Behind every little fish is a great white lie
February 28, 2018 7:53 AM   Subscribe

This week in Washington is all about testing limits.
Hope Hicks' testimony before the House Intelligence committee tested the limits of executive privilege.
Jared Kushner tested the limits of his provisional security clearance, and flunked.
Robert Mueller's investigation tested the limits set by Republicansby digging into Trump's business deals with Russians and his 2013 activities around the Miss Universe Pageant.
Meanwhile, Americans tested the limits of their prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications.
posted by murphy slaw (1858 comments total) 95 users marked this as a favorite
 
Manafort pleads not guilty to the revamped charges.
posted by lovelyzoo at 7:59 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Honestly, the raw hurricane of objectionable facts - things that make you reflexively shout 'No!' - that come out of this 'administration.' Golly.
Because I'd like to say, here we go, Mueller looking into Trump's business esp. Miss Universe is it. This is also the thing that Trump said he would not 'tolerate' but who knows?
Maybe this is the special Ninja talent of this administration - that they fling so much fucking crazy you literally can't see which way is up. And whatever else you might think disparagingly about Trump and Co, they have kept up this chaos for a solid year. Not too shabby. Not good, but impressive. In a bad way.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:01 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Gonna try to keep the new thread lean, thank you everybody for helping with that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:06 AM on February 28 [22 favorites]


Education Department Wants To Protect Student Loan Debt Collectors (NPR, Feb. 27, 2018)

You read that right - under the direction of Betsy DeVos, who is dedicated to supporting religious and charter schools (Eric Lipton for New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017), wants to protect Student Loan Debt Collectors. I'd make a comment about Jesus and his feelings debt collectors, but I respect the separation of church and state.
In an internal document obtained by NPR, the U.S. Department of Education, under Secretary Betsy DeVos, argues that the nation's loan servicers should be protected from state rules that may be far tougher than federal law.

"Congress created and expanded the Direct Loan Program with the goal of simplifying the delivery of student loans to borrowers, eliminating borrower confusion, avoiding unnecessary costs to taxpayers, and creating a more streamlined student loan program," the memo reads. "Recently, several States have enacted regulatory regimes or applied existing State consumer protection statutes that undermine these goals."

The memo, which was first reported by Bloomberg, has not been officially released; it marks the latest move by the Trump administration to align itself with debt collectors over the nation's 44 million student loan borrowers.
Emphasis, because this is how you report on these shitty practices. 1) This isn't a new direction for DeVos, Trump and company, and 2) this is pitting the future of the country against select profiteers.

This is after the Department of Education stopped working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "really the only sheriff directly tasked with watching the student loan servicer industry"(per Seth Frotman, CFPB's student loan ombudsman) last August to share information and cooperate on enforcement(NPR, September 20, 2017).

Don't believe Trump and co when they talk about wanting to improve the educational opportunities for people in this nation.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on February 28 [92 favorites]


Recently, several States have enacted regulatory regimes or applied existing State consumer protection statutes that undermine these goals

Once again, "states rights" means that states have the right to do what DC Republicans say is right.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:19 AM on February 28 [38 favorites]


Maybe this is the special Ninja talent of this administration - that they fling so much fucking crazy you literally can't see which way is up. And whatever else you might think disparagingly about Trump and Co, they have kept up this chaos for a solid year. Not too shabby. Not good, but impressive. In a bad way.

The next Republican President- Pence or Ryan or Rubio or whoever- is watching, and taking notes. A high percentage of the objection to Trump remains aesthetic, and when it's a "normal" Republican pulling this Gish Gallop of Objectionable Shit it'll be far more tolerated by Democrat and Republican alike.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:23 AM on February 28 [31 favorites]


Looks like Manafort is gonna hitch his wagon to a Trump pardon.
posted by azpenguin at 8:26 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Pence or Ryan or Rubio or whoever- is watching, and taking notes.

They're not that smart.

Once again, "states rights" means that states have the right to do what DC Republicans say is right.

Huh? My state (yeah, liberal headquarters MA) flatly refused to give immigration data to the White House when they asked for it, and currently bans guns like the AR-17.
posted by Melismata at 8:26 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Manafort lives in Virginia. Virginia has a Democratic Governor and Attorney General. It would be terribly inconvenient for Manafort if he was charged with state crimes which cannot be pardoned by the President, wouldn't it? Or are we to assume that he paid state taxes on all that ill-gotten lucre?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:29 AM on February 28 [22 favorites]


NSA Chief: U.S. Response 'Hasn't Changed The Calculus' Of Russian Interference (NPR, February 27, 2018)
National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday there is only so much he can do. That is because, according to Rogers, President Trump has not ordered him to go after the Russian attacks at their origin.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the committee's ranking Democrat, asked Rogers, "Have you been directed to do so, given this strategic threat that faces the United States and the significant consequences you recognize already?"

"No, I have not," Rogers replied.

But the spy chief pushed back on suggestions that he should seek a presidential signoff.

"I am not going to tell the president what he should or should not do," Rogers said when Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal pressed him on whether Trump should approve that authority.

"I'm an operational commander, not a policymaker," he added. "That's the challenge for me as a military commander."
...
In another part of an oversight hearing in which Rogers appeared as the sole witness and in which Republican members kept silent about the Trump administration's response to Russian meddling, Reed asked whether Moscow was trying to obtain a strategic objective by influencing U.S. public opinion on elections.

"Yes, sir," Rogers replied. "I believe they're attempting to undermine our institutions."

Without going into details, he said he has directed the Cyber Command's Cyber Mission Force "to begin some specific work" in response to Russia's interference in U.S. elections.

But Rogers also made clear that he had not been granted what he called "the day-to-day authority" to disrupt Russian hacking operations at their point of origin. That, he said, would have to come from Trump through Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Trump still has not signed new sanctions against Russia, after the U.S. Treasury pulled some "a school kid who forgot they had homework due next period" move and copied list not of Putin’s inner circle, but of people whose names appear on the Kremlin website and in Forbes’s 2017 list of the wealthiest Russians, which Leonid Bershidsky wrote was a disgrace (Bloomberg op-ed, Jan. 30, 2018).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:29 AM on February 28 [30 favorites]


Once again, "states rights" means that states have the right to do what DC Republicans say is right.

I keep talking about Democratic messaging challenges in these threads, and the one cited above is a major example. Republicans don't care about hypocrisy, but pointing it out isn't "he said, she said" or "gotcha journalism," it's demonstrating that Republicans don't act like they actually believe the principles they use to get elected.

Democrats may be criticized for being too cozy with Wall Street or whatever, but in general, their policies do tend to reflect their core beliefs.

Republican policies do too, but those beliefs are not the ones they want to air publicly, because then they'd have a tough time getting elected. "Transfer the other half of the nation's wealth to the ultra-rich" is not a popular platform, no matter how many news articles try to paint the party's ideas as "populist."
posted by Gelatin at 8:31 AM on February 28 [38 favorites]


That last link has a link to another page that details all of the ... uh... links from Russia to Trump.
The Many Paths from Trump to Russia.
I lived in Little Russia in SF and there weren't this many Russian connections.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:32 AM on February 28 [35 favorites]


The next Republican President- Pence or Ryan or Rubio or whoever- is watching, and taking notes. A high percentage of the objection to Trump remains aesthetic, and when it's a "normal" Republican pulling this Gish Gallop of Objectionable Shit it'll be far more tolerated by Democrat and Republican alike.

I'm kind of hoping this cuts both ways. I've been spending a lot of time arguing about Massachusetts politics lately, and the dread specter of Elizabeth Warren running in 2020 get bandied about a lot by people who hate her but just can't explain why. Someone inevitably drops the "fauxcohantas lol" turd in the punchbowl. I'm at the point where I just respond, blandly, "You're currently supporting a serial liar and malignant narcissist, who openly worked with the Russians to swing the election from the winner of the popular vote, and who would be under house arrest while his financial and political misdoings were investigated by a federal grand jury if he were anyone other than the head of the executive branch of government. And you want to talk about how this other, extremely-well-qualified, not-under-indictment-for-treason candidate is unfit for office because of an answer she maybe-gave on an employment application twenty years ago? Fuck off."
posted by Mayor West at 8:35 AM on February 28 [140 favorites]


My new thread reminder: with everything going on, let’s all remember to be nice to each other here. Everyone is stressed and anxious and angry so let’s be good to each other.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:35 AM on February 28 [26 favorites]


azpenguin: Looks like Manafort is gonna hitch his wagon to a Trump pardon.

Reminder: Investigations of Manafort in New York Are Beyond Trump’s Power to Pardon (Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg for New York Times, Oct. 30, 2017)
In July, President Trump wrote on Twitter that “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.”

But for Paul J. Manafort, who surrendered to the F.B.I. on Monday after being indicted on federal criminal charges, Mr. Trump’s power has a limitation of potential significance: a presidential pardon does not apply to charges from state and local authorities.

Although it is not known whether Mr. Manafort will receive or even request a presidential pardon, he also faces scrutiny from authorities in New York whose prosecutions would not be subject to one.
Since the article went up, DOJ took down their FAQs concerning Executive Clemency that was linked in the NYT article, but their own site still recognizes that it existed. (Also, the internet does not easily forget.)

The site also had a page on Rules Governing Petitions for Executive Clemency, which is also now missing. But they do have Trump's stats on requests for clemency, and those he has granted.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:36 AM on February 28 [19 favorites]


I assume Manafort has resigned himself to serving time at the best facility he can manage. It sounds ridiculous to say, but wouldn't he be safer in U.S. custody than trying to live in the world after cooperating with the FBI and giving up whoever his Russian counterparts are? God, it makes me feel like a crazy person even thinking that.
posted by gladly at 8:38 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


DOJ took down their FAQs concerning Executive Clemency

This is a smart move, since the only clemency Trump has granted was a unilateral pardon of Joe Arpaio against the advice of DOJ. I imagine their "Frequently Asked Questions" would now be rather uncomfortable.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:40 AM on February 28 [12 favorites]


Axios: "Javanka and Kelly are locked in a death match. Two enter. Only one survives. — A White House official"

Who run Trumpertown?

In other news, he will never ever ever forgive Jeff for recusing:

@realDonaldTrump
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!

Also: Trump approval is underwater in South Carolina.

Fifty percent of South Carolina residents surveyed said they disapproved of the job Trump is doing, according to a new poll from Winthrop University. Trump's statewide approval rating, 42 percent, is marginally better than his national standings of 35 percent.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:41 AM on February 28 [31 favorites]


the dread specter of Elizabeth Warren running in 2020 get bandied about a lot by people who hate her but just can't explain why.

I'll give you a hint: it begins with "wo" and ends with "man." I was having lunch with two dear, good friends the other day. They are progressive Democrats! And yet the husband said something about Kirsten Gillibrand: "I think she wants to run in 2020 but she doesn't seem very...Presidential to me." From a man whose wife has held a high-powered job throughout their marriage and after they had their kid! I swear my tongue was like Swiss cheese, I was biting it so much. Misogyny is subtle and unexamined and seems to crop up in the "There's something about her I just don't like" or "I'd vote for a woman, but not that one" etc. etc. ad nauseam.

What is heartening me is the number of local seats that are flipping from R to D or at least giving the R's a good challenge. The Presidential office is big and flashy, but local is where the rubber meets the road. And states are not without power - blue California and Washington are standing up to Trump, and Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf warned immigrants of an impending ICE raid.

If Democrats get out and vote in their numbers, they can turn their states blue and get Schaafs and Inslees in office no matter who is in the White House.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:47 AM on February 28 [107 favorites]


The CNN site linked by runcibleshaw is a pretty solid approach to keeping track of the dense cast of characters. We're at a point where a mere wiki wouldn't do the job; it's more like following the overlapping timelines of the Terminator franchise or something.

One person not in that page's list is Steve Bannon, and that probably makes sense? It occurred to me the other day that Mueller having interviewed Bannon for many hours (in person!) is cause for hope precisely because of his lack of Putin entanglements (that I'm aware of) other than his just being in the campaign/administration. So in theory, he was freer to say what he knows without incriminating himself. But of course that's just speculation on my part.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:49 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Lying to Congress is a crime, but little-white-lying to Congress is OK.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:49 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Good news from Texas, where Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke has been endorsed by Smash Mouth.

Official reaction from the Texas Democratic Party.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:51 AM on February 28 [71 favorites]


"Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy?"

It's 2018 and the President of the United States is broadcasting appeals to the general population to educate him regarding who nominated his officials.


For the record, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice is Michael E. Horowitz, who became IG under Obama in 2012, but who has served in the DOJ and US Sentencing Commission under HW Bush, Clinton, W Bush, Obama, and now Trump, with a 10 year stint in private practice (doing white collar defense!) from 2002-2012.
posted by jedicus at 8:51 AM on February 28 [24 favorites]


The Russians have enough propagandists and hardcases already that they didn't need to put major effort into turning Bannon, particularly when 90% of the rest of Team Trump -- including Trump himself -- were and are soft and easy targets for compromisation. They recognized that he would do enough sustained damage on his own without being handed a script to follow.
posted by delfin at 8:56 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


In President Trauma's mind, anyone not him nor his family who existed during the Obama presidency is an Obama guy. (Tax and misogyny included, fees may vary.)
posted by riverlife at 8:57 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Manafort trial date set for September 17.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:58 AM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Bannon's acknowledgement that he accused the President's son, son-in-law and campaign manager of treason is a good sign that he doesn't consider himself to be part of the same treason. I can't imagine that the events of recent weeks have resulted in warmer personal feelings between Steve Bannon and the Trump family.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:58 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke has been endorsed by Smash Mouth.

What with the prevalence of Shrek and "All Star" in the meme community, this is bound to rustle a few jimmies. And that makes me happy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:02 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


imo Bannon's a true believer; the movement is what he cares about. I'd be shocked if he had anything to do with the Russians and actually I'd guess he is offended by and angry about it.
posted by lalex at 9:02 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Chrysostom: Manafort trial date set for September 17.

Right now, I'm still a bit sick to my stomach with all the terrible things that are happening, but in 5-10 years when the moral arc of the universe corrects for this abhorrent detour, there will be so many interesting stories about who knew what and when, and why they did what they did.

Manafort's trial date is dangerously close to the major 2018 elections, and could potentially push a lot of people to become active, or despondent. If it were earlier, they could possibly wrap up with enough time for a new and terrible October Surprise, or later, and they would still be too early to provide major motivations.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on February 28 [10 favorites]


Nixon had his Enemies List; Stupid Nixon, being incapable of writing his own, has his goons maintain an Enemy Filing Cabinet full of the people who could one day be the deciding votes to remove him from office.

Aides for President Trump have compiled folders to keep track of attacks Republican lawmakers and others levy against the president, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The newspaper reported that aides have documented criticisms made by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and other detractors about the president.

posted by Rust Moranis at 9:05 AM on February 28 [31 favorites]


It's unlikely that the trial will actually end up happening on or even near Sept. 17. Continuances are common, especially when both sides have expensive attorneys.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:05 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!


Yeah he's a joke and we're used to ignoring his crazy tweets, but he's instructing his AG to prosecute the people investigating him and his political enemies. This banana republicanism is obstruction and impeachable, even if he never did or said anything else.
posted by chris24 at 9:09 AM on February 28 [83 favorites]


Bannon's acknowledgement that he accused the President's son and campaign manager of treason is a good sign that he doesn't consider himself to be part of the same treason.

That's from "Fire and Fury" -- aka Bannon's version of "What Happened" -- he appears to be a primary source for most of it. Whatever perception you have of Bannon from that book is probably the perception he wants you to have.

Remember that Bannon was a former Vice President of Cambridge Analytica, who reached out to WikiLeaks with an offer to help organize the hacked emails, and left a whole bunch of voter data laying around where Russia could find it.

Also there are the shady stories I linked to in this previous megathread comment, of Bannon meeting secretly with the royal families of Jordon and UAE, working on that nuclear power deal Flynn wanted which was being impeded by the sanctions on Russia.

The Russian bot network spent the entire campaign tweeting out links to Breitbart articles.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:14 AM on February 28 [67 favorites]


Btw, in the primary last night for the upcoming AZ-08 special election, the GOP opted not to nominate the minister who has been getting topless selfies from an aide, going instead for the one who has been accused of illegal financial transactions.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:17 AM on February 28 [29 favorites]


We have to do all 4 years of this shit, don't we? What are the actual odds of Trump being ousted or even being brought up on charges during his term?.

Slim.

Impeachment requires a majority in the House to bring charges, but a 2/3 majority in the Senate to convict and remove him. The simple majority might be possible post-midterms, but:

1) It is mathematically impossible for the Dems to win enough Senate seats in 2018 to gain a 67-33 majority. There are simply not enough GOP-controlled seats up for reelection this year, even if Dems managed to run the table.

2) It is conceptually impossible for any Republican Senator to vote to impeach Donald Trump under any circumstances. We can't get more than one or two defectors at a time to vote against things that many red state constituents HATE. Any GOP Senator voting to impeach Trump would need a food taster for the rest of his or her life.

What about 2020? Well, the same math applies, and I would like to witness an election in which the Dems gain 67 Senate seats -- which would be FDR-era-level dominance -- and yet Trump still wins reelection.

Now, what CAN happen is that if evidence emerges that is beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, there will be those among the Republican Party who will kick the back door open, point at it and cough loudly. If given the choice of resigning with both middle fingers up and screaming about corruption and conspiracies or going through the motions of hearings where even Republicans would feel compelled to remove him, I suspect that Trump might take the rubles and run.

An alternative would be that if similar Mueller writing looms on the wall imposingly enough, Trump experiences a Sudden and Mysterious Health Crisis and steps down because of that.
posted by delfin at 9:21 AM on February 28 [24 favorites]


It is conceptually impossible for any Republican Senator to vote to [convict] Donald Trump under any circumstances.

I strongly disagree. If Mueller presents conclusive evidence of Trump committing felonies which the general public overwhelmingly considers morally repugnant, the political calculus could change instantaneously. There are SOME Republican senators who would never convict Trump. Not all.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:34 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


It is conceptually impossible for any Republican Senator to vote to [convict] Donald Trump under any circumstances.

Remember that the same thing was true in Watergate right up until it wasn’t.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 9:36 AM on February 28 [74 favorites]


Trump still has not signed new sanctions against Russia

Daily Beast: Democrats Try to Outflank Donald Trump After He Failed to Implement Russia Sanctions
This week, House Democrats are filing a resolution aimed at compelling the administration to implement those sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). A copy of the resolution was obtained by The Daily Beast.

“Congress passed a pretty comprehensive sanctions bill with respect to Iran, North Korea, and Russia last year—and the president has not implemented any of those sanctions. So we need to put our foot to the gas pedal,” Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), who is introducing the House resolution, said in an interview. “If the president’s not going to do it, then Congress needs to.”

The resolution names Russia’s “continued aggression in Ukraine and forcible and illegal annexation of Crimea and assault on democratic institutions around the world, including through cyberattacks.” It mirrors a Senate resolution introduced this month by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

The House and Senate efforts are largely symbolic, lawmakers acknowledge. And they’re unlikely to force real action absent Republican support. But Democrats are hoping that the effort will keep the spotlight on the sanctions as Moscow continues to destabilize Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and as Trump and his associates remain under investigation by the special counsel.
Incidentally, also in yesterday's security clearance purge four Commerce Department appointees lost their posts after problems in background checks (Washington Post). "The department determined that the four appointees — including one who worked for the agency for nearly a year and served for several months as a senior adviser to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — should not be given access to classified information, according to multiple officials who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:36 AM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Misogyny is subtle and unexamined and seems to crop up in the "There's something about her I just don't like" or "I'd vote for a woman, but not that one" etc. etc. ad nauseam

I am honest to God at the point where I just want to disenfranchise these assholes. Like in the event we could somehow make sure these crimes were prosecuted fairly and not, you know, in a super racist or misogynist or otherwise shitty way (shut up I can dream), well...

I’d want to see a nationwide push to take crimes against the marginalized very, very seriously, and I’d like the prosecutions to be fucking zealous. And then?

Every been convicted of a hate crime? DISENFRANCHISED. Ever been convicted of gendered violence? Stalking, sexual assault, harassment, intimate partner violence? DISENFRANCHISED. You are not fit to participate in civic society; BE GONE.

It wouldn’t fix the subtle misogyny of “she’s just not Presidential” (and good lord, his poor wife), but I do like the idea of sending the message that if you’re a violent bigoted asshole, you no longer get to participate. You have shown you are not fit to have a voice. Sit the fuck down. You get a time out for ten years.

This has been fantasy hour with schadenfrau. If you need me I’ll be fantasizing about revolution in the corner over there.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:36 AM on February 28 [48 favorites]


[Several comments deleted. Let's not get deeper into the infinitely repeated "what will happen, will Trump resign, when impeachment, nevr impeachment because GOP, oh but maybe impeachment, what about the 25th, but Pence is worse" etc line. We don't know, and we have this conversation every single thread. Yes things are terrible, OMG these unbelievable fuckers, but in the name of keeping the threads smaller, we need folks to not repeat those points over and over. With love in my heart, here's a rule of thumb: if you're making a one-liner comment, consider taking it over to Chat instead.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:37 AM on February 28 [42 favorites]


Btw, in the primary last night for the upcoming AZ-08 special election, the GOP opted not to nominate the minister who has been getting topless selfies from an aide, going instead for the one who has been accused of illegal financial transactions.

That's Representative Trent Franks' former district. He had offered a staffer 5 million dollars to be a surrogate. Had also tried to persuade another aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they're in love with someone.

After Franks resigned, the GOP must have thought they'd hit the jackpot with Steve Montenegro. Upstanding minister and family man who already has kids and therefore presumably has no need to ask his staffers to bear his children.

Alas....
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


That's Representative Trent Franks' former district.

And I'm very pleased that both party candidates are women, in light of that.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:45 AM on February 28 [8 favorites]


From the Pacific Standard, a story by Massed Haroun: The Trump Administration Is Reportedly Separating Hundreds of Immigrant Children from Their Parents (because of course it is):

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit this week against federal immigration officials in an effort to reunite an asylum seeker and her daughter who are being held at separate detention facilities located some 2,000 miles apart. The incident is one of what the advocates claim are hundreds of similar separations transpiring across the country, part of a greater effort by the Trump administration to dissuade immigrants from coming to the United States at all.

In the lawsuit filed by the ACLU on Monday, a woman referred to only as Ms. L arrived in San Diego in November from the Democratic Republic of Congo with her daughter, referred to as S.S. After some preliminary questions about the circumstances of Ms. L's arrival, U.S. immigration officials determined that she was in grave enough danger to potentially receive asylum in the U.S. and allowed her case to continue to the next stage of consideration. At first Ms. L was housed, along with S.S., in what she describes as a sort of motel, the lawsuit says. But after about four days, immigration authorities placed Ms. L in a San Diego immigrant detention facility and shipped her child to a separate facility in Chicago.

posted by Bella Donna at 9:46 AM on February 28 [39 favorites]


Gizmodo's Matt Novak‏ on Twitter: On the left, the screenshot from Assange that he says proves he didn't want to talk with Roger Stone. On the right, the full message.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:59 AM on February 28 [37 favorites]


And yet the husband said something about Kirsten Gillibrand: "I think she wants to run in 2020 but she doesn't seem very...Presidential to me." From a man whose wife has held a high-powered job throughout their marriage and after they had their kid! I swear my tongue was like Swiss cheese, I was biting it so much. Misogyny is subtle and unexamined and seems to crop up in the "There's something about her I just don't like" or "I'd vote for a woman, but not that one" etc. etc. ad nauseam.

I've been seeing "progressives" trot out excuses like the NRA and Al Franken (yes, really) for justifying kneecapping Gillibrand. It just disgusts me.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:03 AM on February 28 [29 favorites]


This is fascinating - managing the environment based on watersheds and ecoregions makes so much sense ... assuming you have the staff to manage those areas.

It does from a 40,000ft view but when those watersheds and ecoregions cover multiple states you now have multiple teams that need skills in dealing with the bureaucracy of multiple states. Like take most of oregon. There's many watersheds and ecoregions that border Washington, Ohio, Idaho, Nevada, and California. You get something like the Blue Mountains tucked away in the corner you'd have to deal with Oregon, Washinton, and Idaho simultaneously. Better to have federal bureaucrats at each state working with bureaucrats in other states to push common goals.
posted by Talez at 10:07 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Doktor Zed: "The department determined that the four appointees — including one who worked for the agency for nearly a year and served for several months as a senior adviser to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — should not be given access to classified information, according to multiple officials who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters."

But that's the thing - these aren't "personnel matters," but "national security matters."

If only the Republicans would treat them as such.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:23 AM on February 28 [19 favorites]


Regarding the state voter registration hacks and questions about what actually happened -- Illinois has been very up front (and caught hella flack about it, it was extraordinarily bad PR, especially as the other six states kept insisting they hadn't been hacked and Illinois was saying, "We know we were hacked, we don't know what they got.") and has continued to community very openly about the hack as they have learned more about it. Everyone who may possibly have had their records accessed received a letter from the state detailing what the hackers could possibly have seen. No one in Illinois had anything in their records changed, as far as the two-year investigation has been able to show. Nobody has shown up at the wrong polling station, none of the data was different from backups of the same data, etc. So I am pretty confident that the Russians actually just hacked in to let us know they could hack in, and didn't fuck with anything (but our trust in Democracy).

Moreover, the Russians hacked the state board of elections voter database, which keeps track of voter information. But ballots and tallying is carried out by the counties -- hacking the state voter rolls does not give them any access to manipulating ballots and tallies (in Illinois). Illinois also has a solid procedure, that all election judges are trained on, for people whose voter record is incorrect in the database, or who moved and it didn't update, or whatever else; laws that favor broad registration; provisions for last-minute registration; etc; so even if they did in the future mess with voter registrations, it wouldn't necessarily prevent anyone from voting. It'd be bad, but since Illinois already has very voter-friendly voting laws, it wouldn't be very effective.

Meanwhile, we've been working on hardening our elections systems for two years now, because Illinois was upfront about the hack and our state board of elections was willing to take the heat in order to do the right thing and get it fixed. They got resources, they got cooperation from the feds (and have been cooperating with the feds), and since the scandal played out 18 months ago, nobody's super-fussed about it going into our 2018 gubernatorial election + midterms. We already had the panic, the accusations, the finger-pointing, the notifications, the double-checking, etc., so the sense in the state is that it's old news, and it's been handled. The states that are JUST NOW being like "okay, yes, we were hacked" are going to have a lot less confidence from their voters going into 2018.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:31 AM on February 28 [67 favorites]


Meanwhile, we've been working on hardening our elections systems for two years now

Can you provide any links discussing what exactly has been done to harden the systems?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 10:36 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Sessions has finally subtweeted at Trump over his tweets attacking DOJ. Reportedly Sessions was willing to absorb the attacks as long as they were mainly aimed at Sessions himself, but Trump crossed a line with him when he started going after career DOJ attorneys.

It would be so delicious if Trump's bullshit flipped Sessions and Sessions became a racist scumbag who also helped take down Trump.
posted by Justinian at 10:44 AM on February 28 [29 favorites]




No White House press briefing today, as 'Due to heightened interest on school safety President Trump has asked the press stay in the room for an extended period of time during the meeting with lawmakers.'

Which is a little confusing since the briefing was scheduled for 2pm, and the meeting for 3pm, and absolutely doesn't fit any kind of recent pattern of the White House taking literally any excuse to not take questions from the press.
posted by cjelli at 10:48 AM on February 28 [21 favorites]


The states that are JUST NOW being like "okay, yes, we were hacked" are going to have a lot less confidence from their voters going into 2018.

Five of the seven states that the intelligence community has identified as being hacked also have voter id laws in place: Wisconsin's is the strictest. Arizona, Alaska, Texas and Florida are the others. If several thousand voter addresses were to be altered in each state, that could conceivably cause enough chaos -- especially in extremely busy precincts -- that it could prevent people from voting due to delays, clerical errors or confusion.

Especially in states with legal voter suppression. Voter id laws are great unless you're poor, black, latino or elderly, after all.

Man, if I lived in any of those seven states (including Illinois) I wouldn't have much confidence in a system that had previously been hacked unless I knew that there were specific changes being made to prevent it in the future, the way y'all are doing. The fact that Russia didn't change voter records this time doesn't reassure me at all. I'd want a guarantee (or as close to one as is humanly possible) that they wouldn't have the opportunity to do so again.
posted by zarq at 10:52 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Shocker: Democrats’ predictions about the GOP tax cut are coming true, Paul Waldman, Washington Post
And of course, most of the news media treated this argument in the standard he said/she said manner: Republicans say this, Democrats say that, and the truth lies in some secret location we may never actually reach.

Well, it has been only two months since President Trump signed the bill into law, and we’re already learning what anyone with any sense knew at the time: Everything Democrats predicted is turning out to be right.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:54 AM on February 28 [96 favorites]


Gonzales follows Charlie Cook's lead, moves PA-18 special election to Toss Up.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:03 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Reportedly Sessions was willing to absorb the attacks as long as they were mainly aimed at Sessions himself, but Trump crossed a line with him when he started going after career DOJ attorneys.

Somehow I suspect this is less about him wanting to stick up for the people in his department and more the realization that he's obligated to do it if he doesn't want to soak in constant resentment at his office and from the White House.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:04 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


There's something here from a dramatic point of view that just feels wrong. This is like after the blind dude tells Oedipus the truth and it's all over but for the suicide and eye gouging. We sort of need that blood after the revelation of the truth for the moment of catharsis to return to order.

I find myself hoping that with the various Muellermases that we will have that moment of catharsis.

But most people who follow the news are now like, "probably POTUS has conspired with a foreign power"--and--we just keep going?

We keep going along like a boat or something that has pieces falling off of it and it's taking on water and two of our mast things have snapped off, but still we drift onwards. There is no dramatic moment, seemingly, where we have our catharsis.
posted by angrycat at 11:05 AM on February 28 [31 favorites]


My favorite insight from the WaPo article about the tax law, linked by the man of twists and turns:
It’s in part because lies about the future — and that’s what they are when you know that what you’re saying is utterly bogus — will not be policed with nearly the same vigor as lies about the past. If Trump claims that he had the largest inaugural crowd in history, it will immediately get shot down and subject to mockery even from neutral reporters. But if he says that all the benefits of his corporate tax cut will flow to workers, which is no less a lie, it will usually be met with “Critics question whether there is evidence to support his assertion.” When Republicans said that their tax cut wouldn’t increase the deficit because it would create so much economic growth that revenue would actually increase, it was treated as a questionable claim, not an assertion on par with “If I flap my arms, I can fly to the moon” or “With a week of training, my dog will be able to do a perfect rendition of ‘Enter Sandman’ on the electric guitar.”
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:08 AM on February 28 [53 favorites]


NBC News, Katy Tur and Carol E. Lee, Mueller asking what Trump knew about hacked emails
In one line of questioning, investigators have focused on Trump's public comments in July 2016 asking Russia to find emails that were deleted by his then-opponent Hillary Clinton from a private server she maintained while secretary of state. The comments came at a news conference on July 27, 2016, just days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said.

Witnesses have been asked whether Trump himself knew then that Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails were released several months later, had already been targeted. They were also asked if Trump was advised to make the statement about Clinton's emails from someone outside his campaign, and if the witnesses had reason to believe Trump tried to coordinate the release of the DNC emails to do the most damage to Clinton, the people familiar with the matter said.
...
Investigators are also asking questions about Trump's longtime relationship with Republican operative Roger Stone, according to witnesses. Investigators have asked about Stone's contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign and if he's ever met with Assange.

"They wanted to see if there was a scheme. Was Stone working on the side for Trump?" after he officially left the campaign, one person interviewed by the special counsel's office said, adding that it seemed investigators wanted to know, "Was this a big plot?"
posted by zachlipton at 11:12 AM on February 28 [55 favorites]


Witnesses have been asked whether Trump himself knew

NBC, in what I presume is an overabundance of caution, repeatedly frames this as 'going after close Trump associates,' but at the point where you're asking what Trump knew and what Trump did -- which the investigation so far has notably not done in so direct a fashion -- you're really investigating Trump himself. I mean: that is literally what is happening at this point, whether or not it leads to charges; Trump is under investigation, despite his repeated protestations to the contrary.
posted by cjelli at 11:19 AM on February 28 [25 favorites]


Good. I fucking hate when the response to that is "If he really was colluding, why would he say that? If anything it's evidence that he wasn't."

Specious fucking reasoning.
posted by defenestration at 11:19 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Good. I fucking hate when the response to that is "If he really was colluding, why would he say that? If anything it's evidence that he wasn't."

Specious fucking reasoning.


Sure, I confessed to having committed the crime, including giving details that only the criminal would know. And sure, I was found at the crime scene when the police arrived. But that just proves my innocence! If I had actually committed the crime, I would surely have run away from the crime scene and said nothing about it. Oh, and my DNA is all over the crime scene? A criminal would have known to clean all that up, so obviously I'm not a criminal!
posted by The World Famous at 11:23 AM on February 28 [58 favorites]


NBC News, Katy Tur and Carol E. Lee, Mueller asking what Trump knew about hacked emails

Also, given the note from NBC that they reached out to the White House for comment on this story, in advance, and given that it was published right as today's Press Briefing was scheduled to start -- I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the White House might have had some reasons to want to cancel this particular press briefing.

Hopefully someone will be able to ask the President about this at the meeting this afternoon.
posted by cjelli at 11:25 AM on February 28 [18 favorites]


I had to take a break from a conversation after a friend told me that Gillibrand was “too polished” on Colbert, which means she’s an unreliable, passionless political animal. I sputtered something about voting for her over Trump with zero qualms and then stepped away to primally scream into my pillow.

I’m cynically amused by the selection of Brad Parscale as Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. Somehow, despite the mass of dead neurons that make up Team Trump, they figured out that Brad’s targeted Facebook nonsense was one of the key winning strategies they plan to retain from 2016.

Facebook better be fucking ready this time.
posted by xyzzy at 11:29 AM on February 28 [23 favorites]


Our country (and the world) is so tragically sexist. A woman politician will always be labelled all different types of too 'something', often in contradictory ways.
posted by defenestration at 11:35 AM on February 28 [28 favorites]


This is insane. This is a reply to Trump's earlier Twitter call out of Sessions for using the proper Inspector General process to look into any FISA violations that might have occurred:
@JerryFalwellJr: I couldn’t agree more. @USAGSessions must be part of the Bush/Romney/McCain Republican Establishment. He probably supported @realDonaldTrump early in campaign to hide who he really is. Or he could just be a coward.
He's is one step short of describing Sessions as part of the Deep State.
posted by mmascolino at 11:36 AM on February 28 [44 favorites]


Philip Bump for WaPo "What did Trump know, and when did he know it?"
"We’re asked to believe, then, that there were three instances in which Trump campaign staff were, or may have been, informed about potential dirt on Clinton that was being offered by the Russian government. That in the two cases where that clearly happened, that Trump himself was never informed of that incriminating information, even when one of the recipients of that offer was his own son."
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:37 AM on February 28 [24 favorites]


I take heart from how well women have been doing in the special elections and in the Virginia elections last fall.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:39 AM on February 28 [24 favorites]


Our country (and the world) is so tragically sexist. A woman politician will always be labelled all different types of too 'something', often in contradictory ways.

Cracked hits it out of the park on this issue.
posted by Melismata at 11:39 AM on February 28 [21 favorites]


WSJ is reporting that Vornado wants to sell its 49.5 percent share of 666 Fifth Ave. and is talks with--wait for it--Kushner Companies to buy them out. Apparently Kushner loses money on every deal but makes it up in volume. The WSJ article is pay-walled, but here's a derivative summary from Curbed.
posted by carmicha at 11:42 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


I've long been critical of Hamilton 68, which professes to chart the activity of Russian propaganda bots, because they've given no real information on their methodology for determining that accounts are, in fact, propaganda bots. Yet they're uncritically cited by media sources as "this is what the bots are doing." Well, now I'm extremely critical. Stop Blaming Russian Bots For Everything:
“I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” said Watts, the cofounder of a project that is widely cited as the main, if not only, source of information on Russian bots. He also called the narrative “overdone.”

The dashboard monitors 600 Twitter accounts “linked to Russian influence efforts online,” according to its own description, which means the accounts are not all directly traced back to Kremlin efforts, or even necessarily to Russia. “They are not all in Russia,” Watts said during a phone interview last week. “We don’t even think they’re all commanded in Russia — at all. We think some of them are legitimately passionate people that are just really into promoting Russia.” So, not bots.
...
Jumping to blame the bots is something that’s not just happening in newsrooms around the country, but in government offices around the world. Watts recalled hearing from a couple of Senate staffers half a year ago “that were jumping off a cliff” because of something they saw on the dashboard. “It’s like — whoa, whoa, whoa,” he said, “do you understand what you’re looking at?” Apparently not.
...
Perhaps, but the reality is much more nuanced. Assigning blame to sockpuppets doesn’t take into account the agency of loud and influential online voices like that of the pro-Trump media Twitter personalities who pushed and spun the memo and fashioned hundreds of memes to go viral in the fever swamps. Nor does that explanation credit Sean Hannity, Fox News, or the GOP lawmakers who championed the memo as a Watergate-esque revelation of government malfeasance and kept it in the news for the better part of a month. To chalk the entire memo incident up to foreign interference and automated messaging is to dismiss the call that’s coming from inside the house and give a pass to savvy media manipulators by suggesting they’re nothing more than useful idiots to the Kremlin.

Uh, man, maybe you should have clarified what you were doing before people took seriously the dashboard you yourself labeled "Tracking Russian influence operations on Twitter."
posted by zachlipton at 11:47 AM on February 28 [13 favorites]


> @USAGSessions must be part of the Bush/Romney/McCain Republican Establishment.

I'm old enough to remember the days when even grassroots Republicans were claiming GWB was a god striding the Earth among men. Have they turned on Reagan yet?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:51 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


"Can you provide any links discussing what exactly has been done to harden the systems?"

Here's a link to their general press release; many of the specific measures are secret, as they've been working closely with federal cybersecurity experts. But as you know my husband and I have been pretty involved in state politics and have some friends at the state board of elections (and at some county boards too) and we've heard some scuttlebutt and feel fairly confident. We feel VERY confident that even if there were another hack (and one that actually affected records), the state board is prepared to respond appropriately on a human level -- that is, they are ready to respond so so people who show up at the wrong precinct or whatever are able to vote (even if they have to cast provisional ballots), as they do every year, and they will have actual human eyeballs paying a lot of attention to that this year and looking for patterns in voter record problems that might indicate a systemic problem -- and if there is a problem they'll be addressing it with human labor in real time so people are able to vote, instead of deferring to a compromised database.

Which, you know, you can harden the computers all you want (and I have some Opinions on Illinois's voting systems and I am not shy about sharing them and my board of elections friends are not always delighted to run into me as a result), but the real hardening of the system is Illinois's commitment to strong and expansive voter rights that work hard to ensure everyone who wants to vote CAN vote with a minimum of hassle -- NO ID required, same-day registration, online and by-mail registration and address updating (as well as at various state and municipal offices), extensive early voting, long election-day voting periods, and lots of precincts so lines aren't too long and voting isn't to far away. Basically if you show up on election day (or at one of several locations in your county in the ~30 days prior to election day), you can vote.

Which makes regular identity theft a bigger concern with hypothetical future hacks than voter registration purges!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:51 AM on February 28 [24 favorites]


To me, the simplest explanation for "Russia, if you're listening..." is that no one had yet gotten through Trump's skull that it doesn't look good to get hacked data from Russian sources. In his world, it was "just business", and holding against it would be unfair because what about Crooked Hillary's emails? Of course, for someone to dissuade him from being so confessional would have required momentarily dropping the usual charade that criminals tend to follow among themselves (they don't say to each other "we broke the law").

As Alexandra Erin has said, if Trump was playing poker and you quietly advised him to bluff because he's holding nothing, he'd declare to the table "I'm bluffing because I've got nothing", then be mad at you that your strategy didn't work even though he followed it to the letter. (Of course, if you'd anticipated this and tried different advice, he'd also screw that up, just not as boldly. For example, see "NO COLLUSION", equivalent to "I'M RAISING BECAUSE I'VE ACTUALLY GOT AN AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL HAND. THE BIGGEST HAND IN HISTORY")
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:07 PM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Philip Bump for WaPo "What did Trump know, and when did he know it?"

Al-Monitor's Laura Rozen provides a quick rundown of what we know Trumps Senior and Junior have said about the hacked DNC e-mails:
"If it is what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer."
"Russia, if you are listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."
"This just came out," Trump said. "WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks."
"This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable," Trump said. "It tells you the inner heart, you gotta read it."
"It's been amazing what's coming out on WikiLeaks."
"Another one came in today," Trump said. "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove."
"Getting off the plane, they were just announcing new WikiLeaks, and I wanted to stay there, but I didn't want to keep you waiting," said Trump. "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks."
"Hiya, it’d be great if you guys could comment on/push this story,” Wikileaks to Don Trump Jr. Oct. 3, 2016.
"Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. responded. "It’s amazing what she can get away with.”
"Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications,” WikiLeaks to Don Jr. Oct. 12, 2016
"Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us. ..There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it. Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.” Wikileaks to Don Jr. Oct. 12, 2016
"Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!” Trump (senior) tweeted 15 minutes later.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the Democrats continue to try to raise the issue of accountability for the Trump administration as Senator Ron Wyden calls on Senate Intelligence Committee to hold public hearings over Trump finances.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:09 PM on February 28 [43 favorites]


Philip Bump for WaPo "What did Trump know, and when did he know it?"

A good companion to that is this Josh Marshall piece from last week that hasn't been posted here, Why The Trump/Russia ‘Skeptics’ Are Wrong:
For the second half of 2016 Donald Trump himself and his campaign knew that Russia was engaged in a wide-ranging effort to subvert the 2016 campaign and to work to get him elected. Yet despite this knowledge he and his campaign continued to approve numerous contacts with Russian government officials, clandestine meetings, receive offers of assistance. He also continued to push a decidedly Russia friendly policy agenda, even to the point of threatening to short-circuit or abandon the NATO alliance – probably Russia’s principal foreign policy goal not only today but decades back into the Cold War. They continued to authorize all of this, continued to feel out the possible dimensions of the relationship and, critically, made no effort to contact the FBI or other relevant federal agencies about a plot they knew these agencies were tracking and trying to combat.
...
He knew. He 100% knew. And yet they continued on with the contacts and clandestine discussions and public policy promises right up to election day and intensified them during the transition. Not once, as far as we know, did anyone associated with the Trump campaign or Trump himself speak to anyone from law enforcement or the intelligence community and say, “Hey, you told us about that interference campaign. This one guy contacted us and we had a few conversations with him. Just wanted you to know.”

Not once.
Looking at "what did he know and when did he know it" is interesting, but also asking "what did he do about it" shows a pattern of behavior that appears to be criminal. Even without a "smoking gun" that skeptics will loudly demand for proof of collusion, the evidence that is currently public is already damning.
posted by peeedro at 12:20 PM on February 28 [61 favorites]


Trump's bipartisan meeting with Congress on guns is looking a lot like his immigration meeting: he agrees with everyone, randomly attacks Obama for not solving the problem (which Joe Manchin agreed with, despite the fact they were discussing a bill Obama pushed for), then will go off and do whatever his staff thinks he should do.
posted by zachlipton at 12:21 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]


Oh, and now he's suggesting the police should have taken the shooter's guns away "whether they had the right or not," because he's still a fascist at heart.
posted by zachlipton at 12:22 PM on February 28 [28 favorites]


Eagerly awaiting the NRA statement condemning Trump for demanding that people's guns are arbitrarily taken away, unlike any mainstream Democrat
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:29 PM on February 28 [86 favorites]


I know politicians meeting and hashing out deals in smoke-filled rooms behind closed doors gets an undeservedly bad rap but that's how stuff gets done. These public meetings where Trump and co and useful Democratic idiots sit around a conference table and make a succession of speeches does absolutely nothing. It's a photo op not a serious policy conference.

Perhaps I'm being unfair to the Dems and skipping this meeting would be a PR nightmare? But in any case the meeting itself is stupid. It's an episode of The Apprentice except he's the goddamn President and Gary Busey isn't there to take the fall.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


These public meetings might serve a purpose if anyone ever stepped up and called him on his shit right to his face, but has that ever happened?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:33 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


The closest is probably Governor Inslee calling out Trump at that governors meeting a couple days ago. I don't know if that qualifies.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


I'm a finance idiot so maybe I'm missing something obvious but - how can Kushner Companies buy out the Vornado stake in 666 Fifth Ave? I thought the point was Kushner Cos is already leveraged to the eyeballs, so who would front them the cash for a buy out? If they could find that money surely paying off the mortgage next year wouldn't be a concern?
posted by aiglet at 12:35 PM on February 28 [12 favorites]


@AJentleson: Trump learned from DACA that one meeting staged for TV where he basically spouts gibberish will yield him weeks’ worth of coverage that credulously portrays him as engaged in the legislative process.

As an example of his bullshit, he attacked Sen. Toomey for being "afraid of the NRA" because his background check bill didn't include raising the age to buy rifles (which it didn't...because it was a background check bill...which the NRA opposed). He's sat there with his arms crossed almost the entire time. Of course, none of it will matter because the White House is surely working up statements now about how Trump didn't mean any of the things he said.

Interestingly, it was Sen. Grassley who took a minute to ask that we stop attacking everyone with mental illness.
posted by zachlipton at 12:37 PM on February 28 [23 favorites]


The thing about these roundtables is that he constantly own-goals and forces the Republicans to look like fools as a result. Like how he's taking comments from D senators and ordering his team to "throw that in, we can do that, sure" right while the R's are just flabbergasted.
posted by odinsdream at 12:37 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


Like how he just pulled out concealed-carry reciprocity as a bargaining chip, and crushed it in his tiny hands. In front of the R's crestfallen faces.
posted by odinsdream at 12:38 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


The closest is probably Governor Inslee calling out Trump at that governors meeting a couple days ago. I don't know if that qualifies.

Oh, that was beautiful!
Everyone should watch this brutal GIF of trump's petulant facial expressions and body language as the governor lays into him. [Twitter link]
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:39 PM on February 28 [28 favorites]


so who would front them the cash for a buy out?

Traditionally, that’s where Russian oligarchs step in.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:40 PM on February 28 [23 favorites]


Ok, Trump throwing Rep. Scalise under the bus (telling him not to include concealed carry reciprocity in the Fix NICS bill, because if they do that, nothing will get passed) is completely hilarious, and I'm pretty sure it's the most awareness of a policy issue Trump has ever demonstrated.
posted by zachlipton at 12:40 PM on February 28 [29 favorites]


At the very least we get to fill our Elected GOP Tears mugs with this. Cornyn has the eyes of a trapped animal.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:43 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


From my man Chris Hayes: "Everyone realizes that literally nothing said in this meeting matters at all right?"

My point exactly, except pithier because it was made on Twitter.
posted by Justinian at 12:45 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]


Ok, Trump throwing Rep. Scalise under the bus (telling him not to include concealed carry reciprocity in the Fix NICS bill, because if they do that, nothing will get passed) is completely hilarious, and I'm pretty sure it's the most awareness of a policy issue Trump has ever demonstrated.

wait, the guy pushing concealed carry reciprocity is steve scalise? the one who got shot at batting practice for the congressional baseball game?

that's… dedication, i guess
posted by murphy slaw at 12:49 PM on February 28 [63 favorites]


I don't understand why these meetings are being televised. Nobody used to do that, right?
posted by suelac at 12:50 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Betsy DeVos, who is dedicated to supporting religious and charter schools (Eric Lipton for New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017), wants to protect Student Loan Debt Collectors.

This should be a top 5 issue for Democratic congressional candidates this year, and if the district skews young, maybe the top issue. It's black and white, easily explained, and literally no one likes student debt loan collectors.
posted by msalt at 12:51 PM on February 28 [29 favorites]




Trump realizes now he can call these meetings, say a bunch of shit that makes no sense and propose some things that will never get a vote from a Republican Congress, and then reap weeks of “Trump Shows Presidential Leadership For Not Being A Total Nazi And Reading Words!” coverage from CNN and the NYT.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:52 PM on February 28 [12 favorites]


I don't understand why these meetings are being televised

An attempt to prove Trump isn't senile.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:52 PM on February 28 [15 favorites]


@nycsouthpaw: Why doesn’t someone at the meeting bring up the broken promises of the DACA meeting and ask why we should believe that any of today’s meeting is in good faith?

