. “They want to probe and follow up. Body language and tone are important,” said Rosenberg, now an NBC News analyst. “And they want answers directly from witnesses, not from their lawyers. The odds of prosecutors agreeing to written responses are somewhere between infinitesimally small and zero."

Again, the leaks from that organization are so overwhelming. Why do they do it? It's really weird at this point. I mean, now we know Trump is the main leaker, as a lot of MeFites have suspected all along, but why would his lawyers leak? They are not good lawyers, we know, but how can any lawyer be that bad?

I can see how Trump's lawyers want to keep him away from any form of interview, though. That can only go wrong. He can't even sit still in a chair for half an hour, he can't form a full sentence and according to the Wolff book he thinks his daily briefings are lecturing; an interview under oath will break him apart within the first hour.

I wonder when the Republicans will realize this can't hold. I heard a guy on radio being interviewed about his feelings about the book. First of all he said Wolff is unreliable, which is maybe fair enough. But then he said "so why did they even let him in?" He imagined that all administrations have this type of infighting (and this "they all do it" is an argument I've heard a lot from Trumpists, including Trump himself imagining that former attorneys general protected their president). He told the reporter that he knew Trump was unusual and unsavory when he voted for him, and wasn't surprised at all. But then he said in a very small voice: "if what the book says is true, I will probably change my mind". In other words, there may be little cracks in the wall now.
posted by mumimor at 5:23 AM on January 8 [28 favorites]


Of course, to media critics, this will seem too little, too late.

Well of course. It would be too little too late in 2003, to stop the *second* Iraq war. The curious thong to me about Tapper dismissing Miller was that it happened at all - most media responses to the book seemed to be extremely conservative, with a special expectation that the viewers/readers hadn't read it.

As far as facts in the book are concerned, I thought there were plenty, even many. It's just that while we might forget the exact week before the Republican primary n states x, y, z, we could go look them up, the exact date wasn't critical to the story.

The media and WH backlash has been to paint it as National Enquirer-style made-up quotes, it didn't read that way to me. If anything the quotes were as low key as anything. How tabloid-y would it be for someone around here to say "he's a moron"?

The "Gotcha" is not in the quotes (except for Bannon), it's in the Holy-Shit way the book recalls how deeply unqualified he is AND that his daughter/SIL are his closest advisors, AND, he doesn't listen to details AND he's functionally illiterate AND EVERYONE KNOWS THIS but keeps it to their non-public circle because this outrageous affront must continue because . . Profit?!

This is incredibly damning of the WH press corps. What The Hell Are You Doing?! This is an 800-pound gorilla tv of a story, and you're suppressing it for the worst effect if not the worst reasons.
posted by petebest at 5:30 AM on January 8 [62 favorites]


I recall when David Boies (of the duo that argued in front of SCOTUS in favor of gay marriage) was interviewed on a news show after the case had been argued, but before it had been decided. A gay marriage opponent was also on the show and had just finished offering a long list of pseudoargument as to how gay marriage was harmful to society.

When it was Boies’ turn to respond, he smiled and said something along the lines of: “You know, when you’re called to speak at a convention, or invited on tv, you can say anything you want, and you don’t actually have to offer real evidence to back up your claims. But when you’re in a court of law, you actually have to back up what you’re saying with facts. And the fact is, when the Supreme Court explicitly asked the opposition to give demonstrable examples to support their animus against gay marriage, they couldn’t do it. Their lawyers just stood there. So you can say whatever you want about gay marriage harming society, but the facts are not on your side.”

I get the sense it’s going to be like that for President Dumbass when Mueller interviews him. He’s not going to be able to bluster or obfuscate or sidestep a question. He’s going to have to deal in facts, or run afoul of even more Obstruction risk. And as mumimor said, he’s not the kind of guy that can maintain composure, much less a focused level of argument, under direct questioning. He doesn’t have the craftiness of being able to parse legal terms like Bill Clinton, nor even the simple cleverness to keep his misdeeds secret, having already incriminated himself no less than three times by his own big mouth.

I just hope — please, please, please — let the video of his questioning find it’s way into public hands. I think the country has earned that little bit of satisfaction.
posted by darkstar at 5:52 AM on January 8 [98 favorites]


The "Gotcha" is not in the quotes (except for Bannon), it's in the Holy-Shit way the book recalls how deeply unqualified he is AND that his daughter/SIL are his closest advisors, AND, he doesn't listen to details AND he's functionally illiterate AND EVERYONE KNOWS THIS but keeps it to their non-public circle because this outrageous affront must continue because . . Profit?!

I don't think that this is a big surprise to anyone -- even a good chunk of people who voted for him. The legacy of Reaganism is similar to a few comments up, the violation of the good-faith principle that both sides in a political discussion are at least both acknowledging the concept of truth. Democrats tend to govern and speak in terms of wanting the government to operate in ways that benefit their constituencies. They seem to expect their opponents to want the same things, and to engage in give-and-take over which set of constituencies will benefit most.

Unfortunately, Dwight Eisenhower is long dead and his ideological grandchildren are nutballs. The Republican Mantra as laid out by Reagan is a simple one: Any level of government that prevents conservatives from imposing their will is bad and should be dismantled. It is expressed in simple platitudes: Government is always the problem. "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" is terrible to hear. All taxation is theft. All regulation is bad. Let the free market decide everything. These and similar refrains have been howled out at The Common Folk for so many decades that many of them now _believe them_.

The 'intellectual' Republican types, the George Wills and the Jennifer Rubins and the Bill Kristols and wow does it pain me to use 'Bill Kristol' and 'intellectual' in the same sentence but the Freedom Caucus makes him look like fucking Aristotle and such have the nerve to look surprised. It is as if they've been working all along on the assumption that do-nothingism is just a front; of COURSE we'll tell the blue-collar folk that we want to tear the government down and abolish taxes and ban all abortions and ban collective bargaining and fight evil and praise God, because that's how we get their votes so that we can get into government and use it for our own desired ends. Now their party has control of all branches and they're asking "all right, what should we do with our government now?" and the response is "Tear it all down and burn it up."

"Well, no, we SAID we wanted that but we don't really want that."
"WE really want that."
"That will hurt a lot of people if we do that."
"Good."
"What?"

You can dangle carrots in front of donkeys for years and years. But you'd better at least keep in mind that the donkey is bigger than you, stronger than you, has bigger teeth than you and may be slow to think but if it sets its feeble mind on going in a different direction, you can't just muscle it to where you want it to go.
posted by delfin at 6:30 AM on January 8 [53 favorites]


I'm partway through "Fire and Fury" and I feel like it's generally truthful, though there may be tons of small factual errors sprinkled throughout. Its real power is not how true it is, but how believable it is. And it is completely believable that Donald Trump is every bit as stupid and unhinged as he's shown to be in this book. Painfully, horribly believable. And fucking obvious. As we who haunt MeFi politics threads have long known.

Donald Trump doesn't know anything. He doesn't know he doesn't know anything. And you can't teach him anything. In addition to the fact that he has a history of just not paying his bills, the fact that you can't tell the guy anything is the reason good lawyers won't take him on as a client. A lawyer that would represent this man has to be a fool or a masochist. Being interviewed by a guy like Mueller would be a nightmare for anyone. But if you have a good lawyer, they can coach you and prepare you for what to expect. There is no way to prepare Donald Trump for such an interview. He won't sit still for the coaching. He won't believe he needs coaching. He'll go in thinking he's be the smartest guy in the room and he will absolutely shit the bed in every possible way, all while still thinking he's got the upper hand. Please let there be video. And let it go public.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:46 AM on January 8 [67 favorites]



And yet, after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, for the first time in my life, this die-hard independentista has begun to think the previously unthinkable. If independence is out of reach — the romantic dream of an artist who doesn’t live there? — wouldn’t it be better for the island to end its Twilight Zone status forever and become a state of the United States? Isn’t statehood better than the never-ending limbo of commonwealth-hood? Statehood would give the island two U.S. senators, five members in the House of Representatives, seven electoral college votes. The political voice of Puerto Rico, an island of 3.7 million, would be impossible to ignore. We could help write the laws that dictate our destinies. In a close election, we the people could decide America’s next president.


It bears repeating:

A mass migration of Puerto Ricans into Austin, TX would instantly flip 5 different House seats.

And probably enough TX legislative seats to inflict quite the revenge.
posted by ocschwar at 6:49 AM on January 8 [15 favorites]


BREAKING: 200,000 Salvadorans will be forced to leave the U.S. or face deportation as Trump administration ends immigration protection (WaPo)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:54 AM on January 8 [23 favorites]


[A few deleted. Not sure why people are posting about the Golden Globes/Oprah here, but this is a thread for Trump/WH news and updates.]
posted by taz (staff) at 7:02 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


From the ultra-conservative Washington Times: Republican Leaders Trying to Stop Rick Saccone, Conor Lamb Race from Becoming National Story (previously)
“In this mix, Republican Saccone’s perceived ultraconservatism, coupled with Lambs’ perceived moderation, and Trump’s unquestioned unpopularity, could nationalize the race — nationalizing it may bring a Democratic victory,” Pennsylvania political analysts G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young said in a recent breakdown of the race.

GOP leaders, looking to avoid that, have stepped in.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with House GOP leaders, announced last week it would open two offices in the district, which includes the suburbs of south Pittsburgh and counties in the southwest corner of the state that share a border with West Virginia. The group pledged 50-full time door-knockers and 250,000 voter contacts.[...]

Whether the national Democratic Party decides to invest will say a lot — particularly when the party committees are saving cash for November’s all-out battle for control of the House.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for House Democrats, did not respond to requests for comment.
In the 2016 election, Trump won the district with 58% of the vote to Clinton's 39%, but with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court scheduled to hear arguments in the gerrymandering case on January 17th, we'll see if the map stays the same.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:11 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


I just hope — please, please, please — let the video of his questioning find it’s way into public hands. I think the country has earned that little bit of satisfaction.

Too bad Trump doesn't see that he could pay-per-view that deposition and make a quick couple of million dollars cash money. I'd pay 49.95 to watch it live.
posted by mikelieman at 7:13 AM on January 8 [10 favorites]


What happens if Trump just decides to storm out mid-interview, though? He's the President. It's not like they're going to grab and cuff him to make him stay and answer questions.
posted by emjaybee at 7:23 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


About PA-18 and the special election there

In the 2016 election, Trump won the district with 58% of the vote to Clinton's 39%

There are 70,000 more registered Dems in that district than Republicans which means that the name of the game is getting the vote out.
posted by mcduff at 7:30 AM on January 8 [17 favorites]


How Trump can prove he is "very stable" by Dean Obeidallah at CNN
posted by mumimor at 7:41 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I don't think that this is a big surprise to anyone

It's probably a better measure of the book to note - I think it's a surprise to find out all my deep digs a Der Klownvig were absolutely true. I guess I assumed he listened to *something* even if it was virulent racists.

The black hole that the book describes is totally outside of partisan politics.

This is what the corporate media can't have - a threat to their horse racing. That's what this book is. And one of the reasons that it was possibly a conscious decision to paint Bannon and Trump - if not sympathetically then at least in a more neutral light.

That the talking heads insist on bothsidesing it is maddening.
posted by petebest at 7:48 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


What happens if Trump just decides to storm out mid-interview, though? He's the President. It's not like they're going to grab and cuff him to make him stay and answer questions.

Disobeying court orders leads to contempt of court and sanctions (fines and/or imprisonment).
posted by leotrotsky at 7:48 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


That district (PA-18) is heavily gerrymandered. The Southern suburbs of Pittsburgh have almost zero in common--demographically, economically and socially--with the rural SW counties of the state. The district used to look a lot wigglier and weirder (it basically oozed its way around Pittsburgh's suburbs, from West to East), but was more demographically homogenous and was more of a toss-up district. It changed D and R hands 4 times throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but then redistricting in 2002 gerrymandered it into a safe R.

I do wonder how many of those 70,000 extra Democrats are actually people who vote Democratic. That's definitely a Thing in the rust belt.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:52 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


I do wonder how many of those 70,000 extra Democrats are actually people who vote Democratic. That's definitely a Thing in the rust belt.

Yeah see also: Maryland. You don't get a shitbag Rep like Andy Harris without a lot of dems-by-reg-only.
posted by phearlez at 8:03 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I live in rural western PA. 69,900 of that 70,000 are straight-ticket Republican voters who just never updated their registrations post-Obama, or people like my aunt, who insist that being a registered Democrat means their word-for-word Fox News Fwd:Fwd:Fwd talking points make them "independent thinkers."
posted by dirigibleman at 8:10 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Sidebar: discussion about Golden Globes might fit into the recent Time's Up post

Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal? -- The attorney general has created intolerable uncertainty for a growing industry that is now demanding legal protections from Congress. And lawmakers are listening. (James Higdon for Politico, Jan. 6, 2018)
Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. It was Republican senators, too. Cory Gardner of Colorado took the Senate floor to issue an ultimatum to Sessions: “I will be putting a hold on every single nomination from the Department of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment he made to me in my pre-confirmation meeting with him. The conversation we had that was specifically about this issue of states’ rights in Colorado. Until he lives up to that commitment, I’ll be holding up all nominations of the Department of Justice,” Gardner said. “The people of Colorado deserve answers. The people of Colorado deserve to be respected.” Gardner is no fringe Republican; he’s the chair of the NRSC.

Even members who had been silent on the issue in the past vowed to squeeze the Department of Justice’s budget. Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat from New Hampshire, reminding reporters she’s the lead Democrat on the Department of Justice funding subcommittee, tweeted: “I’ll work to ensure that resources are devoted to opioid response NOT foolish policy of interfering with legal marijuana production.” Most of the Congressional leadership was silent on this issue, but not House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who issued a blistering statement against Sessions, saying that she would push for an amendment in the new spending bill to protect states that had legalized not just medical marijuana but recreational use too, a move that could make ongoing budget negotiations much more tense.
So very sad that it took a state's rights issue for some Republicans to get upset enough with DOJ nominations to hold them up, but I'll take what we can get.

Also, I wonder how many items the Dems will use as bargaining chips in budget negotiations. It'll be interesting if state's rights/marijuana prosecution is added to debates about DREAMers and immigration (Ed O'Keefe, Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner for WaPo, Jan. 7, 2018)
A bipartisan meeting on immigration policy at the White House on Tuesday is designed to bring the sides together. If Trump and lawmakers can strike an immigration deal, negotiators on both sides think that other issues, including how to fund a children’s health insurance program and a roughly $80 billion package to pay for disaster relief, could be resolved.

Ahead of the meeting, the Trump administration released to lawmakers a request to pay $18 billion over 10 years for a mix of walls, fencing and other security technology. GOP lawmakers have said they were waiting for the plan to know the parameters of talks with Democrats.

“Instead of the saber-rattling, let’s get in a room and figure out reasonable, sound policy for securing the border, helping [dreamers] . . . and solving this problem for the first time in two decades,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a lead GOP immigration negotiator, told Fox News Channel on Sunday.

But Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who voted against the temporary spending plan in December, characterized the looming shutdown as an opportunity for Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“I believe that if we can increase voter turnout by 5 percent from 2014, Democrats will regain the House and Senate. But you cannot do that unless ordinary people believe you are fighting for them,” Sanders said in an interview. “If it’s more tax breaks for billionaires and huge increases in military spending, you have a lot of working people and young people who will say: ‘It doesn’t make a difference. Why should I be involved?’ ”
Add enough substantive roadblocks and important matters to the budget, and the shrinking GOP majority (WaPo, Jan. 3, 2018) in the Senate might have trouble awful bills and nominations. Speaking of representation, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones teaches Dems inclusion (Bankole Thompson for The Detroit News, Jan. 7, 2018)
Think about this. A Democratic senator from one of the deepest of red states elected with the help of black voters has named an African-American — a veteran of former President Barack Obama’s administration — as his top aide.

That is what Doug Jones, Alabama’s newly elected senator, did when he named Dana Gresham, a former assistant secretary for governmental affairs in the Department of Transportation under Obama, as his chief of staff.

The appointment is significant because Gresham becomes the only African-American chief of staff for a Democrat in the U.S. Senate.
More of the 2015 figures from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:16 AM on January 8 [21 favorites]


What happens if Trump just decides to storm out mid-interview, though? . . .

Disobeying court orders leads to contempt of court and sanctions (fines and/or imprisonment).

This has been discussed here many times before. If Trump refuses to obey or enforce a court order, we are in a constitutional crisis. The only solution is impeachment and conviction by Congress, because the executive branch is in charge of all the agencies that would be able to enforce a court order.
posted by mubba at 8:19 AM on January 8 [20 favorites]


I remember during the general an NPR host was interviewing the Democratic Party Chair from one of those rural SWPA counties about the Rust Belt phenomenon of "Reagan Democrats" and the Party Chair said, "There's already a word for Reagan Democrats. It's 'Republican.' These voters are Republicans, and have been voting Republican for many years now."
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:19 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


Friendly reminder that you can help out Conor Lamb here.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:20 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


You do still see some ticket splitting from these "Reagan Democrats" but that's, at best, for the state legislature. They vote GOP in all federal elections.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:21 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Cory Gardner of Colorado took the Senate floor to issue an ultimatum to Sessions:

Cowardly Cory (R-cowardsville) votes with Trump ~96% of the time.

It's worth noting that these mouth flapping sounds of his have angered the base somewhat here in Western Colorado. Legalized pot is deeply unpopular with conservatives, and Cory is on record taking a very strong stand against it. This strikes them as a reversal.

I registered as a democrat for the first time in my life yesterday - which should be (I am told) early enough to participate in the caucus. I hope this gun-toting, pro-hunting, 4x4 pickup driving, rural living, beer drinker is welcome at the luxury gay space condo.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:25 AM on January 8 [103 favorites]


If anyone gives you shit for it, Pogo, I'll yell at 'em. Big tent means we stand together to protect each other, and the hell with the rest of it.

LUXURY GAY SPACE CONDOS FOR EVERYONE DAMMIT.
posted by sciatrix at 8:33 AM on January 8 [52 favorites]


I hope this gun-toting, pro-hunting, 4x4 pickup driving, rural living, beer drinker is welcome at the luxury gay space condo.

If you walked into my town's Democratic Committee, I'm confident that you'd be received with open arms. I'm sure it wouldn't take long for us to find something to argue about, but that's ok! Arguing about the details would be such an improvement over living in two separate worlds.
posted by diogenes at 8:38 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Intact Mississippi Law Curbing Gay Rights

The measure says religious people can’t be sued or penalized by the government for declining to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies. The law also protects people who believe gender is an immutable characteristic or who object to sex out of wedlock.

Critics say the law lets government clerks refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses and lets adoption and foster-care organizations decline to place children with LGBT families. The measure also wiped out protections that cities including Jackson, the state’s most populous, had previously afforded to gay and transgender residents.


Fuck them. Fuck them all.
posted by hijinx at 8:39 AM on January 8 [33 favorites]


If Trump refuses to obey or enforce a court order, we are in a constitutional crisis. The only solution is impeachment and conviction by Congress, because the executive branch is in charge of all the agencies that would be able to enforce a court order.

no srsly tho

I hope this gun-toting, pro-hunting, 4x4 pickup driving, rural living, beer drinker is welcome at the luxury gay space condo.

well i mean, somebody has to haul the free weed to the space condos from the farming collectives. welcome, comrade
posted by entropicamericana at 8:41 AM on January 8 [27 favorites]


U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Intact Mississippi Law Curbing Gay Rights

Although I concur on the fuck them all sentiment, it's worth noting that this is not a ruling from the court that everything is a-okay with this law on its merits. That headline is very misleading. This is just refusing to override the appeals court on the question of whether the petitioners had standing.

from the body of the article:

The justices turned away two appeals by state residents and organizations that contended the measure violates the Constitution. A federal appeals court said the opponents hadn’t suffered any injury that would let them press their claims in court.

