Fresh politics thread.
February 15, 2018 8:54 AM   Subscribe

ICE cracks down in LA, meanwhile immigration legislation progress isn't looking great.

Trump's hoped-for "Look at me, I wanna be a dictator!" party is looking expensive.

WTF happened to Americans serving in Cuba?

If you're looking for a thread about the most recent mass shooting in the USA, it is here.
posted by Emmy Rae (2388 comments total) 94 users marked this as a favorite
 
[Here is your new-catch-all-thread reminder to please keep this thread relatively focused and information-dense; running chatter and liveblogging needs to go elsewhere, venting can go in this MetaTalk thread, and, as noted in the the post above, discussion of yesterdays school shooting and related gun discussion go in this MetaFilter thread. Thank you for helping keep this as workable as it can be, especially on a more-awful-than-usual week like this.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on February 15 [14 favorites]


If you suspected that Republicans would find a way to blame the investigation of the administration's treason for yesterday's school shooting, come collect your prize. Your prize is fascism.

Daily Wire: FBI Too Busy With Trump Probe, Inner Turmoil To Follow Up On HS Shooter Tips
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:01 AM on February 15 [32 favorites]


Attorneys warned not to ‘mention’ abortion to immigrant teens in custody, per email from legal group (WaPo):
A major legal services group for immigrant children told its lawyers nationwide not to discuss abortion access, even if minors in custody ask for help understanding their legal rights, for fear it would jeopardize a multimillion-dollar contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The constraints on what government-funded lawyers can say to young detainees was contained in an email from the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice, which said it acted after a phone call with an HHS employee. Vera’s instruction to lawyers comes as the Trump administration has tried in court to block access to abortion procedures for undocumented teens in federal custody.
posted by peeedro at 9:01 AM on February 15 [21 favorites]


Dara Lind has a good summary of what's in the Rounds-King immigration bill that's worth looking at. 12-year path to citizenship for Dreamers, who won't be able to sponsor their parents (though their parents aren't barred from citizenship by other means), reallocate F-2B visas (adult children of green card holders) but keep processing the existing backlog, $25B for border security/wall paid out over 10 years, and codify enforcement priorities for ICE into law.

The White House is, of course, solidly against it (going so far as to say it "ignores the lessons of 9/11," about which, what the actual fuck?) and like all other such proposals, it's far from clear that it could possibly achieve 60 votes in the Senate. I fear McConnell is just going to send everyone home (the Senate has a week off next week, because they've done oh so much) and declare "well we tried."

In other news, Reuters: U.S. court says Trump travel ban unlawfully discriminates against Muslims. Here's a link to the opinion, which again uses Trump's words against him to find the ban constitutes unconstitutional discrimination, rather than just the violation of immigration law found by the 9th Circuit:
Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the President of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. The Proclamation is thus not only a likely Establishment Clause violation, but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on 'religious animosity
posted by zachlipton at 9:02 AM on February 15 [18 favorites]




Speaking of which... @jdawsey1: Remarkable conclusion from Sarah Sanders statement on Schumer-Rounds-Collins amendment says he disagrees but does not say he would veto. "If the President were presented with an enrolled bill that includes the Amendment, his advisors would recommend that he veto it."

Normally a veto threat includes, uh, an actual statement that the President will veto a bill, but his staff can't speak for him and have no clue what he would do, so they just put out a statement telling us what Stephen Miller will tell him and hoped nobody noticed.
posted by zachlipton at 9:07 AM on February 15 [17 favorites]


Trump is such a spoiled fucking child - he saw a parade he liked, now he wants his own, and he thinks he's entitled to one because he's special.

Meanwhile, he wants to cut SNAP and replace it with a commodity food program, which isn't a new idea and would affect a lot of military families. Goodbye personal choice and fresh food, hello canned misery rations.

I am so disgusted with Trump and his party. Absolutely disgusted. They are rotten to the core.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:07 AM on February 15 [30 favorites]


House just Passed HR 620 to roll back much of the ADA, thanks to a minority of Dems who voted for it.

12 Dems voted for it, but their votes were not decisive since the Republican majority was in favor.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:10 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


Sarah Kendzior on the threat of the revolving door of White House staff, many of whom cannot obtain the required security clearance:

Among the departed White House staffers are former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who has admitted guilt in the Kremlin interference probe; white nationalist (and fellow domestic abuser ) Steve Bannon, who has vowed to destroy the United States; and extremist Seb Gorka, who has ties to neo-Nazi organizations and is being investigated by police in Hungary. (Gorka, like Porter, worked as a Trump advisor despite being denied clearance as a result of his 2016 arrest in the U.S. for bringing a weapon through an airport.)

Men who have already colluded with a foreign power, committed acts of violence, or threatened to destroy the U.S. now know some of the country’s secrets, and it’s easy to imagine the damage they could do in the era of WikiLeaks and illicit foreign deals. Fellow federal indictee Paul Manafort, for example, used his access as Trump’s campaign manager to offer “private briefings” to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is a close friend of Vladimir Putin and to whom Manafort is alleged to owe a great deal of money.

[...]

“To which country does my president’s greatest loyalty lie?” is not a question Americans have had to ask before, but Trump, who is more deferential and transparent to the Kremlin than he is to Congress, seems to have made his preference clear. While we do not yet know the full scope of Trump’s Russia ties, we do know that protecting the U.S. from Russian aggression is low on his list of concerns–and that his abuse of executive power extends to the installation of his family members in the White House, despite their own conflicts of interests with Russia and other states.

For over a year, members of Congress have been asking why Jared Kushner—a key figure in the Russian interference probe as well as a struggling businessman with multiple conflicts of interest abroad—has been allowed access to classified information, particularly after it was revealed he had given false information on his security clearance form at an unprecedented level last year. After Kushner lied about or omitted over 100 foreign contacts, Charles Phalen, the head of the government bureau responsible for clearing background checks, told lawmakers, “I have never seen that level of mistakes.” Ivanka Trump, who like Jared works in a vague advisory role that gives her access to classified information, has faced similar inquiries over security form improprieties.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:11 AM on February 15 [48 favorites]


Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff, Devin Nunes Wins, Sorta: Spy Center Now on Hold
In a win for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, the Pentagon says it has suspended its plans to build an intelligence facility in a small British village northwest of London.

For years, Nunes has vocally opposed the village of Croughton as the site for this facility. Instead, he has pushed hard for the Pentagon to build the new intelligence center on a tiny, out-of-the-way Portuguese island that just happens to be one of his favorite vacation spots.
...
National Review reported in 2015 that some Pentagon officials worried that delaying the facility’s construction “would make it harder to monitor Russian activity in Europe.”

The site reassessment means the project will be even more delayed.
Man, this guy....
posted by zachlipton at 9:29 AM on February 15 [55 favorites]


Sweet Lord it will be a glorious day if Mueller drags Devin Nunes in for questioning. Looks like Kevin McCarthy left someone off his list.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:31 AM on February 15 [16 favorites]


12 Dems voted for it

I'm in shock that Jackie Speier, who was shot multiple times and left bleeding on the tarmac at Jonestown after her boss was assassinated, was both one of the original co-sponsors and voted for it today. Does she have some sort of anti-ADA history that I'm not aware of?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:44 AM on February 15 [12 favorites]


Twenty bucks says the list is even longer than that.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:44 AM on February 15


Don Jr. is on board with the "these kids are dead because you're investigating us" story.

Donald Trump Jr. Just Liked a Tweet Blaming the Florida Shooting on the Russia investigation
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:49 AM on February 15 [28 favorites]


From the previous thread: There are one million more registered Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans. Folks, this is what happens when Democrats don't turn out to vote.

Democrats in PA do turn out and vote. Unfortunately, they vote for Republican candidates.
posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on February 15 [11 favorites]


Gut the ADA and cut back Medicaid (which will result in nursing care becoming out of reach for many people, causing a massive strain on their families.) This is a one-two punch that will harm a lot of older voters.
posted by azpenguin at 10:10 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


12 Dems voted for it

Is this one of the things that the House voted for but has no chance in hell of passing the Senate? I have limited bandwidth and am trying to avoid exploding.
posted by corb at 10:11 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Revenge of the Dress: Stormy Daniels has a ‘Monica Lewinsky dress’ to test for Trump’s DNA, report says

This Daniels person, she's a sharp cookie. She's been holding on to this for a dozen years.
posted by bonehead at 10:16 AM on February 15 [86 favorites]


When my husband texted me yesterday saying that Ms. Daniels had declared her NDA null and void, my response was, "Alas, any details she has are details that I adamantly do not want to know." Like Cassandra, y'all.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:18 AM on February 15 [49 favorites]


>There are one million more registered Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans. Folks, this is what happens when Democrats don't turn out to vote.

Democrats in PA do turn out and vote. Unfortunately, they vote for Republican candidates.


Only 61.04% of PA residents of voting age voted in the 2016 election, across all parties; more than 15% of the voting age population isn't even registered to vote.

Without getting into whether turnout or party loyalty was mattered in 2016, turnout (and voter suppression) is an issue -- a civic issue -- separate from deciding who wins elections. There's a large percentage of people who are registered to vote, and yet did not vote.
posted by cjelli at 10:19 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]


"Alas, any details she has are details that I adamantly do not want to know."

The exciting thing about the NDA being null and void isn't learning the details about the affair, it's learning the details about the hush money payment made during the election. That's the part that could result in criminal charges.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:21 AM on February 15 [35 favorites]


This Daniels person, she's a sharp cookie. She's been holding on to this for a dozen years.

She better have a bodyguard and a food taster.
posted by rhizome at 10:23 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Russia used mainstream media to manipulate American voters (WaPo):
Russia’s disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election relied heavily on stories produced by major American news sources to shape the online political debate, according to a new analysis published Thursday.
...
Some well-chronicled hoaxes reached large audiences. But Russian-controlled Twitter accounts, [Columbia University's Jonathan] Albright said, were far more likely to share stories produced by widely read sources of American news and political commentary. The stories themselves were generally factually accurate, but the Russian accounts carefully curated the overall flow to highlight themes and developments that bolstered Republican Donald Trump and undermined his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
...
Another finding of the analysis showed Russian accounts devoted mainly to promoting local news in 30 major cities such as San Francisco, Boston and Houston. On key days, these popular accounts — typically with more than 10,000 followers each — often would turn to politics to tout Trump’s gains in the polls, for example, or news related to the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.
...
The tactic of linking to credible news stories also allows the occasional promotion of outright falsehoods from obscure sites, which followers of an account may accept more readily after weeks or months of linking to more familiar news sources, said several researchers. They also said that pushing content on Twitter can affect its prominence on other platforms.
It's notably similar to the "anchor left, pivot right" tactic used by Steve Bannon and Breitbart to use stories from more credible media to push their own narratives:
“With Clinton Cash, we never really broke a story,” says Bannon, “but you go [to Breitbart.com] and we’ve got 20 things, we’re linking to everybody else’s stuff, we’re aggregating, we’ll pull stuff from the Left. It’s a rolling phenomenon. Huge traffic. Everybody’s invested.”
posted by peeedro at 10:33 AM on February 15 [41 favorites]




It's just continually amazing how unprofessional these people are. The DHS is especially bad here, because it's straight up racist, but the administration is continually making official statements that are basically campaign ads.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:37 AM on February 15 [32 favorites]


Monmouth poll of PA-18 special, using three different models (this is great - likely voter models have proved tricky in post-2016 elections):

Recent special elections:
Saccone 49
Lamb 46

Historical midterm turnout:
Saccone 50
Lamb 45

Historical presidential turnout:
Saccone 48
Lamb 44

Trump approval: 48/47
posted by Chrysostom at 10:42 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


The McCain-Coons Proposal Would Increase Illegal Immigration, Surge Chain Migration, Continue Catch and Release

It's disgusting to see anybody use "catch and release" in a context involving humans instead of fish, and it's now official government terminology. The Department of Homeland Security, its own name an enormous fascistic siren that we have fully normalized over the last 17 years, is referring to millions of human beings as animals that should be allowed to die instead of be freed.

The language sets the stage.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:46 AM on February 15 [112 favorites]


I agree with the comments upthread that Ms. Daniels appears to be a smart person. She gets $130,000 before the election. That's not much but Trump is cheap, no one believed he would become president, and most importantly it provides s concrete record of her affair with Trump.
The act of paying her doesn't buy her silence. Paying her gives her more leverage over Trump.

The last few weeks of her not violating her NDA while generating publicity and interest and therefore money is setting her up for her next step. If Trump's lawyers go after her for violating her NDA, she gets more attention and therefore more money. It's probably not a good idea to underestimate this particular porn star.
posted by rdr at 10:54 AM on February 15 [45 favorites]


Meanwhile, at the House Intelligence Committee hearings, Steve Bannon says White House advised him to invoke executive privilege (CNN).
Steve Bannon told the House Intelligence Committee that he had been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of President Donald Trump, declining to answer a wide array of key questions pertinent to the Russia investigation and prompting lawmakers to consider holding him in contempt.

GOP Rep. Mike Conaway and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said the only questions Bannon would answer were 25 authorized by the White House. The President's former chief strategist answered "no" to all of them, they said.[...] The questions he avoided covered a range of topics about what happened after the 2016 campaign season, according to two sources.
Rep. Adam Schiff just told the press: "That is not how privilege works, that's how stonewalling works. [...] I think the next step for the Congress to take is to initiate contempt proceedings."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:08 AM on February 15 [66 favorites]


Will Ms. Daniels be our first porn star president? Would anyone anywhere be surprised if she were?
posted by emjaybee at 11:10 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Will Ms. Daniels be our first porn star president?

Nope. That's Donald Trump.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:14 AM on February 15 [18 favorites]


Monmouth poll of PA-18 special, using three different models (this is great - likely voter models have proved tricky in post-2016 elections):

I was curious so I looked up the presidential election result in PA-18. It was Trump 58% Clinton 39%, So this is a moderately dark red district. Swinging it is indeed a bit of a stretch as those poll results show but not completely beyond the realm of possibility.
posted by Justinian at 11:16 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Will Ms. Daniels be our first porn star president?

Nope. That's Donald Trump.


The uh... money shot: "None of the appearances included nude work by the president-elect."
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Well, Pat Bagley of the SL Tribune is one of the best reasons to look at a Utah newspaper. It is amazing he survives Utah, and he is so good...The GOP Goes Clubbing !
posted by Oyéah at 11:32 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]


The language sets the stage.

As Newt Gingrich knew when he wrote his memo Language: A Key Mechanism of Control for the Republicans back in the '90s.
Often we search hard for words to help us define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis… urgent(cy)… destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… they/them… unionized bureaucracy… “compassion” is not enough… betray… consequences… limit(s)… shallow… traitors… sensationalists…

...Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!

share… change… opportunity… legacy… challenge… control… truth… moral… courage… reform… prosperity… crusade… movement… children… family… debate… compete… active(ly)… we/us/our… candid(ly)… humane… pristine… provide…
And before him, Orwell.
posted by Gelatin at 11:38 AM on February 15 [39 favorites]


(Notice that in his memo Gingrich specifically advises Republicans to call their political opposition "traitors," while adopting a pose of moral virtue. Which is why I will not forgive the Republicans for selling the country out to the Russians, and then banding together to cover it up.)
posted by Gelatin at 11:57 AM on February 15 [51 favorites]


Ajit Pai under investigation for helping Sinclair Media buy Tribune Media, probably so it can spread its poisonous 'must run' right-wing prepackaged content farther and faster. (Explainer version featuring almost as many cusses as Sinclair's bullshit deserves available here.)
posted by halation at 12:10 PM on February 15 [56 favorites]




Goodbye personal choice and fresh food, hello canned misery rations.
...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:07 AM on February 15 [8 favorites +] [!]


So, is this what the GOP sneeringly calls the Nanny State?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:14 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


Via Twitter:
SENATE immigration update:

McCain-Coons fails 52-47
(DACA fix + border security)

Toomey plan fails 54-45
(Sanctuary cities cutoff)
Two amendments left to go, neither of which will (odds are) reach the sixty vote threshold set by McConnell, after which the Senate will recess for a week without having resolved anything.

In conclusion, Mitch McConnell is terrible.
posted by cjelli at 12:28 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


> In conclusion, Mitch McConnell is terrible.

Chuck Schumer not exactly covering himself in glory, either.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:32 PM on February 15 [10 favorites]


From the previous thread: There are one million more registered Democrats in Pennsylvania than Republicans. Folks, this is what happens when Democrats don't turn out to vote.

Democrats in PA do turn out and vote. Unfortunately, they vote for Republican candidates.

posted by octothorpe at 9:49 AM on February 15 [7 favorites +] [!]


Is that it, or is it the gerrymandering that puts a majority of GOP in power in PA?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:34 PM on February 15 [11 favorites]


She better have a bodyguard and a food taster.

Daniels is at best harmless to Trump, and actually she's probably good for him. The only reason to kill her would be that a mysterious death would make the whole story even more lurid and glamorous.
posted by Coventry at 12:35 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Is that it, or is it the gerrymandering that puts a majority of GOP in power in PA?

It's both. There are plenty of "Reagan Democrats" (ie Republicans) in Pennsylvania, and there is gerrymandered bullshit.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Toomey plan fails 54-45 (Sanctuary cities cutoff)

That's with 4 Democrats voting yes: Donnelly, Manchin, McCaskill & Stabenow

The Rounds/Collins/Schumer/Bipartisan plan is up for a vote now, and it doesn't look like this is happening, with no votes from Republicans like Rubio, Wicker, Moran, Roberts, Hatch, and Heller.

Trump asked for a bipartisan immigration deal, then his staff went out to trash it when he got one, and now it's dead. We're nowhere.
posted by zachlipton at 12:44 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]


Is that it, or is it the gerrymandering that puts a majority of GOP in power in PA?

It's both. Without gerrymandering we might have a much slighter R majority in the state legislature but it'd be close. But there are many areas of PA that are Ground Zero for the kind of rust belt Democrat who became a Democrat in 1963 and has never changed their registration, or is a Democrat because their daddy was in the union but those days are like 5 decades past. It's very close to being 50/50 here. Note we have a wildly R legislature because of state gerrymandering, but we also have a split Congressional caucus (Toomey and Casey), and a D Governor--but we've had our share of R Governors too. It goes back and forth.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:47 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Trump Administration Sued Over Ending Funding Of Teen Pregnancy Programs (NPR, February 15, 2018)
LiFT is the only sex education program available in her rural community of Shelton, Wash., she says.

But come July, LiFT will be gone. The Trump administration cut off the grant funding for it when the Department of Health and Human Services eliminated the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

LiFT is sponsored by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, one of 84 organizations losing federal funding that was supposed to last until 2020.

Now the Planned Parenthood chapter, along with eight other groups (PDF), is suing HHS, saying it acted unlawfully when it canceled their five-year grants midstream and with no explanation. The organizations — which include city and county health departments, universities, hospitals and nonprofit organizations — operate across the U.S. providing sex education and health information to more than a million teens.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has been lauded by watchdogs as an example of good government at work. The program grants 80 percent of its budget to groups that implement pregnancy prevention programs that have been shown to be effective. The remaining 20 percent is dedicated to trying new strategies.

The efforts are focused on African-American and Hispanic teens, who have higher pregnancy rates, and those in low-income and rural areas.

And the organizations are required to measure (PDF) whether their programs are effective in reducing pregnancy, delaying teen sex or increasing contraception use. The plans was to scale up the projects that work and eliminate the ones that don't.

"There's a list of proven effective programs that has been developed over time specifically through a lot of these grants," says Carrie Flaxman, counsel for Planned Parenthood.
...
An HHS spokeswoman said the agency ended the program because it's not effective.

"Teen birth rates have been declining since 1992 and less than 1 percent of the teen population has been served by TPP," the spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said in an email. "Of the 37 projects funded and evaluated for a 2016 report, 73 percent had no impact or had a negative impact on teen behavior."

Trump's budget proposal instead has $75 million for abstinence education programs. Research has shown that "abstinence-only education rarely has a positive effect on teen sexual behavior," according to a 2014 analysis of sex education.

Teen pregnancy rates have plummeted in the three decades from about 60 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19, to just 24 in 2014. Still, the U.S. has a far higher (PDF) teen pregnancy and birthrate than most developed countries.
First, they're cutting a program with built-in cost-effective reassurances, after tossing $26 million to one of the First Lady’s friends for the inauguration (New York Times, Feb. 15, 2018, via cjelli in the prior thread) and up to $30 million for the military parade no one wants (NYT, Feb. 14, 2018)? And then the spox won't even give their name when tossing out rubbish reasons to support a new rubbish plan to support archaic and outdated abstinence-only programs?

I hope this is another lawsuit lost by Team Trump, and funding reinstated while the court runs its course.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:52 PM on February 15 [50 favorites]


This is the end of DACA if nothing passes today. McConnell kept his promise as far as he’s concerned, there won’t be another vote on any immigration plan.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:55 PM on February 15 [10 favorites]


The Rounds/Collins/Schumer/Bipartisan plan is up for a vote now

It failed, 54-45. Heinrich, Udall, and Harris are the Democrats voting against (put a big pin next to Harris's vote there, as I suspect it will be relevant later) after failing to get two more Republicans to get on board.

I certainly think Harris would have voted yes if her vote would have killed the bill, but she's staking out interesting territory here.

Hatch, who was an original sponsor of the DREAM Act, voting against this bill, which is more hawkish, tells you everything you need to know about how screwed up this process is.
posted by zachlipton at 12:56 PM on February 15 [14 favorites]


Ajit Pai under investigation for helping Sinclair Media buy Tribune Media, probably so it can spread its poisonous 'must run' right-wing prepackaged content farther and faster. (Explainer version featuring almost as many cusses as Sinclair's bullshit deserves available here.)

posted by halation at 12:10 PM on February 15 [12 favorites +] [!]


Isn't this how modern societies fall apart? When the majority of people running things are openly and largely corrupt? I have a sense of falling. It seems everywhere I look at the GOP and the administration, people are under investigation or are openly and wantonly flouting the laws. Who will be left to take the evidence Robert Mueller and his team are carefully compiling and prosecuting the wrong-doers? Will the corrupt leaders be able to debilitate the courts and the FBI before the remaining legitimate infrastructure is demolished? Will we, as aware citizens, be cowed into silently watching in horror if prosecution doesn't proceed according to normal order?

Trying not to hyperventilate here, but it's looking more and more like a highly unstable point in our country's history.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:58 PM on February 15 [71 favorites]


the spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said in an email

wtf npr
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:07 PM on February 15 [20 favorites]


The Grassley immigration bill backed by Trump and the White House fails by the biggest margin of them all, 39-60. So much for "the Democrats won't take yes for an answer." There's no immigration plan at all, and the Senate is going to go on fucking vacation.
posted by zachlipton at 1:10 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


That's with 4 Democrats voting yes: Donnelly, Manchin, McCaskill & Stabenow


Suprised Manchin found three dem mates who are as big on being racists as him. He’s no suprise of course.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Trying not to hyperventilate here, but it's looking more and more like a highly unstable point in our country's history.

I'm with you. [Previous comment]
posted by Rykey at 1:12 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


the spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said in an email

Wow, that's amazing. I hav e long disagreed with NPR's policy of "so-and-so declined to be interviewed for this story, but said in a statement..." because that practice allows someone to make their point unchallenged by follow-up questions or even skepticism. A source should either agree to an interview or have to settle for a "no comment," especially when it's a political group or corporation that has a PR arm capable of drafting said statement. NPR has no business letting subjects off the hook laike that; if "declined to comment" looks bad, too bad.

But agreeing to let someone make an anonymous statement like that outside of very good reasons -- as in personal safety -- is a new low. For shame.
posted by Gelatin at 1:16 PM on February 15 [18 favorites]


Quoting anonymous spokespeople has a history. It's not great, though.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:23 PM on February 15


But agreeing to let someone make an anonymous statement like that outside of very good reasons -- as in personal safety -- is a new low. For shame.

Indeed. As I think I've said before, if the White House, a government agency, or any organization says something through a spokesperson, no journalist should then honor a request to keep the identity of the spokesperson secret, and the statement should be published as an official statement from the entity for which they are the spokesperson. HHS spokesperson says they decline to be named? Fine. Report that HHS was contacted but was unwilling to allow its spokesperson's identity to be disclosed in connection with any statement, so no statement is published. A White House staff member makes a statement as to what the White House's position is on something but asks not to be identified? Fine. Report that the White House position cannot be reported because the person who relayed it did so on condition of anonymity, and the President is on record as being opposed to his own staff making anonymous statements to the press, so no official position will be reported if it comes from an anonymous source. Oh, you want to make an official statement? Great! Do it officially and openly.
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on February 15 [24 favorites]


Is that it, or is it the gerrymandering that puts a majority of GOP in power in PA?

It's both. Without gerrymandering we might have a much slighter R majority in the state legislature but it'd be close.


Yeah, I hear you. I looked at the vote totals for PA House districts in 2016, and they are R:3,048,550, D:2,569,214, and other:21,718. But the striking thing is that the D districts are so packed that they win by numbers as big as 310,770 to 33,911. That sort of packing is a form of voter suppression, since voters (rightly or wrongly) perceive that their votes don't count, ignoring top of the ticket and statewide effects. Simply rearranging the voters inadequately models what would happen with a less gerrymandered allocation. I guess we won't know until the gerrymandering knot is untied.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:31 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


What's the chance that Trump Mulligans the whole DACA thing, and pretends he never sent the tweets saying "Congress has to do something" ( Ron Howard: They Didn't ) , so I will act, in the next two weeks...

And like everything else "two weeks" out, it never arrives.
posted by mikelieman at 1:33 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Rust Moranis The language sets the stage.

The Japanese language uses counter suffixes indicating the category to which the stuff being counted belongs. When counting, for example, sheets of paper you don't just say "ichi, ni, san, yon, go..." you say "ichi-mai, ni-mai, san-mai..." because -mai is the counter used for thin flat objects (paper, plates, some types of clothing, etc).

During WWII when counting prisoners of war, who were mostly killed out of hand, the Japanese didn't use -nin, which is the counter for people. They used counters for animals, or objects.

As you say, the language sets the stage.

If you want to convince people do do evil to other people the first, most critical, step is to convince them that the victim group isn't really people. It doesn't surprise me to see that ICE and other law enforcement agencies use dehumanizing language when talking about undocumented immigrants. But it does distress me, because historically that's been the prelude to genocide.
posted by sotonohito at 1:37 PM on February 15 [72 favorites]


Trump asked for a bipartisan immigration deal, then his staff went out to trash it when he got one, and now it's dead. We're nowhere.

Trump never wanted a bipartisan deal. What he wanted was for Dems to capitulate on his proposal so he could say it was bipartisan. There was never to be any negotiation, no compromise. They were expected to just give up & join his side.
posted by scalefree at 1:42 PM on February 15 [18 favorites]


To Trump, "bipartisan" means everyone gets on board with what Trump wants. That's not snark it's just what he means.
posted by Justinian at 1:45 PM on February 15 [29 favorites]


>Trump asked for a bipartisan immigration deal, then his staff went out to trash it when he got one, and now it's dead.

Trump never wanted a bipartisan deal.
"You guys are going to have to come up with a solution [for DACA], and I'm going to sign that solution," Trump said during a bipartisan meeting of House and Senate leaders at the White House on Tuesday morning.

"When you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually," Trump said, turning to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., "If we do the right bill here, we are not very far away, we've done most of it. You want to know the truth, Dick, if we do this properly, DACA, you're not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform. And if you want to take it that further step, I'll take the heat. I don't care," said Trump.

"My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with," the president later told the press pool. "If they come to me with things I'm not in love with, I'm going to do it, because I respect them," Trump said, flanked by Durbin and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
- January 9th.

Yes: to Trump, compromise probably means other people conceding. But he also said -- loudly, explicitly, repeatedly, on multiple occasions in front of cameras and on the record -- that he would happily sign a bill that would fix protections for Dreamers while putting off comprehensive reform until later. And then, when the chance to do that actually came around...he sort of vaguely threatened to veto it maybe? While his staffers worked to undermine it?

There's an angle to the story that's 'Trump lied,' but the other side is 'no one can really tell if Trump ever actually wanted anything in particular out of this, or if he merely sought instant gratification at every turn by having people agree with him in the moment.' A small difference, but a meaningful one: it's not actually clear that he even wanted people to make concessions to him, because they made the concessions he asked for and the White House shot them down before they could even go to the floor for a vote, while Trump demanded new concessions.
posted by cjelli at 1:51 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


But it does distress me, because historically that's been the prelude to genocide.

with every thread I see a pattern of increasing intensity of top down "war against the other"...
posted by infini at 1:51 PM on February 15 [12 favorites]


An HHS spokeswoman said the agency ended the program because it's not effective.

"Teen birth rates have been declining since 1992 and less than 1 percent of the teen population has been served by TPP," the spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said in an email. "Of the 37 projects funded and evaluated for a 2016 report, 73 percent had no impact or had a negative impact on teen behavior."

Apparently, the HHS no longer knows what the function of a spokesperson is.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:58 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


Mental Wimp: "I looked at the vote totals for PA House districts in 2016, and they are R:3,048,550, D:2,569,214, and other:21,718. But the striking thing is that the D districts are so packed that they win by numbers as big as 310,770 to 33,911. That sort of packing is a form of voter suppression, since voters (rightly or wrongly) perceive that their votes don't count, ignoring top of the ticket and statewide effects. Simply rearranging the voters inadequately models what would happen with a less gerrymandered allocation. I guess we won't know until the gerrymandering knot is untied."

This implies a 10/8 GOP lead in seats, if votes didn't change (and of course they might, since people would turn out differently in a realistically competitive district). The current map yielded 13/5.

Worth noting that there are bills in the legislature for a non-partisan redistricting process with lots of sponsors from both parties. The bills are, unsurprisingly, currently bottled up by GOP leadership.

soren_lorensen: "Note we have a wildly R legislature because of state gerrymandering, but we also have a split Congressional caucus (Toomey and Casey), and a D Governor--but we've had our share of R Governors too. It goes back and forth."

Realistically, PA is purple at this point. As you say, for offices voted statewide (not just gov and Senator, but the row offices, too), it regularly goes back and forth. It's only through gerrymandering that the House and legislature offices are so dramatically red.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:59 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]




Fox poll finds opinion on immigrants most favorable since 2003. 48/44 say don't punish sanctuary cities.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:01 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]


cjelli: There's an angle to the story that's 'Trump lied,' but the other side is 'no one can really tell if Trump ever actually wanted anything in particular out of this, or if he merely sought instant gratification at every turn by having people agree with him in the moment.'

Yes. Trump has a feedback-loop mutual-affection relationship with xenophobes, but not an ideological commitment to it (outside of some deep disgusting racist instincts that are probably tied with his general paranoia). Someone like John Kelly would never have relaxed the deportation process during his time in Homeland Security, even if he knew it would lead to praise and cheers. But Trump is theoretically persuadable on this, sort of. The problem is that his inner circle absolutely isn't (but wants to pretend otherwise).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:05 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "I was curious so I looked up the presidential election result in PA-18. "

Yeah, I should have mentioned that. I forget not everyone monitors this stuff as closely as me.

The short version is - this district (as currently drawn!) should be a slam dunk for the GOP, but it's instead quite close, and the right is spending an absolute shit ton of money here. To the extent that enthusiasm matters - and we have a fair amount of evidence that it *has* been mattering - the Dems are in good position:
Among likely voters, 48% of Democrats compared with 26% of Republicans say they are following the PA18 special election closely. Among all potential voters interviewed for the poll – including those unlikely to vote in this contest – Democrats (65%) are more likely than Republicans (50%) to say they have a lot of interest in this race.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:06 PM on February 15 [10 favorites]


but it's instead quite close, and the right is spending an absolute shit ton of money here.

If the GOP is being forced to spend shit tons of money in 60-40 Trump districts they don't have enough cash to play defense much less go on the offense.
posted by Justinian at 2:10 PM on February 15 [26 favorites]


Chrysostom: thank you again for all you do to keep us informed. You, and MeFi in general, do such a great job keeping up with local election news. This is one of the good sides of the Internet and all this available information: being able to find out about local elections in other states, which a print newspaper might not bother to cover. That way those of us with a little $ to spare can send the green to some blue candidates.

If the GOP is being forced to spend shit tons of money in 60-40 Trump districts they don't have enough cash to play defense much less go on the offense.


Good! Bleed the beast (so to speak). Make them spend valuable money, and time and energy, defending their "safe" seats and candidates. Even Koch and Mercer money is not a bottomless well.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:38 PM on February 15 [29 favorites]




I haven't seen this pop up in the politics threads, so here's a euphemism or two to keep an eye on if you care about fair treatment for our soldiers:

WaPo - Pentagon targets 'non-deployable' troops for removal in new effort
The Pentagon has launched a new effort to remove U.S. troops from the ranks who are considered unable to deploy, a sensitive decision that could push thousands of people out of the military.
...
With few exceptions, service members who are considered unable to deploy for 12 months will be processed for “administrative separation,”
...
The decision was announced about a week before Mattis is expected to make his recommendations to the White House on how the military should handle transgender military service. Transgender service members have been allowed to serve openly since the Obama administration allowed it in 2016, but President Trump has indicated that he is against it.

Mattis formed a panel to review the issue last fall and was directed by the White House to issue his recommendations to the president this month.

Gleason said the new policy on non-deployable service members applies equally to transgender troops, meaning that someone who pursued gender reassignment surgery must be ready to deploy within a year.
Bolding mine.
posted by saysthis at 2:58 PM on February 15 [8 favorites]


And, because Arizona is still the worst, they're making it impossible for independent US Senate candidates to be nominated by taking the nomination process out of the hands of the people and investing in the AZ Legislature itself.
posted by hanov3r at 3:15 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Apparently, the HHS no longer knows what the function of a spokesperson is.

Even worse, they no longer know what the function of a health and human services department is
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:18 PM on February 15 [30 favorites]


Even worse, they no longer know what the function of a health and human services department is
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:18 PM on February 15 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Touché. The longer the Trumpies are in power, the more they are able to transform formerly functioning organizations into political propaganda organs while amputating any other operational capabilities. It's truly devastating, because, unlike in other administrations, repairing the damage will take more than just a change in party occupying the top position. A slow rebuilding will be necessary to recruit and place competent people into high- and mid-level positions throughout the bureaucracy.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:23 PM on February 15 [12 favorites]


CNN: "Exclusive: A top Trump campaign adviser close to plea deal with Mueller"

SPOILER ALERT: It's Rick Gates, y'all.
posted by lalex at 3:26 PM on February 15 [55 favorites]


Pentagon targets 'non-deployable' troops for removal in new effort

I've had mixed feelings about this one, honestly, because I know both how it's intended and how it's going to be interpreted, and those two are very, very different.

The problem with nondeployable troops is real, and the honest answer is that people who are nondeployable for a year for medical reasons really shouldn't be in the military. They can be perfectly fine DA civilians - and honestly, there are a lot more jobs that could be done by DA civilians than are being done by DA civilians - but it actually takes an enormous amount to make someone fully nondeployable for 12 consecutive months. Most of them are either people who should be medically boarded out, or people charged but not given a speedy trial.

But the complicating factor is that the medical board process is a generous one. If you are rated at less than 30% permanently disabled, but still unfit, you receive a cash payment that is usually tens of thousands of dollars. If you are rated at more than 30% disabled and are medically retired, you receive inexpensive and generous healthcare for life, as well as a host of other military benefits, including a retirement pension for the rest of your life, no matter how long you live. It was meant for people who were wounded or injured too severely to continue, to ensure that they were rewarded for their service. It is, except for the dollar amount, the exact same benefits you get from doing 20 years of service.

And a lot of commanders, and a lot of people in the military chain of command really bristle at that being exercised for a lot of people who haven't "done their time", and who really were never really medically ready in the first place, and who often were nondeployable from nearly the very beginning.

I saw this, when I was in a Warrior Transition Unit. Those who had some time and rank, and/or combat or combat training injuries, were treated with compassion and had every bar in their way removed. Young soldiers, however, who were there for epilepsy or other disorders that were innate to their body, not the military service, were treated pretty badly, and were pushed towards administrative separation rather than medical separation.

And so while I truly believe Mattis thinks that this will push people lingering in medical status towards an honorable retirement, and boot out the people who are waiting on trial, in reality, what it will do is push people towards an outcome largely specified by their commanders, who operate with a whole host of prejudices.
posted by corb at 3:26 PM on February 15 [45 favorites]


Is that you, Little Glimmer of Hope? Or just another candle on the shit-cake?

Either way, faint tidings of a very late Mullermas:

Gates close to plea deal with Mueller in Russia probe: report

Report: Bannon Spent ‘Some 20 Hours’ In Mueller Interviews This Week

Mostly further confirmation of rumored things, but I've been convincing myself it's good to watch the probe like a hawk because some stuff may never see the light of day later on, grand juries being what they are.
posted by cudzoo at 3:52 PM on February 15 [21 favorites]


And, because Arizona is still the worst, they're making it impossible for independent US Senate candidates to be nominated by taking the nomination process out of the hands of the people and investing in the AZ Legislature itself.

Fortunately, when the legislature does this kind of ratfuckery that restricts who can get on the ballot, we have the option of forcing it to go to the ballot. Any law passed by the legislature can be referred to the ballot by citizens if they collect enough signatures. Currently that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 75,000 valid signatures, which is far far less than it takes to get an initiative on the ballot. Last time they tried restricting ballot access (by basically making it impossible for Greens and others to get on the ballot), the signatures were collected lickety-split. While not guaranteed, I'm pretty confident that this would end up the target of a signature drive and it would likely succeed if it did.
posted by azpenguin at 3:52 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Hooray... an unexpected Muellertine's Day gift!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:01 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Or just another candle on the shit-cake

If your life would be improved by the presence of Pee Tape and Robert Mueller III Prayer Candles, that's an actual thing* Kickstarter can now help you with.

* Well, it's a Kickstarter, so really the vague promise of a future actual thing from a stranger on the internet.
posted by zachlipton at 4:01 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


Revenge of the Dress: Stormy Daniels has a ‘Monica Lewinsky dress’ to test for Trump’s DNA, report says

If your life would be improved by the presence of Pee Tape and Robert Mueller III Prayer Candles, that's an actual thing*


Oh, I'm so, so totally ready to pray to a Pee Tape Candle that this turns out to be a urine-related rather than spooge-related debacle, because I was really, really hoping to avoid another PresidentialJizzGate in this lifetime. One was much more than enough.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:26 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Politico, Josh Gerstein, Trump declassification of GOP memo could lead to cascade of disclosures
The legal waves created by President Donald Trump’s decision to declassify a Republican memo suggesting FBI wrongdoing continued to crash ashore on Thursday, with a federal judge saying the president’s move had undermined government arguments that it should be able to keep mum about its ongoing investigations.

During a hearing on a bid by BuzzFeed to get more information about how a so-called dossier compiled by a former British spy was handled, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta grew frustrated with a Justice Department lawyer who argued that Trump’s declassification order did not alter the contours of the legal dispute.

Mehta said the government would normally be entitled to deference in asserting the need to keep its investigative work under wraps, but perhaps no longer with respect to the dossier.

“This isn’t the ordinary case,” Mehta told a Justice Department lawyer, Anjali Motgi. “I don’t know of any time the president has declassified the fact of a counterintelligence investigation. That’s going to be a hard sell given what the president has done. … This is a new frontier and it has an impact.”
...
While Motgi sought to stress that a letter from White House counsel Don McGahn accompanying the Nunes memo indicated that the executive branch wasn’t endorsing the memo’s contents, Mehta wasn’t buying that.

“You think the White House would have let a factually inaccurate memo go out to the public?” the judge asked skeptically. “Are you telling me that the Department of Justice is at odds with the president of the United States about the factual accuracy of the Nunes memo?”
The Nunes memo could open a lot of doors for people who want to know exactly what the government knows about this investigation.
posted by zachlipton at 5:52 PM on February 15 [64 favorites]


I see the Onion is going with a "Truth is satire now" strategy for our current political era: John Kelly Apologizes For Assuming Everyone Would Ignore Abuse Allegations Like They Do In Military
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:53 PM on February 15 [69 favorites]


Revenge of the Dress: Stormy Daniels has a ‘Monica Lewinsky dress’ to test for Trump’s DNA, report says

History repeats itself; the first time as clown show, the second time as carnival sideshow.
posted by notyou at 6:16 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]


So yesterday I commented, "Scott Pruitt claims that he wastes taxpayer money on first-class flights because if he sits in coach, people tell him he's a terrible environment-destroying dick," which was intended as a smart-ass if not entirely inaccurate ha-ha paraphrase. However, tonight Politico informs us:
An EPA official gives this example of the security threats that require Pruitt to fly first class: "An individual approached Pruitt with his cell phone recording, yelling at him 'Scott Pruitt, you’re f---ing up the environment,' those sort of terms."
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:01 PM on February 15 [40 favorites]


“You think the White House would have let a factually inaccurate memo go out to the public?” the judge asked skeptically.

...has Judge Mehta read the news, like ever?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:03 PM on February 15 [12 favorites]


Ron Klain just now on MSNBC: "Well, Lawrence, it is Infrastructure Week, and if Steve Bannon spent 20 hours talking to Robert Mueller, he was probably paving a road to Jared Kushner's door."
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:09 PM on February 15 [100 favorites]


>“You think the White House would have let a factually inaccurate memo go out to the public?” the judge asked skeptically.

...has Judge Mehta read the news, like ever?


I mean, I get it, yes. But taking the White House's release of the Nunes memo at face value shifts the burden to the White House to either argue that there is a risk to releasing the information that the White House already released, or arguing that the White House lied. A judge asking fake-skeptically in order draw the White House out would look exactly the same as a judge asking really-skeptically, and given that pressing them on this point doesn't help the White House I'm inclined to give Judge Mehta the benefit of the doubt.
posted by cjelli at 7:13 PM on February 15 [26 favorites]


I see the Onion is going with a "Truth is satire now" strategy for our current political era: John Kelly Apologizes For Assuming Everyone Would Ignore Abuse Allegations Like They Do In Military

Yeah, I'm not sure "John Kelly Apologizes" qualifies as truth just yet.
posted by The World Famous at 7:23 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


Rep. Kevin Cramer changes his mind, will announce he's running for Senate

Cramer was Republicans top choice and probably puts North Dakota in the tossup category when the next round of projections comes out.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:27 PM on February 15


Trump declassification of GOP memo could lead to cascade of disclosures

The shits just keep on comin'.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:28 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** PA-18 special:
-- Discussed earlier, new Monmouth poll has Dem Lamb just a few points back of Saccone (3-5, depending on turnout model). There's a Gravis poll coming, too.

-- Planned Trump rally for Saccone has been postponed.

** 2018 Senate:
-- UT: Romney's candidacy (he was going to declare today, but postponed due to the Florida shooting) is getting some pushback from within the party, maybe even a primary opponent, but he's still a prohibitive favorite.

-- ND: Rep. Kevin Cramer finally decided to jump into the race. Cramer's a decent candidate - Sabato moved the race to Tossup in response - but he's been known to say stupid things, which is exactly how Heitkamp first won the seat in 2012. Meanwhile, the state senator who was running for this seat, and who the party was really worried about, is now probably running for Cramer's House seat, making that at least possibly competitive.
** 2018 House:
-- WA-05: DCCC poll has Cathy McMorris only up 47-43 on likely Dem candidate Brown.

-- AZ-02: PPP poll has both Dem candidates with ~10 point leads over GOP candidate. This is the vacant McSally seat.

-- Cook: Are crowded Dem primaries helpful or harmful? [SPOILER: it depends]
** Odds & ends -- GOP party id is eroding, but leavers are calling themselves independents, rather than moving to the Dems.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:36 PM on February 15 [20 favorites]


Elections matter dept -- Since that single special election victory that gave Dems control of the WA state Senate, it's passed:

* automatic & same-day voting registration
* a ban on conversion therapy
* stronger protections for trans students
* stronger financial disclosure rules
* death penalty abolition

Dems also control the House and the governor's mansion, so this stuff is likely to go into law.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:39 PM on February 15 [130 favorites]


Elections matter dept, part 2: New progressive DA in Philly doing good work to overturn wrongful convictions.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:45 PM on February 15 [26 favorites]


GOP party id is eroding

Freud might say the party's id is fine, its ego has malfunctioned, and its super-ego has vanished.
posted by peeedro at 7:49 PM on February 15 [24 favorites]


GOP party id is eroding, but leavers are calling themselves independents, rather than moving to the Dems.

I do wonder if these new "independents" will be significantly less likely to go to the polls, or when push comes to shove they'll pull the lever for the GOP because yeehaw low taxes.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:07 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I do wonder if these new "independents" will be significantly less likely to go to the polls, or when push comes to shove they'll pull the lever for the GOP because yeehaw low taxes.

at first probably, but in a few years the party id might erode even more... I mean you gotta hope right?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:15 PM on February 15


I guess, but we're still nowhere near the levels of damage W caused, and the Republicans came back from that.
posted by Coventry at 8:17 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


W was more of the same though? Like he was bad but in predictable ways. And in a lot of ways Trump is also the logical continuance of GOP policies re: immigration, wall street, etc etc.

BUT, and it's a big round one: W never fucking colluded with a foreign goddamn country- which is becoming more and more obvious. W never leaked classified info from one friendly nation to an unfriendly one. W surrounded himself with monsters- but capable monsters. Trump seems to be surrounded by swamp monsters 100 times worse than the ones in the swamp he promised to drain, and they're not even halfway fucking competent! (thank god) W was gentle and sweet and stupid and malleable (even if it was likely a put on), Trump is just all rough edges and crazy and just lie after lie come out of his mouth, not just about the big stuff but little inconsequential things. And he's not so malleable- he's likely being somewhat controlled by Javanka BUT clearly they can't reign him in like they'd like. Like he's so fucking crazy that a lot of people think he must be in the early stages of dementia which true or not, imagine how fucking erratic your behavior has to be before a ton of people believe that?

It's just so goddamn much that I think that after a few more years of this, as it gets worse and worse, yeah I wouldn't be surprised if this is maybe the first step to no or a greatly reduced GOP. I mean, a sucker is born every minute- but after a while even the greenest of rubes gets wise.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:28 PM on February 15 [20 favorites]


So there's a guy running for Congress in Kansas and as part of his campaign he is holding a raffle to give away a free assault rifle.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


but after a while even the greenest of rubes gets wise

The GOP won't make this mistake again.. They'll send a more polished fascist up next time, and everyone will fawn about him -- "Oooh, so presidential"
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:30 PM on February 15 [17 favorites]


Yeah but getting a fascist out of power is much harder than getting him in. It's Trumps show now, and we all know what kind of train wreck that is. Trump thinks he's in charge not the GOP- and after a few more years of this circus... I just am holding onto the hope that there wont be a more polished fascist because Trump will have damaged the brand too much. Fingers crossed!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:33 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick: Which is why it's so effing critical that we stop nascent fascism now. I don't think we'll be the same country if we don't win big in the midterms.
posted by Rykey at 8:34 PM on February 15 [14 favorites]


Hold up. People were trotting out dementia speculation on W and comparing his public speaking in office compared to his debates for TX governor.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:35 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Who's the person who said "Its a marathon, not a sprint"?
Even if we don't win back both houses, as long as there is a visible frightening (to the GOP) D gain, we just have to keep gaining. This election, next election, and while yeah, Democrats have to stand for something, anything! But as long as Trump's behavior keeps painting the GOP in a terrible light- that will be much easier.

Also on preview:

W was just sort of gently dumb. Like *that* speculation had a lot of doctors going "we can't diagnose over the TV" But Trumps behavior is so over the top and so *clearly* similar to the sundowning effect seen in elderly dementia patients (including that cant go down stairs thing) That a few doctors are like "we can't diagnose over the TV... but oh man does that look like my patients" Its a level of intensity worse than W.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:39 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]


Well this is...something: NYT editorial page editor @JBennet sent staff a lengthy memo tonight on the role of opinion at the paper and bringing in new voices. A selection:

Wait till he claims the NYT has brought in “powerful new voices in the left”. Ok. Name one. I’ll wait.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:01 PM on February 15 [15 favorites]


Well this is...something: NYT editorial page editor @JBennet sent staff a lengthy memo tonight on the role of opinion at the paper and bringing in new voices. A selection:

I notice he says that in 1896 Adolph Ochs laid out a mission to "invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion." I think JBennet glossed over one of the words in that statement in his choices of late.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:10 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


NYT, Intrigue at V.A. as Secretary Says He Is Being Forced Out, in which Shulkin says he is being pushed out by forces in the Administration who want to bring in new Koch-backed leadership to disassemble the VA and privatize it.

And it appears there's good reason to believe that's true. On the other hand, Shulkin is also now arguing that his Chief of Staff's email was hacked to send emails in her name. Whether or not that happened, I cannot say, but it also doesn't exactly change the fundamental reality that the Secretary brought his wife along on a trip to Wimbledon at taxpayer expense and ought to have been aware of that fact.
posted by zachlipton at 9:41 PM on February 15 [14 favorites]


"we are, as ever, editing and fact checking our work".

SNERK.

Also : "we are picking our contributors with care, looking for people who share Times standards in intellectual honesty and originality..."

And also love nazis.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:42 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Why the hell is he referencing Mao's 100 Flowers Campaign in this memo?
posted by xyzzy at 9:42 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:03 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


after a while even the greenest of rubes gets wise

Cite please.
posted by flabdablet at 10:39 PM on February 15 [13 favorites]


I realize that commenting on the president’s physical appearance is very tired but please zoom and enhance this photo. (I’ve extracted from the header of this article.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:45 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


That's quite a thousand yard stare on the guy to his right
posted by thelonius at 12:45 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


The NRA is a terrorist organisation. If you were really serious about defeating terror, you would start by outlawing them. If you think ISIS is the biggest terrorist threat to America, you're wrong, it's actually the NRA who is fine with any child having weapons of mass destruction.
posted by adept256 at 1:07 AM on February 16 [20 favorites]


Ronan Farrow has a new expose in the New Yorker of another affair Trump had in the mid-2000's with Playboy playmate Karen MacDougal. Here's the kicker though:

On November 4, 2016, four days before the election, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had paid a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.” This is a favorite tactic of the C.E.O. and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, who describes the President as “a personal friend.” As part of the agreement, A.M.I. consented to publish a regular aging-and-fitness column by McDougal. After Trump won the Presidency, however, A.M.I.’s promises largely went unfulfilled, according to McDougal.
posted by PenDevil at 3:36 AM on February 16 [40 favorites]


Why the hell is he referencing Mao's 100 Flowers Campaign in this memo?
It's the secret password to McConnell's club house these days, 'Give 'em enough rope', is so blasé now
posted by rc3spencer at 3:40 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


NYT editorial page editor @JBennet sent staff a lengthy memo tonight on the role of opinion at the paper and bringing in new voices.

Previously reported here.

(Shamelessly swiped from thelonious.)
posted by perspicio at 3:52 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


He compared Karen MacDougal to Ivanka and introduced her to his family. I feel dirty just reading about it.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:26 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]




If you want to see the Second Amendment repealed, Democrats (realistically, Republicans aren't going to go for this, but not every Democrat will either) need to control two-thirds of state senates to call for a constitutional convention, and we need to hold them until it actually happens because otherwise Republicans will be pushing through a lot of really awful amendments they have ready.
posted by Merus at 5:47 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


That's quite a thousand yard stare on the guy to his right

Yeah, that's Pat Toomey, Phantom Senator of Pennsylvania.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:50 AM on February 16 [13 favorites]


We need judicial reform, not necessarily repeal. "Everybody, regardless of personal history or mental health, should be able to own a weapon capable of killing hundreds in a matter of minutes" is as much a perversion of the Second Amendment as "Money is speech and corporations are people" is of the First.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:51 AM on February 16 [48 favorites]


There's an active Florida shooting / gun control thread over here.
posted by nangar at 6:01 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


The latest letter from MoveOn in my inbox is calling for us to expose the Cover-Up Caucus during the upcoming recess. Maybe we are finally taking a page from George Lakoff? It does roll off the tongue nicely.

In other news, I bitched out a friend I've known for 18 years last night. She was complaining about President Cheeto, for whom she voted, claiming the same old shit about "it was a vote against Hillary!" I said, yeah, you just keep telling yourself that logic, missy. He has destroyed this country, and the entire GOP is 100% complicit. We will not recover in our lifetimes.

I didn't have anything else to come back with, but I couldn't be silent against the bullshit. If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.
posted by yoga at 6:04 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Well this is...something: NYT editorial page editor @JBennet sent staff a lengthy memo tonight on the role of opinion at the paper and bringing in new voices.

What a crock of shit. How many times does it have to be stated out loud for these people to get it: genocide is not an opinion. It is not a dissenting viewpoint. Advocating genocide is a violent, anti-social act. Treating nazis like people who just disagree with some of us is morally equivalent to treating murderers like people who just have a different opinion on whether it's rude to take the life of another.
posted by tocts at 6:05 AM on February 16 [47 favorites]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.

What I've told my Dad is basically: "There were only two choices, you don't vote for only part of a candidate, you fully own everything they do in your name."
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:26 AM on February 16 [62 favorites]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.
Voting angry is like driving angry, you're just becoming a danger to everyone around you.
Uninformed, emotionally charged, confused, or careless voters should stay home. Voting is a way to contribute to the well being of the future of your neighbors, not to satisfy your self-interest, or underline abstract principles of an ideology. (i.e, to 'make a point')

Unfortunately, most don't vote in this manner. So what we get is a deeply flawed process at best.

(This explanation is never received well btw when I offer it. So good luck.)
posted by rc3spencer at 6:37 AM on February 16 [16 favorites]


I like that. T.D., duly noted for future use.
posted by yoga at 6:38 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


In other news, I bitched out a friend I've known for 18 years last night. She was complaining about President Cheeto, for whom she voted, claiming the same old shit about "it was a vote against Hillary!" I said, yeah, you just keep telling yourself that logic, missy. He has destroyed this country, and the entire GOP is 100% complicit.