I don't understand why these meetings are being televised. Nobody used to do that, right?

Because Trump is acting in a reality show.
posted by zachlipton at 12:54 PM on February 28 [40 favorites]


I don't understand why these meetings are being televised. Nobody used to do that, right?

Presidents have held plenty of televised meetings, just not meetings of this exact sort; President Obama held televised meetings on healthcare, and his visit to a House Republican retreat was widely broadcast, off the top of my head.

The pretense that televised meetings are where real deals are hammered out is novel (and false), though, and whereas the function of a lot of previously televised meetings was to try and push the White House agenda, these meetings - on DACA, and now on guns -- seem designed solely to push the narrative that Trump is competent, insofar as Trump doesn't seem to have an actual agenda beforehand or afterwards.

Without going into the pointless details of what Trump has said so far today, the big picture is basically the same as with the DACA meeting(s): he's said a bunch of stuff before the meeting, he's saying different stuff today, and by tomorrow he'll be claiming to never have taken either position as he embraces some third path. He's also failed to display any comprehension of the history of policy debates on the current topic, or of the stated positions (or actual positions) of any of the people in (and people absent from) the meeting.

Or in short: these meetings are being televised to make Trump personally look good, whereas most prior meetings were about advancing the positions of the White House generally.
posted by cjelli at 1:04 PM on February 28 [22 favorites]


Okay, to go into one pointed detail - Trump: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”'

He's coming for your guns.

He's not coming for your guns.
posted by cjelli at 1:06 PM on February 28 [40 favorites]


[A few deleted. Fine to cover the factual stuff happening here, but again, let's reel back on the omg-these-fuckersblogging and the short "why would they"/"because they're fuckers" stuff -- left unchecked it becomes an endless self-increasing all-day chatter stream and it balloons the number of comments without really adding substance. Better to take one-liners to Chat, which can handle the all day low level chitchat mode.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:09 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Like take most of Oregon. There's many watersheds and ecoregions that border Washington, Ohio, Idaho, Nevada, and California. You get something like the Blue Mountains tucked away in the corner you'd have to deal with Oregon, Washinton, and Idaho simultaneously.

Ohio?

More generally, dealing with all of the states involved in a given watershed is exactly what the bureacrats at Interior should be doing. Until you convince water to respect state boundaries, the current system makes no sense.
posted by msalt at 1:09 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


As Trump keeps (meaninglessly) saying he wants a "strong strong bill, and really strong on background checks," it's helpful to turn back to this May 2016 story: NRA members skeptical of whether Trump's gun rhetoric matches his record:
David Kopel, a lifetime NRA member and prominent gun rights expert and attorney from Colorado, said in an interview Wednesday that he did not know how long Trump’s gun rights fervor would last if he made it to the White House.

“He’s so obviously non-ideological that it’s hard to count on him maintaining any position for long when it might become politically inconvenient,” he said.
Anyway, I assume there'll be a background briefing with Stephen Miller in an hour where the White House will explain that Trump didn't mean anything he said, followed shortly by Ryan and McConnell saying "that's very interesting and we need to work together to reach a blah blah blah" and not allowing anything to come to a vote, followed by Trump attacking the proposals he just supported. Because we literally just did that with DACA, and we learn nothing.

As a sidenote, I think it would be a profitable exercise to play poker against Sen. Feinstein.
posted by zachlipton at 1:12 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Oh god, this is going into the highlight reel for sure. Donald J. Trump said, at his reality-tv style televised bullshit gun policy meeting: I'm not into popularity.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:13 PM on February 28 [23 favorites]


The fact that Russia didn't change voter records this time doesn't reassure me at all. I'd want a guarantee (or as close to one as is humanly possible) that they wouldn't have the opportunity to do so again.

To repeat an important point from the previous catch-all thread:
No one has reported that Russia (or Russian hackers) did not change voter records. The most has been reported is that they did not change votes, and just yesterday, there was one vague report that they did not remove any voters from the registration rolls entirely.

They could have made many changes, including some that would result in secretaries of state or automated purge programs removing people from the voting rolls. They could have checked the box that makes a voter on the rolls inactive, or the other box saying they have been sent an absentee ballot so don't let them vote at the polls, or even that their absentee ballot has already been received.
posted by msalt at 1:16 PM on February 28 [57 favorites]


Thank you, msalt. That's exceptionally helpful.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


"No one has reported that Russia (or Russian hackers) did not change voter records."

Illinois has reported that no voter records in Illinois were altered in this hack. (Other states are on their own.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:22 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


NYT, Haberman, Hope Hicks to Resign as White House Communications Director, the day after she testifies to the House Intelligence Committee. She's expected to leave in the next few weeks.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 PM on February 28 [93 favorites]


As communications director, she worked to stabilize, to some extent, a fractious press department of about 40 people who were often at odds with one another during 2017.

the gray lady still has a gift for understatment, i see.
posted by murphy slaw at 1:31 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Trump: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”'


Oh my god! This! This was Obama's plan all along! This is why he let the Russians rig the election! Him and Hillary! It's so Obama can come for our guns and make Trump take the blame for it!

...what bothers me is how I can type that to be completely silly only to consider how many people are probably thinking that same thing right now without a trace of irony.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:31 PM on February 28 [50 favorites]


so who would front them the cash for a buy out?

Traditionally, that’s where Russian oligarchs step in.


Even if they don’t/can’t buy Vornado out, it’s in Kushner Companies’ interest to “negotiate” because they can then influence how the valuation of Vornado’s 49.5 share is determined. There are arguments for pushing it high (selling/refinancing through Russian oligarchs or whoever is seeking influence) or low (settling with creditors); what they want depends on their long-term strategy and perception of such factors as whether Jared will be indicted or worse come February 2019 when the note is due. Kushner Companies claims the building will pencil out if they can redevelop to the run of ~$4 billion, IIRC. Vornado wasn’t interested in that scheme but maybe KC is thinking pretending that they can pull that off if they control/option the other 49.5 percent.
posted by carmicha at 1:34 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Hope Hicks to Resign as White House Communications Director

thus to all communications directors who openly admit that their job is to lie to people
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:36 PM on February 28 [43 favorites]


Just to prevent further confusion, Vornado Realty Trust (the real estate investment trust entangled with Kushner) does have a historical connection to, but is in modern times not in any way affiliated with, Vornado Air (makers of the electric heater that warms up my bathroom).
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:39 PM on February 28 [24 favorites]


Youtube finally rose from its slumber to slap down the actual murderous terrorist group that they'd inexplicably been continuing to host.

The Hill: YouTube bans neo-Nazi channel for violating hate speech rules

Atomwaffen Division was banned days after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) asked YouTube to remove anti-Semitic videos, according to Motherboard.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:40 PM on February 28 [59 favorites]


Hope Hicks to Resign as White House Communications Director

Maybe she forgot the machine she used to steam Trump's suit while he's wearing it.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:41 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


My Stephen Miller voodoo doll must be defective; every time I stick another pin in it, somebody else quits!
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:45 PM on February 28 [86 favorites]


Paging Mr. Mooch to the white courtesy phone!

I can't tell if you're kidding but there's been some noise in the rumor mill about that, how Trump is pushing boundaries and trying to make Kelly miserable in his job by bringing his bomb throwers and shit stirrers back into the White House:
What has emerged, however, is a sort of detente, with Trump trying to renegotiate the relationship on his own terms. The president has in recent days told Kelly that he can no longer bar Trump loyalists like Corey Lewandowski, Anthony Scaramucci, and Dave Bossie from the White House. Last week, as Axios reported, Trump held an Oval Office meeting with Kelly and Lewandowski. According to two sources with knowledge of the meeting, things got heated when Trump informed Kelly that he needed to “get along” with Lewandowski. After the meeting, Trump told Kelly that he wanted to “find a role“ for Lewandowski in the West Wing, a source briefed on the conversation said. Kelly, according to a source, replied that Lewandowski couldn’t pass a security clearance. Scaramucci’s return to the fold also represents something of a rebuke of Kelly, given that firing the Mooch was one of Kelly’s first moves as chief. Trump is also elevating advisers that have been marginalized in the Kelly era.
posted by peeedro at 1:48 PM on February 28 [12 favorites]


Why Trump Is Reluctant to Escalate the Cyber War With Russia
Finally, there is the very real prospect of escalation. Columbia University researcher and cyber expert Jason Healey made this point in a piece this week. He wrote that Putin saw his election interference in 2016 as a response to what he perceived was the U.S. government's role in releasing the Panama Papers, a trove of secret bank records that exposed offshore wealth hidden by a number of high government officials, including Putin.

Healey told me that the task for policy makers is to get the right balance for cyber actions against Russia related to the election this year. "Trying to get this calibration right -- of something that is just disruptive enough that it throws off the Russian game, but not so severe that they feel they need to come back heavier -- is what needs to happen," he said.

The problem is that Putin has won the contest of what military planners call "escalation dominance" for now.
MUELLER WANTS TO KNOW HOW FAR THE GAME OF EMAIL TELEPHONE GOT WITHIN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN
NBC has a story that has gotten a lot of people excited, reporting that Mueller’s team has been asking:
  • Policy towards Russia: Why Trump took policy positions that were friendly toward Russia and spoke positively about Russian President Vladimir Putin
  • Roger Stone: Whether Stone was aware of information the group had before it became public and when it might be released
  • Trump’s knowledge: Whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release
I think this story is both less and more than people are making it out to be.

It’s being overhyped for its facial value. Of course Mueller is going to ask about what the president knew and when he knew it. Of course he’s going to chase down whether Roger Stone’s repeated claims to know what was coming were bluster or not.

But on at least two counts, I think there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:51 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


Just to prevent further confusion, Vornado Realty Trust (the real estate investment trust entangled with Kushner) does have a historical connection to, but is in modern times not in any way affiliated with, Vornado Air (makers of the electric heater that warms up my bathroom).

If you're my age, you might remember Vornado as the owners of Two Guys department-store.
posted by octothorpe at 1:53 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Why Trump Is Reluctant to Escalate the Cyber War With Russia

Man, I'm glad this author doesn't accept that Trump is a Russian agent, because that would make this article really short
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:53 PM on February 28 [44 favorites]


It's been suggested on here before that instead of changing voter records, Russian state actors may have made copies of the data to use in their microtargeted disinformation campaign. That sounds nefarious enough to me.
posted by Soliloquy at 1:57 PM on February 28 [27 favorites]


So people on Twitter are saying that White House comms directors now have the same career trajectory as Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers and Spinal Tap drummers.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:02 PM on February 28 [84 favorites]


This is all old news in this thread, but collecting it together as a thing of beauty:

In previous years, any one of these would have been Administration-ending or at least Administration-crippling scandals, but now Hope Hicks resigning after admitting her lies to Congress is barely causing a ripple...

NYT: Hope Hicks Says She Has Told White Lies for Trump
NYT BREAKING: Hope Hicks to Resign From White House Communications Post

... because it has already been overtaken by:

NYT BREAKING: In a televised meeting, President Trump stunned lawmakers by embracing gun control measures long opposed by the N.R.A. and many Republicans
In a televised meeting in the Cabinet Room, the president appeared to stun giddy Democrats and stone-faced Republicans by calling for comprehensive gun control.
OmniShamblesGate continues its shambling march.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:06 PM on February 28 [47 favorites]


... because it has already been overtaken by:

I really believe the biggest problem facing the new push for gun control isn't the NRA and the gun lobby, but rather this White House's own raging incompetence. These teens don't just have to overcome the opposition; they have to struggle through the opposition's self-inflicted messes to get anything done.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:11 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Just check out this list of "Trending" news stories:
  • Hope Hicks to Resign as White House Communications Director
  • Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Gun Control Measures
  • Hope Hicks Acknowledges She Sometimes Tells White Lies for Trump
  • Trump Calls Sessions’s Handling of Surveillance Abuse Allegations ‘Disgraceful’
  • Op-Ed Contributor: Has Jared Kushner Conspired to Defraud America?
  • Someone Forged a Nomination of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. Twice.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods, Major Gun Retailer, Stops Selling Assault-Style Weapons
  • The Interpreter: Xi Sets China on a Collision Course With History
  • Barbra Streisand Cloned Her Dogs. For $50,000, You Can Clone Yours.
How can anyone keep up?
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:12 PM on February 28 [74 favorites]


Hope Hicks primary job was putting a stack of news clippings flattering Trump on his desk every morning. She can do the same job from a Fox News show and Trump doesn't even need to bother with the onerous chore of reading. And the pay is a lot better.
posted by JackFlash at 2:12 PM on February 28 [21 favorites]


There is actual criticism of Trump on /r/The_Donald right now. Mostly they're trying to pretend that Trump is playing 3d chess (or 4d chess, oddly none have mentioned 9d chess which I thought was the standard for multidimensional chess metaphors) or that it's "the art of the deal". But several are extremely upset, a few actually called him a "gun grabber", many were screaming that a ban on bump stocks would eventually result in a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

I have to say, a ban on semi-autos doesn't seem particularly evil or like a bad idea. Bolt action is fine for hunting, and would make a mass shooter a lot less dangerous. But to them it's anathema, and a few even suggested that as a New Yorker Trump was tainted with evil anti-gun cooties.

Likely their discontent will die down, a few of them (accurately) pointed out that no gun control bill will get through the current Congress. But I was genuinely shocked to see open criticism of Trump over there.

It gives me hope that we might be able to demoralize enough of 'em that we can swing some elections.
posted by sotonohito at 2:14 PM on February 28 [28 favorites]


More on the in-person voting front -- Polling Place Battleground: Freedom Of Speech Versus Freedom From Intimidation, in which NPR provides some context to today's SCOTUS hearing on Minnesota's prohibition of political statements worn into voting places. New York Times summed it up as such: N.R.A. Logo? No. #MeToo Shirt? Maybe. Justices Weigh Political Apparel at Polls.

The case centers around an asshole who wore a “Please I.D. Me” button to a polling site in Minnesota, part of an effort by like-minded bigots to insinuate to others that there was some requirement to show ID to vote (there wasn't) and scare away some people from voting. Adam Liptak summarized the discussion as follows:
The case started when members of the Minnesota Voters Alliance, which says it works to ensure “election integrity,” turned up at Minnesota polling places wearing T-shirts bearing Tea Party logos and buttons saying “Please I.D. Me.”

They were told to cover the messages and were allowed to vote even if they refused. But they risked prosecution for disobeying poll workers’ orders.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the “Please I.D. Me” buttons were particularly objectionable, adding that they conveyed “a highly charged political message” that a lower court had found “was intended to intimidate people to leave the polling booth.”

The Supreme Court case was not centered on the particular items the challengers wanted to wear. It was instead a general challenge to the law, saying it is overly broad and vague even if the particular items could constitutionally be barred.

Mr. Breemer, representing the challengers, seemed to frustrate the justices with his refusal to say exactly where he would draw the line.

“We’re going to have to write an opinion on this,” Justice Kennedy told him. “You say: ‘Well, I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ”
It's a messy one, but interesting to follow.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:14 PM on February 28 [13 favorites]


That last link has a link to another page that details all of the ... uh... links from Russia to Trump.
The Many Paths from Trump to Russia.
I lived in Little Russia in SF and there weren't this many Russian connections.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:32 AM on February 28 [26 favorites +] [!]


Needs more Papadopoulos... [NYT link]
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:17 PM on February 28


Number of times NRA-backed Republican Donald Trump has called for confiscation of guns: 2.
Number of times Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama has called for confiscation of guns: 0.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:17 PM on February 28 [111 favorites]


It gives me hope that we might be able to demoralize enough of 'em that we can swing some elections.

I was hoping that some would realize that Trump isn't "their guy" but is just an opportunist who usually sides with racist, xenophobic, homophobic, pro-corporation views, though will also blow a different direction given a strong enough breeze, but if Texas's surge of liberal enthusiasm and ebb of conservative action in early primary voting is any indicator, it may be a good dosing of both reduced Republican turn-out (or party affiliation) and an increase in Democratic action.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:19 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


More generally, dealing with all of the states involved in a given watershed is exactly what the bureacrats at Interior should be doing. Until you convince water to respect state boundaries, the current system makes no sense.

In a sane world, a thoughtful study of the efficiency gains from converting DOI areas of responsibility to better reflect environmental boundaries would be something I would absolutely support.

However.

1. This is not a sane world, and this project is merely cover for laying off 4,000 DOI employees, and a reorganization that will suck time and resources away from the actual job of managing the public domain and regulating the nation's resources. I can tell you that my job will be made more difficult and inefficient by this reorganization, because it will be even harder to get FWS staff to respond to consultation requests.

2. Lots of organizations outside DOI have to deal with the DOI agencies -- BLM, NPS, FWS, etc. Reorganizing the entire agency will play merry hell with all of those relationships, and will cost money to both other agencies and private industry.

I suspect Zinke is in for a battle, and all his citations to John Wesley Powell won't save him.
posted by suelac at 2:21 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]


Bloomberg, More Than 30 White House Aides Lose Top Secret Clearance, Sources Say. They now only have Secret clearance while their background issues are worked out.

CNN, Betsy Klein, The White House chief calligrapher has a higher clearance than Jared Kushner. Yep, the chief calligrapher gets a Top Secret clearance because of their need to know scheduling details for the President and world leaders (the other two in the office do not). While that really says more about the problems with over-classification than anything else, it points to some questions about just what Jared and these 30+ other aides are supposed to be doing all day. You can also read the link for some fascinating discussion of the work of the calligrapher's office.
posted by zachlipton at 2:21 PM on February 28 [56 favorites]


Along with today's loss of Hope Hicks, Political appointee at Interior resigns after KFile inquiry into birther, anti-Muslim comments (Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie for CNN, Feb. 28, 2018)
Christine Bauserman, a former Republican activist in Arizona who also worked for President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, served as a special assistant to Secretary Ryan Zinke, providing him operational support that included coordinating policy briefings. Bauserman initially joined the administration as a member of the so-called "beachhead teams," which consisted of advisers tasked with shaping Trump's new administration.

A KFile review found that Bauserman repeatedly shared conspiracy theories, made anti-Muslim comments and shared anti-LGBT sentiments on social media.

"The positions expressed by Ms. Bauserman are inappropriate and unacceptable, and they are not consistent with those of the Secretary or the Trump Administration. The Department has accepted Ms. Bauserman's letter of resignation," Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Department of the Interior, told CNN in a statement.
The surprising thing was that a member of the "beachhead teams" was still on-board after more than a year, and hadn't been outed as a deplorable individual of one stripe (or ten).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:24 PM on February 28 [19 favorites]


Number of times NRA-backed Republican Donald Trump has called for confiscation of guns: 2.
Number of times Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama has called for confiscation of guns: 0.


C'mon, Its all talk. Don doesn't have the juice to make gun control work. Unless he primaries Paul out of a job, he's just a RSIC (rubber-stamper-in-Chief) now.
(At least that's what I would be whispering in his ear, were I Chuck and/or Nancy)
posted by Chrischris at 2:27 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Was Hope Hicks one of those people who lost their Top Secret clearance today?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:29 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I know a lot is happening, but I just want to back up a second to "Take the guns first. Go through due process second." Please consider how quickly the articles of impeachment would have been filed if President Obama said that.

Yes, everyone goes around believing Trump doesn't believe the things that come out of his mouth, but that people are not rioting in the streets at that is the strongest sign that conservatism, as a project, has all been one long con.
posted by zachlipton at 2:32 PM on February 28 [118 favorites]


From the White House calligrapher link:
The calligrapher's function is intertwined with US diplomacy as the US hosts heads of state, demonstrating that the US is committed to working with or wants to improve relations with other countries.

Ahead of a state dinner, Paulus would delve into the history of the hosted country, its symbols, and its fonts, which calligraphers call "hands" throughout time.

"As calligraphers, we feel like we're playing an integral role. The invitation sets the stage for the whole event. Calligraphers are helping, simply, to set the stage for diplomacy," the former chief calligrapher said.

"Whatever happens, whatever conflicts they have, if you see your name beautifully written on a placard, your nation's flag on a menu, you can't help to soften up a bit," he said. "Protocol is about human interactions, and as calligraphers, it's our job to introduce creativity and beauty."
From the sound of it, the White House calligrapher might be the only official in the entire administration actually doing the work of foreign diplomacy.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:35 PM on February 28 [110 favorites]


Curbed: College Republicans launch climate coalition, urge Congress to take action
"The group is advocating what’s known as the Baker-Shultz Plan, a comprehensive proposal to create a gradually rising, and revenue-neutral, carbon tax that would create dividend payments shared by all Americans. The plan would include a tax on carbon emissions, starting at something like $40 a ton, that would gradually rise and encourage companies to switch to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

“S4CD makes clear to our fellow young Republicans that we no longer need to choose between party orthodoxy and the mounting risks facing our planet,” said Kiera O’Brien (Harvard College ’20), VP of S4CD and President of the Harvard Republican Club, in a statement. “The Baker-Shultz Plan is a prudent climate solution that embodies the conservative principles of free markets and limited government.”
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:39 PM on February 28 [34 favorites]


From the man of twists and turns link Shocker: Democrats’ predictions about the GOP tax cut are coming true,
Democrats could play this game if they wanted to. They could say that we need to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because every “dreamer” creates 500 jobs for native-born Americans. They could say that single-payer health insurance will increase life expectancy to 150 years. They could say that we can give everyone free college at a cost of only $0.79 per taxpayer. But they don’t. It isn’t that Democrats don’t ever make a misleading argument or get some facts wrong, because they do. But when they do it’s generally on the small stuff, not on foundational claims that get repeated hundreds of times by every one of them in support of their highest legislative priority.

If you’re a Republican, you look at this news and say, “So what?” Everything’s working out great: You got your tax cut, corporations and the wealthy are swimming in money, and the next time you take control of government you’ll do it all over again. Sure, Democrats will squawk, and all their criticisms and predictions will turn out to be right. But it hasn’t stopped you in the past, and it won’t in the future.
So accurate and so sad. The GOP knows that nearly half the voters are perennial suckers for their messaging and the rest of their voters are wealthy and greedy. I know education is the key, but it is so damn difficult to get people to remember.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:48 PM on February 28 [17 favorites]


In other academic news, Lehigh U faculty voted to rescind Drumpf's honorary degree. The board of trustees had declined to do so after a previous petition. The vote was 83% in favor.
posted by Dashy at 2:50 PM on February 28 [41 favorites]


So if Eric Trump is the one making most of the decisions at the company and Eric Trump let slip he's still talking about business with his dad, doesn't that mean effectively Trump is still controlling his business?
posted by lumnar at 2:50 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


So if Eric Trump is the one making most of the decisions at the company and Eric Trump let slip he's still talking about business with his dad, doesn't that mean effectively Trump is still controlling his business?

No. Trump wouldn't so blatantly violate the emoluments clau...
posted by Talez at 3:13 PM on February 28 [15 favorites]


College Republicans launch climate coalition, urge Congress to take action

That's adorable. Shultz waits until nearly his 100 year on earth to finally agree with something Democrats have been pushing since, oh, the Reagan era. Baker and Shultz were in the Reagan administration when he pulled the solar panels off the roof of the White House just to poke a stick in the eye of environmentalists.

I think you are a little late to the party, guys.
posted by JackFlash at 3:16 PM on February 28 [24 favorites]


AP-NORC Poll: Most Americans say Trump is racist
Fifty-seven percent of all adults, including more than 8 in 10 blacks, three-quarters of Hispanics and nearly half of whites, said they think Trump is racist. Eighty-five percent of Democrats consider Trump racist, but just 21 percent of Republicans agree.
Here are the full poll results.
posted by zachlipton at 3:16 PM on February 28 [35 favorites]


Bloomberg, More Than 30 White House Aides Lose Top Secret Clearance, Sources Say. They now only have Secret clearance while their background issues are worked out.

It puzzles me that someone who can't pass a background check can see things with a Secret label. Anyone have insight into this?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:22 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Hope Hicks was interviewed by Mueller's team in December, and more recently Mueller's folks interviewed former legal spokesman Mark Corallo, who (according to the NYT) told them Hicks said that emails by Don Jr. about the infamous Nov. 9th meeting with Russians "will never get out."

Could Hicks' resignation be a sign that she is planning to flip? She's not even 30, and a long prison term would hit her a lot harder than it would, say, Bannon or Sessions or Manaforte.
posted by msalt at 3:27 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


thus to all communications directors who openly admit that their job is to lie to people

Maggie Haberman @maggieNYT adds to her story, "Hope Hicks departure is NOT about yesterday's hearing, per multiple sources. She had planned it before, had been thinking about it for months. She had informed a very small number of people prior to Hill hearing that she planned to leave."

It may be sheer coincidence that Hicks' announced departure comes the day after her nine-hour stonewalling session on Capitol Hill, but the other recent White House event that could tie in to this is the resignation of her colleague senior communications aide Josh Raffel, whom she'd worked with in private sector PR at Hiltzik Strategies. It was through Hiltzik that they met Ivanka and were drawn into Trumpland. Their departure, sudden or otherwise, may suggest that White House palace intrigue, or fortune in general, is going against for Jared and Ivanka, their patrons and allies.

Speaking of Jared, CNN reports, Regulator Seeks Information About Kushner's Ties To 3 Banks:
New York's banking regulator has asked Deutsche Bank and two other small lenders about their financial relationships with Jared Kushner, his family members and the family's real estate business, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Department of Financial Services, the New York regulator, sent a letter last week to Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank seeking information about financial arrangements, such as loans and lines of credit, with the Kushner Companies and the family members, the source said.

The regulator, which oversees the safety of New York banks, has asked whether there are any personal guarantees by Jared Kushner on the financing arrangements, to understand the banks' risk if there is a default and the Kushners are unable to pay. The letter is also seeking information about whether any collateral was provided to secure the loans, this source added.

The request by Maria Vullo, the superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, follows an updated financial disclosure form by Kushner revealing new debt and uncertainty over the future of 666 Fifth Avenue, the heavily indebted Manhattan office tower. Earlier this month Vornado, the co-investor on the property, indicated plans to sell its stake.

With questions about the financing of Kushner Companies' investments and Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation looming, the regulator is focusing on the safety of the small banks, which could be affected if the Kushners or their business has trouble paying their debts, the person familiar with the matter said.
As the old financial saying goes, “If you owe banks thousands of dollars, then you have a problem. If you owe $1.4 billion on an overpriced piece of Manhattan real estate, then banks have a problem.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:33 PM on February 28 [33 favorites]


It puzzles me that someone who can't pass a background check can see things with a Secret label. Anyone have insight into this?

Because the whole classification policy is bullshit. Anything below Top Secret is nothing that any foreign entity would be interested in. The low level stuff, secret and confidential, is aimed more at keeping U.S. citizens in the dark than anything else.
posted by JackFlash at 3:35 PM on February 28 [13 favorites]


Through Day 8 of Texas primary early voting, 15 largest counties:

Party: 2018 / 2016 / 2014

Dem: 264,052 / 242,591 / 139,413

GOP: 250,238 / 317,819 / 215,076

Also, in Harris County (Houston), which was 79/21 GOP in 2014, and 59/41 GOP in 2016, currently is 51/49 Democrat.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:36 PM on February 28 [28 favorites]


College Republicans launch climate coalition, urge Congress to take action

/record-scratch

Oh, I see. "The group is advocating what’s known as the Baker-Shultz Plan, a comprehensive proposal to create a gradually rising, and revenue-neutral, carbon tax that would create dividend payments shared by all Americans. "

"Revenue-neutral" is pushed by all the austerity-humping ghouls on the right as a begrudging acknowledgement that the climate-disrupted world they're currently careening us towards will turn their riches to ashes in their mouth. It's an excuse to cut taxes elsewhere for corporations, while maybe encouraging decarbonization of their operations.

It's a start! Certainly far beyond what most conservatives are willing to support. We should take that and use it to pressure the center for non-revenue-neutral carbon taxes that support community resilience and climate justice, as the impacts of climate change will be disproportionately experienced by the poor. Corporations and the developed world have externalized carbon costs for over a century now, and they need to pay their fair share to work on reversing the damage they've done. Revenue-neutral would not be sufficient.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:38 PM on February 28 [21 favorites]


The plan would include a tax on carbon emissions, starting at something like $40 a ton, that would gradually rise and encourage companies to switch to cleaner, renewable energy sources.

Well. This is at least a step in the right direction, and good on these College Republicans for at least acknowledging scientific reality. Quite sincerely, it's better late than never. But this is too little, too late. Any carbon tax plan needs to address at least two problems:

1. Internalizing the negative externality. The true cost of burning fossil fuels is not represented by its price, and to be truly effective, a carbon tax needs to bring its cost in line with the true economic impact of global warming. Additionally, the tax revenue raised needs to be put to work remediating the effects of global warming, not merely paid as dividends to the American people. Otherwise we're still robbing Peter to pay Paul. These costs are immense, and so a carbon tax plan needs to be similarly immense to be effective.

2. The problem is not combustion, it's extraction, and that's what must be taxed. Fossil fuels represent a reservoir of carbon that has left the natural carbon cycle of our biosphere over hundreds of millions of years. The instant it's extracted, it's back in the carbon cycle. One way or another, it will eventually be oxidized to carbon dioxide, because that's a low-energy state for carbon. Taxing emissions is tackling the problem only indirectly. Regulations are most effective when they're most targeted at the problem they address, and the true problem is extraction. This means taxing the oil, coal, and natural gas industries, heavily, to internalize the true costs of extraction. Of course politically this is taking on a juggernaut, and it's hard to see this becoming reality, no matter how necessary it is.

The plan the College Republicans are endorsing doesn't seem to do either of these things. So it's definitely better than nothing, and represents a starting point for them engaging with the reality of the disaster that we'll be facing over the next few decades. But it's nothing like enough, and should only be seen as a starting point for getting them on board with real solutions for climate change.
posted by biogeo at 3:39 PM on February 28 [31 favorites]


as an actual plan for addressing global warming, this plan is laughable.

as a shift in the overton window, it feels very, very significant.
posted by murphy slaw at 3:50 PM on February 28 [68 favorites]


Reuters: Exxon to exit oil ventures with Russia's Rosneft due to sanctions

Hope Tillerson's keeping a close eye on his beverages.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:06 PM on February 28 [26 favorites]


WaPo, Mueller investigation examining Trump’s apparent efforts to oust Sessions in July
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been investigating a period of time last summer when President Trump seemed determined to drive Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his job, according to people familiar with the matter who said that a key area of interest for the inquiry is whether those efforts were part of a months-long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice.

In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in detail about Trump’s private comments and state of mind in late July and early August of last year, around the time he issued a series of tweets belittling his “beleaguered” attorney general, these people said. The thrust of the questions was to determine whether the president’s goal was to oust Sessions in order to pick a replacement who would exercise control over the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates during the 2016 election, these people said.
...
Behind the scenes, Trump has derisively referred to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo,” a cartoon character who is elderly, myopic and bumbling, according to people with whom he has spoken. Trump has told associates that he has hired the best lawyers for his entire life, but is stuck with Sessions, who is not defending him and is not sufficiently loyal.
...
On the anniversary of Sessions’ confirmation earlier this month, senior aides decided to buy Sessions a bulletproof vest with his name emblazoned on it as a gift, according to a person familiar with the matter.
It's worth noting that two of the aides who were there for the false statement writing party on Air Force One were Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel, and they've both quit in the last 24 hours.
posted by zachlipton at 4:15 PM on February 28 [66 favorites]


Looks like Jones is taking too much of his own Super Male Vitality. He also appears to be personally trialling his new product, Super Anti-Semite Vitality.

Daily Beast: Alex Jones Accused of Sexual Harassment, Bullying at InfoWars

InfoWars owner Alex Jones allegedly bullied, discriminated, and sexually harassed a number of his employees, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints obtained by the Daily Mail. Rob Jacobson, who worked at the conspiracy site for 13 years, alleges that Jones called him "The Jewish Individual" and "The Resident Jew" before he was fired. Ashley Beckford, who is African American, alleges that Jones and others mocked her for her race and denied her promotions. She also claims that Jones “grabbed my butt" after initiating a "side-hug," and was grooming her for "sexual exploitation."
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:20 PM on February 28 [30 favorites]


> Trump has told associates that he has hired the best lawyers for his entire life, but is stuck with Sessions, who is not defending him and is not sufficiently loyal.

He *still* doesn't realize Sessions isn't his *personal* attorney? And that he didn't "hire" him? JFC.

> The president, this adviser added, had been hoping the attorney general would be so embarrassed by Trump’s scathing comments that he would leave.

President of the United States of America High School Clique
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:23 PM on February 28 [38 favorites]


Curbed: College Republicans launch climate coalition, urge Congress to take action

They're Here to Fix Climate Change! They’re College Republicans.
In return for these concessions to environmentalism, the Baker-Shultz promises a “significant regulatory rollback.” The proposal calls for a full repeal of the Clean Power Plan and a general restriction on the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions.
Trump Is Trying to Repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan—and People Are Pissed

wiki: The Clean Power Plan -
"The final version of the plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electrical power generation by 32 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. The plan is focused on reducing emissions from coal-burning power plants, as well as increasing the use of renewable energy, and energy conservation."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:56 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


1. Internalizing the negative externality. The true cost of burning fossil fuels is not represented by its price, and to be truly effective, a carbon tax needs to bring its cost in line with the true economic impact of global warming.

On NPR this afternoon, there was a discussion of to what extent the federal government will help state and local governments with funding to battle the effects of global warming. Classic case of pay me now or pay me later, with the GOP whining, "I don't wanna pay at all!"
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:58 PM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Because the whole classification policy is bullshit. Anything below Top Secret is nothing that any foreign entity would be interested in. The low level stuff, secret and confidential, is aimed more at keeping U.S. citizens in the dark than anything else.

The information stolen and published by Chelsea Manning was (as inferred from the wikipedia article) all from the SIPRnet. SIPR can only host information up to Secret. The charge of 'aiding the enemy' ensued. Obviously, there was significant intent to sweep some major bullshit under the rug (e.g. Collateral Murder). But the release of properly classified Secret stuff actually *can be* damaging to national security. Even unclassified information can be aggregated to create useful inferences. Thus, OPSEC.

My personal view is that Kushner has been scouring TS/SCI information, looking for market advantages - not so much looking out for *us*.

As to how someone can get a security clearance while not passing a background check...this is only my pov: they are meant to do two different things. the clearance is meant to suggest that a person does not have enough - or the the right kinds of - skeletons in the closet to be successfully leveraged by a hostile actor. a background check is meant to determine the liklihood of someone commiting a future offense based on their history.

The mass revocation of clearances is long overdue. these guys are bad guys, hiding bad stuff. very exploitable. i have no idea how someone without a TS/SCI could even do their work. the only real defense against abuse is criminal charges for distributing classified information to someone who has the wrong combination of clearance and need-to-know.

If I'm Kelly, I get one FBI agent per staffer and pair 'em up all day long (jk). Or, implement a two-man rule. At least that way, if one or the other does something bad, there is immediate legal jeopardy for the one who doesn't report.

My two cents.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:58 PM on February 28 [12 favorites]


Because the whole classification policy is bullshit. Anything below Top Secret is nothing that any foreign entity would be interested in. The low level stuff, secret and confidential, is aimed more at keeping U.S. citizens in the dark than anything else.

posted by JackFlash at 3:35 PM on February 28 [5 favorites +] [!]

Well, hey, I haven't passed a background check. Does that mean I can see confidential and secret documents being passed around in the White House?
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:01 PM on February 28


Honestly, watching the White House right now is kind of like engaging in Kremlinology back in the '70s, except the politburo is composed entirely of eight-year-olds.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:02 PM on February 28 [38 favorites]


Because the whole classification policy is bullshit. Anything below Top Secret is nothing that any foreign entity would be interested in. The low level stuff, secret and confidential, is aimed more at keeping U.S. citizens in the dark than anything else.

I propose we all agree right now not to take that position when it is revealed the the Trump administration leaks Secret, Classified, and Confidential information sufficiently to form the basis of a criminal charge. Because I, personally, think those charged with maintaining the confidentiality of classified information below Top Secret should be held accountable if they violate that charge, even though I have no doubt that the classifications are overused.
posted by The World Famous at 5:18 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


Axios. Scoop: Besieged Sessions dines with Rosenstein in show of solidarity

With photos. As I understand it, once Sessions gives Rosenstein bread and salt that means Rosenstein has Guest Right, and therefore cannot be fired within Sessions' castle or holdings.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:20 PM on February 28 [141 favorites]


Chris Hayes did a 5 tweet sequence a couple hours ago which matches what I'm seeing in the media:
People still aren't getting their heads around the enormity of the tail end of the Russia story distribution.
[...]
Since this tweet made no sense, I'll clarify. Let's think about a bell curve/normal distribution of possible end results to the Mueller investigation about What Happened between Trump and Russia. over to the left of the bell curve you have the most miminal amount wrongdoing, which is basically what we know so far. Moving to the middle: people associated w the campaign worked w Russian intermediaries in some fashion, perhaps somewhat glacingly or just a few key moments and then out there on the right, the tail end, most extreme part of this distribution: that basically the President of the US signed onto a quid pro quo with a foreign adversary to engage in a criminal conspiracy to infiltrate and sabotage and American election.

For a very long time I have thought that that final possibility, the "tail end" was *extremely unlikely*. But as time goes on, and evidence comes in, it's likeliness seems to increase to me. And I think very few people are prepared to reckon with what it would mean if it were to turn out to be true.
Analysts, pundits, and even journalists are, I think, falling into a type of argumentum ad consequentiam. If it were true that Trump actively conspired with Russia then we have an actual Manchurian Candidate in the White House, the election was completely illegitimate, every action taken since then has likewise been illegitimate, and the country faces the second greatest crisis in its history. And that's practically unthinkable, therefore they don't yet seem to grapple with the fact that it really might be true.

Which is understandable. But people have to start coming to grips with the fact that it might be true and what that will mean if it is. It's still not yet certain by any means (though I think Obstruction is now a slam dunk) but as Hayes says every revelation increases the likelihood of it being true and that's... not good.
posted by Justinian at 5:22 PM on February 28 [122 favorites]


Well, well, well. These sure are some interesting times.
posted by mosk at 5:27 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


the second greatest crisis in its history.
Is number one the civil war, 9/11, or the Cuban missile crisis? Or something else?
posted by vrakatar at 5:28 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Civil War. Though I suppose the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban crisis was, uh, kinda bad too. This would be significantly worse than 9/11 in my opinion. That was terrible and horrific but in no sense an existential threat (unless we did it ourselves I guess.)
posted by Justinian at 5:31 PM on February 28 [22 favorites]


Kushner took hundreds of millions in loans after meeting with bank officials in the White House.
posted by Andrhia at 5:36 PM on February 28 [42 favorites]


Candleman: In my opinion there's a big difference between people just posting a series of freakouts about WHAT IF and a link to an actual national journalist talking publicly about the reluctance among the pundit class to come to grips with the situation and why that might be so. It's a moving story. But I already said my bit so it's unlikely that particular thread will keep going anyway.
posted by Justinian at 5:39 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]




prepared to reckon with what it would mean if it were to turn out to be true.
Analysts, pundits, and even journalists are, I think, falling into a type of argumentum ad consequentiam. If it were true that Trump actively conspired with Russia then we have an actual Manchurian Candidate in the White House, the election was completely illegitimate, every action taken since then has likewise been illegitimate, and the country faces the second greatest crisis in its history.

I've thought the evidence for an explict Trump alliance with Putin and direct cooperation in the election, as well as on going payoffs in office, was compelling from the beginning, and we're to the point now that's it on the verge of being overwhelming. And much, if not all, of elected Republicans knew all along and are actively participating in the coverup.

The main issue here is we don't have a mechanism for invalidating an election. Even if it were proven Trump is literally guilty of treason, and hand feeding the nuclear codes to Putin, impeachment is an inadequate remedy. Impeachment doesn't roll back an illegal appointment of Gorsuch, or an illegitimate GOP tax bill, or all the other damage they've already done. It's written. There's no going back, there's only rebuilding the pieces and prosecuting the perpetrators, except fully 40% of the population and 51+% of the government is entirely unwilling to do either, because they still benefit from treason.

So uh, yea. Shit's bad. And there's little avenue to improvement other than defeating every single Republican and making sure they're forever known as the party that betrayed America. Republicans after 2018 should be treated like Nazis in 1947 Germany, and that's not hyperbole. Anything less will mean they got away with it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:43 PM on February 28 [96 favorites]


If you're curious about how (or if) the insane monster avalanche of developments is being received in the Conservosphere: right now on Fox News, Tucker Carlson is interviewing a college republican who is filing a complaint after campus progressives photoshopped his face onto a cracker.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:45 PM on February 28 [76 favorites]


It has been really weird following Josh Marshall tracking down the Russia/Manafort angle since well before the election. For a long time I kept wondering if I was following him down a rabbit hole, that the Trump phenomenon was so bizarre that it had pushed him over he edge into grasping for conspiracy theories to account for it. I believed him, but I didn’t trust myself for believing.

And now, a year into Trump’s first term, it’s beginning to look like he was not only on the right track, but every day the newspaper has another story of the Mueller team chasing down the same leads he was writing about in the summer of 2016.

I don’t know where this ends, but at least I feel less crazy.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:48 PM on February 28 [48 favorites]


With photos. As I understand it, once Sessions gives Rosenstein bread and salt that means Rosenstein has Guest Right, and therefore cannot be fired within Sessions' castle or holdings.

I think it means the opposite; it's the kiss of death - It's "having the meatloaf". In the Trump world, there seems to be something about ritual humiliation of people around food - Romney; Christie, and probably others I can't think of.

The Red Wedding is coming; I just don't know who is Frey, Bolton, or Stark just yet.
posted by nubs at 5:48 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]




My bad, I did open another sleeve of Thin Mints today.

From Ari Melber:
Breaking: In first appearance since facing Mueller's investigators last week, former Trump aide now says he thinks Don Jr. *told* Donald Trump about Russian offer of dirt on Clinton.

"Where's the crime?" he asks...
posted by Dashy at 5:51 PM on February 28 [37 favorites]


Last week Thursday was the new Friday. This week it’s Wednesday. By midnight tonight every hour will be Friday afternoon.
posted by notyou at 5:51 PM on February 28 [39 favorites]


From the loan article:
Apollo made the loan to Kushner Companies on Nov. 1, 2017, according to public records.

Apollo does not make real estate loans directly. Instead, it makes them through a so-called real estate investment trust, called Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance. The trust is a publicly traded company with its own set of shareholders. It is managed by Apollo, which charges the trust management fees, and has no employees of its own.

One of the largest investors in Apollo’s real estate trust is the Qatari government’s investment fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

Mr. Kushner’s firm previously sought a $500 million investment from the former head of that Qatari fund for its headquarters at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. That investment never materialized.
posted by edeezy at 5:53 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


President Trump on Monday accused some governors of being “scared” of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and argued that “sometimes” government officials would have to fight the gun lobby to achieve necessary reforms.

Sometimes the idiot king stumbles upon something.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:54 PM on February 28 [20 favorites]


Lordy, this has been quite the news day, hasn't it?

Poor @kylegriffin1 of MSNBC is reduced to begging for a breather, for the second time in a few weeks. And this is his actual job.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:55 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


Sometimes the idiot king stumbles upon something.

I really wonder what would happen if Democrats do retake the House and Senate, he's so fucking stupid he might agree to damn near anything they asked as long as he got to sit at the big boy chair and sign a shiny gold paper at the end.

If 2018 does go well the first priority should be finding Stephen Miller a girlfriend and getting him out of Trump's ear, then seeing how many Democratic wishlist items Trump can be tricked into supporting.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:58 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


It's going to be Hope Hicks, and only Hope Hicks, going to prison out of all this, isn't it? If you're up to your ears in corruption, looting, sex crimes, and collusion with an unfriendly nation, the system yawns and dares the media to make a big deal out of any of it. If you're the least dirty out of the dirtiest dirtbags to ever get dirt on a pile of dirt? Hope you get a nice cellmate.
posted by Rykey at 5:59 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Scoop: Mueller’s team is asking about comments made by Hope Hicks about Russian contacts to the NYT, a former Trump campaign official who has spoken to Special Counsel’s office tells CNN.

Can somebody parse this for me? My brain is having an issue understanding it. Hope Hicks made comments, to the NYT, about Russian contacts, and Mueller wants to know about them, according to somebody who was previously a Trump campaign official, who has spoken to Mueller? Is this correct?
posted by gucci mane at 6:00 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Maddow and Hayes were just bantering about the wacko newsday, and she mentioned that she, once again, tossed out her planned A, B, and C blocks, and the guy from the Kushner loans story is currently en route to MSNBC but hasn't arrived yet.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:02 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Can somebody parse this for me? My brain is having an issue understanding it. Hope Hicks made comments, to the NYT, about Russian contacts, and Mueller wants to know about them, according to somebody who was previously a Trump campaign official, who has spoken to Mueller? Is this correct?

Yes. Some or all of these "Mueller has been asking people about" stories seem (?) to be coming from Sam Nunberg, the same Trump ex-aide who was telling stuff to Ari Melber earlier tonight.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:05 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Were these comments she made to the NYT public, or secretive?
posted by gucci mane at 6:08 PM on February 28


@MichaelSLinden
HOLY CRAP! Right after private equity firm Apollo gives Jared Kushner a much-needed $184 million loan, Trump rescinds his earlier promise to close a huge tax loophole that benefits private equity managers. That loophole stayed in the final tax bill.
posted by chris24 at 6:08 PM on February 28 [101 favorites]


the same sam nunberg who was prattling on about how trump screws everyone … last week

you couldn’t write this stuff, you’d be laughed out of hollywood
posted by murphy slaw at 6:09 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Poor @kylegriffin1 of MSNBC is reduced to begging for a breather, for the second time in a few weeks. And this is his actual job.

Meanwhile, on FOX News.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:13 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


If 2018 does go well the first priority should be finding Stephen Miller a girlfriend

come on man, the problem with Stephen Miller is that he's an asshole. It's not that somebody needs to "find" him a woman.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:16 PM on February 28 [84 favorites]


come on man, the problem with Stephen Miller is that he's an asshole. It's not that somebody needs to "find" him a woman.

exactly. even hitler had a girlfriend, didn’t help.
to think otherwise is to buy into incel delusions.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:19 PM on February 28 [51 favorites]


> Mueller’s team is asking about comments made by Hope Hicks about Russian contacts to the NYT

At this point, is Mueller asking any questions that he doesn't already know the answer to?
posted by klarck at 6:21 PM on February 28 [12 favorites]


I think that Mueller is so much better at what he is doing than anyone else that there is no point in anyone asking what he is up to.
posted by Quonab at 6:23 PM on February 28 [22 favorites]


Apparently moderators at /r/the_donald are banning anybody critical of Trump's anti-NRA comments.

So refreshing to see the circular firing squad where it ought to be.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:27 PM on February 28 [93 favorites]


I get legitimately stressed sometimes that someone needs to be keeping track of all the illegality that blows through my Twitter feed in any given day and then I remember that Mueller is on it and he has a staff.

But honestly, the news that Mueller was asking around about what Trump knew wrt Wikileaks came out only about seven hours ago, and it feels like 20 years ago to me.
posted by lalex at 6:29 PM on February 28 [29 favorites]


I've thought the evidence for an explict Trump alliance with Putin and direct cooperation in the election, as well as on going payoffs in office, was compelling from the beginning

His people specifically softened the RNC platform's stance on Russian aggression in Ukraine. We talked about that here when it happened. That little detail should have set off every alarm in the country, although I grant a lot of other alarms were already ringing by then and maybe they got hard to distinguish from one another.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:30 PM on February 28 [42 favorites]


I'm surprised about the White House calligrapher, honestly.

Not the calligrapher per say, but the calligraphy.

I had been assuming that everything being written by and for this administration was naturally in BOLD, COMIC SANS.
posted by floweredfish at 6:34 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


Just a quick update from this from last thread, eleventy billion years ago:
After 4 days of striking, the West Virginia teachers’ union has reached an agreement to end their historic work stoppage.
Almost every county has again cancelled school for Thursday after teachers rejected a proposed deal, citing the lack of any progress on long-term funding for their health insurance to prevent premium increases that would continue to cause reductions in net pay, despite the proposed raises.
posted by zachlipton at 6:40 PM on February 28 [44 favorites]


Meanwhile, last night in Arizona, the conservative-controlled Board of the Maricopa County Community College District voted to eliminate the faculty contract entirely, to take effect this coming October. Yes, that’s in the middle of the fall semester.