So while frustrating, this doesn't leave us without a future opportunity to try to overturn this again.
posted by phearlez at 8:46 AM on January 8 [44 favorites]


phearlez: Thank you for that. I read it and didn't see what was against the headline, but, I appreciate your more critical reading of it.
posted by hijinx at 8:51 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


And in today's metaphorical news, Trump Tower caught on fire this morning.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:51 AM on January 8 [23 favorites]


delfin I don't think that this is a big surprise to anyone -- even a good chunk of people who voted for him. The legacy of Reaganism is similar to a few comments up, the violation of the good-faith principle that both sides in a political discussion are at least both acknowledging the concept of truth.

I think it's worse than just bad faith on the part of Republicans and a general belief that the government is always bad.

I think a large number of Republican voters basically want an ignorant bellicose belligerent self aggrandizing anti-intellectual to be President. They see that as strength.

Like Trump, they believe that being told about thinks they don't know is basically an insult. To them "smart" doesn't mean "person who seeks out new information and can think well", it means "person who knows everything". To that mode of thinking teaching is an insult, briefing is an insult, reading is a self inflicted insult. If you're smart you already know everything, therefore someone trying to tell you something you don't know is telling you that you're stupid.

Moreover, they view a self aggrandizing constant stream of braggadocio as a sign of strength and self confidence. They see the sort of taunting, bellicose, assholery from Trump as a sign of strength.

To us Trump bragging about the size of his button is a pathetic indication of not merely insecurity but stupidity. To them it's a relief that we've **FINALLY** got a President who isn't a coward.

Way back 2011, right after Osama bin Ladin was killed, a conservative associate of mine told me that the failure of Obama to hold celebratory parades and ideally put bin Ladin's literal head on a literal pike outside the White House, was a sign of pathetic weakness that would inspire the Arab world to attack America since clearly we were a nation of wimps (he used a different word that's less socially acceptable).

But he really, no exaggeration, did tell me that a President who was a real man would put bin Ladin's head on a pike outside the White House, and that he viewed Obama as a wimpy coward because he didn't.

Needless to day, he's a huge Trump supporter and his Facebook is filled with posts about how wonderful it is to have a man in the Oval Office again after the dire lack of manhood during the Obama years.

To that sort of person Trump's proud ignorance and needy self aggrandizing warmongering is exactly what they're looking for. They love him for that.

There is a fairly good sized portion of the American voting population genuinely want a President who refuses his daily briefings and is functionally illiterate.
posted by sotonohito at 8:54 AM on January 8 [61 favorites]


You have to be careful about stories and (especially) headlines concerning court decisions. They're frequently misleading.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:57 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


You're not wrong to be bothered by it, sciatrix, hijinx, and I don't want to sound like I'm saying oh well it's just a standing issue no reason for concern. Engaging in shenanigans about whether folks have standing is for sure a thing. The suits by private individuals against Trump on the Emoluments clause is being attacked on those grounds. It's not hard to imagine a "well there's plenty of other bakeries they could go to" dismissal on this sort of issue. This isn't really a problem anymore because the world is different now was the justification for fucking up the voting rights act.

So, be upset and make calls and donations. Help the people working to find good test cases for the suits. Just don't let them make you think this is done because of a single refusal to hear this particular appeal.

You have to be careful about stories and (especially) headlines concerning court decisions. They're frequently misleading.

The only thing reporters, on average, are more ignorant about than math is legal process.
posted by phearlez at 8:58 AM on January 8 [11 favorites]


And in today's metaphorical news, Trump Tower caught on fire this morning.

As a friend remarked: gotta be careful when burning evidence!
posted by TwoStride at 9:05 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


The justices turned away two appeals by state residents and organizations that contended the measure violates the Constitution. A federal appeals court said the opponents hadn’t suffered any injury that would let them press their claims in court.

"So if Kim Davis 2.0 says that her religious beliefs override my civil rights when I come there to marry my partner, this law agrees, and someone else in the office will have to handle my request."
"Yes."
"And if the entire office staff is Kim Davis 2.0s, I'll just have to find an office in another county."
"Yes."
"Or, by logical extention, potentially another state."
"Yes."
"And this does not serve as sufficient injury to my civil rights to constitute standing."
"Correct. We have to wait until someone uses this law as a bludgeon to be a bigot towards you before we can acknowledge that the law explicitly allows itself to be used as a bludgeon to be bigoted towards you."

The letter of the law may require this but it still stinks to high heaven.

I think a large number of Republican voters basically want an ignorant bellicose belligerent self aggrandizing anti-intellectual to be President. They see that as strength.

And once again, I find that to be no surprise. Ronald Reagan was an ignorant anti-intellectual authoritarian who posed as America's Grandpa while authorizing tons of extremely unsavory shit. Bush the Elder was terrified of being portrayed as a wimp, and acted accordingly. His son was the rootinest' tootinest' have-a-beer-with-me think-from-his-gut Texas cowboy that Kennebunkport upbringing could create. And now we have what we have.

The degree to which Republicans choose to openly ignore the norms of government is more blatant these days. Their core driving principle -- that government not controlled by them should be ignored -- is at least fifty years old.
posted by delfin at 9:12 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


(about PA18)

I do wonder how many of those 70,000 extra Democrats are actually people who vote Democratic. That's definitely a Thing in the rust belt.

It also helps when the Dems run a candidate. Per Ballotpedia, Tim Murphy, the former incumbent, ran unopposed in 2014 and 2016.
posted by jointhedance at 9:16 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


And in today's metaphorical news, Trump Tower caught on fire this morning.

As a friend remarked: gotta be careful when burning evidence!

There's always money evidence in the banana stand gaudy Midtown Manhattan eyesore.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:18 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Senate Dems demand release of Fusion GPS interview
Two Democratic senators are calling on the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to release the transcript of its meeting with the CEO of the research firm that produced the controversial dossier about President Trump.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who sit on the committee, asked Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to release the full transcript of Fusion GPS CEO Glenn Simpson’s August interview.

“The American people deserve the facts. There is simply no reason to keep the Simpson testimony (or other testimony before our committee for that matter) hidden while this distraction goes on,” the senators said in the letter, which is dated Jan. 7.

The lawmakers cite “selective leaks” and attacks leveled against Simpson as they made their case for the transcript’s release.

“Diverting our focus from Russian interference to Glenn Simpson or Christopher Steele is, in our view, a misallocation of scarce resources,” the lawmakers said. “To the extent that you believe continued attention to those individuals is warranted, the American people should be allowed to decide for themselves.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:57 AM on January 8 [28 favorites]


Educated guesstimates put an extra 200,000 Puerto Ricans in Florida, clustered around Orlando, thanks to post-hurricane displacement. The question is how many of them will get registered and vote. The electoral difference in FL in 2016 was just over 100,000.

As influx of Puerto Ricans continues, Koch-backed group starts seeking them out in Florida


posted by jointhedance at 10:10 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]




Oh, for Christsake: Rich Democratic Donor Throws Her Weight Around

I guarantee you, if this were about a man, we'd be hearing cries of "We don't need no stinkin' donors! Power to the PEOPLE!" But when a shrieking harridan woman might be positioning herself for a run: "We <3 our rich donors! LISTEN TO OUR DONORS, PEOPLE!"

Luckily, the comments section so far seems to be "stick it in your ear, donor lady" but my fear is that Democrats will be motivated by, well, fear, and eff things up by being milquetoasts.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:12 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


How to attack the media like Stephen Miller, in 3 easy steps (Callum Borchers, WaPo):
* Use really strong adjectives. Repeat them.
* Be offended. Be very offended.
* Don't answer the question. Then act like the interviewer won't let you answer the question.
How Stephen Miller Got What He Wanted From CNN (David Graham, The Atlantic):
Tapper kept trying to ask questions, but Miller would talk over him and refuse to answer, saying that CNN had 24 hours a day to attack Trump and that he, Miller, deserved a chance to reply to this. When Tapper tried to interject, Miller accused the host of being condescending. This was a neatly laid trap, like accusing someone of being defensive—Tapper had no choice but to dispute it, but his incredulity was condescending, and indeed Miller’s comments were deserving of condescension. Also condescending, but also probably true, was Tapper’s accusation that Miller was playing for an audience of one, the president. (A laudatory tweet from the president confirmed Tapper’s suspicions that Trump was watching.)

But the audience wasn’t just Trump—it was his supporters, too. In that demographic, it’s likely Miller scored well by calling out Tapper’s condescension and refusing to back down. Miller’s demand for time to simply ramble makes little sense in the real world—why should CNN give an aide to the president carte blanche to launch ad hominem attacks on Wolff and on the network itself?—but if one believes that CNN makes up facts to take down the president, then why shouldn’t Miller be allowed to say what he wants, too?

Miller accused CNN of offering nothing but anti-Trump attacks, and in the process baited CNN into cutting his mic, which just validated his point. Getting cut off was a better outcome for him than having to actually debate the substance of Wolff’s book or anything else. He got what he wanted.
posted by peeedro at 10:19 AM on January 8 [11 favorites]


As influx of Puerto Ricans continues, Koch-backed group starts seeking them out in Florida

There's no floor with these fuckers, is there?

That said, so long as Trump has an (R) next to his name and elected Republicans continue to support him, that inroads with the Puertoriqueño community are gonna be a bit of an uphill climb.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:25 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]




jointhedance: As influx of Puerto Ricans continues, Koch-backed group starts seeking them out in Florida
As it has elsewhere since at least 2012, the group is offering English-language classes, courses on how to update professional licenses and civics courses designed to highlight the group’s focus on economic empowerment. What the classes will not include are direct appeals to vote for certain candidates or causes because the institute is a nonprofit barred from direct political activity. A sister organization, the Libre Initiative, works on issue advocacy across the country.

“We want people to make an educated decision for themselves. We really feel that in the Hispanic community, people need to know these topics,” Velasquez said. “You have people coming to Florida from all over the world, and they don’t understand how the system works. A lot of things get miscommunicated or misunderstood. So, we want to educate people about the principles that are close to our hearts, and then leave it to them.”
(Emphasis mine)

leotrotsky: There's no floor with these fuckers, is there?

They're just trying to get their message out there through every mean they can finance. They already target colleges and universities, and try to attach strings to donations to such as having control over curriculum, and more recently, obtaining personal information about students (Time Magazine, December 15, 2015). I hate them for their message, but I recognize that their strategy is smart - reshape minds at all levels throughout the country, in support of their economic interests. Well, the economic interests of the non-profits they fund. They're trying to counter liberally-biased reality, until reality itself is reshaped in their image.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:34 AM on January 8 [18 favorites]


HuffPo: Wisconsin Is Quietly Becoming The Top Senate Race Of 2018 "Sen. Tammy Baldwin is battling more outside spending by conservative groups than all of her Democratic colleagues. Combined."

I guess I know which campaign I'll be working on this year.
posted by AFABulous at 10:34 AM on January 8 [35 favorites]


Tammy Baldwin? The progressive gay female Jewish senator? oh yeah that's the quadfecta all right.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:38 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit skeptical that Baldwin is the most vulnerable. I'd put her third, behind McCaskill and Donnelly.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:38 AM on January 8


If the last few years of politics has taught us anything, it's that we don't really know what the hell is going on in the Upper Midwest.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:41 AM on January 8 [15 favorites]


The Koch cancer is what fucked up NC. Are their tendrils intertwined with ALEC?
posted by yoga at 10:44 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


GORKA, in trying to knock the book down, confirms people told to cooperate --@maggienyt

"it appears to you that i may have erred; your understanding is quite wrong, mister chapo.... as sun=tsu said----"
posted by entropicamericana at 10:49 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


For one of the first times in a politics thread, here’s an xkcd which is relevant to our interests. He’s drawn an election map which shows election results with(in) states, and also shows population effects. The big swathes of red are mostly blank.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:50 AM on January 8 [36 favorites]


If the last few years of politics has taught us anything, it's that we don't really know what the hell is going on in the Upper Midwest.

I see you're in Chicago, so you might agree: as somebody who's lived his entire life in the Midwest (three states, at different times), it's no less baffling from the inside. But post-election, we're fighting back like I've never seen.
posted by Rykey at 10:52 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


The Koch cancer is what fucked up NC. Are their tendrils intertwined with ALEC?

Yes.
posted by benzenedream at 10:53 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


For one of the first times in a politics thread, here’s an xkcd which is relevant to our interests. He’s drawn an election map which shows election results with(in) states, and also shows population effects. The big swathes of red are mostly blank.

That's a good map. It clearly demonstrates the saying that 'empty land doesn't vote.' As explained by the mouseover / hover / press-and-hold text, it's got several advantages over a cartogram.
posted by jedicus at 10:55 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


For one of the first times in a politics thread, here’s an xkcd which is relevant to our interests. He’s drawn an election map which shows election results with(in) states, and also shows population effects. The big swathes of red are mostly blank.

If this was a game of Risk instead of an election, Blue would own the board. I wonder what it would look like if we made the display threshold equal to say, 200K votes -- would some of those states with solitary red stick-figures suddenly find themselves facing a blue doppelganger?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:58 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Tammy Baldwin? The progressive gay female Jewish senator?

Interestingly, if you drive through western Wisconsin farmland, you see dozens of signs for her. She won by 6 points in 2012. So yeah maybe she isn't much of a worry, but OTOH Wisconsin is trending redder.
posted by AFABulous at 11:15 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Walker's popularity has rebounded (significant because he may have coattails) and she's no more popular than Ron Johnson.
posted by Jpfed at 11:17 AM on January 8


I very, very, very much do not want to start an Oprah for President discussion here, because that's not an actual thing, and I'd far rather discuss candidates up-and-down the ticket who have both political experience and some of the qualities we admire in Oprah.

That said, check out this one-minute clip from Good Morning Britain, which, for reasons I cannot possibly fathom, had Sean Spicer on to explain how people with no political experience have problems running for office. At which point Piers Morgan, yes, that guy, literally starts screaming over and over again about the present situation as Spicer desperately tries to turn it back around by praising Trump.

It's a lovely winter salve for all of you missing Spicey Time out there.
posted by zachlipton at 11:23 AM on January 8 [17 favorites]


"piers morgan" and "lovely salve" really does not compute.
is he now Stopped Clock Piers Morgan™?
posted by murphy slaw at 11:29 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


GORKA, in trying to knock the book down, confirms people told to cooperate
That is hilarious. Both he and Miller are such pretentious idiots. Fools performing what they imagine is intellect.
posted by mumimor at 11:29 AM on January 8 [9 favorites]


It's hard to find a recent poll about Paul Ryan's challenger (Randy "Ironstache" Bryce*) that wasn't from a press release from Bryce himself. This Vice article is rather pessimistic.

*The branding is so effective that I couldn't remember his actual name.
posted by AFABulous at 11:33 AM on January 8


I'm not sure Bryce will even win the Dem nomination. I'm hearing grumbling from local Dems that he's doing stuff like Reddit AMAs, but not coming to local candidate forums and such. Myers might actually be a more effective candidate, if she's more willing to pound the pavement.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:36 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


BREAKING: Mueller likely to interview Trump as part of Russia probe; questioning could happen within weeks, according to a person close to the president (WaPo)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:45 AM on January 8 [51 favorites]


I hope they let trump live tweet the interview.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:51 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


> BREAKING: Mueller likely to interview Trump as part of Russia probe; questioning could happen within weeks, according to a person close to the president (WaPo)

I try not to contribute to the noise in these threads but I want to put it Out into the Universe that I will pay cash money or do any number of deeds in some kind of Quantum Leap redemption scheme in order to watch President Trump undergo questioning in real time. It's a small ask, universe. Just do me this one solid please.
posted by Tevin at 11:53 AM on January 8 [29 favorites]


Speaking of bad legal decisions, Milo Yiannopoulos Will Now Represent Himself In His Lawsuit Against Simon & Schuster, His former lawyers have withdrawn as counsel, citing "a breakdown in the relationship."
posted by zachlipton at 11:53 AM on January 8 [73 favorites]


I will pay cash money [...] in order to watch President Trump undergo questioning in real time.

Donny's questioning, Milo's trial -- I would pay real cash moneys to watch both of these. Even more than I would pay to watch the Gorilla Channel.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:56 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Steyer isn't just spending on impeachment ads. And won't require candidates to promise impeachment to receive money.

WaPo: Tom Steyer will plow $30 million into midterms, but won’t run for office in 2018
posted by chris24 at 11:57 AM on January 8 [20 favorites]


It’s my understanding that they wouldn’t be asking for an interview with the big man himself unless they were basically all done and at the point of crossing Ts , yes? If we were to engage in Muellermancy, this would seem to be a clear sign that they are genuinely almost done. Hallelujah and fingers crossed.
posted by Andrhia at 11:57 AM on January 8 [13 favorites]


That would seem to contradict the recent reports, which indicated the investigation could continue throughout the year.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:59 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


AP: ESPN says Trump interview during [his appearance at tonight's national college football] title game unlikely
"We're still taking to the White House. I don't get the sense he's going to do an interview," Stephanie Druley, ESPN senior vice president for events and studio programs, said Sunday. "We will, obviously, show him at the game when we see where he is sitting."
Deadspin: Cowardly President Diaper Donald Reportedly Won't Do ESPN Interview At National Championship Game. Sad!
There’s obviously background here that would make a Trump interview of specific interest. The president has spent much of his last few months warring with (black) football players over protests and with (a black employee of) ESPN for her Twitter comments, with the White House actually calling for Jemele Hill’s firing and Trump blaming ESPN’s declining numbers on its politics.

But we will be deprived of the pathos (and utter failure of ethos) of Trump speaking extemporaneously about football or ESPN, or his reactions to the planned protests that are expected to take place outside and inside the stadium, or to any potential gesture from halftime performer Kendrick Lamar, because the president is scared of facing even the most anodyne interaction with anyone outside his circle.
posted by box at 11:59 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


If we were to engage in Muellermancy, this would seem to be a clear sign that they are genuinely almost done. Hallelujah and fingers crossed.

Possibly. But the source here is “someone close to the President” — so it’s also possible that the White House wants to fuel the perception that Mueller is almost done, accurate or no.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:00 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


In case there's any question about which side is leaking this stuff:

“This is moving faster than anyone really realizes,” the person said, who said Trump is comfortable participating in an interview and believes it would put to rest questions about whether his campaign coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election.

As a sidenote, that's a pretty clunky sentence for WaPo to publish. Edit much?
posted by diogenes at 12:00 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Oh Milo. Soon, all you will have left is hubris, you Nazi wank.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 12:00 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** PA-18 special -- First poll of this race - Gravis has Saccone 46, Lamb 38. District went 58/38 Trump.

** 2018 Senate:
-- In a surprise move, OH Lt Gov Mary Taylor is staying in the governor's race, rather than jumping in the Senate race in the wake of Josh Mandel dropping out. Mike DeWine is cleaning everyone's clock in the gov race, so not sure what her thinking is.

-- Remington poll in MO has Hawley 49, McCaskill 45. Haven't seen a lot of polling here yet, fwiw.
** Odds & ends:
-- After hints that he might run for CA governor or for Diane Feinstein's seat, billionaire Tom Steyer has passed on both, but will dump $30M into registration and GOTV for Dem House campaigns.

-- NYT on the very crowded race for Colorado governor.

-- Ratings and analysis for all of the state row offices up in 2018, go nuts. It's from RRH Elections, which is basically the wingnut Daily Kos Elections, but I believe they play it pretty straight on analytics.

-- A court has tossed out a prospective anti-sanctuary city ballot initiative in Nevada for being too vague.

-- Oklahoma will have a ballot initiative this year on legalizing medical marijuana. Oddly, it's on the primary ballot, rather than the general, but I'm not sure if something underhanded is happening there.