Did you say "leopards, faces?" I, myself, would have a hard time not screaming. I remember 2004, when I was about as excited to vote for John Kerry as I was excited to eat a bowl of cold oatmeal, but I voted for him anyway because we weren't going to get a better option in that election. Hell, I voted for Dukakis and talk about sucking it up and voting for a bad candidate! I wish people would stop being so precious about presidential elections. Get off my lawn!

It does seem like buyer's remorse among some former Trump voters (Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic). The article doesn't say whether these people are going to vote, or become, Democrats, though. There is a difference between "Regrets voting for Trump, is now a Democrat and will vote accordingly" and "Regrets voting for Trump, now calls self 'an independent' but will vote Republican unless that R is more toxic than nuclear waste and sometimes even then (see Moore, Roy)."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:38 AM on February 16 [24 favorites]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.

My die-hard conservative Republican in-laws, 80 years old, never skip voting in any election (work the polls for most)… didn’t vote for president in 2016 (they voted, just left president blank). They couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat, but they at least understood that a vote for Trump is a vote *for* Trump. It’s ridiculous to pretend otherwise.
posted by Kriesa at 6:45 AM on February 16 [21 favorites]


There is a difference between "Regrets voting for Trump, is now a Democrat and will vote accordingly" and "Regrets voting for Trump, now calls self 'an independent' but will vote Republican unless that R is more toxic than nuclear waste and sometimes even then (see Moore, Roy)."

As a former Republican, I can tell you that 95% of people who are expressing regret are doing it because they know Trump is hurting people but they don't actually want him to stop doing it but they also don't want to have to acknowledge their role in it. They are, to be blunt, pretending to be sorry.

It's kinda like how when a political pundit is introduced as an independent, it's about a 95% chance that their worldview and voting record maps almost precisely to Republicans. They're not any different in action, they just want plausible deniability for the more overtly bad and indefensible platforms (which in the private of the voting booth they keep supporting nonetheless).
posted by tocts at 6:45 AM on February 16 [55 favorites]


Reading this discussion in Lawfare on the distinction between counterintellengence and criminal investigations got me wondering: is it possible that Trump repeatedly asked whether he specifically was under investigation because he believes the absence of an explicit “yes” allows him to claim that, to the best of his knowledge, the investigation was purely counterintelligence and so he was not knowingly obstructing justice by firing Comey, etc?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 6:47 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


is it possible that Trump repeatedly asked whether he specifically was under investigation because he believes the absence of an explicit “yes” allows him to claim that, to the best of his knowledge, the investigation was purely counterintelligence and so he was not knowingly obstructing justice by firing Comey, etc?

Subscribe to our newsletter and we'll share this one small trick that drives prosecutors crazy!
posted by diogenes at 6:50 AM on February 16 [18 favorites]


Mitt Romney is running for the Senate.

He's already saying he'll vote for everything Trump wants: If elected, Romney associates said he would operate in the Senate as an independent-minded lawmaker but would resist being labeled as a reliable Trump critic in the model of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who regularly speaks out against the president.

Even Mitt knows NeverTrump was always a complete joke.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:52 AM on February 16 [30 favorites]


is it possible that Trump repeatedly asked whether he specifically was under investigation because he believes the absence of an explicit “yes” allows him to claim that, to the best of his knowledge, the investigation was purely counterintelligence and so he was not knowingly obstructing justice by firing Comey, etc?
Nope, not possible. Not only is Trump too stupid for such a complicated reasoning, but so are his advisors. It's stupid all the way down.
posted by mumimor at 6:53 AM on February 16 [14 favorites]


zachlipton: There's no immigration plan at all, and the Senate is going to go on fucking vacation.

Oh, completely. McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration (Jordain Carney for The Hill, Feb. 6, 2018)
McConnell, known for keeping his cards close to the vest, said Tuesday that the impending fiscal showdown will mark a “rare occasion” for an open debate and an “opportunity for a thousand flowers to bloom.”

“I’m going to structure in such a way that’s fair to everyone. ... Whoever gets to 60 wins,” he said during a press conference.

When a reporter noted there are myriad proposals being floated, McConnell laughed before stressing that he doesn’t have a “secret plan.”

“I can’t be specific because there’s no secret plan here to try to push this in any direction. The Senate is going to work its will, and I hope that we will end up passing something,” he said.
So, more thoughts and prayers?



xyzzy: Why the hell is he referencing Mao's 100 Flowers Campaign in this memo?

rc3spencer: It's the secret password to McConnell's club house these days, 'Give 'em enough rope', is so blasé now

Why yes, Sen. McConnell's Statements On Immigration Echo Former Chinese Communist Leader, specifically Mao and his Hundred Flowers Campaign that encouraged its citizens to openly express their opinions of the communist regime, in part a response to the demoralization of intellectuals, who felt estranged from The Communist Party [citation needed]. After this brief period of liberalization, Mao used this to oppress those who challenged the communist regime by using force.

(To temper this terrifying image, NPR noted that "let a hundred/thousand flowers bloom" has been mis- and re-appropriated a number of times since Mao uttered the term in 1956, to the point where it's more a cute phrase than an ominous reference to further demonizing and punishing intellectuals.)
posted by filthy light thief at 6:55 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


The Trump administration is the final proof that if you are a rich white man or his daughter, you can be dumber than a duck and still have a successful and profitable career within any field.
posted by mumimor at 6:57 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


The Trump administration is the final proof that if you are a rich white man or his daughter, you can be dumber than a duck and still have a successful and profitable career within any field.
posted by mumimor


That depends on how you define success. I would argue that most are not successful. Wealthy, maybe. Successful? NOT!
posted by W Grant at 7:02 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.

"....Okay. Can you tell me what it was you thought Hillary would do, that it prompted you to vote against her? ....Mmhmm, okay. Now. Can you explain why you thought that those scenarios would have been worse than the things Trump is doing, all of which he promised to do during his campaign?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on February 16 [40 favorites]


Okay. Can you tell me what it was you thought Hillary would do, that it prompted you to vote against her?

You’re going to get an hour long rant of utter lunacy doing that.
posted by Artw at 7:09 AM on February 16 [54 favorites]


You’re going to get an hour long rant of utter lunacy doing that.

Or, and I speak from experience, infuriatingly vague "I just don't trust her" noises.

I think actually a better strategy is to let the Hillary thing go in favor of not getting their defenses up so you can extract from them a solemn vow to not do it again.

My mom was all wishy-washy vague "I just don't like herrrrrr" and it made me nuts. Ma didn't vote for Trump but she did vote third party in Pennsylvania so yeah, she has culpability here. Rather than rubbing her nose in what she did in the past, I'm going to make good and sure that she realizes that she can make better choices going forward. She has already said that if she knew then what she knows now (that he had a chance of winning) she would have voted for Hillary. That's my in. I just need to keep reminding her that we've all learned some valuable lessons about our political system and knowledge is power! We don't have to make the same mistakes twice! Let's re-elect Bob Casey and Tom Wolfe in 2018, please and thank you!
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:17 AM on February 16 [39 favorites]


What I've told my Dad is basically: "There were only two choices, you don't vote for only part of a candidate, you fully own everything they do in your name."

The reply will be: "Right—so I don't want to be responsible for owning fully everything about Crooked Hillary."

You'll never sell a candidate somebody absolutely does not want to vote for. So the better thing to tell them is: "I see your dilemma, what a tough spot you're in. Since both candidates suck, it's probably best to just stay home this time."

OPTIONAL ENDING: "...Or just leave the spot for President blank."
posted by Rykey at 7:17 AM on February 16 [15 favorites]


Here’s a little boost on a Friday morning (via The LA Times): Immigrant rights activists block Homeland Security van from accessing Metropolitan Detention Center
A crowd of immigrant rights advocates blocked a Homeland Security van late Thursday from accessing the Metropolitan Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Video footage showed dozens of people standing in the street, in front of a marked van, chanting, "Drive out ICE!" and "Stop the deportations!" Some held signs.
posted by notyou at 7:26 AM on February 16 [40 favorites]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.

I don't. But with my own family members I ask them if they would have voted for Pence if he'd been at the top of the ticket with a different VP than Trump. The answer is invariably yes. And that ends the conversation. People who would vote an extreme right-wing, gay-hating, women-hating religious ideologue into office were never, ever going to be Hillary voters. It's not worth the effort of trying to change their minds.
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on February 16 [26 favorites]


Report: Bannon Spent ‘Some 20 Hours’ In Mueller Interviews This Week

The Associated Press provides some additional details to NBC's scoop about Bannon's special counsel interviews:
Steve Bannon, the combative former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, was interrogated for 20 hours over two days this week as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the process.

The person, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, said Bannon answered every question that was put to him by Mueller’s team.
This discrepancy in Bannon's candor between the House Intel Committee and Mueller is perfectly understandable since anything he says on the Hill will be leaked straight to the Trump White House via Nunes and anything he says to Mueller will be scrutinzed for false statements. With the former, he can continue to stonewall and stretch out contempt of Congress and any ensuing court action (keeping in Team Trump's good graces). With the latter, Mueller would swiftly bring him up on charges like Michael Flynn if he lies and has already threatened to haul him in front of the grand jury if he refused to answer questions. Still, the timing of his cooperative interviews with Mueller and his campaign colleague Rick Gates's plea deal negotiations with the Special Counsel is intriguing.

Furthermore, Reuters elaborates on Mueller's lines of questioning:
Three sources familiar with the Mueller proceedings said Bannon was interviewed for a total of about 20 hours by Mueller's investigators and prosecutors. One said he had answered a range of questions, unlike his refusal to do so before the House intelligence panel.

Another said Bannon was questioned on topics including his knowledge of President Donald Trump's reasons for firing James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director last year, as well as dealings with the Russian ambassador by former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Remember how Vanity Fair recently quoted Bannon shouting about Comey's firing at the time, "There’s not a fucking thing you can do to sell this! Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn’t sell this! People aren’t stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that’s going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump’s presidency—and it’s because of you, Jared Kushner!"
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:39 AM on February 16 [27 favorites]


A person in my family in PA voted third-party, and she blamed the DNC for the election results on Thanksgiving 2016. She criticized the #metoo movement Thanksgiving 2017. Criticizing the logic of either position just brings a babble of rationalizations. I barely have enough juice to get through the day. I'm not spending energy arguing with that shit.
posted by angrycat at 7:42 AM on February 16 [23 favorites]


This discrepancy in Bannon's candor between the House Intel Committee and Mueller is perfectly understandable since anything he says on the Hill will be leaked straight to the Trump White House via Nunes and anything he says to Mueller will be scrutinzed for false statements.

I think you can explain this even more succinctly by saying that the difference is he knows he can get away with it on the Hill. He knows they're gonna let him skate on whatever BS excuse he tosses up, so why do anything that might disadvantage him? With Mueller he knows he can't pull that nonsense without consequence so he doesn't. Bannon is many odious things and I think his reputation as some sort of thinker is way overstated, but he's not a dummy when it comes to doing what's good for Bannon.
posted by phearlez at 7:45 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


When's the last time anyone actually got punished for being held in contempt of Congress? Eric Holder seems to be doing okay. Bannon isn't scared of the same fate. He is probably a lot more scared of being convicted of lying to Mueller's team.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:49 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I don't want them to change their minds. I want them to feel shitty about voting for Trump.
posted by yoga at 8:01 AM on February 16 [33 favorites]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.

I don't fricking care what people think about Hillary any more. That's what I tell them. She's history. We might as well argue about Teapot Dome. Don't tell me how awful Hillary is. She holds no public office and never will again. She is irrelevant.

I also don't care how you voted or why you voted the way you did.

I only care about what we are going to do NOW, about the problems we face NOW, due to the guy who is president NOW. If we impeach him, we don't get Hillary. We get Pence. So you have no excuse for not supporting impeachment, Ms. regretful Republican.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:01 AM on February 16 [66 favorites]


A person in my family in PA voted third-party, and she blamed the DNC for the election results on Thanksgiving 2016.

*bangs head repeatedly on the desk until the hurting stops*
posted by Talez at 8:02 AM on February 16 [13 favorites]


"You knew exactly what you were voting for. You knew. You knew his racism, you knew he was clueless about the job, you knew his record of corruption, you knew he loves Putin, you knew he pissed all over veterans and gold-star families, you knew he mocked the disabled, and you sure as hell knew he bragged about sexual assault. You knew. You knew, and you chose to vote for all that because of your vague suspicions of the clearly qualified and experienced and stable woman running against him. If you can't see the difference in voting for a woman you don't like over a disaster like Trump, you don't have the maturity or intelligence it takes to vote and you should stop voting."

...in fairness, I'm perfectly fine if any Trump-voting relatives of mine never speak to me again.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:14 AM on February 16 [134 favorites]


Also : "we are picking our contributors with care, looking for people who share Times standards in intellectual honesty and originality..."

...from the op-ed page that employs David Brooks and Maureen Dowd. Riiiiiight.
posted by Gelatin at 8:27 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


NY Times: "we're not indifferent to the question of who's right and who's wrong."
posted by chortly at 8:32 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


If anyone has any other suggestions to deal with the "against Hillary vote" tripe I am ALL ears.

What I've told my Dad is basically: "There were only two choices, you don't vote for only part of a candidate, you fully own everything they do in your name."


MeFi's own John Scalzi called it "the Cinemax theory of racism," in that, just like with basic cable, you're buying the whole package.
posted by Gelatin at 8:37 AM on February 16 [10 favorites]


"we're not indifferent to the question of who's right and who's wrong."

Almost as strong and brave a statement as the Washington Post's new motto: "Democracy Sometimes Gets Sleepy in Darkness."
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:40 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


I found this Gallup post via FiveThirtyEight: Conservative-leaning states drop and liberal ones grow:
While all 50 states were right-leaning as recently as 2010, the number of net-conservative states was 44 in 2016 and dropped to 39 in 2017, with Rhode Island, California, Oregon, Maryland and Washington all scoring as net-liberal for the first time.
A few states did become more conservative, with Wyoming leading the pack. I wonder what the future is for states like Wyoming, though - do people (who aren't just throwing darts at a map) want to live there, outside of college towns like Laramie or tourist draws like Yellowstone? Kansas is another state that became more conservative even as the ruling conservatives killed its economy, and, lacking even tourist attractions that other Plains states have, I wonder how viable its future is. We were talking in the last thread about the possibility of merging states, and I wonder if that will eventually happen, not because of politics but because a few states won't have the population they need to sustain themselves as states.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:43 AM on February 16


Daily Beast, Woodruff, Mueller Has Interviewed Trump Legal Team’s Former Spokesman, in which Mark Corallo spoke to Mueller for a couple hours. Corallo is the guy who reportedly insisted drafting the Air Force One constituted obstruction and said that Hicks promised the Don Jr emails would "never get out." Notably, Corallo was the spokesman on Trump's legal team, as the investigation moves in.

Axios, Scoop: Commerce recommends major tariffs on steel and aluminum. Oh good, we haven't threatened a trade war for a couple weeks.
posted by zachlipton at 8:55 AM on February 16 [10 favorites]


you fully own everything they do in your name.

"You wholly endorsed the entire candidate when you voted for them" thinking is why Clinton lost the election. There were a lot of people, especially in swing states, who saw clearly the terribleness of Trump, but felt that Clinton hadn't "earned their vote". It's counterproductive to double down on this terrible logic for the sake of shaming Trump voters.

There are, in most elections, two candidates. One will win. A vote is not an endorsement; it's a statement of preference. It really is the case that many Trump voters are not OK with sexual assault. I'm not OK with treating gay people as second-class citizens, but I voted for Obama in 2008 when he was explicitly against gay marriage. I didn't suddenly "own" opposing gay marriage when I voted that way.

Because Democrats have a broader ideological umbrella, in 2020 they will be running someone who is slightly out of step with either the far-left or the middle-left. Stop sending the message that Democrats should stay home in 2020 unless they're willing to unequivocally endorse the exact income level their college tuition affordability proposal is means-tested at.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:01 AM on February 16 [66 favorites]


If the bloc of Trump-hating third-party voters in PA, MI and WI had been persuaded that their vote really might put Donald Trump in the White House, Donald Trump would not be in the White House. They felt they had the privilege of using their vote to protest Hillary Clinton without preventing her inevitable triumph over the joke candidate. They were mistaken.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:13 AM on February 16 [25 favorites]


TPM, Cameron Joseph, EXCLUSIVE: Kushner Quietly Made More Fixes To His Financial Disclosures, May Have More To Come

It's 2018, and the man still hasn't managed to produce an accurate statement of his financial entanglements.
posted by zachlipton at 9:14 AM on February 16 [59 favorites]


Trump's decision to provide top-secret classified material to people who have been DENIED permanent security clearance is an on-going assault on national security that may, I repeat, may be worse than using a private email server
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:18 AM on February 16 [103 favorites]


I'm going to really resent having to be accurate filling out my taxes.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 AM on February 16 [28 favorites]


...using their vote to protest ...

This. Very much so. Older relative literally said, smiling sheepishly, "I honestly didn't think the idiot would win..."
To which I replied a fairly cogent point that was lost among the high-decibel expletives. Not my finest hour.
posted by eclectist at 9:22 AM on February 16 [14 favorites]


This seems like a good thing:
On February 16 and February 18, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), together with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), will sponsor a classified briefing for election officials from all 50 states.

This national-level classified dialogue with officials from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is part of an ongoing effort to ensure the integrity and security of the nation's election infrastructure, particularly as the risk environment evolves.

The briefings will focus on increasing awareness of foreign adversary intent and capabilities against the states’ election infrastructure, as well as a discussion of threat mitigation efforts. The goal of this collaborative event is to build an enduring partnership to ensure the sharing of timely, substantive information on threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:22 AM on February 16 [28 favorites]


Trump's decision to provide top-secret classified material to people who have been DENIED permanent security clearance

It took a while for me to wrap my head around this. When I first read about all the White House staff that don't have clearance, I was thinking it must be very inconvenient for them to work without access to classified information. It never occurred to me that Trump was just giving them the information anyway.
posted by diogenes at 9:29 AM on February 16 [27 favorites]


From CNN yesterday: At least 100 White House officials served with 'interim' security clearances until November

New interim security clearances were apparently banned in November, but people who previously had them, like Rob Porter 'n' The Kush, were grandfathered in. This makes sense because if you have been refused permanent security clearance for long enough you are no longer a viable victim of blackmail or a threat to national security, that's science
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:33 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


On February 16 and February 18, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), together with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), will sponsor a classified briefing for election officials from all 50 states.

My first thought was that this will be a sandbagging session to ensure that the Russian government agents have access to all 50 states' election systems and information. That's where my head is at how re: the Trump administration. Tin foil firmly ensconced on scalp.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:35 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


ODNI and FBI definitely want to stop Russian meddling. DHS top brass are a lot more Trumpian.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:37 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Given the most recent school shooting news about the FBI, I'm honestly pretty worried they're going to try to use this to destroy the FBI and replace it with something more Trumpian.
posted by zachlipton at 9:42 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


About “voting against Hillary”: You voted against Hillary because you believed 20 years of an orchestrated smear campaign against her by the Republican Party, even though there was no evidence of anything she was ever accused of doing. And you voted FOR a man who is on the record for sexually assaulting people, being openly racist, openly fascist, has no understanding of government and no respect for the rule of law. The country is in this position because you can’t engage in critical thinking and you believed convenient lies over difficult truths. This is your fault and you are responsible.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:44 AM on February 16 [60 favorites]




Republicans: Government should be as small as possible! Keep out of our lives!

Also Republicans: It's entirely the FBI's fault for not more actively snooping into this guy's social media activity, travel history, medical records, purchases, and home behavior, so that they could intervene before he actually did anything illegal.

Also also Republicans: It was 100% proper to sell this guy a murder cannon.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:48 AM on February 16 [55 favorites]


I didn't suddenly "own" opposing gay marriage when I voted that way.

As far as I'm concerned, you certainly would have owned it if Congress had passed an anti-gay law and he'd signed it into law. You may be choosing the least bad option but you have responsibility for what those you put in power do.

Mind you, there's a world of difference in the odds of having to own an anti-gay law, which Obama had mumblingly said he appreciated the concept of in order to get elected, and the results of electing someone whose campaign was based around racism, xenophobia, and sexism.
posted by Candleman at 9:48 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


re.: Trump vs. Bush: while the Bush administration was a terror on humanity and the cause of till this day unending deaths and tragedy, what Trump is doing is worse: he is destructing the whole structure of American society, as fast as he can, almost as if he knows he has limited time. Why is that worse than killing millions? Because even more people will die if America breaks, in America, and abroad.

Just today some stupid admiral was talking about war with China. I'm not even going to look it up for the link because it's just more of the same. Every single effing day has it's element of madness.
posted by mumimor at 9:49 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


FFS, can we not purity test the 2008 election?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:50 AM on February 16 [27 favorites]


It's going to be one of those Fridays...

@chrisgeidner: BREAKING: "A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes

Here's the indictment.

I presume this is the subject of the upcoming Rosenstein press conference.
posted by zachlipton at 9:52 AM on February 16 [96 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, you certainly would have owned it if Congress had passed an anti-gay law and he'd signed it into law

This is just wrong. Everyone near the switch during a Trolley problem is not a murderer. In an election you have candidates, all of which will have aspects you don't like, or you can choose to be a bystander and implicitly endorse the decisions of your fellow citizens. Doing the latter does not give you any ethical standing to disown the results, because all you did was delegate the decision.

FFS, can we not purity test the 2008 election?

I don't know, can we? People are purity testing the 2016 election and they're going to purity test the 2020 election as well. Odds are pretty good that impure candidates will continue to be on the ballot for the remainder of human existence, I think it's worth discussing whether or not those candidates can be voted for.

When Corey Booker takes the nomination at the DNC and a dozen shitbirds pipe up to say they're writing in Kshama Sawant because they can't vote for anyone who has ever been in the same room as a CEO, you can come back to this thread and reminisce.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:57 AM on February 16 [44 favorites]


You voted against Hillary because you believed 20 years of an orchestrated smear campaign against her by the Republican Party, even though there was no evidence of anything she was ever accused of doing. And you voted FOR a man who is on the record for sexually assaulting people, being openly racist, openly fascist, has no understanding of government and no respect for the rule of law. The country is in this position because you can’t engage in critical thinking and you believed convenient lies over difficult truths.

I'm not going to get into relitigating 2016, but, I think the media is at least partly responsible here. Low-information voters are always going to be with us. Not everyone is a political junkie, and not everyone is going to have the time or inclination for a deep dive into the background of whatever candidate. And I'm not talking about Breitbart readers on the one hand or Alternet readers on the other. I mean the people who are too busy/unconcerned/whatever to do more than skim the New York Times or CNN. And if the mainstream media is going to be mealy-mouthed, both-sidey, employ the likes of David Brooks, etc., then people - decent well-meaning people - are going to take their cues from that. If "Democracy Dies In Darkness" then the media is partly responsible for that darkness.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:57 AM on February 16 [14 favorites]


What do you mean "returned"? Translation please?
posted by yoga at 9:58 AM on February 16


Well this about sums it up (emphasis added):
Defendant ORGANIZATION had a strategic goal to sow discord int he U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ("Trump Campaign") and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Defendants also staged political rallies inside the United States, and while posing as U.S. grassroots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities and ORGANIZATION affiliation, solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates. Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activities to seek to coordinate political activities.
posted by zachlipton at 9:58 AM on February 16 [47 favorites]


This whole argument would possibly make more sense if there were any good aspects to Trump whatsoever.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign...

That "unwitting" kind of strains my credulity.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:00 AM on February 16 [32 favorites]


(in case it's not clear: This is a Mueller indictment, in his role as special counsel. wonder what they'll say when he flips them.)
posted by martin q blank at 10:00 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


> What do you mean "returned"? Translation please?

In this context, the grand jury agreed with the prosecutor that there was enough reason to formally prosecute - they've seen enough evidence that they think it's plausible (not sure about the legal standard here) that Russians really did interfere criminally in the election.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:02 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


I don't think there's a necessary contradiction between saying there's only two possible people who are going to win and you should pick the less awful/offensive/odious choice and saying that you bear some moral responsibility for the actions taken by the candidate you back. That's not talking about stringing you up for those actions, it's saying that you should go eyes-open into who you're backing.

You can assert that it's the sort of thinking that led people to vote against HRC but it's not, and your description shows that it's not apples to apples: voters who saw clearly the terribleness of Trump, but felt that Clinton hadn't "earned their vote" isn't about saying A has these bad values and B has these different values. It's about saying they saw A's bad values and they were looking for a reason not to choose B. That's stomaching known crap because there's not this other undescribed crap.

Anyone who was honestly comparing one set of bad traits to another set could sign on to saying I accept these problems because they're less bad than the other. That's not at all the same thing as a purity test. The Obama gay marriage example shows that - Obama was no more likely to oppose gay marriage than his opponent in 2008, particularly once he'd chosen Palin and all the signaling that clearly was doing. When you're creating that A/B list of good things and bad things you don't bother listing the things identical on both sides.
posted by phearlez at 10:02 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


"...they've seen enough evidence that they think it's plausible (not sure about the legal standard here) that Russians really did interfere criminally in the election."

17 US intelligence organizations kind of did too, so...
posted by klarck at 10:06 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


Yes, it's one of those Fridays. BREAKING, Bloomberg is reporting that the IRS has issued subpoenas for investors and lenders in Kushner family real estate projects.

Yeeeeee hah. Follow the money, baby.
posted by Dashy at 10:06 AM on February 16 [116 favorites]


That "unwitting" kind of strains my credulity.

It doesn't exclude the possibility that some of them were at some point witting. Not that wit is these guys's strong suit.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:07 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


@chrisgeidner: BREAKING: "A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes

ABC: Special counsel indicts 13 Russian nationals in Russia investigation
The Justice Department on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere with "with U.S. elections and political processes", according to agency.

According to the agency, "the indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft."

The indictment says that some defendants "communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign" without revealing their association with Russia. The indictment also says the defendants posted negative information about a number of candidates during the last general election.

"Defendants operations included supporting the presidential campaign on then-candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton" his Democratic rival, according to the indictment.
And just this Wednesday, Pence lied to Axios, "Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election."
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:08 AM on February 16 [28 favorites]


"By in or around May 2014, the ORGANIZATION's strategy included interfering with the 2016 US presidential election, with the stated goal of "spread[ing] distrust toward the candidates and the political system in general."

May 2014 does seem to be around when reality began to fully decouple, doesn't it?
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:08 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign...

That "unwitting" kind of strains my credulity.


You start with assessing what you think, run through what you know, then assert and charge with what you can prove. And whether the Trumpists were aware or not isn't really important with regards to the charges against these bunch; it's possible the case against them is easier to pursue or has greater penalties if you start with the claim that they were the puppet masters. By all means, defendants, show that you're not guilty in that way by demonstrating that you were actually equals in the endeavor.
posted by phearlez at 10:08 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


"...they've seen enough evidence that they think it's plausible (not sure about the legal standard here) that Russians really did interfere criminally in the election."

The indictment lays out names, dates and all of the receipts and is signed by one Robert S. Muller, III.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:10 AM on February 16 [18 favorites]


so at very least Trump is a puppet! This will drive him BONKERS!!
posted by Wilder at 10:12 AM on February 16 [15 favorites]


I was not ready for this kind of Friday. I have no snacks laid in and I've piles of work.
posted by halation at 10:12 AM on February 16 [41 favorites]


That "unwitting" kind of strains my credulity.

Did you not see that Carter Page interview?
posted by eclectist at 10:13 AM on February 16 [24 favorites]


He's already saying he'll vote for everything Trump wants: If elected, Romney associates said he would operate in the Senate as an independent-minded lawmaker but would resist being labeled as a reliable Trump critic in the model of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who regularly speaks out against the president.

I just want everyone to be reminded over and over during this senate race that

A. Romney pioneered mandatory healthcare coverage in MA and it totally worked . Curious as to how this fact is going to play out the next round of ACA attacks.

B. He ate humiliation scallops while thinking he was getting the SoS job.

C. He thought Paul Ryan would be a perfectly cromulent Vice President. Mitt Romney still sucks. Sure he sucks less than Trump, but he's benefiting from the same revisionist nostalgia that GWB is getting.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:14 AM on February 16 [44 favorites]


Yeah, "witting" requires wits.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:14 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


The bits and pieces of the indictment that people are posting on Twitter are well and truly bonkers.

Greg Sargent: "Jesus. Mueller's indictment says the accused Russians tried to suppress minority turnout:"

The tweet has screengrabs of their tactics and it's just... wow.
posted by marshmallow peep at 10:15 AM on February 16 [60 favorites]


I think the biggest thing here is that the government is laying a lot of cards on the table about its knowledge of the Internet Research Agency's operations. If you read the indictment, it's got information about their finances, organization, personnel, research trips to the US, internal communications, IT infrastructure and US-based VPNs, etc... It also confirms Twitter accounts like @TEN_GOP were operated by Russia. To what end:
By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They engaged in oeprations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.

On or about February 10, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted to ORANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Specialists were instructed to post content that focued on "poltiics in the USA" and to "use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them).
The indictment says one employee was criticized for not attacking Clinton enough and told "it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton in future posts." If you read on, they proceed to discouraging minority groups from voting or encouraging them to vote for Jill Stein, spreading accusations of voter fraud, running 13 anti-Hillary/pro-Trump ads, and staging rallies in the US. Specifically, they sought to corrdinate with members of Trump's Florida campaign to organize a rally (this is presumably where the "unwitting" comes in). An actor playing Hillary in a prison uniform, hiring someone to build a cage for said actor to pose in, the works. After the election, they organized both pro and anti-Trump rallies in New York around the same time.
posted by zachlipton at 10:17 AM on February 16 [47 favorites]


The tweet has screengrabs of their tactics and it's just... wow

Read it. It's pretty fucking juicy. The Russians were in it up to their eyeballs.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:17 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


I am reading the indictment now and my jaw is so close to the floor I can feel the carpet. Wow. Just wow.
posted by vac2003 at 10:18 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Really hope the “unwitting” won’t be a theme going forward. I dread the possibility of these assholes getting away with the “we were just dumb” angle.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:18 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Yeeeeee hah. Follow the money, baby.

In addition to the Trump Crime Family money trails, that Mueller indictment of the Russian nationals and Russian company does have stuff in it about the election in an 18 USC 371 conspiracy charge, but the meat of it for me is the identity theft + fraud charges. They even have the "These shells then paid out money" analyzed. Which ties back to my earlier comment, with the check registers from the bad guys, we find out who ELSE they were paying ( spoiler: Congress )

Classic FBI.
posted by mikelieman at 10:20 AM on February 16 [38 favorites]


I dread the possibility of these assholes getting away with the “we were just dumb” angle.

i mean
they are dumb, which is a problem
but i am nearly certain there is more to come, here; i think we just haven't got to the witting parts yet. this is probably just the overture.
posted by halation at 10:23 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I'm just assuming someone at the White House right now is desperately trying to figure out whether any of the indicted individuals are obese so they can say "see, it really was a 400-pound hacker."
posted by zachlipton at 10:23 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


I looooove me some Indictment Fridays.

If they put forth the "too dumb" defense, elected Democrats ought to consider publicizing the "hence too dumb to govern" motto.
posted by lydhre at 10:24 AM on February 16 [26 favorites]


It seems to me that alleging witting collusion in this indictment would be alleging a separate crime that would require its own indictment. It might even work as a defense for those indicted: to convict me you'll have to prove the other unindicted crime first! Merely failing to allege a crime here doesn't imply naïve innocence on the part of the Trump campaign.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:24 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]




My god, the extent of the Russian interference...
posted by diogenes at 10:28 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Hopefully the election officials meeting with ODNI/FBI/DHS have an extended lunch break so they get a chance to read the indictment. It seems pertinent.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:28 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Rosie M. Banks: Kansas is another state that became more conservative even as the ruling conservatives killed its economy, and, lacking even tourist attractions that other Plains states have, I wonder how viable its future is.

Certain parts look like they'll grow, but there's a LOT of population drop throughout Kansas in forecasts through 2064. I think that's probably a similar forecast to many western, largely rural / open states, as people move into the suburbs and out of the rural areas, though as of 2014, more than 20% of all people in the US still lived in rural areas, the largest single population category (with "suburban" broken into 4 density categories, and "urban" in 3).

Meanwhile, U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050 from Pew Social Trends indicated that the bulk of the U.S. population growth will be due to immigrants and the children of immigrants. No wonder the Republicans are so scared of the future.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:30 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


It feels like Mueller's strategy is "first of all, this really fucking happened." Then he can proceed to make the connections to Trump.
posted by diogenes at 10:30 AM on February 16 [92 favorites]


The details include mention of a #voterfraud disinformation campaign in various states.
posted by rc3spencer at 10:31 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Trump to announce that Russia will be banned from meddling in the 2018 election, unless their uniforms are emboidered with the approved Election Meddlers from Russia logo
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:31 AM on February 16 [14 favorites]


Congrats to the administration on another successful Infrastructure Week.
posted by joedan at 10:31 AM on February 16 [140 favorites]


What happens with this indictment? Is a warrant for arrest issued against them? Zero chance they’d be extradited I suppose.
posted by Room 101 at 10:31 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Did you not see that Carter Page interview?

Carter Page absolutely knows he is a Russian spy. The unwitting aspect is that he doesn't seem to know that everybody else knows that.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on February 16 [29 favorites]


Congrats to the administration on another successful Infrastructure Week.

Have the tires left the tarmac for golf yet?
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on February 16 [13 favorites]


is anyone willing to wade through the #MAGATS to see how they are spinning this? Take one for the team, even? I spent more than 1 hour in there this week looking at the Florida conspiracies and I just can't even...

(also it's a rare date night with OH of 30 yrs who's been on-call nights for a week.....We're going to Black Panther!! someone do me a favour, please?
posted by Wilder at 10:33 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


It feels like Mueller's strategy is "first of all, this really fucking happened." Then he can proceed to make the connections to Trump.

And he's showing the Trump people just how much he already has from the Russian's side. Everyone in that White House right now is wondering what else he knows, and every move up the ladder makes it more likely people start flipping.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:36 AM on February 16 [18 favorites]


It seems to me that alleging witting collusion in this indictment would be alleging a separate crime that would require its own indictment.
Then he could have just left of the unwitting qualifier, right?
posted by LarsC at 10:37 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


Link to Rod Rosenstein's announcement stream on C-SPAN. (est. 1:30pm EST)
posted by Donald Trump Sex Nightmare


Is this eponysterical? I can't decide. (Linked again because if you aren't listening to it, you should.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:37 AM on February 16


Whoa, that was a lot of gulping, and then active fleeing by Rosenstein.
posted by rc3spencer at 10:39 AM on February 16


Rosenstein keeps answering journalists questions by saying "there is no allegation in this indictment of knowing co-operation by any Americans"... "what I'm telling you is about allegations in this indictment". It's clearly a pre-vetted line.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:39 AM on February 16 [65 favorites]


It is entirely possible that this is the unwitting side of the operation, while the witting conspiracy came from Jr and co.
posted by lydhre at 10:39 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


What’s a great source for live updates of the Rosenstein briefing???
posted by gucci mane at 10:40 AM on February 16




Imagine being the person who dressed up like Hillary at the Florida rally, seeing yourself described in this indictment, and realizing that the people you were working with (and got paid by) were freaking Russian spies. That's gonna mess with your head.
posted by diogenes at 10:43 AM on February 16 [35 favorites]


Rosenstein keeps answering journalists questions by saying "there is no allegation in this indictment of knowing co-operation by any Americans"

Trump and the Republican co-conspirators will be claiming this afternoon that Rosenstien just cleared Trump and the Special Council should be over now, just wait for it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:43 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Things would really get interesting if this indictment is a prelude to filing the revised indictment and plea deal for Rick Gates showing some cooperation from the Trump campaign. Haven't heard any rumors about Gates other than shady dealings in Ukraine, though, so I don't know how likely that is.
posted by stopgap at 10:45 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Imagine being the person who dressed up like Hillary at the Florida rally, seeing yourself described in this indictment, and realizing that the people you were working with (and got paid by) were freaking Russian spies. That's gonna mess with your head.

I wouldn't worry about that person having any capacity for critical self-reflection.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:45 AM on February 16 [71 favorites]


It's pretty clear that there are other sides of the operation, since this indictment doesn't mention email hacking, among other things we know happened.

I'd also like to point your attention, because it's incredible and hilarious, to paragraph 12 of the indictment, in which the Internet Research Agency uses one of their social media accounts to get an unnamed US person to stand outside the White House under false pretenses (I'm pretty curious what those are really) holding a sign reading "Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss" two days before Defendant's Yevgeniy Prigozhin's birthday.
posted by zachlipton at 10:46 AM on February 16 [25 favorites]


Artw: Have the tires left the tarmac for golf yet?

Hey now, he's going to Florida for presidential purposes!
I will be leaving for Florida today to meet with some of the bravest people on earth – but people whose lives have been totally shattered. Am also working with Congress on many fronts. [Tweet]
And the Oklahoman was so good as to point out that Trump was already set to leave Friday for a weekend at his Palm Beach resort, on top of the usual references to the fact that Trump provided no clarification on what he meant in his Tweet.

I can totally imagine that he's meeting with his family and associates, huddling together to plan their escape, or how to spin Mueller's and Rosenstein's announcements. And then some golf.

What, you thought he'd actually meet with survivors and victims? Hah!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:46 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


[Folks, maybe focus more on detail of the indictment and presser and less on general riffing re: the situation, so this thread doesn't balloon.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:47 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


T.D. Strange: Trump and the Republican co-conspirators will be claiming this afternoon that Rosenstien just cleared Trump and the Special Council should be over now, just wait for it.

The CBS News live stream updates has someone noting that we still have to wait and see if any Americans are included, which could easily be spun into "look, they didn't say our names!" by the GOP and Trump.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:48 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


They don’t need their names mentioned for an obstruction case, it just needs to be proven that they intended to obstruct the investigation.
posted by gucci mane at 10:50 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


The people who will inevitably say "those Russian Twitter bots didn't affect my vote!" are the same who say advertising doesn't work on them. That's exactly why it works, my dude.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:51 AM on February 16 [55 favorites]


matthewamiller: Curious about the interagency process behind this. Usually before this kind of indictment, DOJ would consult with State, the IC, the WH. Obviously that’s tricky here...
posted by Chrysostom at 10:52 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Two, presumably soon to be three, people convicted of felonies. Fourteen other individuals indicted with felonies. And a President who calls the entire investigation a hoax. Why would the President make such a manifestly absurd claim about his own Department of Justice? It is because he is guilty.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:54 AM on February 16 [32 favorites]


And a President who calls the entire investigation a hoax.

Yup, this tweet isn't aging well:

"Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!"
posted by diogenes at 10:57 AM on February 16 [19 favorites]


@ABCPolitics: President Trump was briefed this morning by FBI Director Chris Wray and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein on the indictments against 13 Russians and Russian organizations, U.S. officials tell @ABC News.

I'm going to go out on a limb and assume this meeting didn't go so well.

One thing worth emphasizing here is the light this indictment casts on all of Trump's desires to fire Mueller and his actual firing of Comey. It's not just obstructing the investigation into him and his campaign; it's obstructing the investigation into what Russia did during the election. That, in an of itself, is treasonous.

This is also quite true. @hannahgais: literally everything that has been said in a russian ad about clinton was broadcasted to the american public for YEARS by the conservative media. none of this is new--if anything the IRA was following our lead.
posted by zachlipton at 10:58 AM on February 16 [74 favorites]


Question: "...Were campaign officials cooperative, or were they duped? What was their relationship with this?"

Rosenstein: "There is no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge..."

So, dupes it is then.
posted by mikepop at 10:58 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Commerce recommends major tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Note that the options to exclude are BRICs and developing countries.

Here's what the market for aluminum imports is:
Import Sources (2012–15): Canada, 59%; Russia and United Arab Emirates, 6% each; China, 5%; and other, 24%.
(source USGS PDF)

As for Steel: "Canada accounted for the largest share of U.S. imports by source country at 17 percent (5.2 mmt), followed by Brazil at 13 percent (3.9 mmt), South Korea at 12 percent (3.5 mmt), Mexico at 9 percent (2.7 mmt), and Turkey at 7 percent (2.2 mmt).

While the rankings of the top 10 source countries for U.S. imports has fluctuated over time, Canada has retained the top spot"

(source PDF)

IOW is this the latest shot in the US-Canada trade war that been going on ever since the Trumpists came to power, over a year ago.
posted by bonehead at 11:00 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


I was not ready for this kind of Friday. I have no snacks laid in and I've piles of work.

I'm ready. I have piles of Girl Scout cookies that I'm willing to plow through for the cause, and I could get started on my taxes in between page reloads.

Bring it on, Mueller!
posted by Dashy at 11:00 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


zachlipton: This is also quite true. @hannahgais: literally everything that has been said in a russian ad about clinton was broadcasted to the american public for YEARS by the conservative media. none of this is new--if anything the IRA was following our lead.

It’s probably bc the GOP and their affiliated groups are Russian proxies.
posted by gucci mane at 11:01 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


"no allegation in this indictment" doesn't preclude allegations in another indictment. well played, rosenstein.
posted by halation at 11:02 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Really hope the “unwitting” won’t be a theme going forward. I dread the possibility of these assholes getting away with the “we were just dumb” angle.

It's not necessarily bad. Being dumb is not always a defense, if it can be shown that someone ought to have known something, or failed to meet some standard of reasonable awareness and alert whomever -- a negligence aspect, basically. Or perhaps willfully blind. Also, depending on the fact situation, claiming that they were just dumb may go to their credibility overall.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:03 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


There's absolutely no reason to worry about the "unwitting" part. This indictment is just for one branch of the Russian operation. There were others.
posted by diogenes at 11:03 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Today reminds me a great deal of the end of A Fish Called Wanda
posted by rc3spencer at 11:04 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


T.D. Strange: Trump and the Republican co-conspirators will be claiming this afternoon that Rosenstien just cleared Trump and the Special Council should be over now, just wait for it.

It's already starting. One of the headlines on Drudge right now:

Trump cleared? Indictment says Russians worked with 'unwitting' participants...
posted by joedan at 11:04 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Tip toeing through r/the_donald shows that they've latched on to the fact that it states it was operating to support Bernie as well, that they doctored IDs (demands for voter ID), and that it amounts to they were mean on the internet. And definitely that it absolves their campaign of anything because it just happened around them.
posted by msbutah at 11:07 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Regarding protest votes against Hillary, I guess the thing is this: voting is about responsibility, and I can understand the logic behind protest votes though I don't find it justified in most cases. But voting for Trump was not a normal protest vote, for this reason: he went out of his way to stir up hatred towards whole segments of the population. He launched his campaign that way. He worked his crowds up that way at every single rally, he whipped up a frenzy of anti-Hispanic, anti-black, anti-semitic, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist, anti-those terrible trans people who want to assault you in your bathrooms, anti-anything that worked people up-passion. He brought people who built their careers on sowing hatred into his team. This was a candidate that caused the rate of hate crimes to go up significantly during his campaign. "I don't think he's actually racist," people say - but it doesn't matter whether he personally bears animus towards these groups. He used other people's hatred, manipulated it, made it an acceptable thing to bring into the highest levels of politics as pure text, not even the traditional subtext. And that has consequences now and it had them during the campaign.

America is a country founded on the principle that the legitimacy of a government derives purely from how it treats its people. You had a candidate going far out of his way to whip up rage and resentment and hatred against whole portions of that people. A candidate encouraging people to feel, and to scream, that they were under attack by most of their fellow citizens.

So he wasn't a normal candidate, and to vote for him was, at best, to say "eh, I guess maybe there's a chance I'm voting for a government that will gleefully hurt its own people, but that's a risk I'm willing to take."

Trump voters can't undo what they did. But they can at least, if they actually regret it, work now to protect some small group of the people their choice harms.
posted by trig at 11:08 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Another Mueller plea just dropped.

Looks like it's an American who helped the Russians get phony American personas.
posted by diogenes at 11:09 AM on February 16 [46 favorites]


Bloomberg, developing: Mueller Announces Guilty Plea of California Man in Investigation

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday released plea deal with Richard Pinedo, saying he knowingly used the IDs of other people in connection with “unlawful activity” and was paid at least $1,000 for doing so, Bloomberg News reports.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:10 AM on February 16 [13 favorites]


The description of the ads they ran specifically to get black and Muslim voters to stay home or vote for Stein are so infuriatingly obvious.

They also ran anti-Trump rallies after the election, in case you were wondering whose side they were on (Putin's).
posted by uncleozzy at 11:10 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


It’s probably bc the GOP and their affiliated groups are Russian proxies.

I really want to push back here. Russia did a lot, absolutely, but we can't pretend all our problems are the result of foreign meddling. There are plenty of Americans, free from foreign interference, who happily jumped on the "Hillary for prison" train and spread every one of these messages themselves.

Russia zeroed in on divisions in our society with uncanny precision and sought to exploit them, but we're letting ourselves off the hook if we believe this stuff also isn't something we need to own ourselves as a country.
posted by zachlipton at 11:11 AM on February 16 [112 favorites]


It's already starting. One of the headlines on Drudge right now:

Yep. The MAGA accounts are already trimphant that Rosenstein cleared Trump, as if this is the last shoe to drop.

But watch for which Republican electeds take this up, because the threat will be if they try to use this as the rationale to shut it all down.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:11 AM on February 16 [10 favorites]


Yep. The Russians wouldn't have gotten this far if we didn't have millions of Americans already primed to vote with their racism and misogyny.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:12 AM on February 16 [46 favorites]


Really, really, dumb to the point of obliviousness about who was lending material assistance to their campaign, and then, just by sheer coincidence, really really strangely friendly and obsequious toward Putin to the point of modifying the party platform to be more pro-Russia, then failing to enact anti-Russian sanctions mandated by law.
posted by contraption at 11:12 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


Republicans are spinning this hard that the actual news is that Rosenstein declared that no Americans knowingly cooperated with Russians. (He didn't say that obviously, but that's what they're saying he said.)
posted by the turtle's teeth at 11:13 AM on February 16


I don’t know how to “read” indictments but section 47 (or paragraph 47?) talks about Russian bots spreading misinformation about the Democrats and voter fraud. Funny how the president latched onto that story real quick.
posted by gucci mane at 11:15 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


So just checking...we can't arrest these Russians, right?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:15 AM on February 16


From p. 24 of the indictment, section titled "Destruction of Evidence":

58.d. Defendants and their co-conspirators thereafter destroyed evidence for the purpose of impeding the investigation. On or about September 13, 2017, KAVERZINA wrote in an email to a family member: "We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues." KAVERZINA further wrote, "I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people."
posted by crepesofwrath at 11:18 AM on February 16 [18 favorites]


So just checking...we can't arrest these Russians, right?

We're going to ask Russia to extradite them. I'm sure they'll hop right to it.
posted by Jpfed at 11:19 AM on February 16 [14 favorites]


There's absolutely no reason to worry about the "unwitting" part.

Indeed. By saying they were unwitting, that's one less element which needs to be proven, and one less thing which a defense can attack. K.I.S.S.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:20 AM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign

This could be as simple as stuff like Donald Jr. retweeting various Russian owned twitter accounts. I'm sure he talked to entities like @TEN_GOP in addition to following them and spreading their message.
posted by diogenes at 11:22 AM on February 16


What is it with these fucking people and talking about crimes over email?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:22 AM on February 16 [17 favorites]


The Russians sending their indicted folks over is about as likely as Mexico paying for the wall.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:25 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Someone please create a Facebook app that scrapes your social network and creates a ranked list of your Facebook friends and how many times they each shared Russian propaganda. This needs to be a teaching moment for the American public.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:28 AM on February 16 [72 favorites]


The Russians sending their indicted folks over is about as likely as Mexico paying for the wall.

But it does put a nice bit of extra pressure on Trump to at least put on a show of being against the interference, and maybe even enact the sanctions that Congress passed and that are the law of the land.
posted by contraption at 11:29 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]




In other words, all that "unwitting" means is that people in the Trump campaign weren't always aware that that they were talking to Russians. That is unrelated to the question of whether or not they were ever aware of it.
posted by diogenes at 11:30 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


paid at least $1,000 for doing so

So cheap! It always gets me how low people will sell themselves out for. Similar with campaign contributions. Sad.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:30 AM on February 16 [25 favorites]


Unfortunately, since so many of the propaganda accounts have been pulled down, the posts are no longer on your friends' feeds.
posted by zachlipton at 11:31 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Facebook has all that data. They should be legally compelled to make it public.
posted by contraption at 11:32 AM on February 16 [47 favorites]


Re: unwitting, there's a line in the account-fraud guy's plea that he "willfully and intentionally avoided learning about the use of stolen identities." If you can plead to that, can you indict on it?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:35 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Twitter emailed those who engaged with the IRA bots directly, IIRC. Facebook lets you see if you did or not at their help center.
posted by msbutah at 11:35 AM on February 16 [8 favorites]


NYT on the Daddy Troll, pictured serving Putin dinner.
posted by rc3spencer at 11:37 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


The Daily Beast had an article posted a while ago detailing the interactions that Don Jr, Flynn, and Flynn Jr had with @TEN_GOP, including Don Jr reposting the election fraud tweet.
posted by gucci mane at 11:40 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


Kyle Griffin‏: Rep. Jerry Nadler, top Judiciary Committee Democrat: “At this point, any step President Trump may take to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation... will have to be seen as a direct attempt to aid the Russian government in attacking American democracy.”
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:40 AM on February 16 [109 favorites]


I've been on a several month long FB hiatus (not deleting my account just yet because of family messenger groups), but I'm pretty sure I know which of my right and left extremist "friends" were spreading fake news i.e. what we now know was Russian propaganda. I guess I'm old enough I remember how it worked during the cold war.
There's one person I'm ambivalent about, they knew Trump would win the election well in advance, and of course no-one believed them. It's a typical ultra billionaire libertarian data nerd, so maybe they just focused on the data instead of the noise, or maybe they had information we didn't.
posted by mumimor at 11:40 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


But watch for which Republican electeds take this up, because the threat will be if they try to use this as the rationale to shut it all down

This spin is not going to work very well for them, I don't think. The "Trump and his campaign were unwitting" line requires them to admit that it happened. And once they admit that, I think they have lost the battle.

Because it does not matter whether it is ever proved that Trump personally broke whatever specific US federal statute. Just like it didn't matter whether Hillary's server was actually illegal. People are terrible with details.

That is not how clouds of scandal work. Once even Trump supporters are forced to say "Yes, Russia helped Trump, but..." whatever comes after the "but" will be forgotten, I think. There will be no dispelling that cloud of scandal.

This is huge progress, if they are admitting it happened. It was so frustrating in December 2016 when even most Democrats I knew were dismissing accounts of the Russian meddling as conspiracy theories. The truth is, very slowly, winning. So far.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:42 AM on February 16 [60 favorites]


Once even Trump supporters are forced to say "Yes, Russia helped Trump, but..." whatever comes after the "but" will be forgotten, I think

True, but it will be even better if we get to "Yes, Trump worked with Russia to undermine our electoral system and then worked on their behalf, but..."
posted by diogenes at 11:45 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


Regarding the inevitable stretching of "unwitting" into "zero Trump campaign members ever knew that the Russian government was working to help them", we don't even have to speculate how unlikely that is. We already know it's totally inaccurate, and we know because of the damn Agalarov/Goldstone/Don-Jr email about "Russia and its support"/"I love it" and the subsequent meeting. Right? Don Jr could well have been unwitting that TEN_GOP was specifically Russian, but he sure as heck knew that Russia was supporting the campaign, offering help, etc.

I feel like there's no coherent defense left for Team Trump to present except a flat-out "All's fair in elections." Like, our candidate was the best one, so it doesn't matter what we did to try to win. And then.... I guess they'd have to justify all of Trump's constant lying about it with "The liberal media and crooked Deep State wouldn't understaaand". Just full-on Jessup Defense.

But the key word in what I said is "coherent"; most likely, they'll not bother with such reality-based nonsense.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:47 AM on February 16 [9 favorites]


Hypothetically, if any of the indicted Russians have significant assets in the US, could those assets be frozen until the indicted parties show up to stand trial?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:47 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, on our domestic efforts to subvert democracy and suppress the vote...

@PoliticsWolf:
Wow: NC GOP has passed a *3rd* law to remove the Dem majority from the elections board so Dems can't reverse past GOP voter suppression. Courts already blocked their first 2 attempts, so they cynically tied this 1 to an unrelated edu. bill Dems had favored
North Carolina Republicans included no severability clause, so they're basically forcing Dems to invalidate these education-related provisions if Dems try to sue again over the elections board. NC GOP has gone to unbelievable extremes to undermine democracy #NCpol
posted by zachlipton at 11:48 AM on February 16 [79 favorites]


Hypothetically, if any of the indicted Russians have significant assets in the US, could those assets be frozen until the indicted parties show up to stand trial?

as much as I would like to literally encase Nunes, Flynn, the entire Trump family, etc in ice I don't see this happening
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:49 AM on February 16 [24 favorites]


Rosestein said that there was "no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this activity" (emphasis mine)

and then Mueller drops

plea deal with Richard Pinedo, saying he knowingly used the IDs of other people in connection with “unlawful activity” and was paid at least $1,000 for doing so

so it sounds like Rosenstein was
a) choosing his words very carefully
b) unaware of the other bullets Mueller had in his gun today
posted by murphy slaw at 11:50 AM on February 16 [24 favorites]


as much as I would like to literally encase Nunes, Flynn, the entire Trump family, etc in ice I don't see this happening

surely this is a more elegant solution anyway
posted by halation at 11:51 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


Josh Marshall says what I've been thinking:

Important to remember: virtually all the detail in this indictment must come from counter-intelligence info/work product which President Trump has had access to and quite likely has been briefed on.

Trump knew most of this as he continued to tell the American people that it was all a hoax.
posted by diogenes at 11:52 AM on February 16 [62 favorites]


Trump knew

I feel like there's a gap between "Trump was told" and "Trump knew."
posted by uncleozzy at 11:54 AM on February 16 [113 favorites]


That is not how clouds of scandal work. Once even Trump supporters are forced to say "Yes, Russia helped Trump, but..." whatever comes after the "but" will be forgotten, I think. There will be no dispelling that cloud of scandal.