They also eliminated the 40-year-old formal mechanism by which the faculty could even make recommendations to the Administration and Board on policy.

The District is one of the largest in the country, serving over 250,000 college students, is the largest feeder of transfer students to the state universities, and is the biggest driver of workforce development in the state. And the conservatives just killed faculty contracts.
posted by darkstar at 6:50 PM on February 28 [27 favorites]


Zinke grifter asshole update: still Zinke, still grifter, still asshole.

Zinke on track to be $200K over travel budget: report
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:50 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


sotonohito: "I have to say, a ban on semi-autos doesn't seem particularly evil or like a bad idea."

Without saying it's good or not that'll pretty well ban all the most popular rifles and the vast majority of hand guns. You might as well go full Aussie style ban if you've got the ability to pass a semi-auto ban.

ActingTheGoat: "come on man, the problem with Stephen Miller is that he's an asshole. It's not that somebody needs to "find" him a woman."

Someone leave TV Tropes open on his browser. Maybe play up how good Nethack is.

Rust Moranis: "
Zinke on track to be $200K over travel budget: report
"

$diety on a rubber crutch; does the guy just spend all his time flying 1st class.
posted by Mitheral at 7:06 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Remember the scandalous video about the 2016 secret meeting between Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodka on a Norwegian yacht trip that was released early last month on YouTube by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny?

Well, the escort/sex expert who was Navalny's source has now been jailed in Thailand but says she will spill information on Trump and Russia if the US will arrange for her release.
Anastasia Vashukevich, an escort service worker from Belarus who catapulted to a certain measure of fame after filming a yacht trip with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko, was detained in Thailand over the weekend in a police raid on her “sex training” seminar. While still in custody Tuesday, she published Instagram videos asking U.S. journalists and intelligence agencies to help her.

Deripaska, with whom Vashukevich said she had an affair, used to employ former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. But Vashukevich, better known by the alias Nastya Rybka, provided no evidence Tuesday to back up the claim that she had new information to offer related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A post to her Instagram account showed her sitting on the floor of what was described as a Thai jail cell and said she was sick.

“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump,” Vashukevich said in a live Instagram video Tuesday, apparently shot as she was driven in an open-air police van through the Thai resort city of Pattaya. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.”
And just to add another dollop of WTF to this airport-thriller news story: "Coincidentally or not, one of Russia’s most important security and intelligence officials was also in Thailand on Tuesday. Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, former head of the Federal Security Service, held talks in Bangkok on the security of Russian tourists, RIA Novosti reported."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:23 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** PA-18 special: GOP funding in this race has exceeded $9M. For one seat, where a Dem didn't even run in 2014 or 2016, that Trump won by 19 points, that's getting redrawn in 8 months anyway.

** 2018 Senate:
-- MS: Lots of developments here. State Sen McDaniel formally jumped into the GOP primary against incumbent Wicker. BUT he indicated he still might drop out of that race and run in the special for Cochran's seat, should he resign. Not clear to me if he would need to make that decision prior to the March 1 filing deadline or no. McDaniel probably doesn't have much of a shot against Wicker, a special could be anyone's game.

On the blue side, Dems finally got a good recruit in the Wicker race in House Minority Leader Baria. Baria's won as a D in a very red area, so he may have good cross-party appeal. The other top tier candidates are either shooting for governor (AG Hood), or waiting to see what happens with Cochran (Brandon Presley).
** 2018 House:
-- PA: You might remember the Dem primary battle being cast as moderates vs progressives in the old Lancaster County based PA-16 (we had a little argument about here). In light of the redistricting, Lancaster is now in the new PA-11. And Hartman (the moderate) is going to run for the new PA-10, which is possibly winnable (Trump 52-43), and where the Dems had no good candidate. King (the progressive) is still running in PA-11, although it's probably hopeless - the new district is much redder. Probably the best outcome - no feelings get bruised, and we have a shot at a seat still.
** Odds & ends:
-- Conventional wisdom has been that incumbent Illinois GOP governor Rauner's goose is cooked, and a new SIU poll corroborates that. Rauner loses 50-35 to Pritzker, and 48-34 to Biss. In the primary, it's Pritzker 31, Biss 21, Kennedy 17.

-- Dems running candidates in all NC legislature seats this fall (50 Senate, 120 House).
posted by Chrysostom at 7:27 PM on February 28 [46 favorites]


I think I picked the wrong day to spend a few hours away from the Thread. I hate to ask but is there a quick breakdown anywhere of what happened today?
posted by Jpfed at 7:29 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]




whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com

Which was last updated at 3:19 pm. lol
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:36 PM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Hope Hicks’s many opportunities (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
She was also one of those Schrödinger’s Adults with whom the president has surrounded himself, fully and miraculously responsible for all sorts of major decisions until suddenly and conveniently helpless. One moment, you are a Boy Genius who absolutely ought to be performing advanced surgery on the Middle East; the next, you are a mere infant who could not hope to fill out a form without frequent pauses for juice and snacks.

Either way, she was the opposite of Trump, Town & Country promised. But she could whisper him. (Trump is always needing to be whispered, like a ghost or a horse.)

Where will she go now, with her unique qualifications — an ability to speak softly and carry a big shtick? She will go fall in a forest, soundlessly. She will accept a position as Senior Vice President of Seeming So Put-Together That Everyone Assumes You are in Charge of Something.

But what will fill the void left by Hope? Or was there even a Hope there, in the first place? She should have been the last thing left in this Pandora’s box. There is supposed to be something left in the box after the monsters begin to fly out.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:46 PM on February 28 [60 favorites]


i suspect that if we weren’t in the middle of this everburning tire fire of a political moment, alexandra petri might never have found a worthy target on which to sharpen her rapier wit.

still not worth it.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:52 PM on February 28 [10 favorites]


FelliniBlank: My Stephen Miller voodoo doll must be defective; every time I stick another pin in it, somebody else quits!


I think you should keep right on sticking those pins, FB. Working great as far as I can tell!
posted by skippyhacker at 7:54 PM on February 28 [18 favorites]


When I was a kid, I remember complaining that the news was boring. My dad replied "You don't know how lucky you are."

Now, my dad had lived through all kinds of excessively-exciting stuff like hyperinflation, revolutions, and the Holocaust, but even so: I'm starting to understand why he appreciated boring news.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:25 PM on February 28 [116 favorites]


The main issue here is we don't have a mechanism for invalidating an election. Even if it were proven Trump is literally guilty of treason, and hand feeding the nuclear codes to Putin, impeachment is an inadequate remedy.

Broken record here. Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. Impeachment is the only tent for a legitimately elected POTUS. However, the Constitution is silent on remedies for a corrupted election. Traditionally, the courts have made decisions regarding contested elections, and by extension, shouldn't they have the decision about what to do about a party that steals an election?
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:48 PM on February 28


Traditionally, the courts have made decisions regarding contested elections, and by extension, shouldn't they have the decision about what to do about a party that steals an election?

No. Not remotely on this scale. You really don't want to turn over political outcomes to an unelected judiciary, and they shouldn't want that role, and have historically declined it as a political question (although since Bush v. Gore and Gorsuch maybe all bets are off now and we are de facto rule by the five Republican Justices). But making that shaky arrangement explicit is untenable, both for the Justices themselves and the country. This isn't a juristocracy, and we shouldn't even want it to be.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:54 PM on February 28 [7 favorites]


The craziest infrastructure week yet is unfolding on D.C. journalist Twitter:

The Washington Post's Damian Paletta @damianpaletta reports, "NEWS: Trump plans major trade announcement Thursday on steel and aluminum imports (232). This could be the first of several MAJOR trade decisions as White House 'nationalists' gain power."

But Axios's Jonathan Swan @jonathanswan demurs, "huh. this doesn't gel with any of what I'd been hearing." but admits "not saying it's wrong just a huge surprise. I was told 301 announcement was coming first and the 232 debate far from resolved.. but Trump is in a volatile mood and who knows!" Then he observes, "Something is SERIOUSLY wrong when senior administration officials and officials across Washington who should know what's going on with this — don't." and "To be clear — I am not saying WaPo is wrong. I trust their reporting. Just saying it's bizarre that people who should know about this don't, and it doesn't fit what was planned. Feels like a Wilbur —>Trump scenario."

Politico's Ben White‏ @morningmoneyben backs up the Washington Post story: "White House could announce intention to apply stiff steel and aluminum tariffs on Thursday even as aides including Gary Cohn are arguing hard against it. Via @AndrewRestuccia and @ABehsudi" Swan counters, "Total breakdown of process. And there’s no real paperwork to sign but DJT is his own man & likes what he hears from Navarro & Ross. Loss of Rob Porter made a difference here.. whatever happens tomorrow it probably wouldn’t have happened under previous trade group process." and "Trump is hopping mad tonight. In a bad place. I think when we do the tick tocks we’ll find this was a moment where he said “F it.” (Though I think this one is still very TBD, and I assume at *some point* tonight John Kelly will locate the steering wheel again.)"

Politico's Adam Behsudi‏ @ABehsudi qualifies their earlier story a bit: "Steel and aluminum tariffs could be announced by Trump on Thursday, but White House and industry sources still say there's a lot of back and forth on this. w/ @AndrewRestuccia" and Jonathan Swan adds, "Lots of back and forth (mainly because senior White House officials were learning about it for the first time by reading the Washington Post.)"

Swan concludes tonight's infrastructure week: "A staunch Trump loyalist inside the administration texted me this just now (reacting to the Sessions and trade announcement craziness): 'This is venturing into "okay, this is just too much' territory."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:58 PM on February 28 [20 favorites]


I remain skeptical that anything is "just too much" for the GOP as a whole.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:00 PM on February 28 [27 favorites]


You know, unless he comes out for tax increases.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:02 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


You impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and you make a few US industries happy in the short term. And within a year, red state exporters of agricultural products will be baying for blood, as our global competitors slap their own tariffs on US ag exports. Kentucky bourbon, grain from Kansas and Nebraska, cheese from Wisconsin...

There’s a reason they call it a trade war.
posted by darkstar at 9:07 PM on February 28 [23 favorites]


You impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and you make a few US industries happy in the short term

And you piss off a whole heap more. The last time we tried this cockamamie scheme under Bush we saved a few thousand jobs but cost industries more than a couple billion dollars. Steel users were spending an extra half a million fucking dollars a year to save a single US steel job while at the same time we also threatened our export industries to the EU.

These people don't see beyond their spiteful noses.
posted by Talez at 9:23 PM on February 28 [14 favorites]


I mean, it's not like German steel workers are being short changed or undercut on wages and benefits like the near slave labor of dumped Chinese steel. They're fully unionized and have just won an optional 28 hour work week! They just kick the living shit out of US workers at making steel.
posted by Talez at 9:27 PM on February 28 [18 favorites]


Swan concludes tonight's infrastructure week: "A staunch Trump loyalist inside the administration texted me this just now (reacting to the Sessions and trade announcement craziness): 'This is venturing into "okay, this is just too much' territory."

Yeah, Political Twitter is making it sound like the White House is imploding tonight with Chaos Reigning. Breakdown of process, breakdown of policy, it's all falling apart. We're still right about on track, maybe a bit ahead of schedule.

I don't understand what they could be thinking. What good could come of this? All I can figure is steel tariffs would be popular in the Rust Belt (and basically nowhere else) while the pain from the retaliation will be felt in places Trump either will never win (CA) or will always win (Great Plains). But that's giving too much credit and it's probably the lashing out of a toddler having a tantrum.
posted by Justinian at 9:36 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Lordy, this has been quite the news day, hasn't it?

It really feels like things in Washington are completely coming apart at the seams
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:38 PM on February 28 [9 favorites]


You really don't want to turn over political outcomes to an unelected judiciary, and they shouldn't want that role, and have historically declined it as a political question (although since Bush v. Gore and Gorsuch maybe all bets are off now and we are de facto rule by the five Republican Justices).

Couldn't agree more. However, this is a criminal matter, not a political matter.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:44 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


It really feels like things in Washington are completely coming apart at the seams

Washington can stop it any time it wants to.
posted by Merus at 9:55 PM on February 28 [40 favorites]


They just kick the living shit out of US workers at making steel.

i would phrase this as “german factories kick the shit out of US factories at making steel”. it’s not lazy workers, it’s lack of investment in manufacturing technology and training to use it.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:02 PM on February 28 [41 favorites]


Colbert's show posted the full uncut interview with Omarosa. It's 19 minutes, and honestly not worth wasting your life watching her, but it's a really bizarre painfully awkward video (not sure how well that will translate into an edited version for the show). She laughs inappropriately at pretty much every question, most of which are not remotely about laughing matters.

This clip toward the end finally starts to come around to the central contradiction here, which is that she declares herself to be offended by many of the things Trump has done, yet continued to work for him (the Access Hollywood tape was like "a gut punch"; Colbert: "a little lower"). Colbert reads off a laundry list of some of Trump's worst moments, to which she shakes her head and declares them all to be "awful" and "unacceptable" and "unequivocally unacceptable," but she's got nothing more to say in response besides "no I don't work for him anymore...nor do I regret trying to be a voice of reason at the table and trying to be the change."

The interview started with her explaining that teary Big Brother clip where she said everything is not going to be ok was specifically about immigration, about people who have been here for decades being deported. Pressed again on this point, "is everything going to be ok under Donald Trump?", her only answer is extremely Trumpian: "we'll have to wait and see...[audience boos]...yeah, suspense." That's the heart of this interview—nothing matters to Omarosa: she can feign concern for Trump's victims one minute and pull his reality show gimmicks the next. Good riddance.
posted by zachlipton at 10:23 PM on February 28 [30 favorites]


Hope Against Hope (David Remnick | The New Yorker)

“Hope Hicks is kidding herself if she thinks that her tenure in the Trump White House will be judged only for harmless, situational untruths.”
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:55 PM on February 28 [8 favorites]


IANAL, but the "sometimes I lie for Trump" and its walkback yesterday, coupled with resigning today, points to felony risk for Hicks to me.
posted by rhizome at 10:59 PM on February 28 [11 favorites]


IANAL, but the "sometimes I lie for Trump" and its walkback yesterday, coupled with resigning today, points to felony risk for Hicks to me.

It actually struck me as a very clever evasion. We've established already that lying to Congress is a crime -- felony even? (Key question: does it depend on Congress asking DOJ to prosecute, or could Mueller file charges for lying to Congress?)

Given that, just saying what Trump wanted -- "No, I never lie!" -- would be an easily proven crime. She's learned the lesson of Watergate, that vague half-denials e.g. "I don't recall that" are almost impossible to prosecute for perjury. Who's to say what someone recalled, or which lies are little and white?
posted by msalt at 11:45 PM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Well, Melania looks quite comfortable with it: Trump’s awkward gesture towards Pence caught on camera
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:21 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


Who's to say what someone recalled, or which lies are little and white?

Depends on whether it's a bench or jury trial.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:39 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


In return for these concessions to environmentalism, the Baker-Shultz promises a “significant regulatory rollback.”
Oh my god these fucking squirts. 'Alright, alright, I'll do the right thing as long as I get paid extra for it!' It's like those knuckleheads that go 'O why should I even stop being racist if you can't be bothered to be super nice and polite to me?!'
posted by glasseyes at 4:41 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


Rubio's approval rating is plummeting. Looks like continually slamming the Parkland teenagers isn't a good electoral strategy. Good thing he's not facing election for another four years.

Incidentally, every single kid at Stoneman Douglas will be eligible to vote in Rubio's next election in 2022.
posted by Talez at 5:07 AM on March 1 [90 favorites]


^ every single *surviving* kid
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:51 AM on March 1 [49 favorites]


Oh I missed this one... Ahead of a bipartisan meeting with President Donald Trump Wednesday to discuss school safety, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin refused to support a ban on AR-15s, stating that none of his friends who own the semi-automatic rifle have ever broken the law with it.

He doesn’t personally know any mass shooters or terrorists, so it’s all alright!
posted by Artw at 6:00 AM on March 1 [42 favorites]


Yeah well I know plenty of people who have to settle for a 303 or a .22 for a weapon when dealing with feral pigs and none of them have ever had a problem with it.
posted by Talez at 6:09 AM on March 1 [8 favorites]


This was mentioned in the previous thread, but here's some reporting:

Polygon: Discord is purging alt-right, white nationalist and hateful servers

"Each of the servers affected — TRS, Atomwaffen, Nordic Resistance Movement, Uncesnsored politics , Ironmarch, Pagan Pathway, European Domus and Fashlash — are known for curating content that promotes hateful ideologies and pro-Nazism."
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:21 AM on March 1 [26 favorites]


Mitheral Without saying it's good or not that'll pretty well ban all the most popular rifles and the vast majority of hand guns.

Gotta open with something.

And the NRA cultists have been telling us stoopid liberals for years that we don't understand guns and all of our efforts at control are doomed because of our inability to appreciate and obsess over the minutiae of gun specs, that our bans on assault rifles are just too woefully ignorant to even laugh about, and that anything we propose is automatically wrong because we're not NRA lifetime members.

Fine.

Let's open with a nice, simple, easy to comprehend, proposal that would undeniably ban the sorts of weapons that cause the problems. If that's bad then let them make a counterproposal. But you know what? Banning semi-autos would work. And they couldn't whine about how we're just banning cosmetic stuff.

If they don't like my proposal let them make one of their own from their superior knowledge.

I think part of our nationwide problem is that there's no credible anti-gun movement. The range of opinions in public affairs range from fanatical pro gun to less fanatical pro gun but possibly open to tiny little changes. Every major Democratic pol has felt it necessary to pose with guns and talk about how much they love hunting and hunters at the very least.

If nothing else a strong movement pushing a genuinely anti-NRA stance would force the gun cultists to negotiate a bit more. Right now we start from the position that all guns are great and any restrictions are horrible and try to edge from that position to "maybe a bit more background checks".

If we start from "ban all semi-autos" then we can settle for other stuff.

And it isn't as if the NRA and its cultists have rewarded anyone on the liberal side of things for their pro-gun stances. Despite every major Democrat telling America how much they love guns, the NRA has been unrelenting in painting them as evil "gun grabbers" who want to repeal the 2nd Amendment. So why bother trying to cozy up to them or present ourselves as reasonable?

Every moderate needs extremists as a sort of unspoken threat to get things done. MLK couldn't have gotten what he got if it hadn't been for Malcolm X and the other truly radical black activists in the background for the white power structure to see as the unreasonable alternative to MLK. "Deal with us or you'll have to deal with them" has been vital to every successful movement.

America is in desperate need of a genuine full throated anti-gun movement, if for no other reason than to force the gun cultists to make concessions to the moderates.
posted by sotonohito at 6:24 AM on March 1 [52 favorites]


The problem with that is the Second Amendment prevents it from being a plain old political tug-of-war. A full-throated anti-gun movement would have to advocate for a Constitutional amendment.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:33 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


A full-throated anti-gun movement would have to advocate for a Constitutional amendment.

I think this greatly depends on your interpretation of the amendment. If you place the emphasis on "well-regulated militia" then, well, we have that. It's called the national guard. If you want to fire guns, you can party like its 1799 and join up and keep the weapons at your local national guard arsenal until it's time to drill. I don't think that's contrary to 2A, it's just contrary to how some people interpret 2A.

I mean, even countries with what we'd consider very strict gun control allow some people to have guns. It's not like no one in Great Britain hunts. It's not like no one there collects historic weapons. But if you want a modern, military or law enforcement-grade weapon, you can join the military or law enforcement. Which, again, I don't think is contradictory to the US constitution.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:40 AM on March 1 [62 favorites]


Trump’s awkward gesture towards Pence caught on camera

Any port in a storm.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:41 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


If we start from "ban all semi-autos" then we can settle for other stuff.

Why don't we start with "license all guns"? Mass shootings aren't the source of most gun violence, it's homicides and suicides. License guns like we license other dangerous things in society. Comprehensive background check, require passing a rigorous test, required continuing education, required pro bono work in the community, loss of license in the event of misbehavior, etc. As you go up the danger spectrum (muzzle loader -> lever/bolt/pump action -> semi-automatic -> automatic) you increase the rigor and pain-in-the-neckedness of holding the license. This is ALREADY THE CASE with Class 3 items (suppressors, automatic weapons, etc.)

You don't need to ban something to safely regulate it. Calling for bans just gives the NRA the enemy they want.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:42 AM on March 1 [60 favorites]


Trump’s awkward gesture towards Pence caught on camera

Any port in a storm.


I guess he doesn't realize that Mike's already measuring Oval Office drapes behind that vacant smile.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:44 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Gun control discussion seems better at home in the shooting thread. At the rate news was generated yesterday, we'll be burning through a thread a day if we're not careful.
posted by stonepharisee at 6:45 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


Reminder: gun control debate goes in the Parkland/guns thread.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:46 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Colbert reads off a laundry list of some of Trump's worst moments, to which [Omarosa] shakes her head and declares them all to be "awful" and "unacceptable" and "unequivocally unacceptable"
“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump,” she said. "It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”
posted by kirkaracha at 6:46 AM on March 1 [29 favorites]


Yeah, Political Twitter is making it sound like the White House is imploding tonight with Chaos Reigning.

Yep, it's just business as usual at the Trump White House. Trump was humiliated yesterday, twice over, with a defiant public gesture from his beleaguered Attorney General and the departure of his comms director/surrogate daughter. As is typical with him, narcissistic injury resulted in narcissistic rage, and he lashed out, causing chaos in his immediate vicinity, which then spreads outward. Axios's Jonathan Swan has often provided exasperated staffers with an outlet for leaking in such situations.

One other reason why I was paying especially close attention to Swan yesterday, however, was that, per @TrumpsAlert, Donald Jr. started following him on Twitter yesterday morning.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:55 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Colbert reads off a laundry list of some of Trump's worst moments, to which [Omarosa] shakes her head and declares them all to be "awful" and "unacceptable" and "unequivocally unacceptable"

“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump,” she said. "It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”


I really don't understand how people like that work on the inside. Is this a mask they take off when the cameras stop rolling, or do they behave this way in private as well? Did they never have an internal moral compass, or did they intentionally snuff it out?

What happened to them to turn them out this way?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:56 AM on March 1 [18 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Russia, this morning Vladimir Putin officially declared Cold War 2.0 on the western world. (“You didn’t listen to our country then. Listen to us now.”)

Reuters: Putin, Before Election, Unveils New Nuclear Weapons To Counter West
President Vladimir Putin unveiled an array of new nuclear weapons on Thursday, in one of his most bellicose speeches in years, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and not be intercepted.[...]

“They have not succeeded in holding Russia back,” said Putin, referring to the West.

“Now they need to take account of a new reality and understand that everything I have said today is not a bluff.”

Among the new weapons that Putin said were either in development or ready: a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a small nuclear warhead that could be attached to cruise missiles, underwater nuclear drones, a supersonic weapon and a laser weapon.

The audience, made up of Russian lawmakers and other leading figures, frequently stood up and applauded his presentation, which culminated with the Russian national anthem being played.[...]

“Unfriendly steps towards Russia such as the deployment of the (U.S.) anti-missile system and of NATO infrastructure nearer our borders and such like, from a military point of view, will become ineffective.”
Naturally Putin turns out to share Trump's obsession with nuclear weapons, only it turns out he's been concentrating on them.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:08 AM on March 1 [40 favorites]


I really don't understand how people like that work on the inside. Is this a mask they take off when the cameras stop rolling, or do they behave this way in private as well? Did they never have an internal moral compass, or did they intentionally snuff it out?

They are what they need to be in the moment to get ahead. They are pleasers, which means they are chameleons, to the people that they think are their best chances for getting ahead. They are users to everyone else. I have worked for a person like this, and it's all calculated for advancement. That is their primary focus to which everything and everyone else is sacrificed and compromised: How do I get to the next rung up?

She talked big shit when she thought Donald's coattails were her ticket to a better life. Now she realizes what direction he's headed in, and she wants to be the first rat off the ship. So now, instead of pleasing him, she needs to please the court of public opinion to rehab her image, while she crosses her fingers and hopes nobody asks what it is she does, exactly.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:43 AM on March 1 [28 favorites]


There may also be some personal revenge to this as well, if the stories of the manner of her departure contain any truth.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:44 AM on March 1


There is an undeniable creepiness in a Videodrome way, how these creatures from reality TV have slithered out of their semi-fictional world to lay waste to our real one.

Also: isn’t it about time for Javanka to fuck off to the south of France or St. Martins or some shit? Don’t they usually vacation when it gets this hot at home?

And: Do you think they’ll let Jared have the cell next to his father? I don’t think it works that way, but these days, you never know.
posted by valkane at 7:51 AM on March 1 [26 favorites]


If they don't like my proposal let them make one of their own from their superior knowledge.


The problem is that they've been doing just that, filling the law books with deliberately unenforceable, loophole-riddled “gun control” laws, like a sort of legislative carbon monoxide.
posted by acb at 7:52 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


From Kurt Eichenwald:
Ah, what the hell....this is the portion on Trump's drug use from the Newsweek story that set off a war. Matt Mcallaster, soon fired under sex discrimination cloud, said he was 2 frightened to publish despite push by every other editor. I've left Newsweek.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:58 AM on March 1 [49 favorites]


I see South Korea is on the list of countries to be hit with the steel tarriff.

After all this, I wonder what would make Moon stop with his 사대주의.
posted by anem0ne at 8:01 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]




They are what they need to be in the moment to get ahead. They are pleasers, which means they are chameleons, to the people that they think are their best chances for getting ahead. They are users to everyone else. I have worked for a person like this, and it's all calculated for advancement. That is their primary focus to which everything and everyone else is sacrificed and compromised: How do I get to the next rung up?

Think how much better the world would be if everyone learned from a young age that they don't need external validation to be a person worthy of love and respect. I feel the same way about Trump. I wish somebody, back when he was still a little kid, had shown him some kindness, empathy and love, and given him the footing of self-worth necessary to grow into a decent human being.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:07 AM on March 1 [16 favorites]


this is the portion on Trump's drug use from the Newsweek story

That's ridiculous! It says Trump's been taking drugs long-term whose side effects include "delusions, paranoia, and hyperactivity" and "sleeplessness and impulse control problems." I'm sure someone would have noticed if the president of the United States had exhibited that kind of behavior.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:14 AM on March 1 [73 favorites]


Think how much better the world would be if everyone learned from a young age that they don't need external validation to be a person worthy of love and respect. I feel the same way about Trump. I wish somebody, back when he was still a little kid, had shown him some kindness, empathy and love, and given him the footing of self-worth necessary to grow into a decent human being.

It took me nearly 40 years to really understand in my bones that I'd never fill the hole in me with perfectly-aligned life circumstances, even if such a thing were achievable. And I was raised well by loving people. The fact that he doesn't appear to have much of an internal life almost seems like a mercy to him (or maybe a survival adaptation) from that perspective.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:16 AM on March 1 [21 favorites]


this is the portion on Trump's drug use from the Newsweek story that set off a war.

To save people a fearful click: an editorial war within the newsroom.

The substance of the story is that
(1) Trump may have had a second doctor that was was not previously disclosed;
(2) Trump was prescribed, and took, amphetamine derivatives for a number of years starting in the early '80s;
(3) It is possible that he took a whole lot of drugs in that time period, and was possibly addicted;
(4) Trump stopped taking the drugs at least two and a half decades ago, and Eichenwald has no evidence that he has used amphetamines after that point.

And so: Trump may have spent half a decade or so addicted to amphetamines, twenty or thirty years ago, and either Trump or Trump's doctor lied in discussing his health history. That's definitely a story -- particularly if Eichenwald actually does have the medical records to corroborate it -- but it's also classic Eichenwald in that there are a lot of insinuations in the article about things Trump did in the '80s and '90s, presented without evidence; and Eichenwald draws a number of lines between Trump's alleged drug abuse and decisions that Trump made in that time period, but...most of the stuff he's insinuating ('a potential side effect is paranoia; another is impulsiveness') is stuff that is already self-evident in Trump's public behavior.

It's not not a story, but:

That's ridiculous! It says Trump's been taking drugs long-term whose side effects include "delusions, paranoia, and hyperactivity" and "sleeplessness and impulse control problems." I'm sure someone would have noticed if the president of the United States had exhibited that kind of behavior.

Exactly: Trump has already demonstrated that he's not qualified and not capable of being a good president. Maybe this story will have legs if it grabs people's imagination and if people start asking pointed questions about whether the President definitely really did absolutely stop taking amphetamine derivatives after 1990 -- that's the obvious follow-up here -- and if it helps recenter some conversations around how terrible a president he is, that's good, but this is also more of an explanation (if true) than a revelation. He is a terrible president. Knowing part of why he's a terrible president (if this is true) doesn't make him any less or more terrible; it might be good to know, but Trump's actual actions and statements on the campaign trail and now in office are already damning.

Given that a significant fraction (if a small one) of the country seems to think he's kind of okay, though, maybe I'm understating the potential impact of this.
posted by cjelli at 8:25 AM on March 1 [35 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Russia, this morning Vladimir Putin officially declared Cold War 2.0 on the western world. (“You didn’t listen to our country then. Listen to us now.”)

Yeah, watch that little animated video demonstrating their new Sarmat ballistic missile. Its target? Florida. [real]
posted by zakur at 8:27 AM on March 1 [13 favorites]


this is the portion on Trump's drug use from the Newsweek story

"Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, acknowledged that Trump used them as diet pills for a few days in the early 1980s." Perhaps one of the "little white lies" she told on Trump's behalf?

For what it's worth, some of these details match up with a 2016 story's from the late lamented Gawker—Rumor: Doctor Prescribes Donald Trump "Cheap Speed"—based on original reporting in 1992 from the similarly late lamented Spy Magazine in 1992.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:30 AM on March 1 [13 favorites]


Of course Trump would use a cheap knockoff.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:33 AM on March 1 [16 favorites]


Given that a significant fraction (if a small one) of the country seems to think he's kind of okay, though, maybe I'm understating the potential impact of this.

It's Don's Teflon. If [Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama/etc. etc.] had been a speed-freak for 8 years and lied about it...
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:35 AM on March 1 [7 favorites]


Doktor Zed: ...based on original reporting in 1992 from the similarly late lamented Spy Magazine in 1992.

And of course Spy Magazine got there twenty-five years ago, and the rest of us are only catching up now.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:38 AM on March 1 [31 favorites]


To be fair, Obama did admit to smoking weed in college, and nothing much was made of it. (That stood out from all the pointed racism and obstructionism, anyway.)
posted by Autumnheart at 8:39 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Yeah, watch that little animated video demonstrating their new Sarmat ballistic missile. Its target? Florida. [real]

Putin knows what he's doing. His aim is to get Trump to commit trillions to the US's nuclear arsenal, diverting resources from the productive economy, with the ultimate aim of doing to the US what Reagan did to the USSR, and thus settling a personal grudge.
posted by acb at 8:41 AM on March 1 [60 favorites]


Every major Democratic pol has felt it necessary to pose with guns and talk about how much they love hunting and hunters at the very least.

I get that people can be frustrated with the Dems but this is a bit of an oversimplification. MeFi-favorite-punching-bag Dianne Feinstein is as senior and major a Democratic pol as you can get, and she is the NRA's enemy #1. She's been fighting guns for more than 20 years. Anyway, here's a little gif for our collective amusement.
posted by Jpfed at 8:41 AM on March 1 [16 favorites]


I called both my Republican senators' DC offices to express my concern that the reason Trump broke his promise to close the carried interest loophole was because the director of the Apollo hedge fund met Jared Kushner at the White House and gave him a $184m loan, and that by voting to keep the loophole my senators were personally enriching the Trump family and wealthy Republican donors at the expense of the American people.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:43 AM on March 1 [61 favorites]


To be fair, Obama did admit to smoking weed in college,...
Right. He admitted it. Wrote about it in his autobiography even. He didn't lie about it.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:43 AM on March 1 [8 favorites]


Trump used them as diet pills for a few days in the early 1980s."

May not even be a lie in the strictest sense. He used drugs for a few days in the 1980s. And a few other days in the 1980s. Maybe around 170 times each year in the 80s"

"I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to too."
posted by Twain Device at 8:45 AM on March 1 [37 favorites]


MeFi-favorite-punching-bag Dianne Feinstein is as senior and major a Democratic pol as you can get, and she is the NRA's enemy #1.

This is very true. I am not a fan of DiFei at all, but she has been in the lead for getting rid of assault weapons and the NRA hates her with a passion.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:47 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


"I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to too."

I think the key phrase was "as diet pills" actually. If he used them as diet pills for a few days but then continued using them as speed then it could be literally true while being misleading in the extreme.
posted by Green With You at 8:52 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


I am beyond despairing that we appear to have reignited the nuclear arms race after having made so much progress in arms reduction over so many years. I mean, that's what's happening, right? I can't really read this any other way - I don't think Putin is completely lying here, and I don't see us living in a world where this isn't met in turn by an escalation on the US side.
posted by MysticMCJ at 8:53 AM on March 1 [25 favorites]


I get that people can be frustrated with the Dems but this is a bit of an oversimplification.

It's not just an oversimplification, it's simply false.
posted by biogeo at 8:55 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I have never understood why you need an arms race past the "we have enough weapons to kill every human on Earth" point. Which I believe we are at. More nukes won't make us more dangerous if we can already kill everyone on earth.

Not that stupid and greedy people won't seek to build more of course.
posted by emjaybee at 8:56 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


I should have said "every Democrat running for President".
posted by sotonohito at 8:59 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I forget, did Clinton do the dumb duck hunt thing? I think the cosying yo to pro-lifers was more her equivalent of this.
posted by Artw at 9:03 AM on March 1


I don't think Putin is completely lying here,

No, but neither is he completely telling the truth. The propaganda is, "we now have a missile the US can't stop". But as far as I know, that was already true. The Star Wars missile defense system never worked. This announcement does not necessarily mean the Kremlin has developed any major new nuclear capacity.
posted by biogeo at 9:05 AM on March 1 [23 favorites]


TABLEGATE SHOCKER: HUD: Carson Directs Agency To Cancel Order For $30,000 Dining Set
Carson continued: “I left this matter alone to concentrate on bigger issues. I was as surprised as anyone to find out that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered. I have requested that the order be canceled. We will find another solution for the furniture replacement.”
posted by murphy slaw at 9:10 AM on March 1 [17 favorites]


Republicans are not just attached to Trump — they’re his customers, too

posted by T.D. Strange at 8:06 AM on March 1 [+] [!]


Hit a paywall. Is there a non-walled version of this?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:13 AM on March 1


I dunno to what extent Putin desires mutual nuclear escalation. It may be that he wants to show off how much he can get away with -- how much Trump will not act provoked, because of whatever their arrangement is. The world will see a contrast with the reaction to Kim Jong-un; Donald's unlikely to tweet speculation about the size of Vladimir's nuclear button, invent a dopey nickname for him, drop nightmarish hints about how he'd like to use American nukes, etc.

(Meanwhile, I can't imagine the deplorables settling on a narrative. Over the past couple years, we've heard that Hillary would be much too weak on Russia, that she'd have nuked Russia, that she's the Ultimate Russia Colluder, that Putin is a wonderful guy anyone would be lucky to consider a friend, and so forth.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:14 AM on March 1 [11 favorites]


NYTimes: Senate Intelligence Leaders Say House G.O.P. Leaked a Senator’s Texts
The Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of private text messages between the Senate panel’s top Democrat and a Russian-connected lawyer, according to two congressional officials briefed on the matter.

Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.

To the senators, who are overseeing what is effectively the last bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the leak was a serious breach of protocol and a partisan attack by one intelligence committee against the other.

The text messages were leaked just days after the same House Republicans had taken the extraordinary step of publicly releasing, over the objections of the F.B.I., a widely disputed memorandum based on sensitive government secrets. Taken together, the actions suggested a pattern of partisanship and unilateral action by the once-bipartisan House panel.
Not shocking, but it should be shocking.
posted by cjelli at 9:20 AM on March 1 [85 favorites]


They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.

holy crap, i knew Nunes was an idiot and had gone rogue, but this is rogue idiocy to the point that, in any normal congress, he'd be expelled from the chamber.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:24 AM on March 1 [7 favorites]


No, but neither is he completely telling the truth. The propaganda is, "we now have a missile the US can't stop". But as far as I know, that was already true. The Star Wars missile defense system never worked. This announcement does not necessarily mean the Kremlin has developed any major new nuclear capacity.

Skate to where the puck will be, not where it is. Eventually ICBM defence will work. It's hard, not impossible. Shooting a missile into a missile is a thing that can be done, and is done on smaller scales. Russia is claiming that they are on the way to obsoleting that research before it finishes.

Yes, that would be a big deal in terms of maintaining Russian strike capability.
posted by jaduncan at 9:26 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Politico:
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Wednesday requested that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson turn over all documents and communications pertaining to allegations by a high-ranking civil servant that she was the target of reprisals after sounding the alarm on agency spending.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:33 AM on March 1 [44 favorites]


Shooting a missile into a missile is a thing that can be done, and is done on smaller scales. Russia is claiming that they are on the way to obsoleting that research before it finishes.

That's already well known, because it's much easier and cheaper to deploy decoys than it is to create the capacity to detect the actual warhead. And then if a defense system develops -- at great cost and effort -- the capacity to detect one warhead among a dozen decoys, it's much easier to deploy a hundred and overwhelm the system again. That's why missile defense has always been a pipe dream.
posted by Gelatin at 9:35 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


It says Trump's been taking drugs long-term whose side effects include "delusions, paranoia, and hyperactivity" and "sleeplessness and impulse control problems." I'm sure someone would have noticed if the president of the United States had exhibited that kind of behavior.

Goddammit I’m kind of tired of stuff that’s been obviously true forever — remember when a bunch of us were like “yo that dude is on speed” during the debates? — getting confirmed and the response is just “well of course.”

Between this and Treasongate, I feel like fucking Cassandra.

I dunno to what extent Putin desires mutual nuclear escalation

I don’t think he does. I think he sees that his covert acts of war against the United States and various NATO members are being uncovered, and he’s announcing that he has new weapons of overt war.

I also think it’s impossible to understand why Putin does what he does without understanding what’s going on inside Russia, and I don’t know who has that kind of expertise. It does seem like he’s dealing with a declining quality of life, an aging population, and a bunch of unrest among young people, so. Stirring up external conflicts is probably helpful, and certainly within the FSB/Putin playbook. (Remember all those terrorist apartment bombings that turned out to be FSB? Yeeeeaaahh.)
posted by schadenfrau at 9:36 AM on March 1 [21 favorites]


Breaking now that Trump has decided to go ahead and start a trade war with China over steel and aluminum. This, just ten minutes after WaPo posted this story:

Trump opts against announcing steel and aluminum tariffs Thursday after fierce White House blowback
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:36 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


“The White House” is no longer a metonym. It’s 100% warring factions and palace intrigue 100% of the time. This is no way to run a country.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:40 AM on March 1 [47 favorites]


The timing of Putin is awesome. And the targeting of Florida (Mar-A-Lago!) is precious. Lack of a terrorist attack on US soil, this rebooting of the cold war almost feels like a telephone agreement between two plutocrats to aid them both in maintaining control. We have always been at war with Oceana.

I honestly don’t think Donald Trump sees himself as an American. He sees himself as a member of the billionaire boys club, and that transcends all borders. The plutocrat club is an international country club where only the rich get to sit around and bullshit each other about how many people they own. Running the government as a business means citizens are all just employees, ants to be trod on and terminated for whatever reason that maximizes profit not for the general populace, but for the boss. Trump.

There are no laws, no social niceties, no rules or norms. There is only fuck you, where’s my money?
posted by valkane at 9:41 AM on March 1 [65 favorites]


In the last week we've had a bunch of polling of the generic congressional ballot. Suffolk and CNN did traditional live-caller polls and came back with +15 and +16. YouGov and Morning Consult, AFAIK, use online non-probability sampling online polling and came back +2 and +2.

Those are not results that can be reconciled as margin of error. I wish the elections were this week for a lot of reasons but one of them is so that we could see which methodology is bullshit. I know which I'd bet on.
posted by Justinian at 9:41 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Breaking now that Trump has decided to go ahead and start a trade war with China over steel and aluminum.

is the the Congressional GOP ever going to tire of trying to operate a marionette while only holding half of the strings?
posted by murphy slaw at 9:43 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Breaking now that Trump has decided to go ahead and start a trade war with China over steel and aluminum

Whatever it takes to get Hope Hicks off the front page.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:43 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


He sees himself as a member of the billionaire boys club, and that transcends all borders.

So sort of a "globalist elite," to coin a phrase?
posted by contraption at 9:43 AM on March 1 [19 favorites]


Eventually ICBM defence will work.

Opting out of MAD isn't something a nuclear-armed state should- hell, can- be permitted to do. Nobody in their right mind would tolerate such a thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:44 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


so that we could see which methodology is bullshit. I know which I'd bet on.

Which? I would think that traditional live-caller polling would be *more* likely to be Republican-leaning. Or am I misunderstanding what's meant?
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:45 AM on March 1


I'd sure like to opt out of the beta.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:45 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Those are not results that can be reconciled as margin of error. I wish the elections were this week for a lot of reasons but one of them is so that we could see which methodology is bullshit. I know which I'd bet on.

special election results have been much closer to +15 than +2
posted by murphy slaw at 9:46 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Breaking now that Trump has decided to go ahead and start a trade war with China over steel and aluminum.

This is per the White House Press pool, which has Trump saying that we 'will set' tariffs, but I'd also note here that's there's nothing signed as yet, and nothing to sign, so it's still officially a question mark, although the word seems to be that he will sign something 'next week.'

It is not yet next week, and given the rollercoaster of positions on this within the last hour, maybe that could change; there doesn't seem to be an official position, there's been no coherent messaging, and the details -- is Canada exempted? is anyone exempted? -- haven't been set, even if it's really happening.
posted by cjelli at 9:47 AM on March 1 [13 favorites]


Which? I would think that traditional live-caller polling would be *more* likely to be Republican-leaning. Or am I misunderstanding what's meant?

I'd bet on the the live-caller polling pretty heavily. Live-caller polling uses random sampling. The online polls are non-probability polls. They recruit people with ads and stuff. It is still possible to get good results but you have to use sophisticated mathematical adjustments to control for your sample. Mostly I think they don't.
posted by Justinian at 9:48 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


He sees himself as a member of the billionaire boys club, and that transcends all borders.

My cab driver's conservative talk radio was savaging the globalist elite of Davos with their private jets, but for some reason the President escaped criticism. There must be something special about him.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:49 AM on March 1 [11 favorites]


Breaking now that Trump has decided to go ahead and start a trade war with China over steel and aluminum.

Worth noting that China isn't even the top exporter of steel to the US, it's 11th. The top exporter is Canada.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:50 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


Great point, cjelli. And the fact that we don’t know whether to take the words of the president literally or seriously sure is a sign of something, and none of it good.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:50 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Great point, cjelli. And the fact that we don’t know whether to take the words of the president literally or seriously sure is a sign of something, and none of it good.

i'm sure the stock market will wait patiently for clarification.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:52 AM on March 1 [12 favorites]


The timing of Putin is awesome. And the targeting of Florida (Mar-A-Lago!) is precious.

This is another dominance display by Putin, pure and simple. His motives are partly geopolitical - who knows what moves he's planning to make in spring or summer in the Baltics, for instance - and partly political, since he literally pulled out the big guns for a re-election campaign rally. But sticking it to Trump because he can is priceless.

Meanwhile, Fox News Pentagon correspondent Lucas Tomlinson @LucasFoxNews tweeted, "U.S. officials say Russia's nuke powered cruise missile not operational yet, still in 'R&D' phase and has crashed recently in testing in the Arctic, despite claims by Putin today." and "U.S. officials here say Russia 'worried' about Pentagon's plans to develop two new 'low-yield' nukes. Putin's speech needed to match Trump administration plans and shore up support at home ahead of presidential election this month".

Welcome to the Arms Race 2.0.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:57 AM on March 1 [14 favorites]


this rebooting of the cold war almost feels like a telephone agreement between two plutocrats to aid them both in maintaining control.

It also allows Trump to substitute tough-guy security theatre for action by escalating the U.S. nuke program rather than implementing the sanctions that would actually hurt Putin and his Oligarch cronies (and presumably the mysterious definitely-not-Trump-related party that got that 19.5% share of Rosneft).
posted by Buntix at 9:58 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


is Canada exempted?

I would assume that the main target of this is, in fact, Canada. Trump has been amplifying his rhetoric on unfair Canadian trade a lot in the last month. This gets a lot of play in the Canadian press, but I'm pretty certain it those concerns are lost in the noise in the US.

A couple of typical articles in Canadian media for the past few weeks:
GlobeandMail: Blame Canada: Trump paints us as suave international swindlers
CBC: 'Canada does not treat us right': Trump threatens new tax

This is frontpage news every day in Canada.
posted by bonehead at 9:59 AM on March 1 [39 favorites]


there's nothing signed as yet, and nothing to sign, so it's still officially a question mark, although the word seems to be that he will sign something 'next week.'

Based on his legislative history I expect him to sign an executive order demanding the Treasury department look at tariffs and report back in a few months
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:00 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Justinian: "The online polls are non-probability polls. They recruit people with ads and stuff."

Yeah, I do online surveys with Ipsos - you can earn points for stuff. Mostly product questionnaires, but sometimes it's politics. They do ask me my demographic info, but I am still pretty skeptical of response validity.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:01 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


>Breaking now that Trump has decided to go ahead and start a trade war with China over steel and aluminum.

Worth noting that China isn't even the top exporter of steel to the US, it's 11th. The top exporter is Canada.


This is true, but this is also complicated in that China is a major, top-10 exporter to both Mexico and to Canada, which have had problems with cheap steel imports disrupting local production, and there have been repeated allegations that Chinese companies have funneled aluminium exports through Mexico (and thence to America) to evade American fees. That doesn't materially change the fundamental stupidity of starting a trade war with China, mind you.

This is a dumb plan, rolled out in a dumb fashion, and one seemingly driven by a lack of comprehension on Trump's part about how literally any of this works, which is definitely a sentence I have typed out for the first time, unique to this situation, and not one I have copied-and-pasted from a response to some past gaffe.
posted by cjelli at 10:04 AM on March 1 [16 favorites]


Just announced: Trump says U.S. will impose tariffs of 25% for steel, 10% for aluminum

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced new tariffs for imports of steel, at 25 per cent, and 10 per cent for aluminum that are to be implemented next week.

As pointed out, Canada is the top supplier of both to the US economy, even though it's not mentioned as one of the "bad actors". Interestingly, Canada is also the largest importer of US steel, largely because of auto manufacturing and military purposes. It will be interesting to see what the blow back is. This could be the single issue that kills an integrated NA auto industry, even if NAFTA survives.
posted by bonehead at 10:04 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Speaking of warring factions within the WH, here’s a handy guide to the current chaos:

A Brief Guide to Every 5-Alarm Fire Currently Engulfing the White House (Eric Levitz | NY Mag)
The Trump White House has long been an area known for its wildfires. But even by this administration’s combustible standards, it’s been a singularly incendiary week. By the time the president woke Thursday morning, nearly every corner of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was engulfed by a distinct (figurative) conflagration.

Here’s a quick rundown of every “would have been the biggest internal crisis of the year (and/or presidency) in a different administration” currently blazing through the West Wing’s halls.

1. The president is (once again) at war with his attorney general.

2. A senior White House adviser is at war with the chief of staff.

3. The world is at war with Jared Kushner.

4. The president’s authoritarianism is at war with his pro-gun fanaticism.

5. The director of the National Economic Council is at war with the White House trade adviser.

6. Hope is lost.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:11 AM on March 1 [72 favorites]


Couple of points on Ben Carson to firmly establish him as a complete piece of shit. First, the total cost of his dining room set is $165,000; $31,000 is just for the table. And second, his primary concern with HUD itself & the people it services seems to be making sure the poor people it's mandated to help aren't being helped too much:
Compassion, Mr. Carson explained in an interview, means not giving people “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.’”
posted by scalefree at 10:12 AM on March 1 [41 favorites]


Daniel Dale, Toronto Star [twitter]:
Note that the Commerce Department recommended a 24% tariff as one of the options. Trump, per @jonathanvswan, has picked 25% because he thinks it sounds better.
...
Trump says if you can't make steel and alumninum, you almost "don't have a country."