-- Trump administration still fighting requests to turn over documents from the now terminated Kobach voter fraud commission. This, plus the abrupt nature of the shutdown of the commission, leads some to think there may be something pretty incriminating here.

-- Dems have been overperforming in specials, but how does that compare to past cycles?
===

Special elections in Georgia tomorrow, including a great pickup opportunity in the House.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:00 PM on January 8 [32 favorites]


I'm not sure Bryce will even win the Dem nomination. I'm hearing grumbling from local Dems that he's doing stuff like Reddit AMAs, but not coming to local candidate forums and such. Myers might actually be a more effective candidate, if she's more willing to pound the pavement.

If you want to flip the table you have to invest the time & energy into it. Beto O'Rourke is criss-crossing Texas to fulfill his promise of being the first candidate ever to visit every county in the state. That's how you win an election, one town hall at a time. And many many hours driving from one to the next because Texas is a really big state.
posted by scalefree at 12:13 PM on January 8 [45 favorites]


CNN: Bannon group shopped anti-Trump document in 2015

The anti-Trump opposition research was the work of author Peter Schweizer for the Government Accountability Institute, which he cofounded with Bannon in 2012. It described years of alleged business connections between Trump companies and organized crime figures, allegations that have circulated among Trump detractors for years. [...] The GAI is backed by the Mercer family, one of the largest benefactors for Trump's campaign. Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is listed as the group's chairwoman on its website. But in 2015, when the document was produced, the Mercers were backing the campaign of one of Trump's rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Bannon had not yet joined the Trump campaign.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:29 PM on January 8 [19 favorites]


Speaking of Bannon, CBS's Steven Portnoy @stevenportnoy just reported, "WH REJECTS BANNON 'APOLOGY': 'I don't believe there's any way back for Mr. Bannon at this point,' a WH spokesman tells reporters on AF1."

And another dignity wraith prepares to join the dismal crowd...
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:34 PM on January 8 [23 favorites]


The Wolff interview I saw with Katy Tur was a mixed bag. He seems like he needed to prepare better for questions about accuracy of the narrative in a way that plays better in soundbites. There are a few moments that Fox and co can take to paint it all as fiction. But then they're going to do that regardless of whether or not the book or the author's media interviews are perfect, so there's that.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:38 PM on January 8


I see we're at the stage of Mean Girls where Regina George gets hit by a bus.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 12:44 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


His interview with Katy Tur was interesting. The key quote was "If it rings true, it is true."

And, of course, journalists are jumping up and down shouting about how that's horribly wrong and against everything they stand for and blah blah blah. And they are, of course, right. Except all Wolff did there was restate the definition of truthiness, and there's nobody who has made that his life's guiding ethos more than Donald Trump. I do not appreciate being surrounded by more things, like this book, that tear down the notion of shared objective reality, but the world of truthiness is the one the White House has been living in all year. Defender of basic norms as I may be, it's hard to summon up the necessary outrage over them reaping what they sow.

Also from the interview:
In response to a question on whether Trump is anti-Semitic, Wolff pointed out that those in the White House don’t feel he is. At the same time, Wolff explained that he thinks the president knows who is and isn’t Jewish.

“But I don’t know,” he told Tur. “I think that he — he thinks about — I think he’s aware of who is Jewish in a way that might give — that might, that feels creepy.”
posted by zachlipton at 12:50 PM on January 8 [20 favorites]


Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal? -- The attorney general has created intolerable uncertainty for a growing industry that is now demanding legal protections from Congress. And lawmakers are listening. (James Higdon for Politico, Jan. 6, 2018)
I'm in the cannabis industry, and the general consensus is that the timetable for federal legality just moved up by 2 years.

One of my partners had a meeting with Sessions a few months ago. The revocation of the Cole memo has been expected for some time; Sessions himself told us he "will enforce the law, whatever it is." And a memo ain't law.

The only hiccup this will have on our industry is on the investing side. But then again, California is going to start to have revenue figures that will blow people's minds.

I know certain mefites have repeatedly called for dispensary raids, but those of us that are actually on these frontlines know better. There's just too much money in it now, too much institutional investment, oh and also Republicans also love weed. A literal majority of them are in favor, and those numbers are going to climb as we start to see Cali rev figures.

All Sessions did was the to hasten the speed at which this happens, as Democrats and Republicans alike are now determined to clarify federal law.
posted by weed donkey at 12:50 PM on January 8 [77 favorites]


There's just too much money in it now, too much institutional investment, oh and also Republicans also love weed. A literal majority of them are in favor, and those numbers are going to climb as we start to see Cali rev figures.

This is all true! California does have diehard Trumpkins/MAGA/Breitbart true believers, concentrated in the poor rural north and northeast of the state, where all the lovely Bay Area and Los Angeles money does not penetrate. Want to know how those guys make money? Lots of them grow weed. Even the guys driving around with Confederate flags on their vehicles, never mind that California was staunchly, proudly Union - they fucking love their weed.

I don't know if that will turn these guys (and they are mostly guys IME) into Democrats, because when the going gets tough the tough start yapping about seceding and forming the Jefferson Republic. And they are far far outnumbered now by Democratic voters. But JSecessions is doing himself no favors by poking the California bear.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:02 PM on January 8 [14 favorites]


Farm Bureau remarks are imminent.

'Donald Trump is moving at lightning speed, and has accomplished more in his first year than most presidents do in their entire term.' ISIS is crushed! It's okay to say Merry Christmas! Sonny Perdue is delivering some first-class sycophancy.
posted by box at 1:11 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Andrew Lelling, the newly installed US Attorney for Massachusetts, issued a statement today that he might go after "certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade" - or he might not, it all depends on his resources and stuff.

Although voters here have approved both medicinal marijuana (in 2012) and recreational marijuana (2016), dispensaries have been slow to roll out (the entire city of Boston has just one, although the zoning board recently signed off on a second) and there are still no legal pot shops (blame NIMBY for the former and grindingly slow state bureaucracy for the latter), so we're not quite as invested in it all as certain other states.
posted by adamg at 1:13 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Trump is speaking at the Farm Bureau convention (stream). Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in his introduction, declared "It's also OK to say once again Merry Christmas."

NO IT DAMN WELL ISN'T OK, BECAUSE IT'S JANUARY 8TH.
posted by zachlipton at 1:14 PM on January 8 [58 favorites]


[Y'all let's not liveblog the whole thing. If someone wants to take notes and summarize, fine, but lets leave it at that unless something remarkable by even Trumpian standards happens.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:15 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]


I have a question: who is running the executive branch at this point? Who's setting policy? Is the marijuana thing a sign that Sessions at least is allowed to set national priorities in a way that would otherwise be done by POTUS? Who's making the military decisions? I get why the 25th and impeachment/removal are hard to pull off. What I don't get is who is setting the priorities of the country. Kelley? Mattis? We know Tillerson's disemboweled state. Is it Nikki Haley? Some random rich dude Trump golfs with?

I mean, if CNN can return from an interview with Stephen Miller and say, "now, back to planet earth" or whatever I mean I guess the entire fucking nation is on the same page that the head of the executive branch is not really there, and who are the Regan/Gonereil figures stepping up to take away the power the mad king has forfeited?
posted by angrycat at 1:18 PM on January 8 [41 favorites]


The GOP's war on engineering just suffered one setback. FERC's response for the NOPR proposal just came back with a "nope."

If I read this correctly, they are taking no action.
posted by ocschwar at 1:19 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


I've often thought that making cannabis legal for recreational use has a knock-on effect that it gains support from non-users after they start getting surprised by all the people they know that have been using for cannabis for years but now suddenly talk out loud about it.

I'm excited for the day it gets legalized federally and I can have my mind blown by how many and which of my co-workers have been using pot for years.
posted by VTX at 1:21 PM on January 8 [24 favorites]


Ken Starr subpoenaed President Clinton to appear before a grand jury in July 1998; a couple days later Clinton agreed to testify voluntarily in exchange for Starr dropping the subpoena. Clinton testified under oath before the grand jury for 5 1/2 hours and the session was videotaped.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:24 PM on January 8 [19 favorites]


NO IT DAMN WELL ISN'T OK, BECAUSE IT'S JANUARY 8TH.

he meant Orthodox Christmas probably. The Russian one, you know.
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:25 PM on January 8 [67 favorites]


And those voters were so shocked that Nixon would go on to lose the election by less than a quarter of a percent in the popular vote, and quite possibly only lost the election at all thanks to some shenanigans in IL and TX.

The claim that Nixon lost because of shenanigans is a Republican fiction that has been retold so many times it is practically Gone With the Wind level propaganda. Nixon's loss was heavily argued and investigated all over the country and in the end all the Republican whinging about cheating led to mass recounts and the only result that was changed was that Kennedy got Hawaii's electoral votes instead of Nixon.

And thus was born the politics of republican grievance and Alex P. Keaton.
posted by srboisvert at 1:42 PM on January 8 [33 favorites]


Speech just wrapped up, and I didn't see anything remarkable.

Low energy, started by naming a bunch of people, made a show of throwing away his note cards, then mostly read off a prompter. The usual dubious statistics and stupid ad-libs, told a story about Andrew Jackson, and then wrapped it up.

Biggest applause was probably when he talked about respecting the flag and the anthem. Weirdest off-script note was probably (paraphrased): "Oh, you are so happy you voted for me. You are so lucky I gave you that privilege."
posted by box at 1:49 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


FERC's response for the NOPR proposal just came back with a "nope."

Translation: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Rick Perry's proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule that would have acted as a multi-billion dollar subsidy to coal and nuclear operators. FERC basically said 1) changes in electrical generation mix have not diminished grid reliability, in fact diversification in generation has added resiliency, 2) delaying retirement of coal plants will not improve reliability as transmission and distribution are where most disruptions occur and 3) FERC's legal mandate does not include extending the life of uncompetitive industry:
Finally, I am sympathetic to the plight of coal miners, who have been disproportionately affected as coal’s share of the generation mix has declined. These men and women went to work every day, at considerable risk to their health and safety, to supply coal when it was needed most. Many of those same considerations extend to individuals employed at recently or soon-to-be decommissioned nuclear power plants.

We have a history in this country of helping those who, through no fault of their own, have been adversely affected by technological and market change. But that is the responsibility of Congress and the state legislatures. It is not a role that the Federal Power Act provides to the Commission.
posted by peeedro at 1:51 PM on January 8 [57 favorites]


In response to a question on whether Trump is anti-Semitic, Wolff pointed out that those in the White House don’t feel he is. At the same time, Wolff explained that he thinks the president knows who is and isn’t Jewish.

“But I don’t know,” he told Tur. “I think that he — he thinks about — I think he’s aware of who is Jewish in a way that might give — that might, that feels creepy.”


Fire & Fury covers this a bit, the gist is: Trump's father was affiliated with the KKK (WaPo confirms he was arrested in a KKK march in 1927) which comes up when DJT is annoyed that he's getting bad press for not denouncing them and says it's just like how his father was "unfairly" tied to the KKK.

Wolff also says that in Trump's early life, the Jewish real estate moguls were classier, more "white shoe" than the non-Jews, So Trump's default attitude would be sort of mixed, the way it is with the NYT -- a mix of inferiority/approval-seeking and animus/contempt.
posted by mrmurbles at 1:57 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


HuffPo: Wisconsin Is Quietly Becoming The Top Senate Race Of 2018 "Sen. Tammy Baldwin is battling more outside spending by conservative groups than all of her Democratic colleagues. Combined."

Think they're preemptively trying to take down a future presidential threat?
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:05 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Maggie Haberman was dragging Wolff's book on CNN a few minutes ago. As with other critiques it felt like a bit of reasonable criticism of Wolff's sloppiness combined with a giant dollop of sour grapes. For example, Haberman refutes Wolff's reporting that there has been a degradation in Trump over the last year. No, she says, it's simply that he was always like this but moving him from his familiar routine to the new environment and stressors could appear like a degradation without actually being one.

Thanks, Maggie.

I get the feeling a lot of print journalists are upset with Wolff for doing what they didn't have the guts to do for fear of losing their precious "access".
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on January 8 [84 favorites]


Wolff also says that in Trump's early life, the Jewish real estate moguls were classier, more "white shoe" than the non-Jews, So Trump's default attitude would be sort of mixed, the way it is with the NYT -- a mix of inferiority/approval-seeking and animus/contempt.

NYT, January 2017. Bernard-Henri Lévy - Jews, Be Wary of Trump.
I cannot claim any knowledge of Donald Trump’s “heart” or of the sincerity of his commitment to the Jewish state. But there have been indications going back decades.

One was provided by John O’Donnell, a former chief operating officer of Trump’s Atlantic City casino, who, in his 1991 book “Trumped!” quoted Trump as saying: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

More recently, there was a 2013 tweet storm in which, desperate to show that he was “smarter” than the “overrated” Jon Stewart, Trump saw fit to rip off the mask behind which stood Jonathan Leibowitz, the Jewish name Stewart was born with.

And then, in mid-campaign, there was the meeting in which Trump told donors from the Republican Jewish Coalition: “I know why you’re not going to support me! It’s because I don’t want your money.”

These statements suggest, to say the least, a certain contempt.
posted by chris24 at 2:06 PM on January 8 [18 favorites]


I'm excited for the day it gets legalized federally and I can have my mind blown by how many and which of my co-workers have been using pot for years.

30 years in the IT industry and while "do you party?" has never been in the job interview, it's no secret who "goes out to get lunch" every day.
posted by mikelieman at 2:09 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Trump's father was affiliated with the KKK (WaPo confirms he was arrested in a KKK march in 1927) which comes up when DJT is annoyed that he's getting bad press for not denouncing them and says it's just like how his father was "unfairly" tied to the KKK.

I've noticed that when people have antisemitic parents, they need to make a conscious effort to rid themselves of the hate. One might think Trump would be motivated to change because of Ivanka's marriage to Kushner, but the words conscious and effort don't really fit with any description of Trump's personality.
posted by mumimor at 2:12 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Since my several-levels-up boss, Secretary Perdue, was mentioned above, I thought I’d leave this here. In a memo to the Department last week he announced a number of administrative and policy changes, including a new restriction limiting telework to 2 days per pay period (one day per week). The stated justification is that it will improve customer service and accountability. I’ll leave it to each of you to consider that claim and decide if that’s plausible, or if there might be other reasons for changing policies that make the Department an attractive place to work.
posted by wintermind at 2:13 PM on January 8 [14 favorites]


Rep. Ed Royce, Republican of CA-39, is OUT in a district Clinton carried by 9 points. @J. Miles Coleman has the maps and this goes straight to the top tier of potential Dem pickups.
posted by lalex at 2:14 PM on January 8 [33 favorites]


I've said it before and I'll say it again: the USA desperately needs some of those liberal billionaires to endow a genuine journalism outfit with enough money it never needs ad revenue or donations. And that outfit needs to remember that its job is to tell us whats going on, not to preserve "access"
posted by sotonohito at 2:14 PM on January 8 [30 favorites]


Of course Trump is anti-semitic, the idea that it needs to be debated is absurd. He is openly racist and his administration is pursuing policies that hurt non-whites and non-Christians. Debating the levels of his anti-semitism seems insignificant in the face of immigrants being kicked out of the country for being from the wrong place.
posted by chaz at 2:15 PM on January 8 [40 favorites]


Still feels weird to see the formerly milquetoast USA Today leading the resistance, but...

Democrats must play Republican-style hardball in 2018: Oppose, oppose, oppose, just like the GOP. Unless they can notch big, clear wins, Democrats should shelve compromise until 2019 or 2021
There’s no need for Democrats to overthink 2018. It’s very simple: At every decision point, they should ask themselves WWRD — What Would Republicans Do? — and then do it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is sounding like a born-again believer in compromise, but only out of necessity. His challenges include a tiny 51-49 majority and ominous signs for the upcoming midterm elections. No wonder he said in welcoming two new Democratic senators last week, “I look forward to working with them in the months ahead to make bipartisan progress and to find common ground on behalf of the American people.”

Where was that man during the Obama administration?

Republicans voted en masse against a Great Recession recovery plan that had more tax cuts than many Democrats preferred, and a health care law that relied more on the private sector than many Democrats wanted. They blocked an older, relatively moderate Supreme Court nominee for nearly a year and McConnell now gloats about a court he says will be "right of center" for a generation. In 2017, the first year of the Trump administration, they hastily passed a punitive, deficit-busting tax law without a single vote from Democrats.

There’s no reason to reward McConnell for his two-term blockade of President Obama, especially when it could help him limit damage to congressional Republicans running this fall. So how would this legislative hardball look like in practice? Here are a few scenarios:
posted by chris24 at 2:18 PM on January 8 [86 favorites]


mikelieman: "
30 years in the IT industry and while "do you party?" has never been in the job interview, it's no secret who "goes out to get lunch" every day.
"

I'll be happy when I don't have to be tested for it to get IT jobs.
posted by octothorpe at 2:25 PM on January 8 [11 favorites]


endow a genuine journalism outfit with enough money it never needs ad revenue or donations

Endowments are usually invested in stocks and bonds, right? And they get corporate earnings reports? And they have an interest in seeing corporate revenues and stock prices continuously rise?
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:26 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


More shit.
Stunning victory for Bundy family as all charges dropped in 2014 standoff case.
A judge has dismissed conspiracy charges against rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, marking an extraordinary failure by US prosecutors and a decisive victory for the Nevada family who ignited a land rights movement in the American west.
posted by adamvasco at 2:28 PM on January 8 [38 favorites]


I'm excited for the day it gets legalized federally and I can have my mind blown by how many and which of my co-workers have been using pot for years.

I've often been amazed by the way so-called liberal Hollywood, which I've been told wants nothing more than to corrupt the innocent youth of America, so frequently portrays pot smokers as lazy, idiotic losers who don't do anything but sit around getting high and eating junk food and playing video games. (There are notable exceptions, of course.)

I can't even count the number of -- ahem -- high performing people in white collar jobs I know who regularly have a little smoke.

I get the feeling a lot of print journalists are upset with Wolff for doing what they didn't have the guts to do for fear of losing their precious "access".

A friend sent me this review of F&F from the New Yorker: “Fire and Fury” Is a Book All Too Worthy of the President

One thing that knocked me over in the review is a part where the author describes the press' reporting on Trump with this phrase: "...the writing of White House newspaper reporters, who exercise preternatural restraint when writing about the Administration...."

I laughed out loud. Y'all, I rarely laugh out loud over stuff I've read. "Preternatural restraint" is a hell of a turn of phrase to describe cowardice and/or an inability or unwillingness to do one's job. I'm using it from now on to describe some of my decisions and feelings.

Friends: Why didn't come skydiving with us?
Me: I exercised preternatural restraint when considering jumping out of a plane.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:28 PM on January 8 [30 favorites]


It's no secret who "goes out to get lunch" every day.

God damn it, another euphemism I've been using unknowingly, and I've literally never touched pot. I'm just too lazy to make my lunch everyday and there's a Chipotle right near the office!
posted by odinsdream at 2:29 PM on January 8 [14 favorites]


"safety meeting"
posted by thelonius at 2:31 PM on January 8 [19 favorites]


Royce's retirement officially moves CA39 two columns from Learn Republican to Lean Democratic in Cook Political Report's rankings. He's the seventh GOP committee chair to quit, and the 28th GOP rep to announce their retirement.
posted by zachlipton at 2:33 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


Here I was thinking these people weren't stupid enough to renominate KT McFarland for Ambassador to Singapore, given the inevitable hearings where she'll be asked about Flynn and Russia and that "thrown the U.S.A. election" to Trump email, but they just did it, because I guess they are exactly that stupid.
posted by zachlipton at 2:37 PM on January 8 [20 favorites]


Rep. Ed Royce, Republican of CA-39, is OUT in a district Clinton carried by 9 points. @J. Miles Coleman has the maps and this goes straight to the top tier of potential Dem pickups.