Counterpoint: Trump voters and the Republican party (same, I know) have willfully ignored one nightmare after another about this guy since he started. They have shown zero signs of anything being over the line.

As evidence, allow me to present the entire presidential campaign and the administration in the White House that has followed it.

But God, I really hope I'm wrong and you're right.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:55 AM on February 16 [10 favorites]


"Trump knew most of this as he continued to tell the American people that it was all a hoax"

Unless it was in one of those reports he didn't read or briefings he didn't pay attention to.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:55 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]




T.D. Strange: Donald Trump Jr. retweeting the Russian controlled @TEN_GOP account named in the indictment

Not just retweeted, followed, and White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway also retweeted @TEN_GOP, but that's all old news, from January when Twitter emailed 677,775 people to tell them that they interacted with Kremlin-linked trolls.

contraption: Facebook has all that data. They should be legally compelled to make it public.

They have an app a tool for that, as of Dec. 22, 2017. Well, this tool will let users see whether they liked or followed any Facebook pages or Instagram accounts created by the Internet Research Agency, the troll farm with links to the Kremlin that has sought to spread chaos in U.S. politics.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:00 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


Artw: How much did Mitch McConnell know about Russian interference and when did he know it?

McConnel stopped Obama from "calling out Russians" -- he knew, and he knew that the then-president knew.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:01 PM on February 16 [47 favorites]


@jdawsey1: Press was invited to get on Air Force One, then rushed off and hurried back inside as Melania Trump's motorcade pulled up. Some screaming from a White House press aide. No pictures allowed of first lady's arrival.

What the what now? Also, why do they have separate motorcades?
posted by zachlipton at 12:02 PM on February 16 [26 favorites]


Another Mueller plea just dropped.

Seriously, I am perfectly willing to eat Girl Scout cookies until I vomit, here.
posted by Dashy at 12:03 PM on February 16 [67 favorites]


We probably won't get to know the details during my lifetime, but my feeling is that some people made the decision when Trump was elected that he was not to be fully briefed ever. Which is obviously highly problematic, but the alternative would be to serve sensitive knowledge directly to Russia. Also not good.
posted by mumimor at 12:03 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


If I dug through my Twitter history I could probably find myself RTing or replying to @Ten_GOP in some manner of "go to hell" response. I fully understood there was a massive propaganda effort going on, knew it was sophisticated, but this one still has my jaw on the floor. I 100% believed that account was some actual American Republican of Tennessee, if not an actual party functionary.

...and we can have a long talk about why a Russian troll account could so believably pose as a regular old GOP account without anyone ever saying, "Gosh, this seems really batshit even for Republicans on Twitter."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:03 PM on February 16 [12 favorites]


why do they have separate motorcades?

LOL because they fucken hate each other.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:04 PM on February 16 [77 favorites]


so it sounds like Rosenstein was
a) choosing his words very carefully


He's a lawyer. Any half-decent lawyer (or even politician) for that matter will choose their words wisely in a time like this. Hell, I started talking like that quite often (to the annoyance of my wife, which made me realize I was doing it) after casually telling some local folks about what I did or didn't know about a land use planning and zoning issue that then got spun around in a public meeting.

It's not hard to choose your words wisely. It's boastful idiots who come out guns a blazin' and repeatedly shoot themselves in the feet about their illegal activities.

(Then again, I can imagine that it's hard to remember what to say and to whom if you've been involved with shady deals for decades, to the point that it's your standard operating procedures to partner with Russian mobsters.)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:05 PM on February 16 [8 favorites]


What the what now? Also, why do they have separate motorcades?

One of my many fantasies is of Melania becoming the first First Lady to divorce a sitting President. She didn't want any of this shit to begin with.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:05 PM on February 16 [38 favorites]


some people made the decision when Trump was elected that he was not to be fully briefed ever

This is essentially what Susan Rice's email of January 20th said, but not in so many words. She met with Obama, Comey and Yates and they decided not to have the FBI fully brief the incoming President.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:06 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


It's not hard to choose your words wisely.

You only think that because you're not a fuckin dummy willing to work for crooks and idiots.
posted by phearlez at 12:08 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


So an hour ago I was reading the debate here about supporting candidates who hold one or more terrible positions, and then I went and signed up for Postcards to Voters, and the sample postcard they had me write was for Marie Newman, who's the progressive running against Democrat-in-Name-Only Dan Lipinski in Illinois. And I found this quote in The Atlantic about NARAL's support for Marie Newman, who's running for her first office but has been involved in politics before:
It was that kind of preparation that impressed progressive activists, who have long grumbled about Lipinski but never found a challenger they viewed as strong enough to take him out. “We believe in her, and that’s the No. 1 reason,” said Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s president. “And let’s just be clear: It’s not that we didn’t know he was super bad on our issues and on a lot of the issues we care about prior to this year. But you have to have a credible alternative, and he just really hadn’t to this point.”
So:
* sometimes you have to support a terrible candidate like Lipinski because there's literally no better option
* when you get a better option, you have to work hard to get that person elected

I had never heard of Marie Newman until today (okay, I see she was mentioned in the previous politics thread, but apparently that didn't register with me), but I am really excited to know she's running, and I hope my first real Postcards to Voters addresses will be for her campaign. I might even send her a donation and a note saying I'm doing Postcards to Voters for her.

just one worker bee toward better options,

Kristi
posted by kristi at 12:08 PM on February 16 [43 favorites]


She didn't want any of this shit to begin with.

Wrong. She's a complicit birther.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:09 PM on February 16 [40 favorites]


I keep thinking back to Trump during one of the debates when asked if he'd dispute the results of the election, and saying he'd have to see what they were. That mother fucker knew all along.
posted by Twain Device at 12:09 PM on February 16 [35 favorites]


This is essentially what Susan Rice's email of January 20th said, but not in so many words. She met with Obama, Comey and Yates and they decided not to have the FBI fully brief the incoming President.

That is some beautiful, America-loving, patriotic shit right there. God bless america.
posted by valkane at 12:09 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


She didn't want any of this shit to begin with.

Wrong. She's a complicit birther.


Come on people, lets try to work together. Why can't both of you be right? She's on the record as a racist, complicit birther, sure. But everything I've read says that she didn't want Trump to win the presidency. It's not that she cares about the poors or the bullied or America in general, it's that this whole presidency thing has messed up her fancy New York society lifestyle and forced her into the public eye.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:27 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Then she could’ve divorced him the last three times he ran for president. Or during the campaign, like Scaramucci’s wife (they reconciled, but still, she filed, so clearly she was prepared to DTFMA).
posted by Autumnheart at 12:31 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]



That mother fucker knew all along.

@realDonaldTrump "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!"

Bold strategy.. Let's see how it works out.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 12:31 PM on February 16 [56 favorites]


Meanwhile, note that Trump & co. are letting polluters off the hook left and right, with "44 percent fewer cases and a 49 percent drop in penalties compared to the average results during the first year of the Obama, Bush, and Clinton Administrations."

In a noteworthy case, the EPA announced it was seeking $4.8 million in civil penalties from Syngenta in 2016 for exposing workers to pesticides. Under Pruitt, that amount has been cut to $150,000.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:32 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]


I keep thinking back to Trump during one of the debates when asked if he'd dispute the results of the election, and saying he'd have to see what they were. That mother fucker knew all along.

To be fair, Trump has been disputing the results of the election ever since, even though he won.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:33 PM on February 16 [30 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong - no collusion!"

The White House just put out an official statement as well:
Earlier today, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced indictments against 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, which began in 2014 before the President declared his candidacy. President Donald J. Trump has been fully briefed on this matter and is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates—that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.

President Trump says, “it is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”
posted by cjelli at 12:35 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions.

The BALLS.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:37 PM on February 16 [80 favorites]


oh my god, NO COLLUSION is in fact in ALL CAPS in the actual official statement
he definitely made them do that, didn't he
posted by halation at 12:38 PM on February 16 [97 favorites]


You know Trump insisted they write that with the dopey all-caps. I'd feel bad for those press flacks if they weren't working for that scum willingly.
posted by phearlez at 12:38 PM on February 16 [9 favorites]


President Donald J. Trump has been fully briefed on this matter and is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates—that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.
It bears repeating that the indictment released today does not indicate any of this -- it doesn't address it either way.
posted by cjelli at 12:38 PM on February 16 [62 favorites]


President Trump says, “it is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions. We must unite as Americans to protect the integrity of our democracy and our elections.”
So . . do you think that's real glassware on Air Force One, or plasticware?
posted by rc3spencer at 12:38 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


President Trump says, “it is more important than ever before

Oh, man. Has anyone else been absolutely unable to take the construction "now more than ever" seriously since 2001, or is it just me?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:39 PM on February 16 [7 favorites]


JFC ALL CAPS IN AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT?! IS NOTHING SACRED?!
edit: Jinx!
posted by eclectist at 12:39 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


he definitely made them do that, didn't he

"Can you make it do the thing where a bunch of balloons float to the top of the screen when they read it?"
posted by uncleozzy at 12:40 PM on February 16 [46 favorites]


So, is this the first instance where he has admitted Russian interference in the election?
posted by valkane at 12:42 PM on February 16 [8 favorites]


So, is this the first instance where he has admitted Russian interference in the election?

Besides the time he asked them to find Hillary's emails during a speech?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:44 PM on February 16 [86 favorites]


glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates—that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia

I'm A-OK with Trump beating this drum, and his followers following suit. It'll be that much more satisfying to hear the howling that results from his removal from office or imprisonment.

I'm also A-OK with the people inside his campaign and administration (and Congress) absolutely shitting themselves over the knowledge that no, this isn't going away, and yes, it's looking worse for them every day. Make an example of them for future numbnuts thinking about getting into bed with enemies of democracy (inside the USA and out).
posted by Rykey at 12:52 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


Besides the time he asked them to find Hillary's emails during a speech?

Fair point, but I meant as President. He’s denied all along. Plus, when he gives speeches I discount everything as lies, or, like the bully he is, he will retract with a “I was just kidding!”
posted by valkane at 12:53 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Bloomberg, Mueller Still Investigating Possible Collusion, Source Says
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors have not concluded their investigation into whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person with knowledge of the probe.

Friday’s indictment of a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” and 13 Russian nationals should be seen as a limited slice of a comprehensive investigation, the person said. Mueller’s work is expected to continue for months and also includes examining potential obstruction of justice by Trump, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an investigation that is largely confidential.
no collusion?
posted by zachlipton at 12:53 PM on February 16 [62 favorites]


Well, BOOM! Nuclear BOOM! even. And perhaps even making some headway towards a "surely this" moment . . .

A few thoughts:

* The "Hillary in Cage" float being staged, bought, and paid for by Russian State operatives is surely one of the great political images of all time.

* Some of the most notable interference was in the Republican primary election. Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Bush, etc should be throwing an absolute hissy fit over this. We'll see if they do.

* The Russians are clearly not pro-Republican or pro-Trump. Rather, they are anti-American. (Or, to put a finer point on it, pro-Putin.) They supported Trump and Sanders and Stein during the election because they thought that would be most disruptive. Immediately after the election they supported both pro AND anti Trump rallies because they thought that would be most disruptive. They push extremist angles to every side of the political spectrum, because their goal is to polarize and divide.

The final point may be worth emphasizing in discussions with your conservative friends. Putin doesn't love conservatives, Republicans, or Trump. Trump maybe *thinks* he does . . .
posted by flug at 12:56 PM on February 16 [49 favorites]


> * The "Hillary in Cage" float being staged, bought, and paid for by Russian State operatives is surely one of the great political images of all time.

We really need to find a photo of this ASAP. I've found photos online of "Hillary in a cage" parade floats but they are like from Iowa and Pennsylvania. No luck in Florida, yet.
posted by flug at 12:58 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]


Kelly makes changes to White House security clearance process after abuse allegations against top aide (WaPo):
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, under pressure over his handling of allegations of domestic abuse against a top aide, has approved an overhaul of how the White House manages security-clearance investigations, acknowledging missteps but putting the onus on the FBI and the Justice Department to now hand-deliver updates and provide more information.
...
The memo says the FBI and Justice Department have offered their cooperation with Kelly’s requests in recent days, and that “going forward, all [background investigations] of potential Commissioned Officers should be flagged for the FBI at the outset and then hand-delivered to the White House Counsel personally upon completion. The FBI official who delivers these files should verbally brief the White House Counsel on any information in those files they deem to be significantly derogatory.”
...
Kelly puts an emphasis in the memo on how it’s not the White House’s sole responsibility to adapt and move faster to learn about the FBI’s conclusions on background investigations, despite Wray’s statement.
Kelly is not trying to fix the problem, but trying to assign the blame to the FBI for not doing his job for him.
posted by peeedro at 12:59 PM on February 16 [21 favorites]


[Great fiddly fuck let us not do another 2016 primaries dance here.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on February 16 [124 favorites]


Really, really, dumb to the point of obliviousness about who was lending material assistance to their campaign

I don't think I saw 52 USC 30121 in the Russian indictment, which makes contributions explicitly forbidden along with promises of support by foreign nationals. Like that time the Russians emailed the campaign saying, "We have dirt on Clinton and would like to meet with you to give it to you".

Then the campaign ( Junior ) said. "Sure, under 18 USC 2, I'd love to be chargeable as a principal in the crime, so who should I tell security to send up?"

That's gonna be the final shoe to drop.
posted by mikelieman at 1:07 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]


Michael Shear, NYT: Indictments Present a New Political Reality for a President Crying ‘Hoax’
... By laying out in excruciating detail the evidence of Russian meddling spanning the last four years, Mr. Mueller instantly created a new political reality for Mr. Trump. It remains unclear how the president will respond to that reality. In addition to saying that he believed Mr. Putin’s denial, Mr. Trump has repeatedly condemned those who have said that the Russian meddling occurred, including members of his own intelligence community.
Please proceed...
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:08 PM on February 16 [23 favorites]


He took their money. That’s where this is all gonna end.
posted by valkane at 1:11 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


> NRA and their blood money

After the indictment today, if I were someone even remotely associated with running the NRA--which has accepted perhaps as much as tens of millions of dollars of Russian money and put it towards political campaigning in recent years--I would be quaking in my boots pretty hard right now.
posted by flug at 1:11 PM on February 16 [41 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump "Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President."

ey, the Genovese mob's been runnin' this town since I was in knee pants you know what I'm sayin', who cares if I skim a little cream off da top
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:12 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


Kelly is not trying to fix the problem, but trying to assign the blame to the FBI for not doing his job for him.

Same song and dance that ICE is trying to play against sanctuary cities.
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


I don't think I saw 52 USC 30121 in the Russian indictment, which makes contributions explicitly forbidden along with promises of support by foreign nationals.

"Pointedly missing," one might say, and surely part of Mueller keeping his powder dry.
posted by rhizome at 1:14 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President."

"....and six months after the Miss Universe pageant."

@realDonaldTrump
Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?
8:17 PM - 18 Jun 2013
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:15 PM on February 16 [79 favorites]


Trump running for President was not exactly implausible in 2014, given that he'd already done it once, although he appears to have forgotten that
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:20 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


May 2014 was already fully into the 2016 shadow primary. The first Republican candidates officially declared 1 year later in May 2015. Fundraising and positioning for a presidential campaign starts at least a year out from the official declaration.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:24 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President."

And? Once you entered they found their fifth column.
posted by notyou at 1:32 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Donald Trump on Fox, 2014
"Mike [McCaul] is a good Republican from Texas, and I hear a very good guy, but I think we should give the Russians a little bit of leeway here.

I mean, they spent billions and billions, a number that was beyond any number I’ve ever heard.

They spent all of this money, and I think we should not be knocking them at this point. And then we wonder why they don’t like us, and why they’re eating our lunch in every country that we’re dealing with against them.

I really think we should say, hey look, they’re really out there doing a good job. Every time I turn on the television we’re showing a guy knocking down a door because his door lock doesn’t work, we’re showing all of these things, and I’ll tell you something: if I’m Putin, I’m not happy with it. And I’ll tell you something, he’s not happy with it.

I was in Russia with the Miss Universe pageant. He contacted me and he was so nice. The Russian people were so fantastic to us.

And they’re outsmarting us at many turns, as we all understand. Their leaders are – whether you call them smarter, or more cunning, or whatever, but they’re outsmarting us if you look at Syria and other places.

I really think we should not be knocking that country.

I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt, and then go on and win something important later on, because they’re not going to be so opposed to what we’re doing."
posted by rc3spencer at 1:36 PM on February 16 [54 favorites]


If I could briefly break into this discussion:

90s pop culture vs 10s pop culture: Manager of Bon Iver running against former Real World-er Sean Duffy in WI-07.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:39 PM on February 16 [19 favorites]


May 2014 was already fully into the 2016 shadow primary.

This American Life: Transcript: 615: The Beginning of Now
And listen to what seemed completely irrelevant 2 and 1/2 years ago [when Reid Charlin tried to pitch this story in September, 2014]. For the story, Reid went to a party at Breitbart headquarters, a townhouse in Washington, DC, that Bannon called the Breitbart Embassy.

Reid Cherlin
It is a townhouse that looks like any other, really, but I saw some guys in khakis and blue blazers coming in and out with drinks in their hands. And I went in and there was this whole party going on inside. I didn't recognize a lot of people. I recognized Laura Ingraham, the radio host. I recognized Jeff Sessions because years earlier I'd worked in the Senate. And I thought, what is Jeff Sessions doing here?

Ira Glass
Jeff Sessions, of course, an early Trump supporter, now Attorney General of the United State

Reid Cherlin
I remember Jeff Sessions being just the most marginal member of the Senate that there could be. Just an older white guy from Alabama with totally unsurprising positions. And Sessions did not look super comfortable. Everyone at the party was pretty young, by and large. He was there. He looked kind of out of place. And I just thought, why is he here?

Ira Glass
In fact, he and Bannon, and his staff and the Breitbart staff knew each other.
Clare Malone at 538, published yesterday...

From Where I Sit, The Trump Era Began In 2014
Numbers can’t prove that 2014 was a pivotal year for the Trumpian political era to come, but they can show it was a year when Americans’ institutional trust bottomed out, something that would come into play in 2016. A few days after the election, I wrote about the erosion of trust in American institutions over the past decade. There was a link, I wrote then, between our loss of trust and electing a man who promised to start a new American order. And in 2014, overall trust in American institutions, which started falling in the mid-2000s, hit 31 percent — its lowest point since Gallup starting tracking the metric in 1993.
I have to wonder if Russia had anything to do with Eric Cantor's loss... on June 10, 2014, to anti-immigrant extremist and Tea Party "outsider" Dave Brat.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:40 PM on February 16 [29 favorites]


One of my many fantasies is of Melania becoming the first First Lady to divorce a sitting President.

Negative First Lady
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:40 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions.

So here's a question: did he clear that statement with his handlers, or is Putin gonna call him up and tell him to knock off the shit-talking if he knows what's good for him?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:40 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


The fact that they have to sit there and even say “long before I announced that I would run for President” just screams of guilt and insecurity. I feel like most administrations would put out a cut and paste statement about “looking forward to the results of the investigation” or some shit like that.

Also, what was this about earlier, from zachlipton,
Press was invited to get on Air Force One, then rushed off and hurried back inside as Melania Trump's motorcade pulled up. Some screaming from a White House press aide. No pictures allowed of first lady's arrival.
Some screaming? The press being rushed around?
posted by gucci mane at 1:40 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


re: omission of 52 USC 30121 in Mueller's Russian indictment:

"Pointedly missing, one might say, and surely part of Mueller keeping his powder dry.

BUT I observe there IS a Conspiracy to defraud the US, 18 USC 371, which means an indictment of other conspirators ( Junior, Kushner, Manafort ) and a superceding indictment for the Russians would dovetail quite nicely

From my lips ( fingers ) to G-d's ears!
posted by mikelieman at 1:41 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Philadelphia Eagle defensive end Chris Long is dragging Laura Ingraham on Twitter and it is a thing of beauty.
posted by PenDevil at 1:41 PM on February 16 [62 favorites]


Some screaming? The press being rushed around?

Estimated quantity of screaming is now a perfectly valid news metric. It might as well be listed next to the dew point.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:47 PM on February 16 [13 favorites]


i'd also appreciate some qualitative information about the screaming; does anyone have any further source regarding that, or whether AF1 took off?
posted by halation at 1:50 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


IDK, I've been an unwilling hostage to this guy's mood swings for the last few years. I always assumed that screaming and yelling was just how people spoke in Trump's world. There's no modulation of anything, and he reels from crisis to crisis, so yeah, I think yelling is just part of the Trump ambience. It's the carpet that really ties their room together.
posted by mosk at 1:56 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


> Estimated quantity of screaming is now a perfectly valid news metric.

I mean, look, I haven't even finished digesting the fact that the House of Reps just voted to change the Americans with Disabilities Act and require mandatory waiting periods before civil rights could be enforced.

Quaint, right? Since then, we've had one of the worse school shootings in the US (not the worst, sadly), we've had thoughts and prayers, we've had the Onion re-run its "Only country in the world where this happens" headline, we've found out that this shooting was at a school less than a mile away from the original story writer's home.

Then we've had the conservative media declare that the the FBI is complicit in the shooting because they didn't follow up on a tip because they were too caught up in the fake news Russia investigation.

And then, we've learned that the Special Counsel investigating the President has indicted 13 Russians of interfering in the election and secured a guilty plea from an American citizen who helped them. And the President has put out an official statement that includes "NO COLLUSION" in all caps in the text.

And it hasn't been 48 hours yet.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:58 PM on February 16 [54 favorites]


Jim Acosta has previously said that Trump aides shouted in his face to drown out his questions. So I guess that's just normal behavior now.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:59 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


So, yeah, Russia was intensively working to suppress the turnout of POC and others likely to vote Dem in Pennsylvania? And Toomey won by 86,690 votes. There were almost 8.5 million registered voters in the state and almost 2.5 million of whom didn't cast a ballot for the senate race.

I'm going to go on ahead and say that it's entirely possible that Toomey owes his seat to Russian interference. (And fuck if that doesn't piss me off.)
posted by mcduff at 2:03 PM on February 16 [38 favorites]


Anthony De Rosa (The Daily Show): 2014
Photo on left: Advisor to the Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation

Photo on right: Emin Agalarov, who helped arrange Trump Tower meeting with Russian offering "dirt" on Hillary.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:04 PM on February 16 [9 favorites]


i'd also appreciate some qualitative information about the screaming; does anyone have any further source regarding that, or whether AF1 took off?

CNN had a little piece, sans-screaming, Melania Trump arrives solo to air base amid second affair scandal as first couple heads to Florida, in which the First Lady's office says it was easier for her to arrive separately because of scheduling. Which, I guess, but the President took Marine One from the White House to Andrews, which makes 'it will be easier if I just meet you at the airport' a bit weird of a story. It's still unclear whether they're even going to Parkland, how poorly that would go over, or what is happening.

Ronan Farrow's New Yorker piece this morning does mention:
Trump gave McDougal tours of Trump Tower and his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. In Trump Tower, McDougal wrote, Trump pointed out Melania’s separate bedroom. He “said she liked her space,” McDougal wrote, “to read or be alone.”
Sounds rather like she wants to read or be alone right now.
posted by zachlipton at 2:07 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Rorty imagined 2014 would be a significant year as well
His dark vision looking back from a 2095 socialist/humanist future after the bottom falls out.
posted by rc3spencer at 2:09 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President."

The phrasing of this one is interesting. This was, I think, written by someone other than DJT. "Long before I announced . . ." Not long before he decided to run. Not long before he began preparing to run. Not long before his campaign began. Indeed, concurrent with his decision to run, in coordination with his preparations to run, and as a result of his arrangement that he would run. Wait and see. Whenever something is carefully and specifically phrased like this, there's a reason for it.

See, e.g., Michael Cohen's statement that "I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment," and not that he made the payment. He didn't make the payment - someone else did, using his personal funds merely as a facilitator. He doesn't say DJT was not a party to the agreement - only that the non-existent corporate dba conglomerate "Trump Organization" and the Trump campaign were not parties (how could the Trump Organization be a party, if the Trump Organization is merely a colloquial name for a large group of separate entities?). Nor does he say that all the entities that make up the T.O. or the campaign were not released parties to the agreement - only that they were not named parties. Was DJT? He didn't deny it.

Carefully-worded denials are always more informative than silence would be.

It's also interesting that this tweet characterizes pro-Trump activities as "anti-US." Somebody should find a way to get DJT to double down on that one.
posted by The World Famous at 2:17 PM on February 16 [55 favorites]


It's also interesting that this tweet characterizes pro-Trump activities as "anti-US." Somebody should find a way to get DJT to double down on that one.

Imagine how much worse this all could be if these fuckers were actually smart.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:20 PM on February 16 [16 favorites]


Imagine how much worse this all could be if these fuckers were actually smart.

There are plenty of stories and whispers of the truly most powerful people, the insanely rich people who use a bit of their wealth to stay invisible and work from the shadows, living obscenely lavish lives in secret, shaping the world to their wills and for their ultimate benefit.

Trump is not one of those people.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]


Trump is not one of those people.

Truly wealthy people don't need to shill steaks.
posted by PenDevil at 2:24 PM on February 16 [24 favorites]


There are plenty of stories and whispers of the truly most powerful people, the insanely rich people who use a bit of their wealth to stay invisible and work from the shadows, living obscenely lavish lives in secret, shaping the world to their wills and for their ultimate benefit.

ObSF: John Brunner, "The Totally Rich"
posted by Chrysostom at 2:24 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


ah, I just had a feeling of warmth come over me as I realized that Trump will never be invited to cavort naked with Henry Kissinger under the moonshadow of the giant owl idol in Bohemian Grove
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:28 PM on February 16 [29 favorites]


You know in 2016 pundits said that Trump had no campaign infrastructure but all of these revelations prove he had a lot of infrastructure that was assembled by the Russians. And he waited for Infrastructure Week to point this out.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:30 PM on February 16 [18 favorites]


>"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President."

A lot of parsing the Trump side of this -- why even mention it? -- but on the Russian government side, remember that the United States enacted economic sanctions on Russia in March 2014 in response to the Ukrainian crisis that was (and still is) unfolding, particularly targeting Russian oligarchs.

And then remember that the subject of the Trump Jr. 'adoption' meeting was really about lifting sanctions on Russia.

And then remember that Trump has been reluctant to expand sanctions on Russia.

Maybe the campaign didn't start with Trump -- I could easily believe that -- but it's also not really clear why that matters: he clearly seems to have been drawn in by it, either wittingly or unwittingly, even while in office.
posted by cjelli at 2:31 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]


Trump will never be invited to cavort naked with Henry Kissinger under the moonshadow of the giant owl idol in Bohemian Grove

Okay, so tell me: What exactly is your motive when you point out ways - narrow, limited, and specific as they may be - in which I am similar to this abomination of a president? Or are you just trying to get me to start drinking again with your imagery?
posted by nickmark at 2:38 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


538 points out that this probe is moving FAST.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:46 PM on February 16 [26 favorites]


Good, because Monday is my birthday.
posted by nickmark at 3:01 PM on February 16 [26 favorites]


What I keep coming back to is the level of detail in the indictment about the Internet Research Agency's operations, down to internal evaluations of their efforts. What other documents do the investigators have? If you're a Russian propaganda operative and you get Don Jr. or Conway to retweet one of your efforts, that's got to be worth a bonus or something right? Or at least some celebratory emails that might embarrass the administration?

I also keep reading this paragraph and cringe for what it means for us as a society:
On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account "Woke Blacks" to post the following message: "[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL."
Also notable: the indictment simply accuses the Internet Research Agency and the individual defendants, but doesn't extend to the Russian government (as it has no reason to). The White House and Trump himself seem to have gone there, however.
posted by zachlipton at 3:02 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


And then remember that the subject of the Trump Jr. 'adoption' meeting was really about lifting sanctions on Russia.

Speaking of, this raises a few questions:

* Now that Trump has named and shamed the Putin Russian pyschosocial(media)-warfare op, does this mean he's going to pass the sanctions he ignored recently.
* Did he have the OK from Putin to say what he did, or is he just panicking and pushing anyone in his short-term memory under the bus to stop it from hitting him.
* In the latter case does this mean the pee-tape might be coming to Netflix and Chill sessions everywhere, soon?
* If so, do we have to draw straws to see who has to watch it, report back, and spend the rest of their lives injecting heroin into their eyeballs to try and unsee?
* What plan-b/nuke-from-orbit cyber-options do "Defendant ORGANIZATION" the I.R.A. have in place, with all the leverage/info they have acquired from their GOP host vehicles.
* Why.
posted by Buntix at 3:04 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


I have this gut feeling that Melania moving out would seriously damage Trump with his core voters. I can't exactly explain it, but I think it's maybe that the beautiful wife is a success parameter, just like the "billions", and the Trumpists are into some magical thinking: someone who has billions and a beautiful wife and beautiful kids (kind of) must have luck and be able to bring us luck.
Melania is a person who married for money and citizenship and who maybe exploited Trump's insecurity. Maybe not a nice person, but I never met her, so how can I know? But these weeks she is being humiliated again and again in public, and also maybe this is opening new possibilities re. her prenup. I bet she would get nothing if she left Trump, its a business relationship. But with this continuous stream of allegations, her lawyers may be seeing some daylight.
posted by mumimor at 3:17 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]


I just fear how vindictive he'd get if Melania did try to divorce him. Especially now while he has all the power.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:22 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Good, because Monday is my birthday.

Also President's Day.
posted by banshee at 3:23 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


The WaPo has a Russian troll timeline adding red twine to our collective Pepe Silvia board, includes coincidences like:
Oct. 16, 2016. A post at the [Russian controlled] “Woke Blacks” Instagram account aims to tamp down black voting: “We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”

Oct 19. [Russian funded] Ad: “Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved just how evil she is.”

Oct. 27, 2016. Bloomberg reports on the Trump campaign’s digital efforts. It details a push to suppress the vote among Clinton supporters.

An official tells the magazine: “We have three major voter suppression operations under way. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.”
posted by peeedro at 3:24 PM on February 16 [15 favorites]


Follow the money; Let's go down a rabbit hole. (long). pt 1 and pt 3 Jared Kushner and the ‘King of Diamonds’
posted by adamvasco at 3:24 PM on February 16 [1 favorite]


But still, that’s a patreon I would donate to. Melania’s.
posted by valkane at 3:25 PM on February 16


I have this gut feeling that Melania moving out would seriously damage Trump with his core voters.

Why? It didn't seem to matter when she didn't move in for the first five months.

Us having to pay over $127,000 a day for her Trump Tower security costs didn't matter either.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


Goddamn do I love Infrastructure Weeks.

At some point the White House has to hold another daily press briefing. And now we've got the domestic abuse scandal in the White House, the Florida school massacre, and now a nuclear bomb from Mueller. One assumes the Press will be highly focused on the last one so I guess the delay has, in a sense, paid off? But still. It's going to be a brutal briefing and I'm making popcorn and margaritas.

The way Mueller has been running this probe has been so impressive to me. I guess there's a reason he's Mueller and I'm sitting on a computer typing because I would not have thought to do things in this order to protect my investigation and at the same time spring traps on people who haven't been indicted yet. All while staying practically leak-free.
posted by Justinian at 3:36 PM on February 16 [26 favorites]


The way Mueller has been running this probe has been so impressive to me.

once again an unelected government bureaucrat tries to save our democracy when our elected representatives can't be arsed
posted by murphy slaw at 3:45 PM on February 16 [45 favorites]


I can sympathize.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:53 PM on February 16 [9 favorites]


[Deleted a bunch speculating on Melania's motivations and the magahats.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:58 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


At some point the White House has to hold another daily press briefing.

Jordan Fabian (The Hill): Some questions we have:
-Mueller indictments
-Shooting response
-Affair allegations
-Porter/Gowdy probe/security clearances
-Inaugural committee $
-Cabinet travel abuses
-Immigration
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:08 PM on February 16 [33 favorites]




Oh man, remember this Trump tweet from July?

Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..
posted by diogenes at 4:26 PM on February 16 [18 favorites]


In other troll news: Fired Google Engineer Loses Diversity Memo Challenge
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on February 16 [64 favorites]


538 points out that this probe is moving FAST.

Fast in comparison to other special counsels, perhaps, but Mueller is really picking up where Comey left off.

Politico: Bob Mueller Is Not Playing Around—Friday’s indictments prove that Russia interfered in our election. And they make it almost impossible to fire him. It "also says that on repeated occasions the indicted individuals conspired with 'persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury,' explicitly leaving open the possibility that others were involved."

NBC: Trump’s Russia Narrative Upended by Mueller Indictments "'If anything, the indictment reinforces Trump’s lack of credibility on Russian interference in the election by giving a jaw-dropping account of the time, money and effort exerted by the Russian government on American soil to influence the election,' said Elise Jordan, an MSNBC political analyst and former National Security Council aide."

New York Times: Indictment Makes Trump’s Hoax Claim Harder to Sell But that doesn't mean the NYT won't give Team Trump a little signal boost: "Far from being rattled, Mr. Trump was elated, according to his advisers, because he viewed it as evidence that Mr. Mueller now knows who the malefactors are — and they do not include him or members of his team."

Trump's tweets tomorrow are going to be batshit.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:44 PM on February 16 [29 favorites]


The President is very pleased with how quickly the ambulances got to the hospital, but was walking away as he was asked if gun laws need to be changed.
posted by zachlipton at 4:45 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


MetaTrumpster: election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.
posted by perspicio at 4:45 PM on February 16


At some point the White House has to hold another daily press briefing. And now we've got the domestic abuse scandal in the White House, the Florida school massacre, and now a nuclear bomb from Mueller. One assumes the Press will be highly focused on the last one so I guess the delay has, in a sense, paid off? But still. It's going to be a brutal briefing and I'm making popcorn and margaritas.

Maybe she'll be back in normal lying mode after this rest, but last I heard Huckabee Sanders was seriously fraying at the seams and apparently fed up to here about having to tell an increasingly dumb series of implausible whoppers for Kelly and McGahn (Politico: "Sanders pushes for Kelly to face the press over Porter scandal"), so I cling to the fanfic daydream that a good shellacking at the next presser may make her go postal on camera.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:58 PM on February 16 [18 favorites]


Not to jump on Chrysostom's beat, but wow. Fincher out of Senate race, wants Corker to run
In a major shake up of Tennessee's U.S. Senate GOP primary, former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher said late Friday afternoon he's getting out of his race with U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and thinks incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Corker should get in.

"The party must get behind a candidate that can win in November and stop Democrat Phil Bredesen, who would be a rubber stamp for the Chuck Schumer liberal agenda," the farmer from rural West Tennessee said in a statement.

"For that reason," Fincher said, "I believe Senator Bob Corker should continue to serve in the U.S. Senate, and stand with the President to fight for Tennessee families."
...
A poll commissioned by a Tennessee business group indicated that former Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen led Blackburn by two percentage points.
Watching the GOP flap its arms desperately over a Tennessee Senate race is hilarious.
posted by zachlipton at 5:02 PM on February 16 [39 favorites]


"the Chuck Schumer liberal agenda"

It's amazing that there are so many different ways to say "Jews."
posted by neroli at 5:17 PM on February 16 [88 favorites]


Trump’s Russia Narrative Upended by Mueller Indictments
Before that, the task of defending the president fell to Kayleigh McEnany, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. The longtime Trump surrogate pointed to the indictments' finding that Russians put together anti-Trump rallies after the election as evidence that the president's operation didn't coordinate with them before voters went to the polls.

"BREAKING: DOJ reveals Russians organized AGAINST Trump on Nov. 12th and 19th of 2016!!" she wrote on Twitter. "Mark today as the day that the Democrats' Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy theory unraveled!"
The election was November 8, 2016. Russia staging anti-Trump rallies after the election doesn't prove they didn't act in his favor before the election. Mark today as the day Kayleigh McEnany needs to learn to use a calendar!
posted by kirkaracha at 5:17 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]


With friends like these, who needs McEnanys?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:47 PM on February 16 [11 favorites]


I hope Stephen Colbert is live tonight.
posted by jointhedance at 5:59 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


Digby flags this quote from a Forbes article on the Kushner data operation two weeks after the election:
"Our best people were mostly the ones who volunteered for me pro bono," Kushner says. "People from the business world, people from nontraditional backgrounds."
Uh huh. Nontraditional backgrounds. Working for free.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:02 PM on February 16 [87 favorites]




Everyone Charged in Robert Mueller’s Russia Investigation
Below is a full list of who has been charged, what the charges are, and how they have responded to those charges. It will be updated if and when necessary.
Mueller Has the Goods Now, and Trump Knows It
The indictments were rolled out perfectly. It is now absolutely impossible for the president* to fire either Rosenstein or Mueller without the worst possible political consequences. By basing the indictments on federal election law, Mueller has framed the case so as also to include anyone who accepted this criminal help.
...
We are still supposed to believe that the Russians concocted this amazing scheme to influence the election and the person on whose behalf they were operating the scheme didn’t know what they were doing?

Nor did the people running his campaign?

Oh, come on.

Really, come the fck on.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:14 PM on February 16 [55 favorites]


Mueller levels new claim of bank fraud against Manafort

I wonder if that's courtesy of Rick Gates
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:15 PM on February 16 [12 favorites]


WaPo, New White House security clearance policy could put ‘bull’s eye’ on Kushner
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly announced Friday that beginning next week, the White House will no longer allow some employees with interim security clearances access to top-secret information — a move that could threaten the standing of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law.

Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, has been able to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets even as his background investigation has dragged on for more than a year.

White House officials have privately discussed concerns that Kushner’s clearance faces obstacles, according to people familiar with internal conversations. Among the potential problems: repeated amendments that he had to make to a form detailing his contacts with foreign officials. Two U.S. officials said they do not expect Kushner to receive a permanent security clearance in the near future, The Washington Post reported last week.
...
And apart from staff on the National Security Council, he issues more requests for information to the intelligence community than any White House employee, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Experts said it is rare to have such a high level of interim security clearance for such a long period of time. It is particularly striking access for someone like Kushner, who has never served in government and has a complex history of financial transactions, business ownership and contacts and dealings with foreigners.
posted by zachlipton at 6:24 PM on February 16 [40 favorites]


zachlipton: "Not to jump on Chrysostom's beat"

Everyone says this, and then goes right ahead and jumps on my beat! What's wrong with you goddamned people?!?

(I kid, of course - please break news as you find it).

Seriously, though: Blackburn internal poll has her up just 44-39 over Bredesen (although up handily in a Corker primary, 55-26). Bredesen beat her on favorables: 46/17 vs 40/26.

Thoughts:

A) Those are pretty bad numbers for a Republican in Tennessee.
B) It's even worse given that it's a Blackburn campaign poll, not an independent one.
C) Blackburn's internal polling in December had her up 9, so she's trending in the wrong direction.

I'd rank TN third in Dem pickup likelihood still, but man, the GOP is really acting nervous of late.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:27 PM on February 16 [31 favorites]


the way the indictments are crafted...seems like m is signalling to the wh: i got you. now, going public, is shaking the trees for lower level guys to come in voluntarily and start cutting deals.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:57 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Watching the news tonight, my wife points out that as he announced the indictment today, Rod Rosenstein was wearing a yellow tie.
posted by nickmark at 7:12 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


the way the indictments are crafted...seems like m is signalling to the wh: i got you. now, going public, is shaking the trees for lower level guys to come in voluntarily and start cutting deals.

"Deep Throat stamped his foot. 'A conspiracy like this...a conspiracy investigation...the rope has to tighten slowly around everyone's neck. You build convincingly from the outer edges in, you get ten times the evidence you need against the Hunts and the Liddys. They feel hopelessly finished - they may not talk right away, but the grip is on them. Then you move up and do the same thing at the next level. If you shoot too high and miss, then everyone feels more secure. Lawyers work this way."
posted by Chrysostom at 7:13 PM on February 16 [51 favorites]


Somehow in all the news during "Infrastructure Week", Rep. Adam Schiff's statement on Wednesday didn't receive much attention. In light of Mueller's indictments, it's worth revisiting.

Guardian: House Russia Investigation Has 'Abundance' of Evidence Against Trump, Says Top Democrat—Adam Schiff said the panel had seen evidence of collusion with Russia and obstruction by Donald Trump’s campaign and administration that is not yet public
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Schiff said a lot of information was already in the public domain that pointed to extensive contacts between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin, and later efforts by the Trump entourage to cover up those contacts. But Schiff said there was much more to come out.

He said: “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation. And I think some of that non-public evidence is evidence on the issue of collusion and some … on the issue of obstruction.”[...]

He said: “It is a tried and true maxim. As a former prosecutor, you follow the money. We have not been able to adequately follow the money. And I think the allegations on money laundering are credible enough that we ought to, in the exercise of due diligence, see if this was one of the other vectors of the Russian active measures campaign.”

He added: “We know that in other places they use money laundering as a way of entangling people, as a way of compromising people. To me that is far more potentially compromising than any salacious video would be.”
And today, in a move of breathtaking chutzpah, Devin Nunes released a statement about Mueller's indictment, saying:
“The Putin regime presents a pressing threat to American interests, including through Moscow’s long-running influence operations against the United States. The House Intelligence Committee has been investigating these threats for many years: in 2014—the year the Russians began their operation targeting the 2016 elections—I warned about Russia’s worldwide influence operations. In April 2016 I stated that the United States’ failure to predict Putin’s plans and intentions is ‘the biggest intelligence failure that we’ve had since 9/11.’ Although the Obama Administration failed to act on the Committee’s warnings, it’s gratifying to see that Russian agents involved in these operations have now been identified and indicted.”
At this rate, Nunes's next logical step will be to call up his old friend Michael Flynn to ask if he can put in a good word for him with Mueller.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:14 PM on February 16 [43 favorites]


He added: “We know that in other places they use money laundering as a way of entangling people, as a way of compromising people. To me that is far more potentially compromising than any salacious video would be.”

The pee tape was always metaphorical but it is glorious and it is coming.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:15 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


The phrase "unwitting accomplices" was a trap that Trump fell for -- bait for him to rebroadcast these damaging findings, while setting up the entirely predictable argument of exculpated vs. nope.

It absolutely makes it impossible to fire Mueller know, destroying the argument that Mueller is biased against Trump and getting Trump to endorse his findings.

I say, give it a day and start broadcasting this message: Mueller explicitly documented collusion, and Trump agreed. The only discussion now is whether the collusion was unwitting, or deliberate.
posted by msalt at 7:28 PM on February 16 [14 favorites]


OK, I've been down the rabbit hole of old Trump tweets and timelines and I need a sanity/accuracy check here.

Trump alleges that he couldn't have engaged in quid pro quo "collusion" because the Russian propaganda campaign started before he announced his intent to run, BUT he has tweets from 2014 that have the phrase "make America great again" and a #trump2016 hashtag where he also alleges that only he can "deal with Putin." He also visited Russia in 2013 for Miss Universe.

So, I'm guessing that he made contacts in 2013 where his intention to run for President might have come up once or twice. These contacts, with even a casual survey of his Twitter feed, might correctly conclude that he fully intends to go through with it, igniting an operation to boost his signal even before he "officially announced" to the American people and a room full of paid actors that he was going to run for President and build a wall. And since he doesn't live in a bubble, quid pro quos could have been discussed on any number of occasions through any number of intermediaries due to his involvement in ongoing business concerns.

Do I have any of this wrong? And does this scenario seem likely?
posted by xyzzy at 7:35 PM on February 16 [24 favorites]


My fantasy is that the Obama Birth Certificate Thing was fed to Donald by the Kremlin. Please, O Universe, make this a reality.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:43 PM on February 16 [35 favorites]


bonehead: [numbers showing Canada is target of tariffs on steel and aluminum] 35% of US steel imports come from Canada, but, just to put some perspective on that stat, Canada's total steel production is about a sixth of America's. The US produces an awful lot of steel and imports are peanuts. If the tariff goes through, will any mills re-open? Doubtful, I think.
This is not to say that bonehead is wrong to see this as a move against NAFTA; the point is, it means little to the US but a lot to countries exporting to the US. Here is the meat of the Trump deal process: be recalcitrant, you are in the driver's seat -- make 'em beg, or, if they won't, offer shit terms -- drag it out, exhaust the treaties, agreements, and so on, of time...
I've been in union contract negotiations with companies that had the same advantages as Trump. Time is on their side.
posted by CCBC at 7:58 PM on February 16 [6 favorites]


Xyzzy, that scenario definitely makes sense. Let me put forward an alternative.

It's 2014 and the US has implemented sanctions over the Russian shenanigans so Russia decides that it will deploy the disinformation and propaganda that have been developed. It's no secret that HRC is going to run for president in 2016 and Russia believes that this is a bad outcome for them so they know from the outset that they're going to work against her.

So Russia starts doing stuff that seems like it's bad for HRC and keeping an eye out for other opportunities.

Then Trump comes along which is a pretty great stroke of luck for Russia as Trump org is tied all up in your money laundering operations and, oh hey, remember that time we provided him with some sex workers and taped whatever weird thing he did with them? Looks like that come in handy.

It's not some highly detailed master plan. Plans don't survive first contact with the enemy, you just put things in motion and then adapt and improvise as circumstances change. They spent a long time developing and creating opportunities. They probably have a bunch of kompromat on a bunch of people that turned out to be useless and a bunch more that's now being used as leverage but they had no idea which would end up being which at the time they collected it. I really think that's all there is to it.
posted by VTX at 8:08 PM on February 16 [59 favorites]


This is going to reach such a fever pitch so slowly before anything really drops that Trump is likely to simply stroke out, leaving the world with justice blue balls.
posted by rhizome at 8:14 PM on February 16 [12 favorites]


loony left report, TEEN EDITION! Radical!

The growth of YDSA Chapters in High Schools ahead of the National YDSA conference this weekend. It has sold out. Issues at the conference include how to enter politics as a young person, organizing actions for students, and defending campuses from the Alt-Right

Students call for a national walkout on the 20th anniversary of columbine in April
posted by The Whelk at 8:18 PM on February 16 [83 favorites]


"Trump is likely to simply stroke out, leaving the world with justice blue balls."

In that case we are going Pope Formosus on his ass.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:25 PM on February 16 [29 favorites]


Students call for a national walkout on the 20th anniversary of columbine in April

I've seen three different dates for this citing three different organizers already. And maybe I have fallen all the way out of teaching, but Christ I want to see these kids walk out and keep walking out until we see actual gun reform. There hasn't been a better reason for mass teenage defiance in my lifetime than this.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:32 PM on February 16 [88 favorites]


Thank you for reminding me of (one) of the craziest parts of papal history. Just... thank you.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:33 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Good job Russia and the NRA and Trump. You’ve given the kids a hobby besides shopping.
posted by notyou at 8:40 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


xyzzy: So, I'm guessing that he made contacts in 2013 where his intention to run for President might have come up once or twice.

18 Jun 2013

@realdonaldtrump: "Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?"

9 Nov 2013
62nd Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow.

22 Jan 2014
"I'm sure @realdonaldtrump will be great president! We'll support you from Russia! America needs ambitious leader!"
posted by bluecore at 8:53 PM on February 16 [32 favorites]


I've seen three different dates for this citing three different organizers already.

At least part of the reason for different dates is that many school districts in Colorado already have the anniversary of Columbine as a professional development day, during which students are not at school. Many of my activist friends are circulating a student walkout event with a March date instead.
posted by danielleh at 9:01 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Huh. That "I'm sure @realdonaldtrump will be great president!" tweet is from an advisor to the Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, an agency that recently saw its head arrested by the FSB for Rosneft related bribery shenanigans. He was sentenced to 20 years hard labor.
posted by xyzzy at 9:05 PM on February 16 [10 favorites]


Exasperated military judge halts USS Cole bombing case (WaPo):
A military judge indefinitely halted a death-penalty case Friday linked to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, dealing a significant blow to the already troubled military court system for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

The decision by Air Force Col. Vance Spath, who voiced exasperation at what he characterized as repeated defiance of his authority by defense attorneys, is a striking illustration of the deep-rooted problems plaguing the judicial process set up in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
...
The suspension caps a succession of crises facing the Guantanamo commissions in recent months, including the resignation of civilian lawyers for the accused Cole mastermind, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri; a contempt ruling against a general overseeing defense teams; and the firing — without explanation — this month of senior Pentagon officials overseeing the courts.

“If that’s not the wheels coming off, I don’t know what is,” said Rita Siemion, international legal counsel at Human Rights First.

The growing sense of disarray comes as the Trump administration considers bringing new terrorism suspects to Guantanamo Bay for the first time in a decade, instead of seeking to try them in federal courts, raising the possibility of new protracted legal sagas.
posted by peeedro at 9:22 PM on February 16 [8 favorites]


They spent a long time developing and creating opportunities. They probably have a bunch of kompromat on a bunch of people that turned out to be useless and a bunch more that's now being used as leverage but they had no idea which would end up being which at the time they collected it.

This is how Russian intelligence operates across Europe and the east, but it's more than that, they fund rightwing parties in nations they want to influence. I suspect at least some of the Republicans willingness to cover for Trump is they know the money trail will implicate them too if it ever comes to light. There's been hints of this even before the NRA-Russia money came out: How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:52 PM on February 16 [41 favorites]


President Sulks-a-Lot lets Melania know how he feels as they leave AF1. Knock her ass onto the tarmac why don’t you? Shit. Rude ass motherfucker.
posted by scalefree at 10:09 PM on February 16 [17 favorites]


> peeedro:
"Exasperated military judge halts USS Cole bombing case (WaPo):"

The deal here is that the defense lawyers have to resign because they can't be guaranteed that attorney-client privilege will be respected, because their meetings and stuff have been getting surveilled by the prosecution (gov't). That's the ethical obligation, because the judge won't/can't stop it.
posted by rhizome at 10:42 PM on February 16 [16 favorites]


ProPublica/Politico, Isaac Arnsdorf, The Trump Administration Goes to War — With Itself — Over the VA: "Even before a searing report put the job of Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin at risk, some White House staffers were pushing a health care agenda at odds with his. The infighting has left vets frustrated, Congress confused — and a key piece of legislation stalemated."

As so many fires burn, it's easy to overlook this story, but it's really important. Mainly, because the future of the VA is at stake, but I also think it's a powerful case study of how the chaos in the Administration leads the way for particular interests to come in and engage in no-holds-barred war at the agency level over dismantling parts of the government. The efforts to push Shulkin and his people out started well before the travel scandal, and the fights from the White House take many forms:
Shulkin has even been at odds with his own press secretary, Curt Cashour, who came from Miller’s House committee staff. Last month, Shulkin assigned an official to send a letter to a veterans group that said the agency would update its motto, to be inclusive of servicewomen. (Adapted from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, the original reads, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” The new version would read: “To care for those who shall have borne the battle and their families and survivors.”)

Cashour told The Washington Post the motto wouldn’t change. A few days later, the secretary’s strategic plan went out using the updated, gender-neutral motto. Cashour then denied the change a second time, telling the Post that was “not VA’s position.” A new document with the Lincoln quote restored subsequently appeared on the VA’s website. Shulkin was stunned at being disobeyed by his own spokesman, two people briefed on the incident said. (Cashour denied defying the VA secretary. “The premise of your inquiry is false,” he told ProPublica. Cashour said Shulkin never approved the letter regarding the updated motto and authorized the restoration of the original one.)

Then there was Selnick, who became the administration’s most effective proponent for privatization. He joined the VA as a “senior advisor to the secretary.” Though he reported to Shulkin, he quickly began developing his own policy proposals and conducted his own dealings with lawmakers, according to people with knowledge of the situation. In mid-2017 Shulkin pushed him out — sort of.

Selnick left the VA offices and took up roost in the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. There he started hosting VA-related policy meetings without informing Shulkin, according to people briefed on the meetings. At one such meeting of the “Veterans Policy Coordinating Committee,” Selnick floated merging the Choice program with military’s Tricare insurance plan, according to documents from the meeting obtained by ProPublica.

Veterans groups were furious. At a Nov. 17 meeting, Selnick boasted that Trump wouldn’t sign anything without Selnick’s endorsement, according to a person present. Shulkin would later tell a confidant that moving Selnick out of the VA was his “biggest mistake” because he did even more damage from the White House. (Selnick did not reply to a request for comment. A White House spokesman said some VA officials were aware of the policy meetings that Selnick hosted. The spokesman said Selnick does not brief the president or the chief of staff.)
There's a grift involved too of course: the committee Selnick was on included the executives of large health systems that would gain patients if the VA eventually closed all its facilities and turned into an insurance company. Oh, and the Koch Brothers are behind it. It's also a really well-reported piece; read on for the time an American Legion lobbyist set a copy of Moran's privatization legislation on fire, complete with photographic evidence.

WaPo, Josh Dawsey, In a brief Florida stop, Trump focuses on praising responders, in which it is observed that Trump has a pattern when tragedy strikes: he spends almost all his time congratulating the responders instead of mentioning the victims.
posted by zachlipton at 1:01 AM on February 17 [68 favorites]


Mother Jones: Mueller’s Latest Indictment Shows Trump Has Helped Putin Cover Up a Crime. "By continuing to cast doubt on Russian involvement, the president is helping the Kremlin get away with its election attack."
posted by amf at 2:39 AM on February 17 [34 favorites]


It's 2018, and [Kushner] still hasn't managed to produce an accurate statement of his financial entanglements.

People should be taking this more seriously. It's been going on for well over a year now. If it were just financial entanglements I bet that it could have been fixed but terminating deals or by shifting liabilities between entities. What can there possibly be so bad that it can't be disguised to make him look clean, not even with a year's worth of negotiations?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:13 AM on February 17 [24 favorites]


grody-ass grossness alert

Trump's new twitter banner is a shot of of him smiling and *giving the thumbs up* as he poses with the first responders to the Parkland massacre.