The U.S. produced 90 million tons of steel last year.
'Because it sounds better.'
posted by cjelli at 10:13 AM on March 1 [31 favorites]


The This could be the single issue that kills an integrated NA auto industry, even if NAFTA survives.

Kills the integrated auto industry? The US automakers just had their president increase the price of their raw materials while firing an opening trade war salvo against our biggest car export destination. The US auto industry will be be lucky if they’re not in chapter 11 in the next five years.
posted by Talez at 10:16 AM on March 1 [27 favorites]


But yeah, we’ll save/create a couple hundred steel jobs which have been eviscerated by technology and per capita production inmprovements and not foreign competition.
posted by Talez at 10:18 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Welcome to the Arms Race 2.0

Project Pluto revisited?

This is DLC at best.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:18 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Aluminum, in particular, is made in Canada because it's very power-intensive and Canada, mostly Quebec and BC, has lots of low-cost hydroelectric power. As a result, most Canadian aluminum is produced with little carbon emissions.

In the US, something like 3/4 of power is non-renewable, being NG, then coal, then nuclear. So this policy, shifting aluminum manufacture to the US, is a profoundly anti-climate change policy too.
posted by bonehead at 10:18 AM on March 1 [52 favorites]




How Democrats Are Helping Trump Dismantle Dodd-Frank

VP Nominee Tim Kaine leading the way.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:30 AM on March 1 [16 favorites]


South Carolina has been a magnet for foreign car manufacturers over the past decade as well due to good value for money for wages compared to Germany. Expect that area to start being hit hard if the tariffs go on for more than a Scaramucci.

Back in January the German auto plant workers for Mercedes had a very unpleasant on the job.. confrontation... with a lackey of the executives over the decision to offshore C-class hybrid production to Charleston. This could get real awkward when said execs start getting the bills for the tariffs.
posted by Talez at 10:36 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Trump spent the campaign praising Larry Kudlow, and look how that turned out.

@larry_kudlow: Stocks down over 300 points on @realDonaldTrump announcement of 25% steel tariff and 10% on aluminum. Tariffs are taxes on users, think cars, trucks, planes, cans etc. POTUS so good on taxes & regs, so bad on trade.

Sen. Thune sums it up though: “There is no standard operating practice with this administration. Every day is a new adventure for us.”

In other news, WSJ reports that Mnuchin, Dogged By Protesters, Doesn’t Want Video Posted. His speech at UCLA went not particularly well, so he's asked them to not post video of it. Which is bad enough, but I'm not at all understanding why UCLA would honor that request.

And a quick plug here for a meetup including both me and lalex in the same room, at the end of the month in New York, unless my flight is cancelled and lalex is left awkwardly insisting we're really not the same person despite my absence. Come join us! (and discuss that over in IRL, not this thread)
posted by zachlipton at 10:42 AM on March 1 [36 favorites]


How Democrats Are Helping Trump Dismantle Dodd-Frank

"a spokesperson for Senator Tim Kaine responded, “Campaign contributions do not influence Senator Kaine’s policy positions."

"Mark Warner, Kaine’s fellow senator from Virginia, is also co-sponsoring. “Campaign contributions have never influenced Senator Warner’s decision making on policy matters and never will,” "

This is the same statement that Marco Rubio made about his 3 million dollars from the NRA. I wonder if Kaine and Warner hold the same position with respect to Rubio?
posted by Justinian at 10:46 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]




Blast from the past (August 2017)! Axios Exclusive: Trump vents in Oval Office, "I want tariffs. Bring me some tariffs!"
Trump, addressing Kelly, said, "John, you haven't been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, 'Tariffs. I want tariffs.' And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can't put a tariff on IP." (Most in the room understood that the president can, in fact, use tariffs to combat Chinese IP theft.)[...]

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: "Sir, do you not want to sign this?" He was referring to Trump's memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: "No, I'll sign it, but it's not what I've asked for the last six months." He turned to Kelly: "So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs."

Kelly replied: "Yes sir, understood sir, I have it."

At one point in the meeting, Navarro pulled out a foam board chart. Trump didn't pay attention to it, saying "I don't even know what I'm looking at here."

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

"John, let me tell you why they didn't bring me any tariffs," he said. "I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don't want them, John, they don't want the tariffs. But I'm telling you, I want tariffs."
(Who would have thought the mediating influence of Roy Porter would be missed so soon?)

It's as though Trump, having proved unable to start a conflict in the Korean Penninsula, is looking to ignite a trade war in which it would be collateral damage.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:49 AM on March 1 [24 favorites]




How Democrats Are Helping Trump Dismantle Dodd-Frank

"a spokesperson for Senator Tim Kaine responded, “Campaign contributions do not influence Senator Kaine’s policy positions."

"Mark Warner, Kaine’s fellow senator from Virginia, is also co-sponsoring. “Campaign contributions have never influenced Senator Warner’s decision making on policy matters and never will,” "

This is the same statement that Marco Rubio made about his 3 million dollars from the NRA. I wonder if Kaine and Warner hold the same position with respect to Rubio?
posted by Justinian at 10:46 AM on March 1 [2 favorites +] [!]


To them all I say, "Prove it. Give back the donations and hold fast on your position. Then I'll believe you're acting on principle rather than on personal gain."
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:52 AM on March 1 [25 favorites]


Reuters trying to both sides the Dow dropping 300 instantly by pointing out US steel and aluminum stocks are going up.

How is this 'a both sides' situation? At all? It's a clear statement about the impact that protectionist tariffs have, viz., market distortions that benefit some segments of the economy over others -- purposefully and by design. There's a net impact, sure, but it's not evenly spread across all companies. That is just reporting what is actually happening: some companies will benefit in the short term, other companies will be harmed in the short term, and the long term outlook is harder to assess but is probably not a net benefit (although it's hard to assess given that we don't have an actual plan or an actual decision as yet).
posted by cjelli at 10:54 AM on March 1 [9 favorites]


It's as though Trump, having proved unable to start a conflict in the Korean Penninsula, is looking to ignite a trade war in which it would be collateral damage.

It’d almost be amusing if it wasn’t for the fact three million jobs or so are tossed into a flurry of chaos for this petulant little shit.

How is this 'a both sides' situation?

Because this isn’t robbing Peter to pay Paul, it’s robbing Peter, Teddy, Larry, Curly, Moe, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, and Bashful to pay Paul. It’s like a fuel train derailing and lighting up in flames and the press showing up with the headline: “Train Derailment - Spectators pleasantly warmed”.
posted by Talez at 10:57 AM on March 1 [28 favorites]


Don't think we've discussed this yet. Russia “Previewed” Plan to Disseminate Emails with Trump Campaign.
A significant recent revelation in the Russia investigation has been largely overlooked in the rush of several breaking news stories over the past few days. A nugget of information is contained in the memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee (the so-called Schiff Memo), which was released on Saturday morning.

Prior to the memo, we knew that a Russian agent told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos of “Moscow possessing ‘dirt’” on Hillary Clinton “in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’” according to Papadopoulos’s plea statement. The memo went a legally significant step further. As Rep. Adam Schiff recently told Chris Hayes, “our memo discloses for the first time that the Russians previewed to Papadopoulos that they could help with disseminating these stolen emails.” Rep. Schiff added, “When Donald Trump openly called on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, they’d be richly rewarded if they released these to the press, his campaign had already been put on notice that the Russians were prepared to do just that and disseminate these stolen emails.” (The full transcript and video clip is below.)
posted by scalefree at 11:00 AM on March 1 [61 favorites]


"U.S. officials say Russia's nuke powered cruise missile not operational yet, still in 'R&D' phase"

If Putin wants to employ lots of very smart people to redevelop tech from the early 1960s, I'm not sure we should complain?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:05 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Stocks down over 300 points on @realDonaldTrump announcement of 25% steel tariff and 10% on aluminum. Tariffs are taxes on users, think cars, trucks, planes, cans etc. POTUS so good on taxes & regs, so bad on trade.

Will all the new boats for the Navy be made of wood? Will there be fewer or will they just be more expensive?
posted by srboisvert at 11:05 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Will all the new boats for the Navy be made of wood? Will there be fewer or will they just be more expensive?

Is this going to affect the contract price with Boeing for the new AF1s?
posted by SpaceBass at 11:09 AM on March 1


Is this going to affect the contract price with Boeing for the new AF1s?

Probably not. The planes are already built and most of the expense is in building and integrating the communications and security features that are needed for the president's planes.
posted by peeedro at 11:11 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


To them all I say, "Prove it. Give back the donations and hold fast on your position. Then I'll believe you're acting on principle rather than on personal gain."

Nah, you don't need to make it a battle of domination, just ask them if that means they support public financing of elections. If donations don't have any effect, it's essentially charity by donors to fund the election machine, and nothing about public financing would change that.
posted by rhizome at 11:12 AM on March 1 [7 favorites]


Blame Canada: Trump paints us as suave international swindlers

What a fool. He forgot that we are also debonair.
posted by srboisvert at 11:14 AM on March 1 [18 favorites]


It’d almost be amusing if it wasn’t for the fact three million jobs or so are tossed into a flurry of chaos for this petulant little shit.

And for similar reasons, Trump tweeted this morning about "Manufacturing in U.S. Expands at Fatest Pace SInce May 2004" and "Unemployment filings are at their lowest level in over 48 years. Great news for workers and JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! #MAGA" would be laughably ironic.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) responds to Trump's tariff announcement, "Let's be clear: The President is proposing a massive tax increase on American families. Protectionism is weak, not strong. You'd expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one."

Coincidentally, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds "58%-32%, those surveyed say they want to elect a Congress that mostly stands up to the president, not one that mostly cooperates with him".
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:17 AM on March 1 [20 favorites]


not only did Trump round the steel tariff up by 1%, he also increased the aluminum tariff by 3.3%:
The Commerce Department had recommended tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports, higher tariffs on imports from specific countries or a quota on imports.

Ross last month offered the president three options:

tariffs of 24 percent on all steel and 7.7 percent on aluminum imports from all countries.

—tariffs of 53 percent on steel imports from 12 countries, including Brazil, China and Russia, and tariffs of 23.6 percent on aluminum imports from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. Under this option, the United States would also impose a quota limiting all other countries to the aluminum and steel they exported to the United States last year.

—a quota on steel and aluminum imports from everywhere, limiting each country to 63 percent of the steel and 86.7 percent of the aluminum they shipped to the U.S. last year.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:25 AM on March 1 [6 favorites]


I'm still baffled as to how something as utterly critical as trade policy is in the hands of a single individual.

What the actual fuck were the Founders thinking when they put that together.

"Hey, maybe we should make stuff like tariffs a Congressional act that requires Presidential signoff, like laws. Naah, let's just give the President unlimited power to impose tariffs at their whim, that's a better way to do things!"

We're seeing, thanks to Trump, just how much of America's structure of state was reliant on the President being a decent person and abiding by political norms. We're going to need to write a **LOT** of previously informal stuff into law and make sure the law has serious, non-Congressional triggered, teeth.

As for the Democrats dismantling the (weak, insufficient) protections put in place after the last time the rich white boy's club cratered the economy, of course they are. Why, taking an anti-bankster position here might actually give people a reason to vote for them, and they can't be having that!

I'd also like to know what the actual fuck the Democrats think they're doing basically giving the same people who ruined the economy for grins and giggles back in 2008 total control and no oversight? Do they want a recession? Or are they just such greedy chucklefucks they don't give a damn?
posted by sotonohito at 11:29 AM on March 1 [15 favorites]


We'll have to see what actually happens with the numbers. My understanding is that nothing has been signed yet, as nothing was ready on paper today. (reading the timelines posted by journalists is really quite amusing/spine tingling as one who has been under that particular kind of gun before. There's a lot of bureaucratic panic on display.)

For all practical purposes, this announcement of sanctions was no more a formal declaration of policy than one of his late-night rage-tweets.
posted by bonehead at 11:29 AM on March 1


At one point in the meeting, Navarro pulled out a foam board chart. Trump didn't pay attention to it, saying "I don't even know what I'm looking at here."

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

"John, let me tell you why they didn't bring me any tariffs," he said. "I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don't want them, John, they don't want the tariffs. But I'm telling you, I want tariffs."


For pretty substantial number of people, this is the ideal of "strong leadership". I'm not talking about Trump-worshipers in general, although there's a lot of overlap. I'm talking about the perception that anyone who gets their hands dirty with the specifics of policy is being nit-picky, bureaucratic, and basically weak.

These people imagine that when there's a dispute or problem in government (or in business, or between neighbors), the best possible role for an authority figure isn't to learn, mediate, weigh options, or even issue specific instructions, but rather to declare what ought to happen, because that's decisiveness. If the leader attempts to break "what ought to happen" into concrete parts, then the ineffable magic of "leadership" is gone, like the proverbial dissected frog. And if underlings fail to follow up (what part of 'tarriffs' don't they understand?), that's on them.

Of course, this interpretation is the opposite of "the buck stops here". But for the mindset I'm talking about, there's no contradiction at all; it's the definition of responsibility. To them, any de-simplification by a leader figure looks like buck-passing, or foot-dragging. If you act like you know more about something than I do, or like you know less, you must be pulling a fast one on me. Don't try informing me about possible solutions to my problem, and don't ask questions to learn more about it either -- just fix my problem, dammit!

So when Trump says "I don't even know what I'm looking at here" in response to an economic chart, that's not seen as an admission of ignorance (which would be surprising given his narcissism), but as sticking it to the bamboozlers, the pencil-pushers who get a strange thrill out of defying basic common sense.

(This is also why I disagree with that news story saying "Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted." He clearly wants something called "tariffs", but that's about it. He's the most confused one in that room, confused in a way that will never allow him to see himself as confused.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:32 AM on March 1 [48 favorites]


I'd also like to know what the actual fuck the Democrats think they're doing basically giving the same people who ruined the economy for grins and giggles back in 2008 total control and no oversight?

I know! It’s like you elect a black guy president, give people healthcare, and then hand the house over to the opposition.

The Democrats can’t just click their fingers and fix everything. Democrats were busy all through 2008/2009 burning mounds of political capital to try and do good things for the American people for them to be left in the 2010 election going “hello? Liberals? Progressives? Leftists? Where are you all?”.
posted by Talez at 11:33 AM on March 1 [36 favorites]


I know I'm late to this but I'm trying to catch up and I'm still stuck on the Newsweek business linked above and i just
"In a telephone call from Newsweek, Bornstein, Trump’s current doctor, said he would only answer questions if I could identify the location of Mount Sinai. Assuming he was referring to the world-renowned hospital, I replied “Manhattan.” He said that was incorrect, and asked the question again. I asked if he meant the actual Mount Sinai and he said he had not specified anything. I replied Mount Sinai was in Egypt, in the Sinai Peninsula. He said that was wrong and hung up."
i don't
just
like yes i know the cold war's back on and we're putting tariffs on everything and democracy is, as usual, pretty much literally on fire but
...what?
posted by halation at 11:33 AM on March 1 [118 favorites]


For all practical purposes, this announcement of sanctions was no more a formal declaration of policy than one of his late-night rage-tweets.

well, sure. on the other hand, the markets are reacting to what he stated today. entire industries are making decisions based on these numbers and he's acting like it's the same as rounding your server's tip up to the nearest dollar.

not that trump has ever rounded up a tip in his life
posted by murphy slaw at 11:34 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


What the actual fuck were the Founders thinking when they put that together.

I guess they assumed the process would only select the best and brightest not the human incarnation of an email from your grandmother with 'FW: FW: FW: FW: ' in the subject.
posted by PenDevil at 11:35 AM on March 1 [28 favorites]


A Brief Guide to Every 5-Alarm Fire Currently Engulfing the White House (Eric Levitz | NY Mag)

Today appears the day for major news outlets to realize there's just too much shit to report and fall back on listicles:

16 insane things that happened in Trumpworld in just the last 48 hours (Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, March 1, 2018)
Even by President Donald Trump's frenetic standards, the events of the last 48 hours have been insane.

Major resignations! Infighting! Robert Mueller! Javanka! And much, much more.

Because no one could keep track of it all, we -- me and the one and only Brenna Williams -- made a list. Here it is:
  1. White House communications director Hope Hicks resigned.
  2. John Kelly and Jared Kushner/Ivanka Trump are fighting.
  3. Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into Donald Trump's financial maneuvers prior to his announcing for president.
  4. Trump publicly attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Again.
  5. Trump convened a conversation with senators and House members on gun safety in which he pooh-poohed a House-passed bill that grants states reciprocity on conceal and carry and seemed open to a comprehensive gun control measure.
  6. We learned that Kushner has been stripped of his top secret security clearance, hamstringing his ability to oversee his broad portfolio of responsibilities within the White House.
  7. Hicks testified before the House Intelligence Committee in relation to its investigation into Russia's attempted meddling in the 2016 election and acknowledged that she has told white lies in service of Trump.
  8. The Washington Post reported that four foreign countries -- Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico and China -- had assessed that Kushner was vulnerable to manipulation due to his complex financial interests.
  9. Longtime Javanka confidant Josh Raffel announced he was leaving the White House.
  10. It emerged that the Department of Housing and Urban Development spent $31,000 to replace furniture in the office of Secretary Ben Carson.
  11. A political appointee at the Interior Department resigned after CNN's K-File found a series of anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments she made via Facebook and Twitter.
  12. Trump announced the hiring of Brad Parscale as his 2020 campaign manager.
  13. Trump sent a flurry of tweets on Mueller's ongoing Russia investigation -- including one that read simply: "WITCH HUNT!"
  14. US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told members of Congress that Trump had not authorized him to disrupt Russian attempts to meddle in future US elections.
  15. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty to an array of (new) bank fraud and money laundering charges brought against him by Mueller.
  16. The White House parted ways with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a senior adviser to first lady Melania Trump. Wolkoff's event-planning business was paid more than $26 million for its work on Trump's inauguration.
And brace yourself: that was only through Wednesday.
Hey Chris, why not just link to What The Fuck Just Happened Today? (Timely: the headline for Day 406: No one listened.) WTFJHT has more items in the past 48 hours, and also provides brief summaries, along with outbound links.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:36 AM on March 1 [45 favorites]


Business Insider: Trump's massive new tariffs could have distressing consequences for your beer purchases
posted by porn in the woods at 11:38 AM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Wait, the Dow dropped only 300 points?
*Checks Google*
Oh. I see. 500 and still trending downward. That makes a little more sense.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:41 AM on March 1 [27 favorites]


Wait, the Dow dropped only 300 points?

yeah there is a missing "in the ten minutes following the announcement" there
posted by murphy slaw at 11:46 AM on March 1 [5 favorites]


And of course, the Dow right now is reacting to what we're reacting to -- numbers that seem to be written on the back of a napkin, might go up and might go down, who the hell knows, why react *too* much when they aren't yet solid -- although you'd think the fact that these numbers are being written on the back of a napkin in the first place would scare the markets way more than any tariffs.
posted by saturday_morning at 11:48 AM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Even by President Donald Trump's frenetic standards, the events of the last 48 hours have been insane.

And they've been accelerating in the past 24—Axios: The Wild Wars Within The Trump White House
After a crazy 24 hours, sources close to President Trump say he is in a bad place — mad as hell about the internal chaos and the sense that things are unraveling.

The big picture: Hope Hicks leaving is obviously a huge blow to him. Every time he reads about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his head explodes. The staff is just trying to ride out the storm.

Everywhere you look inside this White House, top officials are fighting, fomenting, feuding or fleeing, insiders say in conversations with us.[...]

Be smart: Trump is in a bad, mad place, feeling ill-served and confined by staff. The people he genuinely enjoys and feels close to are gone (Keith Schiller), leaving (Hope) or getting pounded in the press (Jared).

• The restraints are almost fully loosened, and what staff sees in private is more public than ever.

• We have never seen top officials this concerned, defeated.
Buzzfeed concurs: As Trump Spirals, Many Of His Staffers Are Looking To Exit
Many mid- and low-level staffers are anxious to leave and are actively looking for jobs elsewhere, sources close to the White House say. Those staffers saw the surprising resignation of Trump loyalist and communications director Hope Hicks on Wednesday as a sort of tipping point.

A former White House official said he's spoken with more aides inside the White House who are trying to leave the administration, but not necessarily getting the kinds of high-paying offers in the corporate world as former aides usually do.

"Things are still pretty bleak inside the White House," the source said. "I've talked to several people in the last week trying to find a way out, but they can't get out because no one is really hiring people with Trump White House experience. Not a fun time to say the least."

Another source close to the administration said he has also talked to those on the inside about potential job offers. The source said he remembers seeing one particularly fitting pun about Hick's departure on Thursday: "The White House has lost Hope." "That about says it all, right?" the source added.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:59 AM on March 1 [55 favorites]


Remember when Republicans criticized the Obama administration for hamstringing the economy by creating uncertainty? That was a talking point for years!
posted by chrchr at 12:10 PM on March 1 [24 favorites]


Begun, the trade wars have: EU President Juncker describes Trump's tariff plan as "blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification" (which is the pretext that Trump is using to make this possible), promises that the EU will react bring forward "in the next few days...a proposal for WTO-compatible countermeasures to rebalance the situation."

Presumably, the delay of a few days is because there's not yet, you know, any details to actually respond to, but.

Some context from the NYT:
Trade experts worry that other countries could follow the United States’ lead and begin using national security concerns to justify a variety of protectionist measures aimed at shutting their industries off from foreign competition. China also uses national security as a justification for trade measures that American industry opposes, like requiring technology companies to store consumer data within Chinese borders.

Alternately, the World Trade Organization could end up ruling against the measures. That might feed an opinion already popular in the Trump administration that the organization seeks to compromise American sovereignty, and lead to its ultimate demise.

The NYT also has this terrifying tidbit:
The White House has come to the brink of announcing steel and aluminum tariffs several times in the past eight months, including last June. In recent days, the president appears to have grown impatient for action.

In the past few days, supporters of the tariffs have also begun airing televised ads during programs that Mr. Trump has been known to watch. One such ad ran on Fox News just minutes before the president’s tweet on Thursday morning.
posted by cjelli at 12:11 PM on March 1 [48 favorites]


Remember when Republicans criticized the Obama administration for hamstringing the economy by creating uncertainty? That was a talking point for years!

And yet the capitalists they profess to revere are supposed to have earned their vast wealth by prevailing in times of uncertainty. Feh.
posted by Gelatin at 12:12 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Either CNN focused on the myriads of dramatic relationships and positions of the notable attendees, or nothing was really said at today's "White House opioid event" -- Embattled Cabinet members attend White House opioid event (Dan Merica for CNN, March 1, 2018)
Three embattled Cabinet secretaries -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin -- all appeared at a White House summit on the opioid epidemic, carrying on with business as usual.

The event, focused on the deadly opioid epidemic and the Trump administration's attempts to combat the scourge, comes amid a swirl of negative stories about Trump's Cabinet secretaries and his long-simmering ire for Sessions. Trump was not expected to attend the summit, but first lady Melania Trump opened the event with a call to action on opioids.

"Everyone in this room knows that our country is in the middle of the opioid crisis, and I am so proud of the work that this administration has already done to combat this epidemic," the first lady said.
What work is that now? Trump's focus on the epidemic as a law enforcement issue and not about treatment? (NPR, Feb. 7, 2018)

NPR had more critical, if brief, coverage of the actual event:
White House officials insist the administration has been hard at work, and that's what Thursday's opioid summit is all about. It featured Cabinet members, along with Mrs. Trump and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.

The summit was intended to "highlight the progress the Administration has made to combat drug demand and the opioid crisis," a White House official said in a statement.

In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, opioid-related overdoses killed more than 42,000 Americans. That's an average of 115 deaths every day.

Last November, the president's commission on opioids released a lengthy set of recommendations [PDF*, titled because of course no , and most remain a work in progress or unaddressed altogether.

Several advocates NPR contacted ahead of the summit said they hadn't seen as much action as they had hoped, especially in the area of making quality, scientifically sound treatment options more readily available.

In recent weeks there has been some movement, with a congressional budget agreement pledging to add several billion dollars to combat the crisis and the Department of Justice announcing it would work with states that are suing drug manufacturers.

Still, the advocates said that is far short of what they had hoped when Trump declared an emergency, and they said they were interested to see what new information they could learn from the White House summit.
Emphasis mine.

* Meta commentary: the file is named "Final_Report_Draft_11-1-2017," and the only attribute in the PDF is to an author "Shatzkes,Kenneth" whose name is not found in the document, but his Twitter account lists him as "Policy Advisor to @GovChristie for Opioid Crisis," which makes sense, as Christie is the Chairman of The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:12 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Reminder: gun control debate goes in the Parkland/guns thread.

Grim thought: Metafilter probably needs an ongoing, catch-all "latest mass shooting topic" like these political topics.
posted by msalt at 12:16 PM on March 1 [16 favorites]


[Y'all please rein it in with the one-liners, this thread's already growing fast enough just with actual news.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:18 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]




"Things are still pretty bleak inside the White House," the source said. "I've talked to several people in the last week trying to find a way out, but they can't get out because no one is really hiring people with Trump White House experience. Not a fun time to say the least."

That's some yummy schadenfreude. I have zero sympathy for anyone who took a job with these toxic yahoos.

But more importantly, wouldn't you assume that any Trump appointee had some kind of Russian connection/was compromised and was therefore a danger to your organization if it wished to be free of Russian manipulation? I know I would take a pass on that risk.
posted by emjaybee at 12:21 PM on March 1 [49 favorites]


Somehow, the Mooch is still speaking on behalf of the WH. From CNN, Scaramucci says 'morale is terrible' in White House.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Thursday that chief of staff John Kelly is running the West Wing through a culture of fear and predicted more departures from the White House are to come, adding that "morale is terrible."

"The morale is terrible. The reason why the morale is terrible is that the rule by fear and intimidation does not work in a civilian environment," Scaramucci told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day," apparently referring to Kelly's experience as a retired Marine Corps general.
posted by hanov3r at 12:26 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Trump meeting video game makers next week to discuss violence

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that President Trump will meet with leaders of the video game industry next week to discuss depictions of violence.

Ten minutes ago he walked in to the Opioid Summit, admired the extrajudicial killing of "these drug pushers" in "certain countries" and then suddenly walked out, leaving the room in stunned silence for 10 seconds or so before Kellyanne Conway said "thank you for coming, everybody."

I'd say that encouraging vigilante murder squads would be a bigger problem for violent crime than video games, but what do I know.
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:27 PM on March 1 [84 favorites]


Boston extended a less than warm welcome to Rick Gates and so he's no longer asking a judge for permission to visit the Hub with his kids over spring break.
posted by adamg at 12:45 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


ThinkProgress: On Thursday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade criticized survivors of the February 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting who took part in a CNN gun violence town hall a week later as “emotional” and “illogical.”

During an interview with NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, Kilmeade told her, “No one had it worse than you in that town hall where people were just so emotional, illogical — they were unconsolable [sic].”

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:46 PM on March 1 [9 favorites]


The Washington Post reported that four foreign countries -- Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico and China -- had assessed that Kushner was vulnerable to manipulation due to his complex financial interests.

There's a glaring omission from that list and I wonder why.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:50 PM on March 1 [9 favorites]


missile defense is a sham.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:52 PM on March 1


This has gotten buried underneath the avalanche of news, but there's been a war brewing between Sen. Grassley, who has been working for years on some fairly modest yet important criminal justice reforms (eliminating mandatory minimums for certain non-violent drug offenses) and Sec. Sessions in concert with the White House, who wants to lock people of color in jail for long periods of time. Grassley put out some pretty extraordinary statements blasting Sessions for not supporting his bill after "how hard it was" for Grassley to get him confirmed.

Well, however mad Trump may be at Sessions, it certainly didn't stop him from taking Sessions's side by appointing William Otis to the US Sentencing Commission:
Otis is a notorious opponent of attempts to roll back mandatory minimum sentences and mass incarceration. He's a familiar face to anyone who's followed debate on the issue, mostly because he's often the only person news outlets and conference organizers can still find who's willing to speak out bluntly in support of mandatory minimums.

"Two facts about crime and sentencing dwarf everything else we've learned for the last 50 years," Otis said at a 2014 Federalist Society gathering. "When we have more prison, we have less crime. And when we have less prison, we have more crime."
posted by zachlipton at 12:53 PM on March 1 [21 favorites]


"Republican consultant" Rick Wilson in WaPo: When you let a closet Democrat like Trump lead the GOP, this is what you get
He can’t defend traditional, conservative Republican positions when he doesn’t know what they are.

posted by Joe in Australia at 12:56 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


He's not wrong.
posted by Melismata at 12:57 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


This has gotten buried underneath the avalanche of news

also buried, but much less important:

in light of trump's recent taunting of jeff sessions, the Washington Post has posted a video explainer about Mr. Magoo

posted by murphy slaw at 1:01 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Rust Moranis: Ten minutes ago he walked in to the Opioid Summit, admired the extrajudicial killing of "these drug pushers" in "certain countries" and then suddenly walked out, leaving the room in stunned silence for 10 seconds or so before Kellyanne Conway said "thank you for coming, everybody."

I'm gonna need a [real] [paraphrase] or [fake] here - I don't see any reference to this elsewhere online.

Meanwhile, Think of the (other) childrenTrump says violent games are OK for his young son, maybe not for yours -- "I look at some of the things he's watching and I say, 'How is that possible?'" (Kyle Orland for Ars Technica, March 1, 2018)
Last week, President Donald Trump tried to shift some of the blame for recent school shootings on video games and other entertainment, saying that "something has to be done" because "the level of violence on video games is shaping more and more people's thoughts." Trump expanded on those thoughts in a discussion with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Wednesday, bringing his own young son's experience with violent media into the debate.

"The video games, movies, the Internet stuff is so violent," Trump said during the livestreamed meeting with lawmakers [YouTube], in response to parental concerns passed on by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn (relevant section begins at 1:12:20). "It's so incredible. I get to see things that you wouldn't be—you would be amazed at. I have a very young son who I look at some of the things he's watching and I say, 'How is that possible?'"

How that's possible in the Trumps' case, of course, is that President Trump allows his "very young son" to watch and play these violent "things." Trump didn't make any mention of any media diet restrictions he put in place after seeing those "incredible" violent images his 11-year-old son Barron is watching, suggesting he's not personally worried Barron will be one of the "more and more people" whose thoughts he says can be "shaped" by such media.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:01 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


"Republican consultant" Rick Wilson

He's a long time Never Waivered Never Trumper and told a Trump apologist/lackey that he would gut said apologist like a fish on live TV. He faces death threats daily and all he would have to do to make it all stop is acquiesce and toe the party line. He's got more cajones and integrity in his little finger than most people do in their entire soul. He is well read, he is well spoken, and even though we think some of his positions are thoroughly backwards he doesn't stop fighting with us.

Dismissing him as a "republican consultant" with those air quotes does this great man a disservice.
posted by Talez at 1:02 PM on March 1 [15 favorites]


Talez The Democrats can’t just click their fingers and fix everything. Democrats were busy all through 2008/2009 burning mounds of political capital to try and do good things for the American people for them to be left in the 2010 election going “hello? Liberals? Progressives? Leftists? Where are you all?”.

I'm afraid I don't follow your reasoning here at all.

Are you arguing that, because in 2010 the left was unsuccessful in keeping a Democratic majority in Congress that it must now be punished with a repeat of the 2008 economic catastrophe and that therefore it is right and proper for Senate Democrats to vote in favor of laws that will recreate the catastrophe?

Is that actually what you're saying, or have I horribly misunderstood your point?

Also, for the Nth time, the left voted in 2010 about the same as it did in 2008. Point your ire at the centrists and right leaning Democrats, they're the ones who sat out the midterms, not the left. At the urging of people to pander to the center the ACA was stripped of almost all of its value, and they repaid that lurching to the center-right by staying home while we on the left sucked it up and voted Democrat. I'm about done being berated for failing to save Obama's majority after he pissed it away on the Cato institute approved ACA thanks all the same.

Seriously, what's going on with the Democrats voting (current count is 12) to kill Dodd-Frank? Why would they do that?
posted by sotonohito at 1:02 PM on March 1 [11 favorites]


I'll boycott any game company that "meets" with Trump to help him divert blame from the NRA to the gaming industry. Fuck that noise.
posted by sotonohito at 1:04 PM on March 1 [18 favorites]


I'm gonna need a [real] [paraphrase] or [fake] here - I don't see any reference to this elsewhere online.

I'm seeing it reported by Jim Acosta and Daniel Dale on Twitter, though without video. "The drug dealers, the drug pushers, they are really doing damage. They are really doing damage. Some countries have a very, very tough penalty. The ultimate penalty."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:04 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna need a [real] [paraphrase] or [fake] here - I don't see any reference to this elsewhere online.

Aaron Rupar, Think Progress
And that's it. Trump dropped by the opioid event, said he'd like to execute drug dealers like his buddy Duterte, and then left.
Trump alludes to Duterte-like punishments he'd like for drug dealers.

"The drug dealers are really doing damage. Some countries…
(actual tweetstream includes video clips)
posted by murphy slaw at 1:04 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


I'm gonna need a [real] [paraphrase] or [fake] here - I don't see any reference to this elsewhere online.

Pretty much [real]. He spoke awkwardly for a few minutes: called up an (apparently) unwilling audience member to talk about his (apparently) dead son, rambled incoherently, admired state-sanctioned murder of pushers, and walked off. The awkward reaction from the audience and kellyanne's response is real as I remember it as well.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:05 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna need a [real] [paraphrase] or [fake] here - I don't see any reference to this elsewhere online.


[real, paraphrase] -- I don't think there's a complete transcript up, but here's the press pool report, which may (does) contain errors -- a partial (relevant) exceprt:
I know what youre going through, he said, before looking for Melania in the crowd, saying she was very concerned about the issue. Where is Melania. After seeing her, he said: Hello darling.

The administrations going to be rolling out policy over the next three weeks. Itll be very, very strong. Ive also spoken with Jeff about bringing a lawsuit against some of these opioid companies. He was talking about Jeff Sessions, who was in the audience and participated in a panel discussion just before Trump entered, said some people go to the hospital for breaking their arm and come out addicted.

If you shoot one person. You get life in prison. These people kill 1,000, 2,000 people and nothing happens to them.

We need strength against pushers and drug dealers You have to have strength and you have to have toughness.

Some countries have a very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty and they have much less of a drug problem than we do.
He basically showed up, spoke for ten minutes, left.
posted by cjelli at 1:05 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Uhhh. @MSNBC: EXCLUSIVE: White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, in a move orchestrated by CoS John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to five sources.

Toward the end of the month possibly. One name under consideration is Stephen Biegun, who was on the Bush NSC 2001-2003. This does not seem good at all.
posted by zachlipton at 1:05 PM on March 1 [25 favorites]


Dismissing him as a "republican consultant" with those air quotes does this great man a disservice.

Calling Trump a 'closet Democrat' is hot dogshit, "principled Never Trumper" or no. Also, from his lil column:
As a longtime GOP consultant, I’ve always had a half-joking, half-serious rule about political candidates and elected officials:
posted by Existential Dread at 1:06 PM on March 1 [19 favorites]


His finger might have integrity but his pretending Trump is a democrat suggests the rest of him is filled with something else.
posted by LarsC at 1:06 PM on March 1 [32 favorites]


I'm afraid I don't follow your reasoning here at all.

Are you arguing that, because in 2010 the left was unsuccessful in keeping a Democratic majority in Congress that it must now be punished with a repeat of the 2008 economic catastrophe and that therefore it is right and proper for Senate Democrats to vote in favor of laws that will recreate the catastrophe?


That's pretty post facto. The populace chooses the layout for Congress. My point is that it's not like Democrats in Congress got to 2010 and said "we've done enough, Republicans you can wreck the place again". The country decided to simultaneously abandon them and stop them from making forward progress while putting the lunatics back in charge of the asylum as a visceral reaction to a black president making their lives better.

Blaming Democrats because they didn't idiot-proof banking laws when they did so much in the two years they had is unreasonable, counter productive, and blames entirely the wrong people.
posted by Talez at 1:07 PM on March 1 [20 favorites]




White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, in a move orchestrated by CoS John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis

Oh good, the moderates will save us
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:08 PM on March 1 [11 favorites]


He's a long time Never Waivered Never Trumper and told a Trump apologist/lackey that he would gut said apologist like a fish on live TV. He faces death threats daily and all he would have to do to make it all stop is acquiesce and toe the party line. He's got more cajones and integrity in his little finger than most people do in their entire soul. He is well read, he is well spoken, and even though we think some of his positions are thoroughly backwards he doesn't stop fighting with us.

I mean, it looks to me like he's trying to foist the fascist takeover of his party off on Democrats, but other than that yeah, sure cajones
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:08 PM on March 1 [24 favorites]


That will be a fun trend to track in the post-trump future: the Republican pivot from Nev-R-trump to "Let's give the guy a chance" to "I pledge eternal fealty to my Big, Strong Daddy" to eventually "Boy, I'm sure glad that lousy Democrat is no longer in office!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:08 PM on March 1 [28 favorites]


Blaming Democrats because they didn't idiot-proof banking laws when they did so much in the two years they had is unreasonable, counter productive, and blames entirely the wrong people.

We’re not blaming them for writing imperfect laws, we’re blaming them for repealing even the inadequate weaksauce regulations passed after 2008.

What part of this are you not getting, 12 Democrats including the most recent Vice Presidential nominee are working with Trump to deregulate Goldman Sachs, again.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:11 PM on March 1 [29 favorites]


Uhhh. @MSNBC: EXCLUSIVE: White House is preparing to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, in a move orchestrated by CoS John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to five sources.

This does not seem good at all.


I'm curious as to your read on that -- my initial thought was that this may actually be good news, insofar as McMaster has been repeated cited as the most hawkish member of Trump's inner circle on North Korea, and his ouster probably lessens the chance of war.

I mean, depending on who they replace him with; McMaster was anti-Flynn and anti-Bannon, but I'm not confident that makes his role in the White House a good one.
posted by cjelli at 1:12 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


Hey, just a reminder for Texas folks. Today and tomorrow are the last days for early voting. Tuesday March 6 is official voting day. The ballot is long. Loooooong. 6 pages long in Collin County. And unlike previous years, there's enough Dems running that you can't vote straight ticket, there's a too many choices. In the Dems pile. IN TEXAS. Vote. Go. Do it.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:14 PM on March 1 [39 favorites]


Talez You seem to be misunderstanding. There's nothing post-facto here or 2010 here.

As of today, that is March 1, 2018, twelve of the **CURRENT** Senate Democrats are reportedly supporting a new bill being pushed in the Senate to destroy Dodd-Frank. Chuck Schumer, our vaunted Minority Leader, is one of them.

This isn't about Dodd-Frank being insufficient, it's about Dodd-Frank being destroyed with Democratic votes.

A large number of the current Democratic minority in the Senate are voting to strip us of the meager protections of Dodd-Frank and yet again let the banksters run wild and loot the economy until we are again driven into a recession.

That's what I'm objecting to. Events happening today, not events happening eight years ago.
posted by sotonohito at 1:15 PM on March 1 [22 favorites]


I mean, depending on who they replace him with

I'm gonna throw an outside bet on John Bolton providing he shaves his mustache, and since we're here I'm going to throw a very outside bet on Lara Trump to take over WH comms.
posted by lalex at 1:18 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Can someone direct me to a link showing which Dem Senators are on board with this repeal? Thanks.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:18 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


I mean, depending on who they replace him with; McMaster was anti-Flynn and anti-Bannon, but I'm not confident that makes his role in the White House a good one.

one of my concerns (especially as a member of GWB’s NSC has been name-dropped) is that while the focus on North Korea may draw down, Mattis may start pushing for the hot war with Iran that he wants
posted by murphy slaw at 1:19 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


@MillerCoors: "Like most brewers, we are selling an increasing amount of our beers in aluminum cans, and this action will cause aluminum prices to rise. It is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry."

What % of the US beer market does MillerCoors control?
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:21 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Now, on the topic of the fleeting nature of majorities...

I do think the Democrats need to learn from past mistakes and start hammering out the laws they intend to pass once the get another majority. They need to be having public meetings, counting votes, dotting every i and crossing every t so that come Jan 21, 2021 assuming all goes well and we have a majority in the House and Senate as well as a shiny new Democratic President, they can ram through everything in a few days.

We need, desperately, for the future laws and executive orders to be written now. In public, with public input and criticism, so that they become basically the real Democratic platform. Vote for us and these laws will be put in place!

There's no reason for the XO's, especially, to happen in dribs and drabs over months. Let the new Democratic President have them all printed and right after they take their oath of office they can sign them and done.

There's similarly no reason for the Democrats to delay any votes or fail to have the new laws ready to vote on long before the Congress of 2021 begins its first meeting.

Saying that the Democrats "only" had their supermajority for two years and therefore it's childish to have expected them to do more is silly. Two **DAYS** should be long enough, provided that they've done their homework like good Congresspeople and gotten the laws already debated and written.

The Republicans have shown us that the very concept of debating bills on the floor is a laughable fiction, so fine. We don't. We write 'em in public, we debate 'em in public, and then we just vote on 'em in Congress. No need to waste time on debates with the Republicans.
posted by sotonohito at 1:22 PM on March 1 [42 favorites]


Can someone direct me to a link showing which Dem Senators are on board with this repeal? Thanks.

S.2155 - Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act

Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO]*
Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE]
Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE]
Sen. Donnelly, Joe [D-IN]*
Sen. Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND]*
Sen. Jones, Doug [D-AL]
Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA]*
Sen. Manchin, Joe, III [D-WV]*
Sen. McCaskill, Claire [D-MO]*
Sen. Peters, Gary C. [D-MI]*
Sen. Tester, Jon [D-MT]*
Sen. Warner, Mark R. [D-VA]*
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:22 PM on March 1 [15 favorites]


Dismissing [Rick Wilson] as a "republican consultant" with those air quotes does this great man a disservice.

Those are literally the words that the WaPo used to describe him. I didn't know anything else about him, so I quoted the WaPo's description. He calls himself "a longtime GOP consultant" in the body of the article, too.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:23 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


My mistake, I thought Schumer was on that list. Sorry Chuck, I wrongly maligned you.
posted by sotonohito at 1:25 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


It’s the usual list of garbage. When there is a “majority” those guys are going to be a problem.
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on March 1 [6 favorites]


"Republican consultant" Rick Wilson in WaPo: When you let a closet Democrat like Trump lead the GOP, this is what you get

This is the line I predicted as soon as the Russia scandal broke. The Republican Party is gonna ride Trump's racist kleptocracy as far as they can, destroying the economy and damaging our democracy in the process, and then if or when it collapses in a giant shitstorm of crime and scandal they'll try to avoid all responsibility for it by blaming Democrats. See! Trump is actually a Democrat! Look what the Democrats made us do!

It's happening in real time.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on March 1 [89 favorites]


My mistake, I thought Schumer was on that list. Sorry Chuck, I wrongly maligned you.

dunking on certain Democrats gets a little reflexive in here sometimes
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:30 PM on March 1 [24 favorites]


rick wilson may be one of the loudest and most steadfast of the NeverTrump republicans, but never forget for a moment that if he managed to wrest the party away from the Trumpist contingent, he would resume supporting candidates that push utterly terrible policies instead of Trump’s horrific and incoherent ones.

the enemy of your enemy is the enemy of your enemy, nothing more.
posted by murphy slaw at 1:31 PM on March 1 [48 favorites]


a move orchestrated by chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis

Apparently the 3 generals were playing Risk - White House Edition. Inevitably two are going to gang up on the 3rd; now they square off. I'm betting on Jim Mattis.

Bolton would be a disaster, but I can think of a worse replacement: Dana Rohrbacher. Would Republicans have the stones to vote against him?
posted by msalt at 1:33 PM on March 1


The National Security Adviser is not a Senate-confirmed position. That's why Michael Flynn got the job.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:34 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


WaPo, ‘Every day is a new adventure’: Trump upends Washington and Wall Street with shifts on trade, guns. The last paragraph is something else:
Senior White House aides, including Short, have continued to tell Republican members to not overreact to Trump’s comments, particularly on the assault rifle ban he seemed to support. One senior GOP aide said Trump’s team was telling them to recall earlier meetings on immigration, where he seemed to side with Democrats before eventually changing his tune.
The White House's line to Republicans is just 'remember how he said stuff and then did the opposite last month? He can totally do that again.' Fundamentally, what does it mean for our government if everyone knows the President's word is entirely meaningless, to the point his own staff advertises this as a selling point?
posted by zachlipton at 1:35 PM on March 1 [43 favorites]


zachlipton: Fundamentally, what does it mean for our government if everyone knows the President's word is entirely meaningless, to the point his own staff advertises this as a selling point?

Depends on which part of "our government" you're talking about there. For staff-level positions and their upper management, it's a fooking nightmare. For Trump appointees, you know you're riding the waves, and clearly do your best to loot the system while Trump's in power. For Congress, keep pushing your positions and try to toss out emotional images to sway the whirling dervish in power to spin your way long enough to get something passed.

If you're a lobbyist, invest in air time on Fox News at key times.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:41 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


The "closet Democrat" bit is the G.O.P. version of "No True Scotsman" - anything they don't like is (D). And it reminds me of the thin, faint silver lining to the dumpster fire that is the Trump Misadministration: that a COMPETENT Republican President might do even more damage to our institutions. But meanwhile, Trump's Meaningless Word is a feature, not a bug, as it allows the most dangerous of the Cabinet to have their work destroying everything good about the Federal Government to go relatively unnoticed (but not here). But I can't see a "Never Trump" Republican NOT supporting the evil works of ZInke, DeVos and Mnuchin, and if Carson wastes his time on office decorating, that takes away from his efforts to destroy HUD.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:49 PM on March 1 [15 favorites]


I’m not going to kiss the ring of a Never-Trumper who starts his No True Scotsman thinkpiece with a fantasy depicting HRC as a gun grabber. She was never, to the despair of more than one concerned citizen, a gun grabber.

Trump is not a Democrat or a Republican. He is an amoral, sociopathic opportunist. He’s been registered to and donated to every party. He has no guiding principle but his father’s eugenic theory of social Darwinism.
posted by xyzzy at 1:58 PM on March 1 [72 favorites]


NYTimes: Senate Intelligence Leaders Say House G.O.P. Leaked a Senator’s Texts

So this gets even weirder when you factor in one of those other really weird-ass news stories that popped up one night and didn't really go anywhere: the time Julian Assange offered a fake Sean Hannity unspecified news about Sen. Warner through "other channels."

Eric Columbus with a short thread here. Warner was trying to get in contact with Christopher Steele by contacting a lawyer who had also done work for Oleg Deripaska. The speculation here, and it's pure speculation, is that the texts may have made their way to Deripaska and from him to Assange.

It's not clear to me that's what happened, but look at what we know. Warner sends a bunch of messages trying to get in contact with Steele last year, Assange messages fake-Hannity in late January offering news about Warner (and implying they already have existing "channels" over which they can communicate securely), and a week later, Fox News is publishing Warner's messages.

This all seems like it should be the focus of its own investigation.
posted by zachlipton at 2:03 PM on March 1 [38 favorites]


Speaking of investigations, NBC News, Ken Dilanian, William M. Arkin and Julia Ainsley, Mueller eyes charges against Russians who stole, spread Democrats’ emails
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election, multiple current and former government officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.

Much like the indictment Mueller filed last month charging a different group of Russians in a social media trolling and illegal-ad-buying scheme, the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), several of the officials say.

Mueller's consideration of charges accusing Russians in the hacking case has not been reported previously. Sources say he has long had sufficient evidence to make a case, but strategic issues could dictate the timing. Potential charges include violations of statutes on conspiracy, election law as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. One U.S. official briefed on the matter said the charges are not imminent, but other knowledgeable sources said they are expected in the next few weeks or months. It's also possible Mueller opts not to move forward because of concerns about exposing intelligence or other reasons — or that he files the indictment under seal, so the public doesn't see it initially.
...
Another major unanswered question is whether Mueller's grand jury will charge any Americans as witting participants in the hacking and leaking scheme — including anyone associated with Trump's presidential campaign. Americans referenced in Mueller's previous indictment of Russians were described as "unwitting."