CA-39 is also home to ... the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum.
posted by notyou at 2:42 PM on January 8


(Which is just to note that it won't be long before the whole of Orange County is blue, too.)
posted by notyou at 2:44 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I can only hope that judge Navarro resigns in shame after giving a victory to the vile Bundy clan. That's twice now she's abused her judicial powers to assist those terrorists.

With "friends" like her WTF do we need Trump appointees for?
posted by sotonohito at 2:57 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


It's true that we gave the nation Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Some parts of the state, like the Bay Area and Los Angeles, were always pretty blue, but large swaths of the state were red, and there were conservatives even in San Francisco up through the 80's or so. However, the last Republican Presidential candidate to win California was Bush Sr. in 1988.

Anthony York, Pacific Standard: How California Became A Modern Democratic Stronghold - by electing a racist Republican governor in the 1990's, they pushed Latinx voters firmly into the Democratic fold, soon followed by most of the educated middle class-plus white and Asian bloc.

The current crop of Republicans seem to be doing everything they can to poison the well with anyone who isn't white and bigoted, and the more diverse a state gets the worse off Republicans will be. If Virginia is any indication, even well-off suburban whites who voted for Trump in 2016 are regretting their choice and going Dem for local races (Steve Singiser, Daily Kos).
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:58 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


30 years in the IT industry and while "do you party?" has never been in the job interview, it's no secret who "goes out to get lunch" every day.

Dunno, that sounds way more like cocaine language to me.
posted by mykescipark at 2:59 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


Was this a case of Navarro being prejudiced, or (as the oregonlive.com link describes) did the prosecution completely shit the bed with regard to evidence handling in what should've been a slam fucking dunk?

I am clasping my head like a stunned monkey. This is precisely the kind of clusterfuck the nation really did not need.
posted by delfin at 3:01 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


NT Alexandra Petri, WaPo: The pros and cons of President Oprah
On the one hand, when Oprah speaks, the crops flourish. Hearts grow three sizes, baby rabbits open their eyes, the crocuses emerge from the frozen earth, distant music can be heard on the soft wind and it is springtime at long last.

On the other hand, Oprah is a celebrity candidate with no executive experience.

On the one hand, Oprah is an inspirational figure who has had to work hard for everything she has achieved, and she knows how to string a sentence together and tell a story that is not about herself, which is what she so ably did at the Golden Globes on Sunday night as she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is why this conversation about Oprah 2020 is even happening.

On the other hand, why is it that anytime someone uses their platform to lift up another person’s story, we assume that it must be because they are running for something?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:03 PM on January 8 [30 favorites]


Was this a case of Navarro being prejudiced, or (as the oregonlive.com link describes) did the prosecution completely shit the bed

I was gonna say. Why would we be mad at the judge because the prosecutors can't follow the rules? Enforcing rules is her job. The prosecutors should be fired.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:07 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Re: Oprah, Trump and even kinda Obama in 2008 -- people love celebrity candidates with no political experience for the same reason they have crushes on barristas or people they ride the bus with every day but never speak to.

Actual politicians, who actually try to legislate, will in the course of getting anything done make compromises, mistakes, and ruin whatever you're projecting on to them.
posted by mrmurbles at 3:14 PM on January 8 [35 favorites]


Re: Oprah, Trump and even kinda Obama in 2008

Dismissing then-U.S. Senator Obama as a “celebrity” was gross and arguably racist when Palin and McCain said it in 2008, and it’s not a particularly good look ten years later, either.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:20 PM on January 8 [64 favorites]


(Though I agree with you on Trump and Oprah.)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:21 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]




Ivanka might have met with Veselnitskaya after meeting

I think the possibility that Ivanka was aware of the meeting but Trump himself was not is essentially nil.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:26 PM on January 8 [19 favorites]


I get the feeling a lot of print journalists are upset with Wolff for doing what they didn't have the guts to do for fear of losing their precious "access".
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on January 8 [30 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


I read it as more naked than that: they are currying favor with Trump by taking down a detractor, in order to increase access.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:26 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


Yeah, from my moderate view behind the curtain, and without breaking whatever campaign omertà, Wisconsin is gonna be a big thing this year. As ever, if you live there, go get ready to knock on doors.

Meanwhile, I'm enchanted and terrified by my own choice of candidate, Lillian Salerno, a spitfire in the best tradition of Texas progressive women. I mean. The fact that Texas is in play, and serious play at that, is incredibly heartening. I am so excited, and on a personal level, so scared.
posted by dogheart at 3:29 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


And any Dem who votes for any deal that gives Trump his wall needs to get their ass primaried. Ending DACA is a tragedy, but allowing Trump his immigration dreams of the wall and "we need to stop chain migration" will damage far more families and lives. And you know that the GOP cannot be trusted to hold their end of the deal up anyways. A dem president and congress needs to make sweeping changes to undo as much of this damage as possible, reinstate DACA, and get real immigration reform that doesn't put families at risk (and that doesn't favor business over people.)
posted by azpenguin at 3:30 PM on January 8 [26 favorites]


Trump will declare victory if he gets 30 feet of actual wall he can pose in front of, plus some combination of sensors and border patrol funding that he can call a "virtual wall" or something. He's already admitted as much. And his supporters will then insist that The Wall really did get built.

That's what the Democrats should offer.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:32 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Dismissing then-U.S. Senator Obama as a “celebrity” was gross and arguably racist when Palin and McCain said it in 2008, and it’s not a particularly good look ten years later, either.

You're right, he wasn't a celebrity then, I should have been clearer. But his legislative record was short relative to the kinds of people who (used to) run for president.
posted by mrmurbles at 3:36 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


30 feet of actual wall he can pose in front of, plus some combination of sensors and border patrol funding that he can call a "virtual wall" or something. He's already admitted as much. And his supporters will then insist that The Wall really did get built.

Well shit, why aren't they happy now then? That version of the wall is already there.
posted by Rykey at 3:36 PM on January 8 [17 favorites]


'Cause the wall part of The Wall has to say "Trump" on it in big gold letters to count?
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:38 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


"Senator Graham, do you swear your undying loyalty to President Trump?"
posted by petebest at 3:38 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


You're right, he wasn't a celebrity then, I should have been clearer. But his legislative record was short relative to the kinds of people who (used to) run for president.

That’s a fair point, mrmurbles.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:38 PM on January 8


You're right, he wasn't a celebrity then, I should have been clearer. But his legislative record was short relative to the kinds of people who (used to) run for president.

Even prior to Obama a lack of legislative record was usually seen as a big plus. There's a reason why the path to the Presidency has tended to travel through Governor's mansions rather than Congress. You can't criticize a governor for shitty compromise votes when they haven't had to make any.
posted by Justinian at 3:41 PM on January 8 [23 favorites]


Lindsey Graham describing Trump's approach to a DACA deal:

I'm curious. When Lindsey Graham and others from the Senate and House spend time at a Trump property, either playing golf or just generally being a guest at the club, who pays for that? Is Graham paying the value of that round of golf or that club visit? Is the Trump campaign? Is it coming from the White House budget? Because, off the top of my head, those are the only ways it could avoid being a violation of the Senate gift rule. Just curious.
posted by The World Famous at 3:41 PM on January 8 [18 favorites]


I’m hoping folks with more North Korea knowledge can make sense of today’s story in the WSJ. I can’t tell if this is actually a White House trial balloon re: military strikes on NK. (Not being alarmist, I’m legitimately curious about the background of this story:)

Amid Signs of a Thaw in North Korea, Tensions Bubble Up (WSJ)

And here’s the Daily Beast on it.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:49 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


"Senator Graham, do you swear your undying loyalty to President Trump?"

Sen. Graham today on The View: "All I can say is, you can say anything you want about the guy, I said he was a xenophobic, race-baiting religious bigot… I ran out of things to say. He won. Guess what, he's our President."

Eh, close enough.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:09 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


More "debunking" of the Wolff book on Hardball, this time from the Axios guy.

The debunking is that it is absurd and completely false that 100% of the staff and people around Trump consider him unstable and totally unfit. When pressed, Jonathan Swan (the Axios guy), admitted that people around Trump do believe that, but that it is only a reasonably high number and not the absurd assertion of 100%. So let's be clear. Even the debunking position on Wolff's book is that a reasonable amount of people around Trump believe him to be bonkers and unfit. That's the optimistic scenario. To be honest I tend to believe Swan. I'm sure there are some folks around Trump who have totally drunk the Kool-Aid and are true believers who don't think Trump is nutbars. Wolff is obviously using exaggeration and hyperbole to sell books and make the news.

But come on. The rosy view of Trump is that only a "reasonable" number of those around him think he's Mad King Joffrey and not 100% of them.
posted by Justinian at 4:21 PM on January 8 [43 favorites]


The rosy view of Trump is that only a "reasonable" number of those around him think he's Mad King Joffrey and not 100% of them.

"Well, look, I'm just saying that if you squint at him a certain way in the right kind of light it really does look like he's wearing clothes, right?"
posted by pyramid termite at 4:26 PM on January 8 [41 favorites]


You're right, he wasn't a celebrity then, I should have been clearer. But his legislative record was short relative to the kinds of people who (used to) run for president.

Not to relitigate the 2008 election, but this isn't accurate. Obama had more experience as a legislator (state and national) than GW Bush, WJ Clinton, and Reagan did put together, since they had zero and went to the White House via governorships -- which one can argue is more relevant since it's an executive position.

Obama had 15 years as a legislator compared with GHW Bush, Carter, and Nixon, who had four years each. The only president since 1970 who had more legislative experience than Obama was Ford, with 24 years in the House.

Obama's overall pre-presidential resume includes 18 years of directly relevant work experience in public service, law and legal scholarship, and legislative office.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:53 PM on January 8 [73 favorites]


I'm still in the middle of the book, but so far Wolff has not stated that 100% of people around Trump think he's unfit. Most notably, Bannon seems to have a definition of "fit to serve" that includes someone with Trump's many acknowledged deficiencies.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:55 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


30 years in the IT industry and while "do you party?" has never been in the job interview, it's no secret who "goes out to get lunch" every day.

I used to have an amazing boss that would send us out on official and practically mandatory safety meetings when things were really hectic and stressful and he could tell we were losing our edge, and he didn't even smoke. (Well, practically mandatory for anyone who did.)

Man, I miss that job. It was so good.

Post legalization I've worked for a music festival that handed out pre-rolls and even extract/oil pens to talent, workers and volunteers. Like, every team lead got a pen and a bunch of handrolls to distribute to talent and staff. They handed out the pen as a time saving measure to cut down on the safety meetings time and duration, and that plan totally worked. It was a lot quicker, cleaner and easier to just take a puff on a pen even back stage and just keep working.

The thought of Sessions actually cracking down on legal recreational stores in WA state isn't really even registering for most people. And if they started actually doing it they'd probably find it difficult to get through the human shield and wall of people protesting and trying to protect their local retail shop.
posted by loquacious at 5:01 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


Sebastian Gorka just published his take on the book. Roughly summed up, "It isn't true. Certainly not the fitness to serve parts".

We may be able to judge which of our media interlocutors are Republican stenographers by seeing if they toe the company line here.
posted by pdoege at 5:04 PM on January 8


Lindsey Graham describing Trump's approach to a DACA deal: "He has been very refreshing, like 'I want to get a deal, I have nothing against these kids, I just want to get my wall.'"

It's refreshing when the hostage-taker doesn't have anything against his hostages, you know?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:09 PM on January 8 [22 favorites]


The thought of Sessions actually cracking down on legal recreational stores in WA state isn't really even registering for most people.

Popehat asserts that Session's rescinding those memos means less than you might think. Basically, state DAs can ignore it and have caseloads large enough that it doesn't matter. I'm a bit skeptical (otherwise why write the memos at all), but Popehat was a prosecutor, so...

speaking of WA, the deputy killed in this story was a good friend of a friend of mine.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:11 PM on January 8 [14 favorites]


Pogo, I am so sorry.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:15 PM on January 8 [9 favorites]


I am sorry for your loss, Pogo.
posted by mosk at 5:16 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure rescinding the Cole memo is some component in a disenfranchisement scheme, since that seems to be Sessions' life goal, but I'm not sure how he'll try to implement it.
posted by benzenedream at 5:26 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Bannon learned about the [Scaramucci] piece when fact-checkers from the magazine called him for comment about Scaramucci's accusation that he sucked his own cock.

Learning this glorious little tidbit has been the high point of my 2018.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:42 PM on January 8 [30 favorites]


And if they started actually doing it they'd probably find it difficult to get through the human shield and wall of people protesting and trying to protect their local retail shop.

One of the things I thought was awesome when I visited Denver last year were the billboards for companies that would deliver all manner of snacks, beverages, and cleaning supplies 24/7 specifically marketed towards people who've gotten too high to run out for supplies and have the munchies and/or want to clean their apartment or house while stoned.

And also the Mexican place where they asked me if I had partaken in any recreational cannabis use and invited me to visit the dispensary across the street that the restaurant owners also owned. The food was amazing.

There are a lot of other businesses flourishing that have an interest in keeping the cannabis industry safe that aren't directly connected.
posted by VTX at 5:43 PM on January 8 [19 favorites]


I'm pretty sure rescinding the Cole memo is some component in a disenfranchisement scheme...

And I suspect it's not a coincidence that Sessions is suddenly motivated to do this two weeks after the first six Inauguration protesters were acquitted.

You want to know what this was really all about?

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

- John Ehrlichman, 1994
Checks out.
posted by dirge at 5:58 PM on January 8 [106 favorites]


I'm sure there are some folks around Trump who have totally drunk the Kool-Aid and are true believers who don't think Trump is nutbars.

Don't believe that. There are people who wouldn't think Trump's repetition, his eerie singular focus on what he wants now the petulant way he complains literally all day, and other aberrant behavior to be a problem - but they aren't working in the White House.

Wolff's book is not about politics. It really isn't.
posted by petebest at 6:18 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Ben Carson is still around, isn't he? I'm sure that guy thinks Trump is just right as rain.
posted by mannequito at 6:44 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Barack Spinoza, I’m going with “not alarmed” for the time being. The “bloody nose” thing is a term I’ve heard before, recently, so that idea isn’t fresh. There have been bits floating around about think tanks preparing for contingencies in the event of a strike, etc., but (and I’m no foreign policy expert) that seems to be of a piece with every potential flashpoint around the world—there are probably similar plans drawn up for potential strikes and heightened conflict in Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, etc. But the North Korea news gets us riled up because it’s the main threat of destroying all life. It gets clicks! No big deal!

But for real, I am currently getting comfort from the recent re-opening of communication between South Korea and North Korea, and also in the absence of new ~developments~ whenever Trump says or tweets something inflammatory. If we were really on the razor’s edge, I don’t think the “my button is bigger” tweet would have gone unanswered. Not to mention Trump’s statements at the U.N. back in September. So there are cooler heads in the discussion, and they are—for now—prevailing. I’ll say this until the first bomb drops, which (of course) I hope never happens.
posted by witchen at 6:44 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


Hey fellas, this is a video of Wolff on "Morning Joe", and he says something interesting at 11:00 in.

The context is Bannon's apology and how Bannon was talking about Manafort when he said "treasonous". Wolff says no. He meant Don Jr., it was clear. Bannon was maybe the only one who knew they were getting in deep shit, so he yelled at everyone, yelled at Steven Miller for endangering himself, Mike Pence was in meetings he shouldn't have been in.

ORLY
posted by petebest at 6:45 PM on January 8 [54 favorites]


By the way, I typed all of that out for my own benefit as much as anyone else’s. I’m trying to fall asleep soon, so it helps to think of some ways that shit is not irrevocably fucked.
posted by witchen at 6:45 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


My friend-in-law Wendy DeBoer is running for the Nebraska Legislature in district 10. She is solid and deserves support.
posted by Coventry at 6:48 PM on January 8 [17 favorites]


Oh yeah, Ben Carson is in charge of housing policy. God, I totally forgot about that.

Good thing housing policy isn't incredibly relevant in a nation where people can't pay their damn rent or mortgage. (And that's not just the bright blue urban spots, either.)
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:53 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


mrmurbles: "You're right, he wasn't a celebrity then, I should have been clearer. But his legislative record was short relative to the kinds of people who (used to) run for president."

I mean, I guess? Carter had one term as Georgia governor, and four years in the Georgia Senate, which isn't a particularly long resume.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:55 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I mean, I guess? Carter had one term as Georgia governor, and four years in the Georgia Senate, which isn't a particularly long resume.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:55 PM on January 8 [+] [!]


I think it's more to the point that some Presidents have spent their lives preparing for the job and understand how the government works, how laws are made, and how society works in general. They are at least competent at their jobs and less likely to be puppet or figurehead administrations. Nixon was well prepared but was an asshole. Reagan was somewhat prepared but had some odd ideas about how society worked. Bush Jr. and Trump are clueless. Obama and both Clintons spent their whole adult lives preparing for the role and were deeply read and experienced in topics directly relevant to the position. I want people well prepared, not a celebrity who seems like they share my values but will have to learn all the basic shit on the job as well as the minutia.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:02 PM on January 8 [33 favorites]


zachlipton: "Royce's retirement officially moves CA39 two columns from Learn Republican to Lean Democratic in Cook Political Report's rankings. He's the seventh GOP committee chair to quit, and the 28th GOP rep to announce their retirement."

Yeah, this is a huge retirement. I felt pretty optimistic about a flip already - district was Romney 51-47, then Clinton 51-43 - but now it's very likely. My only concern would be the CA top two primary - there are already several Dems running, we can't split the left vote so much that the top two vote getters are GOP.

Also, these committee chair retirements are getting out of hand.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:02 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


[Folks, if you want to talk about whether celebrity candidates are a good thing etc, better to take that over to the Oprah thread, so we don't have similar discussions happening in parallel.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:04 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Net neutrality news:
A Senate bill that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality received its 30th co-sponsor on Monday, ensuring it will receive a vote on the Senate floor.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) announced her support for the bill on Twitter, putting it over the top of a procedural requirement to bypass committee approval.
Not likely to pass, but it will force GOP senators to be on the record about this.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:07 PM on January 8 [55 favorites]


@IvankaTrump: Just saw @Oprah's empowering & inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes. Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP! #United

I...Even for Ivanka Trump, this displays a stunning lack of self-awareness.
posted by zachlipton at 7:14 PM on January 8 [103 favorites]


I would hope Steve Bannon has a date with the special counsel's office. I would hope they've got copies of all of Wolff's tapes.

I hope there's no 18-minute gap. This time.
posted by petebest at 7:16 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


And in other news, Trump left the College Football Championship at halftime so he can fly back to DC, after a considerable amount of effort and expense were expended to secure it so he could attend.
posted by zachlipton at 7:21 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


trumpers tweeted out today that the FNA will be postponed until Jan. 17th. I'm pretty sure the awards are drone strikes.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:26 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I...Even for Ivanka Trump, this displays a stunning lack of self-awareness.

Considering her family circumstances and history, she has to have developed a world-class ability to compartmentalize and tune out all sorts of cognitive dissonance.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:27 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


And in other news, Trump left the College Football Championship at halftime so he can fly back to DC, after a considerable amount of effort and expense were expended to secure it so he could attend.

After demonstrating that he doesn't know the words to the national anthem.

@KaivanShroff
Super obvious Trump doesn’t know the words to our National Anthem. Disgraceful for any president, but particularly bad given his months of race-baiting rants against NFL players kneeling to demand justice.

VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 7:34 PM on January 8 [49 favorites]


It's possible that he just can't remember the words on this particular day.
posted by Jalliah at 7:37 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


At the Vagina Bowl College Football Championship, Trump is marching with a line of uniformed men to midfield, then decides to break the line turn around to clap. The marching line hesitantly pauses. Near the end there's some confusion over whether they should turn or not.
posted by petebest at 7:41 PM on January 8


Super obvious Trump doesn’t know the words to our National Anthem

I'm not convinced. I would be totally unsurprised to learn that he didn't know the words, but to me that looks more like he's an old man in a noisy stadium without a monitor trying to figure out where they are in the song. Once he finds his place he mouths his way through to the end.
posted by contraption at 7:44 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Lindsey Graham describing Trump's approach to a DACA deal: "He has been very refreshing, like 'I want to get a deal, I have nothing against these kids, I just want to get my wall.'"

It's refreshing when the hostage-taker doesn't have anything against his hostages, you know?


Don't forget he is still 100% all in on jailing and deporting their parents.
posted by srboisvert at 8:00 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Of course Trump is anti-semitic, the idea that it needs to be debated is absurd. He is openly racist and his administration is pursuing policies that hurt non-whites and non-Christians. Debating the levels of his anti-semitism seems insignificant in the face of immigrants being kicked out of the country for being from the wrong place.

Each specific incident may or may not have a racist intent but taken together they form a pattern that gets harder for doubters to credibly deny with each occurrence. Once can be an accident, twice a coincidence; but three times has to be deliberate. We're well past that now.

The origin of that rule is oddly appropriate. Ian Fleming wrote it into his novel Goldfinger, that it was a rule of thumb for British agents living in Moscow.
posted by scalefree at 8:13 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


Net neutrality news:
A Senate bill that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality received its 30th co-sponsor on Monday, ensuring it will receive a vote on the Senate floor.


I didn't realize you could force votes to repeal recent regulations under the CRA like this... I'm really hoping the Dems use the hell out of this technique for every regulatory capture rule Trump's agencies trot out. Worst case the Republicans kill the CRA, which, ohh noo don't throw us into the briar patch (they can use Udall and Booker's existing CRA repeal bill, convenient!).
posted by jason_steakums at 8:42 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


While we're preparing for the 2018 midterms, can we launch a meme into the world that America is a Christian nation governed by the Bible and THEREFORE God demands we have Jubilee years every 50 years, in which all debts are forgiven (regardless of any moral hazard!) and all prisoners freed? And that all true Bible-believing Christians must support the Jubilee? And inject that mind-virus into the Christian right and get them all fired up about it?

Then when the GOP frantically comes to negotiate with the Dems because their base is demanding a Jubilee, we can magnanimously give them better bankruptcy provisions (like being able to discharge student loans), strict limitations on contracts of adhesion, and a functioning CFPB; and enormous criminal justice reform; because the Overton window will have moved to to the corner of Crazy Street and Awesome Boulevard.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:43 PM on January 8 [94 favorites]


And in other news, Trump left the College Football Championship at halftime so he can fly back to DC, after a considerable amount of effort and expense were expended to secure it so he could attend.

Once he'd fed off the worship of the crowd there was nothing else happening that could benefit him so he had no reason to stay. Plus he had to get home to watch himself on TV, that's always exciting.
posted by scalefree at 8:59 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


Oh wow, Elizabeth McNamara, my new personal hero and the attorney for Wolff and his publisher, has sent a scorching and delightfully snide response (via Twitter) to Trump's cease-and-desist lawsuit threat: "My clients do not intend to cease publication, no such retraction will occur, and no apology is warranted." Page 3 is deliciously threatening!
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:02 PM on January 8 [70 favorites]


James O'Keefe spotted across the street from Twitter HQ, in case you're wondering who he plans to attack next.
posted by zachlipton at 9:38 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Why would he attack them, they're doing their best to keep Trump and the rest of the internet nazis online.
posted by PenDevil at 9:41 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but the narrative among conservatives is that Twitter is unfairly attacking and silencing them, despite the fact that all evidence indicates that it is doing exactly the opposite. Constantly presenting themselves as victims is vital to their narrative, as is attacking those who they claim are victimizing them. They do the same thing with a lot of news organizations; despite the fact that most American news agencies will put a lot of effort into promoting the conservative narrative over reality, conservatives still cry about the media being unfair and attack them ruthlessly and relentlessly.
posted by IAmUnaware at 10:07 PM on January 8 [14 favorites]


James O'Keefe spotted across the street from Twitter HQ,

Pfft. Wolff ate the next several years of his lunches over the past 6 months.
posted by rhizome at 10:34 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


[Baldwin] won by 6 points in 2012

...which was a presidential election year. Notably, all of Walker's wins have been in off-years (midterm elections) because of how Wisconsin schedules its gubernatorials. And if there's any truism I know as a Democrat it's that we don't show up like we need to in midterms. So there's that caution.

Think they're preemptively trying to take down a future presidential threat?

I doubt it. I love having Tammy as my Senator, but to be perfectly honest she's no firebrand. There's a habit some minority (she's gay and Jewish and a woman as noted) candidates have of positioning themselves much more safely in the acceptable policy window and that's mostly her. (Her successor in the House, Mark Pocan, is pointedly more aggressive -- he's the guy who broke a little comity to come into Ryan's district to hold a mock town hall.) So this is probably much more about taking the midterm slump opportunity to flip the seat; as it happens they have a wallet photo running (who is besting his primary rivals in polls and fundraising).

as somebody who's lived his entire life in the Midwest (three states, at different times), it's no less baffling from the inside

I've had to upend my own views giving primacy to "Wisconsin nice" and celebrating apparently inoffensive "don't see race" framing, and recognizing the deep income and racial inequality here. There was an era when prairie populism was a thing, but it's severely faded, and similarly the manufacturing sector here has lost jobs and simultaneously/not-coinkidenkally union membership. Heck, even a majority of union households apparently had at least one member who voted for Walker (especially the 2nd and 3rd time after labor was clearly a target). So this is more about a reactionary resurgence than anything we ought to be truly surprised at. The two Trumpkins I know personally are more "maybe he'll shake things up" and "abortion bad, Trump conservative regardless of evidence" voters than anything, so basically they aren't able to see the divisive side or it's an aspect they celebrate. If there are any big-time NeverTrumpers around here they are mighty quiet (exception, of course, for Charlie Sykes, who's one of those deeply complicit NTers you just have to shrug your way around).
posted by dhartung at 11:12 PM on January 8 [12 favorites]


Thanks for that link, FelliniBlank. The letter's full of great stuff, but I think my favourite part is its description of Trump's blustering threats as "the antithesis of an actionable libel claim".
posted by Paul Slade at 12:42 AM on January 9 [12 favorites]


I am the antithesis of an actionable libel claim
I argue actual malice but my logic is a crying shame
To all the laws of New York I am thoroughly insensible
From Manhattan to Washington, my claims are indefensible

posted by one for the books at 1:09 AM on January 9 [105 favorites]


My favorite part of the lawyer's letter, linked by FelliniBlank, is on the last page where she reminds him that Discovery is a two-way street.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:38 AM on January 9 [39 favorites]




"Senator Graham, do you swear your undying loyalty to President Trump?"

Every journalist should lead interviewing Republicans by demanding they swear loyalty to President Trump.

If one journalist does it... one journalist, they'll think he's crazy. [...] And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in asking Republicans to take a loyalty oath to President Trump, and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

with aplogoies...
posted by mikelieman at 5:24 AM on January 9 [24 favorites]


Every journalist should lead interviewing Republicans by demanding they swear loyalty to President Trump.
Evan McMullin @Evan_McMullin

Among the most bizarre characteristics of Trump’s tenure are the men once considered to be reasonably free-thinking, who now prostrate themselves before the tiniest of charlatans and insist on lavishing him with obviously false praise.
I disagree with Egg on almost every piece of policy but he's at least got principles.
posted by Talez at 5:40 AM on January 9 [50 favorites]


I disagree with Egg on almost every piece of policy but he's at least got principles.

That's the root-cause of all this bullshit. Without principles, you cannot earn others' respect.

Without respect, you got nothing, including no ability to negotiate moving forward on policy issues. Compromising on those policy disagreements is how legislation is supposed to work!
posted by mikelieman at 5:52 AM on January 9 [14 favorites]


I know you meant your most recent comment as a lighthearted what-if, Eyebrows, but the thought of giving any more airtime, however jokey, to the idea "that America is a Christian nation governed by the Bible and THEREFORE God demands" makes me feel sick given the climate of anti-Semitism and other religious discrimination going on right now.
posted by ferret branca at 6:25 AM on January 9 [20 favorites]




In "The best people"-news: Awkward: Brownback Said He Was Leaving as Kansas Governor. He Hasn’t.
“As I pass from the stage here in Kansas, I leave with a warm thought and good feelings of all the good-hearted people in this wonderful state of Kansas,” said a smiling Mr. Brownback, whose seven years at the helm have been punctuated by a firm turn to the right and a revolt from some in his own party.

Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon who is the lieutenant governor, was widely expected to succeed Mr. Brownback and kick off the 2018 legislative session, and Mr. Colyer even announced a new cabinet appointment.

But on Monday afternoon, as lawmakers began meeting in the State Capitol for the start of the new legislative session, Mr. Brownback was still the governor.

And there is no certainty about when he might actually depart this stage, even after the White House on Monday renominated him for the post. The entire matter has left some Kansans befuddled, some Democratic lawmakers smug, and some Brownback supporters a little sheepish.
posted by mumimor at 6:28 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Notably, all of Walker's wins have been in off-years (midterm elections) because of how Wisconsin schedules its gubernatorials. And if there's any truism I know as a Democrat it's that we don't show up like we need to in midterms. So there's that caution.

Y'all gonna let us Virginians show you up?

Hmm, is that all we need as Americans to get people to care? How do we turn this into a pissing contest competition? Let's gamify Dem turnout!
posted by phearlez at 6:55 AM on January 9 [10 favorites]


> Among the most bizarre characteristics of Trump’s tenure are the men once considered to be reasonably free-thinking, who now prostrate themselves before the tiniest of charlatans and insist on lavishing him with obviously false praise.

This makes a lot more sense if you believe that it might have something to do with the Russian hack of the RNC emails. Either that or Trump is the Hypno-Toad.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:57 AM on January 9 [13 favorites]


I don't think we need hacked e-mail blackmail; I think it's just that they were only free-thinkers as long as things were easy. Now that things are hard and they have to stand up to their friends (Neville Longbottom style), it turns out they were cowards all along.

No points to Slytherin.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:13 AM on January 9 [41 favorites]


Yeah, but a lot of the ass-kissing and weirdly abject prostration started *before* he had his finger on the button.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:19 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


peeedro:
Translation: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Rick Perry's proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule that would have acted as a multi-billion dollar subsidy to coal and nuclear operators.

...
We have a history in this country of helping those who, through no fault of their own, have been adversely affected by technological and market change. But that is the responsibility of Congress and the state legislatures. It is not a role that the Federal Power Act provides to the Commission.
Also, Top US coal boss Robert Murray: Trump 'can't bring mining jobs back' -- The founder and chief executive of Murray Energy supports Donald Trump’s move to roll back Obama’s clean power plan but cautions the president to go easy on talk of a jobs revival (Dominic Rushe for The Guardian, March 27, 2017)
Coalmining employed 98,505 people in 2015, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, down from 127,745 in 2008, the year Obama was elected president, and about 250,000 in the 1970s. Trump has consistently pledged to restore mining jobs, but many of those jobs were lost to technology rather than regulation and to competition from natural gas and renewables, which makes it unlikely that he can do much to significantly grow the number of jobs in the industry, said Murray.

“I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” said Murray. “He can’t bring them back.”
The only thing that Trump is bringing back is increased wealth for industrial polluters thanks to rolling back health and safety regulations, just like Trump's claims that ending the estate tax would help farmers. Again, reality doesn't match his rhetoric:
How about small businesses and farms? The [Tax Policy Center] projected that only about 80 small farms and closely held businesses would pay any estate tax in 2017. That would amount to about 1 percent of all payers of the estate tax that year.
Which is pretty much in line with the rest of his rural farmer-friendly talk that is likely to harm farmers, not help them. Then again, lying about what he does or will do is pretty classic Trump, like taking claim for low unemployment rates for African-Americans and Hispanics, when in reality he should be saying he hasn't hindered the trend that started with Obama in 2010. But that'd be honest and recognizing the good work of others, and he's a narcissistic sociopath, so that'll never happen.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


My favorite part of the lawyer's letter, linked by FelliniBlank, is on the last page where she reminds him that Discovery is a two-way street.

Notably, she predicts that whatever her team discovers will be relevant to their defense.

Truth is an absolute defense against libel.
posted by Gelatin at 7:20 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]



Or an irascible child who's every fleeting whim must be predicted and served lest he fire a general or tweet the launch codes.


President Anthony Fremont

posted by museum of fire ants at 7:21 AM on January 9 [10 favorites]


I did a site-search for this and didn't find it: 138 things Trump did this year while you weren't looking -- Behind the crazy headlines, more conservative priorities got pushed through than most people realize. An exhaustive list of what really happened to the government in 2017. (Danny Vinik for Politico, Dec. 29, 2017)

A sobering review of 2017 under Trump, and a handy check-list for things to un-do in the coming years.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:26 AM on January 9 [27 favorites]


For anybody wondering where Sessions' anti-marijuana sentiment comes from and how it has the support of almost half of republican voters, here's why. Harry Anslinger lives on in the hearts of tens of millions of old white assholes with inordinate political power, some of whom are stupid enough to say it on video.

CBS: Kansas Rep. Steve Alford says blacks abuse drugs because of "character makeup"

At the meeting, Alford referenced a time in the 1930s when marijuana was prohibited. The Garden City Telegram first reported on the statement Monday and posted a video of it to YouTube. "What was the reason they did that?" he asked a crowd of about 60 people, none of whom were black. "One of the reasons why - I hate to say it - is the African-Americans, they were basically users and they responded the worst off to those drugs. It's because of their character makeup - their genetics and that."
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:32 AM on January 9 [42 favorites]


There are endless reviews of F&F across the world, but this one by Ezra Klein has some good points.
posted by mumimor at 7:55 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I disagree with Egg on almost every piece of policy but he's at least got principles.

The principles Trump violates are "Don't be vulgar, and don't say the quiet parts loud." McMullin was on board for this program when he worked for Romney's presidential campaign, which kept its subservience to Republican tycoons and its vicious hatred of the poor behind closed doors, where, for McMullin, such things belong. All his bombastic pronouncements on Twitter are just a smoke screen for his basic assent to the Republican program of today.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:58 AM on January 9 [14 favorites]


Speaking of infrastructure (someone said it in here, right?) how about an Infrastructure Week, Take 3 (dates TBD)? [NPR, Jan. 8, 2018]

Here's a look back at the first two attempts at a focus on infrastructure:

June 9, 2017: We Remember Infrastructure Week -- In case you were distracted, here’s what you missed, via Twitter. (Laura Bliss for CityLab)

Aug 18, 2017: Donald Trump's Infrastructure Week builds a case for do-over (Mark Sumner for Daily Kos)
The Infrastructure Council was abandoned in the middle of Infrastructure Week before it was even built. It wasn’t just the bridge to nowhere, it was the half-doodled down blueprints for that bridge. To nowhere. It existed for negative time (someone call Einstein).
That abandonment was probably because everyone was focused on Trump's defense of "both sides" were at fault in Charlottesville, which lead to his Manufacturing Council folding as CEO after CEO resigned, and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned with a not-so-hidden message.

And for a good round-up of what's been said and promised, by whom and when -- Dec. 8, 2017: Where the Fuck Is Trump's Infrastructure Plan? -- He promised one within 100 days of taking office. It's now day 322. (Mark Hay for Vice)

tl;dr - expect another "plan" with no planning (especially as Trump’s proposed budget would have cut, by some estimates, $55 billion more in funding for infrastructure than the $200 billion boost he’s proposed)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


> Trump will declare victory if he gets 30 feet of actual wall he can pose in front of

That will be happening soon, according to the the WaPo: "The president is also expected to travel later this month to look at prototypes of possible border walls, creating a visual that his base will love but will further galvanize Latinos."

To paraphrase the Gipper, "Mr. Peña Nieto, pay for this wall!"
posted by peeedro at 8:00 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


The principles Trump violates are "Don't be vulgar, and don't say the quiet parts loud." McMullin was on board for this program when he worked for Romney's presidential campaign, which kept its subservience to Republican tycoons and its vicious hatred of the poor behind closed doors

I think "vulgarity" and "loudness" are signs of a more general disinhibition. Maybe McMullin wants the same terrible things as the current Republicans. But I think his principles really would inhibit him from taking the same terrible measures to get them.

I want money. So do criminals. The difference is that I'm not willing to knock over a liquor store to get it.

I don't think McMullin would do the same kinds of things that Nunes, McConnell, Grassley, etc are doing right now to cover for Trump.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:02 AM on January 9 [15 favorites]


One Way to Fight HUD's Heel-Dragging on Fair Housing -- As civil rights groups line up in opposition to a new HUD rule, a legal strategy emerges. (Kriston Capps for CityLab, Jan 8, 2018)
Advocates have argued that Carson has effectively suspended the government’s obligation by delaying the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule set in place in 2015. This isn’t the first time that Carson has tried to postpone an Obama-era housing rule: A similar maneuver was struck down in federal court in December. Housing advocates are now hoping HUD’s move on the AFFH final rule will meet a similar fate.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Clio Chang in Splinter News: The GOP Wants to Curse Us with Senator J.D. Vance
Vance’s 2016 memoir about growing up in Appalachia launched him to fame. It was a New York Times bestseller, was placed on many a college syllabus, and was praised across the board as the key text for understanding the Trump voter. Hollywood is even making Hillbilly Elegy: The Movie, billed as a “contemporary economic drama.”

But as many have pointed out, the book is not much more than a recycling of welfare-bashing tropes. The only difference is that it targets the white working-class of Appalachia instead of people of color. It is bootstrap mythology at its finest. “Public policy can help,” Vance writes, “but there is no government that can fix these problems for us … it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”

That Vance is the favored candidate of conservatives like McConnell is no surprise. (He also met with Stephen Bannon when the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation was looking for its new president.) But Republicans aren’t the only ones to blame. The fact that Senator J.D. Vance is even a thing being contemplated is a reality created by all those who praised his bad book in the first place.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:06 AM on January 9 [23 favorites]


I don't think McMullin would do the same kinds of things that Nunes, McConnell, Grassley, etc are doing right now to cover for Trump.

He would. So will Mitt Romney. So does Jeff Flake. So does Bob Corker. Egg is not in elected office, if he was, he'd be giving the same type of quotes about not seeing Trump's tweets and quietly sabotaging the Russia investigation behind the scenes, just like the alleged NeverTrumpers we have in office now. Or sitting on his hands watching while Richard Burr and Devin Nunes do the dirty work.

Because he's a Republican. That's what elected Republicans do in the Trump era.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:15 AM on January 9 [23 favorites]


My favorite part of the lawyer's letter, linked by FelliniBlank, is on the last page where she reminds him that Discovery is a two-way street.

Can I quote the Slate article about what they said? Please? Pretty please?
After picking apart Trump’s actions meticulously and bitingly over roughly two pages, the closing paragraph really brings it all home:
While my clients do not adopt or subscribe to your description of their legal obligations, Henry Holt and Mr. Wolff will comply with any and all document preservation obligations that the law imposes upon them. At the same time, we must remind you that President Trump, in his personal and governmental capacity, must comply with the same legal obligations regarding himself, his family members, their businesses, the Trump campaign, and his administration, and must ensure all appropriate measures to preserve such documents are in place. This would include any and all documents pertaining to any of the matters about which the book reports. Should you pursue litigation against Henry Holt or Mr. Wolff, we are quite confident that documents related to the contents of the book in the possession of President Trump, his family members, his businesses, his campaign, and his administration will prove particularly relevant to our defense.
And in a letter to all Macmillan employees, CEO John Sargent explained why the company chose to respond to Trump’s lawyer’s demand that Macmillan cease publication of the book with open defiance by moving up the publication date:
Our response is firm, as it has to be. I am writing you today to explain why this is a matter of great importance. It is about much more than Fire and Fury.