*giving the thumbs up*

arrghbargleawersrseteset
posted by angrycat at 3:45 AM on February 17 [31 favorites]


Trump's new twitter banner is a shot of of him smiling and *giving the thumbs up* as he poses with the first responders to the Parkland massacre.

Also Marco Rubio, who looks as if the meat loaf is about to come back up
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:09 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


This is amazing to reflect on, in light of everything from the past year and the indictments handed down yesterday.

Facebook reminded me that one year ago Evan McMullin wrote a NYT Op-ED titled "Republicans, Protect the Nation":

"President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security. According to reports this week, Mr. Trump’s team maintained frequent contact with Russian officials, including senior intelligence officers, during the campaign. This led to concerns about possible collusion with one of America’s principal strategic adversaries as it tried to influence the election in Mr. Trump’s favor. On Monday, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was forced to resign after details of his communications with the Russian ambassador emerged.

Republican leaders in Congress now bear the most responsibility for holding the president accountable and protecting the nation. They can’t say they didn’t see the Russian interference coming. They knew all along."
posted by Sublimity at 4:47 AM on February 17 [29 favorites]


I keep going back to a comic from 18 months ago.
posted by Miss Cellania at 5:27 AM on February 17 [31 favorites]


What can there possibly be so bad that it can't be disguised to make him [Kushner] look clean, not even with a year's worth of negotiations?

Money laundering. Especially with Muller having drilled down to the books of the Russian fronts writing checks to people. I'm guessing Kushner is a non-trivial entry.
posted by mikelieman at 5:29 AM on February 17 [10 favorites]


No apologies for repeating this story, this one tiny chip off the shit colossus, that in any other timeline would have triggered an investigation all on its own.

House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump

That happened two years ago, and has been public for nearly one. Ponder how much more Mueller will have by now.

Enjoy your weekend.
posted by Devonian at 5:49 AM on February 17 [63 favorites]


Both the Trump and Kushner real estate empires were not real self-sustaining businesses before the election, they were essentially front operations for turning billions of sanctioned Russian cash into clean real estate investments.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:34 AM on February 17 [34 favorites]


Short: Anti-FBI content is my rule of thumb for Russian troll detection.
Long: I get my intellectual engagement from metafilter and my juvenile humor from 9Gag. Recently there has been quite a few memes and cartoons poking fun at the FBI and spreading the idea that the FBI cyberstalks everyday people and are incompetant. I'm no fan of the FBI and their long history of interferring to disrupt and malign leftist political movements, but now I use criticism of the FBI as a depth-guage for Russian interferrence in US politics. Take the cover of today's NYPost. Emphasis matters, narratives matter, the drumbeat matters. Font sizes matter. The NY Post has always been trash but when lots of trash coordinate their messages, its hard not to connect the dots. Is there a term for when propoganda discredits its conduits and immunizes the viewer to its message. trollnoise?
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 6:36 AM on February 17 [20 favorites]


Just a bit of detail on the bonkers VA story; Shulkin is an Obama appointee elevated to the top spot by Trump.
posted by notyou at 7:09 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


(And, stepping back from the VA privatization rumors, the Interior Dept’s huge upcoming oil and gas lease sale, various other rumors of federal asset sell-offs — isn’t this the Russian Collapse model, in which government held resources are sold off to well connected oligarchs?)
posted by notyou at 7:17 AM on February 17 [47 favorites]


President Sulks-a-Lot lets Melania know how he feels as they leave AF1. Knock her ass onto the tarmac why don’t you? Shit. Rude ass motherfucker.

So... how long before the news breaks that Melania has been co-operating with Mueller for pretty much all of the investigation?

I can't see how it would be it would be anything but all the cui bono for her, and she almost certainly has plenty of stories to tell.
posted by Buntix at 7:56 AM on February 17 [10 favorites]


Last year, I finished a 4 yr term as a GS-13 doing systems stuff, and was one of the empty suits VA Central Office sent out to the facilities to help deploy access fixes in 2016. (The access issues that cost Shinseki his job and put Secretary Bob in place.) This was Shulkin's initiative and I got that sense was that he was a generally normal undersecretary. I think some of us may have been slightly concerned about his willingness to divert care to non-VA providers, but it was something normally done to some extent already. We gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed any increase in outsourcing would be stopgap until systemic changes could be implemented. When he was appointed, I think I can fairly say that we all breathed a collective sigh of relief, knowing that he was definitely no Pruitt (or Zinke or Carson or DeVos). That is, we felt pretty confident Shulkin's mission was not to destroy or otherwise dismantle the VA. I have a feeling there's a lack of shared understanding about that mission right now.
posted by klarck at 8:06 AM on February 17 [17 favorites]


Recently there has been quite a few memes and cartoons poking fun at the FBI and spreading the idea that the FBI cyberstalks everyday people and are incompetant.

Yes, this has been super noticeable on Reddit too - because the joke should be NSA, not FBI. Especially when playing to that audience. So there's probably a reason for that choice.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:40 AM on February 17 [24 favorites]


For a lot of reasons I can't get into, I can assure you the FBI is working EVERY threat they receive or are asked to help on if it is viable and workable. There has been no sleep around my house for a few days because of the constant running down of lead after lead. Most are cranks of the most obvious nature but they still looking for the real ones in the noise. This is one field office in a place where stuff usually is very, very calm. I can't help but think this is a concerted effort to undermine the FBI at a very critical juncture. It is maddening and reeks of dictatorial rule. History will tell the tale and it will be one of woe for those who chopped at the roots of institutions.
posted by extraheavymarcellus at 9:12 AM on February 17 [83 favorites]


He added: “We know that in other places they use money laundering as a way of entangling people, as a way of compromising people. To me that is far more potentially compromising than any salacious video would be.”

Yes, but on the other hand, no.

For Trump, if true, the Russians have an existential hold on his companies. Without their backing, he would just be another minor property developer in NYC with a whole string of bankruptcies behind him. This could still very much be his and his families future if this goes south. For him, hiding the money trail is absolutely essential. It can and may well yet be his and his children's financial ruin. On the pee tape thing, I'm sure he figures that it will get his name in the news, which he loves, but also he's survived worse.

On the other hand, money-laundering is dull as crimes go, technical and hard to explain to Joe Plumber types. They might even pass it off politically as being a sharp dealer. On the other hand, a pee tape, with visuals, is enormously strong political theatre, and will have great power over the public imagination. Think of all the stars who made their way to the top on the back of (fairly vanilla) sex tapes. Sex on screen is still a lightning rod direct to most people's hindbrain. A pee video, even if its leaked but never played on fox, could easily be the thing that kills him. Rob Ford was immune to all manner of charges, many extremely serious, but what killed his career was smoking crack on camera.

I'm not willing to underestimate how big a political earthquake a video can be.
posted by bonehead at 9:21 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


What killed Rob Ford's career was having cancer and dying.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:28 AM on February 17 [32 favorites]


[A few deleted; let's not with the cancer jokes.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:44 AM on February 17 [8 favorites]


Didn't see this anywhere above, but for anyone looking for some good TL;DR context around the indictments, I found this Twitter thread from Baratunde very useful (and very depressing/angermaking).
posted by jeremias at 9:53 AM on February 17 [18 favorites]


money-laundering is dull as crimes go

Not if it's laundering money for the Mob. Trump being outed as a bagman for the Russian Mafia might make even Johnny Lunchbucket put down his sandwich.
posted by SPrintF at 10:20 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


Not if it's laundering money for the Mob. Trump being outed as a bagman for the Russian Mafia might make even Johnny Lunchbucket put down his sandwich.

"Who hasn't laundered money for the mob? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #MAGA"
posted by Talez at 10:45 AM on February 17 [17 favorites]


Yeah, there's not One Weird Trick that's going to turn the MAGAhats against Trump.

Get out the vote; stand up to white-moderate bullshit as you are able; be shocked but not surprised.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:51 AM on February 17 [52 favorites]


All About That Base - Democratic Party survival depends on mobilizing nonvoters and voters of color - not targeting republicans or ‘moderates’.
posted by The Whelk at 11:01 AM on February 17 [41 favorites]


Parkland Students to President Trump: Stay ‘Far Away’ From Us -
Asawin Suebsaeng, James Laporta, Taylor Lorenz for the Daily Beast.
Few imagine that the president would provide any comfort. Many fear he will make things worse.
...
Another student who participated in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) with Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, but asked that he not be named, said most kids and people in town agree that Trump should not swing through.

“One big reason people don’t want him here was his speech yesterday and tweet of his,” the student said. “Apparently [the president] said it was the kids’ responsibility to report Nikolas Cruz so in a way it was our fault… A lot of people aren’t happy about his visit.”

Emotions remain raw among students in Parkland, especially after President Trump tweeted on Thursday that “Neighbors and classmates knew [Cruz] was a big problem” and that, in such cases, people “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

The missive left several students at the school livid, with some angrily responding to the president with tweets of their own.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:05 AM on February 17 [35 favorites]


Democratic Party survival Democracy's survival in the US depends on mobilizing nonvoters and voters of color - not targeting republicans or ‘moderates’
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:05 AM on February 17 [64 favorites]


Yeah, there's not One Weird Trick that's going to turn the MAGAhats against Trump.

Get out the vote; stand up to white-moderate bullshit as you are able; be shocked but not surprised.


Yes, this. I am concerned, not in the Flake/Sasse manner either, that even blatant evidence of colluding with Russian criminal interests won't sway the MAGA-hats one iota. Some will double down because they don't want to admit they've been conned and have been sucked into a scam that makes Amway and its kind look like kid stuff. Others, more disturbingly, will think that working with the Russian mob is the patriotic thing to do, because...MAGA, or Democrats Are Evil, or whatever. It's hard to bring people back from that kind of mindset.

Getting out the vote, and working to get people enfranchised or re-enfranchised, is a much better bet.

And this Russian collusion and money-laundering explains why there was a spate of Republican retirements. If the Republican party has turned into One Giant Criminal Fucking Conspiracy, those who are honestly patriotic even in a twisted way, or who just want to save their own hides, are going to start leaving or retiring.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:53 AM on February 17 [27 favorites]


Yeah it’s just be another salvo of “Crooked Hillary Clinton Foundation.” There’s not going to be One Weird Trick that flips the hardcore red hats. It’s team sports, guys. They don’t actually care if thousands of Kids die for lack of health care or families are destroyed by ICE raids. (Well, they’d cheer the second). It’s like the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” crowd or the people that love Obamacare as long as you don’t call it Obamacare. All that matters is they win, trigger snowflakes, and own the libs. Like I said, it’s like sports. Oh no my team broke a vague rule and the title isn’t tainted. Doesn’t matter, we won, you lost, suck it up.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:55 AM on February 17 [8 favorites]


"Others, more disturbingly, will think that working with the Russian mob is the patriotic thing to do, because...MAGA, or Democrats Are Evil, or whatever. It's hard to bring people back from that kind of mindset."
Naw, it's simple! You just have Hannity switch mindsets in front of them with no explanation, we'vealwaysbeenatwarwithEastasia-style. Somewhere I bet there's a cache of those infuriating Reagan-era bumper stickers that say, "If you hate this country, move to Russia." I'm'na buy a ton on Ebay and superglue them to every "Trump" sticker I see.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:03 PM on February 17 [9 favorites]


further proof that Putin staffs his diplomatic corps by evaluating the size of the candidate's big brass balls:

Russian Foreign Minister Dismisses Indictments: ‘Just Blabber’
H.R. McMaster, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, said at the Munich Security Conference that the federal indictments showed the U.S. was becoming “more and more adept at tracing the origins of this espionage and subversion.”

“As you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain,” McMaster told a Russian delegate to the conference.

Just minutes before, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had dismissed the indictments as “just blabber,” according to remarks through an interpreter.

“I have no response,” Lavrov said when asked for comment on the allegations. “You can publish anything, and we see those indictments multiplying, the statements multiplying.”

The two men addressed the conference of top world leaders, defense officials and diplomats, giving more general back-to-back opening remarks. But both were immediately hit with blunt questions about the U.S. indictment and the broader issue of cyberattacks.

In Russia, news of the indictments was met with more scorn.

“There are no official claims, there are no proofs for this. That’s why they are just children’s statements,” Andrei Kutskikh, the presidential envoy for international information security, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:05 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Parkland Students to President Trump: Stay ‘Far Away’ From Us -

My first serious thought about his hospital visit was that every minute he was allowed near a victim is a minute of gross medical malpractice. Like no, really, whoever allowed that should be stuck in front of a board evaluating their competence.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:09 PM on February 17 [30 favorites]


From the Baratunde twitter thread noted above,

and look at this. They SOMEHOW got a bunch of social security numbers and used those to do more fake shit. They could have gotten those from almost anywhere thanks to weak ass security by everyone mining our personal data. Hello Equifax, Target, LinkedIn, US Government!

Good show.
posted by petebest at 12:16 PM on February 17 [10 favorites]


Further evidence of careful phrasing in
this article:
“As you can see with the FBI indictment,” McMaster told an audience at security conference in Germany, “the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute.”[my emphasis]
I can't read this any other way than "We've had proof of this for a long time but we were legally unable to discuss it in public. Oh, and IDGAF about protecting the Administration any longer."
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:20 PM on February 17 [28 favorites]


I can't help but feel a sense of - we're not crazy - it really happened just like we saw it - just like we said it did.

Would like some clarity on the AlfaBank server thing, but I can wait . . .

Motion to provide for a potential Justinian Current Joy Level (JCJL) in the event that circumstances warrant such.
posted by petebest at 12:40 PM on February 17 [16 favorites]


My dials don't really go to joy. More "Panic" to "less Panic".
posted by Justinian at 12:52 PM on February 17 [79 favorites]


Alfabank, yes, and that weird picture of a burger.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:49 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]




The Verge: Facebook will mail out postcards to verify US election advertisers

I don't know how long this will last or if it will actually help anything, but there are some implementation-y things that would take me from Grimacing Whatever-Face to Actually-Might-Work-Face:
- if they make a database of such advertisers with addresses and ads posted public
- noting in any political ads whether they are postcard-verified
- loud, public displays of what non-verified ads are known to be from foreign agencies, troll farms, and the like
- extending similar verification to Instagram
- not withdrawing the policy once the usual GOP dark money actors start squealing about how unfair it is. Keep it through the midterms, I might start using my dead in the water Facebook account again. Keep it through the midterms Mark. Keep it through the midterms. If you f**k it up, Mark, if you f**k it up, we're done, Mark.
posted by saysthis at 3:12 PM on February 17 [11 favorites]


Oh, one more:
- listing the number of people targeted by a political ad in the ad text. If I'm being microtargeted, let me know.
posted by saysthis at 3:26 PM on February 17 [28 favorites]


Facebook needs to make its goals to be the single most trustworthy site for receiving advertising (which I know is a strange concept) - they are already one of the strongest places for advertisers themselves to use, due to how things can be targeted and the return on investment. They need to be a place where the users can have much greater trust of what’s being distributed through it.

The measures you mention would help some. What I think really needs to happen is that there needs to be a priority news feed of anything that you’re account has ever viewed that originated from troll farms, or is “fake news”, or anything along the lines - Something incredibly visible, bolder, and hard to ignore. Like I guess it’s better for them to have a link buried in the help menu that you can use to see if you’ve shared Russian propaganda than to not have it at all, but that’s hardly helpful in the grand scale. This should not require that degree of obfuscation, and the people who would benefit the most from it would likely never see the link - it should be default visible to all, maybe minimizeable to a small red alert icon until acknowledged, but very difficult to make go away completely. They have no problem making your own privacy settings disclose a lot more by default with no prior notice, and randomly fucking with your news feed, so this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

I’m sure that there are tons of problematic details behind the implementation of this, but tough - your platform was a major part of sowing discord within the US in general, so unless you are going to outright ban all political discussion (which is not a suggestion by any means) then this sort of policy in regards to both shared links as well as paid for advertising should be in place. It won’t be easy, and it’s certainly going to take a system that puts the burden on them as a company as opposed to the individual users- as the latter is entirely to easy to game and is a large source of the problem.
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:51 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]


If they're going to all this trouble to label ads as "fake news" or "propaganda"...why allow it at all. Facebook is not the government (yet?), they're not subject to the first amendment. They don't have to accept money from Russian troll farms or publish their content, and if they're, allegedly, I'll believe it when I see it and not before, implementing all of these measures to label "fake news" as fake, the exact same amount of work could be done to prevent anyone from ever seeing propaganda content. We know for a fact that labeling will be ineffective. People don't change their opinions simply by being told they're wrong. The only possible measure Facebook could do to combat fake news, propaganda, Russian information war, is to prevent the attacking content from being seen, period.

But that would require Zuckerburg giving up even one single dime out of his pocket. Which will happen about the same time as Mitch McConnell brings up an assault weapon ban.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:56 PM on February 17 [16 favorites]


@JenniferJJacobs: The president will not be golfing on this sunny Saturday in Palm Beach. White House wants to respect the dead and the mourners, I’m told. Mar-a-Lago is only about half an hour from the site of the Parkland school shooting, and memorial services continue.

The man who spends his weekends insisting he is very busy having important meetings at his golf club while wearing golfing attire in the presence of golf clubs would now like credit for whining on Twitter instead of golfing today. This should put him at the top of the list of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award I'd say.
posted by zachlipton at 4:25 PM on February 17 [41 favorites]


Yes, this has been super noticeable on Reddit too - because the joke should be NSA, not FBI. Especially when playing to that audience. So there's probably a reason for that choice.

On Tumblr the meme has taken the form of writing fanfiction about FBI agents falling in love with the people they are surveilling. But it USED to be NSA agents and suddenly, about a month ago, it switched to being FBI everywhere. To the point where I've even thought I saw the same exact post that used to say NSA and now says FBI. And it bugs me every time I see it because it's WRONG. Combined with that article about how prevalent Russian bots impersonating leftists on Tumblr were, yeah, I'm suspicious.
posted by threeturtles at 4:27 PM on February 17 [24 favorites]


If they're going to all this trouble to label ads as "fake news" or "propaganda"...why allow it at all.

With you in spirit, in practice I think it would be far too easy for them to get banned from Russia, and if I was king of Facebook, I'd feel trapped between a rock and a hard place. Yes, a US company, yes they should have banned ads like that from the start, and yes, they knew what they were doing, but I can understand why they didn't stop the ad buys from a purely passive business perspective. Global internet companies have to walk a fine line, and while I think Facebook sucks, I think they deserve credit for sucking equally in every country.

But it's a post-2016 world, and they have to do something. Super precise labeling won't solve everything, but it's a standard they can apply globally, and it's one that will jump-start this conversation everywhere. So far in my travels abroad, "Americans are susceptible to propaganda" is not a stereotype I've encountered...yet. I'd also like "social networking with psyops transparency" to become something the US can point to as a counterexample to China's "managed internet" approach, which seems to be getting a lot more popular around the world.

This is veering on derail territory, but I don't think a Facebook (Google, Twitter, y'all next) blanket ban on suspected troll farm/psyops ad buys (note that I did not say shutting down known troll accounts, by all means shut those down harder) is possible at this moment in history, but in 6 months? A year? Hopefully, with public activism and pressure, we can nudge the possible in the right direction. Properly and transparently attributing political speech, making sure you know who wants you to think what, is exactly how we bring down "Fake News!" and "but free speech!" as right-wing talking points, and Facebook publicly doing something about it is a powerful statement against narratives that minimize what happened in 2016. I hope Facebook does more.
posted by saysthis at 4:37 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]




Because doing lines in a corduroy leisure suit shows respect for the dead in a way that golfing just doesn’t.
posted by murphy slaw at 4:45 PM on February 17 [28 favorites]


: Facebook will mail out postcards to verify US election advertisers

from that link:

“If you run an ad mentioning a candidate, we are going to mail you a postcard and you will have to use that code to prove you are in the United States,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s global director of policy programs, said on Saturday. She acknowledged to Reuters that the process “won’t solve everything” but

given that the thirteen people just arrested were operating from within the USA, yeah, I'd reword that to

the process “won’t even begin to solve everything”
posted by philip-random at 4:45 PM on February 17 [12 favorites]


It might be more effective if instead of running the ad and then taking it down if there's no code back in a month, they refuse to run the ad at all until some sort of US verification is achieved. But that would lose them money so they'll never do it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:50 PM on February 17 [9 favorites]


Wait, there's a month lead time on their verification process? That's worse than doing nothing at all. They're papering over the problem with a knowingly bullshit response.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:56 PM on February 17 [14 favorites]


It might be more effective if instead of running the ad and then taking it down if there's no code back in a month, they refuse to run the ad at all until some sort of US verification is achieved. But that would lose them money so they'll never do it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:50 AM on February 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


Wait, there's a month lead time on their verification process? That's worse than doing nothing at all. They're papering over the problem with a knowingly bullshit response.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:56 AM on February 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


FWIW the article doesn't say anything about when the ad goes up. I sure as hell HOPE they don't post the ad until you type in the verification code!
posted by saysthis at 5:01 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Facebook is a data collection, person-monitoring, and advertising company. They'll do anything that won't compromise or even slightly disclose the inner workings of those operations, and everything they do in response will be a distraction until the spotlight of scrutiny flickers off of them.

Facebook won't save us from Facebook.
posted by doctorfrog at 5:04 PM on February 17 [47 favorites]


Just as a follow-up, Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, the former Montana Department of Labor and Industry legal secretary who quit rather than process subpoenas on immigrants for ICE (mentioned in last week's megathread), has written an op-ed about his experience for the Washington Post.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:44 PM on February 17 [42 favorites]


What a mensch!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:50 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Those easy little deterrent activities are typically a good idea as long as it's not the only action being taken. But with Facebook we're talking about a large and coordinated operation funded and sponsored by the government of a large nation with a lot of resources.

Normally, these little deterrents don't stop everything but it provides a bit more barrier to entry so at least some criminals will choose to pursue some easier crime. They're not trying to deter a bunch of random, unconnected criminals, it's a single, determined and well funded operation.
posted by VTX at 5:50 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


Normally, these little deterrents don't stop everything but it provides a bit more barrier to entry so at least some criminals will choose to pursue some easier crime. They're not trying to deter a bunch of random, unconnected criminals, it's a single, determined and well funded operation.

I mean it's not like they're going to put:

Not Russian Embassy
2700 Wisconsin Ave
Washington, DC 20007

and then go next door to pick up the post card that "the idiot intern addressed incorrectly" or anything.

No. They would never do that.
posted by Talez at 6:07 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]


Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is Great, Unless You Want Actually Functioning Infrastructure
When politicians roll out their glossy infrastructure plans, they tend to bite off more than they can chew. President Trump’s new plan just orders everything on the menu, leaves after a few bites, and sticks taxpayers with the bill. Not only does his 50-page plan offer no new ideas or a concrete vision for investing in urgent infrastructural needs, it also shovels more authority to corporations for yet another spending spree on the public dime.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:12 PM on February 17 [11 favorites]


With everything they're asset stripping from the USG in this infrastructure plan I'm honestly surprised they didn't try to surreptitiously privatize the interstates. Build a lane and you get a lease for the whole road for 99 years and you can toll it.
posted by Talez at 6:21 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


With everything they're asset stripping from the USG in this infrastructure plan I'm honestly surprised they didn't try to surreptitiously privatize the interstates. Build a lane and you get a lease for the whole road for 99 years and you can toll it.

That kind of is the infrastructure plan. It handwaves around the details by leaving it up to the states to implement, so some states will do things like sell bonds against the toll revenue instead of leasing the road to a toll operator, but the end result is similar.
posted by zachlipton at 6:29 PM on February 17 [6 favorites]


Daley would be proud.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:50 PM on February 17


philip-random: ...given that the thirteen people just arrested were operating from within the USA...

Wait a second, what? I feel like I missed something here. Mueller indicted thirteen Russian individuals and three Russian entities. A couple of the Russians conducted a reconnaissance mission to the USA within the past few years, but the IRA team was operating out of St. Petersburg and Russia has zero intention of extraditing the indicted here. None of the thirteen have been arrested.
posted by carsonb at 7:04 PM on February 17 [15 favorites]


Yesterday I went on the Facebook account for my pen name to give an update on the next book. Immediately FB says, "Reach more viewers with a boosted [paid] post!" and I'm like, "Damn it, Facebook, I'm an author, not a Russian propagandist!"
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:14 PM on February 17 [10 favorites]


Unfortunately Facebook execs are setting themselves up to be used as propaganda mouthpieces by POTUS.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:23 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


NYT:
A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians. [...]

Mr. Hoffman announced his ultimatum in an email to half a dozen Republican leaders, including Jeb Bush and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida. He wrote in the email that he would not give money to Mr. Scott, who is considering a campaign for the Senate in 2018, or other Florida Republicans he has backed in the past, including Representative Brian Mast, if they did not support new gun legislation.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:28 PM on February 17 [81 favorites]


Donald J. Trump on Twitter:
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!
There really is no bottom at all with this guy, is there?
posted by non canadian guy at 8:36 PM on February 17 [61 favorites]


Donny isn't panicking at all. Nosiree. Totally the actions of an innocent man tweeting at 11:30pm. (And FYI Donny, the Miami field office of the FBI isn't involved in counter intelligence. I.e. the Russia investigation. With 35,000 employees, they have enough to do both.)

@realDonaldTrump
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

@realDonaldTrump
General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!
posted by chris24 at 8:37 PM on February 17 [21 favorites]


I don't even flinch anymore, which is sad. It's just our regular late-night reminder that the president of the United States is a profoundly broken and disturbed human.
posted by lalex at 8:38 PM on February 17 [76 favorites]


AZ congressman:

@RubenGallego
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born.
posted by chris24 at 8:55 PM on February 17 [141 favorites]


Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!


It’s like those science fiction stories where the artificial intelligence is breaking down, and just starts doing a random core dump. Uranium! Emails! Speeches!

It is difficult to imagine any President in our country’s history being this pathetic, or anyone this pathetic having control of a nuclear arsenal. We’re approaching Downfall territory here.
posted by darkstar at 8:57 PM on February 17 [60 favorites]


philip-random: ...given that the thirteen people just arrested were operating from within the USA...

Wait a second, what? I feel like I missed something here. Mueller indicted thirteen Russian individuals and three Russian entities. A couple of the Russians conducted a reconnaissance mission to the USA within the past few years, but the IRA team was operating out of St. Petersburg and Russia has zero intention of extraditing the indicted here. None of the thirteen have been arrested.


I missed that. Read about the reconnaissance mission and made an assumption. Thanks for setting me straight.
posted by philip-random at 9:12 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


It’s like those science fiction stories where the artificial intelligence is breaking down, and just starts doing a random core dump. Uranium! Emails! Speeches!

This is what it's like when you're talking politics with someone who's immersed themselves in the Fox News/The_Donald bubble. They talk in hashtags and references and expect to dominate arguments by triumphantly shouting a few incantations. That sort of lingual heuristics short-circuits critical thought and whenever I encounter it I demand good-faith argument and supporting evidence of claims and just shout back dominantly until they start posting links. Which one then must discredit piece-by-piece while calling out topic-shifting and more oblique references to debunked humbug and you have to type so so fast and it really can be draining but I'm convinced This Guy will come around eventually and the flow of good info can indeed win over his staining dribble of bullshit.

What was that about quitting FaceBoob?
posted by carsonb at 9:14 PM on February 17 [44 favorites]


By the bye, big gigantic thanks to the regular participants in these threads because I wear my RAM out CTRL-Ffing through them finding links and analysis when engaging with Somebody Who's Wrong on the Internet. Couldn't do it without y'all.

(Glad we're on the same page, philip-random.)
posted by carsonb at 9:19 PM on February 17 [10 favorites]


until they start posting links

worth noting, I encounter this sort of stuff from "friends" off to the more extreme left. Or who knows where they fit in anymore actually? railing about JFK conspiracy stuff (still) and/or US sponsored atrocities in Syria or ... whatever. But it always ends up with A. claims that you can't trust wikipedia and/or whatever other sources I may be citing, and B. links to various dubious sources or just great swathes of text cut and pasted from some suppressed document or other.

I always end up feeling sorry for them, like this is their unconscious way of coming clean to me that they're really just completely confused, so deep in the rabbit hole they've forgotten they ever even entered in the first place.
posted by philip-random at 9:33 PM on February 17 [12 favorites]


AZ congressman:

@RubenGallego
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born.


That's my congressman! I used to live in a republican district; this is much better (well, as better as it can get in this hell-scape).
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:36 PM on February 17 [43 favorites]


It’s like those science fiction stories where the artificial intelligence is breaking down, and just starts doing a random core dump. Uranium! Emails! Speeches!

The approval rating for the racist rapey AI core dump is over 41%, up 2% in the past month according to Fivethirtyeight. This is a dystopia that even the greats never imagined. Americans sure do like meatloaf.
posted by SakuraK at 9:42 PM on February 17 [29 favorites]


The enlightenment has always been a push against dullness. Forty-one percent dimwits means 59 percent bright.

Despair is a sin.
posted by notyou at 11:04 PM on February 17 [35 favorites]


Loony Lefty NYC report

I made two flyers for NYC-DSA Events

The Uptown/Bronx Collection drive for an LGBTQ resource focusing on people missed by the system (Undocumented, aged out, etc), some of it is just gender affirming stuff and I've gone around and collected so many silk neckties and nice jewelry to redistribute along with makeup and skincare. you can directly give here

and on March 2nd the Working Groups are throwing a party in Manhattan to raise funds, everyone from Service Industry to Anti-War---it's in a very nautical themed space so I'm brining salt water taffy for everybody and beachballs.
posted by The Whelk at 11:45 PM on February 17 [33 favorites]


This detailed analysis of the Stormy Daniels story makes a really interesting point that I hadn't considered: More Adventures in Ethics, Now with Porn Stars
[...] To thread this labyrinth, [Trump's longtime lawyer, Michael] Cohen has to argue that he bought Stormy Daniels’ silence as an unaffiliated independent actor, working solely in his personal capacity rather than as a lawyer or agent for anyone else, and blinded to the electoral significance of his acts. Did that happen? Did Cohen, on the eve of the election, for no reason other than intoxication on the milk of human kindness, give his longtime client’s former mistress $130,000 of his own personal funds in transactional hush money with no benefit to himself, and no action or knowledge on behalf of the longtime client, without regard to the lawyer-client relationship between them, just because he and the client were supposedly friends? You be the judge. And if Cohen denies that he was acting as anybody’s lawyer, then none of the communications he may have had with any of those folks on this issue is privileged. Let the subpoenas fly.
[emphasis in original]
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:12 AM on February 18 [96 favorites]


Sounds like Cohen should have consulted a lawyer, oh, wait...
posted by Meatbomb at 2:15 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Oh boy this morning:
Never gotten over the fact that Obama was able to send $1.7 Billion Dollars in CASH to Iran and nobody in Congress, the FBI or Justice called for an investigation!
Obama sent the money because it was Iran's money that was held in a trust fund.
Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!
McConnell wouldn't come out in a bipartisan display and Obama didn't want to make it into a partisan issue you dumb fuck.
I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia - it never did!
The dotard doth protest too much, methinks.
posted by Talez at 4:41 AM on February 18 [30 favorites]


Yep, he’s continuing his insane panicked flailing from last night.

@realDonaldTrump:
Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?
posted by chris24 at 4:50 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


AZ congressman:

@RubenGallego
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born.


I want this on our currency. I want this on the Great Seal. I want this as his sole line in our history books: We regret the error of his having been born.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:02 AM on February 18 [43 favorites]


Everyone, one of the *only* things that provides me comfort in the current political hellscape is knowing that is somebody's (or multiple somebodies) job to look at the subject matter of trump's tweets and put them on a list of stuff to investigate because Trump's mirror.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:07 AM on February 18 [11 favorites]


My SO, who is often subsumed in work, came out of his coding haze because he has a break and has started carefully paying attention to the news in the first time in a while. A few days ago he started making weird dark jokes about military coups and then having nightmares. Then yesterday he came to me and was like "I'm afraid things are falling apart."

Our plan has been to wait until 2018 and then decide whether or not the SO looks for work in Canada, and I've been busy so I haven't had time really get philosophical about things, but it makes me sad to watch my SO sort of wake up to the fact that yes, maybe moving to Canada is the right choice (he's the kind of coding wizard who is likely in demand in a few places and this is very good yes but neither us really want to leave we're Americans).
posted by angrycat at 5:07 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Here's a collection of analysis pieces and follow up investigation about the indictments...

Molly McKew for Wired: "Did Russia Affect the 2016 Election? It's now undeniable"
The indictment pulls the curtain back on four big questions that have swirled around the Russian influence operation, which, it turns out, began in 2014: What was the scope of the Russian effort? What kind of content did it rely on? Who or what was it targeting, and what did it aim to achieve? And finally, what impact did it have?
Anton Troianovski, Rosalind S. Helderman, Ellen Nakashima and Craig Timberg for WaPo: "The 21st-century Russian sleeper agent is a troll with an American accent"
The Internet Research Agency’s analytics workers separated social media content into four categories: “govnostrana,” which the NSA translated as “crap country”; “personality,” or information about individuals; “precision strike,” exploiting specific events; and “spam.”
...
When Sherrie Hyer, 63, [...] got a message through Facebook from a stranger in August 2016 asking her if she would organize a pro-Trump rally later that month on a particular street corner in Oxford, Fla., she was neither surprised nor concerned. ... Though prosecutors allege that the Russians bought similar costumes and paid unwitting Americans to wear them at other such events, Hyer said she bought her own Clinton prison uniform from Goodwill, had worn it to previous Trump events and dressed in it for this event without any outside suggestion.
More details from that interview with the former troll who was a major source for that previous link...

Anton Troianovski for WaPo: "A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’"
Who really reads the comments under news articles, anyway? Especially when they were so obviously fake. People working there had no literary interest or abilities. These were mechanical texts. It was a colossal labor of monkeys, it was pointless. For Russian audiences, at least. But for Americans, it appears it did work. They aren’t used to this kind of trickery. They live in a society in which it’s accepted to answer for your words.
Robert McMillan, Deepa Seetharaman and Georgia Wells for WSJ: "Russian Influence Operation Allegedly Ran Like a Propaganda Startup"
The federal indictment issued Friday against the Internet Research Agency describes in rich detail an institution with a deep understanding of Silicon Valley technology that allegedly manipulated tools designed to foster open discussion.
Bob Bauer for Just Security: "The Indictment of Russia’s Super PAC and the Open Question of Trump Campaign Complicity"
Internet Research Agency, apparently directing the program, is now revealed to have been among the largest Super PACs operating in the 2016 elections.  This is now clearly one of the major campaign finance scandals in American history."
Ivan Nechepurenko and Michael Schwirtz for NYT: "The Troll Farm: What We Know About 13 Russians Indicted by the U.S."
In the past five years, Mr. Prigozhin has received government contracts worth $3.1 billion. Lately, he has branched out into areas like recruiting contract soldiers to fight overseas and establishing a popular online news service that pushes a nationalist viewpoint, making him even more indispensable to Mr. Putin.
Emily Talk on at Foreign Policy with a good summary of some of the more surreal details from the indictments... "This Is What $1.25 Million Dollars a Month Bought the Russians"
A birthday card! An all-American trip! Tweets! Stolen American identities!
From Just Security, a collection of all the Unsealed Documents in Special Counsel Mueller’s Investigation [Updated] including copies of all indictments and guilty pleas so far. They are all surprisingly readable and compelling, if you want to get the details first hand.

Finally, I have updated and slightly re-organized my own site "2016 Active Measures - What the Public Knows" to include a few of these details and links (mostly in the "what DID the Russians do?" section) and to streamline some other sections and improve readability. As always, feel free to copy and paste or share anything from that site, no attribution necessary, or just use it as a reference.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:11 AM on February 18 [84 favorites]


"Did Russia Affect the 2016 Election? It's now undeniable"

This always kind of annoys me because yes, they tried to influence how Americans voted but we have a populace that is stupid enough to be taken in by their attempts to influence. I can't say we didn't deserve it though. Hell, the CIA probably interfered with the whole voting out Whitlam back in '75.
posted by Talez at 5:22 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


I don't know if the 16-Feb-2017 response to Mafort's bail proposal got any mention, but it contains gold.
"The government respectfully submits that Manafort’s proposed new bail package is insufficient to assure reasonably his appearance as required by law"

... lots of financial details, with redactions ...

"Significantly, Manafort does not propose any sureties to make up the difference in the effective equity
value of the property he proposes as security and the $10 million bond. The fact that Manafort has not been able to find any responsible surety to cosign a bond for this package suggests that neither those closest to him, nor anyone else, is willing to assume the risk of being a surety for him. "
There's stuff in there about MORE criminal charges fraud coming soon, so it looks like Gates dropped a dime on Manafort. Manafort was at the campaign meeting with Russian criminals in Trump Tower in June 2016. We got those other 13 russian criminals indicted yesterday. It's been a long stretch since the first indictments dropped in October, but I believe thing are going to start coming fast, and it's just about time to drop Junior and Kushner into the hot seat.
posted by mikelieman at 5:25 AM on February 18 [19 favorites]


It's like Russian meddling in the 2016 election to me is sort of like when laypeople erroneously claim entrapment. Yes they gave the opportunity but you were oh so eager to go along with it in the first place.
posted by Talez at 5:30 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]




It's like Russian meddling in the 2016 election to me is sort of like when laypeople erroneously claim entrapment. Yes they gave the opportunity but you were oh so eager to go along with it in the first place.

If there’s a fire, and someone comes along and pours gasoline everywhere they possibly can in the vicinity of that fire, hoping the entire city burns, they’ve still committed a crime.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:59 AM on February 18 [19 favorites]


Pretty sure the Democratic Party gets blamed for tons of shit they don’t do, if we’re talking about organizations, and secondly, the NRA is blamed for preventing gun control legislation and registration, which their members absolutely do do, with great enthusiasm, as individuals and as a lobbying group.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:09 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


Yes, Americans are idiots. But we are all susceptible to propaganda. I have blocked as many bot-like or just ridiculous cult 45 members on twitter I can identify and it’s much more pleasant and makes me feel more united with my fellow Americans. That noise does impact people. There was also a noticeable decline in that noise post election, and even without the evidence that had since come out it was clear something odd was going on.

I don’t think any of us are immune. On this very site we want to fight the primaries again and again - the “bernie bro” phenomenon was absolutely inflamed by propaganda. Jill Stein absolutely had an impact. Most left wing voters didn’t vote for Trump. But some people really believed HRC was evil and did their best to suppress any passion any of us felt for our candidate. The hate for HRC was so relentless on social media that we had to have secret Facebook groups to support her! That’s massively messed up, and certainly part of the Russian propaganda effort. Of course it had an influence. Are people going to take the time off work to stand in line for a candidate they are meh about? No. We can clearly see voter suppression and driving apathy for left leaning voters was a tactic that worked in swing states.

Metafilter is one of the only places on the internet where I actually saw my views (and those of my friends) reflected, and we are absolutely the majority of this country.
posted by rainydayfilms at 6:09 AM on February 18 [55 favorites]


With the Russian thing, I think it's useful to consider how you feel about American meddling in others' elections, and how you'd feel if this exact story took place in a country like Brazil (ie, somewhere with its own intrinsic problems but also a powerful, dangerous and cruel right-wing infrastructure). When the US government takes advantage of social problems in other countries to fuck over their working people and destroy their democratic process, we are quite rightly outraged.

If we found out that the US government had been staging and supporting right wing demonstrations in Brazil, running a troll farm to try to tip public opinion, etc, we'd be pretty mad, right? We wouldn't say, "well, Brazilians shouldn't really bother being mad at the US, after all if there weren't really existing problems, nothing the US tried would work".

And in particular, we wouldn't say, "Ignoring American election interference doesn't matter - it won't damage trust in the Brazilian democratic process". We would say, "Brazil should address American interference loudly and clearly and push back very hard because it's important that people have faith in the democratic process, not assume that any old nation state can just fuck with it".

Honestly, I think that some of the under-reaction I'm seeing from folks on the left is coming from a weird understanding of the US system. Our election system is not always-already so fucked up and corrupt that interfering doesn't matter, nor is it so robust that a series of attacks can't damage it.

This is all very unfortunate, and I certainly agree that Cold War- style paranoia is the wrong lens - understanding all this stuff as competition between oligarchs around the world is a much better way to look at it than "Russia and the US - immortal enemies!!!!" Most American problems have American causes, not Russian ones, but unfortunately that does not mean we can just be all "la la it doesn't matter".
posted by Frowner at 6:17 AM on February 18 [65 favorites]


maybe moving to Canada is the right choice

I think the smartest thing in this case is to think through and game out actual possibilities. If there is something imminent, enough so that you feel it is time to flee well ahead of planned schedule, is Canada really the place to be?

If I had the possibilities, I would feel best to have my family safe and secure in Norway, Iceland, or maybe Uruguay or similar. As a Canadian I am kind of glad that we are not there now, and are far far away from the US and their sphere of influence and control.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:18 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I think that some of the under-reaction I'm seeing from folks on the left is coming from a weird understanding of the US system

That is a, shall we say, polite way of putting it.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:38 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


The President's tweets this morning are a special kind of enraged.
posted by odinsdream at 7:11 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Good advice everyone, Top U.S. officials tell the world to ignore Trump’s tweets (WaPo):
MUNICH — Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to global affairs, U.S. officials had a message to a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.
Although the story and the headline don't really match up, a headline that actually reflects the content of the reporting would be "US officials assure allies that the president isn't in charge of US foreign policy." And that's such a problematic thing to contemplate that it shouldn't reassure anyone.
posted by peeedro at 7:32 AM on February 18 [47 favorites]


enraged

That's a funny way of spelling deranged.
posted by Talez at 7:39 AM on February 18 [21 favorites]


See what happens when you don’t let him golf? Cripes.
posted by notyou at 7:41 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


"US officials assure allies that the president isn't in charge of US foreign policy."

"US officials assure passengers that the pilot is incapacitated and nobody is flying the plane"
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:49 AM on February 18 [39 favorites]


Sort of assumed today was golf day. He’s getting a long weekend, right?

And it’s not like he does anything else worthwhile... The Atlantic: Trump’s gravest responsibility is to defend the United States from foreign attack—and he’s done nothing to fulfill it.
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on February 18 [12 favorites]


Trumps went straight from Parkland to Studio 54-themed ‘disco party’ at Mar-a-Lago: report

"Trump announced on Saturday that he will forego his usual Saturday golf game out of respect for the Parkland victims." I would've also foregone the Studio 54-themed disco party, but maybe that's just me.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:14 AM on February 18 [31 favorites]


understanding all this stuff as competition between oligarchs around the world is a much better way to look at it than "Russia and the US - immortal enemies!!!!"

THIS THIS THIS!!! Class warfare is the big picture, globally. Control of resources (including populations of humans in the "resources" column). It is this simple from a macro perspective. US Agencies are being gutted and/or sold off by the Oligarchs that were appointed to head them. It is not a theory, it IS happening, there are linked sources strewn throughout these posts, one of the latest regarding the VA. It might be interesting to gather all of those links in to a separate post, and get a consolidated picture of the damage that has been done to our Agencies and that is being planned to be done to our Agencies.
posted by W Grant at 8:29 AM on February 18 [51 favorites]


One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid provoking Trump, asked whether policymakers like McMaster who adhere largely to traditional U.S. foreign policy positions were falling into the same trap as Germany’s elite during Hitler’s rise, when they continued to serve in government in the name of protecting their nation.

The answer, the diplomat said, might be found following “nuclear war,” which he feared could be provoked by Trump administration’s hawkish approach to North Korea.


You might say we're already going through our constitutional crisis, since the 25th Amendment tells us what to do but everyone in power is too craven and/or chickenshit to do it. I mean, Reagan got put on notice for looking sleepy during meetings.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:33 AM on February 18 [17 favorites]


If there’s a fire, and someone comes along and pours gasoline everywhere they possibly can in the vicinity of that fire, hoping the entire city burns, they’ve still committed a crime.

So much for the Billy Joel defense.
posted by nickmark at 8:36 AM on February 18 [41 favorites]


Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump
If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!
This is like a Scooby Doo episode but at the end, after pulling off the mask and revealing the real perpetrator, instead of the perpetrator saying "and I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids" the perpetrator says "you guys should find the person who did this because they're playing us for chumps".
posted by Talez at 8:42 AM on February 18 [63 favorites]


We would say, "Brazil should address American interference loudly and clearly and push back very hard because it's important that people have faith in the democratic process, not assume that any old nation state can just fuck with it".

Honestly, I think that some of the under-reaction I'm seeing from folks on the left is coming from a weird understanding of the US system. Our election system is not always-already so fucked up and corrupt that interfering doesn't matter, nor is it so robust that a series of attacks can't damage it.


Maybe if this was a one off fluke occurrence, but we have abundant evidence it was not, and the same problem will keep reoccurring indefinitely. There has been zero push back, at all. Rather the President and his entire party refuse to admit it happened, and tacitly if not openly acknowledge they are counting on Russian interference to maintain power again as soon as this year. Our democracy is not on the path to being "normal" again, Republicans are actively destroying it in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and there's no reason to expect they would stop at those three states. Whats more, we WON'T be on a path to normalcy again in the future, as population will continue concentrate political power in the hands of a smaller and small portion of the white electorate susceptible to the same information war Republicans are counting on.

So, we don't have the option of wishing we weren't in a second Cold War and pretending like Russia is no big deal. We already had the Second Cold War, and we lost it decisively before we knew it started. Right now we're living under a Manchurian Occupied RussoAmerica puppet administration. The Russian issue is the single biggest issue facing Occupied America right now and in the future.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:42 AM on February 18 [19 favorites]


Trump announced on Saturday that he will forego his usual Saturday golf game in lieu of a Twitter tirade out of respect for the Parkland victims.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:46 AM on February 18 [27 favorites]


See what happens when you don’t let him golf? Cripes.

That's actually correct.

‘They are laughing their asses off in Moscow’: Trump takes on the FBI, Russia probe and 2016 election
(Josh Dawsey, WaPo)
Trump, ensconced at Mar-a-Lago, has so far stayed away from the golf course even though the weather has been sunny and almost 80 degrees — in what aides describe as showing respect for the 17 people killed in a school shooting in Florida last week.

The president has instead spent much of his time watching television and tweeting, aides said. After a string of tweets Saturday afternoon, he dined with talk-show host Geraldo Rivera and the president’s two adult sons before returning to his quarters for more posts.

He seemed to wake up Sunday morning again fired up.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:56 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


The Russian Hacks Were Effective Because of Terrible Reporting Practices
This is a topic we’ve been discussing for a while — remember when Glenn was preemptively asserting that it was wrong to criticize Julian Assange or suggest he had any role in electing Trump? WHATEVER COULD EXPLAIN IT? — starting with Paul in the immediate aftermath of the election. But it remains very important going forward, because Russia and other pro-Trump forces aren’t going to stop trying to influence elections, and the Republican-controlled state sure as hell won’t try to stop them.

But hacks alone can’t influence elections. Media coverage of hacks can influence elections, and lessons from the 2016 campaign need to be learned:
  • Note that the leaks were released in a very careful strategic fashion, designed to to maximum political damage — for example, during the DNC, or the day of the Billy Bush tapes. This should have caused the media to be extremely skeptical about the way the leaks were framed and very careful not to advance the narratives of people obviously trying to ratfuck the elections. It didn’t — quite the opposite.
  • As Risen says, the hacks were generally reported the way the pro-Trump leakers wanted them reported — in both quality and quantity — although they revealed no significant or material misconduct. [...]
  • [And] Risen also says, while they were being played like Mary Timony’s guitar, the media was missing the real story — the massive invasions of privacy by the pro-Trump ratfucking campaign itself. [...]
  • This is really important going forward. It is neither feasible nor desirable to set a black-letter standard forbidding the coverage of leaked material. But it certainly is critical not to act as the useful idiots of bad actors. Before you report on a hack, make sure some important, material misconduct is involved. Be mindful of why this stuff is being leaked and what the agenda of the leakers is. The fact that something secret is being revealed doesn’t make it the Pentagon Papers.
All of this is the subset of a larger problem. Elections are literally life-and-death matters, but they’re not to the most influential people who cover them. From a nice apartment in Brooklyn or a mansion in Rio it can be pretty easy to use your platform to spend elections rubbing your thighs raw about email server management best practices or some DNC rando saying something dumb about Bernie that everyone else ignored. But it’s bad journalism, and it’s also immoral. You have a responsibility to act as if the results of the election might mean you lose access to healthcare or be forced to subsist on a box of cans of wadded beef and shelf-stable milk that may or may not be sent to your house. That doesn’t mean ignoring serious misconduct by anyone or not engaging in tough reporting. But it does mean informing your readers, not actively collaborating with people whose goal is to ensure that the public is critically misinformed.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:01 AM on February 18 [80 favorites]


PenDevil: Philadelphia Eagle defensive end Chris Long is dragging Laura Ingraham on Twitter and it is a thing of beauty.

Laura Ingraham said that "LeBron James should shut up and dribble" after he said Trump doesn't 'give a f--- about the people', to which Chris Long responded by citing (with screencaps) the range of non-politicians, from Dog the Bounty Hunter and the homophobic Duck Dynasty member to Chuck Norris and Clint Eastwood, who have been invited to talk about Charlottesville violence to Islamic extremists. Oh, and there were some athletes interviewed, including Curt Schiller (former MLB pitcher) and a few others.

Surprise - they're all white dudes.

But beyond racism, what makes someone qualified to talk about politics? Clearly, Fox has no real threshold or standard there, but looking at elected politicians, there's no threshold there, either. Beyond Trump, there are plenty of business people, former military folks, scientists, actors and artists, and even sports figures, in addition to those who have studied political science, governance and public management who get elected to office.

With that, it looks like we're back to racism.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:02 AM on February 18 [49 favorites]


Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump
If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.


This. This is the moment I broke, right here. You witless, retrograde, dull-normal baboon-man, with your always-already self-absolution mechanism firmly in place and your dried flakes of spray tan where your conscience should be. You anempathic grade-school washout, you groveler before "generals," you licker of any proffered boot so long as it's jack- enough. You no-taste-having, brokedick, clapped-out canker sore of a man too risibly tacky even for the New York City property-development sector, you daddy's boy. You coveter of the envy of the shallow and the admiration of the frankly stupid. You awful, awful, all-too-human zero. You have broken me.

YES. Yes they have. They have succeeded in this operation far past their richest, most embroidered, daren't-even-name-them-in-dreams hopes. And do you know the reason why, you utter lackwit, you pig, you double-stacked shitburger? It is because in you, they found the kind of useful idiot that only comes along once every few centuries — a golden, once-in-a-lifetime gift. And they used you the way you only fantasize about using people.

They've gotten what they want from you, and then some, and still *then* some, but when they're done with you there will be no glory. Not even the curt dismissal of a few greasy Franklins tossed on the nightstand. Believe it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:18 AM on February 18 [177 favorites]


If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Literally every question at the next press conference needs to be about the sanctions law (not bill, law) that Trump has ignored. And the next press conference, and the next one after that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:26 AM on February 18 [45 favorites]


The next press conference will be Sarah Sanders taking exactly one question. From Goyal.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:30 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


>If there’s a fire, and someone comes along and pours gasoline everywhere they possibly can in the vicinity of that fire, hoping the entire city burns, they’ve still committed a crime.

So much for the Billy Joel defense


Mr. Joel's lyrics go: We didn't start the fire/No, we didn't light it/But we tried to fight it. The intent of the Billy Joel defense is that active effort to fight the fire is the critical component. In the court's view, the Billy Joel defense would only apply if the defendant actually tried to stop, hinder, or put out the fire, not accelerate it. Counsel would rewrite the defense to: We didn't start the fire/No we didn't light it/But we further ignite it and claim it still applies. This is rejected by the court.
posted by nubs at 9:33 AM on February 18 [35 favorites]


The Charging Mystery in the Russia Indictments—And Its Indication of What Comes Next in the Mueller Investigation
On the face of it, the law prohibits a U.S. campaign or person from “soliciting” something “of value” from a foreign national, and it bars rendering “substantial assistance” to illegal foreign national spending. It seems clear that the facts known to date implicate these rules. It is also true that there is little precedent and arguably an increased risk of a defense grounded in the “vagueness” of these prohibitions. Some commentators have expressed unease about the constitutional limiting principle that would govern the enforcement of these provisions. I do not share this view, but it is held strongly in some quarters and, therefore, appropriately and respectfully noted.

The Mueller indictment is conceivably one way to solve this problem. It alleges a conspiracy to prevent the FEC from taking up and addressing the regulatory issues, and American co-conspirators may be brought in on any overt act in furtherance of this illegal scheme. Any U.S. citizen who intentionally supported the Russian electoral intervention could be liable. Examples would include U.S. citizens engaged in conversations like those in Trump Tower in summer of 2016, or Don, Jr.’s communications with WikiLeaks about the timing of the release of stolen emails. The conspiracy to defraud the United States could also envelop any Americans who helped cover the Russians’ illegal electoral program by lying to federal authorities about the campaign’s Russian contacts.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:33 AM on February 18 [10 favorites]


Time travel with me to this article from 2014 and tell me you don't feel like taking 1000 showers afterward.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:44 AM on February 18 [14 favorites]


Time travel with me to this article from 2014 and tell me you don't feel like taking 1000 showers afterward.

posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:44 AM on February 18 [+] [!]


Let's say I knew about this research. Let's say I worked for a consortium assembled by wealthy and highly placed Russians and assorted GOP operatives. Let's say I had access to algorithms that identified voting tendencies down to the individual level in places like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin. Let's say I used that algorithm and Facebook's methods to target swing precincts in those states to suppress votes I didn't like and encourage ones I did. Wouldn't that be interesting?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:55 AM on February 18 [13 favorites]


Oh to weaponsie that you;d probably need some voter roll data to be hacked and laundered through, say, a British company.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Oh to weaponsie that you;d probably need some voter roll data to be hacked and laundered through, say, a British company.

posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on February 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


Let's pretend there is such a British company. Let's call it, oh, something like Cambridge Analytica. I just love fanfic.