One source suggested that a new indictment could include unnamed American co-conspirators as part of a strategy to pressure those involved to cooperate. The previous Mueller indictment involving the Russian social media operation cited a co-conspirator that it did not name.
"Next few weeks or months" is vague indeed, but I'm glad these cards, what actually happened, are finally getting put on the table. This is getting very interesting for Trump. Mueller's indicting Russians for what they did, and he's indicting and investigating Americans for their knowledge of what Russians did. What happens when those two tracks meet in the middle is anybody's guess.
posted by zachlipton at 2:07 PM on March 1 [35 favorites]


The speculation here, and it's pure speculation, is that the texts may have made their way to Deripaska and from him to Assange.

Then why is Senate Intel blaming House Intel? Did Assange send the texts to Nunes? Could Nunes be desperate enough to collaborate with Assange at this stage?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:08 PM on March 1


Rick Wilson is pro-gun, pro-NRA, and was making AR-15 jokes on Twitter a few days after the Pulse nightclub shooting. He also has a lot of other views any progressive would find repellent. It's cool that he hates Trump and has been constantly dunking on pro-Trump Republicans, but that doesn't make him a good person.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:13 PM on March 1 [32 favorites]


He has no guiding principle but his father’s eugenic theory of social Darwinism.
And a sprinkle of Norman Vincent Peale, a dash of Roy Cohn, and the tried and true path of rich boy racism.
posted by rc3spencer at 2:14 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


One name under consideration is Stephen Biegun, who was on the Bush NSC 2001-2003.

From 1992 to 1994, Mr. Biegun served in Moscow, Russia as the Resident Director in the Russian Federation for the International Republican Institute, a democracy-building organization established under the National Endowment for Democracy.

Mr. Biegun, born 1963, graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied Political Science and Russian Language. He is a third generation Ford Motor Company employee. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, and is a member of the boards of the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law, the Moscow School of Politics, Freedom House, the US-Russia Business Council, the US-ASEAN Business Council and FordSollers, Ford Motor Company’s joint venture operating in the Russia Federation.

Source: Ford Motor Co. Bio
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:14 PM on March 1 [12 favorites]


It’s like a fuel train derailing and lighting up in flames and the press showing up with the headline: “Train Derailment - Spectators pleasantly warmed”.

That would be true if Reuters only had the resources to publish one story per day. In fact, they can publish more than one story per day. This is they story they published about the overall stock market:

Wall Street drops more than 1 percent on Trump tariff comments
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 2:20 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


Trump isn't a closet Democrat. Republicans have spent the past forty-plus years being closet Trumps.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:22 PM on March 1 [97 favorites]


I am perfectly happy for Rick Wilson to continue speaking to his fellow Republicans in whatever fucking language they might listen to.

The idiots who'll be posting TRUMP=DEMOCRAT memes on Facebook a few years from now are a lost cause anyway.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:24 PM on March 1 [9 favorites]


The guy tweets like 30 times an hour so I'm not sure anyone can listen to it all.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:26 PM on March 1


The New York Times on the tariffs: In particular, the Trump administration’s invocation of national security concerns could set a precedent in which China and other nations are willing to use national security as grounds for tariffs, hurting the ability of the World Trade Organization to arbitrate disputes.

The real risk isn’t that steel and aluminum are a bit more expensive, though that is likely to be the case. It’s that an entire system of global trade, which the United States helped build, might be undermined.

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:26 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


And talking of staff retention issues:

Politico:Trump’s tariff war nudges Cohn toward White House exit

Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, has been rumored to be on the brink of leaving the White House for months but stayed for one main reason: to stop the president from imposing steep tariffs.

By Thursday afternoon, Cohn had lost the fight.


Relatedly, an interviewee on the radio news just now was bemoaning the fact that 45 has absolutely no way to engage Putin on arms negotiations, because nobody's been appointed - no under-secretary for arms control, nor an assistant secretary, nor any team whatsoever.
posted by Devonian at 2:26 PM on March 1 [23 favorites]


That would be true if Reuters only had the resources to publish one story per day. In fact, they can publish more than one story per day. This is they story they published about the overall stock market:

Wall Street drops more than 1 percent on Trump tariff comments


Reuters is a news service. It's a pick what you want buffet. The will run all kinds of stories with all kinds of editorial slants hoping that papers pick some of them up.
posted by srboisvert at 3:09 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


CNN: FBI counterintel investigating Ivanka Trump business deal
US counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump's international business deals, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, according to a US official and a former US official. The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump.
posted by mmascolino at 3:11 PM on March 1 [39 favorites]


And here I was thinking well, they* seem to have cornered Jared Kushner, at least for the time being, but surely Ivanka has kept any shenanigans at arm's length, so she's probably good.

-------------
*God only knows.
posted by notyou at 3:17 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Reuters is a news service. It's a pick what you want buffet. The will run all kinds of stories with all kinds of editorial slants hoping that papers pick some of them up.

In the article is a note about the Volatility Index peaking -- again. That's what's scary about this to me. If I recall my Chaos Theory correctly, as the system breaks down, the amplitude of the swings just keeps building.

Like the market's VIX
posted by mikelieman at 3:24 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


I read a tweet that suggested Putin's talk had an unstated domestic agenda, that the majority of it was devoted to social progress & the fiery nuclear stuff was designed to attract international attention so he could use that to pivot & say "I talk about domestic affairs & all they focus on is war." It would resonate with Russians who heard the speech & would remember the social aspects that took up most of the speech. Just speculation but it's a smart move if that's what he intended; provoke a strong reaction from the West but lay down a smokescreen for domestic deniability.
posted by scalefree at 3:24 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


surely Ivanka has kept any shenanigans at arm's length, so she's probably good.

She most definitely has not, although she's kept a lower profile since Trump took office.
posted by cjelli at 3:27 PM on March 1 [10 favorites]


NYT (a couple days ago), Helene Cooper and Eric Schmidt, U.S. Banks on Diplomacy With North Korea, but Moves Ahead on Military Plans, discussing a recent tabletop exercise for what an assault on North Korea would look like:
A war with North Korea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said, would be “catastrophic.” He and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have argued forcefully for using diplomacy to address Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Commanders who attended the exercise in Hawaii were told that roughly 10,000 Americans could be wounded in combat in the opening days alone. And the number of civilian casualties, the generals were told, would likely be in the thousands or even hundreds of thousands.

The potential human costs of a war were so high that, at one point during the exercise, General Milley remarked that “the brutality of this will be beyond the experience of any living soldier,” according to officials who were involved.
posted by zachlipton at 3:38 PM on March 1 [10 favorites]


Then why is Senate Intel blaming House Intel? Did Assange send the texts to Nunes? Could Nunes be desperate enough to collaborate with Assange at this stage?

Completely separate path. The attorney who received the requests from Sen. Warner gave them to the Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of a bunch of requested communications. Nunes demanded that they share them with the House committee, and Fox News quickly had distinctively marked pages provided to House Intel.

The [suspected] Deripaska - Assange route was months earlier.
posted by msalt at 3:39 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Politico:Trump’s tariff war nudges Cohn toward White House exit

The big picture in this White House is a complete rout of the Jared - Ivanka team, with Kushner's loss of his top security clearance and the departure of Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel. Conversely, Gen. Kelly is ascendant.
posted by msalt at 3:44 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


People seriously voted for Trump as the less hawkish candidate and a year later we have the JCOS table topping war crimes with hundreds of thousands dead.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:48 PM on March 1 [38 favorites]


The invaluable Marcy Wheeler noticed something interesting about NBC's report that Mueller is preparing charges against the Russians who executed the DNC hack. Tl;dr--previous reporting from WSJ indicated these charges were coming, but now Mueller will charge instead of the Cyber Crime division, and Wheeler considers this very interesting, but leaves why as an exercise for the reader. My speculative answer: Mueller now believes he can link this crime to the Trump campaign activities he's been investigating.
posted by johnny jenga at 4:02 PM on March 1 [57 favorites]




Well here's a Rand Corp write-up of a war game [PDF] they ran that looked at a Russian attack on the Baltics (it doesn't go well for NATO). Skip to page 12 for a photo of the game map, hex grid, and markers.
posted by notyou at 4:09 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


The Baltics, as in the "border of a land war in Asia" Baltics? Yeah, I wouldn't think NATO would fare any better than anybody else.
posted by rhizome at 4:11 PM on March 1


Cribbing from politicalwire:

In a recent Suffolk poll with 1000 respondents, approval for Trump broke down like this:

Favorable: 337
Unfavorable: 585
Undecided: 77
Never heard of him: 1 (who by other crosstabs is a white Republican woman in the midwest)
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:11 PM on March 1 [11 favorites]


What rock has she been living under and is there room for one more?
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:17 PM on March 1 [30 favorites]


Surely Trump wouldn't have announced his bullshit meeting next week with video game executives unless someone had invit
But the Entertainment Software Association, which represents video game companies, said that the meeting is news to them.

“ESA and our member companies have not received an invitation to meet with President Trump,” the group said in a statement.
posted by zachlipton at 4:19 PM on March 1 [35 favorites]


Well, he clearly invited them in his mind, which is apparently all that matters.
posted by mosk at 4:22 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


NYT, Justice Dept. Report Is Expected to Criticize Andrew McCabe Over Media Disclosures. This story consists of, *deep breath*, "unauthorized leaks of forthcoming report on authorized leak that appears to have included unauthorized material." In other words, McCabe leaked, but he was supposed to, but he leaked too much negative stuff about Clinton, and now we're reading a leak about that:
A Justice Department review is expected to criticize the former F.B.I. deputy director, Andrew G. McCabe, for authorizing the disclosure of information about a continuing investigation to journalists, according to four people familiar with the inquiry.

Such a damning report would give President Trump new ammunition to criticize Mr. McCabe, who is at the center of Mr. Trump’s theory that “deep state” actors inside the F.B.I. have been working to sabotage his presidency. But Mr. McCabe’s disclosures to the news media do not fit neatly into that assumption: They contributed to a negative article about Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration’s Justice Department — not Mr. Trump.
The efforts to discredit McCabe come as he is one of the witnesses who can corroborate Comey's testimony about Trump.

Also, Jim Sciutto has possible names for a McMaster replacement: Safra Catz of Oracle, John Bolton, Stephen Biegun of Ford. John Bolton terrifies me for obvious reasons, but what the actual fuck is Safra Catz doing on that list?
posted by zachlipton at 4:35 PM on March 1 [7 favorites]


FWIW, I noticed this Daily Beast article a couple weeks back about how Oracle execs made a bunch of donations to Devin Nunes’ re-election campaign right after former WH intelligence aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick joined the company:

The Silicon Valley Giant Bankrolling Devin Nunes
posted by KatlaDragon at 4:43 PM on March 1 [20 favorites]


Americans referenced in Mueller's previous indictment of Russians were described as "unwitting."

This reminds me: one of the articles of faith we have going is that Mueller is actually going to charge Trump with a crime at some point, but given that Mueller himself is a Republican, it seems more reasonable to me that he's going to go only to the point where he can say 'we bagged the Russians' and no further.

I mean, we're assuming that Mueller would look at Manafort and Gates, working for the Trump campaign, and say 'people higher up must have known what was going on', but that's assuming Mueller, a Republican, is a man of integrity who's going to do the job right, unlike every other Republican-leaning intelligence or law enforcement official in this whole, sordid affair. What's to say he won't declare that, in his opinion, no-one higher that Manafort knew or understood what he was up to?
posted by Merus at 4:44 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


Rick Wilson ... He is well read, he is well spoken, and even though we think some of his positions are thoroughly backwards he doesn't stop fighting with us. Dismissing him as a "republican consultant" with those air quotes does this great man a disservice.

Rick Wilson just thinks Trump is bad for the brand. He wants to replace him with Ted Cruz and the same agenda.

Rick Wilson learned his rat-fucking working for Lee Atwater of the Willy Horton ad. Rick Wilson created and ran the despicable ad attacking Max Cleland, a man who gave up two legs for his country, displaying him as an enemy of America alongside images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, because he voted for union representation for some Homeland Security employees.

Rick Wilson is a terrible human being -- and spare us the well read, well spoken bullshit.
posted by JackFlash at 4:45 PM on March 1 [61 favorites]


Huh, I didn't know about his Atwater connection or any of that, I thought he was just a sassy NeverTrumper. Which I suppose is a goal of his.
posted by rhizome at 4:48 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


This reminds me: one of the articles of faith we have going is that Mueller is actually going to charge Trump with a crime at some point, but given that Mueller himself is a Republican, it seems more reasonable to me that he's going to go only to the point where he can say 'we bagged the Russians' and no further.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that Mueller is doing anything but his best to get to the bottom of things. Everything in his history and that we've seen so far indicates this is so. That doesn't mean he's going to take down Trump Co. It's possible that they didn't actively conspire (hah) or, much more likely, that the evidence that they did actively collude could not be obtained despite his team's best efforts.

At some point you've either got to believe in the rule of law or just give up altogether and man the barricades.
posted by Justinian at 4:51 PM on March 1 [40 favorites]


A Russian attack on the NATO member states would involve sinking Russia's fleet and blockading their blue-water ports while severing cargo train lines, threatening an invasion of Vladivostok, and waiting for their tiny economy (Smaller than Italy, about on par with Australia) to implode trying to keep those shiny new Armata tanks fueled and manned. It requires bundles of cash they just don't have to field a modern, professional army, and food and fuel they won't be able to import to sustain the nation.

But, yes, they'd occupy Riga virtually unopposed... for a very little while.

This assumes an American in the White House, and not a Russian stooge.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:56 PM on March 1 [16 favorites]


If Roosevelt and Stalin could ally after Hitler betrayed the latter.... Progressive / Gamer alliance of convenience followed by decades of Cold Meme War?

One name under consideration is Stephen Biegun, who was on the Bush NSC 2001-2003.

the International Republican Institute [...] under the National Endowment for Democracy.
US-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law
US-Russia Business Council


Indicative of a man who is an enemy of The Russians, in fact been working to jam them up for decades. The "Moscow School of Politics" line is weird - on a brief search seems to mostly exist as a line the bios of him and a few of his type, but I found a mention of it being "an annual program that includes a delegation of 24 young-adult leaders from the Russian Federation who visit to learn how a range of institutions within a U.S. metropolitan area address community needs."
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:59 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Americans referenced in Mueller's previous indictment of Russians were described as "unwitting."

I feel like there should be a better word for people in positions of responsibility or power who actively un-know or not-know things.
posted by srboisvert at 5:03 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


“ESA and our member companies have not received an invitation to meet with President Trump,” the group said in a statement.

right now a bunch of bureaucrats at the European Space Agency are looking at their calendars and wondering why the hell they have a meeting with President Trump to discuss violence in video games.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:05 PM on March 1 [53 favorites]


The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump.

i just wanted to highlight this, because it indicates that, while all of the talk has been about Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump was among the 30 white house officials to have her security clearance downgraded.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:12 PM on March 1 [48 favorites]


Eugene Robinson (in an OpEd at WaPo) on the current disaster:
The ceaseless barrage of news — both real and fake — from the Trump administration can be numbing, so it’s important to step back every once in a while and look at the big picture: Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:08 PM on March 1 [61 favorites]


I haven't seen this covered anywhere but perhaps the wise Mefi audience knows the answer regarding Jared and Ivanka's clearances. As a married coupled, their lives and finances and problems are intermingled deeply. We know that it is unlikely that Jared will ever get a Top Secret clearance due to unspecified problems. With that said, for someone like Ivanka who is married to a "can't get a TS clearance" person, does that effectively make her also too much of a risk as well?
posted by mmascolino at 6:16 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Yes, the married couple’s clearances definitely impact each other, since either person might be expected to be subject to the same vulnerabilities as their spouse. However, the President has the right to overrule the clearance protocol at any time.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:22 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


NPR: A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association, and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain access deeper into American politics, NPR has learned.

Russian politician Alexander Torshin claimed his ties to the National Rifle Association provided him access to Donald Trump — and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election.

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:26 PM on March 1 [33 favorites]


Never have we seen such utter chaos and blatant corruption.

That kind of headline takes the schadenfreude out of reading the actual reports of chaos and corruption at the Trump White House, e.g. Hicks departure sinks White House morale and Trump’s mood (NBC)
Behind the scenes, sources suggest that morale is waning at the White House. Two people close to the administration tell NBC News that the president is angry and depressed after losing Hicks, whom he had looked upon as one of his own children.[...]

Most significantly, however, White House officials fear that Hicks’ departure will leave the president unmoored. Hicks and Trump’s former bodyguard, Keith Schiller, were among the closest nonfamily members to join the president at the White House. Schiller left the job last summer.

Two administration officials note that she was among the few people able to influence Trump on messaging, at times helping him craft tweets or, on occasion, even stopping him from sending posts that might do more harm than good — something even Kelly, a retired four-star general, has not managed to do.

"The people who are trying to protect the president from himself and his tweets have lost an ally with Hope's departure," one of the sources said.
So it appears we can anticipate Trump entering his King Lear phase, only with crazier and angrier Tweets.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:29 PM on March 1 [30 favorites]


Daily Beast, Exclusive: Secret Documents From Russia’s Election Trolls Leak
The Kremlin-backed troll farm at the center of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election has quietly suffered a catastrophic security breach, The Daily Beast has confirmed, in a leak that spilled new details of its operations onto obscure corners of the internet.

The Russian “information exchange” Joker.Buzz, which auctions off often stolen or confidential information, advertised a leak for a large cache of the Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) internal documents. It includes names of Americans, activists in particular, whom the organization specifically targeted; American-based proxies used to access Reddit and the viral meme site 9Gag; and login information for troll farm accounts.

Even the advertisement for the document dump provides a trove of previously unknown information about the breadth of Russia’s disinformation effort in the United States, including rallies pushed by IRA social media accounts that turned violent.
Weirdly, the auction lists February 10, 2017 as the date, and it's not clear the seller entirely appreciated what they were offering, but the reporters confirmed the authenticity of some of the documents, validating conversations the IRA-created "Blacktivist" account had with US activists. Included in the documents is information that the trolls amplified animosity over an April 2016 event at Stone Mountain, where white supremacists would clash with protesters.
posted by zachlipton at 6:32 PM on March 1 [30 favorites]


Ok this is a pet peeve: it's cojones. Not cajones. If you're going to be sexist in another language, get it right.

And also, using the word testicles to mean tough is fucking sexist.
posted by medusa at 7:11 PM on March 1 [50 favorites]


More on Grown Up Man At The Wheel McMaster: Trump and McMaster have seemed anxious to part but so far remain together

So much insanity in here. McMaster can't be in the same room as Mattis or Tillerson to the point they only meet once a week and must set the agenda 72hrs in advance. McMaster is pissed at Mattis for lording his 4 stars over McMasters 3 stars. Trump wants to promote McMaster from 3 to 4 star general just to get him out, but the Army doesn't really want McMaster back. Stephen ­Biegun, an auto excutive, is apparently in line for NSA not for his foreign policy experience (he has none) but because Trump likes his trade views.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:17 PM on March 1 [10 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!

@ChrisCoxNRA: I had a great meeting tonight with @realDonaldTrump & @VP. We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control. #NRA #MAGA
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:18 PM on March 1


Sorry, Biegun apparently worked as a NSC staffer and advisor to Bill Frist. That's still not a resume that gets you appointed as National Security Advisor.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:20 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Good (Great)!
posted by gucci mane at 7:20 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Why does Trump run around declaring so many things to be "Good (Great)" ?

It's like he's mentally upgrading his boasts in his head as he thinks of them, yet writes both down.
posted by zachlipton at 7:22 PM on March 1 [12 favorites]


zachlipton: Why does Trump run around declaring so many things to be "Good (Great)" ?

Wikipedia may hold the answer!
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't is a management book by Jim C. Collins that describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how most companies fail to make the transition. The book was published on October 16, 2001.
Maybe it's an aspirational thing. Is Trump a Prosperity Gospel guy? It mught be the only religion he could truly believe in.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:28 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Stephen ­Biegun, an auto excutive, is apparently in line for NSA not for his foreign policy experience (he has none) but because Trump likes his trade views.

Let's check his bio.
From 1992 to 1994, Mr. Biegun served in Moscow, Russia as the Resident Director in the Russian Federation for the International Republican Institute, a democracy-building organization established under the National Endowment for Democracy.

Mr. Biegun, born 1963, graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied Political Science and Russian Language. He is a third generation Ford Motor Company employee. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, and is a member of the boards of the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law, the Moscow School of Politics, Freedom House, the US-Russia Business Council, the US-ASEAN Business Council and FordSollers, Ford Motor Company’s joint venture operating in the Russia Federation.
Hmmm?
posted by JackFlash at 7:34 PM on March 1 [38 favorites]


Good and great are both power words. Why not work both in whenever you have the chance?

Jeebus, imagine the emails, phone calls, and texts leading up to tonight’s meeting and subsequent tweets.

“Good (great!) job, everyone, we’ve put this one back in the box.”
posted by notyou at 7:36 PM on March 1


Good to Great emphasizes the importance of corporate leaders to have modesty. There is no way in hell Trump is basing his life around that book.
posted by Quonab at 7:37 PM on March 1 [3 favorites]


Good to Great emphasizes the importance of corporate leaders to have modesty.

Neverrrr minnnnnnnd. </emily_litella>

*tears up library request for Good to Great, throws pieces in the air*
posted by wenestvedt at 7:39 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


zachlipton: Why does Trump run around declaring so many things to be "Good (Great)" ?

It's like he's mentally upgrading his boasts in his head as he thinks of them, yet writes both down.


Totally spitballing here, but it's possible that it's his weird interpretation/reaction to some advice he got, such as "You've gotta one down on calling everything great", and he was like "Okay, I'll call things good (but I'll make sure people know I mean great)".

I think his other uses of parentheses, which are similarly jarring, have been along those lines. Unfortunately, it's impossible to find analysis of this, because every Web search for Trump + parentheses gets discussions of that antisemitic punctuation thing that his fans do (and some Jewish writers intending to reclaim it from them).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:41 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Rick Wilson is a propagandist. He's a regular on Ana Marie Cox's podcast, "With Friends Like These", and she calls him "a former practitioner of the dark arts", and when he describes what he does it becomes clear he was a media consultant, which means - propagandist. Like Karl Rove? But with a really friendly kind of voice that makes me let my guard down. It's not like that makes him evil ... and it doesn't cancel out his opposition to Trump, and I don't think he's officially on a campaign right now. But he's been a Republican propagandist since the '80s, and to some extent he still is. On that podcast he'll drop lines like "I thought Republicans were for balanced budgets", never mind that Reagan himself didn't balance the damn budget but Clinton did. Or a line about "small government", never mind that Bush created the modern surveillance state and tried to define marriage.

And he was opposing Roy Moore in the strongest of terms, which is great, except he kept saying that "We've NEVER had ANYTHING like this in the Republican Party, we've NEVER elected a child molester to the House," which is just plainly not true. c.f. Dennis Hastert and Mark Foley, just off the top of my head. Same thing with the ethical scandals in Trump's administration - he wanted to pretend these were brand new developments completely out of step with the real GOP - and I don't think he's said a word about Mitch McConnell stealing a Supreme Court seat.

He's been working in the GOP since the '80s - it holds not only his livelihood, but parts of his identity as well. That's the context he's in. He's not any kind of friend. He just hates Trump.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 7:42 PM on March 1 [30 favorites]


Ok this is a pet peeve: it's cojones. Not cajones. If you're going to be sexist in another language, get it right.

And also, using the word testicles to mean tough is fucking sexist.


Not to mention fucking stupid. Testicles are pretty much the opposite of tough. "He's got balls" really means "there's a highly vulnerable spot just hanging out there which you can kick and make him fall over and throw up."
posted by phearlez at 7:42 PM on March 1 [61 favorites]


Conversely, Gen. Kelly is ascendant

General Kelly is the White House now.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:44 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Mr. Biegun, born 1963, graduated from the University of Michigan where he studied Political Science and Russian Language. He is a third generation Ford Motor Company employee. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, and is a member of the boards of the US-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law, the Moscow School of Politics, Freedom House, the US-Russia Business Council, the US-ASEAN Business Council and FordSollers, Ford Motor Company’s joint venture operating in the Russia Federation.

FFS, who's Trump gonna nominate next: Karla or Red Grant?

He's literally shouting, "I'M COMPROMISED! LOOK WHO I'M NOMINATING I'M COMPROMISED!"
posted by leotrotsky at 7:53 PM on March 1 [5 favorites]


Through Day 9 of Texas primary early voting, 15 largest counties:

Party: 2018 / 2016 / 2014

Dem: 312,230 / 281,302 / 156,592

GOP: 287,978 / 386,617 / 246,385

* If I'm doing the math right, the Dem lead is actually widening.
* if you were wondering - the top 15 counties are about 65% of all voters.
* In the past, the party share of the primary vote very closely predicted party share in the general in statewide races.
* Many more first-time primary voters for Dems vs GOP.

This does not definitively predict anything, of course. But it does seem to be the latest in a series of indicators that Something Is Happening In Texas.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:57 PM on March 1 [52 favorites]


NYT, Landler and Haberman, Trump’s Chaos Theory for the Oval Office Is Taking Its Toll. We've got the usual chaos, Gary Cohn threatening to resign, Kelly describing his move to the White House as "God punished me," Trump surprising everyone by randomly starting a trade war, and Trump walking around furious at Sessions, but the end of the story:
Privately, some aides have expressed frustration that Mr. Kushner and his wife, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, have remained at the White House, despite Mr. Trump at times saying they never should have come to the White House and should leave. Yet aides also noted that Mr. Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles, even as he has privately asked Mr. Kelly for his help in moving them out.

To some staff members, the chaos feels reminiscent of the earliest days of the Trump administration. Some argue Mr. Kelly should have carried out a larger staff shake-up when he came in. That has allowed several people to stagnate, particularly in policy roles, one adviser said.
Trump telling his daughter and son-in-law they should stay, while saying they never should have come, while also privately trying to get rid of them, is extremely on brand.
posted by zachlipton at 8:07 PM on March 1 [68 favorites]


i swear, if you want to get a policy out of trump, you need to walk into the oval office with a pre-written executive order and make him sign as soon as you get him smiling and telling the room that the whole thing was his idea
posted by murphy slaw at 8:12 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


Daily Beast, Exclusive: Secret Documents From Russia’s Election Trolls Leak
... it's not clear the seller entirely appreciated what they were offering, but the reporters confirmed the authenticity of some of the documents, validating conversations the IRA-created "Blacktivist" account had with US activists.


Please approach these documents with extreme caution. They are no more reliable than Wikileaks releases, and like those, a standard piece of Russian troll-craft is to release a large amount of real, stolen materials mixed in with fabricated or altered emails and documents, to give the latter more credibility.
posted by msalt at 8:22 PM on March 1 [22 favorites]


Ah yes, "Trump's Chaos Theory." Kind of like my "Forgetting My Keys and Locking Myself Out of the House Theory" and my "Eating So Much Cheese I Throw Up Theory." Funny that these clever strategies seem to backfire somehow.
posted by neroli at 8:24 PM on March 1 [13 favorites]


I took break from all this to watch some distracting historical drama. Rommel (2012) probably wasn't the best respite choice.
posted by srboisvert at 8:26 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


it sounds so clever when you call it “survival of the fittest” or “the strong survive”, but in nature, business, and politics, it’s better described as “throwing everything at a wall and seeing what sticks”
posted by murphy slaw at 8:26 PM on March 1 [8 favorites]


The Baltics, as in the "border of a land war in Asia" Baltics?

Not really, unless I'm misunderstanding you. Baltics as in, the small nations south of Finland, north of Poland and Belarus, east of Sweden and west of Russia. (map) To wit, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
posted by msalt at 8:30 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Please approach these documents with extreme caution. They are no more reliable than Wikileaks releases, and like those, a standard piece of Russian troll-craft is to release a large amount of real, stolen materials mixed in with fabricated or altered emails and documents, to give the latter more credibility.

While I understand the sentiment here and share the desire for caution, the story doesn't contain anything particularly explosive of the sort that it would make any sense to fabricate, and the reporters here did the legwork checking the documents with the US citizens mentioned in them, so when the docs say Russian trolls reached out to so-and-so activist to ask them to hand out these flyers at a protest, they talked to that person, and they seem to have been pretty careful about confirming what they reported. This isn't "we dumped a big set of alleged Russian troll documents on the internet"; it's journalism, and it looks at first glance like a good example of the right way to do this kind of work.

The story is pretty much just a few more examples of the kinds of things we know from the Mueller indictment.
posted by zachlipton at 8:32 PM on March 1 [15 favorites]


>>Conversely, Gen. Kelly is ascendant
>General Kelly is the White House now.


So are Jared and Ivanka. But obviously, the title and official powers of any job in this White House do not determine the amount of power one actually has.

Jared and Ivanka are fading fast, and Kelly is gaining relative power. The burgeoning trade war is one example, as Kelly is reportedly a tariff hawk.
posted by msalt at 8:33 PM on March 1


Politico's article Trump Ignored 'Bright Line' On Discussing Russia With Hicks implies Hicks was jettisoned as The Woman Who Knew Too Much:
President Donald Trump’s lawyers have urged him not to discuss details of the unfolding Russia investigation with anyone outside his legal team, warning of a conversational “bright line” that could put aides and associates in legal jeopardy, according to current and former Trump aides.

But Trump often ignores that legal advice in the presence of senior aides — including his departing confidante and White House communications director, Hope Hicks.

“I think the president has put her in a very precarious position,” a senior Trump administration official said in a recent interview.[...]

Hicks’ exit from the White House in the coming weeks will hardly immunize her from legal headaches. But it will spare her from “learning more things on the inside that could potentially lead to a second or third visit to the special counsel’s office and higher legal bills,” as one former Trump aide put it.

The former Trump aide, who experienced firsthand the lack of discipline in the president’s discussions about Russia matters, said the situation stemmed in part from the unique nature of a White House that “runs on personal access and loyalty.”

“Part of the problem in this White House is you have, every day, people who engage in matters concerning this investigation,” the source said. “That is problematic, because not only does it distract from the work that taxpayers are paying them to do, but it also — in certain instances — can make them witnesses or potentially targets of the investigation. That’s really dangerous.”
For the record, Hicks has been part of Trump's inner circle throughout significant campaign and administration events, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos joining the campaign's foreign policy team, Trump's decision to fire James Comey over a weekend at his Bedminster, NJ country club, the the composition by Stephen Miller of the letter detailing the reasons for firing Comey, the Air Force One drafting of Trump's misleading statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, and so many more.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:47 PM on March 1 [22 favorites]


He's literally shouting, "I'M COMPROMISED! LOOK WHO I'M NOMINATING [Stephen Biegun] I'M COMPROMISED!"

I'm not being sarcastic above. Dude went to Russia to fuck with the Kremlin, working for these USG soft power proxies.

The National Endowment for Democracy engages in "democracy promotion" which is an American euphemism for "expanding our empire's sphere of influence." It is now banned in Russia.

The International Republican Institute is a GOP branch of the NED. It, and the Democrats' branch, are now banned in Russia.

The US-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law grew out of something called The US Russia Investment Fund set up under the "Support for East European Democracy Act" for USAID to buy up a chunk of the Russian economy following the Soviets' collapse. It is now banned in Russia.

The US-Russia Business Council seems to be more a straightforward trade group, doesn't seem to be banned in Russia yet, but that does still work towards USG soft power.

So, probably on your side.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:50 PM on March 1 [11 favorites]


What with the bandwidth of Trump's scandaldom expanding I figure we could use a moment of normalcy, wit & humanity to offset it. Beto O'Rourke writes from the road: Trying to get to our Cooper town hall in time yesterday and was going a little too fast. Grateful to the sheriff's deputy who wrote me the ticket and even more grateful that he joined us for the community gathering afterwards.
posted by scalefree at 9:11 PM on March 1 [17 favorites]


The teacher strike in West Virginia will continue Friday, its seventh day. The WV Senate is stalling on the promised raises, citing skepticism of the governor's sudden $58 million increase in revenue estimates since last month, and they've still failed to come up with any kind of long-term fix to fund public employee health care.
posted by zachlipton at 9:14 PM on March 1 [15 favorites]


Who is still working in the White House? (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Hope Hicks is gone. H.R. McMaster may be on the way out. Who remains, it is difficult to say. The ranks are getting sparser and sparser every week and have to be combed more and more carefully into place. Here, as best as I can determine, are the people still at the White House:

Chief of Staff John Kelly, who committed a sin and is being punished, doomed to walk the Earth until every scrap of goodwill he accrued by seeming even vaguely level-headed is eroded away by his continued presence in the Trump administration and remarks in favor of Civil War-averting compromises or in defense of men accused of abuse.

A Russian intelligence official who came in months ago to drop off some misleading papers, but was given something important to hold and now considers everyone family and cannot bear to leave.

“Fox and Friends.”

Six tumbleweeds.

A pigeon that flew into the Oval Office during an important meeting, but everyone else present at the meeting had been removed because their clearances were downgraded, so they had to keep the pigeon to preserve institutional memory.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, amazingly.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:15 PM on March 1 [70 favorites]


I think the good (great!) thing is just abbreviation. He’s saying it’s great that this other thing is okay, with the implication that it could easily have been otherwise. It’s like if someone asked you about the biopsy you had and you answered “Everything’s fine. Which is fantastic!”
posted by um at 9:29 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


Kellyanne Conway endures. I wonder if Trump considered her to run his 2020 campaign.
posted by carmicha at 9:43 PM on March 1


“Cold War II,” Richard N. Haass, Project Syndicate, 23 February 2018
posted by ob1quixote at 10:04 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Kellyanne Conway endures.

She is the Mercer family mole in the White House. Probably instructed to keep her head down until the optimal moment for activation.
posted by JackFlash at 10:26 PM on March 1 [12 favorites]


So, probably on your side.

Here's a video of Biegun in a conference discussion with Sara Kendzior and Peter Brookes (Heritage Foundation) and he is clearly Pro-Trump.
posted by PenDevil at 10:49 PM on March 1 [1 favorite]


And it reminds me of the thin, faint silver lining to the dumpster fire that is the Trump Misadministration: that a COMPETENT Republican President might do even more damage to our institutions.

I found this recent @JHWeissman thread helpful in thinking about whether Trump’s lack of competence is, in fact, a good thing.
So, in light of the fact that Florida is now seriously considering arming middle school teachers to prevent mass shootings, I want to share some thoughts on how Donald Trump actually plays a crucial role in Republican policy thinking.
It's often said that Trump doesn't have policy preferences. That's mostly true, with some exceptions (he really wanted that 20% corporate tax rate, for instance).
But he manages to shape Republican thought in another crucial way. I call it the "why the fuck not?" effect.
People who think a lot about policy tend to be cautious. They care about outcomes and unintended consequences, as well as political blowback.
Trump does not give a fig about policy. Or outcomes. And so he has no caution. He just wants wins.
So, when he hears an idea he likes, no matter how absurd, he embraces it. The absurdity may even draw him to the idea, because it pisses off his egghead opponents.
Repeal the individual mandate without replacing it?
Why the fuck not?
Arm teachers?
Why the fuck not?
This actually has a meaningful impact on Republican policy making. When the President supports something, no matter how absurd, it expands the realm of the possible.
Suddenly, Senators start saying "why the fuck not?"
State legislators start saying "why the fuck not?"
Suddenly, they're passing bills that break the health care market in order to fund tax cuts for Goldman Sachs and give Mrs. Goldwein the 8th grade math teacher a glock.
Because why the fuck not? After all, Trump's for it.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:04 PM on March 1 [64 favorites]


Good (Great)

Impossible not to hear this in the voice of that other orange salesman, Tony the Tiger.
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:42 PM on March 1 [11 favorites]


That Washington Post story (by Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey) that T.D. Strange linked above has a couple of fascinating nuggets, both of which paint McMaster in a poor light.
“'He treats me like a three-star' rather than a coequal, McMaster has complained to colleagues of Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general."
McMaster is, in fact, a 3-star general.
"McMaster has told fellow Army officers that he is honored to work on some of the most important issues facing the country, but he can be quick to show the strains of the job. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson often dominate meetings chaired by McMaster... 'He often gets frustrated, goes through a phase, and his peer support group pulls him out of a funk,' one senior administration official said."
Striking because Tillerson has been portrayed as a bland, dim grifter letting the ship of State drift in stormy seas. Yet apparently he dominates McMaster with vitality and personality.

The whole bit makes McM sound like a petty, weary old man. (He's 55; Tillerson and Mattis are 65 and 67, respectively.)
posted by msalt at 11:51 PM on March 1 [15 favorites]


But, yes, they'd occupy Riga virtually unopposed... for a very little while.

Once they got dug in and orchestrated a tame Latvian legislature to vote for rejoining the motherland, their military doctrine would authorise nuclear retaliation for any threats to their territorial integrity (including their newly added Riga oblast). Which would probably be enough to keep the facts on the ground frozen: the Baltics to be governed from Moscow and the Baltic to be a Russian lake, with Washington (and London and Canberra and Seoul and so on) refusing to recognise this. There'd be recognised governments in exile operating from, say, Stockholm or Bonn or somewhere, and Estonia's virtual bureaucracy ticking away ineffectually in some AWS cloud, disconnected from the real world, but Russia would soon eliminate all resistance, secure the Baltics and start putting pressure on Finland.

It's no longer a question of do we send corn-fed farmboys from Iowa to die for Riga; it's a question of do we sacrifice, say, Berlin or Copenhagen or Warsaw to the aftermath of a counterinvasion.
posted by acb at 3:25 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Yes, you can give Mrs. Goldsmith a glock, but then school district insurers will tell her to leave it at home and adminstrators will start asking themselves deep questions like, how do you fire an armed person without backup? Cuz that’s what the police do. They have backup when Officer Jackson has to turn over his piece. Just in case.

That’s the problem with “why the fuck not.” It just wastes people’s time until responsible adults in insurers and unions and courts spend time and money explaining why the fuck not to these deeply stupid people.
posted by xyzzy at 4:24 AM on March 2 [54 favorites]


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
18 months later when he's about to be run out of the country, which is now destitute, on a rail: "Who knew trade wars could be so difficult?"

I'm just going to go out into the Nor'easter and scream until the hurting stops or at least until the people in white coats come to take me away.
posted by Talez at 4:26 AM on March 2 [56 favorites]


Federal gov't offices in DC are closed today on account of extreme bluster, so today may be a mercifully slower news day...

... or not. Who knows!
posted by Westringia F. at 4:30 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


Once they got dug in and orchestrated a tame Latvian legislature to vote for rejoining the motherland, their military doctrine would authorise nuclear retaliation for any threats to their territorial integrity (including their newly added Riga oblast). Which would probably be enough to keep the facts on the ground frozen

Latvia is a member of NATO, and there are NATO troops on the Latvian border right now, which means an invasion by Russia carries with it some risk of nuclear retaliation in and of itself.NATO could also immediately threaten Kaliningrad. Once Russia starts invading European countries the "facts on the ground" are no longer "frozen" and "territorial integrity" is out the window.

Russia can't sustain an occupation financially just on its own expense, let alone the global blowback, or handle the responses that would come in other disputed areas in the former USSR the west has been content to ignore; and I doubt an invasion force even if it reached Riga could survive exposure to conventional NATO and allied air-power for long enough to legitimize the threat of a nuclear response by a captive government. It would have to be more brazen than that. I'm not in a big hurry to find out, though.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:35 AM on March 2 [17 favorites]


Serious question: Is Trump or somebody Trump knows just shorting the Dow at this point? Like he's taken a billion dollar short and wants to drop the market a couple thousand points? Can we have Mueller to look into this? Because nobody can be that. fucking. stupid.
posted by Talez at 4:37 AM on March 2 [28 favorites]


According to Yanukovych, Paul Manafort also worked for free for him (via @NeilMacFarquhar, NYTimes):
“I personally didn’t set any amounts to be paid for his work and we never discussed this topic with him—how much he should get.

After the 2010 elections, Manafort was a pro bono advisor to me.”
posted by pjenks at 5:04 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]




So we're going to throw the US auto and machinist industries under the bus!

And the beer industry!
posted by PenDevil at 5:19 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


"IF YOU DON'T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON'T HAVE A COUNTRY!"

i mean
um
...yes?
...that's why we import 4x more than we export? because we need it to build stuff and make stuff and we can't make enough of it cheaply enough here? and it's been actually working out pretty well for us?
posted by halation at 5:26 AM on March 2 [31 favorites]


Serious question: Is Trump or somebody Trump knows just shorting the Dow at this point? Like he's taken a billion dollar short and wants to drop the market a couple thousand points? Can we have Mueller to look into this? Because nobody can be that. fucking. stupid.

There's like this special rule Trump gets: When attempting to accomplish a Plan, player may spend Stupidity points instead of Intelligence points. When completing a Plan in this way, player must roll a d20 and look up the outcome on the Stupid Watergate chart in Appendix IV, and write down the corresponding Sloppy Evidence Trail on their character sheet.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:42 AM on March 2 [30 favorites]


The National Endowment for Democracy engages in "democracy promotion" which is an American euphemism for "expanding our empire's sphere of influence." It is now banned in Russia.

The International Republican Institute is a GOP branch of the NED. It, and the Democrats' branch, are now banned in Russia.

The US-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law grew out of something called The US Russia Investment Fund set up under the "Support for East European Democracy Act" for USAID to buy up a chunk of the Russian economy following the Soviets' collapse. It is now banned in Russia.

The US-Russia Business Council seems to be more a straightforward trade group, doesn't seem to be banned in Russia yet, but that does still work towards USG soft power.

So, probably on your side.


I dunno. There was this article in one of the other threads that basically claimed that anyone who has lived in Russia for a longer period of time will somehow be compromised, if perhaps unknowingly because you can have been manipulated by agents pretending to be critical of the regime. It's probably an exaggeration, but I can see the point.
IME, this is specially apparent with conservative Russia experts: obviously they know more about the situation in Russia than the rest of us, and they are critical of the regime, it's their analysis of the other threats to the West that seems skewed to me; a caricature of it could be " don't worry about Russian interference in Western elections, the real threat is the erosion of Christian values in the US and Europe". And it's even worse when it's more nuanced and less obvious. I don't know Stephen Begun, but if his thinking is along that line, he'd be a very dangerous NSA.
posted by mumimor at 5:43 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


“trade wars are good, and easy to win...It’s easy!”


This...is a crazy man talking. The narcissism and self-delusion and sociopathic disregard such a statement displays...

While we were all worried about nuclear annihilation and gaming out how to keep his little hands off of the football, he just casually set fire to the economic foundation of the country.
posted by darkstar at 5:50 AM on March 2 [53 favorites]


While we were all worried about nuclear annihilation and gaming out how to keep his little hands off of the football, he just casually set fire to the economic foundation of the country.

China has been salivating at the day it can decapitate the head of the post-Bretton Woods world order and the Western hegemony it provides. Trump has not only been completely obtuse about how it works and how to defend it, he's just hacking away at it for good measure.
posted by Talez at 5:54 AM on March 2 [23 favorites]


The only person laughing and winning from the US starting a trade war will be Putin.
posted by localhuman at 5:55 AM on March 2 [7 favorites]


Boy, lots of crazy stuff going on in the world and DC. I'm sure Trump is tweeting about... Alec Baldwin? (And misspelling as usual with "dieing")

@MattGertz (MMFA)
Oh sweet Jesus.

At 4:24 am, Fox & Friends First ran a segment about Alec Baldwin saying he was tired of playing Trump on SNL. An hour later, Trump tweeting an attack on him.

Left, Fox & Friends First, 4:24 am
Right, Trump, 5:42 am
SCREENSHOTS

---

But I'm sure he eventually turned to important things...

@MattGertz
Fox & Friends First was also airing John Cornyn's warnings about trade wars.

Left, Fox & Friends First, 5:07 am
Right, Trump, 5:50 am

Same image aired at the top of the 4 am hour.
SCREENSHOTS

---

@NoceraBV (Bloomberg)
“Trade wars are good, and easy to win” is the single stupidest thing any US president has said in my lifetime.
posted by chris24 at 5:57 AM on March 2 [96 favorites]


@davidfrum (Atlantic)
The trade war Richard Nixon launched in 1971 was neither good nor easy to win. Instead, it brought a decade of stagflation. LIke Trump, Nixon was motivated entirely by winning votes from what Nixon literally called "the constituency of uneducated people."

Trump's Latest Tariffs Are a Huge Blunder: The president is risking serious economic and political consequences
Donald Trump is often compared to Richard Nixon in his disdain for law and ethics. The parallel applies to economics too. Nixon in 1971 quit the Bretton Woods agreement and imposed a surtax on all imports. The “shock” disrupted the world economy and profoundly angered formerly trusting friends already uneasy over the war in Vietnam. But Nixon, who knew little and cared less about economics, had his eye fixed on one concern only: the 1972 election. His emergency economic measures—joined to a loosening of monetary policy and a big increase in Social Security payouts the next year—were selected with an eye to one concern only. In the words of Allen Matusow, the shrewdest student of Nixon’s economic policy, “Somehow he had to make the economy hum by 1972 or face likely defeat in his quest for reelection.” What that meant in practice, Matsuow wrote, was that Nixon governed not according to what would work in the long term, but according to “the prevailing mood of the two-thirds of the country he called the ‘constituency of uneducated people.’”
---
The last time the U.S. imposed steel tariffs, back in 2002, the project was abandoned after 20 months. A 2003 report commissioned by industries that consumed steel estimated that the Bush steel tariffs cost in excess of 200,000 jobs—or more than the total number of people then employed in the entire steel industry at the time.
posted by chris24 at 6:02 AM on March 2 [39 favorites]


“Trade wars are good, and easy to win” is the single stupidest thing any US president has said in my lifetime.

Ok, maybe Bush didn't say anything so stupid about "wars", but we did have this from his Secretary of Defense:
"It is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
Real wars still beat trade wars for significance in my book.
posted by pjenks at 6:07 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Oh, it gets better.

@realDonaldTrump
When a country Taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!
8:57 AM · Mar 2, 2018


At this point, since canoodling with pretty women seems to be one of the only things that distracts Trump from insanity, I'm considering throwing on a wig, dress and heels and going to DC to see if I can take one for the team.
posted by delfin at 6:10 AM on March 2 [47 favorites]


Latvia is a member of NATO, and there are NATO troops on the Latvian border right now

The NATO troops in the Baltics are a tripwire, not a defence force. They could not provide meaningful resistance to a concerted Russian invasion.
posted by acb at 6:14 AM on March 2


uh, is there any country on earth right now with a 50% tariff on US imports?
posted by murphy slaw at 6:17 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


Once Russia starts invading European countries the "facts on the ground" are no longer "frozen" and "territorial integrity" is out the window.

There's a lot of Crimeans who would debate that.
posted by acb at 6:19 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


uh, is there any country on earth right now with a 50% tariff on US imports?

Japan has a 50% tariff on US beef imports. (and all beef imports from countries with which it has no specific trade agreement.) But Trump may getting 50% as a number by thinking of the tariffs he recently got to slap on imported washing machines, which will go up to 50%, as recommended by the U.S. International Trade Commission for the very specific reason of propping up Whirlpool so it doesn't collapse outright.
posted by halation at 6:28 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


I was just reading some background on NATO and Latvia, and as I dug deeper I came across a report on the situation Re: Putin Interference in: Everything, from Crimea to conspiring to violate US Law, to money laundering.

And we need a leader who can stand up to that GLOBAL threat.

And we got Trump. A Putin Puppet. Who is hell-bent on turning the US into a puppet state of Putin's.

It's snowing, and there's no bourbon in the house.
posted by mikelieman at 6:29 AM on March 2 [10 favorites]


The NATO troops in the Baltics are a tripwire, not a defence force. They could not provide meaningful resistance to a concerted Russian invasion.

Of course not, but it's not the US or NATO that would be provoking a nuclear confrontation by daring to respond to a seizure of Latvia, and it's weird to frame it that way.

Crimea would be one of those 'other areas' I was alluding to.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:37 AM on March 2


A little bourbon with your breakfast, mikelieman? Desperate times, etc. I am feeling a bit of survivor's guilt after having fled the US for family reasons. But it is not like I landed in nirvana. Every day the Swedish local daily newspaper is filled with stories of right-wingers who aren't seemingly as dangerous as Trump (yet) or the GOP but who somehow want to emulate the American move to the right. The US still manages to extort undue influence on other countries. Even as a bad example there are people who want to follow our path. Yikes.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:41 AM on March 2 [9 favorites]


When a country Taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!