The president is free to call news “fake” and to blast the media. That goes against convention, but it is not unconstitutional. But a demand to cease and desist publication—a clear effort by the President of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government—is an attempt to achieve what is called prior restraint. That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional.
posted by Melismata at 8:20 AM on January 9 [78 favorites]


> "One of the reasons why - I hate to say it - is the African-Americans, they were basically users and they responded the worst off to those drugs. It's because of their character makeup - their genetics and that."

Any time a Republican tells you that they "hate" to say something, it's a tell that they couldn't be any goddamn happier to be saying it out loud.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:22 AM on January 9 [55 favorites]


So apparently Joe Arpaio is running for Jeff Flake's old senate seat and Vann Newkirk (@fivefiths) has the subtweet of the day:

"fighting Trumpism by letting Joe Arpaio take your seat is certainly a bold strategy"

posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:35 AM on January 9 [38 favorites]


6 Times Trump Derailed His Own Infrastructure Plan
  1. Promising a Plan in His First 100 Days, Then Failing to Produce One
  2. Scheduling “Infrastructure Week” Opposite Comey’s Testimony
  3. Defending White Supremacists During Another Infrastructure Pitch
  4. Disbanding His Infrastructure Council Before It Started
  5. Privately Telling Democrats That He Doesn’t Like Public-Private Partnerships
  6. Privately Telling Republicans That He Doesn’t Like Public-Private Partnerships
posted by kirkaracha at 8:38 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


I can't imagine that Arpaio could possibly win, right? He's Roy Moore levels of toxic, in a state that is much more politically balanced than Alabama. He'd be a turnout machine for Democrats, in a state that Democrats would have a good chance of winning even if the Republicans didn't run a human shitstorm.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:39 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


> Among the most bizarre characteristics of Trump’s tenure are the men once considered to be reasonably free-thinking, who now prostrate themselves before the tiniest of charlatans and insist on lavishing him with obviously false praise.

This makes a lot more sense if you believe that it might have something to do with the Russian hack of the RNC emails. Either that or Trump is the Hypno-Toad.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:57 AM on January 9 [8 favorites +] [!]


As an explanation for why Trump is being enabled by the entire GOP establishment, I've concluded that the whole stinking lot of them are implicated in the collusion. I think the GOP leadership actively participated in the arming of the Russian trollbots by sharing election information and perhaps funds. They know the Russians have the proof and they are scared shitless that the information will be released if they don't hew to the storyline. The fact that the pee tape has not surfaced signals to them that the Russians really do have control of the rest of the information and can orchestrate its release at any time.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:42 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


CNN is reporting that Arpaio announced he is seeking the nomination in an interview with the Washington Examiner. I have to believe he won't make it out of the primary, especially if the republicans have learned anything from Moore.

It'll be interesting to see what this means for the Bannon/Mercer candidate, Kelli Ward.
posted by papercrane at 8:46 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine that Arpaio could possibly win, right?

Maybe not likely, but completely possible. Plausible, even. Moore notwithstanding, I will never again consider a (GOP) candidate too vile to win.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:48 AM on January 9 [31 favorites]


As an explanation for why Trump is being enabled by the entire GOP establishment, I've concluded that the whole stinking lot of them are implicated in the collusion. I think the GOP leadership actively participated in the arming of the Russian trollbots by sharing election information and perhaps funds. They know the Russians have the proof and they are scared shitless that the information will be released if they don't hew to the storyline. The fact that the pee tape has not surfaced signals to them that the Russians really do have control of the rest of the information and can orchestrate its release at any time.

If this is true, which it might well be, Mueller's job is nigh impossible unless there is an unprecedented landslide in November. So I guess you guys need to GOTV.
posted by mumimor at 8:49 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]


Does the Republican establishment, whatever that means at this point, even have that degree of control over the party any more? The inmates are running their asylum, and people like Trump, Moore and Arpaio are who they want.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:50 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


Step 1: Arpaio announces senate run
Step 2: Trump endorses Arpaio calling him "Greater than General Patton"
Step 3: Arpaio comes in third in the R primary, narrowly beating the fourth place candidate, some dude's horse
Step 4: Trump says he never endorsed Arpaio, pardoned him because he "felt sorry for the guy"
posted by gwint at 8:51 AM on January 9 [26 favorites]


It's possible that the GOP's primary-voting base will suddenly get a clue and not vote for Arpaio, but that would be the first evidence that they're turning away from Trumpism, rather than the continuation of any trend. So I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:56 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


Is Arpaio running for Senate, or is he running for campaign donations? He's never quit raising money.
posted by azpenguin at 9:04 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine that Arpaio could possibly win, right?

Again, it doesn't matter - the Republican nomination for anything goes to the person that appeals to the Republican primary voter, no matter what that person might do in the general.
And we know what kind of candidate those voters choose.
posted by eclectist at 9:05 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Im FAR from an expert on AZ politics, but in his last election bid racist ol' joe lost 44/56 where trump won 49/46 (Maricopa county), but he did pull 65% in the primary.

It seems pretty possible his 85 year old ass would mount a decent effort in a primary - id have to think that with national attention/money/engagement coming off the nail biter in Alabama it would all but guarantee he never served in the senate.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:06 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]




Roseanne knows her audience.
posted by notyou at 9:16 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


The Conner family will be "politically divided", which translates into me definitely not watching because who needs to watch a weekly half hour sitcom of America's Racist Aunt fighting with her kids about politics?
posted by palomar at 9:22 AM on January 9 [78 favorites]


Roseanne has been insane for years and believes that chemtrails have made her macadamia nuts bigger. She's one of the 25%+ of Trump supporters who glommed on due solely to an affinity for conspiracy theories, as her general opinions aren't really conservative. Her type accounts for a lot of the success of historical conspiracy-based fascist movements.

I'll probably watch her new show for the same unhealthy horror-spectacle reasons that I keep up with Infowars.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:30 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


In a speech to correctional officers yesterday, Rod Rosenstein waded into the discussion of why the crime rate has risen over the past several years in Baltimore with an incredibly brazen lie:
In Baltimore, where I worked for over a decade, local, state and federal authorities joined together to dismantle violent gangs and send armed criminals to prison for lengthy terms. As a result, the murder rate dropped to a record low in 2011, and stayed relatively low until 2014. But in 2015, local authorities decided to try a new strategy. They decided to cut back on policing and prosecution.
What actually happened was that the police force conducted a work slowdown during the six weeks after charges against the officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest. The arrest rate in the city's most violent neighborhoods dropped by about 90%. During those six weeks, sixty people were murdered because it was clear that laws were barely being enforced. To portray an unofficial work slowdown by the cops as a decision by city leaders is to completely rewrite history. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that our city leaders are black Democrats.
posted by vathek at 9:30 AM on January 9 [108 favorites]


Roseanne set her Twitter followers on me and then blocked me, way back in 2016. Honestly, one of the high points of the year for me.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:45 AM on January 9 [37 favorites]




Dianne Feinstein unilaterally releases Fusion GPS co-founder's full testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

More of this, please.

The Republicans aren't likely to cease their shenanigans unless said shenanigans comprise a real risk of political harm. Make it obvious that Congressional Republicans are helping to cover up Trump's treason, and it'll be harder for them to do it. (They still will, of course, but they'll rightly fear exposure when they do.)
posted by Gelatin at 10:21 AM on January 9 [26 favorites]




Im only 17 pages into the testimony transcript but WHO THE FUCK OWNS LLC's BUT ISNT SURE WHAT THEIR NAMES ARE???
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:27 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


WHO THE FUCK OWNS LLC's BUT ISNT SURE WHAT THEIR NAMES ARE???

The President, for one.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:35 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


Somebody's gonna say Feinstein did this for her own political advancement, to ward off a primary challenge, blah blah blah... and that may be legit. God knows I've been frustrated with her (to put it mildly).

It's also the right thing to do. And honestly, the best way to ward off challenges is to be brave and do the right thing more often, so if it compels her to do the right thing I'm fine with that. This is how it's supposed to work. I hope to see more.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:43 AM on January 9 [48 favorites]




DiFi deserves props for doing this, regardless of her motivation. This is what should be expected from, and is needed from, senior senators from deep blue states.

It makes it extra sweet that she did it at the very moment she was sitting across from the president and got him into this exchange just now at the immigration meeting with legislators:

Feinstein: "what about a lean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?"

Trump: "I would like it . . . I think a lot of people would like to see that."

[he was walked back seconds later by the republicans around the table and there was some more word salad - its obvious he lacks the capacity for detail required to make any actual sense of any of his comments in these types of scenarios, but still.]
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:48 AM on January 9 [28 favorites]


Steven Pinker: Alt-right ideologues are highly literate & intelligent people who join the movement because alt-right offers "true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, NY Times or respectable media."

Yeah, like "actually, it's about ethics in game journalism."
posted by Gelatin at 10:49 AM on January 9 [33 favorites]


BREAKING: 200,000 Salvadorans will be forced to leave the U.S. or face deportation as Trump administration ends immigration protection (WaPo)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:54 AM on January 8


I'm frustrated there isn't more about this in the news, although I know well enough the news is a grind on the best of days. This, along with the end of TPS for refugees from Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. Because the timeline is so long I'm sure it doesn't feel "real" yet (and maybe that's calculated") but I'm frustrated and angry that we're not seeing more headlines about this.

This is a big deal.
posted by anastasiav at 10:54 AM on January 9 [46 favorites]


Steven fucking Pinker thinks the alt-right are just reacting to hearing the truth, or something. Steve, what the fuck?

@S_Saeen: Steven Pinker: Alt-right ideologues are highly literate & intelligent people who join the movement because alt-right offers "true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, NY Times or respectable media."


Well, you know, when it's the most peaceful time in history, and all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds, you have to hear everyone out. Not Black Lives Matter or whoever, of course, but Resurgent_Saxon_88's ideas need a full and fair evaluation.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:54 AM on January 9 [19 favorites]


@ryanstruyk: TRUMP, word for word: "I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill, but we take care of the 800,000 people ... but I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA, we take care of them, and we also take care of security."

What the what now?
posted by zachlipton at 10:55 AM on January 9 [65 favorites]


Steven Pinker: Alt-right ideologues are highly literate & intelligent people who join the movement because alt-right offers "true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, NY Times or respectable media."

Those statements only feel true if you are a Nazi, however.
posted by lydhre at 10:55 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


What the what now?

He's decided that Building The Wall is an indelible part of DACA, so he can say a demand for DACA+Wall is actually "clean DACA."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:04 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


Here's the meat from the Fusion GPS transcript, Fusion GPS founder told Senate investigators the FBI had a whistleblower in Trump’s network
Steele first reached out to the FBI with his concerns in early July, according to people familiar with the matter. When they re-interviewed him in early October, agents made it clear, according to Simpson’s testimony released Tuesday, that they believed some of what Steele had told them.

“My understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization,” Simpson said. Using the parlance of spies and law enforcement officials, Simpson said the FBI had a “walk-in’’ whistleblower from someone in Trump’s organization.
Simpson and Fritsch's op-ed hinted at this, but Natasha Bertrand reported it was a reference to Papadopoulos. However, the transcript indicates this was "a human source from inside the Trump organization," not one of Steele's sources, who was a "a voluntary source, someone who was concerned about the same concerns we had," "someone like us who decided to pick up the phone and report something."

This would undercut pretty much all of the GOP's screaming about the FBI's investigation.
posted by zachlipton at 11:04 AM on January 9 [67 favorites]


What the what now?

Trump doesn't know what a 'clean bill' is; that's the only reading of that which makes any (and I use the word here very loosely) sense. I think his weird definition is him trying to hide that lack of knowledge by blundering straight ahead, rather than by changing the topic.
posted by cjelli at 11:06 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


Throwing cold water on all of that though. @KenDilanianNBC: A source close to Fusion GPS tells me there was no walk-in source -- that was a mischaracterization by Simpson of the Australian diplomat tip about Papadopoulis.
posted by zachlipton at 11:06 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


Trump doesn't know what a 'clean bill' is

It's sort of like clean coal, and email bleaching. Just give it a good scrub.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:08 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


VA gov elect Northam had a press conference this morning, announcing administration priorities, which sound pretty good:
Democratic Gov.-elect Ralph Northam said Tuesday that expanding Medicaid in Virginia and implementing universal background checks for gun buyers will be two of his top legislative priorities after he takes office this weekend.
Also mentioned: extended in-person absentee voting; carbon cap and trade expansion, ethics reforms, raising the minimum dollar amount that makes a crime a felony, abortion protection.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:08 AM on January 9 [40 favorites]


@Tom Rogan cites Simpson testimony transcript (emphasis mine):

Mr. Levy: It's a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:08 AM on January 9 [27 favorites]


Kansas Rep. Steve Alford says blacks abuse drugs because of "character makeup"

Awkward facts from 2015

Opioids are killing ten times as many whites as blacks.

In Kansas 134 out of 150 opioid deaths were whites.
posted by srboisvert at 11:10 AM on January 9 [35 favorites]


dhartung: "And if there's any truism I know as a Democrat it's that we don't show up like we need to in midterms. So there's that caution."

Interestingly, article in 538 today about that. Most - though not all - of the GOP advantage in midterms looks to be from being the out party, not from just being the GOP in the midterms.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:11 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


The government is now targeting naturalized citizens.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims to have identified nearly 150,000 older fingerprint records “of aliens with final deportation orders or who are criminals or fugitives” that have not been digitized. The FBI repository is missing records because “not all records taken during immigration encounters were forwarded to the FBI,” DHS reported. The DOJ is investigating 315,000 cases in which people were granted citizenship without the proper fingerprint data available, and USCIS intends “to refer approximately an additional 1,600 for prosecution,” the DOJ reported.

The DOJ is asserting, according to its Tuesday statement, that cases in which proper fingerprint data is missing may suggest that those affected by USCIS’ oversight “sought to circumvent criminal record and other background checks in the naturalization process.
posted by orangutan at 11:13 AM on January 9 [17 favorites]


Before we move on from the Arpaio running for Senate thing, I really feel the need to share this link again. I won't pull quote it since the worst quotes from this are vomit inducing and since it was shared here last August already, when Arpaio was pardoned. But if you didn't read this then, you definitely should read it now.

Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs: Wait, Do People Know How Evil this Man Is?
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:17 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]


Steven Pinker: Alt-right ideologues are highly literate & intelligent people who join the movement because alt-right offers "true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, NY Times or respectable media."

Anybody have the full source for this? This feels like it might have been edited for outrage inducing purposes. I'd like to be sure before I develop an opinion on this.
posted by srboisvert at 11:17 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


For Trump, a clean DACA bill also includes funding for the wall ('security'). That's not what 'clean' means to anyone else, of course, but Trump doesn't understand the legislative process and is also an idiot.

This is undoubtedly true. But I also read his interactions with Feinstein and others as a business person in a negotiation where their strategy includes sounding agreeable in verbal negotiations to move the negotiations forward, but with no intention of making good on what's verbally agreed to and hoping to hammer the true details out in the written instrument, where the parties have a harder time walking away. In business and legal negotiations, for example, you see this a lot where parties will agree on the big number and then discover in drafting the related written instrument that they have widely divergent expectations for the key terms to which the number is tied.

"Clean bill" is legislative jargon that, in my experience, is over-used by the members to the chagrin of their staffs who have to work out the actual details. Feinstein knows she's using the term to move Trump toward an agreement and not because she'll get a clean bill. Trump probably doesn't know why she's using the term, but he knows he's trying to move her toward an agreement, too, so he's trying to sound agreeable.
posted by The World Famous at 11:19 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]


BREAKING: 200,000 Salvadorans will be forced to leave the U.S. or face deportation as Trump administration ends immigration protection (WaPo)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:54 AM on January 8

I'm frustrated there isn't more about this in the news,...I'm frustrated and angry that we're not seeing more headlines about this.

This is a big deal.
posted by anastasiav at 10:54 AM on January 9 [18 favorites +] [!]


Headline on the top of the front page of today's Star Tribune. I agree this is a big deal, and the serious news media are treating it as such. Unfortunately, the GOP and its merry band of haters don't give a rip.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:23 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


It's worth watching this clip of Trump "negotiating" on immigration with Sen. Feinstein (she's having quite the day!). Trump agrees with Feinstein on a clean DACA bill now, then has to be told by Kevin McCarthy that's not what the Republicans believe in. Trump tries to retcon his position, then says they should also have a merit-based immigration system and end the visa lottery too, if they can.

The existence of this clip, that the pool was given this access, is a bit weird to me, almost as if someone at the White House was trying to demonstrate he's capable of doing the job by participating in this meeting.
posted by zachlipton at 11:26 AM on January 9 [36 favorites]


The thing about Arpaio is that he's not particularly popular at this point - he did 16 points worse than Trump. So you had a lot of voters who were willing to vote for *Trump* but not Arpaio. And Arpaio's home county of Maricopa is over 60% of the population of the state.

The other issue is that you already have a wingnut running for the nomination in Kelli Ward. To me, the most likely scenario is that Ward and Arpaio neutralize each other, and Martha McSally wins with a plurality.

The scenario I see Arpaio winning the GOP nomination in is if the McCain seat becomes available, and McSally is appointed to it. I don't see Arpaio winning the general under any circumstances, especially in the current environment.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:29 AM on January 9 [11 favorites]


Daily Beast: Secret Pro-Life Meeting With Mike Pence Killed Obamacare Fix—For Now -- Pro-life groups held a behind-closed-doors meeting with VP Mike Pence shortly before the bipartisan compromise deal to patch up Obamacare went down in flames.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:30 AM on January 9 [12 favorites]


On Pinker: I think this is the full video the excerpt is from (beginning around the 37:30 minute mark).
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:32 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


The existence of this clip, that the pool was given this access, is a bit weird to me, almost as if someone at the White House was trying to demonstrate he's capable of doing the job by participating in this meeting.

Exactly like that. Per Jake Tapper's twitter, the RNC is already sending "look at what a strong leader Trump is, obviously Wolff's book is bullshit" emails.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:34 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


Podcast Review:

If you haven't been listening to Slate's Slow Burn you are really missing some amazing podcasting. The topic is Watergate but not the stories you are familiar with but the lesser-known side stories. Last week's episode (True Believers) was about the people--both politicians and general population-- who clung to their faith in Nixon long after it was clear that he had done something illegal. This week (Rabbit Holes) is about how fringe conspiracy beliefs went mainstream once the American public woke up to fact that their government had been in a real conspiracy to hide the truth from them.

Choice/Less
is about the slow erosion of women's reproductive choices in America. The double episode (Marching Toward Gilead: The Rise of the American Theocracy) that aired in December is both outstanding and especially chilling. It's about the origins and the growing strength of Operation Save America, a group that began as an anti-choice group and which has added anti-homosexual and anti-Islam stances into their agenda. Their legislation has been adopted both at the state and federal level. Roy Moore was their candidate.

If you are a little shaky on all the details of the Russian Investigation (or even --if like me-- you thought you knew it all but it turns out you didn't) then today's episode of the Ezra Klein Show (The most clarifying conversation I’ve had on Trump and Russia) is a great listen. He interviews Susan Hennessey about details, ramifications, best & worst scenarios.