Let's say I was able to swing 80,000 or so votes in key precincts in swing states. Why, I could steal an election from a tested life-long public servant and hand it to an Orange-faced Blowhard Pussy-grabbing Adulterous Reality Show Huckster. Unfortunately, if that public servant could prove I did this, she might be able to convince the courts that the election is invalid. Just maybe. *crossing every pair of digits I possibly can*
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:08 AM on February 18 [31 favorites]


This always kind of annoys me because yes, they tried to influence how Americans voted but we have a populace that is stupid enough to be taken in by their attempts to influence.

Do you feel the same way towards senior citizens duped by con men into giving up their retirement savings?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:13 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we'll have it out in two weeks
And it will be really really great
Even greater than that great fire they had in London once
Believe me
posted by flabdablet at 10:29 AM on February 18 [38 favorites]


Nothing new in this NYT article, but it's nice to see these facts sketched out so plainly. And the headline pretty much echoes the definition of chutzpah.

NYT: Trump Blames Obama and Democrats for Failing to Stop Russian Meddling
The president has repeatedly seized on the fact that the efforts started before he became a candidate, but has glossed over the conclusion that they evolved toward supporting his candidacy.

... he has repeatedly denied that Russia was behind any meddling, even going so far in November as to suggest that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin’s denials of interference over the conclusions of American intelligence agencies.

... Mr. Trump criticized General McMaster for not saying at the security conference in Germany where he was speaking that the election results had not been changed as a result of the Russian interference. The nation’s intelligence agencies believe that it is not possible to make such a conclusion.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:30 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


Honestly, I don't think it was stupid American voters, per se, it was that the troll operation knew how to weaponize prejudices - racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and, in particular, misogyny. Stirring up misogyny against a woman candidate? Candy from a baby. I truly don't know how to tell who is a home-grown misogynist or other bigot and who is a Russian troll in the comment sections at, for instance, Daily Kos and (shudder) Splinter News.

And they're still there and still come out frothing with any mention of Kirsten Gillibrand or Cory Booker.

I think it's a danger for us to assume that the Russian (and other) ratfuckers are soooo very clever and Machiavellian that we Democrats, liberals and progressives are feeble in comparison. But, I think they found very fertile soil in the bigotry of many, mostly (but not all) white Americans. Bigots were already up in arms (literally) because of Obama being president. And there was/is a sizable "economically progressive but socially conservative" contingent - and all anyone had to do was tell them "Psst. Crookit Hillary conspired to keep Our Socialist Hero Bernie out of the running" and they fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:38 AM on February 18 [34 favorites]


At times like this I like to imagine Hillary Clinton going outside to the most remote location she can find, taking a deep breath, and screaming, “I TOLD YOU SO!!” into the void. Then she smooths her hair back, goes inside and polishes off a bottle of wine.

Someone please take this asshole out on the golf course already so he’ll stop inflicting his massive insecurities on the rest of the world.
posted by Salieri at 10:38 AM on February 18 [49 favorites]


Honestly, I don't think it was stupid American voters, per se, it was that the troll operation knew how to weaponize prejudices - racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and, in particular, misogyny. Stirring up misogyny against a woman candidate? Candy from a baby.

We are gonna need a goddamn truth and reconciliation commission
posted by schadenfrau at 10:49 AM on February 18 [42 favorites]


We are gonna need a goddamn truth and reconciliation commission

A goddamn truth and reconciliation commission would first require the imprisonment of enough criminals to end the emergency and the ostracism of enough GOP enablers to establish a consensus reality. First things first.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:56 AM on February 18 [23 favorites]


Nothing new in this NYT article, but it's nice to see these facts sketched out so plainly. And the headline pretty much echoes the definition of chutzpah.

NYT: Trump Blames Obama and Democrats for Failing to Stop Russian Meddling


Politico sees the NYT's headline and raises: Trump Attacks Everyone But Russia
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:59 AM on February 18 [57 favorites]


Trump Blames Obama and Democrats for Failing to Stop Russian Meddling

"I was smart. You let me do it, why didn't you stop me?" (paraphrased)

I was shocked and saddened to see that work for him on the question of not paying taxes in the debates. But it won't work here, surely?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:07 AM on February 18 [9 favorites]


A pair of articles as we shift from Infrastructure Week to Troll Week

Adrian Chen has a chat with Mikhail Burchik: An Indicted Russian Picks Up the Phone, and Mocks the Idea That Russia Meddled
I sent him a screenshot of the section of the indictment that indicated he had become the executive director of the Agency in 2014, that he stayed on at least through 2016, and that he’d had multiple meetings with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Kremlin-connected businessman alleged to be the chief funder of the Agency. According to the indictment, Burchik helped oversee an operation of hundreds of employees that spread propaganda under false identities on social media, in an attempt to support Donald Trump and sow “political discord” in America. Burchik insisted that he did not work for the agency. “Why they think that it’s I?” he said. I said because they had done a large investigation. He said that nobody had called him, and that he had received no official notice about the charges.

“I think it’s бред ),” he said, using a Russian word for nonsense. I was struck by the parenthesis at the end, which is the smiley face emoticon on the Russian Internet. He seemed, in general, sanguine about the case, mocking the idea that he might have played a role in the U.S. election. He said that he lives in Russia and doesn’t know anything about the U.S. besides “Washington is the capital of USA.” “I think that if the USA democratic system was broken buy several Russian people--it’s very bad for American political system,” he wrote, calling the notion “fantastic.”

Burchik’s dismissive tone mirrored the official Russian response to Mueller’s indictment. On Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, called the allegations “claptrap.” And Prigozhin, the oligarch at the center of the indictment, was reportedly unbothered by the news. “The Americans are very emotional people, they see what they want to see,” he said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. “I have great respect for them. I am not at all upset that I am on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them.”
...
Before he signed off, I pressed Burchik again on his connection to the Agency. If he was not the executive director, what explanation did he have for how the U.S. government and Russian media outlets had come to that conclusion? “ ‘Shit happens’ ),” he wrote.
That "if they want to see the devil, let them" quote would not be out of place for the evil villain role in any movie ever. You can read on for the whataboutism too, of course.

WaPo, Anton Troianovski, A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’:
How did it feel inside?

I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book “1984” by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.
...
Do you think it worked?

Who really reads the comments under news articles, anyway? Especially when they were so obviously fake. People working there had no literary interest or abilities. These were mechanical texts. It was a colossal labor of monkeys, it was pointless. For Russian audiences, at least. But for Americans, it appears it did work. They aren’t used to this kind of trickery. They live in a society in which it’s accepted to answer for your words. And here — I was amazed how everyone was absolutely sure of their impunity, even as they wrote incredibly offensive comments. They were sure that with the anonymity of the Internet, no one would find them.
The interview goes on to explain that the "Facebook Department," which required high English proficiency and targeted Americans, paid twice as much, and as early as 2014, working in that department a test that included writing about Hillary Clinton. Also, the trolls "scolded" Prigozhin because he was supposed to be known as Putin's chef, yet the troll factory had no cafeteria of any kind.
posted by zachlipton at 11:19 AM on February 18 [24 favorites]


Do you feel the same way towards senior citizens duped by con men into giving up their retirement savings?
Reading about the MAGA people waiting for their coalmines to reopen and their taxes to go down and so forth I do always wonder in the back of my mind what other salesman's lists they're on and just how much other dodgy money is being made from them. Pretty sure those lists are worth a fortune to selected businesses.

There's something willful about consistently allowing ideology to trump experience and as an old myself I think you should get more blame for it if you've been doing it for longer.
posted by glasseyes at 11:25 AM on February 18 [15 favorites]


I don't think it was stupid American voters, per se, it was that the troll operation knew how to weaponize prejudices - racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and, in particular, misogyny.

Stupid American Voter Syndrome - symptoms include racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and, in particular, misogyny.

Per se, it is not stupid American voters who directly do things like this:

Trump once again wants to cut energy assistance to the poor

But they believe things like this from the article - "The administration is using the same arguments from a year ago when it tried to abolish the program, saying it’s rife with fraud and that no one would be left freezing if the program goes away."

Despite
LIHEAP is popular in both cold weather and warm weather states, like Florida and Arizona, where it also distributes money to keep people keep cool in the summer. All told, the program helps 6 million households.

A group of 45 senators asked the president to maintain energy assistance and weatherization assistance programs.

A dangerous stretch of cold weather around the New Year underscored the need for the program, said Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine. And Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called gutting the program “dangerous and unacceptable.”
It's the second time Trump has tried this. This is what racism and misogyny attempting to govern looks like. The hateful prejudices of stupid American voters are what give people like 45 control over the levers of power. Every stupid American voter educated is potentially one less disabled Maine father with five kids who might freeze to death. Kill it with (rhetorical and educational) fire.
posted by saysthis at 11:37 AM on February 18 [18 favorites]


As Dean Baker points out, it's quite easy for Twitter and Facebook to fix the phony bots problem. They just lack the necessary financial incentive to do so. As an example of feasibility, he cites the DMCA.

Congress passed the DMCA act that punishes sites for hosting infringing material. All someone has to do is notify Facebook or Youtube that material is posted illegally. Then the hosting site is responsible for determining the validity of the claim and remove the material within 48 hours. If they don't remove it, they are subject thousands of dollars of fines. Note that it is the hosting site, not the poster, who is fined.

If they can do it for the record companies, surely they can also do it for fake postings, particularly political ads. Zuckerberg, one of the richest people in the world, just doesn't want to spend the money to do so.
posted by JackFlash at 11:39 AM on February 18 [53 favorites]


Fact checking Trump’s error-filled tweetstorm about the Russia investigation (Glenn Kessler | WaPo)
In a tweetstorm that started late at night Saturday and continued into Sunday morning, President Trump railed against the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Here’s a quick guide to his many misstatements and misleading claims in this Twitter barrage.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:42 AM on February 18 [5 favorites]


Under Trump, America's religious right is rewriting its code of ethics

Which sort of makes the assumption they had one to begin with, but shedding all the disguises is very much changing these ghouls for the worse.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Trump blames Obama for failing to stop Russian meddling -- this is Sideshow Bob territory.
Mayor Quimby let dangerous criminals out on parole like Sideshow Bob. Vote Sideshow Bob.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:54 AM on February 18 [47 favorites]


Honestly, I think that some of the under-reaction I'm seeing from folks on the left is coming from a weird understanding of the US system. Our election system is not always-already so fucked up and corrupt that interfering doesn't matter, nor is it so robust that a series of attacks can't damage it.

The standard line that I have heard from leftists is, as you alluded to, something like "Oh yeah? Big whoop, the US does this (and far worse) to other countries all the time." Which is, no doubt, true, but hardly addresses the pressing issue of to what extent Russia influenced the US election and what, if anything, should be done about it.

But I don't think the "under-reaction", as you call it, is a misunderstanding. I think it's the appropriate, or at least an understandable response. Consider the following:

- It has yet to be shown that the "meddling," such as it was, affected the 2016 presidential election result in any way

- It has yet to be shown that there was any active collaboration between any of the 2016 presidential candidates and Russia

- Many of the allegations made by the US against Russia(ns) are laughable or trivial

- The seriousness that the threat that alleged Russian activity poses to American democracy is frequently overblown

- There have been numerous high-profile claims made about Russian machinations that have later been proven to be false

- The march into confrontation with Russia (already a "virtual war" according to the NYT) is much too reminiscent of other periods in American history where US elites attempted to marshall the population into support of an imperialist foreign policy on dubious pretenses

- The political effect of the investigation is to strengthen the domestic intelligence forces that US leftists have long considered to be enemies, for good reason

- Many of the leading advocates of this Russia-as-enemy narrative have been exposed as frauds or, at best, nincompoops

- There are many other, arguably more severe, threads to American democracy that are not getting nearly this level of attention (e.g. voter ID laws, etc.)

So: dubious sources, thin evidence, a history of deception, a nefarious political agenda... yes, there are quite good reasons that leftists -- or anyone, really -- should be skeptical of the claims about "Russian interference" made by the US government and media.

Now, does there exist some evidence for a Russian attempt to influence the election? Yes, but in minor ways and of a type that is completely out of proportion to the attention that this issue has received. There are measured and appropriate policy responses to these concerns; I won't go into them here. But they certainly fall short of an aggressive confrontation of Russia.

I should mention that a serious concern about "Russian meddling" is premised upon a belief in the importance of American institutions. However, the past several years have shown just how anemic and powerless these institutions are to deliver benefits to ordinary Americans; it is no surprise that many Americans would not rush to defend them.

We also can not be blind to the reasons that this Russian-interference narrative emerged. As was revealed in Allen and Parnes' recent book, the Hillary Clinton campaign hit upon accusing Russia within 24 hours of her concession speech, in an effort to evade responsibility for her election loss.

But is one thing for Democratic elites to allege this, and another for the meme to catch on. I think it is tapping into a very seductive urge for American liberals: to believe that an alien force was responsible for the 2016 election outcome, rather than confront the reality that America elected Donald Trump -- with his indisputably odious qualities -- in a free and fair election. The thought that so many Americans would vote for Trump -- whether out of jingoism, greed, indifference, boredom, racism, or otherwise -- is understandably discomforting.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:54 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


I feel like the troll farm just came to us.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:03 PM on February 18 [187 favorites]


- The march into confrontation with Russia (already a "virtual war" according to the NYT) is much too reminiscent of other periods in American history where US elites attempted to marshall the population into support of an imperialist foreign policy on dubious pretenses

This administration treats the decision of whether or not to nuke North Korea as seriously as choosing between a turkey or ham sandwich. US forces just killed hundreds of Russian "mercenaries" in the imperialist proxy war in Syria. The doomsday clock is as close to midnight as it's been in decades. What the fuck are you talking about?
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:05 PM on February 18 [35 favorites]


From Johnny Wallflower's link above:

The president has instead spent much of his time watching television and tweeting, aides said. After a string of tweets Saturday afternoon, he dined with talk-show host Geraldo Rivera and the president’s two adult sons before returning to his quarters for more posts.

Made me think of this AV Club piece from a couple years back:

Geraldo Rivera is one of the many TV personalities whose careers have been both helped and harmed by what might be called “the great forgetting.” Rivera has a reputation as a self-promoting opportunist who’d gladly trash journalistic standards for the sake of ratings. But he actually began his career as an attorney and activist, who was seen early on as one of the bright young hopes of the broadcast news business, as dogged and politically plugged-in as he was handsome and silver-tongued. He was married to Kurt Vonnegut’s daughter back then, and was looked at as the mainstream voice for a newly politicized Latino-American population. He even won a Peabody Award for his investigation into the abuse of disabled individuals at a Staten Island institution.

Interesting that instead of hunkering down with experts on Russia and "the cyber," POTUS 45 was setting himself at odds with his own national security adviser's take on things and having dinner with someone whose brain has been completely consumed by the same ideological prion disease those indicted Russians have been trying to spread. He must have been looking for reassurance that the Mueller investigation was going to be just like Al Capone's Vaults.

Had you mentioned to someone watching said TV special in 1986 that thirty years hence last nights Trump/Rivera dinner would be happening against the backdrop of Russian interference in US elections, your 1986 interlocutor would have probably inquired about your state of mind and history of hallucinogenic drug use.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:06 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


Noisy Pink Bubbles has a history of spreading anti-Clinton disinformation here. Check it out for yourself, since my pointing this out has been deleted.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:06 PM on February 18 [82 favorites]


I feel like the troll farm just came to us.

It’s been here all along, unfortunately.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:08 PM on February 18 [29 favorites]


Well it, and it's slippery logic, suddenly sticks out a lot more.
posted by puddledork at 12:10 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


If everything NPB says is true, why are Trump and the rest of the GOP acting like the opposite is true. Observe how the the GOP winds have shifted from "there was no interference" to "there was interference and it was Obama's fault".
posted by PenDevil at 12:13 PM on February 18 [15 favorites]


Now, does there exist some evidence for a Russian attempt to influence the election? Yes,

Indeed, and it is neither "thin" nor "dubious." It's glaring.

but in minor ways

Breaking into private DNC files looking for dirt is exactly what happened at the Watergate. But that was just a third rate burglary, right?

Except this time they also broke into voter registration systems and poll book software.

And spent 1.25 million per month and paid hundreds of employees, who exposed about 40% of the population (on Facebook alone) to propaganda paid for entities which cannot legally finance campaigns.

And also this time the "third rate burglars" were actually foreign agents.

But NBD, right? Because Democratic backsliding isn't a thing, right?

and of a type that is completely out of proportion to the attention that this issue has received. There are measured and appropriate policy responses to these concerns

Impeachment.

I won't go into them here. But they certainly fall short of an aggressive confrontation of Russia.

This is such a bad faith argument. Literally no one is calling for that. At most, beyond impeachment, people are calling for this sort of thing.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:14 PM on February 18 [63 favorites]


Noisy Pink Bubbles, honest question intended in good faith: do you believe the facts in the Mueller indictment are made up? Do you believe Russia wasn't responsible for the hacks of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign? If you don't, well then you do you, but then we're having entirely parallel discussions based on completely separate sets of facts. If you do believe it, then how can you say the "Russian-interference narrative emerged" simply as a last-ditch excuse for Clinton's loss when these things happened?

But is one thing for Democratic elites to allege this, and another for the meme to catch on. I think it is tapping into a very seductive urge for American liberals: to believe that an alien force was responsible for the 2016 election outcome, rather than confront the reality that America elected Donald Trump -- with his indisputably odious qualities -- in a free and fair election. The thought that so many Americans would vote for Trump -- whether out of jingoism, greed, indifference, boredom, racism, or otherwise -- is understandably discomforting.

Look, I made a not dissimilar point here on Friday when the Mueller indictment came out: divisions in our society are deeply troubling and are not all the fault of a foreign power. That the word "Trump" has, on its own, become a slur, a thing that gets shouted at people of color to taunt them, is a profound symbol of that, and that's on us. We've got plenty of issues on our own, and yes, it's tempting to want to blame others for all of them. But it can simultaneously be true that so many Americans voted for Trump for many reasons and that a foreign government sought to use our differences to drive us apart and to support one candidate over another.
posted by zachlipton at 12:20 PM on February 18 [51 favorites]


- Many of the allegations made by the US against Russia(ns) are laughable or trivial


I too was confused to these in the indictment as well. There's more solid stuff there, but a coloring book ad seems....harmless.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 12:37 PM on February 18


Hot take from TechCrunch: Fake news is not the problem
…But I saw The Post this week, and it struck me: we never did. We used to have an imposed view of reality, not a consensus one. As the movie makes clear, editors and Cabinet members palled around weekly, and implicitly agreed on what news would and wouldn’t be fed to the public. (See also Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.) The moral crisis of the time came from the realization that the government was lying to its pals in the media, and had been for a very long time.
...
The real problem isn’t fake news; it’s that people have given up on that search for truth. The real problem is that the engineer’s mindset, wherein one weighs the available evidence, and accept and incorporate new evidence even if it contradicts what you previously believed, has never been more rare. (I’m not pretending it was ever remotely universal; I’m just saying that there was enough of it, barely, for democracy to work more-or-less as intended.)

No longer. The engineer’s mindset has been replaced by the lawyer’s mindset, wherein you pick a side in advance of getting any evidence, and then do absolutely everything you can to belittle, dismiss, and ignore any opposing data, while trumping up every scrap that might support your own side as if it were written on stone tables brought down from the mountain by Moses. I mean no disrespect to the legal profession: some of my favorite people are lawyers, including the one I married. The legal approach is an excellent means of getting to the truth of hard and confrontational matters —

— assuming it is done in the court of some sort of thoughtful, knowledgeable, and relatively impartial judge. But that court doesn’t exist in a democracy, or, rather, the democracy is the court … and so, in order for democracy to work, it requires the engineer’s mindset. The UK, the USA, and other countries seem to have seen that way of thinking wither below a crucial critical mass, to their great and growing cost.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:41 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


LA Times, David Willman, Former Trump aide Rick Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say:
A former top aide to Donald Trump's presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days – and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul J. Manafort Jr., the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.
...
The same individual said he did not believe Gates has information to offer Mueller's team that would "turn the screws on Trump.'' The president has repeatedly called the special counsel's investigation a "witch hunt.''
posted by zachlipton at 12:41 PM on February 18 [31 favorites]


But it can simultaneously be true that so many Americans voted for Trump for many reasons and that a foreign government sought to use our differences to drive us apart and to support one candidate over another.

Zachlipton, I flagged your comment as fantastic. Trump is a symptom, not a cause. People have been warning us as far back as 2011 that we could well wind up with a "reality-show candidate" because of the toxicity of our politics and our electoral process.

The Russians lucked out in having a candidate like Trump present himself - from their point of view, you couldn't have invented a more perfect patsy. Easily manipulated and up to his eyeballs in debt to them! Sure, they could have helped throw the election to, say, Marco Rubio or John Kasich, but would there have been such a handsome payoff without the money laundering, debts, and possible pee tape? I doubt it.

Trump is, as I've said before, the gross green glob of snot caused by the viruses of racism and misogyny. But he sure was in the right place at the right time as far as Russia was concerned.

And looking back, no wonder The Best People (tm) wouldn't work with him. No wonder he had to settle for dim-bulb Mike Pence, failed and unpopular governor, as his VP. He was dirty af and everyone knew it and didn't want to go down with him. (And it says a lot about the venality of the Republican establishment and the evangelical bloc that they either didn't say anything or Reeked themselves and ate the meatloaf.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:42 PM on February 18 [24 favorites]


They didn't luck out. This has been cultivated for decades.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:45 PM on February 18 [18 favorites]


The Russians were basically running a SuperPAC out of Moscow. Either SuperPACs are useless and don't influence elections (never mind the money poured into them), or the Russian effort had just as much chance to influence people's votes as any American one.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:46 PM on February 18 [50 favorites]


There's more solid stuff there, but a coloring book ad seems....harmless.

It's more than a little disingenuous to cherry-pick a single whimsically dank maymay from the many thousands of related efforts and say 'well gee this doesn't look so bad.' There's no reason to break this down into more-harmful and less-harmful propaganda. It's all of a piece, and it's all propaganda.
posted by halation at 12:48 PM on February 18 [27 favorites]


Yeah, while I completely disagree with most things NPB has posted since the godawful election threads, including the bulk of that comment, the final point is partly a fair one. Not that I believe the election was "free and fair," per se, but I am definitely getting the impression that a ton of small-L liberals are completely unwilling or unable to recognize how broken our institutions are, how many insane morons actually voted for Trump, and just how craven and venal the GOP has become since Citizens United. Our system of government is broken, and while foreign interference on it is shitty and should be stopped, blaming foreign influence is not actually going to fix what's fundamentally broken.

Worse, I'm hearing an awful lot of people putting an awful lot of eggs in the one basket that makes up the Mueller investigation. "Mueller-mas?" I mean JFC, they could indict every single person involved in the Trump campaign, impeach Trump, Pence, and run Ryan out of town, and something close to forty-percent of the American electorate would still vote for a Reagan-quoting Guy Whitey Feelgood Republican next time.

If the well-meaning but fundamentally lazy and white liberals I work with are any indication, a year in, the wind has completely gone out of a lot of people's sails, and the Russia investigation is letting them pretend things are proceeding rationally. Meanwhile the massive marches of the first months under Trump have largely fizzled.

Get out there and get people registered to vote. Get people angry and let them know who they should be angry at. It isn't "the Russians," it's a particular subset of horrid rich assholes, many of whom are much closer to home and much easier to blame. How is Peter Thiel still a thing? How is McConnell allowed to walk the earth freely? WTF is Arpaio doing out of jail? Not even a decade from the last economic crisis, how is "hedge fund manager" not a job title that gets you kicked out of restaurants?
posted by aspersioncast at 12:49 PM on February 18 [52 favorites]


Trump is a symptom, not a cause. People have been warning us as far back as 2011 that we could well wind up with a "reality-show candidate" because of the toxicity of our politics and our electoral process.

The cartoonists were the first to notice, really:

In 1989, 15 years before “The Apprentice” debuted, “Doonesbury” had the real-estate mogul entering the world of reality TV and game shows. After this strip appeared, Trump would go on to work with beauty pageants in the ’90s and own the Miss Universe pageant by the middle of that decade.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:49 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


It's more than a little disingenuous to cherry pick a single whimsically dank maymay from the many thousands of related efforts and say 'well gee this doesn't look so bad.' There's no reason to break this down into more-harmful and less-harmful propaganda. It's all of a piece, and it's all propaganda.

And it doesn't matter whether they were just funding ordinary ad campaigns. We (still, sort of) have a semblance of regulation on money in politics, and the big one is that it can't come from foreign actors. Even if everything the Russians did would have been legal had it been done by the GOP or Turning Point USA or whatever, doesn't make it any less of a foreign attempt to influence our election.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:53 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Get people angry and let them know who they should be angry at. It isn't "the Russians," it's a particular subset of horrid rich assholes, many of whom are much closer to home and much easier to blame.

They should also be angry at 'the Russians,' specifically the particular subset of Russians who are *also* horrid rich assholes with financial and ideological reasons for wanting to influence US elections.
posted by halation at 12:58 PM on February 18 [25 favorites]


But it can simultaneously be true that so many Americans voted for Trump for many reasons and that a foreign government sought to use our differences to drive us apart and to support one candidate over another.

Just to piggyback on this well-stated point, it's also true that concerns about the Kremlin's involvement in Trump's candidacy and campaign date back well before the election; we were discussing it on this site even during the primaries. Numerous credible allegations were raised publicly, but the Republican party, leadership, and propaganda mouthpieces were undeterred in supporting Trump once he secured the nomination.

The fact is that the depth of the political divisions in our society are largely one-sided in their origin. The far Right, and its propaganda arms in conservative talk radio and Fox News, have been trading in what is effectively anti-American rhetoric for decades. Fellow citizens with liberal or even moderate views are painted as the enemy, and American institutions are tarred as incompetent, ineffective, or corrupt at every turn. The Reagan-era canard about the scariest words being "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" was and remains a vile attack on the very concept of government by, of, and for the people.

The far Right has all but abandoned loyalty to America in favor of loyalty to the Republican Party, and even that only insofar as the Republicans have been captured by their own extremist agenda. This to the point that Mike Pence described himself as "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order" -- American doesn't even make the list.

The investigation into Russian oligarch's meddling in the election is important not because it lets us blame a foreign power for the result of the election. It's important because we need to know just how far Republican leadership was willing to go in betraying their fellow Americans. What did they know about Russian interference, and when? Were they willing to allow a foreign power to meddle in American elections because they believed their party would benefit? Did they actively collude with a foreign power in any way as part of this campaign? If so, their actions move from de facto disloyalty to de jure treason, and we need to expose and punish these acts, and hold the Right accountable for bringing us to the point where this was even thinkable.
posted by biogeo at 1:04 PM on February 18 [134 favorites]


HR620 or the ADA Education and Reform Act has passed the House. It seems to have a low chance of passing the senate, but regardless, if you plan to call your senators about something, do ask them about this.
The “ADA Education and Reform Act” upends a key provision of the ADA by preventing people with disabilities from immediately going to court to enforce their rights and to press for timely removal of the barrier that impedes access. Without this critical enforcement mechanism, compliance under the ADA will suffer and people with disabilities will be denied the access to which they are entitled to under the law.
As if it's not already difficult to navigate the world given how already inaccessible public and private spaces still are. There has been major attacks of rights toward disabled people that have been flying under the radar.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:12 PM on February 18 [23 favorites]




They should also be angry at 'the Russians,' specifically the particular subset of Russians who are *also* horrid rich assholes with financial and ideological reasons for wanting to influence US elections.

One huge lesson from this whole mess has been the extent to which the hyper-wealthy operate in a separate ecosystem from the rest of us, one where nations are fairly irrelevant relative to the other hyper-wealthy individuals and conglomerates they exploit for further enrichment. Sometimes a network of billionaires will leverage the structure of a nation to their advantage, as the Putin oligarch hive does in Russia, but that is not the same thing as being bound to that nation as most ordinary people are to ours. Many hyper-wealthy clans, like the Trumps, operate for decades agnostic to nations and laws until it suits them to execute a hostile takeover of a political entity.

The fact that the hyper-wealthy have completely extracted themselves from the ecosystems in which the rest of us exist is deeply disturbing. As a group they have never been prosocial, but as long as we had some mutual interests we had ways to influence their behavior. That is not the case anymore, at least in the US and certainly in the nation our leaders are striving to emulate, Russia. I hope we can find a way to claw back some control over the hyper-wealthy that choose to operate in the US because the end-state of our current trajectory is not a pretty one.
posted by SakuraK at 1:34 PM on February 18 [73 favorites]


Favoriting Biogeo x1000, and agreeing that NoisyPinkBubbles & co is good illustration of diversion, division, dimunition and d... ah fuck-it.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 1:35 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


...defenestration?
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:36 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


The only problem with biogeo's comment is referring to Republican treason in the past tense.
posted by LarsC at 1:46 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Sometimes a network of billionaires will leverage the structure of a nation to their advantage
Well there's a name for it, State Capture, but you'll mostly read about that in relation to African and Asian countries. For some reason.
posted by glasseyes at 1:57 PM on February 18 [25 favorites]


WaPo, Anton Troianovski, A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’:

If there's anyone still alive to read or write it, the deep dive documentary into the Russian crowdsourced guerrilla cyberwarfare operation will be fascinating.

They aren't a troll farm, or trolls. There was a Daily Mail post above (or in previous post) with a fairly obvious persuasioner with the nick Dersu Uzala. I mean perhaps they just heard it as a fairy tale as a kid, but more likely they are a Kurosawa fan.

At least some of them are very educated and intelligent, and manipulating the far-to-medium-right U.S. crowd for them is like shooting bunnies with a 2 gauge punt gun.

Oddly they seem blind to the fact that there are two things Putin is really good at.

1. Homoerotic photosets.

2. Making any threat or loose end disappear.
posted by Buntix at 2:09 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Lead story in today's Boston Globe: Republicans becoming more bullish about midterms.
posted by adamg at 2:14 PM on February 18


"I think it's a danger for us to assume that the Russian (and other) ratfuckers are soooo very clever and Machiavellian that we Democrats, liberals and progressives are feeble in comparison."
They don't have to be particularly clever, and certainly not Machiavellian.

They just have to be better at it than you are at detecting it in real-time.

Time, both-sidesism, and an army of both willing and unwitting Quislings will do the rest…
posted by Pinback at 2:39 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


A goddamn truth and reconciliation commission would first require the imprisonment of enough criminals to end the emergency and the ostracism of enough GOP enablers to establish a consensus reality. First things first.

And also a pony while we're at it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:55 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


They should also be angry at 'the Russians,' specifically the particular subset of Russians

Very much this. The women of Pussy Riot are badass and Alexei Navalny seems pretty cool. My kids love the folks who make their favorite cartoon, "Masha and Bear." I don't have a problem with Russians in general.

The oligarchs: Oleg Deripaska. Dmitry Ryobolovlev. Lev Leviev. Aras Agalarov. Yevgeniy Prigozhin. And the other people just indicted who worked for him. Yuri Chaika, the prosecutor general. Natalia Veselnikskya who got her talking points from him. Ike Keveladze who went to the meeting with her. Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort's partner in crime.

Those people I am angry with. Those names I have had to learn because they are suddenly important to politics in my country. (I suspect that is a better list of sanctions targets than the Truump administration produced.) And Putin, of course.

But really I am just as angry with Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Devin Nunes, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy and Dana Rohrabacher, the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and Roger Ailes... And I don't propose that we go to war with their country.

These are individual bad actors with way too much power. We need to be focused on curtailing their power, which is political and financial, and must be curtailed politically and financially.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:57 PM on February 18 [46 favorites]


Axios, Jonathan Swan, Scoop: Skirmish in Beijing over the nuclear football
I've spoken to five sources familiar with the events [on November 9th]. Here's what happened, as they describe it:

When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry. (The official who carries the nuclear football is supposed to close to the president at all times, along with a doctor.)

A U.S. official hurried into the adjoining room and told Kelly what was happening. Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking — "We're moving in," he said — and the Americans all started moving.

Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man’s hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.
What the what now?
posted by zachlipton at 2:59 PM on February 18 [48 favorites]


zachlipton, thank you for the respectful questions; here are my answers:

Noisy Pink Bubbles, honest question intended in good faith: do you believe the facts in the Mueller indictment are made up?

It's hard to know for sure, but I think most of it is likely true. Prigozhin, one of the 13 people named in the indictment, issued what sounded like a denial and the Russian foreign minister said it was "blather" until he looked into it further.

But ok, suppose for the sake of argument that everything in there is 100% true. What would be the consequence? I think this is a sober take in the Washington Post on that scenario:
It’s true that Mueller’s latest indictment against 13 Russian nationals and three organizations includes nothing about direct attempts to hack with vote tallies. It’s also true that there has been no demonstrated evidence that such tampering took place, and, in fact, it’s well-established that attempting to swing a national election in which voting is distributed among thousands of counties would be tremendously difficult.
For those who would claim that Russian activities swayed the election, the burden of proof is on them to substantiate that claim, and so far that burden has not been met.

Do you believe Russia wasn't responsible for the hacks of the DNC and the Clinton Campaign? If you don't, well then you do you, but then we're having entirely parallel discussions based on completely separate sets of facts.

Well, unfortunately, the origin of those hacks is disputed. The US government says that Russia did it. The Russians deny it. So far the US has not provided sufficient evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Russian government was behind it. Here's an article from The Nation summarizing what we know about Russiagate:
The shaky evidentiary basis for collusion extends to Russiagate’s other central pillars. It has been over a year since the release, shortly before Trump’s inauguration, of a US intelligence report alleging a Russian-government campaign to elect Trump through e-mail hacking and covert propaganda. Amid the ensuing uproar, some quietly noted at the time that the public version of the report “does not or cannot provide evidence for its assertions” (The Atlantic); contained “essentially no new information” (Susan Hennessy, Lawfare); and was “missing…what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims” (The New York Times).

If “hard evidence” is what “many Americans most eagerly anticipated” in January 2017, they have continued to wait in vain. The Russian government may well have hacked Democratic Party e-mails, but evidence of it beyond unsubstantiated claims has yet to arrive.
Again, I think innocent until proven guilty is a solid standard to go by, so I can't condemn the Russian government as guilty of this yet. To think otherwise is to accept the US intelligence agencies' word as truth in spite of a lack of evidence and, additionally, Russian denials.

If you do believe it, then how can you say the "Russian-interference narrative emerged" simply as a last-ditch excuse for Clinton's loss when these things happened

Well, it seems there are a few questions here: 1) did the interference happen according to the narrative that the Russiagate partisans claim 2) what was their effect on the election and 3) was Hillary Clinton's campaign in a position to know this at the time?

As I've said above, (1) is a complicated question but ultimately inconclusive. (2) is something that is very difficult to prove but even accepting the Mueller report as true, the scale of intervention seems to me to have been unlikely to made any noticeable impact on the election outcome. To quote the Washington Post:
what we actually know about the Russian activity on Facebook and Twitter: It was often modest, heavily dissociated from the campaign itself and minute in the context of election social media efforts.
As far as (3) goes: given how little has actually been established about Russia's involvement -- especially right after the campaign had ended -- it seems that the Hillary campaign was pushing a narrative whose assumptions ran ahead of the evidence.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:05 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I think it's important to understand how this sort of espionage works... Many people want to believe that there's some overall plan that's been decided by people in suits in smoky rooms. The people in smoky rooms may exist, but in general, I don't believe that there was a grand plan for this sort of thing. There are some notable exceptions for very specific, targeted covert projects, as the known history of the CIA can demonstrate, for sure - but even these are things that took advantage of things that were already going on in some way or another. It's about exploiting the opportunities that come up more so than it is about generating the opportunities in the first place.

It is incredibly likely that there is a very deep conspiracy going on when it comes to Russian manipulation of the election, and it's indisputable at this point that they were actively attempting to manipulate us and cause chaos. And while it looks like a lot of that ramped up in 2014, it's very important to realize that the opportunities that allowed this to happen were present to begin with. We do have a very divided society. We have flawed institutions that have sometimes gone through periods of significant corruption. We have large issues with racism that go back prior to the founding of our nation. And some of the splits here played directly into us ending up with a large amount of the populace being perfectly fine with the idea of Donald Trump as president - at least with the messages that they were getting. That last part shouldn't be glossed over.

Certainly there are some pre-existing social problems and divisions we have that have lead to the mess that we are in, and many of our institutions are flawed - some of them very deeply. It's hard enough to acknowledge and address these problems and flaws more directly without outside interference amplifying them, but a coordinated campaign like this makes it nearly impossible, as we need to expend our resources opposing the outside power and influence in addition to those that would be best used to address our own internal issues.

When we talk about exerting power and influence over a foreign entity, we often talk about armed conflicts - some more direct, some more by proxy. Non-armed methods of directly affecting groups, like sanctions or more direct information warfare (think stuxnet) are usually the next layers, and we tend to think of this not in terms of warfare, as the effects are often not as immediate, direct, and visceral. The form of societal influence we've seen with the election manipulation is simply a more covert version of trying to exert the same sort of influence and power. None of these can happen without opportunities being present in the first place that make them both possible and effective.

All of this is to say that to dismiss this issue and disregard our institutions as broken is playing exactly into the sort of influence we are talking about. There are a lot of flawed aspects to our institutions, and there are indeed some parts of it that are in dire need of an overhaul. To act as if they have always been broken and useless is to be incredibly blinded by privilege, and is ignorant of much of the unspoken good that has come out of our institutions.

The comment that prompted a lot of this probably doesn't deserve direct response, but I do take specific issue with this, as it's something that I've seen brought up before:

> the past several years have shown just how anemic and powerless these institutions are to deliver benefits to ordinary Americans

There are plenty of "ordinary Americans" as well as non-citizens who have benefit from these very (again, often deeply flawed) institutions that you claim are anemic and powerless, and believing that is not the case is incredibly privilege blind. We've discussed several times here how the gutting of these institutions under the current administration is DIRECTLY affecting the disadvantaged, the poor, non-citizens, LBGTQ communities - the 'others'. The value of our institutions has not been brought more into the forefront within my lifetime, as the effects since the inauguration have been very rapid and direct to those who have been affected by their gutting, and there's much of this that we have yet to feel with regards to environmental controls, surrendering of public lands, and so very much more.

There's a lot I'm trying to say here, and I don't think it's possible to say it all in a comment without losing a lot of coherence or falling even further into tl;dr territory - but in summary, it's entirely possible that we could have some large societal problems and flawed institutions on our own AND we could have foreign actors directly manipulating those to a degree that is analogous to indirect warfare - in fact, it would be impossible to do the latter without the former being present. The flawed institutions we are discussing are the only thing keeping a lot of these actors - (many of them oligarchs who probably do work out of smoky rooms) in check, as well as being the last line of defense for the disadvantaged in a time when inequity is only growing.

The sort of thinking of "well, clearly our institutions suck or else this would have never happened" is a form of victim blaming that we need to move far away from, and to dismiss outside influence as irrelevant because of our own flaws is the sort of thinking that seems like the perfect outcome from that sort of influence to the outside actors in question.
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:05 PM on February 18 [51 favorites]


"Beyond a shadow of a doubt" is an impossible evidentiary standard. No one can meet it, save God.
"Beyond a reasonable doubt" is used for criminal trials. Not required to indict someone, only to convict.
"Probable cause" is used to indict. There just has to be a good chance someone did something to charge them.

However, if we're not talking about taking specific Russians to court (which Mueller is already doing with "probable cause" and thinks he already has "reasonable doubt"), the standard that the US should look at is "clear and convincing evidence." Now that isn't as foolproof as "reasonable doubt," but if we're talking countries and election systems, if there's clear and convincing evidence that Russian meddled in the US elections, then you take action. And there is. The Deputy AG did that on Friday. What type of evidence would be acceptable to you? A note from Putin saying "I did it"?

As far as if it changed the outcome of the election, no one can ever say with certainty save some sort of parallel universe. However, elections in other countries have been voided and redone with less than the Russians did in the US in 2016. We don't have to be certain. We just have to prove that the waters are muddied.

So, Russians did interfere, people are rightfully being charged, and we are right to be uncertain in the 2016 election.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:13 PM on February 18 [35 favorites]


[This has gotten to the single-person-interrrogation stage. Folks, let's let it drop. Noisy Pink Bubbles, consider your point made, and let it go as well. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:21 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


I just want to bring the receipts to something I said earlier about GWB and the dementia speculation. This was actually proposed on this site at one time.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:22 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Axios, Jonathan Swan, Scoop: Skirmish in Beijing over the nuclear football

It is possible that an individual Chinese security dude didn't get the full briefing or something. But it is flatly impossible to believe the Chinese government and whatever security types run this show don't understand there will be a handful of people around the president.

This really smells to me like either A) one of those crazy things that happen because people are people and sometimes one dude doesn't get a memo, or B) the Chinese security services see what a shitshow this White House is and wanted to test the boundaries and see what they could get away with... in an incredibly frightening manner.

And it really bothers me that I find these things equally plausible because everything is fucking crazy.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:27 PM on February 18 [37 favorites]


My post responding to that quote from The Nation got deleted and I understand why, but please everyone, if you have any doubts, do go review the evidence for Russia's involvement in the DNC and Podesta hacks.

I don't think it's fair to let stand uncontradicted the completely false assertion that there is none, when there is in fact so much.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:40 PM on February 18 [51 favorites]


The chain I'm interested in here with this flip is Gates - Deripaska - Yanukovich - Tillerson.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:42 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


"I just want to bring the receipts to something I said earlier about GWB and the dementia speculation."

Most high-level politicians likely suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:43 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Axios, Jonathan Swan, Scoop: Skirmish in Beijing over the nuclear football

It's also possible that Kelly's White House is still so disorganized it can't choreograph a foreign visit without the need for body-slamming, and its aides lie about their ability to do so. I mean, some of them can't even get security clearances...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:49 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


It’s true that Mueller’s latest indictment against 13 Russian nationals and three organizations includes nothing about direct attempts to hack with vote tallies.

Who SET this as a standard? "Direct attempts to hack with vote tallies" IS illegal, but it's not the only thing illegal.

Consider the Russians who violated 52 USC 30121, by reaching out to the Trump Campaign asking for a meeting, suggesting they had opposition research against Hillary Clinton. By asking for the meeting, they became criminals.

So, now the Trump Campaign DID NOT report these Russian Criminals to law enforcement, but rather aided and abetted their crime by TAKING THE ILLEGAL MEETING WITH RUSSIAN CRIMINALS ( 18 USC 2 )

Then Junior, Kushner, and Manafort lied about it ( 18 USC 1001)

And it's all a conspiracy under 18 USC 371.

So, I have no idea why anyone would take comfort in an irrelevant standard, like "direct attempts to hack with vote totals", unless (1) they really don't understand the legal issues (2) they're working to undermine faith in our American institutions.
posted by mikelieman at 3:58 PM on February 18 [94 favorites]


I...am a marginally informed participant, and the basis of everything I'm saying is subjective, and that right there is your gotcha if you want to say I'm wrong about the following, but:

I stand for what I think is right, which is getting Trump and his shitwraiths out of office. They don't belong there, and they were put there by a system that was already rigged (Electoral College & the disproportionate power of rural voters) and vulnerable (opaque paperless voting machines) and rife with scams. If someone wanted to interfere...it wouldn't take much more than a tiny shove.

Somewhere in Russia, someone suspiciously well-funded knew that and tried. That is established. It is also established that Trump's campaign people had a meeting at which Russian help to do that was offered. The Russian link between Wikileaks and the DNC hack is also pretty well established. The shadiness, character, and propensity to lie of the suspect of the crime (Trump & co) is established, as is the Russian pattern of interference in other country's elections, as is Putin & the Oligarchs' desire to take the US down a peg.

The above are already proven. It Is Known.

If the metaphor is Al Capone committing murder, we have gunsmoke, a gun, suspects established in the vicinity, and a gun dealer who it is established sold the gun and hates the victim. And lordy but a whole treasure trove of evidence for other crimes dug up in the process. What we do NOT have is the suspect's fingerprints on the gun.

The chances are pretty good Al Capone pulled the trigger, maybe we'll never know conclusively, but damn, in this metaphor, I ain't no judge or jury or lawyer, I'm the guy in Apartment 4B (the American public) who heard my building superintendent (the US government) get shot and found the body, and then found out Al Capone's boys were taking over and want the copper pipes from my radiator even though it's January and I'll freeze to death. I'm already wearing three sweaters here, pal.

I don't f**king care about the fingerprints, get Al Capone out of my building and get me a new super who isn't trying to strip the copper out of my walls, and then I want someone to clean up the blood on the floor and make sure this crap doesn't happen again. And seriously, tell him to turn the thermostat up past 55 degrees, I'm freezing here. Now leave me alone, 'cause I got popcorn on the stove and the Gates-A-Thon Live Mueller-mas Special is about to start and I've been waiting to see this all week. Them's how I see things. Good day, Detective.
posted by saysthis at 4:01 PM on February 18 [31 favorites]


It’s also true that there has been no demonstrated evidence that such tampering took place, and, in fact, it’s well-established that attempting to swing a national election in which voting is distributed among thousands of counties would be tremendously difficult.

Looks like someone hasn't watched the first couple of seasons of Scandal. Fun show, a little melodramatic, on Netflix. On Scandal a close presidential election is swung by tampering with voting machines in one county in Ohio. While that is fiction, it is in no way true that thousands of counties must be tampered with to flip the outcome.
posted by puddledork at 4:04 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


If the metaphor is Al Capone committing murder

Your point is valid, but as an example, it's also interesting that Capone went down for tax evasion. And that's where all this is going to to end up. That's where they went for Manafort and Gates, flipped Gates, and what I expect we'll see against Junior and Kushner.
posted by mikelieman at 4:06 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


@kanijjackson:
Obama (2012) sits alone in a classroom after meeting for hours with parents of Sandy Hook victims.

Trump (2018) sits at a disco party he threw at his private night club after spending 14 minutes with victims at the hospital in Parkland.

These pictures speak louder than words.

posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on February 18 [93 favorites]


Voting rolls were hacked. Registered Democratic voters were specifically targeted with online propaganda designed to keep them away from the polls IN TARGETED AREAS OF THE COUNTRY in order to flip the vote to Trump.

To say that because actual voting machines weren't hacked and votes changed after the fact that the election wasn't affected by foreign actions is incredibly naive to the point of being disingenuous.
posted by threeturtles at 4:10 PM on February 18 [86 favorites]


WaPo, Trump lashes out over Russia probe in angry and error-laden tweetstorm
Trump sent his messages from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., where he was ensconced for two straight days. He spent much of the time watching cable news, venting to friends about the Russia investigation and complaining that it has been driving so much press coverage. The president also surveyed Mar-a-Lago Club members about whether he ought to champion gun control measures in the wake of last week’s school massacre in nearby Parkland, telling them that he was closely monitoring the media appearances by some of the surviving students, according to people who spoke with him there.
I am not a fan of this method of Presidential decisionmaking.
posted by zachlipton at 4:14 PM on February 18 [69 favorites]


If the metaphor is Al Capone committing murder

Your point is valid, but as an example, it's also interesting that Capone went down for tax evasion. And that's where all this is going to to end up. That's where they went for Manafort and Gates, flipped Gates, and what I expect we'll see against Junior and Kushner.
posted by mikelieman at 8:06 AM on February 19 [+] [!]


Yuuuup.
posted by saysthis at 4:15 PM on February 18


Your point is valid, but as an example, it's also interesting that Capone went down for tax evasion. And that's where all this is going to to end up.

Conspiracy is a real crime. People go to jail for it literally every day. The amount of evidence publicly available against Don Jr. and Jared in particular would be MORE than enough to put them away for life if we were talking about say, a 20yr old black kid in Baltimore saying "I love it!" in reference to a plan to move a kilo of heroin, instead of a plan to steal the Presidential election.

Which is why people parachuting in here and claiming there's no evidence is transparently disingenuous.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:23 PM on February 18 [84 favorites]


Trump's Furious Tweetstorm Backfires (David A. Graham | The Atlantic)

The president tried to distance himself from the story of Russian interference—and in the process, thrust himself right back into the center of the narrative.
Donald Trump didn’t have any control over the decision by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to mount what it called “information warfare against the United States of America.” As the indictment released on Friday stated, the effort began in 2014, long before Trump was a declared candidate—much less a serious one—for office.

But by refusing to take information warfare seriously—in an attempt to distance himself from it and any questions it might raise about the legitimacy of his election—the president has paradoxically made the story about himself again and again.

This solipsism was on display Saturday and Sunday morning, as Trump, at Mar-a-Lago and far from the strictures and structures of the White House, unleashed his most aggressive and scattered tweetstorm in some time. In theory, the things he said were designed to push the story away from himself and downplay any connection. In practice, he forced himself into the middle of the story, inextricably linking himself to it.

Over a series of tweets, Trump attacked the FBI; politicized the Parkland shooting for his own vindication; suggested collusion was no big deal; blamed Obama for the collusion; and said the real collusion involved Hillary Clinton. He undermined his national-security adviser; lied about denying that Russia meddled in the election; and finished with an appeal to numbers, citing an infamously unreliable pollster.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:25 PM on February 18 [11 favorites]


Oh, and, um, the trash fire seems to be burning particularly bright today, haven't seen these here yet, so..."enjoy" is definitely not the term I'd use.

Guardian: Rapid fire rifle device on special offer in salute to Trump
There’s a Presidents’ Day sale on bump stocks, the device the Las Vegas shooter put on his rifles. Slide Fire Solutions, a bump stocks manufacturer, is offering 10% off with coupon code: MAGA.
Vox: Trump says he’s never doubted Russian meddling. Here are the multiple times he has.

WaPo: Trump tweets another anti-CNN cartoon — this one by the same artist who drew Clinton in blackface

Politico: Limbaugh: ‘We need concealed carry’ in schools
posted by saysthis at 4:32 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


I am not a fan of this method of Presidential decisionmaking.

this is how small town and small city republican governance works - the leader asks his friends at the country club what they'd like to see done and then he tries to do it

what, you don't belong to the country club?

well, i guess you don't get a meaningful vote, then, do you?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:32 PM on February 18 [30 favorites]


Laura Ingraham said that 'LeBron James should shut up and dribble' after he said Trump doesn't 'give a f--- about the people'
Ingraham concluded the segment saying James and Durant should "shut up and dribble," an apparent reference to her book, "Shut Up and Sing."
Oh, I think I see where this is going. Shut up and play maids or butlers. Shut up and dance. Shut up and use the stage entrance. Shut up and entertain.

Unless I'm misinterpreting the Nazi saluter.

And LeBron doesn't dribble. He travels.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:50 PM on February 18 [18 favorites]


For those who would claim that Russian activities swayed the election, the burden of proof is on them to substantiate that claim, and so far that burden has not been met.

The election was decided by a gap of 100,000 total votes in three states. That means only 50,000 people switching. While it can never be proven, it is certainly not impossible that the Russian efforts could have helped swing those 50,000 voters given their hundred million or so impressions.

The illegal Russian interference means we can never be sure who would have won the election in their absence. We can be pretty sure that the Russians wouldn't have spent so much money and effort if they didn't think they could influence the result.
posted by JackFlash at 4:52 PM on February 18 [49 favorites]


finished with an appeal to numbers, citing an infamously unreliable pollster.

And lying about that shitty poll. McLaughlin has Ds up up 3 points in the generic congressional ballot.
posted by chris24 at 4:56 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


That means only 50,000 people switching. While it can never be proven, it is certainly not impossible that the Russian efforts could have helped swing those 50,000 voters given their hundred million or so impressions.

Plus they didn't have to swing all of those votes. They could have accomplished the same thing by not swinging any votes, but disenfranchising 100,001 potential voters, by spreading "both sides are bad" cynicism and encouraging anti-vote protesting in some sort of twisted Bernie support.

As a Michigander, I feel like there was some of this happening around Detroit because I was watching former Michigan Governer Jennifer Granholm give commentary on election night, and early in the night, she was very confident that we'd see a big Democratic tally surge once the Wayne County and surrounding area numbers started coming in. When those votes never came in, she kind of chalked it up to bad weather, but the cyber meddling could have easily been a bigger factor.
posted by p3t3 at 5:21 PM on February 18 [20 favorites]


Folks, please don't fall into the trap of thinking that the spaces we inhabit here are entirely immune to the kind of manipulation we've been talking about. We're not that special. I'm not saying that one or more Russian nationals plunked down $5 and thought up an ironic username (although sure, that's not impossible). But some levers of rhetorical and psychological manipulation are powerful and work pretty well even at one or two degrees of separation. Everybody here has been exposed to some of it somewhere, and everybody here is susceptible to one degree or another. (I've been bitten hard by confirmation bias more than once in the last few months and that's just the times I'm aware of.)

Please think critically about the things you read *and* the things you post or repost, even here (especially here, if here is where you tend to let your guard down). Follow links. Ask for cites or clarification when needed. Look for corroboration. Consider not just what a particular point of view might mean, but who benefits from the adoption of that point of view.

We should never assume the worst about anyone here, but we do need to exercise a reasonable degree of care to keep our conversations and our community as free from misleading or manipulative vectors (even well-meant or unintentional) as possible. That's our responsibility as informed consumers of news and media anywhere in 2018 and it doesn't stop once we hit the blue.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 5:31 PM on February 18 [116 favorites]


The bulk of people here used to hang off Julian Assange's every last word. We are absolutely not immune.
posted by Artw at 5:33 PM on February 18 [71 favorites]


To be fair, Greenwald used to have legitimate critiques of the surveillance state, that were worth reading and engaging with. He did help tell the Snowden story. And then. People's positions don't often survive first contact with Russian money.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:39 PM on February 18 [33 favorites]


> the burden of proof is on them to substantiate that claim, and so far that burden has not been met.