Okay. So, clearly he doesn’t know what a trade deficit even is. That $800 Billion is how much more the US imports than it exports. Think about that. Think about why that is. It is because the US is rich. This is the problem he’s trying so valiantly to solve. Godspeed, dumbass.

Here’s the thing: All that stuff the US is importing? Y’all need that stuff. Without it, your economy completely collapses. That is why you’re willing to get a little screwed on the deal. What you export, though — we don’t really need much of it, and it’s WAY cheaper to get it basically anywhere else. That is why you’re willing to get a little screwed on that deal too.

And he wants higher tarriffs on exports? Okay. Sure. Result: Now you don’t have any exports, because, again, already cheaper from any other country.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:50 AM on March 2 [46 favorites]


i’m fairly sure that he doesn’t know the difference between a deficit and a debt, and he thinks that our trading partners are going to start sending goons to bust our kneecaps if we don’t get rid of it.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:53 AM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Without it, your economy completely collapses. That is why you’re willing to get a little screwed on the deal.

It's not getting screwed on the deal. It's literally the benefit of the deal. The US gets to maintain massive trade deficits without the currency collapsing in a heap because of the world's appetite for US dollars for both trade and a reserve currency.
posted by Talez at 6:54 AM on March 2 [22 favorites]


Trump keeps reminding me of those "Little Timmy" characters from Saturday morning cartoons, or children's books. You know, the clever little kid that comes up with a solution none of the stoopid adults ever thought of:
"Why don't we take the exhaust pipe from the cars and connect it to a box? And when the box is full, we take it off and bury it deep underground!" And so the skies cleared up, and all the birds returned to the city, and all the people were happy again. And they put up a monument to Timmy with a brightly shining plaque that said "Timmy, Conqueror of Pollution".
He is so incredibly un-learned on every topic he thinks he can bring a "fresh perspective" and just solve all those problems just. like. that. His childish worldview doesn't allow for nuance or real-world obstacles, he is convinced that everyone is just not trying hard enough, or can't use simple solutions because they prefer complex ones.

If I could wish for one thing it is that someone would teach him the quote by H.L. Mencken: "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."
posted by PontifexPrimus at 6:58 AM on March 2 [74 favorites]


Jesus Fred Christ Trump Sr., this is the stupid timeline when the day after Russia's leader holds a rally featuring a video of a nuclear missile attack on Florida, the occupier of the Oval Office spends his morning complaining about an actor's impression of him on late-night television and generally shouting back at Fox & Friends over Twitter.

Putin has cannily followed up with an interview with NBC's Megyn Kelly, trolling telling her, "My point of view is that the individuals that have said that a new Cold War has started are not analysts. They do propaganda."

Baldwin, meanwhile, couldn't resist Trump's bait and tweeted back, "Agony though it may be, I’d like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, the farewell helicopter ride to Mara-A-Lago. You know. The Good Stuff. That we’ve all been waiting for."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:59 AM on March 2 [62 favorites]


And the Dow is down another 350 points at open based on Trump's idiocy. 1.5%. S&P and NASDAQ down .9%.
posted by chris24 at 7:00 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Does an impeached president still get lifetime SS protection?
posted by Mitheral at 7:05 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


"IF YOU DON'T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON'T HAVE A COUNTRY!"

I can't help but see parallels to Mao and the Great Leap Forward here.

Like Trump, Mao was abysmally ignorant on most topics and certainly knew nothing about steel and steel production. They both almost randomly just sort of latched on to steel production as the single and solitary measure of national worth and value.

In Mao's case, with the enormous power he wielded, that lead to the Great Leap Forward. Mao not only knew nothing, but (like Trump) both disdained and distrusted those who did. He saw a "backyard steel smelter", and decided that everyone in China should build one and thereby make lots of steel and surpass the UK's steel production.

The result was the Great Chinese Famine. Not only did farmers stop farming to try and meet the impossible quotas set by Mao, but they melted down farming tools, cooking pots, and other essentials as well. The result was a lot of very poor grade pig iron, and the countryside being stripped of trees, as well as a lot of furniture being burned to fuel the smelters.

Trump, obviously, lacks the power to do quite so much harm as Mao, but he's of a startlingly similar mindset and obstinate foolishness.

We won't see widespread famine as farmers melt down their John Deeres to try and meet steel quotas, we'll "just" see economic collapse and widespread poverty thanks to a pointless trade war.
posted by sotonohito at 7:06 AM on March 2 [60 favorites]


Mao knew a bit about guerrilla warfare though.
posted by Mocata at 7:10 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


(I apologize for my contribution to the Baltic Invasion derail. I shared that link to Rand because I was curious what a high level “professional” war game played by Joint Chiefs of Staff might look like since war gaming a US attack on North Korea came up in the thread. (My original “I wonder” comment got nixed, so that context was lost. ) At least at Rand Corp, the war games the pros play look like giant versions of the ones grognards play.

Anyway, carry on!)
posted by notyou at 7:10 AM on March 2


The Intercept this morning: Jared Kushner’s Real-Estate Firm Sought Money Directly From Qatar Government Weeks Before Blockade

Kushner, according to reports at the time, subsequently undermined efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:14 AM on March 2 [36 favorites]


So the Great Leap Forward was neither Great, nor a Leap, nor Forward. Like the Holy Roman Empire.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:15 AM on March 2 [9 favorites]


One of the major uses of coal is to make steel, and it's the expensive, high-quality coal that you can actually make a profit on -- "met coal" -- that goes into steel production; it's what's preventing the complete collapse of the coal industry. China in particular imports shit-tons of US met coal to make steel.

Obviously Trump has no idea that reduced demand for US steel will drive down the price of US coal, and that high Chinese steel production is great for US coal and frankly all that's keeping the remainder of the industry from bankruptcy. In fact, reduced Chinese steel production (due to the global recession) has been largely responsible for the several coal bankruptcies in the last few years.

So fire up the irony machines for when his favorite manly-man real-America industry, coal, is decimated by his efforts to "save" his second-favorite manly-man real-America industry, steel, because he has no idea how steel, coal, money, trade, diplomacy, chemistry, or anything else works. They're both manly industries, and therefore he can save them by manly posturing! That's all he needs to know! Understanding supply and demand is for girlie industries!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:20 AM on March 2 [130 favorites]


So fire up the irony machines

steely machines, surely
posted by murphy slaw at 7:22 AM on March 2 [41 favorites]


"steely machines, surely"

Not without met coal they're not!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:25 AM on March 2 [52 favorites]




I assume Manafort has resigned himself to serving time at the best facility he can manage. It sounds ridiculous to say, but wouldn't he be safer in U.S. custody than trying to live in the world after cooperating with the FBI and giving up whoever his Russian counterparts are? God, it makes me feel like a crazy person even thinking that.

I don't think it's crazy at all. Remember how a whole bunch of Russian businessmen, diplomats, and military figures met with "accidents" as soon as Trump & Co gained access to intelligence briefings back in December 2016? Not to mention the patterns of Putin critics, honest journalists, and ex-KGB agents meeting with mysterious deaths or becoming victims to what are obviously murders which just never happen to be solved. If I were Manafort I might make the same decision. Litvinenko was under the protection of MI6 while living in the UK and he was still murdered. A prison would be safer.

It has been really weird following Josh Marshall tracking down the Russia/Manafort angle since well before the election. For a long time I kept wondering if I was following him down a rabbit hole, that the Trump phenomenon was so bizarre that it had pushed him over he edge into grasping for conspiracy theories to account for it. I believed him, but I didn’t trust myself for believing.

This has been the most infuriating aspect of the whole debacle. The signs were there in late 2015, early 2016--including the Russians sowing discord among the left. But everyone who brought it up was treated like a raving conspiracy theorist. Never has "I told you so" tasted quite so bitter. Even the people who were willing to believe active measures were actually a thing that Russia did scoffed at the idea it would happen in the USA and that it could actually work. It was a perfect example of confirmation biases and the backlash effect at work.

I dunno, maybe it would've helped to point out that Russia was simply engaging in next-level ratfucking. The left accepts that's a real thing that happened, that it was practiced by actual people (Nixon, Rove, Atwater, etc), and that it worked.
posted by schroedinger at 7:30 AM on March 2 [59 favorites]


JFC, this tariff shit is bonkers. Does Trump not have any real economists as advisers? Or is he just not listening to any of them? Is there any legitimate, serious economist anywhere who thinks these steel/aluminum tariffs are a good thing?
posted by zakur at 7:31 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


Does Trump not have any real economists as advisers? Or is he just not listening to any of them?

Door number 2!

It doesn't matter that he has experts; Gary Cohn is right there and adamantly against them. There have been numerous reports on how Trump will automatically go against whatever an expert says. He thinks someone informing him is speaking down to him and hates it. His ignorant instincts are always best. Tell him something he feels is best isn't and you wound his narcissism.

Add in the pressure he's under in other areas and the need to try and distract from incompetence and collusion and you get this.
posted by chris24 at 7:35 AM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Bloomberg -- Tariffs Update: Latest News as the World Reacts (excerpts)

The EU Signals Its Intention to Hit back
The European Union -- the world’s largest trade bloc -- signaled its response to Trump will involve a combination of tit-for-tat retaliation, “safeguard” measures to prevent a flooding of the EU market with steel diverted from the U.S. and a complaint to the World Trade Organization.

WTO’s Foundations Are at Risk, Industry Group Warns
“This whole issue can blow up the WTO,” Axel Eggert, the industry group’s director general, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Brussels. “This is not about national security. This is about propping up a U.S. industry that isn’t viable.” He urged Trump to rethink his tariff plan and work with the EU to curb steel overcapacity in China, the biggest producer....Germany’s benchmark DAX index plunged on the potential impact of the U.S. tariffs on Europe’s biggest economy, a manufacturing and exporting powerhouse. It was down 2.3 percent by noon in Berlin.

National Security Excuse Not Constructive: Norway
[W]hat national-security risks is Trump actually pointing to in trade flows, especially when metal comes from your friends and allies? National security as an excuse for protectionism is not constructive, Norway’s Foreign Ministry said. The White House got this far by using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which permits the government to explore whether imports undercut national security. Earlier today, the Japanese made much the same observation.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:38 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]


I have not been freaking out about the tariff stuff because I'm assuming it's just Trump being Trump and he's lying his ass off to garner praise from his base. He does this shit all the time.

Also everyone who actually knows him says he loves making threats in public but in person can't stand interpersonal conflict. He sends lackeys to fire people rather than face them himself--The Apprentice was a perfect example of how he sells himself as the exact opposite of who he actually is. It sounds like this tariff move would be a totally unilateral one and would force him to regularly deal with multiple genuinely angry advisers and staff at once. It's one thing to scream at someone when you've got a bunch of yes-men around you backing you up. Quite another when you're alone and you know everyone disagrees with you.

Then again, he's a narcissistic moron in the early stages of dementia. So.
posted by schroedinger at 7:40 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


The European Union -- the world’s largest trade bloc -- signaled its response to Trump

work with the EU


Damn it. If someone tells Trump that the EU says his tariff idea is a bad one, he'll jump right on making it happen.
posted by Twain Device at 7:41 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to see how Trump walks back this tarriff and which marginalized community he will punish to do it. Because there's no way this thing actually gets enacted.
posted by Tevin at 7:41 AM on March 2


If you crash the economy you can make yourself and your friends a lot of money in doing so

Billionaire investor and longtime Trump confidant Carl Icahn dumped $31.3 million of stock in a company heavily dependent on steel last week, just days before Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports.

Trump confidant dumped millions in steel-related stock last week, days before tariff announcement

posted by localhuman at 7:41 AM on March 2 [97 favorites]


Every dollar the U.S. sends overseas as a trade deficit ultimately comes back to the U.S. as investment, because the U.S. is where U.S. dollars are legal tender. That Trump characterizes the deficit as the U.S. "losing money" demonstrates that he has absolutely no idea how international trade works at even the most basic level. This is not a particularly difficult concept to communicate or understand, and every major media outlet should be responding to this claim with a five minute explanation of how trade deficits actually work. Of course they won't, and so a significant number of people will think Trump must be on to something with this, even if they're not otherwise Trumpists.
posted by biogeo at 7:45 AM on March 2 [26 favorites]


Trump's embrace of Russia: The evidence on public display already paints a jarring picture (John Harwood | CNBC)
* Trump's in-plain-sight embrace of Russia gets obscured by the Trump news avalanche. It's worth reviewing what's been established so far.

* Long before running for president, Trump relied on Russian money.

* Trump consistently defends Russia and attacks U.S. officials investigating Russia.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:45 AM on March 2 [25 favorites]


Well it got the national conversation off guns, didn't it?
posted by Talez at 7:46 AM on March 2 [14 favorites]


Well, Breitbart's tickled pink this morning with the big headlines "White House Globalists Fail to Stop Trump’s ‘America First’ Trade Agenda" and "China ‘Might as Well Have Carpet Bombed the American Heartland’" and the little headline "Stock Jitters"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:53 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Does an impeached president still get lifetime SS protection?

Mitheral: Impeached, yes. See Bill Clinton. Convicted: Unknown. The Constitution only provides that, in addition to removing the official from office immediately upon conviction, the Senate may also bar them from holding any future office of “honor, trust or profit”. The courts could come out a number of ways around this though there might be good reason for Secret Service to keep an eye on this fuckknuckle if he is convicted and pardoned. Wouldn't want him off selling secrets...
posted by Sophie1 at 7:57 AM on March 2


Bob Casey (D-PA) tweeted yesterday in support of the tariffs and got dragged. Pennsylvania, steel, he's up for reelection in 2018 etc but sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut for a bit.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:01 AM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Wouldn't want him off selling secrets...

Little late for that now. We're never going to know how far Russia is inside the White House, State, NSA, Pentagon now after Trump let them walk through the White House with boxes of unscreened "camera equipment". We should just assume Putin is hearing every word said in a SCIF live.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:02 AM on March 2 [11 favorites]


I believe no one has lifetime SS protection anymore, didn't they reduce it to 10 years a while back? Presidents can also decline it, as Carter did, since he's an amazing human being.
posted by Melismata at 8:04 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


One of the major uses of coal is to make steel

And even then, the coke you get as a refinery byproduct is cleaner, cheaper, and easier to mold than what you get from Met Coal.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:05 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


This has been the most infuriating aspect of the whole debacle. The signs were there in late 2015, early 2016--including the Russians sowing discord among the left.

Sarah Kendzior got really, really fired up along these lines on a radio show this week. (It's the Rick Smith show if you're interested in listening; alas I can't find a direct link.) Trump's public pro-Russia statements and actions during the campaign were more than enough to know that Putin had major suction with Trump. The Harwood piece Barack Spinoza links to lays it out pretty well, although that article somehow forgot to mention that Paul Manafort worked as campaign manager for free! Also that Trump floated the idea of breaking up NATO, which is Putin's wildest geopolitical stretch goal! None of this stuff would make any sense if Trump simply wanted warmer relations with Russia.

To make a somewhat strained poker analogy: Sometimes you don't have to stare deeply into someone's soul to know what they're holding -- their bets, their betting history, and the cards on the table make it obvious.
posted by johnny jenga at 8:07 AM on March 2 [20 favorites]


That Trump characterizes the deficit as the U.S. "losing money" demonstrates that he has absolutely no idea how international trade [X] works at even the most basic level.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:07 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


Rick Wilson learned his rat-fucking working for Lee Atwater of the Willy Horton ad. Rick Wilson created and ran the despicable ad attacking Max Cleland, a man who gave up two legs for his country, displaying him as an enemy of America alongside images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, because he voted for union representation for some Homeland Security employees.

Rick Wilson is a terrible human being


Indeed. And, let's be very, very clear, since the newspapers that publish his op-eds won't, Trump's election is a direct result of the kind of politics Wilson and his ilk practice, in which facts and values simply do not matter when there is power to be grabbed and held onto.

One way to gain power in a democracy is by creating popular, functional policies. Another way is to pull the kind of underhanded shenanigans these creeps practice -- and I might add, they're taught to and rewarded for it going all the way back to their College Republican days.

Which is why the "both sides do it" narrative pushed by the media since time out of mind is such a pernicious lie. Democrats may occasionally play hardball, but they probably won't be calling Republicans traitors in the midterms even when it's all too obvious that many of them actually, truly are.
posted by Gelatin at 8:09 AM on March 2 [24 favorites]


After the 2010 elections, Manafort was a pro bono advisor to me.”

That's a long time to not have an income.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:10 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


"Right-wing gun owners fear Trump is flipping on their gun rights."

Yesterday I was having a schadenfreudy moment, checking out The Donald on reddit, and they are losing their collective shit about the gun rights thing.

Please see this beauty (reddit screencap on imgurl, second image).

And here is the schadenfreude thread on reddit
posted by Tarumba at 8:12 AM on March 2 [12 favorites]


Here is the Sarah Kendzior radio show referenced by johnny jenga.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:14 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


I believe no one has lifetime SS protection anymore, didn't they reduce it to 10 years a while back? Presidents can also decline it, as Carter did, since he's an amazing human being.

I watched documentary a few years back on HW Bush and he had secret service men docking his bloody boat.
posted by srboisvert at 8:17 AM on March 2


Paul Manafort worked as campaign manager for free

If Trump had followed MetaFilter, he might have been aware that if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer. You're the product being sold.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:22 AM on March 2 [66 favorites]


T.D. Strange Little late for that now. We're never going to know how far Russia is inside the White House, State, NSA, Pentagon now after Trump let them walk through the White House with boxes of unscreened "camera equipment".

Christ. We're going to have to pay to basically tear down and rebuild the entire White House, aren't we? No telling what surveillance gear the FSB has managed to hide in the walls, the light switches, the electrical outlets, and really just about everything.

MRI's or X-rays, or sonograms, or whatever on all the art and sculptures and historic furniture, wholesale dumping and repurchasing of everything non-historic. Tearing out all the wiring, tearing off all the wall panels and replacing them. Shit.
posted by sotonohito at 8:22 AM on March 2 [17 favorites]


Ah, according to the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012, the lifetime protection was reinstated by Barack Obama. Yet something else he hasn't been given credit for.
posted by Melismata at 8:23 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


Does an impeached president still get lifetime SS protection?

Benefits of the Former Presidents Act of 1958 are only available to Presidents that were not removed from office, so if he was convicted (or permanently removed via the 25th Amendment), no. For all other former Presidents the FPA was amended in 1997 to reduce SS protection to 10 years then raised back to lifetime by the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012.
posted by scalefree at 8:24 AM on March 2 [3 favorites]


Tarumba: "Right-wing gun owners fear Trump is flipping on their gun rights."

Oh don't worry, gun-clutchers -- Congress has moved on. Befuddled By Trump, Senate Will Not Vote On Gun Measures Next Week (NPR, March 1, 2018)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday that the Senate will move on to the banking bill after voting on several nominations this week. McConnell said he hopes to vote on changes to the background check system for most gun purchases but did not provide a timeline or any further details.

"We'd love to do that at some point," McConnell said. "I'm hoping there is a way forward."

The lack of commitment is the surest sign yet that Congress does not plan to quickly address gun access, despite pressure from the White House and survivors of last month's deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

There is no plan for any action on gun legislation ahead of the two-week Easter recess at the end of March. The Senate will next take up Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo's bipartisan legislation to ease bank regulations. The Senate also plans to vote this month on Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman's legislation to combat sex trafficking, and Congress must pass a sweeping spending package by March 23.

There is no room in the agenda for guns, unless senators reach agreement on legislation that could move through the Senate via an expedited process known as unanimous consent. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who is opposed to any new restrictions on gun rights, said he did not believe that kind of consensus was within reach. "Look, we've got a lot of disagreement on the Republican side, and I would be surprised if something moved anytime soon," he said.
Thanks, Florida Man Senator, for taking the suffering of the young people of Florida to heart.

(And that "pressure from the White House" line is bunk -- the article goes on to note that "Republicans spent the day Thursday struggling to respond to a set of vague instructions Trump laid out during a televised meeting at the White House.")

Sorry, gun-violence ravaged nation, Republican leadership regards bill easing bank rulesas a top priority (Pete Schroeder and Michelle Price for Reuters, March 1, 2018) -- and worse, Thirteen Senate Democrats signed on as backers.

Why I would vote 'no' on Senate bill to amend Dodd-Frank (Former Congressman Barney Frank, in an Op-Ed for CNBC, March 1, 2018)
I write this in anticipation of the debate on the Senate Banking Committee bill to amend Dodd-Frank, which is expected to begin next week.

The history behind this current debate begins with the Republican takeover of Congress in 2010. Having just passed by the narrowest possible margin a comprehensive law covering most aspects of financial regulation, my colleagues and I expected over the next few years to begin the process of fixing things we hadn't been able to reach or might, based on experience, wish to reconsider.
It's a long article, full of history and details, but it gets down to the fact that Republicans and a few Democrats support raising the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) limit to $250 billion, "a level twice as high as is prudent."
As I have noted before, the failure of two or three such institutions would put us in Lehman Brothers territory. They then exacerbated that problem by putting in place rules that will make it excessively difficult for any future regulators to invoke what has from the outset been an important Democratic argument—namely that there be a right for the FSOC to take jurisdiction over banks between $100 and $250 billion if that bank's activity threatened stability.
Did someone mention concerns about Republicans pushing us into broad financial instability?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:25 AM on March 2 [12 favorites]


Children's protection ends at 16, though, which means that Malia immediately lost secret service protection when Trump was inaugurated & Sasha lost it later that year - I mean, I know their family know far better than me and will take their security seriously, but I'm always a little concerned about that. If you ask me, children should also get a 5- or 10-year minimum too.
posted by mosst at 8:26 AM on March 2 [6 favorites]


"Hey, maybe we should make stuff like tariffs a Congressional act that requires Presidential signoff, like laws. Naah, let's just give the President unlimited power to impose tariffs at their whim, that's a better way to do things!"

That's actually how things constitutionally work. Congress handed most of this power over to the president, and the courts didn't like it but were willing to go along with it as long as the power was kept narrowly channeled.

The tl;dr for why this happened is that Congress learned through bitter experience that they continually fuck this up, and the last time they tried to deal with tariff policy on their own they almost killed democracy on Earth and helped indirectly kill around 50 million people.

The longer version is that Congress faces a much wider set of protectionist pressures and it's easy for them to default to approving everyone's protectionist legislation. I'll vote for your bill to prohibitively tax imported shoes if you vote for mine to prohibitively tax imported hats, etc etc. At the extreme, you end up with 193x's Smoot-Hawley and help turn what might have been a normal but unpleasant downturn into a global economic meltdown that led smoothly into the second world war. So afterwards they handed most of the direct power to the President, whose single nationwide constituency provides less incentive to fuck things up.

Trump just doesn't need incentives to fuck things up, is all.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:31 AM on March 2 [19 favorites]



Children's protection ends at 16, though, which means that Malia immediately lost secret service protection when Trump was inaugurated & Sasha lost it later that year - I mean, I know their family know far better than me and will take their security seriously, but I'm always a little concerned about that. If you ask me, children should also get a 5- or 10-year minimum too.


I get a little indigestion every time I see the name "Obama" on the front page of the National Enquirer. For exaclty that reason. There is only so much President Obama can personally do.
posted by ocschwar at 8:34 AM on March 2


A couple weeks ago, Trump buddy and economic adviser Carl Icahn dumped a bunch of stock of the Manitowoc company, who manufactures cranes and is thus a major consumer of steel. Icahn's selloff began on Feb 12, prior to Wilbur Ross floating the trial balloon of a 24% steel import tariff.

This just isn't subtle at all. Part of me hopes this level of corruption was also endemic before Trump, just much better hidden. Otherwise, our economy and society are in serious trouble once every powerful sociopath realizes just how much flagrant illegality will go unpunished, or even unnoticed.
posted by johnny jenga at 8:45 AM on March 2 [45 favorites]


For what it's worth, that's $31.3m in a fund of about $20b, or 0.16% of the fund.
posted by hexaflexagon at 8:49 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]




haha i think i hear someone laughing or gasping at ross in the background of that video at around 0:13 when the soup can comes out

'About 2.6 pennies' worth of steel per can,' Ross claims, and then asks, 'who in the world is going to be too bothered by 6/10ths of a cent?'

does literally anybody currently employed by the executive branch understand how economics works
maybe some of the support staff, could we ask them to come in and explain
posted by halation at 8:59 AM on March 2 [44 favorites]


For what it's worth, that's $31.3m in a fund of about $20b, or 0.16% of the fund.

So just misdemeanor securities fraud, not felony securities fraud. /sarcasm
posted by zakur at 9:03 AM on March 2 [7 favorites]


According to Google, Campbells sells 440 million cans of soup per year in the US. That 6/10 cent per can is worth $2.6 million to Campbells (someone check my math, I do not math gud).

I do not normally get my news via TV so I've never seen a lot of these yutzes in action before and holy shit Wilbur Ross, have a cup of coffee or something? Wake the fuck up before you have to try to sell a trade war on CNBC? I felt my own meager ability to speak publicly literally being sucked from my own body watching that.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:04 AM on March 2 [19 favorites]


Politico: Pruitt tapes revealed: Evolution's a 'theory,' 'majority' religions under attack
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed evolution as an unproven theory, lamented that “minority religions” were pushing Christianity out of “the public square” and advocated amending the Constitution to ban abortion, prohibit same-sex marriage and protect the Pledge of Allegiance and the Ten Commandments, according to a newly unearthed series of Oklahoma talk radio shows from 2005.

Pruitt, who at the time was a state senator, also described the Second Amendment as divinely granted and condemned federal judges as a “judicial monarchy” that is “the most grievous threat that we have today." And he did not object when the program’s host described Islam as “not so much a religion as it is a terrorist organization in many instances.”
...
EPA would not say this week whether any of Pruitt’s positions have changed since 2005. Asked whether the administrator’s skepticism about a major foundation of modern science such as evolution could conflict with the agency's mandate to make science-based decisions, spokesman Jahan Wilcox told POLITICO that “if you're insinuating that a Christian should not serve in capacity as EPA administrator, that is offensive and a question that does not warrant any further attention."
...
Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists — a group that has criticized Pruitt’s environmental policies — said Pruitt’s religious beliefs aren’t relevant to his leadership of EPA “because the job is not to be the nation’s pastor.” But his group still worries that Pruitt has chosen to “sideline science" and “wants to make decisions on a wholly political basis.”

“If I had to say if there was a philosophy behind his decisions, it’s 'Industry is always right and we should just get out of the way,'” Rosenberg said.
posted by cjelli at 9:07 AM on March 2 [44 favorites]


In a throw-back to happier (?) days, I'm reminded of how Hamilton-obsessed the politics threads were leading up to the election.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jimmy Fallon React to Weird Al's "Hamilton Polka"
posted by Surely This at 9:07 AM on March 2 [31 favorites]


does literally anybody currently employed by the executive branch understand how economics works

Politico:
Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, has been rumored to be on the brink of leaving the White House for months but stayed for one main reason: to stop the president from imposing steep tariffs.

By Thursday afternoon, Cohn had lost the fight.
And although Ross does support (and indeed recommended) tariffs on steel and aluminium, the Commerce Department as a whole does not, and made alternative recommendations.

There were and are plenty of people within the Executive (let alone outside it) telling Trump that this (generally) was a bad idea, and that some of Ross's recommendations (specifically) were bad ideas, and then Trump pretty much just made up this exact proposal with numbers of his own invention and no thought as to what these tariffs are supposed to accomplish -- is it to exact concessions? is it prop up the economy as a whole? some sector of the economy? -- because Trump is really doing this for Trump.

Ross definitely isn't helping here, and I'm not going to defend his soup can logic, but this is really a situation of Trump's own creation.
posted by cjelli at 9:14 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


'About 2.6 pennies' worth of steel per can,' Ross claims, and then asks, 'who in the world is going to be too bothered by 6/10ths of a cent?'

This argument is so freakin' disingenuous.
posted by drezdn at 9:16 AM on March 2 [16 favorites]


Wilbur Ross waggles can of soup on CNBC and mutters about how tariffs are no big deal while the DOW ticker plummets in the window next to his addled head

Y'know, normally one doesn't judge the total economic impact from a take-on-all-comers global trade war by the first salvo, but you do you, Wilbur Ross. We should be thankful the administration got you out on the business channel circuit before naptime.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:17 AM on March 2 [8 favorites]


EPA would not say this week whether any of Pruitt’s positions have changed since 2005.

How could one resist replacing "changed" with "evolved" in writing that?
posted by srboisvert at 9:19 AM on March 2 [32 favorites]


and no thought as to what these tariffs are supposed to accomplish -- is it to exact concessions? is it prop up the economy as a whole? some sector of the economy?

It's not an economic motive, its racial grievance signaling just like the Carrier stunt, the "saving" of coal, etc. Steel is a Big Important White Industry that used to provide single earner jobs to support a family on one white man's income and now doesn't BECAUSE SOMETHING ABOUT MEXICO AND CHINA AND GLOBALIST JEWS. So TARIFFS! Bannon's ethnonationalism didn't leave the White House when he did, Trump was always on board with the racial grievance parts and still is, this is just an economic outlet instead of an immigration or criminal enforcement one we're more used to seeing through one year.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:20 AM on March 2 [23 favorites]


Further fun in the case of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. Some expressed extra disappointment upon hearing of his indictment for felony invasion of privacy due to the good work he had done for veterans through his charity The Mission Continues.

Well…

TPM: Missouri AG Probing Beleaguered Gov’s Former Charity
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is investigating the veterans charity that scandal-plagued Gov. Eric Greitens founded eleven years ago.

“The Attorney General’s Office has an open inquiry into the charitable activities of The Mission Continues, pursuant to the AGO’s enforcement responsibilities under the consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws,” Loree Anne Paradise, Hawley’s deputy chief of staff, told TPM in a statement.

Greitens, a Republican, left the charity, The Mission Continues, in 2014. But questions about his enduring ties to it date back to his 2016 election campaign. In October of that year, weeks before voters went to the polls, the Associated Press revealed an overlap between people who donated to his campaign and to the charity.

At the the time, Greitens, who was in a tight race, denied using the donor list for The Mission Continues to raise money for his campaign. Doing so would be a violation of federal campaign finance laws, which bar non-profits from engaging in political activity on behalf of a particular candidate, and require campaigns to report the use of this sort of list as an in-kind contribution.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:30 AM on March 2 [20 favorites]


The tariff on steel imports seems to play well in Ohio. Both of our senators have expressed approval.

Ohio Senators Urge Protective Action on Possible Steel Tariffs
posted by Surely This at 9:31 AM on March 2


I do think that every country should maintain their steel production ability as well almost all other forms of production at some level because you never what will happen with your trading partners. For example, they could elect a moron whose capriciousness destabilizes world trade by taking unpredictable and inconsistent positions that make planning and investment very risky. In which case it would be prudent to have at least a kernal of domestic industry that could ramp up over time to meet local demand as well as export to other countries that might also be affected.
posted by srboisvert at 9:31 AM on March 2 [38 favorites]


TPM: Missouri AG Probing Beleaguered Gov’s Former Charity

It's never just one thing with these guys. Once you turn over the rock, all sorts of things come to light.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:33 AM on March 2 [19 favorites]




A lot of the steel produced in Western PA these days is specialty products on a smaller scale. Sort of artisinal steel. It takes a sophisticated plant and well-trained workforce to produce.

If anyone is interested to see what steel production was historically in Western PA and what it looks like today, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area has a fantastic map (and a great website just in general).
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:46 AM on March 2 [14 favorites]


'who in the world is going to be too bothered by 6/10ths of a cent?'

This argument is so freakin' disingenuous.


Yep. As a billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross has made a career out of bothering with aggregate 6/10ths of cents.
posted by Rykey at 9:47 AM on March 2 [12 favorites]


When does Hope Hicks get to be a “wunderkind” instead of a “former model”? - "The media undermined Hicks with sexist language right up until her last day."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:48 AM on March 2 [20 favorites]


In addition to ostensibly pro-tariff Wilbur Ross, the senior trade adviser Peter Navarro is a protectionist, so Trump isn't going against literally his entire team (although I doubt I single one isn't concerned about his ignorant recklessness in carrying out policies they support). Amusingly enough, Navarro's chart is the one Trump indignantly said he couldn't understand. As chris24 said, "He thinks someone informing him is speaking down to him and hates it", and that holds true even if that someone is trying to give reasons that he's right.

An exception I imagine would be if those reasons fed his narcissistic supply. For example, if Navarro used a fancy graph to "explain" that steel tariffs would have a positive economic effect thanks to his electoral college win. Somehow.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:48 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


At the the time, Greitens, who was in a tight race, denied using the donor list for The Mission Continues to raise money for his campaign.

NYT reporter (formerly of 538) @bencasselman gave to TMC and has been receiving Greitens campaign solicitations since.
posted by Jpfed at 9:53 AM on March 2 [5 favorites]


The call-out of sexism in descriptions of Hope Hicks is spot on, but "wunderkind or former model?" is a false choice. The correct descriptor is "enabler of facism."
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:10 AM on March 2 [86 favorites]




Greitens, who was in a tight race, denied using the donor list for The Mission Continues to raise money for his campaign.

If you look at a recent Form 990 for this charity, it raised about $8.4 million in donations and spent less than $2 million of that for program services and grants. Notable expenses include over $3 million for employee salaries and benefits, with several officers earning $200,000.

Grifters gotta grift.
posted by JackFlash at 10:22 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]




Dang, I read his book, and he sounded pretty good. I guess it was too good to last.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:30 AM on March 2 [1 favorite]


NBC: Trump was angry and ‘unglued’ when he started a trade war, officials say

According to two officials, Trump's decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.

Narcissistic injury leading to disinhibition. If this bad week means a trade war, then when he has a worse week it will probably mean a real war.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:31 AM on March 2 [80 favorites]


also in that article, from the "well-oiled machine" dept:
Ross had already invited steel and aluminum executives to the White House for an 11 a.m. meeting on Thursday. But Ross, according to a person with direct knowledge, hadn't told the White House who the executives were. As a result, White House officials were unable to conduct a background check on the executives to make sure they were appropriate for the president to meet with and they were not able to be cleared for entry by secret service. According to a person with direct knowledge, even White House chief of staff John Kelly was unaware of their names.

By midnight Wednesday, less than 12 hours before the executives were expected to arrive, no one on the president's team had prepared any position paper for an announcement on tariff policy, the official said. In fact, according to the official, the White House counsel's office had advised that they were as much as two weeks away from being able to complete a legal review on steel tariffs.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:39 AM on March 2 [28 favorites]


Deep in the wilds of Pennsylvania, the Times finds that most elusive of creatures: the Regretful Trump Voter.

House Race in Pennsylvania May Turn on Trump Voters’ Regrets (Trip Gabriel, NYT)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:41 AM on March 2 [7 favorites]


Regretful Trump Voters are epidemic; the Openly Regretful Trump Voters are the true unicorns.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:51 AM on March 2 [10 favorites]


I'm sure that it's merely a coincidence that there's a congressional election in steel country USA in about two weeks.

Surely the GOP wouldn't initiate a potential global trade war to save one single seat, would they?

Or, when the Pennsylvania voter has served their purpose, there'll be another announcement that Trump "has heard the voices of businesses harmed by tariffs", and they'll be lowered or dropped.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 10:52 AM on March 2 [9 favorites]


from the "you blew it up, you maniacs!" dept.:

Georgia Passes Bill That Stings Delta Over N.R.A. Position
ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers approved a bill on Thursday that stripped out a tax break proposal highly coveted by Delta Air Lines — the most stinging punishment that America’s pro-gun forces have leveled so far on one of the many corporations recalibrating their positions on firearms after the Florida high school massacre.

The $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel that was sought by Delta, one of Georgia’s biggest employers, had been included in a broader tax-relief bill. But this week, a number of Georgia Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, sought to remove the perk as retribution for Delta’s decision to end a promotional discount for members of the National Rifle Association.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:53 AM on March 2 [16 favorites]


There is no indication that this tariff announcement was instigated by the congressional GOP. It's the result of Trump rejecting the pleas of the congressional GOP and going with what sounds good to him, as suggested by Wilbur Ross, without consulting any of the relevant departments or conducting a legal review.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:55 AM on March 2 [9 favorites]


Here is the transcript of the Sarah Kendzior radio show referenced by johnny jenga.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:07 AM on March 2 [11 favorites]


Well I voted in the early voting for the primary today and there were a surprising number of of folks there! But in the parking lot, a truck for one Republican candidate with signs/ballons with the name on it, and that seemed extremely skeevy to me. I mean, signs are allowed around the polling place, but a truck with some dudes sitting in it holding signs...should I report it I wonder?
posted by emjaybee at 11:11 AM on March 2 [6 favorites]


There is no indication that this tariff announcement was instigated by the congressional GOP. It's the result of Trump rejecting the pleas of the congressional GOP and going with what sounds good to him, as suggested by Wilbur Ross, without consulting any of the relevant departments or conducting a legal review.

It wouldn't surprise me if Ross or someone else had mentioned the race as part of the case for tariffs. But, evidence against that possibility: Trump hasn't himself mentioned the race on Twitter.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:22 AM on March 2


zachlipton: Well, however mad Trump may be at Sessions, it certainly didn't stop him from taking Sessions's side by appointing William Otis to the US Sentencing Commission: Otis is a notorious opponent of attempts to roll back mandatory minimum sentences and mass incarceration....

Who also has publicly called to abolish the U.S. Sentencing Commission and has a history of making racially charged racist remarks about crime. (NPR, March 2, 2018)

What's with Trump picking people to be in charge of agencies that they've publicly stated should not exist? Oh right, dismantling government and looting along the way.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:22 AM on March 2 [13 favorites]


Georgia Passes Bill That Stings Delta Over N.R.A. Position

Delta will stay put in Atlanta, but the longevity of the careers of some of this current crop of politicians just got a lot shorter. Basically, it would cost a lot more to move operations than it would for Delta to just buy a new slate of Republican legislators.
posted by darkstar at 11:23 AM on March 2 [33 favorites]


Most of NBC's latest "Mueller's obviously asking questions about the stuff he should be asking about" story isn't that interesting, but this jumps out at me:
As part of the scrutiny of Kushner's discussions with Turks, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI's legal attache office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter. Separately, Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. in late January and early February considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country's Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt their country, four people familiar with the matter said. The Qatari officials decided against cooperating with Mueller for now out of fear it would further strain the country's relations with the White House, these people said.
Doesn't this amount to Qatar blackmailing Kushner: do what we want or we'll hand over evidence to Mueller incriminating you?
posted by zachlipton at 11:24 AM on March 2 [35 favorites]


Trump fomented his political career by being anti-establishment. Now he is the establishment, and he's like one of those movie A.I.s forced to grapple with a logical paradox, smoke pouring out of him, except the A.I. is also really stupid
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:25 AM on March 2 [19 favorites]


What we didn't realize was that when Trump said "I alone can fix it", he didn't mean "fix" as in "repair", he meant "fix" as in "the fix is in".
posted by murphy slaw at 11:30 AM on March 2 [12 favorites]


In politically-related news: Mike Huckabee Resigns From Music Education Board After Fierce Backlash From Nashville (NPR, March 2, 2018)
In less than 24 hours, presidential candidate, conservative radio host and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was announced as a new board member of the Country Music Association Foundation, the organization's philanthropic arm, before being swiftly forced to resign after a chorus of dissent over the appointment erupted in Music City and beyond.

"I genuinely regret that some in the industry were so outraged by my appointment that they bullied the CMA and the Foundation with economic threats and vowed to withhold support for the programs for students if I remained," Huckabee's letter of resignation read, which was accepted in a statement by the CMA. The organization, which produces a huge festival in Nashville each summer as well as the televised CMA Awards, has yet to offer further comment on its motivation for appointing him.

The CMA Foundation, which invests in music education programs all across the country, made the announcement about Huckabee's appointment late afternoon on Wednesday. Soon after, artists, CMA members and fans began voicing their outrage, most notably Jason Owen, co-president of Monument Records and owner of Sandbox Entertainment, who represents well-known clients like Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves. Owen, who is openly gay, sent a letter to CMA CEO Sarah Trahern and the director of community outreach, Tiffany Kerns, expressing how the decision to appoint Huckabee meant he would "no longer support the CMA Foundation in any way" and would advise his clients to follow suit.

"[Huckabee] has made it clear that my family is not welcome in his America," Owen wrote. "And the CMA has opened their arms to him, making him feel welcome and relevant. Huckabee speaks of the sort of things that would suggest my family is morally beneath his and uses language that has a profoundly negative impact upon young people all across this country. Not to mention how harmful and damaging his deep involvement with the NRA is. What a shameful choice."
That's right, Huckabee was ousted because of his terrible views on same-sex marriages and on gun rights!

Good on you, Jason Owen and everyone else!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 AM on March 2 [126 favorites]


In any reasonable society the Huckabee family would be pariahs for their odious behavior, hatefulness, and deceit. I'm glad to see the sudden reversal but dismayed that anyone thought appointing this sanctimonious self-promoting huckster was a good idea in the first place.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:37 AM on March 2 [11 favorites]


emjaybee To the best of my knowledge, in Texas that's perfectly legal as long as they're the proper distance from the polling place. In my precinct I've never gone to vote without seeing several people with trucks, awnings, and so on urging me to vote for one candidate or another. Sometimes the candidate themselves is there to ask for votes.
posted by sotonohito at 11:38 AM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Reuters: “We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans - Levis,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television.

To be honest that sounds like a joke, but it sounds like a joke that reluctantly acknowledges the start of a global trade war.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:42 AM on March 2 [20 favorites]


And for another round of "we all knew it, but now we have the proof" -- Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show (Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman for New York Times, March 2, 2018)
Even before President Trump officially opened his high-profile review last spring of federal lands protected as national monuments, the Department of Interior was focused on the potential for oil and gas exploration at a protected Utah site, internal agency documents show.

The debate started as early as March 2017, when an aide to Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, asked a senior Interior Department official to consider shrinking Bears Ears National Monument in the southeastern corner of the state. Under a longstanding program in the Utah, oil and natural gas deposits within the boundaries of the monument could have been used to raise revenue for public schools had the land not been under federal protection.

“Please see attached for a shapefile and pdf of a map depicting a boundary change for the southeast portion of the Bears Ears monument,” said the March 15 email from Senator Hatch’s office. Adopting this map would “resolve all known mineral conflicts,” the email said, referring to oil and gas sites on the land that the state’s public schools wanted to lease out to bolster funds.

The map that Mr. Hatch’s office provided, which was transmitted about a month before Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke publicly initiated his review of national monuments, was incorporated almost exactly into the much larger reductions President Trump announced in December, shrinking Bears Ears by 85 percent.
Oh sorry, it's about "raising revenues for public schools," which just happens to come from energy extraction. Except Interior Dept. panel weighs lower royalty payments for (offshore) oil and gas drilling (Juliet Eilperin for Washington Post, February 26, 2018; via comment by peeedro in the prior thread).

Spoiler alert: The committee appears to be poised to recommend that royalty rates be lowered for certain resources. And that's on top of the fact that oil, gas and coal companies are paying less than they should even under current rules. (Ryan Alexander of Taxpayers for Common Sense, for U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 28, 2018)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:51 AM on March 2 [39 favorites]


Trump fomented his political career by being anti-establishment. Now he is the establishment, and he's like one of those movie A.I.s forced to grapple with a logical paradox, smoke pouring out of him, except the A.I. is also really stupid

A classic case of overfitting his training data.

He came up in the world as a corrupt businessman greasing wheels and getting deals, screwing up and stiffing creditors and moving on until he settled into a branding operation.

Now he is trying to use those same skills and techniques in a position where you can't bluster because everyone knows you cannot walk away from the table, you have next to no secrets or privacy, you are the creditor and wheel greasing is close to impossible because it is illegal and you are now in full sun. Oh and unless you execute perfectly you can only damage your brand.
posted by srboisvert at 11:55 AM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Has anybody else noticed, in recent days the leak-proof Mueller investigation has turned into a sieve? I have to assume it's on purpose but it makes me wonder why; who it is they want to spook, what reaction they want to provoke & why now?
posted by scalefree at 11:56 AM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Doesn't this amount to Qatar blackmailing Kushner: do what we want or we'll hand over evidence to Mueller incriminating you?

Why, it's almost as if there should be some kind of system put in place to ensure that individuals susceptible to blackmail aren't allowed to work in senior roles in the White House.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:57 AM on March 2 [64 favorites]


The leaks are not coming from Mueller. They're coming from people in the line of fire trying to scare Trump into firing Mueller.
posted by chris24 at 11:59 AM on March 2 [54 favorites]


A lot of these leaks sound like they're coming from the defense side to me, not Mueller's office. Remember that Bannon met with Mueller's team a whole bunch recently, and he loves to call up reporters and say possibly true things to stir shit up.

The most interesting leak to me is a potentially forthcoming indictment in the DNC/campaign email hacking. That's not necessarily from Mueller's office either, but it strikes me as a story that seems to have come from law enforcement sources.
posted by zachlipton at 12:01 PM on March 2 [19 favorites]


Axios:
Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan appears to be leaning toward extraditing Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin to the United States rather than Russia, after telling parliament he will base his decision on where the most severe crimes were committed and which side requested his extradition first. Both criteria point to the U.S.

Why it matters: Nikulin is the centre of a tug-of-war between the U.S. and Russia after he was picked up by the Czech authorities in Prague in October 2016 on an international arrest warrant tied to the hacking of social networks including LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. However, the U.S. authorities believe he may also have information about Russian state-sponsored cyber activities — a view politicians and analysts say is supported by Russia’s desperate attempts to have him sent back home.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:03 PM on March 2 [28 favorites]


Yea, all those leaks are "this is what Mueller asked my client about, and here's the story my client wants you to know about their answers. What? No! Of COURSE that's ALL Mueller asked my client about...nothing else, at all. Definitely nothing incriminating or treasonous. ...well maybe light treason."
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:08 PM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Georgia Passes Bill That Stings Delta Over N.R.A. Position

Delta says it sold a total of 13 tickets through its now-discontinued discount program for NRA members.

Also, the Governor still wants the jet fuel exemption and will be pursuing it in a separate bill; says it's "non-negotiable."
posted by melissasaurus at 12:14 PM on March 2 [50 favorites]


The most interesting leak to me is a potentially forthcoming indictment in the DNC/campaign email hacking. That's not necessarily from Mueller's office either, but it strikes me as a story that seems to have come from law enforcement sources.

The Wall Street Journal published a similar story last November, almost four months ago already...

U.S. Prosecutors Consider Charging Russian Officials in DNC Hacking Case By Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber
The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said.
...
Federal prosecutors and federal agents working in Washington, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Philadelphia have been collaborating on the DNC investigation. The inquiry is being conducted separately from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion by President Donald Trump’s associates.
...
The Justice Department and FBI investigation into the DNC hack had been under way for nearly a year, by prosecutors and agents with cyber expertise, before Mr. Mueller was appointed in May. Rather than take over the relatively technical cyber investigation, Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department agreed that it would be better for the original prosecutors and agents to retain that aspect of the case, the people familiar with the Justice Department-FBI probe said.
(emphasis mine).
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:17 PM on March 2 [8 favorites]


The most likely matchup in the GA governor race is LG Cagle - the guy who started all this Delta fracas - vs Abrams. Cagle only leads Abrams 45-39, in a poll conducted right before the whole thing.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:19 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


'About 2.6 pennies' worth of steel per can,' Ross claims, and then asks, 'who in the world is going to be too bothered by 6/10ths of a cent?'

This argument is so freakin' disingenuous.


If conservatives didn't have disingenuous arguments, they wouldn't have any arguments at all.
posted by Gelatin at 12:26 PM on March 2 [44 favorites]


BuzzFeed, Even Italian Prosecutors Can't Find The Professor At The Center Of The Trump-Russia Probe. The Italian authorities can't find Joseph Mifsud either (he's apparently accused of inflating some salaries at a university a decade ago), and the guy seems to have vanished. We already know his girlfriend, who says Mifsud is the father of her child, says she hasn't heard from him since October.