Finally, about those Salvadorans. Today's episode of The Daily goes into details about how the Salvadorans ended up here and why El Salvador is such a dangerous place. Hint: it has a LOT to to do with US policy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:35 AM on January 9 [72 favorites]


Headline on the top of the front page of today's Star Tribune. I agree this is a big deal, and the serious news media are treating it as such. Unfortunately, the GOP and its merry band of haters don't give a rip.

Maybe its just what is locally available to me. Here is my local paper today (whales!) and yesterday.

Boston Globe today and yesterday.
posted by anastasiav at 11:36 AM on January 9


Here's the meat from the Fusion GPS transcript, Fusion GPS founder told Senate investigators the FBI had a whistleblower in Trump’s network

Bertrand's finding even more shocking revelations in the full transcript:
Simpson, re: that NYT article published on Oct 31 that said the FBI had found no clear Trump-Russia links: "it was a real Halloween special."

Steele severed his ties to the FBI at that point.
"There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated...by the Trump people."
Here's the full exchange:
Q. [Heather Sawyer, Chief Oversight Counsel, Senator Feinstein] Now, with regard to -- just to finish up on the interactions with FBI, do you know were there any additional interactions between Mr. Steele and the FBI?

A. [Simpson] There was some sort of interaction, I think it was probably telephonic that occurred after Director Comey sent his letter to Congress reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. That episode, you know, obviously created some concern that the FBI was intervening in a political campaign in contravention of long-standing Justice Department regulation.

So it made a lot of people, including us, concerned about what the heck was going on at the FBI. So, you know, we began getting questions from the press about, you know, whether they were also investigating Trump and, you know, we encouraged them to ask the FBI that question. You know, I think -- I'm not sure we've covered this fully, but, you know, we just encouraged them to ask the FBI that question.

On October 31st the New York Times posed a story saying that the FBI is investigating Trump and found no connections to Russia and, you know, it was a real Halloween special.

Sometime thereafter the FBI -- I understand Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he didn't know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn't really understand what was going on. So he stopped dealing with them.
Here's another bombshell:
MR. FOSTER [Jason Foster, Chief Investigative Counsel]: So without getting into naming the sources or anything like that, what steps did you take to try to verify their credibility?
MR. SIMPSON: I'm going to decline to answer that.
MR. FOSTER: Why?
MR. LEVY [Joshua Levy, Simpson's counsel]: It's a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.
Emphasis added because despite Steele's denails, my money's on Oleg Erovinkin, former KGB and FSB general and chief of staff at Rosneft, who was discovered dead in the back of his car in Moscow in December 2016 and whose cause of death was never officially confirmed.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:40 AM on January 9 [72 favorites]


The headlines on the DACA thing are pretty misleading, they basically all frame it as "Trump wants wall for DACA" but he _also_ wants to end the Diversity Visa and to limit family-based immigration, which are much bigger changes than the wall, really (which is a huge symbol, but other than wasting some money wont accomplish much either way).

All to fix a "problem" he created himself by ending DACA. So, not a serious proposal (at least I hope Dems dont take it seriously).
posted by thefoxgod at 11:54 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]


If you haven't been listening to Slate's Slow Burn you are really missing some amazing podcasting.

Just adding a plug to this. I've been listening as well and thought about suggesting it here. It's a whole side of Watergate I hadn't heard or thought much about. The relevance of it all to today is quite striking.
posted by dnash at 12:00 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


On Pinker: I think this is the full video the excerpt is from (beginning around the 37:30 minute mark).

I disagree with a lot of what he says, but he was badly misrepresented by that short clip.
posted by Coventry at 12:22 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


and to limit family-based immigration

Ending "chain migration" isn't good faith negotiating, it's a complete white supremacist remake of the immigration system existing since 1965. This is the Sessions/Bannon/Steven Miller end game plan, and Democrats cannot agree to a word of it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:25 PM on January 9 [78 favorites]


On Pinker: I think this is the full video yt the excerpt is from (beginning around the 37:30 minute mark).

Thanks. And yes it appears to be selective quoting for maximum outrage. He is sort of explaining how alt-right people think and are created from their own perspectives while awkwardly doing a kind of equivalence argument for alt-right behaviour and lefty campus politics things - both sides are loony sort of thing.

It's isn't woke but he isn't sieg heiling like it appears.
posted by srboisvert at 12:32 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


I love dunking on Stephen Pinker as much as anyone but could we move it to another thread (if it even deserves its own thread)?
posted by Tevin at 12:35 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Bangor Daily News, Susan Collins, Angus King back bill to reverse FCC vote against net neutrality
Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins said Tuesday they’ll support new legislation to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s vote last month to scuttle Obama-era net neutrality standards.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, announced this week that he has enough support to force a Senate vote to invalidate the FCC’s controversial Dec. 14 decision to deregulate internet service providers. King and Collins, who opposed abolishing net neutrality, both said Tuesday that they support it.
Wow. This could actually, maybe, happen, and right now is a great time to call your Senators and ask them to support the resolution.
posted by zachlipton at 12:37 PM on January 9 [87 favorites]


Ending "chain migration" isn't good faith negotiating, it's a complete white supremacist remake of the immigration system existing since 1965. This is the Sessions/Bannon/Steven Miller end game plan, and Democrats cannot agree to a word of it.

It's also actual Nazi propaganda.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:40 PM on January 9 [65 favorites]


I really don't understand how ending "chain migration" fits in with the stated goal of preventing terrorism anyway. Shouldn't we prefer immigrants with families over those who are isolated from their support networks and thus more easily radicalized? Why is there never any push-back on this?
posted by SpaceBass at 12:46 PM on January 9 [68 favorites]


This week (Rabbit Holes) is about how fringe conspiracy beliefs went mainstream once the American public woke up to fact that their government had been in a real conspiracy to hide the truth from them.

Which is where I think a lot of Trumps alt-right media preferences come from. The reason they have a "fake news" is because corporate news, as we've seen this week from titans such as Chuck Fucking Todd, don't have much interest in exploring how messed up something is (or, the "real story"). For example, what's the black budget for this year in terms of dollars? What about the $43 Billion for Lockheed this year? That's a lot of billions-with-a-B.

How much is CHIP again?
posted by petebest at 12:47 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]




@jwpetersNYT: BREAKING: BANNON STEPPING DOWN FROM BREITBART NEWS. Story to follow.
posted by zachlipton at 1:03 PM on January 9 [28 favorites]


I guess when you're being shoved out the door you take a step or you tip over.
posted by phearlez at 1:05 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


NYT: Steve Bannon to Step Down From Breitbart Post
Mr. Bannon’s departure, which was forced by a onetime financial patron, Rebekah Mercer, comes as Mr. Bannon remained unable to quell the furor over remarks attributed to him in a new book in which he questions President Trump’s mental fitness and disparages his elder son, Donald Trump Jr.
(Emphasis mine.)
posted by cjelli at 1:12 PM on January 9 [23 favorites]


What, Bannon gone from Breitbart? How can this be? Wasn't he supposed to be the great manipulator?
posted by Omon Ra at 1:25 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Important point: Everything from Fusion GPS (good summary of big points on Reddit here) that Feinstein released the Republicans (including Chuck Grassley) have known about this whole time, and still they tried to undermine and undercut the investigation. The whole hoopla over referring Steele to DoJ by Grassley and Graham was likely a dodge to avoid releasing these transcripts (Grassley wouldn't release because they were "under investigation" that he himself created).

Treasonous scum, the lot of them.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:28 PM on January 9 [88 favorites]


Court Ends Consent Decree Against RNC “Ballot Security” Activities, Raising New Risks of Voter Suppression

JFC I can see the CNN interview now. “Jake it’s not an act of voter caging, we’re bringing economic stimulus to the area through the United States Postal Service”

I can’t wait for the white polo shirts showing up in inner city districts challenging everyone that shows up in a claim of ballot integrity while the cops are busy parading about out of uniform with service weapons and armbands scaring everyone with claims that falsifying a ballot is a SERIOUS FEDERAL CRIME.
posted by Talez at 1:28 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


Matthew Yglesias, Vox: Donald Trump’s phony war with the press, explained
A genuine — but mutually beneficial — antagonism.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:28 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


. for Breitbart.
posted by Dashy at 1:28 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


What, Bannon gone from Breitbart? How can this be? Wasn't he the great manipulator?

Turns out greedy billionaires don’t like it when you lose slam dunk Senate seats by going all-in on a “but god is ok with it” pedophile. Even they seem to have limits.
posted by Talez at 1:30 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


then has to be told by Kevin McCarthy that's not what the Republicans believe in

McCarthy also takes a shot at "Senator Clinton." Hillary Clinton left the Senate in 2009.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:31 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


* for Breitbart
in the Vonnegut sense
posted by pxe2000 at 1:32 PM on January 9 [29 favorites]


Even they seem to have limits.

Seems like their limits were "don't insult a Republican president", they were fine with Moore.

Bold prediction, he's going to join Canada's The Rebel, the've already started a racist UK division, why not a US one?
posted by papercrane at 1:34 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Does this mean Bannon has to stop living in the Breitbart office now?
posted by zachlipton at 1:35 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


Turns out greedy billionaires don’t like it when you lose slam dunk Senate seats by going all-in on a “but god is ok with it” pedophile. Even they seem to have limits.

Pretty sure the Mercers et al. were fine with that, comparatively. It was dissing The Great Trump to Wolff that was the last straw.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:35 PM on January 9 [11 favorites]


then has to be told by Kevin McCarthy that's not what the Republicans believe in.

Feinstein: "Duck Season!"
Trump: "Rabbit Season!"
Feinstein: "Rabbit Season!"
Trump: "Duck Season!"
posted by leotrotsky at 1:36 PM on January 9 [70 favorites]


Bannon is doing a great parting service by being the whipping boy for every news channel today. Trumpers must be glad to see the fake news networks ripping Steve a new one every segment instead of just him.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:36 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]



McCarthy also takes a shot at "Senator Clinton." Hillary Clinton left the Senate in 2009.


I believe thats actually correct protocol.
posted by thefoxgod at 1:37 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


I swear to god if there’s any hint of the white polo shirt brigade stirring shit in the mid terms I’m going to take my wife and some friends and head to Mesa in 2020. I’m going to have us pick the reddest precincts and we’ll each take one and stand at the desk with a rainbow wig challenging every white person that walks through the door. We will flip Arizona single handedly.
posted by Talez at 1:39 PM on January 9 [35 favorites]


Mr. Bannon’s departure, which was forced by a onetime financial patron, Rebekah Mercer, comes as Mr. Bannon remained unable to quell the furor over remarks attributed to him in a new book in which he questions President Trump’s mental fitness and disparages his elder son, Donald Trump Jr.

The best and most loyal people!

If it weren't for the fact that the overgrown toddler in the White House has access to nuclear weapons, Rebekah Mercer would scare me even more than him, TBH. She, and her father Robert, are these wanna-be Richelieus, who haven't succeded to their ideal of power behind the fascist throne because their picks have been duds. If Rebekah can choose and fund a more smooth, smiling, covert fascist type, she might be more successful, and that is frightening.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:41 PM on January 9 [14 favorites]


Because he's a Republican. That's what elected Republicans do in the Trump era.

Regular old conservatives like Egg and Jennifer Rubin Are now the "moderate" voices in our political discourse. After Trump is gone, we'll have to drag the Overton window waaaaay back.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:50 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]




I really hope Bannon joins The Rebel, it would be delicious to see the Conservatives limp away with two ridings again.
posted by Yowser at 2:03 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


[Folks, things have been pretty chatty in here today, gonna ask that we recalibrate back toward a less-chatty standard; if you mainly want to say "ugh these fuckers", consider that sentiment already stated; and if things are quiet in here for a while, that's ok.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:11 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


There's no such thing as a "usable" nuclear weapon. Imagine how the US would react if Russia or China fired a "low yield" nuclear weapon at US forces in Afghanistan or the South China Sea. Now why would Russia or China react any differently if we fired first? That's fucking absurd, the entire reason that tactical nukes have never been used is the overwhelming risk of runaway escalating response.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:14 PM on January 9 [26 favorites]


Wolfsthal said that earlier drafts of the NPR was even more hawkish. The final draft drops proposals to develop a nuclear hyper-glide weapon, and to remove assurances to non nuclear weapons states that the US will not use its nuclear arsenal against them.

Holy shit. That this was even considered should fucking terrify any not-white country.
posted by Talez at 2:18 PM on January 9 [17 favorites]


From The Atlantic's coverage of the DACA meeting:
Yet over nearly an hour, and with television cameras running, Trump took nearly every conceivable position in the debate: He backed a “clean” bill to extend DACA, protect the so-called “Dreamers,” and bolster border security, absent the more controversial immigration measures conservatives want; then, he said he’d “take the heat” for a more comprehensive immigration overhaul along the lines of what Trump had denounced as a candidate in 2016; later, he demanded that Congress fund the southern border wall as part of the initial DACA deal, reinserting the wrench that has held up the immigration talks for weeks.

Finally, Trump said he’d sign whatever immigration bill Congress could send him. “I’m not saying I want this or I want that. I will sign it,” he told the group.
I don't see how we're back into "Presidential!" territory. He had no idea of the policy landscape and bumbled through the meeting by agreeing and disagreeing with everybody, himself included, and resigned himself to support any bill congress could give to him. That is not negotiation or leadership.

But I guess he did get himself on tv, and the democrats in attendance were ambushed by the media remaining in attendance for the duration of the meeting while the republicans had their talking points ready to score for the cameras. Both sides left just as far apart as they entered with no greater clarity of a path forward, meanwhile the clock is still ticking on DACA protections deadline.
posted by peeedro at 2:22 PM on January 9 [49 favorites]


A federal court struck down North Carolina's districting plan, again, as a partisan gerrymander (200 page PDF ruling), giving the legislature 20 days to come up with a new map or the court will appoint a special master to do it for them.
posted by zachlipton at 2:59 PM on January 9 [55 favorites]


Somebody's gonna say Feinstein did this for her own political advancement, to ward off a primary challenge, blah blah blah... and that may be legit.

When a politician's goals align with the voters best interests, we call that politics working the way it should. It is the ideal outcome, not a negative one.
posted by Bovine Love at 3:03 PM on January 9 [41 favorites]


The "president" of the US learned a new word today: earmarks. Watch him speak to lawmakers about reintroducing earmarks here, and it's like you can almost can see the strings being pulled by the puppeteer in the background who put this particular flea in his ear.

The lawmakers think he's joking, but he's not.

Not particularly surprising, but still disgusting: The lamentations about how Republicans and Democrats cannot get along, and why can't we all be friends like we used to?
posted by sour cream at 3:10 PM on January 9 [15 favorites]


The "president" of the US learned a new word today: earmarks. Watch him speak to lawmakers about reintroducing earmarks here , and it's like you can almost can see the strings being pulled by the puppeteer in the background who put this particular flea in his ear.

I interpret that little episode as Trump having had a meeting where he told his people to just offer to pay off Congress members in exchange for their votes, and that's when they told him that such arrangements are called "earmarks" and are not allowed anymore.
posted by The World Famous at 3:16 PM on January 9 [21 favorites]


(Probably not "a meeting," but lots of meetings where he kept having to be told that no, you can't do that, those are earmarks and they're not allowed anymore.)
posted by The World Famous at 3:26 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Also, maybe someone can correct me if I'm mistaken, but my understanding is that earmarks are still allowed, but the rule changes a few years ago make it so that they must be disclosed - not that they are prohibited. Trump can use earmarks all he wants, but just can't hide them from the public.
posted by The World Famous at 3:35 PM on January 9


Re earmarks, from the Conference Rules of the 115th Congress: "It is the policy of the House Republican Conference that no Member shall request a congressional earmark, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit, as such terms have been described in the Rules of the House."

But also, there are also earmark disclosure rules described in this pdf.
posted by peeedro at 3:57 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Bold prediction, he's going to join Canada's The Rebel, the've already started a racist UK division, why not a US one?

The Rebel imploded almost completely last year. If there’s anyone who can fuck up big enough to finish the job, it’s Bannon.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:03 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Daily Beast, Spencer Ackerman, White House Official Floated Withdrawing U.S. Forces to Please Putin
A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump administration, according to a former administration official in the room with him.

While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin—something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment in President Trump. The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment.

The official who offered the proposal, a deputy assistant to Trump for strategic planning, mused in February 2017 about withdrawing U.S. troops close to Russian borders as part of a strategy proposal to “refram[e] our interests within the context of a new relationship with Russia,” the former official told The Daily Beast, who heard this directly from the official, Kevin Harrington.

Harrington is the NSC’s senior official for strategic planning. He had neither military experience nor significant government experience before joining the White House. But he had an influential credential: as a managing director for the Thiel Macro hedge fund, he was close to Trump patron and ally Peter Thiel. Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, announced Harrington’s arrival in early February as part of a “talented group” ready to bring “fresh ideas to the table.”
posted by zachlipton at 4:05 PM on January 9 [54 favorites]




Of course Florida is unique. It's the only state where Rick Scott is set to run for Senate. Oh, you wanted a reason that has to do with environmental or energy policy?
posted by zachlipton at 4:16 PM on January 9 [31 favorites]


Of course Florida is unique. It's the only state where Rick Scott is set to run for Senate. Oh, you wanted a reason that has to do with environmental or energy policy?

And against milquetoast Bill Nelson who has always been against drilling but in typical Democrat fashion no one knows about it unless you read his press releases. Scott is going spend his entire fortune (made due to massive medicare fraud) to get elected and Bill will continue being the most boring man in the senate and likely get beat in a squeaker. If the Dems would only learn they have to fight with the same tactics the republicans weaponized over the last 9 years they might have a fighting chance of really sweeping these garbage humans out.
posted by photoslob at 4:24 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Some interesting highlights from a comment full of highlights in a reddit thread:
  • on page 154, on Trump "However, he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin"
[...]
  • on page 296, "We learned that Felix Sater had some connections with these people, and it's been more recently in the media that he's helping the government of Kazakhstan to recover this money. There's been media reports that the money went into the Trump Soho or it went into the company that built the Trump Soho. I can't remember the name"
And in another comment below that:
Q. You had also mentioned earlier in the day work -- that there was an investigation about money from Kazakhstan?

A. Yes.

Q. And could you tell me about that and what you investigated and what you learned.

A. There was some parallel litigation in New York involving attempts by the government of Kazakhstan to recover money that had been allegedly stolen from Kazakhstan, billions of dollars in a colossal bank failure. The name of the bank was BTA Bank. It's been well established in various courts that the government's allegations are basically true, which is that large amounts of money were illicitly removed from this bank, laundered across Europe and into the United States apparently. Allegedly. So there was a civil case, at least one civil case in New York involving -- filed by the city of Almaty, A-L-M-A-T-Y, against some alleged Kazakh money launderers. I don't remember exactly how, but we learned that -- it wasn't from Chris. We learned that Felix Sater had some connections with these people, and it's been more recently in the media that he's helping the government of Kazakhstan to recover this money. There's been media reports that the money went into the Trump Soho or it went into the company that built the Trump Soho. I can't remember the name.

Q. So the connection in that instance was to Felix Sater and through Felix Sater to potentially to Donald Trump?

A. Yes. It was a company that Felix Sater and Donald Trump were involved in together.
And another user adds:
That company would be Bayrock Group, headquartered in Trump Tower.
posted by smcameron at 4:30 PM on January 9 [42 favorites]


A federal court struck down North Carolina's districting plan, again, as a partisan gerrymander (200 page PDF ruling), giving the legislature 20 days to come up with a new map or the court will appoint a special master to do it for them.

How many chances do these sleazy fuckers get? Hand it over NOW.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:31 PM on January 9 [21 favorites]


I believe thats actually correct protocol.