That's just ridiculous goal post placement right there. If someone takes a swing at me, I assume he meant to hit me, and I really don't give him some sort free pass if he misses.
posted by klarck at 5:41 PM on February 18 [36 favorites]


People's positions don't often survive first contact with Russian money.

or even, people's legitimate complaints about US foreign policy and intelligence practices can blind them with cynicism when the US is a target of outside bad actors
posted by murphy slaw at 5:45 PM on February 18 [25 favorites]


I don't actually think Greenwald is corrupt or anything like that. His brand of discourse is very familiar to me from just being around people who have been various flavors of anarchist, socialist, and communist for many decades. If I could use the term anti-American without sounding like a jingoist lunatic, that'd be a useful descriptor. Like, no particular judgement, dude, there's a lot about this country to be anti. But he's got a definite axe to grind so he's not really who I'd go to when seeking out like, dispassionate facts. And he's got a blind spot in proportionate size to his antipathy that's exploitable to anyone with the will to do so.

(Assange has always been a piece of shit, though. I've never wavered on that position and I'm glad everyone else has caught on as well.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:14 PM on February 18 [25 favorites]


To reference someone else's burden of proof, there's no evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt that Greenwald hasn't been paid by Russia.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:16 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


This 34 second clip of Rex Tillerson trying to dance around whether he called the President a moron, while consistently avoiding denying it, needs to be seen to be believed.
posted by zachlipton at 6:16 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


(Assange has always been a piece of shit, though. I've never wavered on that position and I'm glad everyone else has caught on as well.)

and it's not even a wiki!
posted by murphy slaw at 6:18 PM on February 18 [19 favorites]


The heated arguing over the Russia narrative in this thread exemplifies how much the issue has divided the left. I'm increasingly troubled by how black-or-white the issue seems to be, especially among people who should be forming a united front against Trump and his cronies.

Within DSA/Bernie-leaning progressive circles, everything about Russia is disregarded as a literal joke. Anyone who brings it up is routinely and roundly mocked, and/or accused of being a neoliberal apologist or a "Hillarybot." In all fairness I can understand their attiude, because the Russia narrative has largely cheated progressives out of what they thought would be their consolation prize. Hell, I suspect that if you gave many of them the choice before the election...of a Hillary win vs a Trump win that came with the Democrats being forced into contrition...they would have been fine with Trump. I'm sure they imagined that losing to the most unpopular and incompetent campaign in history would have shaken the DNC to its core, forcing the establishment to take a good, long look at themselves and question why they've lost so much faith and support.

Even though I believe that Russian interference was significant, and something we need to learn from as a country and find ways to counter, it has indeed served as a profound source of enablement for the DNC establishment. It has largely allowed them to shirk off any responsibility for their failures, operating as though they didn't do anything wrong and would still be in power if it wasn't for treasonous espionage and dirty tricks.

Unfortunately, diehard supporters of the DNC and Hillary are more than happy to validate that self-delusion. Every tweetstorm speculating about Russian espionage is full of Democrats who fully live up to their stereotypes, echoing genuinely bot-like pronouncements about how the election was "stolen" from "the most qualified candidate in history." Any suggestion that the campaign's dysfunctions or the DNC's failings had more to do with their loss is disregarded, with critics typically derided as stooges who fell for Russian propaganda or misogynists/brosocialists.

I say all this as someone who actually liked Hillary more than most of my left-leaning friends (especially the ones who were younger than me). Healthcare reform has always been my personal issue, as someone who's never has the option of purchasing insurance off the open markets due to surviving cancer at 12-13 years old, and as someone who saw what happened to other kids getting chemo if they weren't insured or as well-off. I've always had genuine respect for Hillary because she tried to make America confront the issue years before most other mainstream politicians, and subjected herself to being pilloried by the right and the media for her efforts.

At the same time, it's difficult for me to find fault in the notion that Clintonian neoliberal/"Third Way" policies are at the root of what's wrong with the DNC, and were instrumental in their abandonment of the poor and the middle class. If it wasn't for "Russiagate" we might be dealing with a humbled Democratic establishment that was ready to face those facts, and perhaps even willing to change. Instead, the mainstream DNC seems to be filled with even more self-righteousness than ever, having been given license to view themselves as maligned victims of one of the greatest injustices in political history.
posted by prosopagnosia at 6:24 PM on February 18 [26 favorites]


We are gonna need a goddamn truth and reconciliation commission

Nah, we just need a 21st century Walter Audisio.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:25 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Honest question: what's stopping liberal counter-intelligence groups from sowing divisiveness in conservatives? Are there any ad-hoc networks posing as conservatives and trolling t_d? Because there really should be. Alabama is proof that this can work (as is, from the other side, Donald himself).

Everyone talks about fighting fire with fire. This is a real battlefield. Anyone want to build a network of conservative shitposters?
posted by weed donkey at 6:28 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


Honest question: what's stopping liberal counter-intelligence groups from sowing divisiveness in conservatives?

Money. The Russian troll farms are employing hundreds of full time employees. Right wing billionaires are funding countless domestic efforts through everything from paid PR consultants and endowed economists at thinktanks, to sponsoring hate/propaganda blogs like Gateway Pundit, to literally buying entire academic departments and universities like George Mason.

The reason why the left has no equivalent response is because no one is paying for it. Even the most fervent part time volunteer cannot compete with literal armies of paid trolls, paid academics, and paid lawyers building the Republican/Russian/billionaire narrative in every corner of the internet and academia.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:36 PM on February 18 [35 favorites]


People's positions don't often survive first contact with Russian money.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:39 AM on February 19 [+] [!]

Money. The Russian troll farms are employing hundreds of full time employees. Right wing billionaires are funding countless domestic efforts through everything from paid PR consultants and endowed economists at thinktanks, to sponsoring hate/propaganda blogs like Gateway Pundit, to literally buying entire academic departments and universities like George Mason.


Dear Russian & American Oligarchs,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to inform you of an investment opportunity which has recently arisen.

Recently I have heard stories of certain individuals with spelling and capitalization problems receiving rather large sums of money to advocate on your behalf. In fact, I have heard one of them was recently elected president of a certain North American superpower at your behest. I know we have our disputes, but we don't have to make this hard. I know where Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook are, and I believe I may have to start being a little more active about stating certain of my opinions and reporting certain automated accounts on these sites which may or may not be of value to you if we can't come to a satisfactory arrangement. As I can spell and capitalize properly, have a higher than high school education in English, can form coherent statements, do not have a spray tan, do not possess a Guardian column with a credibility problem, possess legal freedom of movement outside the Ecuadorian embassy, will soon be of legal age to run for most political offices, and can be quite loud and pointed in my defense of integrity in government and my anger at corruption and foreign influence, which at present, would seem to be advocacy against your preferred positions, I fail to see why rumors abound of certain individuals receiving preferential treatment, while I and the other 100,000+ members of Metafilter are left without any grifted oil rubles in the Caymans. Rectification of this situation presents a fantastic opportunity to line my pockets, and reduces the risk of me yelling at the internet about your involvement in electoral fraud from 24 hours a day to 20, particularly the 4 hours a night I sleep, because how the hell am I supposed to sleep like this. That's right, I yell at the internet about you in my dreams.

I look forward to your prompt reply. Thank you for taking the time to learn about this wonderful investment opportunity.

Yours corruptably,
saysthis

DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that taking advantage of this special opportunity incurs a near certain risk of FBI notification.
posted by saysthis at 6:41 PM on February 18 [3 favorites]


The reason why the left has no equivalent response is because no one is paying for it.

Oh yeah? [something something] George Soros.
posted by philip-random at 7:01 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


If it wasn't for "Russiagate" we might be dealing with a humbled Democratic establishment that was ready to face those facts, and perhaps even willing to change.

I cannot imagine a Democratic establishment which would be humbled, regardless of the Russia thing - it's not in their interests to change.

The Russia narrative, which I think is up to a point correct, is not being leveraged to prevent some kind of reckoning for the DNC; it's being leveraged because this type of claim is the only one that is likely to appeal broadly across the Democratic base and also be very difficult for Trump to answer. "We weren't leftish enough and we were kinda racist" will alienate white centrist Democrats, also it goes against the class interests of big Democratic cheeses; "we need to be moar neoliberal" will alienate the left of the party and the non-Democrat sympathizers. "Trump is too Trumpy and won because he is a racist" is very, very easy for the GOP to deal with. "Trump is a traitor and won because he sought foreign assistance" is a lot harder.

The Democratic party is divided differently than the Republican party. With the GOP, the party leadership's interests and the party line match; with the Democrats, they don't. The GOP's base is pretty much "right wing and more right wing" - a continuum. The Democrats' base is made of up of centrists, progressives and a properly left tendency which is stuck with the party if they want to run in any race bigger than city council. The centrists have the most money.

The Russia narrative is being used positively - as an active attempt to achieve the party goal of discrediting Trump and solving the problem of "how to speak to as big a percentage of the party as possible" - rather than negatively, to distract the membership.

The Russia narrative is very sticky because there's truth to it and it presents a genuine problem. That's what makes it such a powerful tool. (I mean, the best explanation for "Trump is buddies with Russian oligarchs" isn't treason, it's standard rich people stuff about loans and rich people graft.)

The whole "if it weren't for Russiagate, we would totally be able to reform the DNC" thing seems to underestimate the power, commitment and class position of the Democratic leadership. These people aren't stupid, they aren't reduced to abjection by this loss; they're just gathering their forces for next time. It is disappointing not to win the presidency, but none of them are going to go broke - most of them will do very well out of the Trump tax cuts.
posted by Frowner at 7:16 PM on February 18 [36 favorites]


If it wasn't for "Russiagate" we might be dealing with a humbled Democratic establishment that was ready to face those facts

If it wasn't for "Russiagate" the obvious lesson from the last election is that lots more white people than we'd thought will lap up overt bigotry like sweet cream.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:32 PM on February 18 [41 favorites]


The heated arguing over the Russia narrative in this thread exemplifies how much the issue has divided the left.

I'm sorry, I really don't see all that much division here. There's some nuance of the "yes these weaknesses actually exist in America and yes Russia did its best to exploit them and these things can exist simultaneously" variety. And, like, one solid rejection of the Russian interference "narrative"--a rejection that has, itself, been roundly rejected here.

Putin wants to aggravate the divisions on the left. The bots and troll farms work to make that happen. Turns out plenty of real live people on the left are doing most of the work.

Within DSA/Bernie-leaning progressive circles, everything about Russia is disregarded as a literal joke. Anyone who brings it up is routinely and roundly mocked, and/or accused of being a neoliberal apologist or a "Hillarybot." In all fairness I can understand their attiude, because the Russia narrative has largely cheated progressives out of what they thought would be their consolation prize.

I genuinely do not know how to read this in a way that I can find any sort of sympathy for DSA/Bernie-leaning progressive circles if this is how they actually feel. Like reading that sentence has actually made me more angry at those circles than I was before reading it. I'll console myself with the notion that this is only one person's take. But wow.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:33 PM on February 18 [41 favorites]


The only people I've seen calling Russia stuff fake is Trump.
posted by rhizome at 7:36 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


I genuinely do not know how to read this in a way that I can find any sort of sympathy for DSA/Bernie-leaning progressive circles if this is how they actually feel.

In my circles, it's the Bernie/DSA crowd that's been the most vocal about Russia.

"We weren't leftish enough and we were kinda racist" will alienate white centrist Democrats

As a white, albeit decidedly non-centrist, Democrat, I long for the day we're able to actually say "We weren't leftist enough and we were kinda racist" and then build a platform based on fixing those mistakes. Not even about 2016, just as, I don't know, the new party slogan.
posted by Ruki at 7:50 PM on February 18 [28 favorites]


Gravis poll in PA-18 special has Saccone lead down to 5.5 points, 45.5 - 40.0. Was 12.7 points when last polled about five weeks ago.

This follows a Monmouth poll a few days ago that had a Saccone lead of 3-5 points, depending on turnout model. The district went Trump by 19 points (58-39).

New maps are coming tomorrow from the PA Supreme Court, so we'll see if either of the candidates will be living in the new PA-18 (old maps hold for the special, but of course, the general under the new maps is not far off).
posted by Chrysostom at 7:59 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


Pony request, in the specials, can you include the (D) or (R) for us ignoramii?
posted by Marticus at 8:20 PM on February 18 [18 favorites]


That is fair!

Conor Lamb is the Democrat. Rick Saccone is the Republican.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:30 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


Within DSA/Bernie-leaning progressive circles, everything about Russia is disregarded as a literal joke. Anyone who brings it up is routinely and roundly mocked, and/or accused of being a neoliberal apologist or a "Hillarybot."

These are the Assange "leftists" ime. They, along with the tankies, should be ignored not just on this matter but all matters as they are nothing but idiots, loons, and bots.

From the rest of the left the response seems to range from "this is a big fucking deal" to "if America wasn't so corrupt and racist the Russians would have never gotten as far as they did so maybe clean house." Those ignoring it are just one small section, and smaller than they were 6 months ago or a year ago.
posted by asteria at 8:38 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


WP: Virginia House embraces Medicaid expansion in budget — Efforts to expand Medicaid to about 300,000 low-income adults in Virginia continue to gain momentum, as Republican House leaders on Sunday publicly embraced a form of expansion that includes work requirements and copays.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!

Fantasies about defeating and punishing black women are generally indicative of a distressed and powerless-feeling president. And, yes, an insecure one.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:40 PM on February 18 [71 favorites]


As a white, albeit decidedly non-centrist, Democrat, I long for the day we're able to actually say "We weren't leftist enough and we were kinda racist" and then build a platform based on fixing those mistakes. Not even about 2016, just as, I don't know, the new party slogan.

Won't happen until most people have freed themselves from the insecurity that makes them desperate for others to see them as One Of Us Good People instead of One Of Them Bad People.

This is a principle understood extremely well by those whose primary interest is access to large-scale power and influence.
posted by flabdablet at 8:41 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]




Oprah was about as insecure as the Rock.
posted by bz at 8:57 PM on February 18 [8 favorites]


Oprah was great but reading that makes me so angry. Every time I read an article about these ignorant as fuck white assholes saying how great Trump is doing and how he's keeping all his promises I want to smash something. And no I can't just ignore it because these people vote, and they're gonna keep voting.
posted by Justinian at 9:00 PM on February 18 [48 favorites]


(Assange has always been a piece of shit, though. I've never wavered on that position and I'm glad everyone else has caught on as well.)

This is true. Buddy of mine was his roommate for a while. All his worst qualities were present from the start; deep paranoia, antisemitism, self aggrandizement, etc.
posted by scalefree at 9:05 PM on February 18 [12 favorites]


I still believe we should focus on Fox News (and AM radio) rather than these particular misguided voters. People don't come to think (I use the term in its broadest possible sense) this way by themselves. We have a huge propaganda machine in this country that was unbelievably successful even before the Russians waded into the mix.
posted by uosuaq at 9:06 PM on February 18 [31 favorites]


I think we should completely write these people off as lost to us and focus on registering people, voter turnout and motivation, and fighting gerrymandering and voter suppression. The votes are there.
posted by lalex at 9:08 PM on February 18 [106 favorites]


Folks remarking that our institutions were weak/vulnerable to the interference should be aware that they are vulnerable because we live in ( at least tentatively for the moment) a free society that's not yet completely controlled by oligarchs as it is in Russia.
posted by localhuman at 9:10 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


Oprah was great but reading that makes me so angry. Every time I read an article about these ignorant as fuck white assholes saying how great Trump is doing and how he's keeping all his promises I want to smash something. And no I can't just ignore it because these people vote, and they're gonna keep voting.

The main promise Trump is keeping that they like is pissing people off
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:43 PM on February 18 [15 favorites]


In my circles the leftist take is that the Russia stuff is worthwhile cause they support far right groups and cause it exposes both the vulnerabilities of my electoral and data systems and the international order and cooperation of the rich. Oligarchs have solidarity with each other.

I also like to keep in my heeds that “did not vote” won in 48 states. Expanding voter rights/access/availability , targeting non voters and broad coalitions (hey now, at some point everyone will be patient), focusing on local elections and primaries and securing the voting system from meddling or gaming from forces internal and external is path out of here.

This makes a littlle less hardcore* then some of my comrades, but Electoral is one of the instruments in our symphony.

* this is assuming like, basic standards of normalcy continue to exist in the broadest “we still have elections” sense.
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 PM on February 18 [20 favorites]


(He said, literally skimming a DC Metro DSA Electoral Strategy Guide)
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 PM on February 18 [7 favorites]


from the Oprah-and-the-partisans interview linked above
Laura: I feel safer now than I ever did the last eight years of Obama. Oh my God.

Oprah Winfrey: How do you feel safer? Tell me how you feel safer?

Laura: Well, I feel like I can say Merry Christmas to anyone I want wherever I want.
I mean, are you... is this... what even... seriously? This is your success metric, then? This is it?

So our country has become an international joke, we've lost our leadership position in the world, we've got hundreds of partisan asshats disassembling everything good about the country from the inside as we speak, we're kicking half a million Americans out of the country because fuck them, we're so offended by even the semblance of a social safety net that we're ripping it down as fast as possible, Trump basically wants recipients of SNAP assistance to instead get monthly shipments of dented cans of dog food and a MAGA bumper sticker -- so it's just, welcome to America 2018, fuck you if you're a woman, fuck you if you're black, fuck you if you're an immigrant, fuck you if you're disabled, fuck you if you have mental health issues, fuck you if you're Muslim, fuck you if you're anything other than lily-white-missionary-only-please-and-definitely-no-butt-stuff straight, and thoroughly fuck everybody who's not already rich -- but you get to say Merry Christmas without feeling fucking unsafe? Unsafe?

Just... fine. Okay. Fine. Kill me first please, because fuck you and fuck this, but then please continue to enjoy the oh-so-much-safer-to-say-Merry-Christmas utopia that your orange shitstain hero has ushered in. And Merry Goddamn Christmas to you too.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:19 PM on February 18 [167 favorites]


That same woman was talking about how she felt economically safer now with Trump, and talked about how she’s poor and her heating bills go up and what if she couldn’t pay them? I literally just screamed at my phone “He wants to take away your heat!!!!! You goddamned idiot!!!!”

I didn’t see anything in there that should have particularly pissed Trump off, though. What did Oprah do (besides exist as a black woman) to set him off?
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:32 PM on February 18 [16 favorites]


(Because that’s actually what I came for...)
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:33 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Oprah pisses him off preemptively because there's been talk of her being in the running for 2020, and he thinks he has any chance there whatsoever.

Unless I have her mixed up with someone?
posted by Archelaus at 12:24 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


>> - Many of the allegations made by the US against Russia(ns) are laughable or trivial

>I too was confused to these in the indictment as well. There's more solid stuff there, but a coloring book ad seems....harmless.


The thing is, an indictment is a list of crimes that were committed along with a summary of evidence sufficient to show those crimes were committed.

It is against the law for foreign nationals from contributing any “thing of value” to an electoral campaign. So the indictment lists concrete things done, money spent, and makes it clear that these items were intended to impact the electoral campaign. Those are the details that make the activities crimes.

The indictment is, perhaps, making a something of an implicit argument about the scope and importance of these activities. And there is a clear indication that this is indictment #1 that is probably involving the most peripheral individuals and the least serious charges, compared with what may follow.

But that is more of an implied meta-narrative and not every miniscule fact in the indictment is going to line up with that. But every miniscule fact in the indictment *is* going to outline evidence that crimes were committed that these items are indisputably evidence of crimes.
posted by flug at 12:25 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]


> or trivial

BTW, I'm under the impression that many people misunderstand the purpose of the "Support Hillary. Save American Muslims" poster with the *FAKE* Hillary quotation "I think Sharia Law will be a powerful new direction of freedom."

The mistake would be thinking that this is some strange, misguided, and weak attempt to convince Muslim-Americans to vote Hillary.

Reality is it is a very effective type of false-flag operation where you first drum up the fake supposed Muslim support for Hillary/Hillary support for Sharia Law & then feed the results of that fake campaign (photos, news reports, fake drummed-up "news" reports etc) to the far-right anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim contingent to feed both their hate for Hillary and Muslims/immigrants.

And that's the type of audience that eats this stuff up.
posted by flug at 12:36 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


[Several "Laura" (Oprah interviewee) derail comments deleted. Please drop this now. It's not new news that some people have these beliefs / feelings, and we do not need to keep regurgitating the very same remarks about them over and over and over and over. Please try to stick to substantive updates and analysis here rather than forever re-re-re-hashing obvious stuff that's already been hashed into a bloody pulp hundreds of times before in these threads. Go to the fucking fuck thread if you just want to blow off steam.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:52 AM on February 19 [12 favorites]


Also the guide I was literally skimming is The Manassass Model
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 AM on February 19


Hell, I suspect that if you gave many of them the choice before the election...of a Hillary win vs a Trump win that came with the Democrats being forced into contrition...they would have been fine with Trump. I'm sure they imagined that losing to the most unpopular and incompetent campaign in history would have shaken the DNC to its core, forcing the establishment to take a good, long look at themselves and question why they've lost so much faith and support.

And yet this reflects almost exactly why the self-defined "progressive left" -- really just a subset of progressives, albeit a vocal one -- is so bad at attaining political victory or even credibility.

It's that old disease: a group that thinks that "being right" is enough, and that the only problem is other people's inability to recognize how goddamned right they are. But of course the problem is that you haven't convinced people you're right, they have no real response to people making other arguments or going ahead with their positions except to complain that the rightness of their ideas is once again being unjustly ignored because money and ignorance and establishment and all those things they can't actually do anything about.

Underneath it all, it's a kind of self-disempowerment: it means that everyone else has agency, and all they need to do is sit there being vocally "right" about things until everyone else recognizes it and does the work of making their rightness a political reality. It means never having to think about their own messaging, about nasty things like electoral strategy -- beyond "get a candidate who supports what is right" -- or even really about analyzing how power structures actually resist change and use countermessaging against the "right" ideas.

It's the weird assumption that everyone agrees, secretly, about what is "right" even though that doesn't seem to be reflected in the media most people consume, in election results, even in goddamn primary results. And when that doesn't happen, all that gets done in response is to shout "rigged," because obviously these positions are so self-evidently, universally correct to the majority of people that only base trickery could keep the people from voting for them, and besides, most people surely must vote on the basis of these sorts of policy questions....
posted by kewb at 3:33 AM on February 19 [20 favorites]


[And again, I'll ask that maybe someone make one of those periodic posts about how much the left sucks so this fascinating evergreen debate can take place there, and we try to stick more to Trump/ WH / administration news, updates and analysis here.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:38 AM on February 19 [19 favorites]


Can we take a step back and contemplate the fact that the worst twitter tirade from DJT in a little while seems to have been generated because he was kept inside, away from golf. I mean, mostly DJT tweets now produce in me a twitch of revulsion, but this weekend, hooo boy.

I've been mulling a bit in my writing about how I'm not that great for creating motivations for my antagonists, but at least I've never done something like "he did X horrible thing, screaming to the sky, 'If ONLY I COULD HAVE GOLFED'
posted by angrycat at 4:09 AM on February 19 [37 favorites]


It's the weird assumption that everyone agrees, secretly, about what is "right" ... And when that doesn't happen, all that gets done in response is to shout "rigged," because obviously these positions are so self-evidently, universally correct to the majority of people that only base trickery could keep the people from voting for them

This isn't limited to that small stripe of the left -- there's some evidence that it's very common across all types in the US and is a prime mover of dissatisfaction with government and, especially, legislatures.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:29 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I didn’t see anything in there that should have particularly pissed Trump off, though. What did Oprah do (besides exist as a black woman) to set him off?

I suspect with Donald Trump not being actually wealthy, a truly wealthy black woman, who beat him at the game of Popularity really pushes every one of his buttons.
posted by mikelieman at 4:52 AM on February 19 [51 favorites]


Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit

For years, he used his beauty pageants to boost business interests abroad. A 2013 contest, in Moscow, may also have helped give him the Presidency. (Jeffrey Toobin | The New Yorker)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:13 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


obviously these positions are so self-evidently, universally correct to the majority of people that only base trickery could keep the people from voting for them

Fred Clark has written about how evangelicals tend to believe that everyone actually knows God is real and the Bible is true and so on. People just pretend not to, because they want to keep sinning.

I feel like this is actually a very common human failing. "Everyone secretly agrees with me. They just won't admit it."

I have learned that there is nothing that everyone secretly agrees about. People really do believe all kinds of crazy crap, even the stuff that seems impossible to believe, to me. They also refuse to believe things that are totally obvious to me.

So for a long time I thought that implied that allegations of "base trickery" were nearly always wrong.

Yet now I think... Fox News is base trickery. And Trump supporters must know at some level that he is awful. They just want to keep sinning - making liberals cry and making movie stars feel powerless. They are are deceived by base trickery, but at some level they must know they are also deceiving themselves...

I guess I can sympathize with the "Everyone is secretly Christian" evangelicals and the "everyone is secretly socialist" leftists now that I find myself thinking Trump's villainy is so obvious that it's impossible to believe anyone REALLY doesn't see it...

Another example -- I grew up sincerely believing that abortion is murder, and I know my mom sincerely believes it, because I have seen how she talks about it in private and the efforts she had made as an activist at no profit to herself, and considerable cost. Yet I too now have trouble understanding how anyone who believes that could possibly oppose birth control, and I understand why so many think that abortion opponents secretly know it isn't murder, and just want to keep sinning -- oppressing women. It's not just socialist and evangelicals who think their opponents are lying about their own beliefs.

Probably I should remind myself that people really do believe ridiculous things, even if I can't see how it's possible to believe those things. It's just... I would have thought that villains had to be a LITTLE less cartoonish to attract followers in real life. Turns out people are just desperate to believe in a powerful leader who will protect them from The Other.

I guess even if you believe something because you desperately need up believe it... it is still a sincere belief. Maybe the most sincere kind of belief. Also people aren't real strong on logic, over all.

With all that said... I don't know if Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell sincerely believes ANYTHING, except that they deserve power. They definitely are lying about their beliefs. While I still think fewer such people exist than we tend to think... I can no longer deny that there are at least some.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:53 AM on February 19 [54 favorites]


Fred Clark has written about how evangelicals tend to believe that everyone actually knows God is real and the Bible is true and so on. People just pretend not to, because they want to keep sinning.

I feel like this is actually a very common human failing. "Everyone secretly agrees with me. They just won't admit it."
I think in a lot of ways this is a common failing/mindset because it's tied into optimism. People would like to think others are better than they are (with "better" being defined as more like themselves, given that they themselves have the obvious truth).

Which is how you get the "God is so self-evident, why are they denying what they know when they can be better?"

I don't believe that, honestly. People are scum. Everyone else is an easily duped magahat (or flatearth-hat or whatever-hat) who doesn't know better.

Which is why convincing those on the right, those who are racist, those who are "independent" is a fools errand. They aren't better people than what they've already shown. Can they change? Sure, but then someone's gonna have to redpill them, to borrow their favored term (originated by trans women, mind you, a group of people these shirtforking deatheaters hate). And that's a lot of effort for not much gain.

I know people downtown want to write off such a huge segment of the population. That's your choice, I suppose. But I don't honestly expect them to get better, which is why the "do better" cry always seems so... /shrug
posted by anem0ne at 6:07 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


People don't, rather than downtown. Autocorrect is anjou.
posted by anem0ne at 6:16 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


With all that said... I don't know if Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell sincerely believes ANYTHING, except that they deserve power.

I think this describes a lot more people than just Trump and Yertle. And squares the "Do they secretly think he's awful, or nah?" circle for me. A lot of people don't have an internally consistent ethos, nor do they want one, nor have they ever thought about what such a thing is, could be, or means. And when I say "a lot of people" I really mean a lot of all kinds of people. And I'm not judging because judging that is like judging water for being wet. We're emotional creatures, not logical, rational ones. (This was basically the skinny end of the wedge for me and the Objectivism I was raised with. Oh, you want the first principle here to be that human beings are capable of rational behavior? AAHAHAHAHAHA yeah, no.)

Anyway, I don't think they secretly think he's awful. I think they think he's normal, because they're surrounded by tiny versions of him in their daily lives. I mean, have you just sort of hung out in a public place for a while and watched people? There's always some asshole around, being an asshole. Those people vote. The people in their lives that have soaked for so long in their assholery that they think it's just normal behavior (I mean, strictly speaking, it is?) vote. And they're voting for someone who's just like them.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:21 AM on February 19 [14 favorites]


it is still a sincere belief

“Sincere” and “belief” are doing a lot of work here.

In general people are terrible at knowing themselves. They’re even worse at accurately describing themselves to others. They tend to describe the version of themselves they hope to be, rather than what they are.

Beliefs are basically meaningless in this context, especially beliefs about yourself. No one wants to say, even to themselves, “yes, I believe in punishing women.” And yet that is what they do, over and over again.

Look at their actions. If you want to predict how people will behave or react in the future, look at their past behavior. Everything else is fog.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:24 AM on February 19 [17 favorites]


tfw when even Juan Williams is tired of Evangelicals's shit.

What's the over/under on Fox going on a purge and getting rid of Shep and Williams and the other couple of dissenting voices and going all in on Hannity, Carlson, and Graham's insanity? I might want a piece of that action.
posted by Talez at 6:31 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump
Have a great, but very reflective, President’s Day!
I'm guessing Melania gave him a mirror and told him to take a good long hard look at himself.
posted by Talez at 6:36 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


Have a great, but very reflective, President’s Day!

Pretty sure he thinks we should be reflecting on how bad we've been treating him and how lucky we are to have him.
posted by chris24 at 6:43 AM on February 19 [21 favorites]


[Some deleted. Yeah, sorry, but the "what anti-choice people really feel/believe" thing is a ginormous derail, and the whole "are people's beliefs sincere," etc., thing is a big ol' chatty derail. Please drop these derails. Please discuss Trump / WH / Administration related news, updates and analysis here. Please don't make me keep saying this.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:57 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


I don't know if Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell sincerely believes ANYTHING, except that they deserve power. They definitely are lying about their beliefs. While I still think fewer such people exist than we tend to think... I can no longer deny that there are at least some.

Good discussion—by a Republican—of how such people are pushing us ever closer to authoritarianism (Slate podcast)
posted by Rykey at 7:00 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


My impression is that a lot of the old school Congresspeople come from the generation where you'd go home to your district and rant about GATDANG COMMUNIS'/FASCISTS to get re-elected, then head back to Washington DC and chortle with your fellow Congresspeople about the rubes in the cheap seats and settle in to get the real work of government done. Most of them think it's team sports, but wrestling is a better analogy. Like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage wouldn't start a fist fight in an airport, they're playing characters.

Only with the rise of Fox News and talk radio, the Republicans especially created a generation of marks that really do believe feminists are going to kidnap them off the street and spermjack them to make them pay child support for unwanted babies and Obama the Muslim is going to come in and take them to a FEMA camp for saying "Merry Christmas." So they behave in what seems like a rational fashion if you believe what they believe. (If you think the federal government is going to institute sharia law and arrest white people, maybe it makes sense to stockpile food and ammo).

And Republicans haven't quite dealt with it, which is why they're so terrified, because if you're insufficiently in-character at all times, they'll primary you for someone who is more radical and who genuinely believes the propaganda they've been fed.

In general, I feel like there are politicians that care and really believe things. Ironically, for all the cynicism about her, I always felt like Hillary was jazzed about a lot of her positions and enjoyed getting really wonky about the specifics of legislation. I think a lot of the Tea Party Republicans are sincere, which is horrifying.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:14 AM on February 19 [26 favorites]


The Miss Universe story, posted by Barack Spinoza above, has me thinking that there really could be a way in which Trump personally was not involved in collusion.

He clearly bragged about his relationship with Putin before even meeting the man, and had a tendency to lie in similar ways about other high-profile individuals. He doesn’t like doing the actual work involved in setting up a deal he just wants to be there for the handshakes and the publicity afterwards.

So it’s very easy to imagine a scenario where Trump is distant from all the action and his underlings assuming that some of his boasts are true. They make real the connections that he only brags about. So while the campaign appears to be guilty of collusion, Trump himself probably assumes that because he lies about such things everyone else does too.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:24 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


That's basically the "Trump didn't collude because he's too stupid to actually be in charge of anything" argument, which I'm sure the GOP will come to rely on very soon.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:33 AM on February 19 [53 favorites]


the verbal gymnastics around "he's too stupid, unobservant, and self-absorbed to act as the agent of a foreign power; therefore he should remain the man in charge of our nuclear arsenal" are going to be something else, i'm sure
posted by murphy slaw at 7:39 AM on February 19 [80 favorites]


That's basically the "Trump didn't collude because he's too stupid to actually be in charge of anything" argument, which I'm sure the GOP will come to rely on very soon.

Wasn't that (after a fashion) the defense Republicans used for Reagan with the Iran-Contra affair? Reagan was one long "I don't remember, I don't recall" and it was met with a *shrug, he wasn't in charge, I guess*. At least that is how I remember things.

My opinion is, if you're that stupid/out-of-touch/mentally incompetent, you are not fit to be President, either. It's an excuse, not a defense.

On that note, Nicole Hemmer at Vox compares the Trump scandals to Iran-Contra here. Pre-MuellerTime, but still relevant, I think.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:41 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


Hasn't the intentionality thing been done to death yet? I don't give a good solid lizardpoo what anyone believes or means to do in their heart of hearts.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:44 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I am still mad about Iran-Contra.

On the upside, there is a hell of a lot of Dem organization/registration/getting out the vote going on in lil' old Fort Worth TX and it's very heartening to see. I know at least two women running for local office.
posted by emjaybee at 7:47 AM on February 19 [34 favorites]


Politico reports that 45 is being pressured to pardon anyone indicted by Mueller to persuade them to keep their traps shut and not flip.

I don't doubt that this has been wargamed by Mueller and company, and how that would play out in any obstruction of justice case against the big cheez-whiz himself is well beyond my pay grade to contemplate.
posted by Devonian at 8:05 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


So it’s very easy to imagine a scenario where Trump is distant from all the action and his underlings assuming that some of his boasts are true. They make real the connections that he only brags about. So while the campaign appears to be guilty of collusion, Trump himself probably assumes that because he lies about such things everyone else does too.

So, kind of like how Cheney was the power behind the throne for the Bush Jr. presidency?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:08 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I don't doubt that this has been wargamed by Mueller and company, and how that would play out in any obstruction of justice case against the big cheez-whiz himself is well beyond my pay grade to contemplate.

I doubt Mueller has even fully dropped all charges on the indictees, yet, so while he might be able to get away with pardoning someone once, trying to do again after more charges have been dropped seems like a great bit of evidence for the obstruction of justice case.

Furthermore, accepting a pardon implies guilt and undermine's someone ability to invoke the 5th Amendment. Plus, it would then open these folks up to charges from state Attorneys General for election tampering, with a pardon implying guilt in these federal matters. While one cannot rule anything out from this circus, pardoning Mueller's targets doesn't seem like a wonderful strategy.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:17 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


Well he made it back to his damn golf club, though nobody knows what he's doing there until we find pics of him golfing on Instagram, which is now how we find out about the President's activities.

And in a stunning display of our times, the driver for one of the press pool vans in the motorcade was detained by the Secret Service because he forgot to leave his gun behind. (In past Administrations, drivers outside the core bit of the motorcade have often been volunteers chosen by the White House, though they sometimes hire people.)
posted by zachlipton at 8:21 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


the driver for one of the press pool vans in the motorcade was detained by the Secret Service because he forgot to leave his gun behind.


Not sending their best time-travelers, are they
posted by angrycat at 8:25 AM on February 19 [59 favorites]


NYT: How Unwitting Americans Encountered Russian Operatives Online

The article is worth it for the photo - or rather, the photo caption:
About a dozen people protested against what they called the threat of radical Islam at the Islamic Da’Wah Center in Houston in May 2016. They were met by a much larger crowd of counterprotesters. Both sides, it turned out, were organized by Russian groups.
I can just imagine the high fives in the troll farm that day. If it wasn't for the fact that they were destroying the civic fabric of the country, pushing us towards armed confrontation in the streets, and making it impossible to address other, slower-moving, civilization-ending problems, I'd even offer them grudging admiration. Well played, I guess?
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:32 AM on February 19 [24 favorites]


Journalist Heidi N Moore (@moorehn) has a useful Twitter thread in response to Blake Hounshell's "no active collusion" piece for Politico Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic: Why I have my doubts about whether Trump colluded with Moscow:
Okay, @blakehounshell, I accept your challenge. Why is there reason to believe Trump colluded, as opposed to driving his clown car into the White House? A few things to consider, below.

First, remember that collusion with Russia doesn't mean Trump actually wanted to be president. The collusion would have been to, say, accept Russian money and backing during the campaign in order to become enough of a viable candidate to bring more business to the Trump hotels. Second, it is entirely possible that Russia knows Trump to be an incredible idiot and incompetent, and *chose to back him for precisely that reason,* in order to sow discord in the U.S. Ably argued here

So you get a situation in which Trump is incredibly incompetent and just looking for a branding opportunity, while Putin goes further, perhaps more than Trump ever dreamed, to actually get him elected. Incompetence thus doesn't absolve Trump.

But there are more reasons.

For instance, Trump being incredibly dodgy about his phone calls with Putin. Or, Trump allowing a Russian photographer into the Oval Office, but no American photographers. (Later, the entire place had to be swept for bugs). Incompetence alone doesn't explain that preferential treatment. Or, Russia sanctions. They were 1) the first thing president-elect Trump asked about changing 2) something he threatened to veto 3) something he defied Congress on and refused to impose. The repeated pattern is that of Trump not just denying Russiagate to cover his own rear, but actively acting against the advice of moving to use his position to protect Putin.

Here is the New Yorker on Trump's ambitions in Moscow. That could be enough of a lure. Or it could be, as the Steele dossier suggests, a stake in Rosneft. Whatever. We know that Trump chases money at every turn. Honorable mention to this lovely conversation in which the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives said, "I think Putin pays Trump," and Paul Ryan panicked and swore everyone to secrecy.[...]

So how about the "Trump people blab constantly" line of skepticism? Well, first, consider who in the Trump camp would even know about payments from Putin. Trump himself, Michael Cohen, and Jared Kushner. All highly cunning, furtive people! Even if somewhat stupid. To say "if he had colluded, they'd be talking about it," is the Efficient Markets Hypothesis of Trump: All bad news is already known and factored in to the Trump market, if you will. But the EFM is wrong, and so is the theory that all there is to be known about Trump is known. For instance! We only found out about Stormy Daniels last month -- clearly the Trump camp managed to not blab about that for 15 months. Even more extreme, WE STILL HAVE NOT SEEN HIS TAX RETURNS. So yes, Trump can keep a secret.

In conclusion, while it is entirely accurate to believe Trump is incompetent, that is not a sufficient basis to dismiss his strangely Putin-friendly behavior. What DOES explain that behavior, however, is collusion. The end.
She also addresses skepticism about Mueller's current charges against Trump campaign officials in a coda : "Oh one last thing. As to why the Flynn/Manafort/Papadopoulos charges were so weak: of course they were. It's likely that Mueller is pursuing this as a RICO case, which means rolling up the 'soldiers' to get information on the capo (Trump). Flipping the soldiers is key. So he is."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:36 AM on February 19 [70 favorites]


About a dozen people protested against what they called the threat of radical Islam at the Islamic Da’Wah Center in Houston in May 2016. They were met by a much larger crowd of counterprotesters. Both sides, it turned out, were organized by Russian groups.

Never actually read the story it describes, but this caption reminds me of the summary I read of the scifi short story Let's Go To Golgotha which has haunted me ever since.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


On an otherwise-quiet Monday morning, here's a deep dive into the redistricting efforts in PA:
We got curious: under the limits set by the state Supreme Court, what is the maximum advantage in the other direction, favoring Democrats? We did this in order to put all the proposals into context. If we know the extreme limit on how favorably a map could treat Democrats while following the Court’s directives, then we can evaluate the partisanship of the many Democratic proposals.
...
the most Democrat-favoring map we could draw under the court’s criteria (...) would elect 9 Democrats, 9 Republicans for an equally split statewide vote (using 2012/2016 presidential vote data), with 7 safe seats for each party and 4 tossup seats where the expected margin between parties would be 10 points or less. Democrats can get to 11 seats if they win all the tossups. That’s still 1-2 seats less lopsided than the Republican proposal in the other direction – and requires a wave election.
...
Assuming that the Republican legislative leaders’ proposed map of February 9 was as favorable to their party as possible, this means that under any nominally Court-compliant map, Republicans will always win at least 6 seats and Democrats will always win at least 6 seats. The remaining 6 seats — a full one-third of them — are limited not by geography, but by the whims of redistricters.

Interestingly, none of the remedial plans submitted to the Court, even those submitted by Democratic politicians, sought to maximize Democratic seats. All submitted plans had between 6 and 8 Democratic seats, with most plans settling on 7 Democratic seats. Basically, everybody but the Republicans played it down the middle.

Why didn’t Democrats go for broke? Maybe they think toss-up seats are flippable in 2018. Maybe they wanted to protect their five incumbents. Maybe they prioritized “softer” criteria like maintaining certain political or economic communities. Or maybe they are simply good-faith actors. Whether the Court picks one of their plans or draws its own, the outcome is highly likely to be more fair than the existing plan.

One lesson here is that the median neutrally-drawn map appears to be about tilted two seats toward the Republicans. This cycle, partisan gerrymandering added two seats on top of that.
posted by Dashy at 8:42 AM on February 19 [27 favorites]


I woke up and looked at Facebook and the trending stories say Trump now supports strengthening background checks. Rather than thinking something reasonable along the lines of "Fucking finally" or "Yes you stupid douchebag" I was immediately unsettled--and I'm deeply troubled that I would have that reaction.

My first reactions included gaming out five different ways he could/would fuck this up, which took like two seconds. Would the legislation inevitably make shit worse? Would it be a band-aid with no real change? Would he cave? Would McConnell or other Republicans talk him out of it or block him? Would this be like DACA and he'd say he wants something reasonable only to do whatever the GOP tells him?

But what unsettled me was the thought that he might actually move to get something done, because there really is overwhelming support for stronger background checks even among gun owners. Obama couldn't get this through Congress, but Republicans blocked literally everything because he was Obama; they might well do this for Trump to say "Obama couldn't get it done but Trump did," and what bothers me most is that the media and Republicans in general will totally fall for that.

A year ago I figured at least Trump might do some good by accident or out of his craven need for approval. A year ago I thought anything good that happens is still good. And I still think the latter; I want universal background checks, god damn it, and if it comes from Trump then so be it. But the thought of him turning this, of all things, to his and the GOP's advantage in polls and mid-terms turns my stomach.

Motherfucker doesn't deserve any credit for doing the bare minimum right thing. And it kills me that in order to get something good done, that's what it's gonna take. People are gonna have to pat him on the head to push the dial even a millimeter to save some lives.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:45 AM on February 19 [21 favorites]


Oh. And the thing that troubles me is the fact that I would be bothered when the President of the United States might do something good. How fucked up is that, and what does that say about me?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:46 AM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Politico reports that 45 is being pressured to pardon anyone indicted by Mueller to persuade them to keep their traps shut and not flip.
---
Journalist Heidi N Moore (@moorehn) has a useful Twitter thread in response to Blake Hounshell's "no active collusion" piece for Politico Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic: Why I have my doubts about whether Trump colluded with Moscow:



Speaking of pardons and Hounshell's article...

@nycsouthpaw
A lot of reporters don’t think about Trump’s pardon power much.
- Specifically, there’s an argument in here that bc Mueller hasn’t put a “smoking gun” (however Blake defines that) into his public charging documents, it doesn’t exist. This is based on a general DOJ policy of charging cooperators w the whole conspiracy all at once.
- I’ve tried to show before that it’s clear from the charging documents themselves that Mueller isn’t following that DOJ policy in this investigation.
Thread: Whatever Mueller is doing with his cooperators, he's not charging them with the most serious offenses he can prove, so folks should be wary of making inferences based on that DOJ policy. That's all.
- Why is Mueller not handling this like a typical SDNY investigation? Why is he especially careful about revealing what his cooperators know? I’d suggest he’s advancing the case as much as he can w/o making it an open confrontation with the president, which could lead to pardons
- The alternative theory, construing Mueller’s limited filings as indicating a lack of evidence and an investigation running out of steam, seems to me inconsistent with the capabilities the investigation has already demonstrated and the facts reporters have uncovered. ymmv
posted by chris24 at 8:55 AM on February 19 [16 favorites]


About a dozen people protested against what they called the threat of radical Islam at the Islamic Da’Wah Center in Houston in May 2016. They were met by a much larger crowd of counterprotesters. Both sides, it turned out, were organized by Russian groups.

The NYT has no choice but to include the words "both sides, it turned out" in the caption of a photo mostly consisting of the Confederate flag.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:56 AM on February 19 [22 favorites]


I just want to share (again, because it's been posted in various places on the Blue and Purple) the Reply All episode The Prophet (transcript helpfully provided at the link). It might actually be a good thing to share with fellow travelers who are skeptical of how much of an effect an online disinfo operation can have, and what the various methods can be, in a context that won't immediately get anyone's back up about Russia or Trump. It's about Mexico and domestic trolls paid by a Mexican political party and it's fucking chilling. (But please, if you are biffies with Ronna Romney McDaniel, do democracy a solid and please do not share with her.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:57 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


Parkland school shooting: Trump to meet with students this week
"President Donald Trump will reportedly hold a listening session with students this week..."
Well THAT'S going to be an epic dumpster fire. I just cannot see Trump sitting quietly and listening to anyone berate him. I wonder if his handlers will find some excuse for him to skip it or leave early.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:13 AM on February 19 [79 favorites]


re: Greenwald, in latest article he is particularly critical of pundits and politicians who use bellicose rhetoric against Russia without detailing a precise response, but does not himself suggest a solution, downplaying the severity of the election meddling. He also makes some weird non-arguments implying that if you rebuke the Obama admin's slow response to Russian hacking you must roll with John McCain and crew and love WWIII.

I mean, if Putin isn't paying him, he ought to.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:14 AM on February 19 [13 favorites]


BTW, while Reddit is usually a wretched hive of scum and villainy, /r/The_Mueller is a LOT of fun to follow.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:29 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Politico reports that 45 is being pressured to pardon anyone indicted by Mueller to persuade them to keep their traps shut and not flip.

Doesn’t that seem like poor strategy? Anyone who accepted a pardon would then be unable to use the 5th Amendment to keep their traps shut. So it might help that person avoid jail, but still result in them revealing things 45 would rather they not.
posted by nickmark at 9:33 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


If Trump starts pardoning the people indicted by Mueller, that's when we start rioting.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:36 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


from the "…and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber" dept:

CNN: Concern grows within Pentagon about Trump's proposed parade
There are also concerns over the cost of the event, and a second defense official tells CNN that the Pentagon is considering seeking out private donations to offset some of the non-military costs of the event. The donations could not cover military salaries or the cost of moving equipment but they could be used to pay for other aspects of the parade.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:40 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


Doesn’t that seem like poor strategy? Anyone who accepted a pardon would then be unable to use the 5th Amendment to keep their traps shut. So it might help that person avoid jail, but still result in them revealing things 45 would rather they not.

This comes up a lot - what;s to stop them being further pardoned for keeping their yaps shut?
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Greenwald, in latest article he is particularly critical of pundits and politicians who use bellicose rhetoric against Russia without detailing a precise response.

The response doesn't have to involve sabre rattling. The simple first step is just for the government to loudly and clearly acknowledge the cyber attacks by the Russians to make U.S. citizens aware. So far Trump has refused to do that, calling it FakeNews.

A real response will require cooperation of social media corporations, whether that cooperation is voluntary or mandated by law. That means Google, Facebook and Twitter policing their platforms. That could take some time.

But in the meantime, government could counter the Russian propaganda by loudly flagging and pointing out every instance they find of Russian interference in real time. Putting public service announcements on TV and media platforms. Tagging every instance they find with "This is Russian government propaganda". Citizens might be appalled to realize the amount of Russian propaganda they have been swallowing. This doesn't require a lot of hemming and hawing about how to restructure social media platforms. It could be done tomorrow.
posted by JackFlash at 10:01 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


The response doesn't have to involve sabre rattling. The simple first step is just for the government to loudly and clearly acknowledge the cyber attacks by the Russians to make U.S. citizens aware.

or, you know, actually implementing the sanctions bill that trump signed
posted by murphy slaw at 10:13 AM on February 19 [30 favorites]


> what's to stop them being further pardoned for keeping their yaps shut?

The Presidential pardon power applies (only) to Federal charges. The states could each prosecute separately for state elections fraud charges, and those can't be pardoned by the President.

On the other hand, there's probably an argument to be made that the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination would apply to possible State charges as well, so a Presidential pardon might not remove the accused's right to keep their yaps shut.

In summary, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:14 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Mmm the last time I was tuned into Greenwald, which was a couple of years ago, he was confidently making predictions that turned out to be wrong. I find him dangerous in that he's a good writer and he knows enough to make compelling arguments (hence he was getting published in the LRB a couple years back)
posted by angrycat at 10:16 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


It is not Greenwald's job to find a solution. This should be done instead by the braying asses who are busy screaming war war.

For every out-of-power braying ass screaming for cyber (or proxy) war with Russia, there are fifty in-power braying asses screaming for actual war in North Korea, Iran, and who knows where else. It's a false equivalence that muddies the Mueller investigation and poisons any conversation on the actual threat of warmongering.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:17 AM on February 19 [9 favorites]


We're already deep into a cold war. The only real question is whether this is a new cold war or if the old one never really ended. Denying or ignoring the situation doesn't do any good. In fact it only makes us more vulnerable. As evidence, allow me to present to you the current White House.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:22 AM on February 19 [35 favorites]


Providence Journal: RI senator charged with 2 counts of extorting sex from former State House page. Nicholas Kettle, elected as a Republican when he was just 19 in 2010 (with just 36% of the vote), is also charged with sharing pornographic images of his now former girlfriend

The senate president vowed to seek his expulsion if he doesn't resign. As of this morning, Kettle's Web site still thundered that he is "steamed up" about the general state of things in RI.
posted by adamg at 10:32 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


This comes up a lot - whats to stop them being further pardoned for keeping their yaps shut?

I've asked this myself as a rhetorical question. The non rhetorical answer is: nothing. People (including legal analysts on tv) talking about how those pardoned can't invoke the 5th are still living in world governed by norms and inhabited by people with a modicum of shame. That isn't this world. The people being pardoned would simply refuse to answer any questions and then would receive additional pardons if contempt charges were leveled.

The Presidential pardon power applies (only) to Federal charges. The states could each prosecute separately for state elections fraud charges, and those can't be pardoned by the President.

Right, but that's true already. The threat of state charges is the real stick here not the idea that accepting a pardon means you can't plead the 5th which is what was under discussion.

On the other hand, there's probably an argument to be made that the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination would apply to possible State charges as well

It most certainly does apply to state charges. Almost all trials are state trials, not federal trials.
posted by Justinian at 10:33 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


Hmmm. In the cold war I grew up in there were two, very clearly opposed, post-war ideologies fighting across the entire spectrum of society for dominance. Today this seems like two sets of oligarchs in a dick-waving contest. Putin may indeed be using his training in the tactics of old cold war to wage this one, but Trump is too dumb to even know he's in the game.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:33 AM on February 19 [10 favorites]


On Presidents' Day, Trump drops 5 points to -22 net in Gallup's approval poll. Down 3 in approval to 37% and up 2 in disapproval to 59%. His worst numbers in a month and back close to the range where he typically has been before the recent small uptick.
posted by chris24 at 10:47 AM on February 19 [44 favorites]


Even if we stipulate for sake of argument that Trump didn't know about any collusion, he was still actively involved in obstruction of justice by trying to block the investigation into the collusion. As abundant quotes from Republicans during Clinton's impeachment will tell you, obstruction of justice is a serious felony and the president is not above the law.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:50 AM on February 19 [17 favorites]


Does Greenwald agree that we need a solution? That Republican treason and Russia's assault on liberal democracy are problems?
posted by LarsC at 10:55 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]


This comes up a lot - whats to stop them being further pardoned for keeping their yaps shut?

A pardon means you admit guilt and also you lose your 5th Amendment rights where they would result in jeopardy, which makes it a terrible strategy for keeping someone's yap shut.
posted by rhizome at 10:56 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


So,in Texas, you can vote in either primary(but not both), because you don't register by party. Thus, because our national primary is late enough that the Dems slate is either set, or I'm ok with any of the candidates winning, I have voted in republican primaries fairly frequently. Ergo, I'm on a lot of mailing lists for both parties. In the last few days, as we're ramping towards primaries next month(where I will be voting in the Dems pile for a host of awesome women), I have gotten so many Rep calls asking me how I feel about trump, our senators and my rep Pete Sessions. I just spent 20 minutes explaining to the caller why all of the above were bad people who do bad things, and how there was still time to save herself, her state, and her country. Yes, boys and girls, I just spent part of a morning converting a caller from the other side to look at my candidate, and how Lillian was working for her, and not for Russia, and reader, I think I made a conversion.

I have given up despair for Lent. We must be the change we want to see.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:02 AM on February 19 [133 favorites]


I assume the Greenwald talk will be shut down shortly, but before that happens...

Does Greenwald agree that we need a solution? That Republican treason and Russia's assault on liberal democracy are problems?

'When it comes to what the investigation was designed to focus on, Greenwald says he’s still waiting for hard evidence that the Trump campaign aided Russian operatives in hacking the Clinton-campaign emails — or struck some other corrupt bargain. Absent that, he’s not impressed. “Some Russians wanted to help Trump win the election, and certain people connected to the Trump campaign were receptive to receiving that help. Who the fuck cares about that?”'

January ny mag article
posted by orange ball at 11:16 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


>CNN: Concern grows within Pentagon about Trump's proposed parade

tbh whenever the parade has come up in conversation with right-wing acquaintances I've just been flat out fake-newsing it and saying "I saw on the news that Trump said he's paying for it himself... overtime pay, cost of transporting the gear, re-paving the roads afterward, whole shebang." then when they're all "oh, I hadn't heard that?" I'm like "yeah I think he just made the announcement? Makes sense, why would he support a huge tax cut then have a parade for no reason with taxpayer money? It's prob expensive af but he's a billionaire, he can afford it and he likes throwing his money around anyway." To which they agree, and thus the seed is sown.