This is all very normal stuff here.
posted by zachlipton at 12:48 PM on March 2 [26 favorites]


Publishers already contacting Hicks about book deal: report
One White House insider also told the website that Hicks reportedly kept a "detailed diary" of her interactions and time in the White House, a resource that could be a major asset if she plans to write a memoir.
Really none of them have ever even seen The Wire have they? Hope, is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy? A book deal shouldn't even be on her mind, she's going to jail if any of them are.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:52 PM on March 2 [45 favorites]


I know the daily grift of this Presidency is old news, but what's happening tonight, as Trump arrives at Mar-a-Lago bears repeating. The latest pool report explains:
A reminder that Mar-a-Lago is Trumps private, for-profit resort with a six-figure initiation fee. Tonight it is hosting an RNC fundraiser, the rental fees from which will profit the president personally. The fundraiser at this writing remains closed press.
reportedly kept a "detailed diary"

I don't trust the Daily Mail, but this is a damn good joke (if you watched The West Wing):

@donnatella_moss: Here’s hoping she didn’t lie about it.

Seriously though, if there's a diary, that thing is going to be subpoenaed, and could come under the Presidential Records Act.
posted by zachlipton at 1:00 PM on March 2 [33 favorites]


Do we know what subreddits the Russian state targeted yet, as per the Daily Beast article?

Reddit seems to be just now reacting to this, which for some reason is making me laughcry.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:01 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Of course they don't watch The Wire. It's not about the overprivileged getting lauded for being awesome. It's not about rich dudes getting richer. It's about dark, depressing topics and ordinary people struggling with difficult problems, and sometimes bad things happen to the good guys, who, let's face it, are neither rich nor powerful, so why would the trumpista clan watch this show?

They firmly believe that laws are for "lesser people," and they have lawyers who will get them out of any "little problems" they run into. And even the ones who are aware that some actions are too shady to record safely, are oblivious to the idea that they could be complicit in something just by being in the room when it's being discussed. As long as they're not recording their own actions, they believe they're safe.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:03 PM on March 2 [9 favorites]


Seriously though, if there's a diary, that thing is going to be subpoenaed

The Pod Save America guys on one of last weeks (I think) podcasts talked about how "nobody even takes notes" in the White House for just that reason. Unless its something they WANT to record for history, they know every word is subject to the Records Act and subpoena. Or you would know that if you weren't a fucking moron with no business in government in any capacity much less the White House.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:05 PM on March 2 [7 favorites]


Extreme privilege really does function as a kind of stupidity, doesn’t it?

$10 says she edits it or tries to destroy it.

There’s also the possibility that she took notes and edited them in real time to decrease her own liability for obvious criminal acts, but considering what we know already about her behavior, I’m gonna go with nah.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:10 PM on March 2 [6 favorites]


I know the daily grift of this Presidency is old news, but what's happening tonight, as Trump arrives at Mar-a-Lago bears repeating.

Just going to throw in a plug here for WNYC's Trump Inc. podcast. It's a dive into the history and finances of the Trump organization. It's pretty clear that the grift is business as usual for the Trumps.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:12 PM on March 2 [6 favorites]


Ray Walston, Luck Dragon: "After the 2010 elections, Manafort was a pro bono advisor to me.”

That's a long time to not have an income.
"

Well he didn't have NO income; he just wasn't drawing a salary from anyone in the USA.

halation: "'About 2.6 pennies' worth of steel per can,' Ross claims, and then asks, 'who in the world is going to be too bothered by 6/10ths of a cent?'"

Spot the person who has never been poor. 6/10th on a 60 cent can of soup is a 1% increase. If that's no big deal let's just increase entitlements across the board 1%.
posted by Mitheral at 1:16 PM on March 2 [57 favorites]


Assuming this is true, and I kind of doubt it is, there are precisely two and only two reasons why Hope Hicks would have kept a detailed diary of her time in the White House.

1) She correctly identified the legal peril in which she found herself and in response began taking contemporaneous notes in order to protect herself if she ever needed a bargaining chip with prosecutors. It would function in a similar vein to Comey's summary memos after his meetings with Trump. Not quite as good since she isn't a senior law enforcement official and didn't send copies to her colleagues but the next best thing. A very smart play on her part.
2) She's stupid as fuck.

I do not herein take a position on which of these options is true.
posted by Justinian at 1:25 PM on March 2 [41 favorites]


Seriously though, if there's a diary, that thing is going to be subpoenaed

The level of stupidity required to keep a diary at the Trump White House would be, well, exactly what Steve Bannon ostensibly said about her in Fire and Fury: "'You don’t know what you’re doing,' shouted a livid Bannon at Hicks, demanding to know who she worked for, the White House or Jared and Ivanka. 'You don’t know how much trouble you are in,' he screamed, telling her that if she didn’t get a lawyer he would call her father and tell him he had better get her one. 'You are dumb as a stone!"

And if Hicks didn't know how much trouble she was in then, Vanity Fair reports she might have become aware now: "But in recent weeks, Hicks became disillusioned with her job, people who’ve spoken with her told me. Her closeness to Trump meant she was also nearest to the hottest flames of the fires that have burned in the West Wing, the most intense being the Russia probe. Hicks has racked up substantial legal fees, one source told me. 'She’s in immense personal jeopardy,' one Republican close to the White House said yesterday. 'This is a sign the Mueller investigation is a lot more serious than any one of us thought.'"
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:27 PM on March 2 [18 favorites]


Assuming this is true, and I kind of doubt it is, there are precisely two and only two reasons why Hope Hicks would have kept a detailed diary of her time in the White House.

3. Extra juicy book deal
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:29 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Extreme privilege really does function as a kind of stupidity, doesn’t it?

$10 says she edits it or tries to destroy it.


Hope Hicks == Fawn Hall
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:31 PM on March 2 [3 favorites]


Do we know what subreddits the Russian state targeted yet, as per the Daily Beast article?

Obviously, /r/The_Donald (to this day). But there was clear manipulation in /r/politics -- which is much larger, with about 3 million subscribers -- as well. There were very few pro-Trump or anti-Clinton comments, but a reliable force of about 5,000 upvotes for any anti-Clinton, pro-Trump or pro-Bernie Sanders article. (Presumably a similar force downvoted pro-Clinton articles; I saw very few, which is what would happen because that's what downvoting does.)

This block of votes vanished suddenly on the day Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic primary, and since then the subreddit has been generally anti-Trump and leaning Democratic just about as much as you would expect from the demographics of Redditors. I suppose that Revolution Messaging could have been involved rather than the Russian agency, but someone was clearly manipulating it.
posted by msalt at 1:35 PM on March 2 [13 favorites]


>>Assuming this is true, and I kind of doubt it is, there are precisely two and only two reasons why Hope Hicks would have kept a detailed diary of her time in the White House.
>3. Extra juicy book deal


4. Very naive young person with no background in politics or crime who has always kept a journal, and it never occurred to her there was any reason not to.
posted by msalt at 1:36 PM on March 2 [18 favorites]


'She’s in immense personal jeopardy,' one Republican close to the White House said yesterday.

Ok NOW it’s $100 says Mueller already flipped her
posted by schadenfrau at 1:36 PM on March 2 [3 favorites]


3. Extra juicy book deal

I didn't think you were allowed to profit from a crime, though

My gut suggests that Hicks tries to give up the diary as part of a plea deal. I think she probably started it either because she's a diary kind of person, or, alternatively, because Comey kept records and thus keeping records is what savvy people do. If that's the case, though, it won't have the juicy stuff.
posted by Merus at 1:37 PM on March 2


Spot the person who has never been poor. 6/10th on a 60 cent can of soup is a 1% increase. If that's no big deal let's just increase entitlements across the board 1%.

The fact that he proudly announced how he bought the can for $2 at a 7-11 is a pretty big clue too. (Insert digression here about how lack of transportation and access to grocery stores mean poor people have to pay more for basic necessities.)
posted by zachlipton at 1:40 PM on March 2 [22 favorites]


Daily Beast, Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin ‘Extremely Paranoid’ Ahead of Damning New Investigation, Sources Say
Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is likely to be the subject of another damaging investigation as early as next week, one that could prove politically fatal.

The top watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing a report that is expected to criticize Shulkin over his use of his security detail to run personal errands, The Daily Beast has learned. Three sources familiar with the situation say the forthcoming Inspector General report will likely fuel criticism of Shulkin’s use of official department resources and could further erode his standing in the administration.
...
Multiple sources in and outside of the administration independently noted a significant uptick in Shulkin’s suspiciousness and anxiety of late and have described to him as acting “extremely paranoid.” Two people familiar with the situation said that Shulkin this week had even ordered an armed guard to stand outside his office on the 10th floor of the VA. According to these sources, the VA secretary also cut off 10th floor access earlier this week to multiple VA appointees who he apparently suspected of disloyalty.
This as various people, including his assistant secretary, keep trying to push Shulkin out, not because they give a damn about his use of government resources, but because he's standing in the way of their dreams of dismantling the VA along with all the other parts of the government the White House is stripping for parts.
posted by zachlipton at 1:46 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]


Very naive young person with no background in politics or crime who has always kept a journal, and it never occurred to her there was any reason not to.

I am thinking this. Hope Hicks is a young, attractive white woman from a privileged background; the type of person who really does get shielded from troubles that the less white or well-off can face. I read her as being naive as hell, and not having any idea of the trouble she might be in until recently. If she kept a journal, she probably had no idea there might be consequences.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:50 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


There is plenty of sexism in media descriptions of women to call out, but that Vox article criticizing coverage of Hope Hicks is a real stretch.
But in media coverage, her modeling “career” serves as an important backdrop to her current role, a signal of her inexperience at best. This isn’t the standard in journalism or the standard the same press corps has applied to this White House. In the long line of men who’ve also left the West Wing, no outlet has highlighted their part-time jobs or activities in high school.
That's just ... not true. Jack Kemp was always an ex-football player, even after 9 terms in the House, 4 years in the Cabinet, and two presidential campaigns. Ditto President Ford. Reagan and Schwarznegger were always former actors, Al Franken was described as a current comedian. Sonny Bono, Fred (Gopher) Thompson, Clint Eastwood, Jesse Ventura, Jerry Springer, etc. Show biz of any sort is big news in politics.

Attractive male politicians get comments on their looks all the time, and dumb ones (Dan Quayle) get it emphasized.

Modeling has particular importance in this administration because the president values it so much, running a modeling agency himself, taking over beauty pageants, and marrying 3 models. Daughter Ivanka Trump is herself a model who hired Hicks, used her as a model and brought her into the White House. That's kind of important in understanding why Donald Trump has been so drawn to Hicks.
posted by msalt at 1:54 PM on March 2 [31 favorites]


3. Extra juicy book deal
I didn't think you were allowed to profit from a crime, though


Depends on the details - there are laws against criminals getting rich by selling the story of their crimes, but exactly how those work varies. Federal version excerpt:
after conviction of a defendant for an offense under section 794 of this title or for an offense against the United States resulting in physical harm to an individual ... the court shall, if the court determines that the interest of justice or an order of restitution under this title so requires, order such defendant to forfeit all or any part of proceeds received or to be received by that defendant, or a transferee of that defendant, from a contract relating to a depiction of such crime in a movie, book... (etc.)
Invoking this law requires a conviction; she, of course, is not expecting to be convicted before she can land a juicy book and movie deal. And this seems to require the court get involved and make a decision - many state laws just outright say that money made from "I did it" crime stories gets seized.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:56 PM on March 2


4. Very naive young person with no background in politics or crime who has always kept a journal, and it never occurred to her there was any reason not to.

I mean, she's 29. She's been working for the Trumps for somewhere between 5 and 6 years. They are actively criminal scumbags with zero filter on their bullshit. Naivete only stretches so far; I'm sure she just thought she would skate on account of her privileged status, which all these stories focused on her youth and attractiveness serve to reinforce. She's not a babe in the woods, which makes the sort of liberal fairytale fanfic that went around Twitter a month ago even more baffling.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:56 PM on March 2 [28 favorites]


There’s also the possibility that she took notes and edited them in real time to decrease her own liability for obvious criminal acts, but considering what we know already about her behavior, I’m gonna go with nah.

posted by schadenfrau at 1:10 PM on March 2 [3 favorites +] [!]


She assured herself that they would never come to light.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:59 PM on March 2 [11 favorites]


Remember when Trump condemned the UCLA PoC basketball players for not being grateful enough for him securing their release, and later said that he should have left them in jail? Their gratitude was likely tempered by the fact that they were already released before Trump got involved.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:02 PM on March 2 [35 favorites]


In the long line of men who’ve also left the West Wing, no outlet has highlighted their part-time jobs or activities in high school.

I’ve seen LBJ described as a former schoolteacher multiple times, but he actually only taught for about two years total before moving to DC and essentially running an entire congressional office at age 23.
posted by stopgap at 2:02 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Jeeeeezus can we please stop flooding the thread with theories on who might have done what when and why they did or didn't do it? There's enough actual information pouring in that we don't need continual speculation based on no evidence. We'll know what we know when we know it and not before then.
posted by runcibleshaw at 2:03 PM on March 2 [16 favorites]


If you’ve worked for the Trump family for years you absolutely have experience in crime.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on March 2 [23 favorites]


Evan McMullin just told Nicole Wallace that Trump isn’t doing anything about Russia because he wants the interference to continue. God, it was such a relief to see and hear it just explicitly spelled out like that. Not, “Trump is dumb/naive” or “Trump is a narcissist and can’t admit he won with help.” Just straight up that he wants Russian state actors to keep attacking America.
posted by xyzzy at 2:08 PM on March 2 [68 favorites]


AP, Questions surround Trump’s 1st wall contract
A tiny Nebraska startup awarded the first border wall construction project under President Donald Trump is the offshoot of a construction firm that was sued repeatedly for failing to pay subcontractors and accused in a 2016 government audit of shady billing practices.

SWF Constructors, which lists just one employee in its Omaha office, won the $11 million federal contract in November as part of a project to replace a little more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of a current fence with post-style barriers 30 feet (9.1 meters) high in Calexico, California. The project represents a sliver of the president’s plan that was central to his presidential campaign promise for a wall at the border with Mexico.
SWF's parent company has a track record of being sued by the federal government for failure to pay its subcontractors and millions in questionable spending. SWF isn't registered with the State of Nebraska.

In other words, sounds like a Trump project.
posted by zachlipton at 2:12 PM on March 2 [45 favorites]


Not, “Trump is dumb/naive” or “Trump is a narcissist and can’t admit he won with help.” Just straight up that he wants Russian state actors to keep attacking America.

The latter being true doesn't lessen the likelihood of the other two.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:13 PM on March 2 [3 favorites]


SWF Constructors

Oh great, they're going to build it in Flash.

Bienvenidos a Estados Unidos
skip intro >
posted by condour75 at 2:16 PM on March 2 [72 favorites]


I read her as being naive as hell, and not having any idea of the trouble she might be in until recently.

Charlotte Clymer
Hope Hicks is not a victim. She is not a child. She is not an innocent lamb being led to slaughter. She's a 29 year-old, college-educated, grown-ass adult who knowingly worked for years for a corrupt, racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, infantile sleazebag, even BEFORE his disgusting slate of dangerous and hateful rhetoric during the presidential campaign. And this is to say nothing of whatever (likely) complicity she's had in collusion with a foreign government to steal a presidential election.

Calling Hope Hicks a "victim" or feeling sorry for her is profoundly insulting to every young woman in this country who does the right thing on a daily basis and doesn't need your goddamn hand-holding or moral guidance to know that working for a white supremacist is wrong. Hope Hicks and Ivanka Trump are adults with full autonomy who have made their decisions in life, and they need to negotiate, by themselves and whatever legal representation they're afforded, the consequences of the path they've chosen.

But you know who wasn't an adult? Trayvon Martin, who had just turned 17 when he was shot and killed for being a black teenager in a predominantly white neighborhood. It was six years ago on Monday when he was murdered, and white adults across the country viciously slandered him as a "thug" and "gangster" for being a black child wearing a hoodie.

So, no, Hope Hicks does not get my sympathy for looking like an innocent white woman. And she should not get yours. And she should not get it from Mueller and whatever possible grand jury indictment may be coming her way.
posted by chris24 at 2:17 PM on March 2 [204 favorites]


SWF Constructors, which lists just one employee in its Omaha office

Is it the same person who was the only employee of Whitefish Energy when they were hired to fix Puerto Rico? Maybe they were moonlighting.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:19 PM on March 2 [17 favorites]


From The New York Times' portrait of Hope Hicks:
Ms. Hicks had stopped monitoring news coverage of herself, restricting her television intake to Fox News, which she often watched on mute, assuming that the Trump-friendly network would rarely include her name on its chyrons.
Look... I'm not a Communications Director, but my working assumption is that some of it requires monitoring news coverage
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:38 PM on March 2 [85 favorites]


If Hicks had no idea of the trouble she’s in, it’s because of the same blinkered privilege that has allowed all of them, from Trump on down, to be so unfamiliar with the idea of consequences that they literally cannot conceive of the rule of law as applying to them, personally. That’s why Kushner hated Chris Christie so much — it was personal, because rules weren’t supposed to apply to the Kushners. Personal gain at the Kushners’ expense was the only possible explanation.

On preview, what chris24 posted. At that level, entitlement begins to look like stupidity. Or if you can’t possibly see a young, attractive white woman as having any agency, then I guess you call her naive.

They aren’t naive, though. They genuinely think they’re special. That’s not naïveté, that’s just evil.

Maximum sentences all around.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:38 PM on March 2 [30 favorites]


They aren’t naive, though. They genuinely think they’re special. That’s not naïveté, that’s just evil.

To modify Clarke: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and any sufficiently advanced privilege is indistinguishable from sociopathy.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:43 PM on March 2 [75 favorites]


The story is paywalled, but @Zachary: .@SenSchumer will oppose the bank deregulation bill on the Senate floor next week. It has 12 Dem co-sponsors, but progressives are rallying opposition

Aside from the many reasons why it's shameful for Democrats to be supporting this, the timing is really quite something. Republicans have done fuck all for Dreamers and are now saying they'll do fuck all on guns so they can move on to deregulating banks. Regardless of the merits of the bill, there's absolutely zero reason Democrats should be helping Republicans out with even a single vote right now.

We had a shutdown (I cannot believe that was barely more than a month ago) because Democrats wouldn't vote for a spending bill without a deal on DACA, and now Democrats are prepared to give up the votes on this in exchange for nothing?
posted by zachlipton at 2:50 PM on March 2 [43 favorites]


=== LEVITY BREAK ===

The Hill: A candidate in the race for a South Texas state House seat has reportedly received $87,500 in campaign donations — more than half of which is made up of deer semen.

The Dallas News reported Thursday that Ana Lisa Garza, a district court judge running a primary challenge against eight-term Democrat Ryan Guillen, has received $51,000 in in-kind donations to her campaign, listed as individual donations of frozen deer semen straws.


politicians will do anything to make a buck am I right

=== LEVITY OVER, THANK YOU ===
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:51 PM on March 2 [99 favorites]


We had a shutdown (I cannot believe that was barely more than a month ago) because Democrats wouldn't vote for a spending bill without a deal on DACA, and now Democrats are prepared to give up the votes on this in exchange for nothing?

See, this is the thing, the Democratic priority is deregulating Goldman Sachs and repealing Dodd-Frank. They really, truly (are paid to) believe in totally unregulated Wall Street. The other stuff, well, if it happens, great. But this is Tim Kaine and Chris Coon and Tom Carper's real passion. Delivering for their banking paymasters is why they ran, period.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:56 PM on March 2 [20 favorites]


Something something thousands of bucks.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:08 PM on March 2 [12 favorites]


the Democratic priority is deregulating Goldman Sachs and repealing Dodd-Frank

Then why did they pass it in the first place?
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:08 PM on March 2 [13 favorites]


Remember, the republicans don't even need all those democratic senate votes to kill Dodd-Frank, those democrats WANT this so much they won't even try to horse trade for their vote. Good thing the invisible hand always gives us the best possible economy or we'd be F-ed!
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 3:09 PM on March 2


SWF Constructors, Omaha NE. Four bobcats, a trailer, a line truck, a grader, a non-potable water truck, and some sort of tanker. A sight that inspires trust in building a couple of miles of 30 foot tall concrete posts if ever there was one.

Not that I'm down with the wall, but if they wanted an Omaha firm (because, why?) then Kiewit would have been a much more competent move.
posted by Fezboy! at 3:13 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


Reddit seems to be just now reacting to this [Russian manipulation of it], which for some reason is making me laughcry.

There are 250 million Reddit users and 11,000 subreddits, so it's pretty hard to say "Reddit is doing X" or not doing Y. I know people have been talking about Russian trolls since 2016.

The BBC article on Russian hackers on Reddit currently has more than 33,000 upvotes and 3,200 comments.

One of the most upvoted comments is a very detailed and well-researched screed detailing a lot of that manipulation. Worth a read if the subject interests you.
posted by msalt at 3:17 PM on March 2 [17 favorites]


Something something thousands of bucks.

Ya gotta spend money to make money and you need spent bucks to make doe.
posted by Freon at 3:37 PM on March 2 [13 favorites]


I am seeing the Dodd Frank bill described as easing rules on small to medium size banks. Like, it appears that it would leave all of the Dodd Frank provisions in place for the Goldman Sachses of the world, but would somewhat liberate local and regional banks. Is that not so?
posted by chrchr at 3:44 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


That was my understanding, chrchr. I’ve never seen it interpreted as a repeal gift to Goldman-Sachs. I’d welcome nonpartisan analysis that explicitly points out how Goldman-Sachs come out to be big winners on these modifications.
posted by xyzzy at 3:53 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


. . . one Republican close to the White House said yesterday. 'This is a sign the Mueller investigation is a lot more serious than any one of us thought.'"

*spit-takes Coke-and-rum*
Holy flurk, this Russia collusion thing is real?!

/curtainfalls
/smattered_applause
posted by petebest at 4:00 PM on March 2 [23 favorites]


I’d welcome nonpartisan analysis that explicitly points out how Goldman-Sachs come out to be big winners on these modifications.

David Dayen has an exhaustive review of why this bank de-regulation bill is terrible. It's not about community banks, there's all kinds of gifts to yes, Goldman Sachs and other big banks. The "community" banks are doing fine, and don't even need the loosened regulations anyway; and what's more by "loosening" regulations, what we're really talking about is freeing these poor community banks to start targeting minorities again for discriminatory loans.

Revenge of the Stadium Banks
Republicans and Democrats who pushed S.2155 through the Senate Banking Committee must have heard Citi’s call. (They changed the definition of a custodial bank in a subsequent version of the bill. It used to stipulate that only a bank with a high level of custodial assets would qualify, but now it defines a custodial bank as “any depository institution or holding company predominantly engaged in custody, safekeeping, and asset servicing activities.”) The change could allow virtually any big bank to take advantage of the new rule. ...

Aside from the gifts to Citigroup and other big banks, the bill undermines fair lending rules that work to counter racial discrimination and rolls back regulation and oversight on large regional banks that aren’t big enough to be global names, but have enough cash to get a stadium named after themselves. In the name of mild relief for community banks, these institutions — which have been christened “stadium banks” by congressional staff opposing the legislation — are punching a gaping hole through Wall Street reform. Twenty-five of the 38 biggest domestic banks in the country, and globally significant foreign banks that have engaged in rampant misconduct, would get freed from enhanced supervision. There are even goodies for dominant financial services firms, such as Promontory and a division of Warren Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. The bill goes so far as to punish buyers of mobile homes, among the most vulnerable people in the country, whose oft-stated economic anxiety drives so much of the discourse in American politics (just not when there might be something to do about it).
Then why did they pass it in the first place?

2018 is not the immediate aftermath of 2008, and several of these moderate backstabbers were not in Congress for Dodd-Frank passage, and it's 10 years later, the others are now freed from the pressure spotlight and free to return to their natural passion, deregulating Wall Street at any cost. Back to Dayen:
Heitkamp, Tester, and Donnelly are all up for re-election in November, in states Trump carried by a wide margin. Democratic staffers believe they longed to show distance from the national party, whatever the topic. “They want to be able to say ‘bipartisan’ to constituents,” said one aide. “The ‘what’ doesn’t matter.”
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:12 PM on March 2 [15 favorites]


Scaramucci's interview yesterday where he called Kelly "General Jackass" didn't go so well. Bloomberg, Scaramucci Is on White House ‘Exclusion List’ Blocking Visits (he was on the list before, but they're acknowledging it now):
Scaramucci is among a group of former staffers who left “under adverse circumstances” placed on an "administrative exclusion list," the White House said in response to Bloomberg’s questions. Those former employees must have any appointments on the premises "evaluated on a case by case basis."
...
Another message shows that when the aide asked Block about access for Scaramucci, Block said only White House Chief of Staff John Kelly or Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin could override Scaramucci’s exclusion.
An anonymous official insisted the Mooch wasn't banned yesterday.
posted by zachlipton at 4:25 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]


Well, it's from The Intercept

Jinx. But Dayen is not "The Intercept" for me, he's been writing about banking issues since long before The Intercept was a thing, and wrote the definitive book on the robosigning scandal, and how the Obama administration ignored and papered over said robosigning scandal. He also writes a ton of other places too, Salon, The Nation, American Prospect. I believe I first started reading him back when Firedoglake was a thing in like 2007. I hate that Greenwald's shittiness and useful idiocy has tainted the couple great writers he managed to hire before selling out to Putin.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:31 PM on March 2 [8 favorites]


Has anybody else noticed, in recent days the leak-proof Mueller investigation has turned into a sieve? I have to assume it's on purpose but it makes me wonder why; who it is they want to spook, what reaction they want to provoke & why now?
posted by scalefree at 11:56 AM


I have noticed this, and maybe it's just wishful thinking but I don't feel like it's a coincidence that everything is seeming to unravel in the wake of the pushback that started from Parkland. I think everyone on both sides understands that things have been getting increasingly precarious for a long time, there's no way to turn this around anymore- it's accelerating, the jenga tower that got way taller than anyone could have imagined, and the taller it gets the worse the fallout is going to be. the end is near and this fresh outrage and shift in public opinion was the catalyst for people on the wrong side of things to finally start to be like "okay, we're ready for this to be over, too. time to get out."

nobody wanted to be the first to abandon ship, alone, but now that the wind has started to shift, maybe everyone with a shred of self-preservation and sanity is following. it makes a lot more sense for all the damning things to come out during a moment when people are more disgusted with the GOP than ever. the parkland outrage seems to be waking a certain amount of people out of a trance who are now going, "now that you mention it, things are pretty fucked up right now!" it makes it easier for people to be skeptical of "witch hunt" accusations and more likely to believe that all the bad shit is real and true. i like to think that all the leaks happening now are in the spirit of wanting to add to the snowball, now that someone else has done the enormous task of really starting it rolling.

I can confirm there's a strong, strange wind blowing through DC today, and it reminded me of a comment from a recent thread about Marco Rubio during the town hall, feeling which way the wind was blowing, or something to that effect. I feel like the direction of the wind has changed so hard this week it's literally smacking people in the face in DC right now. maybe I just love Harry Potter too much, but I love the thought that the beginning of the end, what finally brought these fuckers to their knees were some brave, angry kids. i'm just sorry that, also like HP, their catalyst had to be experiencing tragedy firsthand and being desperate to stop it at any cost.

of course, the part that makes me the most angry is that I'm certain in 5 or 15 or 25 years, when we have fully automated luxury gay space communism as a result of the enormous backlash against the trump years, and everyone is happy, trump will pat himself on the back and be like "See? I did this! My plan all along! I SAVED HUMANITY!"
posted by robotdevil at 4:35 PM on March 2 [20 favorites]


In 5 of 15 or 25 years, Trump will be dead. He is old and unwell.
posted by biogeo at 4:53 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]


WaPo, Mike DeBonis and Josh Dawsey, Trump pushes Republicans to oppose crucial New York-New Jersey tunnel project, in which Trump personally drops in on Ryan at Billy Graham's memorial to ask him not to fund the Gateway Tunnel project, which Republicans have been on the verge of including in an upcoming must-pass spending bill.
posted by zachlipton at 4:54 PM on March 2 [14 favorites]


See, this is the thing, the Democratic priority is deregulating Goldman Sachs and repealing Dodd-Frank.

It seems absurd on its face to me to call something a Democratic priority when maybe a quarter of Democratic senators will vote for it. By that logic a clean DACA bill is a Republican priority.
posted by Justinian at 5:04 PM on March 2 [36 favorites]


Unless and until the GOP is dead and buried, we fight with the army have, not the one we want. Hopefully at least some of these senators will get primaried from the left AND those challengers will show us all that if candidates would embrace and campaign on progressive values, progressives will come out of the woodwork to vote for them.

If they don't I'll still vote against the GOP every time and do what I can to drag these moderates left.
posted by VTX at 5:31 PM on March 2 [27 favorites]


Hey I'll just go to the gym surely there's no more news that's go—WaPo, Beth Reinhard, Frances Stead Sellers and Emma Brown, Days before the election, Stormy Daniels threatened to cancel deal to keep alleged affair with Trump secret. A bunch of this, including stuff the Post says they're reporting for the first time, we kind of already knew, such as the bit of the story where Cohen doesn't pay up on time and Daniels's lawyer threatened to cancel the deal, though they have it nailed down with dates and supporting details.

But there's an interesting detail near the bottom:
The payment was routed through a bank account controlled by Davidson [Daniels' lawer]. Eleven months later, in September of 2017, the bank, City National Bank in Beverly Hills, asked Davidson about the source of the payment, according to an email reviewed by The Post. The reason for the bank’s interest was not clear.

Bank officials declined to comment on whether the inquiry was provoked by a request or subpoena from law enforcement officials, was the result of a routine audit or came about for some other reason.

“As a matter of policy, we don’t confirm or comment on inquiries from regulatory agencies or law enforcement, including subpoenas,” read a statement from the bank.
So somebody was asking questions about the payment months before any of this was publicly reported. That's intriguing.

You can also read Talia Lavin's report for the Village Voice on Daniels' Long Island strip club appearance, Stormy, With a Chance of MAGA, in which you'll learn nothing of any potential use whatsoever, but:
A man showers her in dollar bills, and they adhere to her moistened skin, adorning her body like a capitalist quilt. I would like to be an Allen Ginsberg type and use these seamy surroundings to take the pulse of my country, but everything is too obvious to be a metaphor.
posted by zachlipton at 6:07 PM on March 2 [26 favorites]


In 5 of 15 or 25 years, Trump will be dead. He is old and unwell.

That's what we said about John McCain.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:09 PM on March 2 [5 favorites]


Trump picks tough-on-crime crusader with history of racial remarks for criminal justice post (WaPo):
Before President Trump picked him to be part of a federal commission that sets policy on how to punish criminals, William Otis spent years staunchly advocating for harsher penalties and a larger prison population.

In several public testimonies and years of published commentary, Otis decried a criminal justice system that he says has favored criminals over victims. He hailed the tough-on-crime approach of the Reagan and Bush administrations — one that Trump, through his attorney general, is resurrecting. “Increased use of incarceration and reining in naive judges,” he once told NPR, “has worked” to curtail crime.

Otis’s appointment, which the White House announced Thursday, is another sign that the Trump administration is restoring the 1980s and 1990s war on drugs that incarcerated many minority defendants and overcrowded the country’s prisons.
Examples of his racist "crimeblog" writing are in the link.

He is nominated to be a commissioner of the U.S. Sentencing Commission which he called a failure and advocated abolishing in his 2011 congressional testimony (pdf).
posted by peeedro at 6:24 PM on March 2 [4 favorites]


I can’t tell if this is new or not...it seems to be new to the thread as far as I can tell...but WaPo has another drip drip drip of quid pro quo for Jared?
The Securities and Exchange Commission late last year dropped its inquiry into a financial company that a month earlier had given White House adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm a $180 million loan.
posted by Brainy at 6:26 PM on March 2 [14 favorites]


[Just because it's Friday night doesn't mean we're going to go 10 rounds on whether Democrats are sell-outs, etc. It's well-trodden ground here.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:22 PM on March 2 [19 favorites]




Roy Moore is broke.

First good news in a while.
posted by Talez at 8:06 PM on March 2 [50 favorites]


He probably shouldn’t have spent that money on being the first Republican to lose statewide Alabama since he was into girls his own age
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:09 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]


Pruitt, who at the time was a state senator, also described the Second Amendment as divinely granted

I can’t understand this; God was perfectly capable of designing human beings with minigun turrets on their shoulders yet clearly that was not His divine plan
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:14 PM on March 2 [27 favorites]


Through Day 10 of Texas primary early voting, 15 largest counties:

Party: 2018 / 2016 / 2014

Dem: 365,321 / 341,936 / 181,036

GOP: 336,362 / 493,603 / 289,687

Today (Friday) was day 11, the final day.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:14 PM on March 2 [39 favorites]


Our new policy on trade is ‘bwkljkwljsdklfjafs.’ And it’s a jumbled mess. (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
Here is how the news has felt this week and how I assume it will continue to be forever.

President Trump has just made an announcement that our new national policy on trade — in a stark departure from prior tradition — will be “get rid of it and then bwkljkwljsdklfjafs.” This is a nonsense string of consonants and one vowel but it was, unfortunately, the last thing said to the president on the subject. So it is what he is going with.

The president’s only previous idea about trade was entirely derived from misunderstanding an off-hand remark that a wealthy man made to him in the steam room of an exclusive golf course sometime in the 1980s, a remark he has doggedly repeated any time someone has brought the issue up — whether it made sense in context or not. For the entire past year, experts have sat down with him and tried to explain that his ideas on this subject are bad and will cause serious problems, not only for the country but for him personally, if he tries to put them into practice. But instead of listening to them, he made lip farts and pushed a golf ball around on his desk.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:43 PM on March 2 [39 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** PA-18 special:
-- Dem Lamb outraising GOPer Saccone 5-1; Saccone has virtually no small dollar donations (i.e., may indicate lack of voter enthusiasm). Lots of pro-Saccone PAC money, though.

-- Saccone has stopped talking about the tax cuts and infrastructure proposals, presumably after finding they aren't getting traction.

-- In the district, NYT finds the great white whale: regretful Trump voters (who plan to vote Lamb).

-- Harry Enten: 5 reasons Lamb could win.
** 2018 House:
-- WV-03: The GOP may be getting nervous about this district...that went Trump 73-23.

-- Lots and lots of women running in Texas.
** 2018 Senate -- Tarrance Group poll has GOP challenger Cramer up 49-44 over incumbent Dem Sen Heitkamp. This was an NRSC poll, so a grain of salt may be wise. (I know a couple of people at Tarrance, AMA)

** Odds & ends:
-- Quinnipiac poll finds Florida voters support felon re-enfranchisement amendment 67-27. The amendment needs 60% to pass.

-- Planned Parenthood planning to dump at least $20M into targeted House/Senate races.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:57 PM on March 2 [33 favorites]


DoJ Justice News: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Delivers Remarks at the 32nd Annual ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime
I have served under nine Attorneys General. On every floor of the Main Justice Building, there are reminders of heroes, mentors and friends who have worked there. They taught me that the Department of Justice stands for the principle that every American deserves equal protection under the rule of law.

Our friends deserve it, and our enemies deserve it. They deserve it whether they are innocent or guilty. They deserve it whether they are rich or poor. They deserve it whether they are Republican or Democrat. That requires us to be faithful to the pursuit of truth.[...]

You will not always agree with our policy decisions, and you definitely won’t hear this on cable TV, but the Department leadership team appointed by President Trump is very strong on ethics and professionalism. History will reflect that the Department of Justice operated with integrity on our watch.
Interestingly, while he addresses the topic of the DoJ's current prosecution of white collar crime in detail, he also cites the "I'd give the Devil benefit of law" scene from A Man for All Seasons. But that won't catch Trump's attention like a public dinner with allies at a fancy restaurant...
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:02 PM on March 2 [10 favorites]




Go Ahead, Millenials, Destroy Us

I love Tim Kreider, and The Pain. Probably as much as anyone can without having met the man. And, as always, there's a lot of insight here. And a lot of wit. But:

I know that whenever you disapprove of young people, you’re in the wrong, because you’re going to die and they’ll get to write history, but I just can’t help noticing that the liberal side isn’t much fun to be on anymore.

Fuck you, Tim. This isn't the time for fun.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:44 PM on March 2 [45 favorites]


Dan Drezner: If you’re a political science professor, respond to this tweet if you have had to adjust your course materials because of the Trump administration. Name the course and explain how you’ve changed it.

The replies are...extensive.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:12 PM on March 2 [31 favorites]


The replies are...extensive.
David Leheny
@David_Leheny
Replying to @dandrezner
Changed all assigned readings to single pages personalized for each student by inserting his or her name every few lines.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:48 PM on March 2 [23 favorites]


[Dave] Dayen is not "The Intercept" for me, he's been writing about banking issues since long before The Intercept was a thing, and wrote the definitive book on the robosigning scandal

I remember seeing him as a standup comic at the San Francisco Punchline, a great club, in the late 1990s. He was very dry, and very smart.
posted by msalt at 1:31 AM on March 3


Boy, that "no comment" from the bank was pretty specific about the types of things it won't comment on, wasn't it? Maybe I'm misreading, but it seems as though they tipped their hand there.
posted by emelenjr at 4:37 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


Another response from a professor in that twitter thread :

"Had to assign Federalist Papers 67-77. Students used to find them too boring, what with Publius warning against a bunch of stuff which would never happen."

That hit home :(

I still have much more faith in US gov than, say, the country where I was born. It's wild to live through these crises, though.
posted by Tarumba at 5:19 AM on March 3 [25 favorites]


That Tim Kreider piece linked upthread seems to be considerable more ambivalent than the quoted bit suggests. I wish it weren't a NYT piece, because it would be much better if he could work through a little more of the "I am both heartened and made anxious by youth; this seems to be the human condition, but here's how it plays out in my life". If you read to the end it gets a bit more sympathetic.

He's wrong in what he says about the young being PC thugs while "our" generation - he's older than me, but I'm a mid/late Gen X person - was all about liberation from the scolds. We too were denounced as PC thugs and feminazis, that was kind of the whole Culture War. If anything, in that respect we're very similar to kids today.

On the culture front, we won pretty big, so big that it's invisible now. For instance, it's normal rather than controversial to teach cautiously with books like Huck Finn and Heart of Darkness - it's widely recognized that these are charged books about racism, and that this is a heavy subject which must be taught carefully. People don't always do a good job and there are definitely still racist teachers, but when I was in high school it was intensely controversial at the national level to suggest that these books presented any kind of teaching challenge. It is normal rather than controversial to suggest that reading non-white non-men in class is important - again, people don't always do a good job or act sincere about it, but it is no longer a massive newspaper controversy when you say that an English syllabus should not be all white male writers.

The point isn't "oh, the world is great today!" because it's sure not. But some of the struggles that went the right way in the nineties get overlooked, possibly because they seem so stupid in retrospect.

Anyway - we too were called puritanical! We too baffled our elders with our morality. I remember baffling mine, in fact, and I actually read all that Harold Bloom blahblah.
posted by Frowner at 5:57 AM on March 3 [98 favorites]


Frowner, I just wanted to thank you for your posts. You often give a sense of perspective amid all of this chaos, and things don’t seem quite so dire.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:33 AM on March 3 [27 favorites]


The Sources of Putin’s Conduct
Moscow believes its security depends on the insecurity of its neighbors. When Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a "major geopolitical disaster of the century," that is really what he meant. He can’t feel safe unless Moscow controls a ring of puppet states around its borders. And if that means cracking heads, he’s willing to do it.
posted by Artw at 6:33 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


It’s still so bananas to me how these authoritarian dickheads are really just abusive dickheads, but on a geopolitical scale. Can’t feel safe unless he controls everyone around him? Are you kidding?

All of this could have been avoided with some fucking therapy?
posted by schadenfrau at 6:51 AM on March 3 [51 favorites]


Russia needing to subjugate it's surround states to be safe is the same analysis that Tankies have of the situation, but they believe it to be a good and reasonable thing.

All of this could have been avoided with some fucking therapy?

That or going back and reversing WWII.
posted by Artw at 7:02 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]


controls everyone around him
What do you think US foreign policy has been since the end of WWII?

Frowner, I'm not so sure the culture wars have been won because it's been a feature of the past few years that arguments thought to be completely settled have started to be disputed again. It's quite pretty bloody shocking to see the far right making political inroads, and hard core predatory capitalism disrupting the social democratic consensus, all over Europe. And disappointingly, mainstream media giving space to 'contrarian' rightwingers means the mere publicity gives their opinions unwarranted plausibility.
posted by glasseyes at 7:16 AM on March 3 [12 favorites]


i wouldn’t say that the culture wars have been won, per se, but an encouraging thought is that there has rarely been massive backlash against unsuccessful social movements
posted by murphy slaw at 7:23 AM on March 3 [11 favorites]


What do you think US foreign policy has been since the end of WWII?

Hmmm. The US stepped into a power vacuum amidst ruin and devastation after WW2, and did it in the context of the rise of the Soviet Union. I don’t think there are a lot of parallels to that. We’ve certainly grown into our abusive dickhead role, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that we started out that way internationally. Domestically? Yes absolutely. Abusive dickheads all the way down. Slavery is quite the original sin, and it twisted much of our culture around it. Although I suppose if you’ve twisted your culture to justify and celebrate abuse and dehumanization in one context, it’s not suuuuuper difficult to apply it in a new context.

In any event, given that the US was* not an authoritarian state subject to the whims of a single abusive dickhead at a time, the comparison doesn’t really make much sense. Therapy for one asshole wouldn’t have helped. We are perhaps more frightening than that.

*past tense unfortunately deliberate, though I think we can still fix this
posted by schadenfrau at 7:33 AM on March 3 [5 favorites]


Domestically? Yes absolutely. Abusive dickheads all the way down. Slavery

Should have also included deliberate genocide against Native Americans with a generous side helping of trickery and gaslighting.

Concurrent original sins, really.

America’s online dating profile would be just like...a sea of red flags.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:37 AM on March 3 [19 favorites]


Sorry, didn;t mean to set off a storm of whataboutism.
posted by Artw at 7:41 AM on March 3


[Yeah, let's rein it in rather than going further down the rabbit hole of the US's past sins -- they are numerous and grave -- or the dating-psychology metaphor. Trying to keep focused on current events.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:44 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


Zinke grifter asshole update: still Zinke, still grifter, still asshole.

Huffington Post: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Held Onto Undisclosed Shares In Gun Company
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is a shareholder in a private Montana company that manufactures and sells firearms and advanced weapons materials, a financial interest he did not disclose when nominated last year.[...]

But beyond the disclosure concerns, there is the matter of what access this relationship may grant the company at the Department of Interior. According to Zinke’s work calendar, he and his top aides met with a group of PROOF Research executives and a company lobbyist on April 11, 2017. The schedule entry was titled, “Brief Update of Proof Research.”

The company’s delegation included its president and founder K.K. Jense, CEO Larry Murphy, director of research and development John Clements, and Brian Kelly of BK Strategies, the company’s registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C. The calendar described Kelly as “Man About Town,” with an added side note: “Loves Whitefish, MT.” Proof Research’s most recent business filings with the state of Montana show that Kelly is also a director of the company.
UPDATE: "The Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based government ethics watchdog, announced that it has asked the Department of Interior’s Inspector General to open an investigation following HuffPost’s report on Zinke’s undisclosed shares in the Montana-based firearms company PROOF Research. The CLC wants the IG to determine whether Zinke violated conflicts of interest law in meeting with executives from the company while it sought government contracts. "
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:03 AM on March 3 [45 favorites]


Well, this is escalating nicely... get yer Beemer orders in quickly.

Trump Threatens to slap retaliatory tax on European cars as trade war heats up.

(Note to CNBC: Europe is not a country)
posted by Devonian at 10:20 AM on March 3 [6 favorites]


Europe is not a country but the European Union negotiates imports and exports as a bloc, so that's sort of forgivable. Can somebody PLEASE get the phone out of Trump's hands?
posted by lalex at 10:25 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


I'm sure Trump has thought through the ramifications of this.

21 cars, SUVs from foreign automakers that are manufactured in the U.S.
posted by chris24 at 10:28 AM on March 3 [11 favorites]


Also, the EU is the one economic power in the world that is bigger than the US. Good luck storming the castle!

EDIT. Oops, that was as of 2014. Now China is also bigger.
posted by chris24 at 10:31 AM on March 3 [7 favorites]


Also noteworthy are the two tweets immediately preceding the EU trade war escalation:

Mainstream Media in U.S. is being mocked all over the world. They’ve gone CRAZY!

The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our “very stupid” trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!


They're mocking the media, they're laughing at our foolish leaders. The projection betrays his core motivation right now, which is really just a feedback loop of failure/ridicule > narcissistic injury > disinhibited rage > more failure/ridicule.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:34 AM on March 3 [37 favorites]


Trump's Mirror is in full effect today.
posted by chris24 at 10:35 AM on March 3 [9 favorites]



Attractive male politicians get comments on their looks all the time

next time you're bored, do a search through the last few politics threads for references to the young, attractive, sheltered, naive Jared Kushner and compare their tone and number to the tone and number of references to the young, attractive, sheltered, naive Hope Hicks. if you're extra bored, compare the number of people who accuse these respective criminal idiots of deliberately trading on their looks or getting special pity passes from media critics because they're pretty.

homophobia discourages men from noting that Kushner is objectively good-looking by general mainstream standards, while it does nothing to deter women from noting the same about Hicks, though it is relevant to the stupidity and criminal behavior of neither of them. there is no balance here. women who apparently think they're feminist have no qualms about demeaning Hicks for her looks and incorrectly imagined age right here. because assessing her looks is fine if it's to show sexualized contempt, just as long as it's not to get her out of trouble? this is a guess, it's hard to imagine why anyone would do it, but they do. it is not a treatment equally applied to criminals of all genders, it all adds up to a massive Note from my Boner, and it is not more perceptive or more acceptable coming from other women, or other pretty women, or white women who want to show off enlightenment. it's the same sad sexist look no matter who's doing it. and it's stupid as hell, because Hicks is certainly not very bright but naive? women who work closely with many senior terrible men know more about the uses and abuses of power and the difference between public and private faces than anybody else does. even if they're dumb and evil themselves. dumb is different from naive.

criminal crimes are a big deal, and those who are more interested in how young and white and female she looked while committing them than in what she's done are part of the problem. they are not critiquing it; they are it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:40 AM on March 3 [64 favorites]


Secret Service confirms man shot himself outside White House. No additional details so far, except that the man is apparently dead.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:41 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]


Grownups Are Not Running America’s Foreign Policy (Heather Hurlburt | NY Mag)
Americans have gotten at least a little bit used to the idea that the Trump White House is in a permanent state of chaos and crisis — or at least that cycles of crisis come regularly, every few Scaramuccis. But Washington and much of the media are still in the grip of a narrative that says shadowy, unelected adults are keeping a steady hand on the tiller overseas, and that because national security Cabinet members are so impressive our foreign policy is showing barely a ripple.

That hasn’t been true since the moment newly-inaugurated President Trump rolled out his first Muslim Ban, a piece of immigration policy with profound implications for U.S. relations with dozens of majority-Muslim countries. But this was the week it became clear to everyone, or should have, that the grownups are not in charge, and U.S. foreign policy is in the same painful state as everything else. These are some of the tell-tale signs:

1. Do we have a national security adviser?

2. Do we even have a Korea policy?

3. We don’t have a Syria policy, either — or we have too many.

4. Our trade policy is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

... This is the point in the column where the writer is supposed to use some clever analogy to explain what it all means. If this were Model United Nations, the U.S. team would lose and slink back to school in embarrassment. But even Model UN teams don’t mess up this badly. (You want to see how young people organize, check out the enormous climate marches of recent years — or the Florida high school kids.)

And this isn’t Model UN. Lives are already being lost. Tens of thousands of American soldiers would be victims, too, in a Korea war — even if the North’s missiles never got out of their silos. American soldiers are already dying in Syria — as ISIS remnants plot new ways to bring their attacks here. Does anyone believe the President analyzed how many steel jobs will be created for every assembly job lost to his tariffs?

Let’s be clear: not a single one of these problems is about ideology. They’re all about sheer incompetence. Any presidential administration should be able to pick a policy, any policy, and execute it competently and predictably. Not this one.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:55 AM on March 3 [52 favorites]


The point about Hope Hicks being an ex-model is that this is why Trump likes her. He runs modeling agencies and beauty pageants, and marries models. His daughter is a model who hired Hicks and used her as a model, and Trump reportedly relates to Hicks as "the true daughter."