Protocol is less the point than that she left Congress nine years ago and he was commenting on how then-Senator Clinton voted on legislation that has little to no resemblance to current proposed legislation. Also, Ms. Clinton is currently a private citizen who doesn't hold any formal position so why bring her up?

Well, I know, probably to trigger Dolt 45's "Clinton Bad" programming. But no reason relevant to the conversation.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:31 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


The lawmakers think he's joking, but he's not.

The lawmakers aren't joking about earmarks either. House Rules scheduled a two day hearing to talk about bringing them back, as the head of Club for Growth said restoring earmarks "virtually guarantees that they will lose the House."

Anyhoo, as they argue about immigration, To Pay for Wall, Trump Would Cut Proven Border Security Measures, in which DHS wants to delay and cut spending on things like drug dogs, surveillance cameras, and CBP officers in favor of the wall.
posted by zachlipton at 4:38 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


House Rules scheduled a two day hearing to talk about bringing them back, as the head of Club for Growth said restoring earmarks "virtually guarantees that they will lose the House."

Groups like the Club for Growth don't like earmarks because they lose power with them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:39 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Well, here we go: Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney files lawsuits against Buzzfeed and Fusion GPS over the Steele dossier.

Buzzfeed response: “The dossier is, and continues to be, the subject of active investigations by Congress and intelligence agencies. It was presented to two successive presidents, and has been described in detail by news outlets around the world. Its interest to the public is obvious. This is not the first time Trump's personal lawyer has attacked the free press, and we look forward to defending our First Amendment rights in court."
posted by nubs at 5:50 PM on January 9 [65 favorites]


Buzzfeed, you are no Elizabeth McNamara.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:54 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Just to complete the anonymous attribution trifecta, Team Trump leaked yesterday to the NYT that Mueller Interview With Trump Is Said to Be Likely
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, told President Trump’s lawyers last month that he will probably seek to interview the president, setting off discussions among Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the perils of such a move, two people familiar with the discussion said on Monday.[...]

One person familiar with the discussions said Mr. Mueller appeared most interested in asking questions about the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, and the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey — not the broader question of possible collusion with Russia. Those topics signal an interest in whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice. The person was not authorized to talk about internal discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Once again, we're seeing anonymous leakers float an interpretation of upcoming events to the mainstream media that's as favorable to Trump as can be under the circumstances - that the investigation's winding up soon, that it's looking at only obstruction of justice and not collusion - even as partisans try to attack Mueller's investigation, directly and obliquely, and to dismiss the Russia scandal.

Incidentally, Benjamin Wittes succinctly breaks down the other possible reasons Mueller's preparing to interview Trump besides Team Trump's:
Here are three: (1) They are getting close to closing out a significant piece of the investigation and the interview will be about that subject;

(2) the investigation is preparing indictments against figures who can reasonably be expected to call POTUS as defense witness and they need to know what he will say.

(3) the investigation is sprawling enough that they cannot save everything for one interview at the end, so this is the first of several.
#2 would be nice since there's at least one more step between Mueller's current indictments and charging Trump, not to mention that Manafort's money-laundering trial is set for May 7th.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:10 PM on January 9 [26 favorites]


I actually want earmarks to come back. Once we stopped forcing politicians to negotiate for their pork, shit got super partisan.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:36 PM on January 9 [56 favorites]


that's as favorable to Trump as can be under the circumstances - that the investigation's winding up soon, that it's looking at only obstruction of justice and not collusion - even as partisans try to attack Mueller's investigation, directly and obliquely, and to dismiss the Russia scandal.

Um. It's "obstruction of justice" that's the actual crime, "collusion" is just a description of things Trump may have done. In the process of colluding with Russia Trump or his staffers likely committed other crimes, but "collusion" is not an actual prosecutable offense. Obstruction of justice is. It's not an "only", it's the thing that could take Trump down even if he had no personal knowledge of or involvement with Russia fucking with our elections. If he dumped Comey for the specific purpose of stopping any further investigation into Russia, that's obstructing justice and a criminal offence even if he just did it because he thinks Flynn is a swell guy.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:56 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


If you're waiting for someone to digest the Simpson testimony, wait no longer: Elizabeth McLaughlin has a great thread. Go read. So, so many things.

Mega props to DiFi for this one.
posted by Dashy at 7:57 PM on January 9 [45 favorites]


Um. It's "obstruction of justice" that's the actual crime,

Summary:

The Russians violated 52 USC 30121 by asking the Trump Campaign for a meeting with the indirect promise of opposition research on their opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The Trump Campaign became chargeable in the Russians' criminal act ( 18 USC 2) when by aiding the Criminal Russians by meeting with them expecting the opposition research on their opponent.

Then they lied about it. ( 18 USC 1001 ) and so many of them coordinated their lies, might as well toss in Conspiracy against the US ( 18 USC 371 ) .

From my fingers to G-d's ears. #Amen
posted by mikelieman at 8:05 PM on January 9 [50 favorites]


frecklefaerie: "I actually want earmarks to come back. Once we stopped forcing politicians to negotiate for their pork, shit got super partisan."

I'm not sure it's clear which is the cause, and which is the effect. Partisanship has been rising for some time, as has centralization of power in House leadership (and weakening of the committee system). That said, I think restoring earmarks is worth a shot, at least.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:06 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Among other things: the FBI had a voluntary informant. That wasn't Papo, as he was flipped for lying. Also, Simpson had dinner with Velitsnikaya the night before The Meeting. Also, Manafort's notes from The Meeting refer to GOP donors, because of course.

Also, it's brilliantly clear that the FBI knew full well all along, all summer, that Russia was interfering by way of hacking and any which way they could. BUT HER EMAILS. Seriously, burn it all down.
posted by Dashy at 8:07 PM on January 9 [19 favorites]


zachlipton: "A federal court struck down North Carolina's districting plan, again, as a partisan gerrymander (200 page PDF ruling), giving the legislature 20 days to come up with a new map or the court will appoint a special master to do it for them."

This is a very encouraging ruling. That said, it may well be put on hold until SCOTUS rules on the two other gerrymandering cases before it.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:08 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]




One border wall, scratched? One bargaining chip, off the table? One (many) can dream.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:12 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


And basically, Steele informed the FBI as soon as he knew, because when you see a crime in progress, that's what you do. He eventually basically just gave up on the FBI after the (f.ing) NYT published an article saying the FBI saw no link to Russia, nothing to see here, whistle on by, around Haloween. Which, as we all know well, was followed in quick succession by Comey's Letter.

England's expert spy on Russia gave up on the FBI. Let that sink in.
posted by Dashy at 8:12 PM on January 9 [83 favorites]


Tomorrow morning's Trump tweet storm is gonna be a category 5 hurricane.
posted by Glibpaxman at 8:13 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


ELECTION RESULTS

GOP HOLD in Georgia SD-17:
Brian Strickland (R) 5,001 (61.99%)
Phyllis Hatcher (D): 2,772 (34.36%)
Ed Toney (R) 198 (2.45%)
Nelva Lee (R) 96 (1.19%)
GOP HOLD in Georgia HD-111:
Geoffrey Cauble (R) 1,864 (51.04%)
El-Mahdy Holly (D) 1,122 (30.72%)
Tarji Leonard Dunn (D) 451 (12.35%)
Larry Morey (R) 215 (5.89%)
posted by Chrysostom at 8:14 PM on January 9 [17 favorites]


If you're waiting for someone to digest the Simpson testimony, wait no longer: Elizabeth McLaughlin has a great thread

“Active RNC donors”

Yup. The entire party is corrupted.

If the midterms don’t fix this, we are fucked.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:37 PM on January 9 [19 favorites]


When we last had earmarks, campaign finance law was much stricter. I have an uneasy feeling that if we brought them back in the current dark money regime, we would see a lot more abuse--though maybe that could be controlled somewhat if you limited earmarks to < 1% of the federal outlay, enforced stringent disclosure rules, etc.

It's absolutely bizarre that Trump is all in for the restoration, because the executive branch's current monopoly on fine-grained allocation grants considerable leverage. Giving that up would make it even harder for him to corral Congress. The enthusiasm's inexplicable until you remember that he's not bright and hates doing his job. Maybe someone sold this to him as a kind of delegation, like what bosses do.
posted by Iridic at 8:41 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


I assume that he parses earmarks as "legal bribing" so of course it sounds good to him.
posted by Golem XIV at 8:54 PM on January 9 [18 favorites]


I'm still amazed that I wake up every day now, and realize that yes, there really is a vast right-wing conspiracy afoot.

And we're in the middle of it.

"Vast right-wing conspiracy." That totally exists.

AGAIN.
posted by yesster at 9:12 PM on January 9 [46 favorites]


Earmarks are bad, they short-circuit a democratic process that should not be short-circuited.
posted by rhizome at 9:16 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Based on your answers above, do you believe that the Republican Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?

Question 15 on the latest Mainstream Media Accountability Survey, courtesy of the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.
posted by Rykey at 9:29 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


MMMM YOU SEE MY HAND IS HERE

(New Bad Lip Reading of the dickbag stable genius.)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


Speier invites lawmakers to wear black to Trump's State of the Union.

Excellent. Tweak the nose of the man with no self control in front of an audience of millions. I approve.
posted by scalefree at 10:04 PM on January 9 [52 favorites]


Earmarks are bad, they short-circuit a democratic process that should not be short-circuited.

Care to explain how? From what I've seen, the vast, vast majority of earmarks went to expenditures that were well within the scope of the government's purview, and did in fact benefit the public. Hell, even the "poster child" of earmark abuse - the supposed "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska - falls under that, as the bridge connected a remote community to the airport that was its link to the greater world. (The issue was not that there was no rationale for the bridge, but that it was recieving vastly more funding than it needed due to grift.)

Furthermore, earmarks serve as both a form of accountability for representatives to both their leadership and constituency. Representatives who piss off their leadership will find their earmarks cut off, and representatives who fail at bringing home funding for local projects will soon find themselves out of a job. It's not coincidence that you've seen a decoupling of representatives from accountability to both and becoming more reliant on major donors ever since earmarks were phased out.

In short, I'm going to have to call [citation needed] on that bit of "conventional wisdom", because from where I'm sitting, the removal of earmarks has done a lot to foster the negative trends we're seeing, and it's not surprising that the groups that were calling for earmarks to be killed just so happen to be the ones that benefitted from the power vacuum their removal caused.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:37 PM on January 9 [28 favorites]


Care to explain how?

Because they are literally bribery, trading votes for money. Yes, it's money for your district but given how much that helps a re-election campaign, it's not significantly different than trading a vote for a big campaign donation.

The public policy damage can be seen in how military bases and contracts are doled out as a form of patronage and vote-trading, instead of being driven by, you know, the defense needs of the country.
posted by msalt at 11:56 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


I actually want earmarks to come back. Once we stopped forcing politicians to negotiate for their pork, shit got super partisan.

I think that perfectly describes Trump's argument. (I hesitate to call it a "position", because I'm not sure if he is capable of having a position or merely parrots what's been planted by one of his Trumppeteers).

"You guys, Republicans and Democrats, used to go to dinner together to hash out secret deals." That's almost a verbatim quote from the clip.

The reason why the Trumppeteers want earmarks back could be that it is viewed as another way to syphon off public money. The tax cuts are done, earmarks are the next frontier.
posted by sour cream at 1:34 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Given that other countries manage to operate a non-partisan government without their constituents needing to keep score via how much pork they bring to the electorate, I'm calling shenanigans on the idea that institutionalised bribery is necessary. (I mean, in general.) The negative effects you're describing aren't from a lack of earmarking, but from America's weak system of government. If there's no commonly accepted way to judge the performance of a representative outside of earmarks, that's a problem in and of itself. (For more information on America's weak system of government, see MetaFilter's USPolitics tag.)
posted by Merus at 3:54 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


The solution to politicians replacing institutional bribery via earmarks with institutional bribery via billionaires donations is not to bring back earmarks, it's public campaign financing and ending dark money.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:57 AM on January 10 [52 favorites]


Trump vs. Trump, again: Judge cites presidential tweets as he blocks DACA phaseout (WaPo)
It’s not just the “Fake News Media” that parses President Trump’s tweets in microscopic detail and uses them against him. Federal judges do it too.

The White House yet again learned that the hard way when, on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco blocked the administration’s attempt to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Alsup was tasked with, among other things, determining whether it would serve the public interest to leave DACA in place while litigation over the decision to scrap the program proceeds.

On this point, he had an easy answer: Trump himself had expressed support for DACA on Twitter in September, just days after Department of Homeland Security officials rescinded it. ...

Trump’s Twitter habits have dogged the administration in court since his early days in the White House. In litigation over Trump’s executive actions, no ruling seems to be complete without a section explaining how Trump’s tweets and public statements undercut the administration’s legal arguments. ...

The problem has come up in cases challenging Trump’s travel bans, transgender military ban and sanctuary cities ban. Some judges have gone so far as to include screen shots of @realDonaldTrump’s activity, an unusual sight in a federal court ruling. It goes without saying that the president doesn’t seem bothered by any of it.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:04 AM on January 10 [31 favorites]


A new report by congressional Democrats warns of deepening Russian interference throughout Europe and concludes that even as some Western democracies have responded with aggressive countermeasures, President Donald Trump has offered no strategic plan to bolster their efforts or safeguard the U.S. from again falling victim to the Kremlin’s systematic meddling.
No Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signed on to the 200-plus page report released by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat. But even without GOP backing, the report’s recounting of Russian operations in 19 European nations foreshadows the still-unpublished Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan inquiry into Russia’s role during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
posted by adamvasco at 5:08 AM on January 10 [34 favorites]


"You guys, Republicans and Democrats, used to go to dinner together to hash out secret deals." That's almost a verbatim quote from the clip.

And in some ways that would be far preferable to what we have now. Because it implies deals. Progress. Actual negotiation. Compromise. Governance. Not the in-the-light-of-day governance we want and deserve but at least yardage gained.

Naturally, the radio on the way into work was all aflutter with callers bemoaning Trump's betrayal of the base. "We control the House. We control the Senate. We control the White House. Why are we spending one second of time thinking about what the Democrats want?" Well, maybe because, unlike you, many in Congress can count to sixty without taking off their shoes.
posted by delfin at 5:15 AM on January 10 [16 favorites]


Ending earmarks and enacting term-limits are there simply to remove the interest of the people from the lawmakers' agenda, both are long-term goals for the pro-Oligarchic forces trying to end democracy here int he USA. Earmarks require co-operation and coalition building across the aisle, our new current system that replaced it is a "winner takes the spoils" system which is infinitely more corrupt and rewards loyalty to Party (and Party donors) over fidelity to the people and the nation.

Ideally, we wouldn't need them, and maybe one day we won't. But we need them in the here and now, to combat corruption in one of the Universe's crueler ironies.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:27 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]




Wolff was on CBC Radio’s current affairs show “The Current” just now, and the degree to which this man is a fawning admirer of and sycophant for Steve Bannon is astonishing. I mean, I know those of you’ve who’ve read the book have pointed out how pro-Bannon it is...but I didn’t think any person would actually say OUT LOUD, on NATIONAL RADIO, with all sincerity that they really came to like and admire and feel bad for possibly thwarting the ambitions of Steve Fucking Bannon. *shudder* It was an interesting (if somewhat disturbing) interview, and should be posted here in a few hours, if anyone wants to have a listen.
posted by Dorinda at 6:04 AM on January 10 [8 favorites]


My reading of The Book has ground to a sudden halt as I reached the Bannon chapter because I am so, so not in the mood for 30 pages of hot takes about how Steve Bannon is an actualfax genius.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:08 AM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Even without earmarks being officially ok, earmarks find a way - Murkowski getting drilling in ANWR for tax bill support, for instance.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:12 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


I read The Book and thought is was only pro-Bannon to the extent it acknowledged that we was the smarted guy in room full of idiots. I'm surprised that Wolff is saying in interviews that he admires him.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:13 AM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Somebody on twitter said the book claimed that Bannon screamed "I'm going to fuck you!" as Hope Hicks fled in tears. Is that in the book or is it more gorilla channel? Because assuming it's true, I find it astonishing that such a thing would be yelled in any work setting. It's also so evil it's sort of funny, like how SNL portrayed him as the grim reaper.

Anyhow, how can anybody be a fan of Bannon at this point? Seems weird. Does he have this magnetism that's not apparent from photographs of him?
posted by angrycat at 6:17 AM on January 10 [3 favorites]


If you're waiting for someone to digest the Simpson testimony, wait no longer: Elizabeth McLaughlin has a great thread. Go read. So, so many things.

Mega props to DiFi for this one.
posted by dashy

This is really incredible in a terrifying way (for those who like me will neither read the whole report or anything on reddit). As McLaughlin writes: Jesus
posted by mumimor at 6:19 AM on January 10 [13 favorites]


I just answered a survey for democrats.org. In the optional additional comments section I put this:
Get back to our socialist oriented policy pursuits. STOP trying to work with Republicans, and STOP chasing the non-existing "center". Republicans only know how to destroy, loot, abuse, cheat and deceive. They do not know how to build anything. STAND UP to republicans, and call them out on their lies and misinformation and greed. Be proud of being blue, being smart, being respectful of human dignity, and being creative. Stand our ground, and DO NOT COMPROMISE on core issues listed above FOR ANY REASON. Overturn Citizens United as soon as we are back in power. Plug tax loopholes for corporations, bring back the Fairness Doctrine in media, and above all, STOP THE WAR MACHINE.
posted by yoga at 6:24 AM on January 10 [43 favorites]


angrycat: Is that in the book or is it more gorilla channel?

Please let "gorilla channel" become the new euphemism for fake news.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:25 AM on January 10 [67 favorites]


Anyhow, how can anybody be a fan of Bannon at this point?

Game recognize game in Wolff's case, I imagine.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:26 AM on January 10 [14 favorites]


Somebody on twitter said the book claimed that Bannon screamed "I'm going to fuck you!" as Hope Hicks fled in tears. Is that in the book or is it more gorilla channel?

It is indeed [real] and not [gorilla channel] but it's 'fuck you' in the 'fuck you over' sense. Context:
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” shouted a livid Bannon at Hicks, demanding to know who she worked for, the White House or Jared and Ivanka. “You don’t know how much trouble you are in,” he screamed, telling her that if she didn’t get a lawyer he would call her father and tell him he had better get her one. “You are dumb as a stone!” Moving from the cabinet room across the open area into the president’s earshot, “a loud, scary, clearly threatening” Bannon, in the Jarvanka telling, yelled, “I am going to fuck you and your little group!” with a baffled president plaintively wanting to know, “What’s going on?”
I have been in workplaces where this sentiment existed, but it is true I have never seen it actively verbalised to quite this extent. These people truly out-Veep Veep.
posted by halation at 6:28 AM on January 10 [17 favorites]


>Please let "gorilla channel" become the new euphemism for fake news.

Only if we can call fake billionaires "gorillianaires".
posted by Catblack at 6:32 AM on January 10 [46 favorites]


I view Bannon as a homegrown Vogon. I can admire his sheer bloodymindedness and devotion to his destructive impulses without wanting the slightest iota of it to succeed.
posted by delfin at 6:38 AM on January 10 [26 favorites]


He just ensured DiFi's reelection:

@realDonaldTrump
The fact that Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, who has on numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found, would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way, totally without authorization, is a disgrace. Must have tough Primary!

posted by AwkwardPause at 7:04 AM on January 10 [28 favorites]


The solution to politicians replacing institutional bribery via earmarks with institutional bribery via billionaires donations is not to bring back earmarks, it's public campaign financing and ending dark money.

That's not the argument for earmarks, though. Earmarks solve the problem of cat herding the caucus. The advantage of earmarks was that party leaders could corral their caucus in line with the promise of goodies, and keep them from going off the reservation. The elimination of earmarks and the uselessness of Repub