Is that ethical? I guess probably not. Do I care? meh
posted by Ornate Rocksnail at 11:16 AM on February 19 [55 favorites]


I didn't mean for that first sentence to sound like a shot across the mods' bow. It was not.
posted by orange ball at 11:18 AM on February 19


A pardon means you admit guilt and also you lose your 5th Amendment rights where they would result in jeopardy, which makes it a terrible strategy for keeping someone's yap shut

However this point presumes that they don't just completely lie their asses off and/or give completely nonsensical answers, which they have shown time after time that they are more than willing to do.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:19 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


On Presidents' Day, Trump drops 5 points to -22 net in Gallup's approval poll. Down 3 in approval to 37% and up 2 in disapproval to 59%. His worst numbers in a month and back close to the range where he typically has been before the recent small uptick.

The flip side of this is that Trump's among self-identified Republicans is 86%—that's down only 1% since this time last year (and it's never dropped below 77%). Among independents, it's 36%, which is means it's actually up 1% year-over-year.

No less tellingly, the Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics Presidents’ Day poll found that among Presidents since Eisenhower, although Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama placed as the top three on average, among Republicans, Trump came second only to Reagan. Among Democrats, he's regarded as even worse than Nixon, unsurprisingly, while Independents view him as only slightly better.

We'll see if Mueller's Russian indictments and Trump's spluttering reaction cause any appreciable shifts, but I'm willing to wager that there won't be. Between this poll and Oprah's guests, it's clear that Trump-supporters are not going to budge any time soon, if ever.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:20 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


President Trump WILL attend this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner (Daily Mail Exclusive) "Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied 'yes,' when asked if Trump would attend the annual April affair, after news broke earlier Monday that the president would also be attending the annual Gridiron dinner next month."

He allegedly wanted to attend last year's dinner very badly, so we'll see if his staff lets him turn up.
posted by gladly at 11:22 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]


All About That Base - Democratic Party survival depends on mobilizing nonvoters and voters of color - not targeting republicans or ‘moderates’.

This seems obvious to me and I've been trying to volunteer to register likely Democratic voters in Virginia's 7th district but no one is getting back to me. You'd think there would be some sort of existing year-round voter registration drive that new volunteers could just be plugged into but I'm starting to suspect my assumptions about the Democrats being better organized than the Libertarians were overly optimistic. This sucks because I already have lots of experience going door-to-door in the freezing cold bothering strangers about politics; I just need someone to give me a walking list and a stack of forms. And I'm sure I'm not the only one with free time to volunteer in between campaign seasons. If we all put in a few hours a week in our nearest swingable district, it could add up to making a difference on election day.

Get it together, Democrats.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:25 AM on February 19 [16 favorites]


The flip side of this is that Trump's among self-identified Republicans is 86%

Which might be attributable to the fact that Republican identification has dropped 5% in the past year, to just 37% of the total electorate. When people leave their party en masse because they disapprove of the president, then naturally the president's approval rating among the remaining members will go up or hold steady.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:27 AM on February 19 [79 favorites]


He allegedly wanted to attend last year's dinner very badly, so we'll see if his staff lets him turn up.

I'm sure Stephen Miller is just itching to get his chance to write a "joke" routine.
posted by odinsdream at 11:27 AM on February 19 [7 favorites]


@W7VOA: A fresh statement from @PressSec confirms @POTUS is planning to attend the satirical #Gridiron dinner, "but no decision has been made regarding" the @whca dinner at this time. "Will keep you posted when there is an update.”

I expect "will he or won't he" gamesmanship will persist until the last possible second. No serious journalist should show up if he's coming.
posted by zachlipton at 11:28 AM on February 19 [11 favorites]


He allegedly wanted to attend last year's dinner very badly

And he'll make sure to attend this one very badly.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:34 AM on February 19 [48 favorites]


Trump takes last spot in experts' presidential rankings survey
President Trump has placed last among U.S. commanders in chief in a recent survey of experts.

The 2018 Presidents and Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey asks respondents, each of them current and recent members of the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, to rate each president on a scale of 0-100 for overall greatness.

Abraham Lincoln topped the list with an average score of 95.03, followed by George Washington with 92.59. The top seven slots remained unchanged from when the survey was conducted last in 2014.

Former President Obama placed eighth on the list, with an average score of 71.13, jumping 10 places from the previous survey.

Trump took the bottom slot with an average score of 12.34. Among those who identified as Republicans and conservatives, Trump ranked 40th.

Obama came in second place when respondents were asked who should be the next president on Mount Rushmore, though he was well behind runaway favorite Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Here’s the full report as PDF.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:57 AM on February 19 [14 favorites]


The court has put out a new Congressional district map for Pennsylvania, though there will surely be appeals. Some quick analysis from Nate Cohn:
If true, a very good map for the Democrats. Much better than I would have guessed.
If true, Democrats get everything they could want. The new versions of the old PA7/15/6/8 are near optimal for them. Conor Lamb would have a high-profile contest in a competitive race with Keith Rotfhus in the old PA-12 (new 17). PA-10 is a brand new race. It is fair to say that this map was drawn with the goal of achieving partisan balance, even though that was not a stated goal of the order.
And Dave Wasserman: Breaking: PA Supreme Court adopts new congressional map, and with few exceptions it's Democrats' dream come true. GOP not going to like this at all.

And the President, presumably upset his golf time was rained on, has decided to spend his "very reflective" day reflecting on attacking President Obama. He even threaded his tweets on Twitter so we can jump right from the reflecting to this.
posted by zachlipton at 11:58 AM on February 19 [20 favorites]


Here’s hoping the WHCA books Yakov Smirnoff as this year’s MC, and that, visibly terrified and stammering, he delivers a deadpan opening, preferably entirely in Russian.

“In Rahh-shyya... (gulps) ...press is free, laws are fair and leaders have only best interest of the people in mind...” (wipes brow)
posted by rodeoclown at 12:00 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


This is reportedly the court-drawn map for the PA congressional districts.

If true, I think the Republicans will attempt to impeach the judges and/or the Supreme Court strikes it down despite being ostensibly a state issue. Because it's a giant step forward for Democrats in Pennsylvania and provides partisan balance, and of course Republicans can't have that. People will object that the Supreme Court can't interfere in judgments about the PA Constitution and while technically true they could certainly find ways to say that having the court draw the map rather than the legislature violates the US Constitution. Because of course they could.
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


By the way, everything you need to know is summed up by knowing that this is a balanced partisan map where the Congressional delegation would come much closer to reflecting the vote count... and it can reasonably be described as "Democrats dream come true" and something the Republicans will go scorched earth over. Think about that.
posted by Justinian at 12:03 PM on February 19 [80 favorites]


(For those not on twitter, the President wonders aloud today why Obama didn’t do anything about supposed Russian interference in the election.)

He did, although perhaps not enough.
posted by notyou at 12:06 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Trump takes last spot in experts' presidential rankings survey

That ranking used to have GWB at the bottom and now he's at thirtieth. It's floaty as hell.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:06 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


Tom Rooney (R-FL 17th, House Intelligence Committee) is not running for reelection this year.
posted by neroli at 12:08 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


WaPo, Trump Jr. to give foreign policy speech while on ‘unofficial’ business trip to India
The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is making what’s been dubbed an unofficial visit to India to promote his family’s real estate projects. But he’s also planning to deliver a foreign policy speech on Indo-Pacific relations at an event with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Beginning Tuesday, the junior Trump will have a full schedule of meet-and-greets with investors and business leaders throughout India where the Trump family has real estate projects — Mumbai, the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon and the eastern city of Kolkata.

Indian newspapers have been running full-page, glossy advertisements hyping his arrival and the latest Trump Tower project under the headline: “Trump is here — Are You Invited?” The ads also invited home buyers to plunk down a booking fee (about $38,000) to “join Mr. Donald Trump Jr. for a conversation and dinner.” Public relations executives working with two local developers arranging the Trump dinner declined to give specifics about the event.

During the visit, the 40-year-old Trump, the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, will take a break from his private promotional tour to give an address on “Reshaping Indo- Pacific Ties: The New Era of Cooperation” at a global business summit on Friday evening, co-sponsored by the Economic Times newspaper. Modi will also speak at the summit on the topic of “Preparing India for the Future.”
The Clintons were investigated for years because they lost some money in a real estate investment, but the President's son selling his time to potential buyers while giving a foreign policy speech will barely register as a thing.
posted by zachlipton at 12:08 PM on February 19 [83 favorites]




From that NYTimes "both sides were duped" link:

Facebook’s vice president for advertising, Rob Goldman, said on Twitter on Friday, “I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal”

Oh, y'all! OMG, I had been so worried. My god, the relief!

— a statement that President Trump retweeted.

WHEW! Welp, I guess I'm done here and it's tata, all you worryworts! Oh, man... what am I gonna do with all this new peace of mind and freed-up time? Probably rewatch Knight Rider and Matlock. Then get started on some sweet seek 'n' finds.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:10 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


WaPo: For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals
While the White House mourned the loss of life in Parkland, Fla., some aides privately acknowledged that the tragedy offered a breather from the political storm.

A tentative plan for White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to address the media from the briefing room Wednesday — where he would have faced intense scrutiny over his own role in the mishandling of the domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter — was scuttled.

Press staffers cited the tragedy as a reason to cancel on-camera briefings for the remainder of the week, allowing them to avoid questions about the swirling controversies. The White House could hold its next briefing on Tuesday, a full week since press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders last faced reporters.

“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said one White House official, speaking anonymously to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”
...
“But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos,” the official said.
posted by cjelli at 12:10 PM on February 19 [29 favorites]


Justinian: "People will object that the Supreme Court can't interfere in judgments about the PA Constitution and while technically true they could certainly find ways to say that having the court draw the map rather than the legislature violates the US Constitution. Because of course they could."

The Court already rejected the PA GOP's request for a stay of this process. It went to Alito because of the circuit, and even he rejected it - he didn't even refer it to the whole court, he returned it himself.

I never say anything is impossible, but I view SCOTUS intervention here as exceedingly unlikely.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:13 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said one White House official, speaking anonymously to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”

This appalling thing to say is almost word-for-word straight out of The West Wing. CJ had to offer to resign over it.
posted by zachlipton at 12:13 PM on February 19 [25 favorites]


“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said one White House official, speaking anonymously to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”

If they haven't yet, eventually they will realize that allowing (and, later, causing) similar tragedies to happen would let them evade responsibility indefinitely.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:14 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


neroli: "Tom Rooney (R-FL 17th, House Intelligence Committee) is not running for reelection this year."

FL-17 went Trump 62-35, Romney 58-41. Tough district.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:14 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


“For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve,” said one White House official, speaking anonymously to reflect internal conversations. “A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled.”
...
“But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos,” the official said.


How the *fuck* do you get off as a journalist allowing this to be an anonymous quote.
posted by odinsdream at 12:14 PM on February 19 [61 favorites]


The Court already rejected the PA GOP's request for a stay of this process. It went to Alito because of the circuit, and even he rejected it - he didn't even refer it to the whole court, he returned it himself.

Because the violation will be the Court drawing the map rather than the legislature and that hadn't occurred yet. There was no standing because there had as yet been no damages.

but I view SCOTUS intervention here as exceedingly unlikely.

Call me panicky but I predict 5-4 striking down this move as a violation of the US Constitution on the basis that the district maps must be drawn by the legislative branch and not the judicial branch.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


But the SC has already ruled in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission that non-legislative bodies can make district maps.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:19 PM on February 19 [21 favorites]


Seventeen people most of them children shot to death is a reason to cancel on-camera briefings for the remainder of the week, allowing them to avoid questions about the swirling controversies.

Damned if that is not a new low!

I hope when Trump goes to listen to the high school kids they ignore the recent atrocity and just strafe his ass with Stormy Daniels discourse and did you really yank out your one ex-wife's hair that time I wouldn't ask but we all saw that gif last week where you hipchecked Melania getting off AF1 and experts say that maybe you want to knock her ass to the tarmac is that true at all, Mister President, what about that Rob Porter guy, did you really say he was a sick puppy and if so does that make you a sick puppy too because you're always grabbing people by the we'renotallowedtosaythatword and spying on naked teenagers at your beauty contests and while we're on the subject did you really cheat at a beauty contest to sell more Trumpsteaks, hey didja, didja, huh?
posted by Don Pepino at 12:24 PM on February 19 [50 favorites]


Because the violation will be the Court drawing the map rather than the legislature and that hadn't occurred yet. There was no standing because there had as yet been no damages.

I thought the lack of standing was based on this being a matter of the PA Constitution, not the US Constitution? Was I wrong about that?
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:24 PM on February 19


The PA SC ruling was based on the PA constitution. It's fine for state constitutions to go beyond the US Constitution, but they can't do things that violate it. The GOP's logic in their request for a stay was that the PA SC had violated the US Constitution's Elections Clause (that's what Justinian mentioned above), and secondarily that this was all happening too close to the election.

Alito didn't give a reason in his rejection. But based on my armchair legal expertise, I think it wasn't a standing thing, it's because it's not a valid theory.

Here's actual election guy Rick Hasen's take:
Because this was a case decided under the state constitution by the state supreme court, the usual path for review of this case by the U.S. Supreme Court is limited. The only plausible argument I see is that the maps violate the Elections Clause of the Constitution, which vests in the state legislature the power to choose rules for congressional elections (unless Congress acts to preempt them).

The problem with this argument is that the Pa Republicans already went to the Supreme Court when the state supreme court announced a redistricting– and Republicans raised the very same argument. At the time it was raised, I called the argument a long shot, given a line of cases (most recently a 2015 case from Arizona) reading the word legislature much more broadly in the context of the elections clause. The emergency stay request went to Justice Alito, who denied it without even referring it to the Court. So he likely did not think much of it at the time.

Now it is quite possible that Pa. Republicans will go back to Justice Alito, arguing that things are even worse now that the state Supreme Court has adopted a map itself. That’s the job first and foremost for the legislature. But remember that the Pa. legislature did not even come up with an official passed plan for the state supreme court to reject. (A pair of legislative leaders had a plan, but it was not passed by the legislature.) This seems to give Pa. Republicans even less standing to complain about things. I expect something new filed with Justice Alito will get no further. (After all, we are even later into the election season.)

The alternative, which I’ve been hearing a lot about from reporters, is Pa. Republicans filing a new and separate federal court challenge in a federal district court raising the same Elections Clause challenge. This seems like a super longshot. Not only does it present the same problem on the merits as what Justice Alito already rejected. But this would be a collateral attack on a state supreme court decision in federal court (rather than a direct appeal from the state Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court). Various abstention doctrines, including the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, would counsel federal courts against issuing orders directly against the orders of state courts. There are principles of comity and federalism that make such challenges extremely hard to bring.

Bottom line: it is hard to see where Republicans go from here to successfully fight these maps.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:36 PM on February 19 [16 favorites]


If you are interested in PA nitty gritty (and who isn't), there's a Wasserman thread in progress on changes by district/incumbent.

The short version is this takes the map from 5 D / 13 R to 8 D / 10 R, but with three more seats reasonably competitive, especially in the 2018 environment, which would be 11 D / 7 R.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:40 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Does the PA GOP have the numbers to begin impeachment hearings, and if so, would the hearings happen/wind out soon enough to affect this ruling before midterm?
posted by eclectist at 12:45 PM on February 19


Mefi admins can I favorite somebody twice just this once Don Pepino has earned it!

Just kidding—so many great comments here, a lot of thought provoking stuff, thank you all.
posted by maniabug at 12:48 PM on February 19


Does the PA GOP have the numbers to begin impeachment hearings, and if so, would the hearings happen/wind out soon enough to affect this ruling before midterm?

They do have the votes, if they held together. I don't know what a timeline would look like.

It's worth noting that GOP leadership has tried to deflect any impeachment talk - the guy who proposed it is just some dipshit. I am *not* confident they won't try this route, but I still think it is not super likely.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:52 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


It seems like impeachment, removal, appointment of fascist toadies, confirmation of said fascist toadies and then appeal (reappeal?) of decision would take longer than they have. But who the hell knows
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:54 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


The campaign for a new map here has had bipartisan support among just regular folks (i.e. not people in legislature). Everyone can plainly see the ludicrous nature of the districts, it's not subtle. The new map very closely adheres to Pennsylvania's general regions (someone on Twitter pointed out that it looks a lot like the map you get in PA as a tourist). If the PA GOP wants to make this their hill to die on, they're going to have no cover at all for what it's actually about. I mean, they might still give it a whirl, but I cannot see where they have to go, especially in such a short time frame.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:00 PM on February 19 [23 favorites]


It's worth noting that bills for a non-partisan redistricting commission have a good number of cosponsors from both parties, and Fair Districts PA has been working hard to sell that fairness benefits all Pennsylvanians. Actual impeachment might be a bridge too far for at least some GOPers in the legislature.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:04 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


This is an insubstantial article but worthwhile parallel from WaPo: Why Jacob Zuma's fall sends a serious warning to the GOP

From the article, two quotes for anyone with some time considering a deeper dive into the subject (I would but time constraints today):
“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a Constitution … I might look at the Constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, and had an independent judiciary … It really is, I think, a great piece of work.”
— Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking in an interview in 2012

Zuma stormed into office in South Africa on the strength of a charisma that helped him to overcome earlier suspicions of malfeasance and allegations of sexual assault. Observers of American politics cannot fail to see some parallels. It was not until Zuma’s own party suffered stunning losses at the polls that they understood him to be a liability and moved decisively. One wonders what lessons might be drawn here by the GOP.
I also want to take my hobby horse out for a canter: The US is not the only democracy in the world. Duh, we all that, but how much do we really, like know it, man? With the 200-ish nation states out there, you can find parallels, and frankly, hope and the will to keep fighting, in other countries. The Trump disaster is our disaster, but we're not the only victims of such disasters, and deities willing, we will come out galvanized to really turn our country into a better place. Don't just watch Washington.

The new map very closely adheres to Pennsylvania's general regions (someone on Twitter pointed out that it looks a lot like the map you get in PA as a tourist). If the PA GOP wants to make this their hill to die on, they're going to have no cover at all for what it's actually about. I mean, they might still give it a whirl, but I cannot see where they have to go, especially in such a short time frame.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:00 AM on February 20 [4 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


This also gives me hope. The more shameless the forces of evil, the more desperate and close to defeat they are. It's a platitude, but one that, at least for me, holds up and keeps me from panicking. We endure so much shit for so long, but when things turn around, they turn around fast. Maybe I'm speaking too early, but I think we got this one. I look forward to the sordid tale of the PA GOP's fall and the new legislation from their successors that will restore it to a functioning government...and to watching their story form the blueprint for the de-gerrymandering of the rest of the country.
posted by saysthis at 1:19 PM on February 19 [17 favorites]



This appalling thing to say is almost word-for-word straight out of The West Wing. CJ had to offer to resign over it.


Hah! I thought of this too right away.... except in TWW, it's obviously a mis-speak, whereas in this white house nobody even pretends it's not saying "thank goodness , a tragedy so our tender feelings have some time to recover"
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:21 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Money laundering. Especially with Muller having drilled down to the books of the Russian fronts writing checks to people. I'm guessing Kushner is a non-trivial entry.

There's also foreign influence-peddling and outright bribery. The scope of the special counsel authorization letter allows Mueller a wide scope for investigation.

For instance, here's CNN's exclusive scoop on the Jared Investigation Watch: Mueller's Interest In Kushner Grows to Include Foreign Financing Efforts
Special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner's discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China.

US officials briefed on the probe had told CNN in May that points of focus related to Kushner, the White House senior adviser and son-in-law of President Donald Trump, included the Trump campaign's 2016 data analytics operation, his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Kushner's own contacts with Russians.

Mueller's investigators have been asking questions, including during interviews in January and February, about Kushner's conversations during the transition to shore up financing for 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner Companies-backed New York City office building reeling from financial troubles, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation.

It's not clear what's behind Mueller's specific interest in the financing discussions. Mueller's team has not contacted Kushner Companies for information or requested interviews with its executives, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Kushner's Chinese and Qatari business overtures are, of course, shady AF, but it's worth a reminder that there's always a subtext beneath these leaks and legal teams can use the press to circumvent normal prohibitions on sharing information about an ongoing investigation.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:28 PM on February 19 [18 favorites]


Thanks for that 20-hour chat with Mueller, Steve Bannon!
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:32 PM on February 19 [12 favorites]


government could counter the Russian propaganda by loudly flagging and pointing out every instance they find of Russian interference

The current administration is notorious for claiming that unpopular stories are "FAKE NEWS!" They're not currently calling it Russian propaganda, obviously, but it's not so very long ago that US governments used those very words to discredit true but unfavourable reports. Obviously we shouldn't rely on government statements to tell us the state of the government itself.

We're currently in a real pickle: the enemy is within the gates and very probably our own decision loops. I think it's worth looking for solutions along the lines of the EU privacy legislation that lets people view data collected on them, and also -why not? - force advertisers to disclose their identity. Those two things would let people see who's targeting them, and why, and aggregating this data would make it trivial to identify mass propaganda efforts.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:37 PM on February 19 [10 favorites]


saysthis: " I look forward to the sordid tale of the PA GOP's fall and the new legislation from their successors that will restore it to a functioning government"

The unfortunate thing is that the new maps are Congressional only - the (also egregiously gerrymandered) state legislative maps remain. One win at a time, I guess.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:37 PM on February 19 [10 favorites]


The unfortunate thing is that the new maps are Congressional only - the (also egregiously gerrymandered) state legislative maps remain. One win at a time, I guess.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:37 PM on February 19 [2 favorites +] [!]


Wait, what? How could plaintiffs be so numb-skulled as to only go after Congressional and not state maps? If not in the same suit, at least simultaneously.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:01 PM on February 19


and also -why not? - force advertisers to disclose their identity.

I'm personally a fan of legislation that puts a moratorium on political ads six weeks out from any election. Throw all the crap you want up on the screen until then, but past that, if you show a political ad, you get fined. Heavily.

It wouldn't pass the SC, because political speech is some of the freest free speech that we have (and for good reasons), but I still like the idea. Give people some time to breathe before they actually enter the polling booth.
posted by eclectist at 2:06 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Hi I would like to cheer you up with this fun ad by Allison Campolo, running for TX State Sen District 10. She is an international heavy weight fighting champion in Kung Fu and in the ad actually splits cement slabs labeled "extremist agenda," "underfunded schools," and so on.

If she wins the nomination, she'll be running against the execrable Konni Burton (R).
posted by emjaybee at 2:23 PM on February 19 [40 favorites]


Wait, what? How could plaintiffs be so numb-skulled as to only go after Congressional and not state maps? If not in the same suit, at least simultaneously.

The PA Constitution already specifies a process for state legislative redistricting (as opposed to the congressional districting which is a regular statute). So, I don't think there was any judicial avenue to pursue.

The upshot of the current legislative redistricting process is, whoever controls the state Supreme Court will end up controlling the process. That should be the Democrats, if we have the current membership in 2020. I imagine the lines will look somewhat different afterwards.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:25 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]


I'm personally a fan of legislation that puts a moratorium on political ads six weeks out from any election.

Fan of the idea here too but, honest question. This

in the ad actually splits cement slabs labeled "extremist agenda," "underfunded schools," and so on.

is obviously political advertising, emotional message more than content (and I love the emotional content). How do other countries with the 6-week ban (I think the UK is one) draw the line between ads and reporting? "Here is a public service message from your friendly Republican-sponsored local newspaper" etc. Seems to me like that's a minefield.
posted by saysthis at 2:29 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


If you think Kushner was desperate for financing during the transition, imagine how he feels now that interest rates are rising! (Trump too, for that matter).

Their risky financing maneuvers all took place during a very long stretch of near-zero interest rates. Now that they're rising, the pressure will be intense.
posted by msalt at 2:31 PM on February 19 [14 favorites]


But the SC has already ruled in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission that non-legislative bodies can make district maps.

Hopefully you are correct. I bow to your SC nerdery.
posted by Justinian at 2:32 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I'm not really sure, but I've thought of that, too - where would we draw the lines on what is and isn't 'political' for the purposes of such a law? The eventual place that I come down is that we'd spend a bunch of time in court hammering out the edge cases, and that's another reason I don't think it would go over well here.
posted by eclectist at 2:35 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I'm personally a fan of legislation that puts a moratorium on political ads six weeks out from any election. Throw all the crap you want up on the screen until then, but past that, if you show a political ad, you get fined. Heavily.

Six weeks feels too long. That's nearly the length of an entire campaign in any country that's not America.
posted by Merus at 3:08 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


[A few deleted; let's nose this thing back in the direction of more signal, less noise.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:41 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


@Taniel
What new map wins: Democrats are on track to win at least a sixth of all the pick-ups they need to gain the House in Pennsylvania alone.
posted by chris24 at 3:47 PM on February 19 [10 favorites]


When we invariably hear that the activist court is gerrymandering for Democrats:

G. Elliott Morris, data journalist for The Economist, tweets "Been seeing takes saying new PA map is a Dem gerrymander. Nope! Still has a 3% bias toward the GOP (per mean-median test). And per my models, Democrats don’t even win a majority of PA’s seats until they win the House popular vote by 16 (SIXTEEN) points."
posted by Justinian at 4:03 PM on February 19 [40 favorites]


Just make the entire state at large and allocate seats based on IRV like an Australian Senate ballot. That will make the vote totals match the seats. Plus it would let third parties get their foot in the door with a 6% popular vote threshold for a seat.

No more bullshit line games. It's not like the Constitution even has house districts in it. The only residency requirements are state based.
posted by Talez at 4:11 PM on February 19 [27 favorites]


NYT says a narrow majority of Americans now support the Republican tax plan, after a big GOP ad campaign.

CAN OUR SIDE PLEASE START POINTING AT WHAT THE GOP IS CUTTING TO PAY FOR THIS? THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT THEY SHOULD BE WINNING. IT'S THE DUMBEST PLAN SINCE TAX PLANS.

Sorry for capslock but this was a capslock moment.
posted by saysthis at 4:19 PM on February 19 [77 favorites]


Humans are horrifically bad at judging costs. The tax bill passed and the world did not literally, immediately end. That's apparently good enough to get 1 in 10 people to change their mind, which is what the polling shows.

Does everyone remember that whole sequester thing? I'm sure many do, but while a majority of individuals opposed sequestration in 2013 I'm willing to bet real money an overwhelming majority today wouldn't remember it even happened.
posted by Room 101 at 4:57 PM on February 19 [18 favorites]


This 34 second clip of Rex Tillerson trying to dance around whether he called the President a moron, while consistently avoiding denying it, needs to be seen to be believed.

Tillerson's whole 60 Minutes interview defies belief. For instance, here's how the US's chief diplomat views the administration's ongoing inability to appoint ambassadors amid Tillerson's decimation of State Department personnel:
Margaret Brennan: There are 41 embassies without confirmed ambassadors and that's even in places where there are crises. No ambassador in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, in Turkey. How do you explain that?
Rex Tillerson: Well, there's been no dismantling at all of the State Department. We've got terrific-- people, both foreign service officers, civil servants, that have stepped into those roles around the world--
Margaret Brennan: On an interim--
Rex Tillerson: --and have stepped in--
Margaret Brennan: --basis.
Rex Tillerson: --here. It is an interim basis. So clearly, it is not with the same kind of support that I wish everyone had. But our foreign policy objectives continue to be met.
Margaret Brennan: But some of these don't even have nominees. I mean 41 embassies without ambassadors in them.
Rex Tillerson: Well, some of these are in the process. It's not a question of people being…are neglecting the importance of it. It's just the nature of the process itself.
And his working relationship with his volatile and unpredictable boss:
Margaret Brennan: So one of the other challenges that you have here-- is sometimes the president's message doesn't jive with your own. I think you'd acknowledge that.
Rex Tillerson: Well, as I said, the president communicates in his own style, his own way, his own words. And from time to time I will ask him, "Are you changin' the policy? Because if we are, obviously I need to know, and everyone needs to know."
Margaret Brennan: Well you would've thought he'd talk to you about changing the policy before he tweeted.
Rex Tillerson: And-- and to finish the thought, that has never happened. Every time I've talked to him he says, "No, the policy hasn't changed." And I say let-- then I'm good. That's all I need to know.
And his longstanding association with Vladimir Putin:
Margaret Brennan: You've said you had a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. You've done huge deals with him. Photos of you toasting him with champagne. And all that closeness raised eyebrows It even inspired a Saturday Night Live skit. [...]
Rex Tillerson: The relationship that I had with President Putin spans 18 years now It was always about What could I do to be successful on behalf of my shareholders, how Russia could succeed.
Margaret Brennan: How different was it walking into the Kremlin as secretary of state?
Rex Tillerson: It was different-- because-- and I had to think very, very h-- carefully about that, And the only thing I said to him was "Mr. President, same man, different hat."
Even though this was recorded before Mueller's Russian indictments on Friday, 60 Minutes could have at least asked Tillerson about how he balances his close relationship with Putin and Putin's interference in the 2016 election. And then there's Tillerson's suspicious behavior earlier this week when he broke protocol by meeting Putin-leaning Turkish President Recep Erdogan without a translator, aides, or a note-taker (which apparently means that the US has no official transcript, much like Trump's meeting with Putin last summer).

In a normal timeline, his behavior and remarks would have dominated the news as unbefitting a Secretary of State in a time of crisis instead of being submerged to background noise by the howling nonsense coming out of the White House.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:49 PM on February 19 [59 favorites]


If you want a preview of tomorrow morning's twitter tirade, right now the #MAGAsphere is attacking the highschooler who filmed those interviews from inside while the shooting was happening, saying his dad is in the FBI and he was coached to be anti-Trump. Clearly. There's no way Trump doesn't end up attacking these kids directly too.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:00 PM on February 19 [18 favorites]


Does everyone remember that whole sequester thing? I'm sure many do, but while a majority of individuals opposed sequestration in 2013 I'm willing to bet real money an overwhelming majority today wouldn't remember it even happened.

I mean, I count myself among the reasonably informed, and I only remember sequestration in an oh yeah, right, that thing sense, when the time comes to agree to ignore it again for another while.

Which was really the point of it.
posted by Dashy at 6:04 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


I also want to take my hobby horse out for a canter: The US is not the only democracy in the world.

IIRC, the US Government CREATED the modern German Bundestag, with some modifications to the US Constitution. Showing that there's always room for improvement.
posted by mikelieman at 6:10 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


Marion Marechal-Le Pen is speaking at this year's CPAC, after Mike Pence. (You might remember when her aunt was spotted in Trump Tower.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:14 PM on February 19 [13 favorites]


If you want a preview of tomorrow morning's twitter tirade, right now the #MAGAsphere is attacking the highschooler who filmed those interviews from inside

Spearheaded by the truly vile website Gateway Pundit, internet home of numerous hoaxes and racist conspiracy theories. Guess who got White House press credentials for the first time under Trump?
posted by lalex at 6:16 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


It wouldn't pass the SC, because political speech is some of the freest free speech that we have (and for good reasons), but I still like the idea. Give people some time to breathe before they actually enter the polling booth.

I would like to see broadcasters' licenses conditioned with "You cannot accept political advertising, but must devote 3 out of 24 hours of broadcasting ( 1 out of every 8 ) to Public Affairs content" If it's not newsworthy ( and there's a lot of wiggle room in that! ) , it doesn't belong outside those windows.

I would also like a pony. Please leave in the back-yard and close the gate when you leave. Thanking you in advance.
posted by mikelieman at 6:16 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Trump spent the weekend tweeting about Russia. He lied, a lot.

Here are the three biggest whoppers from a very long list. (Zack Beauchamp | Vox)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:19 PM on February 19 [7 favorites]


Marion Marechal-Le Pen is speaking at this year's CPAC, after Mike Pence.

For those unfamiliar, Le Pen isn't just a rightist. She's homophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-EU, and pro-Putin. Inviting her is a massive signal about where the GOP has found itself.
posted by Justinian at 6:21 PM on February 19 [50 favorites]


Their risky financing maneuvers all took place during a very long stretch of near-zero interest rates. Now that they're rising, the pressure will be intense.

Traditionally, each property would have the assets in their own LLC, and they'd just declare bankruptcy, letting the bank take the property and the loss, and use the loss on their books to offset any remaining tax liabilities. I think, to them, they feel they're too high profile to do it without the BRAND taking a hit.
posted by mikelieman at 6:23 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


"For those unfamiliar, Le Pen isn't just a rightist. She's homophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-EU, and pro-Putin. Inviting her is a massive signal about where the GOP has found itself."
The Dog Whistler.
posted by Pinback at 6:23 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Trump Dating (aka OKStupid)

AV Club: “Yes, there’s a new dating site catering specifically to Trump supporters, and they weren’t even clever enough to come up with the tagline “Make America Date Again.” The site is called Trump.Dating, and declares in its opening statement, “we believe that by matching patriotic and political viewpoints as a base foundation of the relationship, it will allow one to focus on what really matters”—like, say, complaining to the manager that there’s nowhere for you to sit when when you inevitably go on a date to Papa John’s.”

The guy featured on the front page splash photo is a convicted sex offender.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:28 PM on February 19 [53 favorites]


Trump just tweeted his full and unwavering support for Romney.

I guess he wants an easy win for once instead of backing a shitty horse.
posted by Talez at 6:38 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


The site is called Trump.Dating
Only heterosexual individuals have an option to join the free site, which asks users to identify as a “straight man” or a “straight woman” before signing up.
...
...although Trump.dating demurs from openly engaging in white supremacist rhetoric in its promotional copy, the all-white stock photo models, references to being on the “same team,” and splitting of hairs between “Scandinavian/Mediterranean/Eastern European/Western European” under the “ethnicity” part of the “about me” section make the implication clear enough.
matching patriotic and political viewpoints as a base foundation of the relationship

So if you don't share their political viewpoints, you're unpatriotic. Their home page title tag literally says "Your 'America First' Partner Await" (at least in the Google cache; the site won't load for me).

like, say, complaining to the manager that there’s nowhere for you to sit when when you inevitably go on a date to Papa John’s

"Why isn't there a White History Month? #MAGA"
posted by kirkaracha at 6:40 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


“Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing members of the American public for suckers...Dishonesty is Donald Trump's hallmark.”

Mitt Romney, March 3, 2016
posted by Dashy at 6:45 PM on February 19 [46 favorites]


The Romney campaign is going to be bananas.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:58 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


In a normal timeline, his behavior and remarks would have dominated the news as unbefitting a Secretary of State in a time of crisis instead of being submerged to background noise by the howling nonsense coming out of the White House.

In a normal timeline, the revelation that the president-elect spent the money of his eponymous foundation on oversized portraits of himself would cloud the whole administration. Now it is not even background noise.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:03 PM on February 19 [47 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS - WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON MEMORIAL EDITION

** PA redistricting:
-- As noted earlier, the PA Supreme Court handed down its remedial Congressional maps today. The expectation is that this will transform a 13-5 GOP seat advantage to anywhere between 10-8 GOP to 10-8 Dem. So, this is a big help in the Dem quest to flip the House.
  • Interactive Google map of the new districts.
  • Here's a look at 2016 presidential results in old vs new districts. And here's a look at the Partisan Voting Index for old and new.
  • The PA GOP is not happy, and plans to take legal action. Overall reaction from Legal Twitter is: good luck with that. A GOP backbencher has also floated impeaching the PA SC justices, but so far, the party seems reluctant to go that far.
  • As noted upstream, this is for US House maps, only. PA legislature maps are specified differently under the state constitution.
  • There was a big tussle on Elections Twitter about whether this was a Dem gerrymander. Short answer: no, it's not.
** PA-18 special:
-- The old House maps will hold for this special election, which is next month. The candidates will end up in different districts in the new map. Dem Lamb is in the new PA-17, where he has an excellent shot against incumbent Keith Rothfus (new district PVI is only R+3). GOPer Saccone will end up in the new PA-18, where he would have almost no shot (PVI is D+12). This is going to set up a weird general, either way.

-- Latest polling has Saccone up about 5.5 points, which is not great in a Trump 58-39 district.

-- National Journal write-up of the race.
** 2018 Senate:
-- UT: Romney formally entered the race the other day. McConnell is encouraging Trump to back him. [UPDATE: I see above he just did it].

-- TX: Probable Dem nominee Beto O'Rourke has been getting a lot of attention lately. After outraising Sen Cruz for two straight quarters, he is continuing to raise at a prodigious pace - $2.2M in the first 45 days of this year. Cruz is seeming a bit nervous. And his approval is underwater. Polling has O'Rourke eight points down. NYT backgrounder.

This is still definitely in the 2nd tier for Dem flips (1st: NV, AZ | 2nd: TX, TN, maybe MS), but O'Rourke is certainly looking like a solid candidate.

-- FL: Gov. Scott has been playing Hamlet for a while about running agains Sen Nelson, but he's supposedly inching closer to yes.

-- TN: Drama continues to swirl as Republicans seem nervous about Rep Marsha Blackburn's electability, yet she seems a lock to win the primary. Former Rep Stephen Fincher left the race and is calling for Sen Bob Corker to run again. Corker, though, is apparently trying to get White House backing before jumping back in. No word there yet, but Corker is saying he'll decide one way or the other this week. Dem Phil Bredesen is polling surprisingly well against either candidate.

-- VA: The Republicans will almost certainly be running a crazy person (either EW Jackson or Corey Stewart) agains popular incumbent Kaine, and the state GOP is getting worried about what this means for House and local races (state offices are in odd-numbered years).

-- MS: Also from the NYT article, Trump personally pressing MS gov Bryant to take the seat Sen Cochran is expected to vacate shortly. The problem is that Bryant doesn't want it, and that makes it likely the nominee would be very far right Chris McDaniel, setting up a Roy Moore-like situation. Also note that MS has a considerably higher African-American population than AL does.

-- ND: Analysts are calling this race a tossup, but Heitkamp wins on intensity, and likely GOP nominee Cramer is reminiscent of the guy she beat in 2012.
** 2018 House:
-- WI-07: I have to repeat this, but: the manager of Bon Iver is running against Sean from Real World: Boston.

-- FL-17: Rep Rooney not running again. District went Trump 62-35, Romney 58-41. GOP retirements are at an all time high.

-- More from that NYT article: McConnell ready for losses in House and Senate, concedes they are lagging on fundraising, recruitment.

-- IL-03: Dem primary continues to heat up as progressive Marie Newman tries to knock off conservative Dem incumbent Dan Lipinski. A NARAL-aligned PAC is dumping in $413k for ads on Newman's behalf.

-- New PA maps probably mean a lot of upheaval in PA races for the next little while, as everyone decides what to do. One impact is that the interesting Dem primary for Lloyd Smucker's seat in old PA-16 is probably all for nought, as his new seat is much more Republican.
** Odds & ends:
-- First poll is out for the Kansas governor's race, and our old friend Kris Kobach is not doing so well. He's trailing newly promoted governor Jeff Colyer 23-21 in the GOP primary. One poll, obviously, but the general vibe seems to be that he's not catching fire as you might expect.

-- Interesting chart on impact of partisan lean on special election results. As we've mentioned before, biggest swing is in GOP leaning districts.

-- Keep an eye on Arizona governor, as well. Gov Ducey was not expected to be terribly vulnerable, but the Republican Governors Association is booking a bunch of ad air time. He also looked vulnerable in an early poll, and of course, we might expect local Dems to fired up with at least one, possibly two Senate seats up for grabs.

-- Despite big Dem gains back in November, the GOP still controls the Virginia House of Delegates. They're using that remaining power to stomp on Dem-sponsored bills, some 85% so far.

-- Number of registered Republicans in California are about to fall behind the number of registered independents.
====

Two special elections tomorrow night, including a good chance at a flip in KY House 49.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:20 PM on February 19 [38 favorites]


Marion Marechal-Le Pen is speaking at this year's CPAC, after Mike Pence

As ever, where there are nazis there is Russian money.
posted by Artw at 7:24 PM on February 19 [18 favorites]


Wisconsinites, the spring primary is tomorrow (including a jungle primary for state Supreme Court candidates among two progressives and a conservative). Candidate information. Polling place information. Bring valid ID.
posted by Jpfed at 7:29 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


GOPer Saccone will end up in the new PA-18, where he would have almost no shot (PVI is D+12)

I've been wanting to vote against this asshole for months, and I may finally get my chance! (LOL no I won't, he won't run against Doyle. I kind of wish he would because it would be a collosal waste of money and I'm all for parting evil dipshits from their Benjamins.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:33 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


Let me tell of the glee around here at our buddy Keith Rothfus being thrown into a competitive district....
posted by Chrysostom at 7:36 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


Re: Both sides were duped.

Last year sometime, an economist I know mentioned a 2014 book titled Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia, written by a senior fellow at the London School of Economics who is also the son of a Russian dissident. I only half-listened at the time, but I just downloaded it to my Kindle in light of the revelations from last week. A snippet:
“In the twenty-first century the techniques of the political technologists have become centralized and systematized, coordinated out of the office of the presidential administration, where Surkov would sit behind a desk on which were phones bearing the names of all the “independent” party leaders, calling and directing them at any moment, day or night. The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as had been the case with twentieth-century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting and rendering them absurd. One moment Surkov would fund civic forums and human rights NGOs, the next he would quietly support nationalist movements that accuse the NGOs of being tools of the West. With a flourish he sponsored lavish arts festivals for the most provocative modern artists in Moscow, then supported Orthodox fundamentalists, dressed all in black and carrying crosses, who in turn attacked the modern art exhibitions. The Kremlin’s idea is to own all forms of political discourse, to not let any independent movements develop outside of its walls. Its Moscow can feel like an oligarchy in the morning and a democracy in the afternoon, a monarchy for dinner and a totalitarian state by bedtime.”
posted by xyzzy at 7:48 PM on February 19 [93 favorites]


USA today could do better than referring to domestic abuse as "drama" in their headline about spousal abuse in government.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:06 PM on February 19 [12 favorites]


xyzzy: “The Kremlin’s idea is to own all forms of political discourse, to not let any independent movements develop outside of its walls.”
I've linked it before, but Adam Curtis' HyperNormalisation [Caution: Graphic Violence] discusses Surkov as the author of the times we live in. Curtis has been exploring these ideas for some time, as in clips entitled "Oh Dearism" included in Charlie Brooker Wipe programs in 2009 [Caution: Graphic Violence] and 2014. The latter of which specifically discusses Surkov's role in destabilizing the mechanisms of democracy worldwide.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:06 PM on February 19 [16 favorites]


The Romney campaign is going to be bananas.

Spineless Masochist Mitt Romney Laps Up Trump Endorsement Like a Very Good Boy "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah."

The hero Nevertrump deserves.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:07 PM on February 19 [37 favorites]


Enough talking and finish your meatloaf, Mitt.
posted by rhizome at 9:13 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Fred Clark has written about how evangelicals tend to believe that everyone actually knows God is real and the Bible is true and so on. People just pretend not to, because they want to keep sinning.

See also the alt-right/WN types dismissing liberal antiracism as “virtue-signaling”.
posted by non canadian guy at 9:20 PM on February 19 [37 favorites]


NYT says a narrow majority of Americans now support the Republican tax plan, after a big GOP ad campaign.

One of the problems progressives have is they believe if they make a cogent argument once, that settles the issue. The right wing knows that even if they don't have one, they can just repeat their taking points over and over and their audience will come to believe it as gospel.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:38 PM on February 19 [24 favorites]


The talking points are cover. It's about affinity, not ideas. Or consequences. No one has to believe any of it. If some do, great.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:41 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


The Kremlin’s idea is to own all forms of political discourse, to not let any independent movements develop outside of its walls.

Very interesting, thanks. So, in economic terms, it's a type of ideological oligopoly, or monopolistic competition then, huh?

In other words, like soda pop or laundry detergent in the US, or like beer used to be. There are tons of brands, but they're all controlled by 2 or 3 (or 1) producer. It creates the illusion of choice without any actually being there.

Where then can we find our microbrewed ideology?
posted by msalt at 9:59 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Mr. World: But ultimately, everything is all systems interlaced, a single product manufactured by a single company for a single global market. Spicy, medium, or chunky. They get a choice, of course.
Of course!
But they are buying salsa.
posted by benzenedream at 10:11 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]


BuzzFeed, Manafort Under Scrutiny For $40 Million In “Suspicious” Transactions: "As the special counsel investigated President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, authorities obtained details on “suspicious” banking activity that was first unearthed in 2014 and 2015. Those records were part of an FBI operation to track international kleptocracy that ultimately failed, but which Robert Mueller’s team resurrected."

I was kind of prepared to dismiss this, because a vague definition of "suspicious transaction" is hard to trust, but oh come on:
Eight banks filed 23 “suspicious activity reports” between 2004 and 2014, which includes the years that Manafort and his consulting company, Davis Manafort Partners, worked for Yanukovych. These reports, reviewed by BuzzFeed News, show that between October 2008 and July 2013, Manafort’s personal and business accounts received about $30 million from banks in offshore havens such as Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
...
For instance, in June 2006, Wachovia Bank officials noted that a Manafort company account registered two cash withdrawals of $7,500 apiece about four hours apart and at different branches.

Wachovia officials also flagged $25,000 in “fraudulent charges” at Duane Reade stores in New York City in September 2007. Bank officials said the debit card was in Manafort’s possession during that time.
How is that even possible?

Also, I'm not in banking, but even I'm generally aware what an astonishingly big deal it is for Suspicious Activity Reports, which are very much supposed to be kept secret, to leak. Jason Leopold seems to have a hell of a source at FinCEN.
posted by zachlipton at 10:30 PM on February 19 [27 favorites]




Do You Believe Her Now? - "It’s time to reexamine the evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court — and to talk seriously about impeachment." Jill Abramson
Lying is, for lawyers, a cardinal sin. State disciplinary committees regularly institute proceedings against lawyers for knowingly lying in court, with punishments that can include disbarment. Since 1989, three federal judges have been impeached and forced from office for charges that include lying. The idea of someone so flagrantly telling untruths to ascend to the highest legal position in the U.S. remains shocking, in addition to its being illegal. (Thomas, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on a detailed list of queries.)
Clarence Thomas Sexually Harassed Me. Yes, He Should Be Impeached., Angela Wright-Shannon
The impeachment of Clarence Thomas is a pipe dream. In this fantasy, Justice Thomas is actually brought to justice, removed for lying under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing. The pipe dream, which is gathering steam thanks to Jill Abramson’s exploration of Thomas’ lies in New York Magazine this week, is as realistic as the one where President Trump is impeached for bragging about sexually assaulting women.

I would know. In 1991, I was a metro editor at The Charlotte Observer, lobbying to become a columnist, when I was subpoenaed to testify at Thomas’ confirmation hearings after a colleague leaked word to Sen. Joe Biden that I was writing a column about my experiences working with Thomas. The column, though not intended for publication at the time, expressed my conviction that Anita Hill was telling the truth about Thomas — who, as Hill’s boss, allegedly tried to date her and engage in lengthy conversations about sex and pornography. I believed Hill because I had experienced similar behavior from him:
see also:
Clarence Thomas Decided Three Cases Where AEI Filed A Brief After AEI Gave Him A $15,000 Gift
Clarence Thomas' Criminal Behavior on Financial Disclosure
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:28 PM on February 19 [95 favorites]


"The talking points are cover. It's about affinity, not ideas."
The talking points aren't cover at all. They're integral to the whole strategy - they're how you create affinity…
posted by Pinback at 11:46 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Yes, Clarence Thomas should absolutely be impeached, but umm.... do you guys really think now is a great time for that, given who would be appointing his replacement?
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:03 AM on February 20 [28 favorites]


It isn't practical until at least 2018 and I would hold off for 2020 or later, but tbh, I'm not sure how much worse Trump could do than Thomas. Though, that may not be a challenge I want to offer to the universe.
posted by bootlegpop at 2:45 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


It's not that he would do worse than Thomas but that a replacement would be much younger. Replacing Thomas with a liberal justice is the only chance Democrats will have to make a paradigm shift on the court for maybe 25 years and having Thomas replaced with a younger conservative would scuttle that.

Replacing Kennedy with a true liberal would be important but replacing Thomas would be a revolution.
posted by Justinian at 2:56 AM on February 20 [25 favorites]


USA today could do better than referring to domestic abuse as "drama" in their headline about spousal abuse in government.

I know, they forgot to add something about "tumultuous" or "tempestuous" relationships.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:32 AM on February 20


Drudge has been running an item for the last couple days that is steadily increasing in prominence: “Fake videos on the rise”. Perhaps Matt knows about something that’s about to be released on which certain people would like doubt to be cast....
posted by MOWOG at 4:55 AM on February 20 [9 favorites]


Today in Democrats never learn, a report on the Conor Lamb campaign in PA-18: Next Month Don't Bet On Conor Lamb Doing As Well As Jon Ossoff Did
In contrast, Lamb has no what we call a "yinzer accent." He is always wearing suits and talks about Public service as if he is doing these guys some sort of favor by running. When he does talk about labor, it's very very stiff. Recently, he came out and addressed 500 members of the Carpenters Union. After he left, the members mocked him for being so uptight and elitist. These are the guys he should be firing up to knock on doors and go all out and instead he just seems like another politician to them.

Instead of hammering home on free trade, prevailing wage, and coal mine pension issues, which affect thousands of members in our district, Lamb barely talks to the press and when he does it’s all this vague crap about public service.

Still many of us in the district want to help him, but we can’t if his campaign is being run by a close knit group of his family members. They want labor to provide an army of ground troops for them, but we can’t do it unless he listens to us and appeals to our members in ways that appeal to them instead of talking down to them about public service
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:30 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


TIL that there is a place in which "doesn't have a Yinzer accent" can be an electoral negative
posted by delfin at 5:42 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


The district he's running in is divided between very population-dense uppercrusty white suburbs where a whole lot of people aren't actually *from* here and definitely aren't Yinzers, and a large swath of rural rust belt. So, like, if someone wants to try to square that circle, go right on ahead.

Our new PA map has Lamb in a much less rural district and he is definitely not the ideal candidate there, so we'll see what happens going forward.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:47 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


T.D. Strange: "Today in Democrats never learn, a report on the Conor Lamb campaign in PA-18: Next Month Don't Bet On Conor Lamb Doing As Well As Jon Ossoff Did"

First sentence: "As you've probably noticed, I think Conor Lamb's campaign is a train wreck."

Polls show Lamb outperforming Trump by about 15 points right now. Yeah, sounds disastrous.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:02 AM on February 20 [20 favorites]


Remember that kerfuffle about trump.dating? Turns out the guy from the couple on the front page is a sex offender, statuatory rapist, and child pornographer.
When the Riddlebergers’ friend, Jeff Hyde, ran for chairman of the Guilford County GOP in 2011, concerned associates worried that his candidacy would be torpedoed by revelations about Barrett Riddleberger’s past conviction of indecent liberties with a child, stemming from a videotape of him having sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 25.
Make dating great again indeed.
posted by Talez at 6:08 AM on February 20 [33 favorites]


Wow. I wake up, I check Twitter and...

This morning's Daily Trump Temperament Advisory System.
posted by Talez at 6:20 AM on February 20 [14 favorites]


Yeah, Lamb's (current) district is a weird one in which to try to have mass appeal. Hell if I know what's going to happen there - it's not my district and he wouldn't be my ideal candidate, but I've thrown money at his campaign and am hoping for the best.

But also I just desperately want it to be over so I can stop seeing Rick Saccone's campaign ads, which are running nonstop during the Olympics and are about a breath shy of I SAW CONOR LAMB AND NANCY PELOSI DANCING WITH THE DEVIL IN THE WOODS, AND THEN HE ATTACKED ME IN THE FORM OF A YELLOW BIRD WHO WANTED TO RAISE MY TAXES.
posted by Stacey at 6:23 AM on February 20 [41 favorites]


Another indictment:

"On Tuesday, the special counsel filed the following criminal information document in D.C. federal district court. The document describes false statements made by Alex Van Der Zwaan." (lawfareblog)
posted by bluecore at 6:35 AM on February 20 [14 favorites]



Spineless Masochist Mitt Romney Laps Up Trump Endorsement Like a Very Good Boy "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah."

The hero Nevertrump deserves.


Instead of "Mitt," I'm going to refer to him as "Reek" from now on. He is so abject and pathetic. If he doesn't lose (given that this is ruby red Utah) I hope he gets a credible challenge.

With a very few exceptions, the Republican party is Reeks all the way down. The most they do is furrow their brows and go "tsk tsk."
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:36 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


As noted last night - even if Saccone wins, he's likely just renting the seat for 10 months. He lives in the new PA-18, which is basically Pittsburgh. It's heavily Democratic (PVI D+12), and will have a Dem incumbent running in what's largely the same outlines as his current district. So he's very unlikely to win there.

He could run out of district, but that's not usually a successful strategy. He could move, but the old PA-18 that he would be representing is going to be scattered across four new districts, so he probably wouldn't have a lot of traction, especially as a freshman.

Obviously, I want Lamb to win - Saccone is awful. But the new maps mean that a Saccone win here is likely to be short-lived.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:40 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


Reek was abused and tortured—there’s a reason he’s like that.

Republicans just chose it.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:42 AM on February 20 [32 favorites]


"On Tuesday, the special counsel filed the following criminal information document in D.C. federal district court. The document describes false statements made by Alex Van Der Zwaan."

Concerning false & fraudulent statements made in relation to his and Richard Gates (and therefore also Manafort's) work in Ukraine, particularly as to when that work ended and whether he had documentation of the work that was done.

This presumably stems from Gates testimony, or else it stems from the same evidence that led Gates to plead guilty; there's a lot that's unsaid in the indictment -- one thing that is said, though, is that there were recordings of at least some of the calls concerning their work in Ukraine, between Van Der Zwaan, Gates, and the (unnamed in the indictment) Person A. It's unclear if Mueller has copies of those recordings, but it seems likely he does (or will very soon).
posted by cjelli at 6:44 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


yeah, it sounds like mueller is using gates's testimony to catch van der zwaan in a lie. presumably he's looking for a plea deal from van der zwaan that he can use to get further goods on manafort.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:55 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


delfin: "TIL that there is a place in which "doesn't have a Yinzer accent" can be an electoral negative"

He's got a law degree from Penn, if he was speaking with a blue-collar accent it would be gross and condescending. And it's pretty rare for Pittsburgh politicians to have a Pittsburgh accent, most of them have standard white american accents.
posted by octothorpe at 7:16 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Oh. Interesting.

I wasn't sure who Van der Zwaan was. Apparently his father-in-law is Russian oligarch German Khan, a founder of Alfa Group (which owns Alfa Bank), who is suing BuzzFeed over publication of the Steele Dossier. Alfa Bank is the bank which had that weird server connection between the server in Trump tower that is still perplexing.
posted by bluecore at 7:17 AM on February 20 [47 favorites]


If true, I really want to know about that server in Trump Tower that was communicating with Alfa Bank.

@AlexParker
37 minutes ago

Van der Zwaan’s father-in-law is Russian oligarch German Khan, a founder of Alfa Group (which owns Alfa Bank), who has sued BuzzFeed over publication of the Steele Dossier
posted by mikelieman at 7:19 AM on February 20 [11 favorites]


The lawyer also allegedly lied about his talks with someone else, referred to by the government as "Person A.” Van Der Zwaan deleted and failed to produce emails sought by the special counsel and a law firm, prosecutors said.

This guy is being questioned about a high profile FBI case. I'm guessing that a few more three letter agencies are interested in the case also, like maybe the NSA or DIA. Why would a lawyer think that deleting e-mails is a good tactic?
posted by rdr at 7:19 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


This guy is being question about a high profile FBI case. I'm guessing that a few more three letter agencies are interested in the case also, like maybe the NSA or DIA.

If I'm reading tea leaves, I'd say that Mueller is going DEEP into the criminal aspect of this on the Russian side, and when all that is done, then tying the Trump Crime Family in on the way back up seems like a good strategy.
posted by mikelieman at 7:23 AM on February 20 [18 favorites]


Boston Globe: States returning to paper ballots

Bonus Axios: States without paper ballots
posted by Chrysostom at 7:48 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]


Donald Jr. is promoting conspiracy theories against student survivors of the Florida shooting.

#RT @GrahamLedger: Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who Works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office Which botched tracking (he down the Man behind the Valentine day massacre? Just wondering. Just connecting some dots…

The photo in the linked article is of the student with "EXPOSED" in red on his forehead.

Minors who have just survived massacres are not exempt from political attacks by the ruling family if they appear to be dissidents or are related to possible dissidents. This is happening right now.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:29 AM on February 20 [137 favorites]


Trump is now urging PA republicans to fight the new district map.
posted by octothorpe at 8:35 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Here are some links backing up the German Khan thing, in case others are (like me) reluctant to share things we only know from tweets.

This Washington Post story says Alex Van der Zwaan (just indicted by Mueller) is the son in law of Russian Oligarch German Khan.

This Forbes link says: "German Khan's Alfa Group, which he shares with fellow billionaires and college buddies Mikhail Fridman and Alexei Kuzmichev, is the biggest financial and industrial investment group in Russia."

For completeness, here again is the most recent CNN story about the Trump computer serverwhich was found to be communicating (almost exclusively) with an Alfa Bank computer server.


And the Politico story about Alfa Group suing Buzzfeed over their publication of the Steele Dossier.

I don't know quite what to make of this new information, but it sure is interesting!
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:37 AM on February 20 [35 favorites]


Why would a lawyer think that deleting e-mails is a good tactic?

it's sort of crazy how people with extensive educations consistently forget that every email in their mailbox exists, at the absolute bare minimum, in the inbox of the sender or recipient(s). to say nothing of copies on an unknowable number of intermediary servers in between.

it's like thinking that if you make a poster and stick it up all over town, you can prevent anyone from seeing it by deleting the Adobe Illustrator file you printed it from.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:43 AM on February 20 [27 favorites]


And the Politico story about Alfa Group suing Buzzfeed over their publication of the Steele Dossier.

Yeah that's why Buzzfeed hired investigators to prove the Steele Dossier is true. So if anyone ends up finding and releasing the pee tape, it will likely be them.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:44 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]




Deleting emails only works if they're AcidWashed, BleachBitted, and then treated with uranium.
posted by delfin at 8:53 AM on February 20 [16 favorites]


This Washington Post story says Alex Van der Zwaan (just indicted by Mueller) is the son in law of Russian Oligarch German Khan.

There's something so satisfying about how these rich oligarchs, who have for decades been working in shadows siphoning off funds and avoiding taxes in unsavory, if not less than legal ways, now have Trump to thank for the USG getting up in their business and exposing all their shit.
posted by Talez at 8:59 AM on February 20 [58 favorites]


Milo Yiannopoulos Drops Lawsuit Against Simon & Schuster, But We’ll Always Have His Editor’s Notes

TBH the court transcripts of him trying to represent himself were solid gold. I regret we won't be treated to more of that hilarity.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:00 AM on February 20 [9 favorites]


Fingers crossed S&S do him for costs. Maybe it will distract him from his new college tour.

(Stay the fuck away if that runs into trouble, ACLU. I know you’re itching to jump in but just stay the fuck away)
posted by Artw at 9:08 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


The talking points are cover. It's about affinity, not ideas. Or consequences. No one has to believe any of it. If some do, great.

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:41 PM on February 19 [2 favorites +] [!]


Yeah, my first draft said the talking points were repeated until their base believed them, but upon momentary reflection, I realized that, no, their base already believed them. That's why they're the base. So I changed "their base" to "their audience," because they need more than the base to win. They need the marginally involved and mostly uninformed folks to support them as well. This is the main target for the oft-repeated false talking points (or "lies" in common parlance). While solidification of group identity is certainly a happy by-product of the repeated-lies tactic, the main purpose is to rope in more people.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:09 AM on February 20


Haven't see this posted yet. "Is Anyone Listening" is a long-form piece, by the Washington Post's outstanding features writer Eli Saslow, on Rachel Crooks, who was assaulted by Trump and is now running for office in Ohio.

Not quite sure what I think of this piece yet. Curious to see others' thoughts.
posted by martin q blank at 9:10 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


#RT @GrahamLedger: Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who Works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office Which botched tracking (he down the Man behind the Valentine day massacre? Just wondering. Just connecting some dots…

In my hate-fugue I forgot to mention the extreme reflectivity of Junior's Mirror: attacking and undermining the FBI with a claim that somebody's "running cover for his dad" is really something special.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:10 AM on February 20 [79 favorites]


Yeah, my first draft said the talking points were repeated until their base believed them, but upon momentary reflection, I realized that, no, their base already believed them. That's why they're the base.

Let me be more direct: racist separatism or supremacism isn't about ideas and the policy talking points are cover for animus, resentment and reaction. See Lee Atwater and dogwhistles.

That's why they can change them like dirty socks. And forget what it was they were saying yesterday with a shrug. None of it matters.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:16 AM on February 20 [14 favorites]


"Is Anyone Listening" is a long-form piece, by the Washington Post's outstanding features writer Eli Saslow, on Rachel Crooks, who was assaulted by Trump and is now running for office in Ohio.

So of course Trump attacked her again during his meltdown on Twitter this morning.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:30 AM on February 20 [9 favorites]


I would never assault a woman (where there are security cameras).
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:35 AM on February 20 [35 favorites]


One of these days Trump's going to screw himself Wildely with these tweets.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:36 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


I would never assault a woman (where there are security cameras).

To be clear, Trump's response ("[She is] saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security cameras running. Another False Accusation.") falsely accuses her of accusing him of doing this in the Trump Tower lobby (ie, Trump lied about the nature of the accusation); Crooks actually claims he assaulted by the elevators on the 24th floor, and not in or near the lobby. It is unclear if there were security cameras by the 24th floor or not, but presumably he's lying about that too. (Not that it would matter if there were, but.)

Trump can't seem to stop himself from lying about literally everything.
posted by cjelli at 9:41 AM on February 20 [52 favorites]


It's not even a denial. "I don't know her" "We didn't kiss in the lobby" He didn't say he never kissed her.
posted by lumnar at 9:46 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]




While solidification of group identity is certainly a happy by-product of the repeated-lies tactic, the main purpose is to rope in more people.

"I'm just telling YOU what THEY don't want YOU to know."
posted by Talez at 9:51 AM on February 20


"Why do all these women keep claiming I actually did all the stuff I've bragged about doing?"
posted by Jacqueline at 9:52 AM on February 20 [52 favorites]


I feel like the only reason he brought up the security cameras is because he's already long since conveniently "lost" the tapes since it's his building and his cameras and he can spin absence of evidence as evidence of absence all day.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:53 AM on February 20 [12 favorites]


Who keeps security tapes for 12 years anyway?
posted by Jacqueline at 9:55 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


It's not even a denial.

Indeed: 'Who would do this in a public space with live security cameras running[?]' Well: I can name one person.
posted by cjelli at 9:56 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]


Who keeps security tapes for 12 years anyway?

12 years ago is post-Sarbanes-Oxley. If he expected any legal action, he'd be on notice to preserve the tapes.
posted by ocschwar at 9:58 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Who keeps security tapes for 12 years anyway?

Let's hope it's these idiots.

cc: Robert Mueller
posted by melissasaurus at 10:00 AM on February 20 [11 favorites]


Who keeps security tapes for 12 years anyway?

Let's hope it's these idiots.


Unfortunately that would be expensive and we know how cheap DJT is.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:02 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Lordy, I hope there are tapes.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:04 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]


But really, it is kind of hilarious that he's essentially saying "Hey, you know that shady company Bayrock that I was involved in with that shady guy Felix Sater -- you know, the one with the Russian mob connections? For the Trump Soho deal; the one in which my kids were investigated for fraud until they paid off the DA; remember that? Yeah, so, just wanted to let you all know that there are cameras outside their offices and I may or may not have the recordings going back 12+ years that show the comings and goings into those offices. Just wanted to throw that info out into the public domain..."
posted by melissasaurus at 10:06 AM on February 20 [39 favorites]


Why do all these women keep claiming I actually did all the stuff I've bragged about doing?

In the Access Hollywood tape he also said, "I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her." On October 6, 2016, CNN's Erin Burnett reported that he had used that exact approach on a friend of hers.
I have known this woman for years, she told me that when she heard this she could only think of one thing, and that is what Donald Trump did to her, and I want to quote what she told me. She said, "The Tic Tacs. That's exactly what Trump did to me. Trump took Tic Tacs, suggesting I take them also. He then leaned in,"--I'm reading this--"catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on the lips. I was really freaked out."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:22 AM on February 20 [7 favorites]


With all the experience he has at lying, you would think Trump would be better at it. Mind = boggled.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:23 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]


“The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election,” he wrote. “We shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Trump and the election.”

The notion that Russian ad spending post election rules out or contradicts Russian interference in the election ignores the fact that Trump filed his 2020 campaign with the FEC on his inauguration day. Trump never stopped raising campaign funds for a moment and started officially spending on his 2020 campaign 16 days after winning the 2016 election, well before his inauguration.

So basically Russia immediately started interfering in the 2020 election and the Facebook VP is being obtuse.
posted by srboisvert at 10:26 AM on February 20 [49 favorites]


Rich white men get away with bad lies more often, what motivation would he have to get better at it?
posted by rhizome at 10:27 AM on February 20 [15 favorites]


With all the experience he has at lying, you would think Trump would be better at it. Mind = boggled.

trump isn't a liar, he's a bullshitter. bullshitters don't care about things like consistency or plausibility.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:31 AM on February 20 [65 favorites]


Can Mike Pence Keep His 2020 Fantasies to Himself?
Amid an unending political inferno, should we take a break? Not a real one, of course, for anyone reading this is already too far in, but we can avert our eyes, at least for three minutes, from the direct Trump sun and contemplate instead the Mike Pence moon. It’s quiet, waxing and waning, giving off a soft, reflected light. We can’t know the thoughts of the man in the Pence moon unless we go, Michael-Wolff-style, into his head. If any time permits such an exercise, it’s now. You’re Mike Pence. And here’s what you’re feeling these days.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:43 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


“The Canaries Are Dying”: How Trump Is Making Republicans Pick Their 2018 Poison
...Republican candidates are facing an impossible strategic choice, one that is to some degree independent of the president’s approval rating or any economic factor: tack toward Trump, and potentially lose the center, or forgo Trumpian red meat and watch the base stay home. “What you do when you appeal to that 33 percent is you peel off another 50 percent of the voters who will go, ‘Fuck you, I will crawl over broken glass to vote against you because you are a goddamn Donald Trumper.’”
posted by kirkaracha at 10:45 AM on February 20 [39 favorites]


‘Fuck you, I will crawl over broken glass to vote against you because you are a goddamn Donald Trumper.’

Ahh, I see my new t-shirt has arrived.
posted by saturday_morning at 10:57 AM on February 20 [112 favorites]


Rachel is running for office and having none of Trump's bullshit:
@RachelforOhio: Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11, 2006. Let’s clear this up for everyone. It’s liars like you in politics that have prompted me to run for office myself.
posted by odinsdream at 11:00 AM on February 20 [115 favorites]


I almost forgot he pulled this same "better hope there aren't tapes - I mean haha what tapes, who said anything about tapes" thing with Comey.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:11 AM on February 20 [28 favorites]


Ah, the evasion continues. They pushed the White House press briefing back to 3pm, with "Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards" scheduled for 3:30. Then, a few minutes later, they moved it to 2:50. I presume Sanders shows up a bit later, spends 20 minutes reading a letter from a child named "Rutabaga" who loves Trump so much he wants to perform annual maintenance on a White House furnace, then says "gosh, look at the time" and sprints for the exits when someone tries to ask about any of the dozens of crises that are before us.

Oh, and the national debt just hit $15 trillion.
posted by zachlipton at 11:16 AM on February 20 [42 favorites]


‘Fuck you, I will crawl over broken glass to vote against you because you are a goddamn Donald Trumper.’

I don't even care how much an individual Republican votes for or against Trump's agenda. I am hoping for as many Democrats as possible to be elected in November because there is an actual fascist in the White House and thus we need a divided government ASAP. Sure, some of those Democrats will likely also be terrible (from a Libertarian perspective), but a few terrible Congresspeople can't do as much damage as Trump can do without an opposition Congress to stop him.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:19 AM on February 20 [9 favorites]


Many Trump Voters Think We Need a White History Month (Ed Kilgore | NY Mag)
One of the things that will surely get you labeled a fake-news-disseminating social-justice warrior on George Soros’s payroll is the suggestion that there just might be some racial resentments underlying the Trump movement in American politics. A new finding from Public Policy Polling helps shows why the racism suspicion persists, and why it enrages those who are suspected.

Respondents to a national survey of registered voters were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Black History Month. As a follow-up, they were asked if there should be a White History Month. Overall respondents favored Black History Month by a 57-18 margin, and opposed a White History Month by a 58-22 margin. Ho-hum.

But if you break out responses by self-reported 2016 presidential voting, it gets more interesting. Trump voters support Black History Month by a meh 38-25 margin (Clinton voters support it 75-10). Meanwhile, a plurality of Trump voters (37-35) think we need a White History Month (Clinton voters oppose it 8-77).

I would bet the farm I do not own that if asked about support for a White History Month these Trump supporters would claim it’s a product of their anti-racism: If there’s going to be a Black History Month it needs to be balanced with one for white people to ensure race neutrality. A parallel argument is that everybody ought to be able to express pride in one’s race. This was the claim famously made by a New Jersey deli owner who in 2015 put up a sign in his window commemorating March as “White History Month”:

Jim Boggess, proprietor of Jimbo’s Deli on Main at 22 Main St., says, “No matter what you are – Muslim, Jewish, black, white, gay, straight – you should be proud of what you are. I shouldn’t have to feel bad about being white.” Jimbo immediately lost so much business that he had to close his deli, and he complained that “[i]t was only supposed to be a white thing, but people read more into it than that.” Damn political correctness!

It may be too much to expect people like Boggess to understand the systematic destruction and distortion of African-American history that made Black History Month necessary. But you do wonder what a White History Month would look like. Would it focus on America’s all-but-forgotten 44 white presidents? The long-lost tradition of white literature from James Fenimore Cooper to John Grisham? The economic contributions of Fortune 500 CEOs over the decades?

Textbooks for a White History Month would be easy to devise: Just go to a library and pull out any standard American or World History school textbook published before about 1970. And that, of course, gets to the hiding-in-plain-sight itch that the idea of a White History Month scratches: bringing back the mythical civilization that was uncomplicated by multiculturalism or any sense that racial injustice may have contributed to the predominance of Europeans and their progeny.

Longing for a return to White History isn’t the only sentiment behind the MAGA slogan. But pretending it’s not there at all is an act of denial as egregious as the desire to turn back the clock and exult in the unity and strength of American Greatness as defined in the 1950s.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:22 AM on February 20 [22 favorites]


Andrew Ti of "Yo Is This Racist" calls it "White History Eleven Months".
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:29 AM on February 20 [13 favorites]


[A few deleted; agreed that "white history month" is very stupid but let's not have ten one-liner comments responding to every stupid garbage thing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:31 AM on February 20 [19 favorites]


‘Fuck you, I will crawl over broken glass to vote against you because you are a goddamn Donald Trumper.’

Ahh, I see my new t-shirt has arrived.


Seen in Puerto Vallarta yesterday.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:33 AM on February 20 [20 favorites]


Here's a little nugget from this Time article on Trump's weekend meltdown:
Trying to mitigate that situation only made things worse. Knowing the President’s fondness for Fox, the White House booked spokesmen to try to direct Trump toward a little less fanciful readings of the indictments.

WH staffers have to communicate to their boss indirectly via Fox News.
posted by PenDevil at 11:47 AM on February 20 [56 favorites]


Speaking of endorsements, can I ask what Our Revolution was smoking to give Dennis Kucinich their endorsement for OH Governor?
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:06 PM on February 20 [8 favorites]



Speaking of endorsements, can I ask what Our Revolution was smoking to give Dennis Kucinich their endorsement for OH Governor?


My ability to parse that Twitter thread was broken by rampant confusion of Kucinich and Kasich.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:21 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]


New PA House ratings from Sabato and Cook. No surprise, most move to the left.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:24 PM on February 20 [8 favorites]


Some members of Our Revolution that I've encountered seem to be more interested in throwing bombs into the political system than advocating for real change, but that kind of organization level endorsement makes me question the validity of the whole thing.
posted by xyzzy at 12:26 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Speaking of endorsements, can I ask what Our Revolution was smoking to give Dennis Kucinich their endorsement for OH Governor?

Man Kucinich has really jumped the shark. I had no idea. Like he's a nutter now. I used to think he was pretty great. :(
posted by dis_integration at 12:28 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]


Oh wow, Kucinich - There's a blast from the leftist past. I remember liking him in 2008, but as it is these days, he seems to be on the Jill Stein path.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:29 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]




Sanders doesn't have much to do with Our Revolution these days, does he? I think it's a self-governing clown car at this point and should change its name so as not to get its cooties all over Bernie.

Endorsing Kucinich over Richard Cordray is a bad joke.
posted by Justinian at 12:30 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]


"On Tuesday, the special counsel filed the following criminal information document in D.C. federal district court. The document describes false statements made by Alex Van Der Zwaan."

Update: his plea hearing was earlier this afternoon. Alex Van Der Zwaan has plead guilty.
posted by cjelli at 12:32 PM on February 20 [37 favorites]


healthcare update:

Short-term health plans skirting ACA-required benefits and protections to be expanded, Amy Goldstein, WaPo
The Trump administration is proposing to significantly broaden Americans’ ability to rely on short-term health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s benefits requirements and consumer protections.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday morning that a rewrite of federal rules would extend the time consumers can hold such health plans from three months to 12 months.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, echoed that portrayal of the rewrite as health reform. [...]

The proposed rule is the second that officials have designed since October, when Trump issued an executive order intended to widen the availability of health plans that skirt important ACA insurance provisions.

The order is part of the administration’s strategy to circumvent parts of the sprawling 2010 health-care law — President Barack Obama’s primary domestic legacy — through executive actions. The moves are an alternate route given the Republican-led Congress’s failure last year to dismantle much of the law — although Trump is still urging lawmakers to try again, despite GOP Senate leaders’ reluctance.
Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare, Peter Sullivan, The Hill

Trump administration unveils alternative to Obamacare, Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 12:34 PM on February 20 [8 favorites]


that's the "great coverage" that Trump was talking about, btw
posted by thelonius at 12:36 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


"the president doesn't really think the FBI failed to stop the parkland shooter because it was too involved in investigating Russia, does he?"

actual question put to the press secretary just now.

she blames a "deranged shooter" and says "he is making the point we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax that the trump campaign interfered in or colluded in the election"

follow up from the reporter now that SHS admits Russia interfered (she clarified the campaign didn't participate) on what hes doing and she blames Obama. "we spent a lot of time on cybersecurity focusing on protecting the fairness of our elections" but cant list a single action.

pathetic
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:37 PM on February 20 [20 favorites]


Barack Spinoza: "Poll: Dems lead GOP by 15 points in generic House ballot

It’s Quinnipiac.
"


538 average back up to D+8.6 (48.3/39.7).
posted by Chrysostom at 12:37 PM on February 20 [15 favorites]


Poll: Dems lead GOP by 15 points in generic House ballot. It’s Quinnipiac.

Ds lead among independents by 11 points, 47-36.

The trend shows the Dem lead has *expanded* overall and among Inds in the last month.

Kinda goes against the conventional wisdom, doesn't it?

---

Q poll: Americans say 80-16% "Dreamers" should get a path to citizenship.

On the blame game:

63-27% say Trump wants them deported
55-32% say Hill Republicans want them deported
85-8% say Hill Democrats want them to stay
posted by chris24 at 12:37 PM on February 20 [11 favorites]


New PA House ratings from Sabato and Cook. No surprise, most move to the left.

It still is amazing that anyone looks at even the new results and tries to claim this is a "Democrat gerrymander." It's still way more R-leaning than our statewide elections would otherwise indicate.

New PA-17 is going to be very interesting. Tom Prigg is currently the favorite to challenge Rothfus.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:38 PM on February 20


Yeah, my thing about "support for Assad from people who have no reason to support Assad" being the clearest indicator to me that Russian influence is a real problem... From last year...
The Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria has had a quiet but well-funded lobbying effort in Washington since well before he began murdering his own people. But that influence campaign’s clearest triumph came only this month, when it succeeded in bringing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) to Damascus and having her parrot Assad’s propaganda on her return.
...
Former congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) also joined the trip, which is no mere coincidence. Khawam arranged for Kucinich to meet Assad multiple times, most recently in 2013. Khawam donated to Kucinich’s campaigns and in related Federal Election Commission filings listed himself as a self-employed physician.
Gabbard and Kusinich both endorsed by Our Revolution. Our Revolution needs to be very careful to ensure that they are not just being used as a tool by people who have their own reasons for "throwing bombs into the political system."
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:39 PM on February 20 [21 favorites]


WaPo headline now: "White House press secretary: Russia meddled in 2016 election but it had no impact"

What? Is there a new definition of meddled that I don't know about?
posted by Melismata at 12:42 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


WaPo headline now: "White House press secretary: Russia meddled in 2016 election but it had no impact

man talk about burying the lede, the head should be "Huckabee Sanders Has A Portal Into Alternate Universe Where Russians Didn't Meddle That Allows Her To Assert Counterfactuals"
posted by murphy slaw at 12:47 PM on February 20 [14 favorites]


@kylegriffin1 (MSNBC)
American voters support stricter gun laws 66-31%, the highest level ever measured by @QuinnipiacPoll.

Support for:
• Universal background checks 97-2%
• Nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons 67-29%
• Mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases 83-14%

---

@Mikel_Jollett
For years the conventional wisdom in Washington has been that the gun debate is over and gun safety lost.

That has changed.

Latest Quinnipiac poll shows a **21 POINT SWING** in favor of STRICTER gun laws in the past 3 years. GRAPH
posted by chris24 at 12:47 PM on February 20 [83 favorites]


So for everyone who said "even Sandy Hook didn't change minds", well, yes it did, but the influence didn't trickle up/couldn't get past the NRA money roadblock.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:53 PM on February 20 [16 favorites]


soren_lorensen: "New PA-17 is going to be very interesting. Tom Prigg is currently the favorite to challenge Rothfus."

I would bet not Prigg, personally. Either Ray Linsenmayer or Beth Tarasi, is my guess. Maybe Conor Lamb, if he wins the special.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:54 PM on February 20


chris24: "Latest Quinnipiac poll shows a **21 POINT SWING** in favor of STRICTER gun laws in the past 3 years."

And it shows 97% to 2% support for universal background checks, including 97% to 3% *among gun owners*.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:56 PM on February 20 [26 favorites]


Our Revolution needs to be very careful to ensure that they are not just being used as a tool by people who have their own reasons for "throwing bombs into the political system."

The fact that they're organized as a 501(c)4 and therefore don't have to disclose where their donations come from doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:57 PM on February 20 [18 favorites]


also, if Huckabee Sanders is correct, the advertising department at facebook must be freaking the fuck out because she's proven decisively that their product doesn't work
posted by murphy slaw at 12:57 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]


Our Revolution needs to be very careful to ensure that they are not just being used as a tool by people who have their own reasons for "throwing bombs into the political system."

The fact that they're organized as a 501(c)4 and therefore don't have to disclose where their donations come from doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.


I’d like to see a complete audit of their financials and operations going back through all of 2016.

Truth and reconciliation requires truth.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:59 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]


@ReutersUS: BREAKING: Trump says he has signed a memorandum recommending that bump stocks - like those used in Las Vegas shooting - be declared illegal

So basically, in response to this mass shooting, Trump is getting around to recommending we maybe do something about a previous one?
posted by zachlipton at 1:00 PM on February 20 [39 favorites]


They're totally hoping this one minor change will be enough to dampen the groundswell. We can't let that happen. Not that I think the Parkland kids will.
posted by chris24 at 1:02 PM on February 20 [52 favorites]


Whether the outcome was changed is a stupid question. Put aside that the margin was only 80k votes, and it would've taken a VERY small amount of influence to move that many one direction or the other, the outcome isn't the point. We can say definitively that Watergate did not change the outcome of the 1972 election. We can say almost definitively that it had no effect whatsoever on the actual vote. It was still a crime by the President of the United States and a political crime against the very idea of democratic elections. The same would be true of the investigation into Trump treason if he had won by 800,000 or 8 million votes, or if Clinton had won. Russian interference was a crime. If they had help, the Americans involved committed treason. Period. The ultimate outcome is the least important part.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:03 PM on February 20 [66 favorites]


> So basically, in response to this mass shooting, Trump is getting around to recommending we maybe do something about a previous one?

It's like closing the barn door after the horses in the next barn over have also bolted...

And crossing over from the gun violence thread:

Tweet: The same people that said 13 and 14 year olds were perfectly mature enough to date Roy Moore are now saying 17 and 18 year olds are too immature to have opinions on gun control.

I just threw up in my mouth a little. I'd kinda purged my memories of Roy Moore.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:04 PM on February 20 [57 favorites]


Primaries Matter, Too Dept:

Daily Beast: Texas’ Anti-Islam, Anti-Vaccine, Born-Again Christian Candidate Is a Democrat --
A contentious primary in San Antonio features two Democrats, one of whom seems more like an extreme-right Republican.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:04 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


Trump's having serious, serious trouble putting medals on these dudes. Dropped the first one or failed to clasp it. Must not let myself cringe sympathetically.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:05 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]


@ReutersUS: BREAKING: Trump says he has signed a memorandum recommending that bump stocks - like those used in Las Vegas shooting - be declared illegal

So basically, in response to this mass shooting, Trump is getting around to recommending we maybe do something about a previous one?


And remember, the NRA, which saw the writing on the wall after Las Vegas enough to state it wouldn't oppose a regulation against bump stocks, prefers that it be done so by regulation, not by law, as the former can be quietly dropped later, once the furor dies down.
posted by Gelatin at 1:08 PM on February 20 [38 favorites]


@michaeldweiss (CNN)
Another seeming victory for Chris Steele. Dossier says German Khan and other Alfa founders did "favors" for Putin. Khan's son-in-law wrote a report for Yanukovych's Justice Ministry designed to help keep Yulia Tymoshenko in jail on politicized charges. That counts as a favor.
posted by chris24 at 1:10 PM on February 20 [43 favorites]


They're totally hoping this one minor change will be enough to dampen the groundswell.

I think you're right, but it seems like they're doing a comically bad job of reading the room: looking at the public conversation it's hard to imagine this doing anything to dampen people's enthusiasm. It's not going to shut anybody up, it's a visible gap in the gun lobby's armor. It should and will be met with reasonable questions like "if we can ban bump stocks under the 2nd Amendment, why not assault rifles? Why not all semi-automatics?"
posted by contraption at 1:29 PM on February 20 [17 favorites]


If we can ban bump stocks under the 2nd Amendment, why not assault rifles? Why not all semi-automatics?

I think the 4th Circuit Court just did us a huge favor. All we need to do is work on accepting the classification of high-end arms as weapons of war. The 2nd Amendment remains in effect, hunters aren't disadvantaged, and we can start getting killing machines out of circulation.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 1:40 PM on February 20 [27 favorites]


it's a visible gap in the gun lobby's armor. It should and will be met with reasonable questions like "if we can ban bump stocks under the 2nd Amendment, why not assault rifles? Why not all semi-automatics?"

which is why the NRA's longstanding approach to even the politest mention of gun control has always amounted to scorched earth. Because they know what a gap in one's armor amounts to, which is vulnerability. Goliath after all was brought down a single well hurled stone (if you believe those old stories).
posted by philip-random at 1:42 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]


Wow - Alex Leary (@learyreports) says:

An aide to [Florida] state rep. shawn Harrison, using state email, sent me this: "Both kids in the picture [Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg] are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen."
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 1:42 PM on February 20 [39 favorites]


WSJ, Rob Barry, Russian Trolls Tweeted Disinformation Long Before U.S. Election, in which the same folks who went all in on the election previously spread tales of tainted Thanksgiving turkeys from Walmart and contaminated water.

Moscow Times is also reporting that Marat Mindiyarov, one of the former Russian trolls who gave interviews to US media outlets after the indictment, has been arrested for phoning in a bomb threat, "a charge he denies."
posted by zachlipton at 1:45 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]


“Both kids in the picture [Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg] are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen."

Trump and Alex Jones aren’t outliers. They are the R base. We need to crush them. There’s no future compromising or hoping for sanity.
posted by chris24 at 1:46 PM on February 20 [78 favorites]


Link

It probably doesn't need to be said, and they probably already know it, and anyone reporting on them certainly knows it, but these kids are going to get weird shit and threats and conspiracy theories thrown their way from now until probably forever. There's considerable bravery and sacrifice involved in speaking out the way they have.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on February 20 [70 favorites]


Van Der Zwaan's plea; statement of the charges [pdfs].
posted by melissasaurus at 1:50 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]


And Don Jr. retweeting the attacks on them today, he's usually about a day ahead of his dad as the crazy filters from Alex Jones/Russiabots, to Rush/Drudge, and then FOX, where the elected Republicans pick it up.

Don Jr. is snorting the straight koolaid powder before Trump drinks the rest of the pitcher. He's definitely going to attack those kids in public when his dementia brain catches up to the Russian talking points of 2 days ago.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:52 PM on February 20 [13 favorites]


these kids are going to get weird shit and threats and conspiracy theories thrown their way from now until probably forever

r/The_Donald, Gateway Pundit, and One American News Network are already on it: The far-right smear campaign against students who survived the Parkland massacre.
posted by peeedro at 1:53 PM on February 20 [19 favorites]


If we can ban bump stocks under the 2nd Amendment, why not assault rifles? Why not all semi-automatics?

I always thought Dems should be originalist when it comes to the 2nd amendment. You have the right to bear arms, when those arms are barrel loaded, single ball shot muskets.
posted by PenDevil at 1:55 PM on February 20 [18 favorites]


Right wingers: These kids are being coached! They're saying what adults tell them to say!

Me: Fuck's sake, have you ever met a teenager
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:58 PM on February 20 [81 favorites]


[Let's take the stuff about the students/gun control etc over to the Florida shooting thread, to keep it all together.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:01 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Someone upthread was asking about Alfa Bank / Spectrum Health and Jared Kushner’s “Stealth Data Machine.
Daly Koss had more which turns into a bit of a rabbit hole.
posted by adamvasco at 2:05 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]


There's one thing that ties the florida shooting to this present political thread that worries me.

So the right has absolutely mainstreamed and accepted insane conspiracy theories involving crisis actors and similar. This isn't the first time - pizzagate is a great example. And this sort of thinking is becoming more and more prevalent at higher levels.

At the same time, we have been (and are still, most likely) legitimately experiencing Russian manipulation that sounds like it should be a crazy conspiracy theory at a causal glance... We have been looking at this for a long time here, and have given it a ton of scrutiny, so we know it to be legitimate. Any critical thinking shows it as such. And it would be accurate in many ways to label it a conspiracy, especially if it plays out with as much former knowledge of the activity within the GOP as it looks like it could.

Unfortunately, the same sort of person who believes in high school massacre "crisis actors" as well as things like "pizzagate" is not the same sort of person who gives things scrutiny. Clearly.

I would love to believe that as we pull back the curtain on more of the intertwinement of the current administration and Russian espionage that people at large can differentiate between totally fabricated conspiracy theories like pizzagate and the honest-to-god proven espionage that has occurred here, that coincidentally excels at producing the crazy conspiracy theories as part of their own disinformation campaigns.

What I am afraid of is a totally false equivalence made between the Russian espionage conspiracy and the batshit-crazy conspiracy theories... making it entirely too easy for those who have been convinced in the theories to truly believe that there is an equivalent conspiracy in our own governance to cover up the "Democratic" crimes while pursuing the "Republican" crimes, or to dismiss any findings WRT Russian espionage as pizzagate-like fringe belief.

Of course, we have plenty in the administration that are taking the stance of "Why not both!" and promoting the idea that a horrific school shooting has ties to a left-wing conspiracy while dismissing Mueller's findings entirely... but I can very easily see how a "what can we really believe" mentality would catch on more with the public at large as the investigation reveals more and bears fruit... making any further disinformation campaigns against Democratic candidates in particular much more effective than they are at present, and possibly opening up the gate for many on the Republican side as well (which will be harder to scrutinize if fabricated, given what we've seen). I realize that there's a crowd that is happily going to go along with that sort of thinking no matter what - what I worry about more is the amplification of that sort of institutional distrust and willingness to accept disinformation amongst significantly more people.

Yet another thing that plays beautifully into the whole objectives of causing chaos, dividing the American people more, and disrupting our democracy.
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:23 PM on February 20 [14 favorites]


Pennsylvania: "Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres today said the Department of State is taking necessary steps to implement the remedial congressional map released Monday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. ... The department is making the operational changes in plenty of time for the May 15 primary election."
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:43 PM on February 20 [28 favorites]


Yet another thing that plays beautifully into the whole objectives of causing chaos, dividing the American people more, and disrupting our democracy.
Russian state actors have been doing this for awhile, the real issue is that the mainstream media is increasingly buying into it. Operation Infektion was a conspiracy pushed by Russian state actors that laid the blame for the development and spread of HIV at the feet of the CIA. Prior to that, a similar campaign blamed the CIA for the assassination of President Kennedy. Every once in awhile a supposedly legitimate news organization would dabble in these theories. Or there would be a movie, or documentary. Fringe tinfoil hatters would buy into this stuff and publish their little magazines and newsletters, hold conventions, listen to their weird AM radio show, etc. etc. But the internet magnifies the effect of these campaigns in scale and speed.

And now we're in a situation where the NYT and WaPo will report on these stories as if they're legitimate or spend an inordinate amount of time on what would normally be seen as small potatoes stories because they're being amplified by botnets. I believe, but cannot prove, that Democrats are more vulnerable to this sort of media pummelling than Republicans are because of institutional bias that causes the media to "overcorrect" in an attempt to avoid the appearance of being liberally biased. Hence the success of the anti-Hillary campaign by Russian state actors, causing the NYT to report on the stupid email story and/or Killaryghazi for hundreds of days in a row.

I agree that you're right to be concerned. The entire point of these efforts is to erode trust in our institutions. Consider all the stories of Democrats getting duped by Russian botnets into getting Al Franken fired.
posted by xyzzy at 2:57 PM on February 20 [19 favorites]


(Sorry, I meant to also mention that I am trying as often as possible to use the phrase "Russian state actors" as opposed to "Russians" because I don't have issues or concerns about the average Russian. It's the Kremlin that concerns me.)
posted by xyzzy at 2:58 PM on February 20 [14 favorites]


Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair, “This Is the New War”: Jared Kushner, Amid a Showdown with Kelly, Prepares for Battle with a Weekend in the Caribbean, in which Jared and Ivanka do what they do best: go on vacation whenever anything happens. They made it back just in time to learn that Mueller is investigating Jared's efforts to court investors during the transition.

Kelly's new policy would seem to dictate that Jared's interim security clearance gets cut off on Friday, and Sanders is now insisting that nothing about that will impact any of his work, which obviously raises some questions. And the mood isn't great:
The person close to the White House described the interplay in all its delicacy: “You have Jared, who’s been floating ideas of who his father-in-law will replace Kelly with, on one side; and Kelly, who’s basically saying ‘fuck you, Jared.’”
Or we could just ask his predecessor, @danpfeiffer:
Kushner and I had the same title and he sits in my old office. There are only three options:
1. Sanders is lying
2. Kelly is lying and Kushner is keeping his interim clearance
3. Kushner’s new portfolio includes staring at the wall from 9-5
posted by zachlipton at 3:13 PM on February 20 [52 favorites]


And now we're in a situation where the NYT and WaPo will report on these stories as if they're legitimate or spend an inordinate amount of time on what would normally be seen as small potatoes stories because they're being amplified by botnets.

Or because their content platform metrics tell them such reporting is profitable. That's the only potato being weighed right now, especially at the NYT.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:15 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]


yes, xyzzy, the term "Russian state actors" is an important clarification, but for anything before the breakup of the USSR, the best term would be "Soviet state actors". While that group was the first to engage in and refine the disinformation practice, many of the current evildoers arose after the Cold War, emerging from the New Russian Oligarchy, some answering more to billionaires other than Putin. It's a complex network of public/private malefactors, some doing it for Mother Russia, others for Dear Leader Vladimir, others for a neo-nazi ideology and others just for the rubles.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:18 PM on February 20


It's a complex network of public/private malefactors, some doing it for Mother Russia, others for Dear Leader Vladimir, others for a neo-nazi ideology and others just for the rubles.

Their motivations don't bear on their alignment. This is being done at the bidding, through the funding and according to the direction of the Russian state and its leaders. It's a coordinated operation.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:20 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Yes, oneswellfoop, it would definitely be more accurate to delineate between the USSR and Russian, but I mostly want to avoid painting "Russians" as evildoers. I frequently fall into the trap of saying "the Chinese" do this or "the North Koreans" do that, and it's a lazy shorthand that treads dangerously close to racism and/or xenophobia. I'll slip up, I'm sure, but I'm making an effort.
posted by xyzzy at 3:25 PM on February 20 [14 favorites]


Did someone say "epistemic closure"? Or did someone say "a fool and his money ..."?

NYT: Fox News Plans a Streaming Service for ‘Superfans’
Fox News is set to announce Fox Nation, a stand-alone subscription service available without a cable package. The streaming service, expected to start by the end of the year, would focus primarily on right-leaning commentary, with original shows and cameos by popular personalities like Sean Hannity. [...] “Fox Nation is designed to appeal to the Fox superfan, [...] the folks who watch Fox News every night for hours at a time, the dedicated audience that really wants more of what we have to offer.”

... The network was still discussing the cost of a subscription.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:28 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


The network was still discussing the cost of a subscription.

Your soul?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:32 PM on February 20 [27 favorites]


WaPo, Ashley Parker, Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials during the Olympics before last minute cancellation
Vice President Pence departed for a five-day, two country swing through Asia earlier this month having agreed to a secret meeting with North Korean officials while in South Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

But on Saturday Feb. 10, less than two hours before Pence and his team were set to meet with Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and Kim Yong Nam, the regime’s nominal head of state, the North Koreans pulled out of the scheduled meeting, according to Pence’s office.

The North Korean decision to withdraw from the meeting came after Pence had used his trip to denounce their nuclear ambitions and announce the “toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against the regime yet, while also taking steps to further solidify the U.S. alliance with both Japan and South Korea.

It also came as Kim Jong Un, through his sister, invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Pyongyang to begin talks “soon” — a development that would likely cause consternation in Washington, where the Trump administration has been leading a campaign to put “maximum pressure” on the Kim regime to give up its nuclear program. Moon said through a spokesman that he would try to make it happen.
...
The president and vice president were in agreement on the goal of the meeting: Pence would privately meet with the North Koreans not to open any negotiations with Kim’s regime, but to deliver the administration’s tough stance against North Korea face-to-face, two White House officials said.
So Pence was going to go to a meeting to mean-mug the North Koreans in person (they previously needed binoculars to see it), but they cancelled on him and arranged meetings with South Korea directly. Such a display of leadership.
posted by zachlipton at 3:34 PM on February 20 [34 favorites]


The North Korean decision to withdraw from the meeting came after Pence had used his trip to denounce their nuclear ambitions and announce the “toughest and most aggressive” sanctions against the regime yet

I see bad cop/crazy cop is working out great.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:44 PM on February 20 [10 favorites]


I cannot overemphasize how ridiculous it is trying to follow this KY HD-49 race. The county and state aren't posting anything, so we're watching the campaign handwrite results as the clerk announces it, and then put a picture of the piece of paper on Facebook.

The world's finest democracy!
posted by Chrysostom at 4:17 PM on February 20 [30 favorites]


Kushner and I had the same title and he sits in my old office. There are only three options:
1. Sanders is lying
2. Kelly is lying and Kushner is keeping his interim clearance
3. Kushner’s new portfolio includes staring at the wall from 9-5


4. Kushner gets full access to classified information without even a fig leaf of "interim clearance" because fuck you, that's why
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:28 PM on February 20 [47 favorites]


ELECTION RESULT

Dem GAIN in Kentucky House 49:
Belcher [D] 68.45%
Johnson [R] 31.55%
This is a Democratic margin overperformance of about 86 points (compared to the district's 2016 presidential margin).

GOP lead in the Kentucky House is cut to 62-37 (1 vacancy).
posted by Chrysostom at 4:36 PM on February 20 [92 favorites]


The president might not be the worst person named Donald Trump. Junior needs to fall hard, before he can complain from a position of greater power about his country's brown poor not smiling and dancing for him with sufficient enthusiasm.

Washington Post: Donald Trump Jr. says he likes India’s poor people because they ‘smile’

“I think there is something about the spirit of the Indian people that is unique here to other parts of the emerging world [...] You go through a town, and I don't mean to be glib about it, but you can see the poorest of the poor and there is still a smile on a face [...] It is a different spirit than that which you see in other parts of the world where people walk around so solemn, and I think there is something unique about that. It doesn’t exist elsewhere.”
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:36 PM on February 20 [13 favorites]


Yes, Clarence Thomas should absolutely be impeached, but umm.... do you guys really think now is a great time for that, given who would be appointing his replacement?

Jill Abramson on Clarence Thomas, James Bennet, and Our Chaotic Media Age, interviewed by Isaac Chotiner
I actually felt more hopeless finishing the piece, even though the piece is partially about the idea that maybe Thomas could get impeached.

Well, I mean, in some ways I share your sense of pessimism because I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that this Senate, which won’t even touch gun control, is going to vote to impeach Clarence Thomas, even if the House in the fall went Democratic and took an impeachment vote. So, I’m a realist, too. But I guess my despair is rooted in: How did we let the extreme right wing take over all branches of this country? It’s really kind of unbelievable to me because I don’t think most Americans believe in this extreme ideology, and I think most Americans are truth-tellers and do not approve of the fact that Clarence Thomas has sat on the court all these years protected and encased by protective armor based on lies. But somehow the architecture of the right wing has become so strong and politically adept that it’s managed to seize control of the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the presidency. And I feel a tremendous sense of disappointment in my own generation, Isaac. I think that my generation, the generation that grew up in the ’60s, we were supposed to be such idealists. We were going to change the world, and look what we have.
...
My No. 1 thing is something called News Items that a friend of mine named John Ellis at Fox News puts out really early in the morning, which is a great global aggregation of news that most of the time I don’t see anywhere else during the day. So, that’s No. 1. ... I do. I do. It’s great. It’s a great product.
...
Yeah. I know. Poor [Editorial page editor] James Bennet, who I think is a genius. ... Because I think that he’s a great journalist, and I don’t think that he is wrong to include on his pages a variety of different voices.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:36 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


I am trying as often as possible to use the phrase "Russian state actors" as opposed to "Russians" because I don't have issues or concerns about the average Russian. It's the Kremlin that concerns me.)
posted by xyzzy at 5:58 PM on February 20


This is an excellent point, xyzzy, and just like crediting news writers here, we should work on being better about it.
posted by Dashy at 4:36 PM on February 20 [13 favorites]


This is a Democratic margin overperformance of about 86 points (compared to the district's 2016 presidential margin).

You ever read something and wonder if language stopped working midway through?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:40 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


My girlfriend has a bottle of Korbel stocked for if & when Don Jr. gets sucked into the Mueller tornado. I've got one for Jared. Lately I've been feeling pretty thirsty.
posted by theodolite at 4:42 PM on February 20 [23 favorites]


There are some mitigating circumstances - Belcher has held the seat before, and Johnson is an authentic crazy person (she's the widow of the child molester who killed himself). But even so, that's a big shift.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:42 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


The House race in 2016 (as opposed to the Presidential) was 50.5-49.5 in favor of Johnson (R) so that's a pretty dang good shift there as well. Though, yeah, this was another Gropey Old Pedophiles (or enablers) race.
posted by Justinian at 4:48 PM on February 20


You ever read something and wonder if language stopped working midway through?

Electoral margins run from -100 to 100. In this case, the presidential margin was -49D and this election's margin is +36D.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:49 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]


There are some mitigating circumstances - Belcher has held the seat before, and Johnson is an authentic crazy person (she's the widow of the child molester who killed himself).

listen, at times like these it's encouraging that democrats can beat authentic crazy people
posted by murphy slaw at 4:49 PM on February 20 [66 favorites]


Electoral margins run from -100 to 100. In this case, the presidential margin was -49D and this election's margin is +36D.

I realize how the numbers work, the sheer magnitude of the swing is still bonkers.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:54 PM on February 20 [13 favorites]


I *can* start reporting margin vs last election for the seat, if people want.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:56 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Then what would I add to the discussion? Make me feel useful.
posted by Justinian at 4:56 PM on February 20 [12 favorites]


Re: Fox Nation streaming service, it's the first time I've been pleased that network neutrality has been junked in the US. They are actually allowed, now, to block it.
posted by Merus at 5:06 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


I'm on my wife's laptop at the moment, and she's left her reading list open. There's a Washington Post story at the top of the list with the headline "Trump: Bonkers, paranoid or trapped?", so I clicked on it expecting it to be about his latest Twitter tantrum or whatever. Turns out the story is from March 5th, 2017.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:23 PM on February 20 [14 favorites]


I don't know how to read those KY numbers - Percentage wise, it looks good. Final numbers would be abysmal turnout if this wasn't a special election.

What I want to believe is that the Democratic base in KY is energized and engaged. There's a larger registered base there than you'd think, but KY is politically very very strange. Let's just say that no state can be "neutral" in the Civil war without having some political after-effects, and there's a rich history of corruption and organized crime. Despite that, there ARE a surprising amount of Democratic voters in some of the more rural areas (and not just Southern Democrats) who have felt completely abandoned by the Democratic party, and one need look no further than the candidates who have run historically in order to understand why. Many of the candidates have shared identical viewpoints to their Republican candidates. This isn't both-sideism - at times, they have literally been indistinguishable when it comes to major points like abortion, gun control, and environmental policy. It's been incredibly depressing.

I'd love to believe that seeing the first hand effects of Bevin as governor has energized the base, and that there are also many who are motivated to vote against Trump and his ilk, and that the Democratic base is feeling that it's in their interest to actively vote against the crazy, even if they are not enamored with the Democratic candidates.

I'd love to believe is that there will be some lasting power out of this, and that while rural KY will likely never be awash with progressives, maybe we will start seeing people who aren't afraid to at least be openly Democratic outside of the urban areas.

What I suspect, though, is that this was largely about reaction to the child molester.

I don't think what I would love to see is impossible, but having lived there up until a few years ago, I'm incredibly skeptical... I would love to find out that my skepticism has been misplaced. It's really not a state full of Kim Davises and coal miners, despite what you tend to read about KY - and it would make me incredibly happy for the rest of the nation to see that.
posted by MysticMCJ at 5:38 PM on February 20 [8 favorites]


Sean at RCP has a twitter thread about the PA map, partisanship, and the nebulous nature of what constitutes a gerrymander. It's worth a read. I like the warning he gives to Republicans at the end in a "be careful what you wish for" kind of way:
Of course if that's your position, be prepared for New York Democrats to draw a 27-0 map by baconmandering out New York City. Trust me, it can be done.
A NY state district map with 27 thin ribbons of New York City utterly dominating 27 broad swaths of upstate NY would make me laugh so hard. So. Hard. But the thread is worth reading.

tl;dr - there isn't a truly objective way to define a "fair" district map. Reasonable people could argue either for a map which doesn't take partisanship into account at all and reasonable people could argue for a map where partisanship is used to produce results where the number of reps is broadly representative of the overall popular vote. But no matter what you believe is fair, R or D, the Republican map did none of it.
posted by Justinian at 5:38 PM on February 20 [15 favorites]


Final numbers would be abysmal turnout if this wasn't a special election.

But that's typical of specials. That Florida one last week was super high, and that was a low 20s turnout. People just don't know about them.

(also, 6 pm is criminally early for a poll closing time)
posted by Chrysostom at 5:43 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


Funny how politics is never subject to laws as airtight as the felony murder rule.
posted by rhizome at 5:44 PM on February 20


A NY state district map with 27 thin ribbons of New York City utterly dominating 27 broad swaths of upstate NY would make me laugh so hard.

Here's what the NY "baconmander" would look like.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:46 PM on February 20 [18 favorites]


What I want to believe is that the Democratic base in KY is energized and engaged. There's a larger registered base there than you'd think, but KY is politically very very strange.

I'd love to believe that seeing the first hand effects of Bevin as governor has energized the base, and that there are also many who are motivated to vote against Trump and his ilk, and that the Democratic base is feeling that it's in their interest to actively vote against the crazy, even if they are not enamored with the Democratic candidates.


I assure you that's not the case in Bullitt County. My entire extended family is split between Bullitt and Adair, and as far as I can tell there's not much Trump backlash at all. The state does have a history of holding on to the last bastion of Southern Democrats longer than anywhere else, but that was hanging on by a thread for a decade and Trump was the final tipping point for the red wave. What's left of Democratic voters especially in places like Bullitt are the blue collar union types that flipped overwhelmingly to Trump and still believe he's going to save all the factories, and they don't care about much else other than that. And the institutional Democratic party has been deader than dead for 20 years, every race is a contest to sound the most like a Republican. I also bet almost anything Bevin is reelected, especially if KY Democrats can't do any better than Andy Brashear to challenge him, and they can't.

Don't read literally anything into this KY race, it's a very weird situation. Dan Johnson was a legitimate psycho who no one could believe got reelected, and that was before the pedophilia scandal and his suicide. His wife was the Republican, any other Republican who wasn't the wife would've won.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:53 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


especially if KY Democrats can't do any better than Andy Brashear to challenge him, and they can't.

I think House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins is thinking about running as well.

And just to clarify, Johnson was only elected once, in 2016.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:00 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


His wife was the Republican, any other Republican who wasn't the wife would've won.

Counterpoint: It gets harder and harder to say "well, the Republicans only lost that safe seat because they ran the worst possible lunatic; you can't count on that happening again" every time it happens again. "The worst possible lunatic" has become a selling point for GOP primary voters, and it's a problem for their general elections.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:07 PM on February 20 [55 favorites]


Must you crush my hope so immediately? I was having a nice few minutes there!

Pretty much everything you’ve said is giving very specific voice to my skepticism (I shall name it T.D. Strange from now on.) Despite that, I still believe that there’s a base there, and if nothing else, the healthcare swings in just the past couple of years have also had some real tangible impact in ways many other policies have not - positive, as the amount of people who suddenly had insurance would show, followed by immediate negative, as what they gained was gutted.

I think many in the cities had a real wake up call with Bevin as well. A lot of “how bad can it be / what does it really matter” was answered rather immediately and forcefully.
posted by MysticMCJ at 6:12 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


I don't know what to think of Missouri's map. 6 and 8 are really sparsely populated and CoMo can't carry all the blue for 4.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:22 PM on February 20


Nate and friends over at 538 talked about "toxic candidate" syndrome in December. The nuts and bolts added up to a new definition of Conservatism that is more anti-establishment than strictly ideological and that the base watches Fox, which is increasingly anti-establishment and is less prone to building bridges between the political ruling class and the base that elects them than it historically has been.

The final verdict was that the GOP can't really do a thing to fix it. They could eliminate primaries (they won't), impeach Trump (they won't), or pray that Trump loses in 2020 and assume that will lead to the shedding of the most toxic elements of the base (it won't.) One thing they didn't mention as a possibility is that Fox will try to become more responsible or shift ideological gears away from radicalism and return to conservatism.
posted by xyzzy at 6:27 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


Those are our federal districts, btw. I'm having a hard time tracking down a current red/blue map for our state house and senate districts.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:28 PM on February 20


More interesting details on the Alpha Bank connection to the Russian oligarch's son who pled guilty today. (courtesy of everybody's favorite whipping boy, Reddit.)
posted by msalt at 6:28 PM on February 20


I don't know what to think of Missouri's map.

Missouri maps are drawn by the legislature, subject to gubernatorial veto. In 2011, the governor was Democrat Jay Nixon, so we might presume that the map wasn't egregious. And the actual process seems reasonably bi-partisan.

Just from a brief look around, MO isn't listed on various "10 worst gerrymandered states" lists, either, and this article indicates that it's less than a seat difference.
posted by Chrysostom at