Donald Trump is misogyny incarnate, and he has relied on Hicks precisely because she is young and conventionally attractive and deferential to him, catering to his whims, fulfilling in every way Trump's vision of the perfect woman. Where Clinton relied on Vernon Jordan as his confidant, and Obama on Rahm Emmanuel, Trump chose Hicks, and that tells you something very important about this president and this administration.

No one is suggesting she be excused from any crimes, but she is not a grizzled, experienced Washington fixer and the fact that Trump favors her over that type matters.
posted by msalt at 11:11 AM on March 3 [40 favorites]


> 4. Our trade policy is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

I'd say it's more like  (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ followed by 🖕(ಠ_ಠ🖕)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:33 AM on March 3 [104 favorites]


Let's also not forget that Trump wanted the 'pretty Korean lady' from the CIA to do North Korean diplomacy. To him, men are worth their military stars and women are worth their looks.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:13 PM on March 3 [10 favorites]


I am in no way denying that Trump is an incredibly misogynistic man but remember that there were credible reports that he didn't hire John Bolton for Secretary of State because he didn't like his moustache and said he didn't look the part. Trump is just an extremely superficial man. It's probably true, however, that while he does have superficial appearance requirements for men once those are met he then looks at other things while he probably only sees women's appearance.

But the John Bolton moustache thing stuck in my mind because of how reminiscent it was of Don Mattingly's "sideburns" in the Homer at the Bat episode of The Simpsons. Yes, I'm Gen-X.
posted by Justinian at 12:21 PM on March 3 [17 favorites]


Public lands news round-up:

** Bears Ears and GSENM: Court orders release of emails after DOI denies NYT FOIA request. Released documents suggest that the Trump boundaries were motivated by oil and gas extraction.
-- Speaking of the FOIA, a BLM report proposes new legislation to roll back your FOIA rights.

-- Speaking of Bears Ears, a uranium mine expansion has been approved just outside the Bear’s Ears National Monument boundaries as declared by Obama. This is no surprise — Obama’s monument boundaries resulted in a smaller monument than proposed, and were drawn to allow this development, a good reminder that the last administration was not the land-grab boogeyman its critics make it out to be.
** Bottom-up local participation in a unique Wyoming public lands management project is stymied by Representative Liz Cheney’s top-down “stick in the spokes,” conservationists complain of being shut out of the process by rule changes.

** Remember that Commerce Department study from my last news round-up? Turns out outdoor recreation contributes more to the economy than mining! Thanks, Obama, for signing the legislation that required the study.

** Resistance at work: After protest from environmental and tribal groups, Secretary Zinke abruptly postpones oil and gas lease sale around Chaco Culture NHP.

** Some news for Oregon Mefites:
--Be advised that BLM is offering sage grouse tours in Eastern Oregon on March 10 and April 7. Sign up in advance if interested.

-- Opportunity to comment on proposed entrance fee increase at Crater Lake National Park. You may wish to encourage the National Park Service to be frank in communicating why the fee increase is needed: Congress refuses to fund the agency at levels that keep pace with either inflation or increased visitation.
posted by compartment at 12:22 PM on March 3 [39 favorites]


chris24: 21 cars, SUVs from foreign automakers that are manufactured in the U.S.

I could be mistaken but… if mercantilism were a video game, this kind of thing would be one of the more top-scoring achievements possible. Consumers in other countries are actually paying Americans to make their cars.

But I imagine the median Trumper (or at the very least, Trump himself, who is easily in the lower quartile of Trumpers when it comes to perceptiveness), would react with "If they want to make cars so badly, they should do it in their own country! We're shutting those foreign factories down!"
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:25 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


@mattyglesias:
If you want to know why Russia was so excited about making Trump president — we’re now facing a huge US/European rift on trade for no reason at all.
posted by chris24 at 12:29 PM on March 3 [117 favorites]




Honestly, if I were the rest-of-the-world I would announce a collective boycott on US goods until we come to our fucking senses.
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:04 PM on March 3 [51 favorites]


Honestly, if I were the rest-of-the-world I would announce a collective boycott on US goods until we come to our fucking senses.

That's called "sanctions." And yes, it does seem like there's now suddenly a chance we will be on the receiving end of them for once. Great job, Trump.
posted by biogeo at 1:13 PM on March 3 [44 favorites]


We've had a lot of anti-Kushner stories lately, and perhaps in response to that, people are rightly starting to call Kelly on his crap too.

First up, CNN (not pulling punches here), Defiant John Kelly continues to misrepresent his handling of Rob Porter scandal, in which Kelly has yet another story for what happened, apparently doesn't consider "emotional abuse" to be so significant, and ignores direct allegations of physical abuse.

And then ESPN goes deep Inside the international incident that rocked UCLA's season. Most notably for this thread, Kelly and Trump made a big public spectacle out of how they were going to get the players released, but: the "charges were dropped, the bail refunded and the players' passports returned two days before White House chief of staff John Kelly called the players to inform them that President Donald Trump was working on their release."

It turns out that there was a handshake deal with the Chinese authorities where they'd drop the charges, UCLA would have the players hang out in the hotel and fly home a couple days later than the rest of the team, and everybody could get on with their lives. Then Trump and Kelly saw it on CNN, got involved and called up UCLA two days after the situation was already resolved. UCLA officials "encouraged" the students to thank Trump, after Trump demanded such acknowledgement on Twitter, and Trump and Kelly were happy to take the credit.
posted by zachlipton at 1:14 PM on March 3 [50 favorites]


I'm sure that sort of face-saving thing has always taken place but now it gets exposed by reporters from ESPN (!) because oh god, the stupidest timeline.
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:17 PM on March 3 [17 favorites]


Washington Post: ‘Pure Madness’: Dark Days Inside The White House As Trump Shocks and Rages
Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility — with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center.

These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much farther President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: “We haven’t bottomed out.”[...]

Some of Trump’s advisers say the president is not all doom and gloom, however. He has been pleased with the news coverage of his role in the gun debate and lighthearted moments have leavened his days, such as a recent huddle with staff to prepare his comedic routine for the Gridiron, a Saturday night dinner with Washington officials and journalists.

Still, Trump’s friends are increasingly concerned about his well-being, worried that the president’s obsession with cable commentary and perceived slights is taking a toll on the 71-year-old. “Pure madness,” lamented one exasperated ally.

Retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey said the American people — and Congress especially — should be alarmed.

“I think the president is starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well,” McCaffrey said. “Trump’s judgment is fundamentally flawed, and the more pressure put on him and the more isolated he becomes, I think, his ability to do harm is going to increase.”

This portrait of Trump at a moment of crisis just over a year after taking office is based on interviews with 22 White House officials, friends and advisers to the president and other administration allies, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss Trump’s state of mind.[...]
The details about this chaotic week that the aides and insiders leaked to the Post are too many to quote here, but overall they portray Trump as the Lord of Misrule:
Trump has been asking people close to him whether they think Kushner or his company has done anything wrong, according to a senior administration official. Two advisers said the president repeatedly tells aides that the Russia investigation will not ensnare him — even as it ensnares others around him — and that he thinks the American people are finally starting to conclude that the Democrats, as opposed to his campaign, colluded with the Russians.[...]

Trump is testing the patience of his own staff, some of whom think he is not listening to their advice. White House counsel Donald McGahn and national economic council director Gary Cohn have been especially frustrated, according to other advisers.[...]

“Morale is the worst it’s ever been,” said a Republican strategist in frequent contact with White House staff. “Nobody knows what to expect.”

Trump’s aides said his vacillation was a function of the controlled chaos the president likes to sow. Trump recently has come to favor opening his meetings to the media — “It’s like his own TV show,” said one adviser — where he often chews over outlandish ideas, plays to the assembled press and talks up bipartisan consensus, even if it never leads to actual policy.[...]

Earlier in the week, Cohn was telling people he was going to continue stalling Trump on tariffs. He described the tariffs as “obviously stupid,” in the recollection of one person who spoke to him.

“Gary said to him, you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” a senior administration official said. “The more you tell him that, the more he is going to do what he wants to do.”
And tonight Trump's going to attend the annual Gridiron Club dinner, which traditionally roasts the President. On the one hand, Trump will be the center of attention, which he loves, but on the other, we all know how he well he can take a joke when it's directed at him.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:11 PM on March 3 [10 favorites]


based on interviews with 22 White House officials, friends and advisers to the president

I don't really know how to compare this to earlier scandal-rife administrations.... is twenty two sources... a lot?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:15 PM on March 3 [7 favorites]


Defiant John Kelly continues to misrepresent his handling of Rob Porter scandal

The Dark Days in the White House article Doktor Zed just posted points out that Kelly was on his own thinking that was a good idea:
Last Friday, Kelly tried to explain anew the timeline of Porter’s dismissal with a group of reporters — an unprompted move that annoyed and confused some White House staffers, who thought they were finally moving past the controversy that had consumed much of February.
After the Stoneman Douglas shooting and gun control meeting, the $31k dining room tablegate, the multiple damaging Kushner stories, Hicks' departure, and the seat-of-the-pants tariff rollout, the White House Chief of Staff thought it'd be a good idea to circle back to remind us of his failure and lies without consulting anyone on the strategic wisdom of doing so.
posted by peeedro at 3:18 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


Lavar Ball renews feud with Trump after the ESPN story.

Thank you for what again @realDonaldTrump ?#knowyourfacts #stayingyolane
posted by chris24 at 3:18 PM on March 3 [4 favorites]


Through Day 10 of Texas primary early voting, 15 largest counties:

Party: 2018 / 2016 / 2014

Dem: 365,321 / 341,936 / 181,036

GOP: 336,362 / 493,603 / 289,687

Today (Friday) was day 11, the final day.


This is really good information and I’m really enjoying watching these numbers every day. However (and I don’t know if this has been brought up already, these threads get so massive) we should keep in mind that these 15 largest counties are the majority of the Democratic votes, so extrapolation to the rest of the state is probably overstating Democratic turnout. I did a quick look at the county results for the 2014 governors race and those 15 counties were 56% of the Republican votes but 76% of the Democratic votes.

I’m very excited that the Dems are actually running someone in every race this year and hope that, along with anti-Trump sentiment (which does exist in decent numbers in Texas! Dems usually win around 40ish% in presidential elections) will bring out those hidden Democrats who don’t vote, which we are seeing with the high turnout of first time voters being Democratic.

I guess I’m saying you’re numbers give me hope but I’ve been so disappointed in the past, it’s definitely tempered hope.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:19 PM on March 3 [4 favorites]


Washington Post: ‘Pure Madness’: Dark Days Inside The White House As Trump Shocks and Rages
Trump seethed with anger last Wednesday night over cable news coverage of a photo, obtained by Axios, showing Sessions at dinner with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation, and another top Justice Department prosecutor. The outing was described in news reports as amounting to an act of solidarity after Trump had attacked Sessions in a tweet that morning.

The next morning, Trump was still raging about the photo, venting to friends and allies about a dinner he viewed as an intentional show of disloyalty.
@ddale8
Why was Trump so mad Wednesday night, when he suddenly decided to announce tariffs? We still don't exactly know, but the WaPo gang reports he was raging about news coverage of the photo of Sessions having dinner with Rosenstein. In other words, there is a non-zero chance that @jonathanvswan changed the course of the global economy by posting a photo of a guy having dinner with another guy.
posted by chris24 at 3:24 PM on March 3 [82 favorites]


WaPo, Josh Dawsey, Inside Trump’s decision to block a crucial New York-New Jersey tunnel project is worth reading in full if you care about the Gateway program (and you should care about it), but this bit stands out:
There are also questions on how much Trump ever supported the project. For example at the Oval Office meeting, he said he would prefer to build runways over the tunnel because people could see them, people briefed on the meeting said.
RUNWAYS? In the middle of the Hudson? So people can see them? What the what?
posted by zachlipton at 3:29 PM on March 3 [28 favorites]


I’m very excited that the Dems are actually running someone in every race this year and hope that, along with anti-Trump sentiment (which does exist in decent numbers in Texas! Dems usually win around 40ish% in presidential elections) will bring out those hidden Democrats who don’t vote, which we are seeing with the high turnout of first time voters being Democratic.

I guess I’m saying you’re numbers give me hope but I’ve been so disappointed in the past, it’s definitely tempered hope.


I can understand tempering hope with caution and even a dash of skepticism, because euphoria often crashes into disappointment. The thing to remember is that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and many Democrats and potential Dem districts are starting from, if not scratch, at least very close to it. A big huge honking mistake that the various Democratic establishment have made since abandoning the 50-state strategy is neglecting local races, and we are just now starting to catch up.

So I think it's super-important to not get discouraged and go home with our tails between our legs if/when we lose some races. This is my big worry, more than "losing some races" is "Democrats give up and go back to their once-every-four-years voting patterns."

I say this as a lifelong Californian, who has seen her state turn from red to blue over the past 20 or so years. Jerry Brown was elected (or rather, re-elected) in 2011, before that we had a Republican governor (and, ashamedly, a celebrity, though in no way as bad as Trump). It's going to be a slow and patient process in many areas and my biggest wish is for Democrats to not get discouraged easily.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:32 PM on March 3 [19 favorites]


RUNWAYS? In the middle of the Hudson? So people can see them? What the what?

He just watched Sully, didn't he? Someone tell me I'm wrong.
posted by Talez at 3:32 PM on March 3 [14 favorites]


he would prefer to build runways over the tunnel because people could see them

I think we've discovered Trump doesn't have object permanence.
posted by chris24 at 3:32 PM on March 3 [36 favorites]


I thought it meant "over the tunnel" as in "instead of." Presumably the runways would be at an airport. And it's just the normal thing where he only cares about the things that personally affect him. I guarantee you he hasn't driven through the damn Holland Tunnel in at least 20 years; if he had, he'd want a new one.

It's normal for other politicians too though Like, you know how whenever "we need better airports, just look at LaGuardia, it's horrible" comes up as an infrastructure talking point, you can tell they just flew into NYC for a tv interview. and presumably landed at LaGuardia.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 3:43 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


So, uh, now that I think about it, I'm like 97.3% sure that sentence is trying to say that Trump wants to build runways instead of a tunnel, not literally building runways on top of a tunnel in the middle of the Hudson.

I do believe that the fact that my mind immediately came to the conclusion that the President of the United States sought to build runways in the middle of a river says far more about him than it does about me.
posted by zachlipton at 3:44 PM on March 3 [22 favorites]


“I don’t think there is a CEO who would not make the tunnel a top priority,” said Kathryn Wylde, who leads the influential big business group called the Partnership for New York City. “There’s not a chance given the president’s history in New York that he doesn’t understand that.”
Here's the thing . ... ... My understanding is that one of the things keeping Manhattan and Brooklyn real estate prices inflated is the fact that it's a righteous pain in the ass to cross the river. Whenever it becomes easier to cross the river, the New Jersey side becomes a little more appealing, and siphons off a little more of the demand. That's not the only thing inflating prices at all, of course. But I just mean to say that building the tunnel doesn't do anything good for a Manhattan real estate company. It does good things for retail, culture, tourism; it does good things for white-collar offices. But for real estate it just siphons off the cheap end of the market.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 3:54 PM on March 3 [11 favorites]


Oh god. CNN, Kevin Liptak, Trump on China's Xi consolidating power: 'Maybe we'll give that a shot some day
President Donald Trump bemoaned a decision not to investigate Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election, decrying a "rigged system" that still doesn't have the "right people" in place to fix it, during a freewheeling speech to Republican donors in Florida on Saturday.

In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China's President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn't mind making such a maneuver himself.

"He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day."
...
"Is Hillary a happy person? Do you think she's happy?" he said. "When she goes home at night, does she say, 'What a great life?' I don't think so. You never know. I hope she's happy."
posted by zachlipton at 4:18 PM on March 3 [79 favorites]


Oh my fucking God Clinton does in fact go home and say what a great life. You fucking child.
posted by angrycat at 4:40 PM on March 3 [29 favorites]


"He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day."

Cool. If China's down with having Trump as their next president for life I think he should go for it.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:51 PM on March 3 [115 favorites]


"Is Hillary a happy person? Do you think she's happy?" he said. "When she goes home at night, does she say, 'What a great life?' I don't think so. You never know. I hope she's happy."

Trump's Mirror strikes again.
posted by saturday_morning at 5:29 PM on March 3 [59 favorites]


I'm guessing right now Sanders is thinking about how she's going to explain to these benighted halfwits what her boss really meant when he wondered aloud whether he could be president-for-life, all the while gleefully envisioning a day when she didn't have to put up with this shit anymore, and she can just flay and impale all the journalists on the White House grounds.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 5:30 PM on March 3 [8 favorites]


CNN posted the actual audio of the "President for life" comments.

The horrifying part to me isn't even that Trump says it; it's the wealthy donors who laugh and applaud and cheer. They don't even wait for Trump to propose it. He just says Xi is "now President for life," and the crowd thinks this is fantastic.
posted by zachlipton at 5:35 PM on March 3 [56 favorites]


a photo, obtained by Axios, showing Sessions at dinner with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation, and another top Justice Department prosecutor.

Trump's really following Nixon's path down into paranoia, isn't he? This is an unremarkable semi-social gathering of senior colleagues, but in Trump's mind it became further evidence of a plot. I hope these guys can conduct policy discussions via inter-office memo, because they're not going to be able to meet face-to-face anymore.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:37 PM on March 3 [1 favorite]


The horrifying part to me isn't even that Trump says it; it's the wealthy donors who laugh and applaud and cheer

I think it's because that after the massive wealth consolidation of the past 35 years the oligarchs in any relatively industrialized country have much more in common with eachother than with the median citizen of their country, regardless of government. One of the Koch assholes can relate to Xi far more closely than they can relate to a waitress in Joliet or a mechanic in Jacksonville. They can combat this feeling if they care enough to try; it's no coincidence that Buffet calls for relatively sane economic policies and has lived in the same modest home in a relatively modest neighborhood since 1958. But the vast majority of these people don't do that.

That's why they clap for Xi and Trump.

On a completely unrelated topic, I keep spelling guillotine (sp?) wrong.
posted by Justinian at 5:49 PM on March 3 [59 favorites]


> "He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day."

The next time US diplomats lecture a corrupt third-world country about democracy ...

(Who am I kidding, we won't have any more US diplomats left after Sleepy-T is done.)

Waiting to board a long flight to 10 time zones away - I don't think I'll be able to take a full week off from US politics, but I plan to go light, at least.
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:51 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]


After the Stoneman Douglas shooting and gun control meeting, the $31k dining room tablegate, the multiple damaging Kushner stories, Hicks' departure, and the seat-of-the-pants tariff rollout, the White House Chief of Staff thought it'd be a good idea to circle back to remind us of his failure and lies without consulting anyone on the strategic wisdom of doing so.

Who amongst us is not guilty to returning to our favourite comfortable old scandal when faced with an overwhelming array of new scandal choices?
posted by srboisvert at 5:51 PM on March 3 [19 favorites]


The New York Times: The special counsel inquiry appears to be widening its focus to whether an adviser to the United Arab Emirates has a role in U.S. policymaking.

George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has hovered on the fringes of international diplomacy for three decades. He was a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration, reinvented himself as an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and last year was a frequent visitor to President Trump’s White House.

Mr. Nader is now a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Nader and have pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.


Following the money. The Special Counsel’s remit keeps growing.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:09 PM on March 3 [22 favorites]


Washington Post: ‘Pure Madness’: Dark Days Inside The White House As Trump Shocks and Rages

this is an extremely normal headline to appear at the top of a news article rather than on the editorial page and is in no way alarming

"He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day."

i believe i shall retire to the Fucking Fuck MeTa thread for the remainder of this administration, however long that turns out to be.

you’ve all been very kind
posted by murphy slaw at 6:26 PM on March 3 [90 favorites]


I wasn't sure what, if anything, I should do with this link, but after "the wealthy donors laugh and applaud and cheer" for Trump's "President for Life" comments, it seems relevant to put here that the MIT Technology Review has reported on a computer model of wealth creation showing that "The most successful people are not the most talented, just the luckiest". "The wealthy donors" probably aren't particularly smart or talented, and I'm pretty sure that they're damn glad Trump isn't either, and they're all looking forward to being CEOs for Life.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:43 PM on March 3 [38 favorites]


It turns out that there was a handshake deal with the Chinese authorities where they'd drop the charges, UCLA would have the players hang out in the hotel and fly home a couple days later than the rest of the team, and everybody could get on with their lives. Then Trump and Kelly saw it on CNN, got involved and called up UCLA two days after the situation was already resolved. UCLA officials "encouraged" the students to thank Trump, after Trump demanded such acknowledgement on Twitter, and Trump and Kelly were happy to take the credit.

So just a joint conspiracy between the US government, the Chinese government, the NCAA and UCLA to deceive the American people.
posted by srboisvert at 7:04 PM on March 3 [3 favorites]


The thing that really pisses me off about "president for life" is that if Hillary had said "president" "for" and "life" all within about eight words or so there would be armed insurrection in the streets. But in this timeline? It's just another LIVE FROM TRUMP'S TWITTER IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT! This isn't arguing about the finer points of what "is" is. This is like, holy fucking shit, can somebody do something already?
posted by Talez at 7:17 PM on March 3 [67 favorites]


Rainbo Vagrant: "t's normal for other politicians too though Like, you know how whenever "we need better airports, just look at LaGuardia, it's horrible" comes up as an infrastructure talking point, you can tell they just flew into NYC for a tv interview. and presumably landed at LaGuardia."

I was thinking this was a NY/Big Airport bias but LaGuardia is only the 20th busiest airport in the US; it's not even the busiest NYC airport (its 3rd).
posted by Mitheral at 7:24 PM on March 3


It's barely year 2 and he's floating "president for life" trial balloons. And getting ecstatic enthusiasm in response. Especially if the Democratic wave doesn't actually happen, after 3 more years of Republican excuses and coverup, and 3 years of further priming their already eager voters for a dictatorship, I don't think anyone can be confident in a peaceful transfer of power.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:52 PM on March 3 [26 favorites]


Alex Jones is reporting that his YouTube channel will be deleted tomorrow. Buh-bye, Infowars. He’s trying to collect subscribers to a new account but we’ll see if that works — when your account is terminated on YouTube, you’re not allowed to make any Google accounts anymore. At all.
posted by Andrhia at 7:55 PM on March 3 [53 favorites]


It's pathetic that it's taken until now to get Jones banned from YouTube (that is if it's actually happening and not just another stunt).
posted by octothorpe at 8:04 PM on March 3 [9 favorites]


Final tally of Texas primary early voting, 15 largest counties:

Party: 2018 / 2016 / 2014

Dem: 465,245 / 448,859 / 226,730

GOP: 420,329 / 656,208 / 365,423

Dem vs 2016: +3.7%
GOP vs 2016: -35.9%

===

FWIW, I completely agree these don't necessarily translate into anything, you can't look at this and say Beto has it in the bag. I do think you can look at this as another confirmation of high Dem enthusiasm/low GOP enthusiasm. And that's a positive indicator for picking up some seats in TX, at all levels.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:27 PM on March 3 [29 favorites]


The New York Times: The special counsel inquiry appears to be widening its focus to whether an adviser to the United Arab Emirates has a role in U.S. policymaking.

@nycsouthpaw
The story doesn’t mention it, but recall that Erik Prince’s meeting in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russia Direct Investment Fund, was brokered by the UAE.
Erik Prince tells House investigators he met with Kremlin-linked banker in Seychelles
Erik Prince, a supporter of the Trump presidential campaign and founder of the security firm Blackwater, confirmed to House investigators Thursday that he met with a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin while in the Seychelles earlier this year, according to multiple people familiar with the interview.

Under questioning, Prince told members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that he had met Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, during a secret Jan. 11 meeting in the Seychelles brokered by the United Arab Emirates as part of an apparent attempt to set up backchannel communications between then-President-elect Donald Trump and Moscow.
posted by chris24 at 8:39 PM on March 3 [20 favorites]


Here's a link to a Late Show bit on YouTube:

Stephen Colbert grabs Capitol Hill by the memo

Colbert visits the Hill and interviews Schaffer and Warner and briefly speaks with Flake. No news, but perhaps some levity in a time of 'Instagram-induced tariffs' and 'President-for-life Puppet' talk.
posted by orange ball at 9:00 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


This isn't arguing about the finer points of what "is" is. This is like, holy fucking shit, can somebody do something already?
Every time I see Adam Schiff on tv I try to send him telepathic signals that I know he wants to look reasonable and just and fair and normal but in 25 years he may be remembered as the guy who read a serious policy paper while Rome burned.
posted by xyzzy at 9:11 PM on March 3 [2 favorites]


The Hill: Trump jokes: I was late to Gridiron dinner because Kushner couldn't get through security

Get it, folks? My son-in-law is a compromised traitor who I allowed for an entire year to sell out and loot the country under a top-secret clearance! Ha ha ha!
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:30 PM on March 3 [59 favorites]


[Deleting chatter, try to keep it substantive!]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:33 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]


Republicans are the best at humor! Remember the classic George W. Bush set loosely titled "Whoops, we invaded Iraq on false pretenses and falsified intelligence and cause millions of civilian deaths over the next two decades"

Man who said there's no good right wing comedians
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:37 PM on March 3 [11 favorites]


More from The Hill on the comedic stylings of the walking, breathing end of the American experiment:

"So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s invigorating since you want turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller, or Melania?" Trump quipped, according to White House pool reports. [...] Trump later joked, saying Melania could also claim him as "an adult dependent," riffing off "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff who said White House aides told they view the president as child-like.

President Trump joked on Saturday that Vice President Pence begins each day by asking if Trump has been "impeached yet." [...]"Lately he’s showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He is asking has he been impeached yet? I don’t like that," Trump said at the annual Gridiron Dinner, according to Voice of America's Steve Herman.

Get it, folks? My inner circle is abandoning me, my wife hates my fucking guts, impeachment hangs over my head, and my aides treat me like a child! I'm killing this civilization! Ha ha ha!
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:40 PM on March 3 [62 favorites]


Alex Jones is not being kicked off YouTube. He's just a lying liar who lies.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:11 PM on March 3 [18 favorites]


Alex Jones is not being kicked off YouTube. He's just a lying liar who lies.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:11 AM on March 4 [3 favorites +] [!]


Yes, but search for "muslim" on his infowars channel and you can find a practically unlimited number of videos that could be reported under the "promoting hate" category. Have fun.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:55 PM on March 3 [5 favorites]


Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller, or Melania?

Remember his pissy performance at the Al Smith dinner right before the election? His "jokes" included throwing Melania under the bus for her plagiarism of Michelle Obama -- in a speech that surely had to have been written for her by his people. She's ultimately responsible for her part in that, of course. She got up and gave the speech. But it's kinda hard to believe she's the one who actually put that together. He still decided to make her a punchline for it.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for her. As others have said, she fully enabled this nightmare, stood by the birtherism and all the other shit, she's a grown woman, etc. Like Hope Hicks and Ivanka, being pretty and white doesn't (or shouldn't) get you a free pass. And yet I feel like it's possible to hold her accountable for her role in this and still, at the same time, wish she'd just fucking leave his ass. It seems reasonable to simultaneously not think of her as a helpless victim in all this and also wish for one less abusive marriage in the world, particularly one on such public display.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:58 PM on March 3 [18 favorites]


I feel like it's possible to hold her accountable for her role in this and still, at the same time, wish she'd just fucking leave his ass.

Staying with him may actually protect her. Wives can't be forced to testify against their husbands. If she left him they could presumably be forced to testify against each other. Even if Melania isn't vulnerable to Donald's own testimony I'm sure he'd have many legal ways to hurt her. And other parties might retaliate against her too, both people who would blame her for testifying and people who would blame her for not doing so earlier.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:03 AM on March 4 [5 favorites]


Melania is not going to prison for anything. She's not useful for Mueller to try the Enron tactic as Trump would happily let her go to prison for him, and if she knows anything -as if she wouldn't flip in a minute. She has a young son whose only other parent is Donald.
posted by chiquitita at 1:18 AM on March 4 [4 favorites]


The problem with self-deprecating humor is that it's only funny if you're exaggerating real flaws but are otherwise doing okay. The thing you're mocking needs to be real, but it also needs to not actually be a serious problem. A cutesy sign about "I have mixed drinks about feelings" stops being funny on the wall of a barely-functioning alcoholic.

I mean, I want to give credit where credit is due; I am honestly impressed Trump is even able to make fun of himself, however mildly. I would not have thought it after his last attempt, where he just tried to make fun of Hillary and Melania and basically everyone around him and seemed to fundamentally not understand how to make jokes with himself.

But now... Trump making jokes about getting impeached or about his close associates being security risks and criminals is... just... not funny. It's not a great thing to joke about because if anything he's understating the problem.
posted by Scattercat at 1:18 AM on March 4 [17 favorites]


Given the stories that are circulating about Jared Kushner, how closely is he tied to the President in the imagination of the US public?

I'm well aware of the Mefi stance but, as has been pointed out on numerous occasions, there is a gap between that stance and 538's averaged approval rating. As such I'd like to better guage the extent to which any charges filed against Kushner would damage Trump himself.

(BTW, I'm a UK citizen.)
posted by lovelyzoo at 2:07 AM on March 4 [1 favorite]


Re: Joe in Australia:

Spousal privilege lives on after divorce (or death), according to Wikipedia. TIL that this privilege means that a defendant spouse can actively prevent a witness-spouse from testifying in court; even in an acrimonious divorce, it looks like that testimony can be blocked.
posted by twooster at 3:26 AM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Jared Kushner, how closely is he tied to the President in the imagination of the US public?

Liberals generally feel about him the way MeFi does.

Low information voters don't know who he is. At the moment, these are the only "moderates." I think they are about the people who approve of Trump in polls, but it's hard to know.

Trump's anti-Semitic base (the other half of his approving demographic, maybe) sees Kushner as a (((globalist))). They would be happy to see him take the fall for all of the Trump administration's crimes. They think he is really a Democrat.
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:03 AM on March 4 [9 favorites]


They think he is really a Democrat.
It's easy to get confused when one of your business partners is George Soros and you're registered to vote as a Democrat and didn't meaningfully donate to anyone but Democrats until Mitt Romney's bid for POTUS.
posted by xyzzy at 5:07 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


It's easy to get confused

I think, like Trump, Kushner really has no ideology except "looking out for number one."

Anyway, if Jared goes down, I think most of Trump's base will just say "Good riddance! Now that the swamp is drained, Trump can really start to MAGA."

Trump himself will be a puppet torn apart even more by quarreling puppeteers than he already is, though.

(Left out a word in my previous comment. It was supposed to say I was guessing that low info voters who don't really know who Kushner is are "about half" of Trump's approval rating. Presumably they are a significant fraction of his disapproval rating too, of course.)
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:17 AM on March 4 [5 favorites]


Devin Nunes is not happy with Colbert.
“This is the danger that we have in this country,” Nunes said when Fox News’ Neil Cavuto asked how he felt about the jokes.

“The left controls not only the universities in this country, but they also control Hollywood in this country, and the mainstream media, so conservatives in this country are under attack ... they attack people who are trying to get to the truth,” the head of the House Intelligence Committee added.
The memo must have been painted because Nunes has obviously been huffing it.
posted by Talez at 5:34 AM on March 4 [36 favorites]


I'm not calling Nunes a fascist, but is it non-controversial to say this is how a fascist would speak about dissent?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:26 AM on March 4 [67 favorites]


twooster, you might want to reread that page. Rules vary depending on whether the case is federal or state, whether it's criminal or civil, and the type of spousal privilege. Federal courts differentiate between communications privilege and testimonial privilege. Testimonial privilege requires a valid marriage at the time privilege is asserted; also, the privilege is held by the witness-spouse, not the defendant-spouse.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 6:27 AM on March 4 [6 favorites]


SecretAgentSockpuppet: "Alex Jones is not being kicked off YouTube. He's just a lying liar who lies."

There's really no hope that any of the social media corporations will ever do the right thing, is there? They're just too addicted to the clicks that controversy brings to ever follow their own terms of service.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 AM on March 4 [11 favorites]


I'm not calling Nunes a fascist

You should be.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:41 AM on March 4 [26 favorites]


The Hill: Trump jokes: I was late to Gridiron dinner because Kushner couldn't get through security

AP takes a similar approach to reporting only the highlights of Trump's speech—Trump, Press Trade Good-Natured If Barbed Jokes At Gridiron. Out of context, some of his scripted one-liners do indeed sound funny—"Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It's not even close."—though without audio/video, we can't assess his actual delivery of them. To characterize Trump's jokes as "good-natured" simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny when the ones that didn't land are taken into account or when he's quoted at length.

Journalists Twitter are providing better examples of what Trump was really like last night:

VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman ‏@W7VOA has examples of some very un-funny, belittling, and racist jokes:
As to #Twitter, @POTUS jokes it's an important form of communication, otherwise how could generals Kelly and McMaster know what they’re supposed to say that day.

More excerpts from @hunterw: @POTUS also mocked @Oprah and @SenWarren, again calling her “Pocahontas” and quipped she suggested he and Rex Tillerson should smoke a “peace pipe” with the Koreans. Trump accused @RepAdamSchiff of leaking to the press about the #Russia probe.
Yahoo News's Hunter Walker @hunterw has more:
The annual Gridiron Dinner was a bizarre spectacle. It’s traditionally unrecorded and here’s what President Trump had to say about the press when he joined them for a relatively private social function.

Here are Trump’s comments on Joe Biden and Oprah from Saturday night’s Gridiron dinner.
There's talk about Joe Biden, Sleepy Joe, getting into the race. You know what he said, 'I want to take him behind the barn.' … Just trust me, I would kick his ass. … Boy, would he be easy. Oh, would he be easy. … But Joe—give me a break. The guy who keeps making outrageous statements thinks he has a shit at being president? Guy makes outrageous statements. … He's going to be president? He doesn't have a shot.

And Oprah. Oh … here's my next one. Oprah, I don't think she's ever been verbally hit yet. Right? She's lived a charmed life. She's done a great job. … She used to love me … I was on one of her last shows, 'The Trump Family.' We're going to have to replay that for her. We're going to have to. … She says she'll run only if she gets the go ahread from the Almighty. All right Oprah, go ahead and run. …
Trump's familiar mean-spirited humorlessness and bullying vindictiveness were evident for anyone to report.

BONUS: Behind Trump's jokes about Kim Jong-un—"As far as dealing with a madman is concerned, that's his problem, not mine."—he apparently let slip that the US and North Korea would be holding talks of some kind—"But we will be meeting and we'll see if anything positive happens." (c.f. Yonhap News Agency @YonhapNews: (URGENT) Moon's special envoys to take two-day trip to Pyongyang from Monday: Cheong Wa Dae)
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:43 AM on March 4 [20 favorites]


I put off posting this last night, because we're not talking about the possibility of a nuclear first strike by Trump right now. But I realize this is Trump we're dealing with, so tweet roulette could very well land on North Korea within the next 24 1.5 hours, so this will actually look like a prescient guide to why this toddler cannot be allowed to run the country, nukes edition.

Virtual Roundtable on Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons, kind of an essay roundup based on presentations made at Harvard back in November by Bruce Ackerman, Kennette Benedict, Bruce Blair, Sissela Bok, Rosa Brooks, John Burroughs, Hugh Gusterson, Ed Markey, Jim McGovern, Zia Mian, and William Perry.

Spoiler: The idea of Trump having essentially a free hand over a nuclear first strike is still scary as shit, and these very smart people are here to scare you even more about it.
posted by Rykey at 6:49 AM on March 4 [10 favorites]


Re: embassy in Cuba

State Department Makes Permanent Staffing Reductions To Embassy In Cuba, Parth Shah, NPR
The U.S. Embassy in Havana will continue to operate with minimal staff and will become what is known as an unaccompanied post, with an indefinite ban on family members of embassy employees residing there, the State Department says.

NPR's Michele Kelemen reports that this status typically applies only to war zones or other dangerous cities.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson temporarily pulled all nonessential State Department staff out of Cuba in September 2017 after numerous diplomats reported experiencing strange medical symptoms, ranging from dizziness to hearing loss.

The reduced staffing was set to expire this weekend. In a news release Friday, the State Department said the safety of personnel in Cuba was a critical factor in making the staffing reductions permanent.
Computer scientists may have solved the mystery behind the ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba, Nora Gamez Torres, Miami Herald
Professor Kevin Fu and members of the Security and Privacy Research Group at the University of Michigan say they have an explanation for what could have happened in Havana: two sources of ultrasound — such as listening devices — placed too close together could generate interference and provoke the intense sounds described by the victims.

And this may not have been done intentionally to harm diplomats, the scientists concluded in their study, first reported by the Daily Beast. [...]

“This is a variation of what I have always thought,” James Cason, a former top U.S. diplomat in Havana, told el Nuevo Herald. “It explains the sonic part, that no one was spotted planting new devices inside the homes and doing it from the outside would require something huge.” [...]

University of Miami Dr. Michael Hoffer, who led the initial team of physicians who examined the victims, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Michigan report.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 6:52 AM on March 4 [23 favorites]


Annnnd in the time it took me to put my comment together, there it is in Doktor Zed's link. Fuck you, current timeline.
posted by Rykey at 6:54 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


Wait. The current explanation for the sonic injuries (Jesus Christ) of our diplomats in Cuba is that their offices were so full of listening devices in such close proximity that they gave rise to previously unseen and unimagined sonic...death rays

Seriously

We had so many other countries infiltrate our embassy that together they formed a sort of sonic katamari that actually hurt people, and that’s the only reason we know about it

So it’s only the extremity of our own incompetence that revealed we’d been pwned

I just
posted by schadenfrau at 7:01 AM on March 4 [62 favorites]


VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman ‏@W7VOA has examples of some very un-funny, belittling, and racist jokes:

The Pocahontas/peace pipe comments weren't the only racist ones.

@matthewamiller (MSNBC)
Trump made an incredibly racist crack about Maxine Waters needing to take an IQ test tonight at the Gridiron and it has barely even registered a mention in coverage of the event. An appalling moment that I can’t believe isn’t everyone’s lead takeaway.
- He had harsh words about a number of Democratic pols, as you would expect. But the only one he singled out for needing an IQ test was Waters. And people are so used to it that the room barely even noticed. Unreal moment.
posted by chris24 at 7:12 AM on March 4 [67 favorites]




Rules vary depending on whether the case is federal or state, whether it's criminal or civil, and the type of spousal privilege. Federal courts differentiate between communications privilege and testimonial privilege.

Yes, here's Federal Rule of Evidence 501: “[I]n a civil case, state law governs privilege regarding a claim or defense for which state law supplies the rule of decision.”

We're all mostly focused on potential Federal criminal charges now -- there a current marriage is important. For other potential suits against Trump (of the sort we talked about before the election) it would likely matter less.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:30 AM on March 4


We had so many other countries infiltrate our embassy that together they formed a sort of sonic katamari that actually hurt people, and that’s the only reason we know about it

So it’s only the extremity of our own incompetence that revealed we’d been pwned


I always thought in that kind of environment that you leave the listening devices in place once you discover them. Better to leave them and know where you're under surveillance than to remove them and encourage new bugs you might not find. Of course the ultrasonic interference would seem to be an unexpected downside of that strategy.

I'm somewhat comforted by the idea that this was an accident rather than intentional. It suggests Cold War 2.0 isn't quite as far along yet.
posted by biogeo at 7:39 AM on March 4 [3 favorites]


And the crowd reaction at the Gridiron? Crickets? Applause?
posted by armacy at 7:40 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


And the crowd reaction at the Gridiron? Crickets? Applause?

USA Today, in a generally anodyne piece, reported, "Trump spoke 32 minutes, longer than normal. At one point, a woman heckled Trump to 'stop,' and had to be shushed by tablemates."

NBC's Howard Fineman @howardfineman summed up last night: "#Trump wanted to be cool & accepted at #Gridiron tonight. I told him the crowd did not root for ANY president to fail. His speech started out fine, but then trashed #Melania, drilled #Sessions & blasted critics. Sentiment in the room was a #DC mix of fake geniality & pure dread."

Trump probably thinks he killed it. We'll see once he starts tweeting during his TV "executive time". Last night he "joked", "I have to be up early tomorrow morning to be listening to Fox & Friends."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:11 AM on March 4 [19 favorites]




The problem with self-deprecating humor is that it's only funny if you're exaggerating real flaws but are otherwise doing okay. The thing you're mocking needs to be real, but it also needs to not actually be a serious problem. A cutesy sign about "I have mixed drinks about feelings" stops being funny on the wall of a barely-functioning alcoholic.

I mean, I want to give credit where credit is due; I am honestly impressed Trump is even able to make fun of himself, however mildly. I would not have thought it after his last attempt, where he just tried to make fun of Hillary and Melania and basically everyone around him and seemed to fundamentally not understand how to make jokes with himself.

But now... Trump making jokes about getting impeached or about his close associates being security risks and criminals is... just... not funny. It's not a great thing to joke about because if anything he's understating the problem.


This, so much this.

But the thing is, I think the trumpists actually think it is funny. These are the mean people from high school who have grown up. These days I think a lot about a boy in my daughter's class who was a bully and an idiot, and whenever someone tried to make him think of his future, he'd just say I don't care, I'm taking over my dad's business. (Dad was a plumber btw, and also a rude bully unless he thought you might need his services).
posted by mumimor at 8:37 AM on March 4 [12 favorites]


And Oprah. Oh … here's my next one. Oprah, I don't think she's ever been verbally hit yet. Right? She's lived a charmed life.
Charmed life: Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood. She has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy. While Emperor Douchefuck was off to boarding school and leeching his slumlord dad's millions. Trump's Fucking Mirror indeed.
posted by hangashore at 8:46 AM on March 4 [160 favorites]


One heckler, who got hushed by the people she was sitting with? “Let’s all just sit here in polite fear and disgust so the bully can save face, and maybe he won’t lash out. Wouldn’t want to cause a fuss!”
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:24 AM on March 4 [13 favorites]


Chris Christie coming around for the meatloaf again...

“If the president has absolutely no confidence in the attorney general, then the president has to act – not just criticize, but act, and he has the right to do that.”
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:26 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


Sessions is the one that put the gang together. He's not getting fired.

Rarely is the question asked in this thread, though, has Sessions been fired for perjury yet?
posted by Yowser at 9:32 AM on March 4 [6 favorites]


Yes, Trump has an airtight history of following Chris Christie's suggestions.
posted by rhizome at 9:38 AM on March 4


Chris Christie coming around for the meatloaf again... “If the president has absolutely no confidence in the attorney general, then the president has to act – not just criticize, but act, and he has the right to do that.”

@SopanDeb (NYT)
I’m just saying. Friend to friend. And look, do I have any suggestions for a replacement? No. But it should be someone who maybeeee used to be a U.S attorney but not so recently that he’s a deep stater. And maybe someone who has executive experience. Just saying.
posted by chris24 at 9:51 AM on March 4 [15 favorites]


It’s Worse Than We Thought
(Josh Marshall | TPM)
... While I’ve been following the Trump era for going on three years and long been a pessimist about the depth of his corruption – both venal and otherwise – the last two weeks has made me think the situation is significantly worse than I’d imagined. Let me refer very briefly to two points.

First, we’ve had a flurry of stories over the last week about massive loans Jared Kushner’s family company has received from entities Jared Kushner was in some way working with or meeting with in his governmental capacity. Political types are accustomed to speaking of ‘creating conflicts of interest’ or ‘creating the appearance of a conflict’. Those don’t apply here. These look like straightforward efforts to use his vast governmental power to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from people who need things from the US government – which is to say, most people who can easily part with a few hundred million dollars.

The most stunning revelation ties to Kushner’s already known role recklessly allying himself with the Gulf states trying to isolate and effectively blockade Qatar. The conflict between UAE and Saudi Arabia and Qatar is complicated and its particulars don’t concern us here. But it was a high-stakes, reckless gambit which could have and still might lead to a major war between various US-allied states in the Gulf. We don’t know enough to make any firm statements yet. But we’ve seen enough in the last week to make it seem plausible that Kushner’s aggressive, enabling behavior in that crisis was tied to his efforts to get money to bail out his family company. If that is true – and I suspect it is – it would amount to a level of corruption entirely unparalleled in American history.

We had good reason to believe Kushner was trying to pull something like this off during the transition, trying to secure a major loan from a Russian state bank or other concerns in China. But those deals foundered in the face of press scrutiny. I had assumed that Kushner had been forced to keep his hand at mainly away from the cookie jar at least for now. That doesn’t seem to have been the case at all.

Second point. We are back in a round of stories about Trump allies being “worried” about President Trump’s mental state, stories of his raging at various enemies, ‘frustrated’ that his 2016 campaign is being investigated while Hillary Clinton’s is not. The organizational chaos in the White House, we’re led to believe, is both being driven by the President’s moods and in turn pushing him further into anger or agitated depression. Out of the blue he launches a trade war with major US allies to sate his need to attack and lash out. There’s a simpler explanation for all of this. The legal noose is tightening around the President, his family and top advisors. He is scared and angry.

Commentators often say the President doesn’t like being questioned; he’s angry that his appointees don’t defend him; he lashes out at different staff members whom he’s ‘frustrated’ with. In other words, people look for process explanations. This is all seems like psychologizing and over-explaining to avoid the most obvious explanation: he’s scared and looking for a way out. But he can’t seem to find one. It’s all escalating. And we’ve learned over the last week that President Trump’s racket with Russia may be only one facet of his family’s political corruption. The level of apparent corruption, interlaced with numerous constitutional landmines, is beyond our national experience.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 10:49 AM on March 4 [80 favorites]


Meanwhile, Trump, obviously pleased with the inoffensive press coverage of Saturday's performance, tweeted, "The Gridiron Dinner last night was great fun. I am accomplishing a lot in Washington and have never had a better time doing something, and especially since this is for the American People!" Talking Points Memo has posted a complete transcript of his routine, which, as always with Trump, is more awful unexpurgated than any excerpt could indicate.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:54 AM on March 4 [17 favorites]


From Trump's comedy routine: "As I’m sure you’ve seen, we’re now riding very high in the polls, which is hard to believe considering I never get good press. But I just hit 50 in the Rasmussen poll."

50% seems high even for Rasmussen, so I checked their most recent: The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.

That's right, Trump is bragging about his disapproval numbers.
posted by peeedro at 11:11 AM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Everyone. Mueller is not stupid so I'm hopeful that the dnc and Clinton Campaign have been investigated/looked at as part of the overall process here. If there are wacky irregularities I want them looked at regardless of side.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:27 AM on March 4 [6 favorites]


50% seems high even for Rasmussen, so I checked their most recent: The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.

49% approve?!? What are these people thinking? (Don't answer, it's a rhetorical question). There's still a bit of a way to go here, so I'm posting this for Sunday prayers: The Right Can't Fight the Future, by Joy-Ann Reid/Daily Beast
posted by mumimor at 11:35 AM on March 4 [4 favorites]


That's right, Trump is bragging about his disapproval numbers.

Rasmussen had Trump's approval at 50 last week and the new numbers that had him at 49 had just been released. Of all the things to blame Trump for I'm not sure "didn't update his polling numbers in the 12 hours before his joke" is that big a deal.

Re: polls. We're seeing an even bigger divide in Trump's approval numbers and the generic ballot than we had previously seen depending on poll quality and methodology. 538s average is almost back up to Trump's high after giving back maybe half of his runup on the backs of two terrible high-quality polls for him. But Rasmussen and Zogby came in since then with their garbage and pulled him back up.

I wish Nate Silver would comment on what he sees. The modified polling average 538 uses has been very good but I don't know that it holds up if you basically have two sets of polls using different methodologies which give you very different results. Like, if you throw 10 darts at a dartboard and average the result that's usually much more accurate. But if you throw 5 at the dartboard with your dominant hand and 5 with your off-hand, averaging all 10 will be less accurate not more accurate.
posted by Justinian at 11:38 AM on March 4 [4 favorites]


Nate Silver does comment regularly on this kind of thing. The 538 average is more than just the average of polls. Polls are adjusted for house effects and weighted for methodology and accuracy. So, no, 538 does not see Rasmussen’s 49%. They see it as something more like 46%, based on Rasmussen’s historical lean.
posted by chrchr at 11:51 AM on March 4 [4 favorites]


I'm not talking about the special sauce they apply to polls to account for house effects. Sometimes they write bloggish posts commenting on trends and such they are seeing. I'm wishing for a blog post about the much larger divergence than normal that we're seeing based on methodology.
posted by Justinian at 12:02 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


Mueller is not stupid so I'm hopeful that the dnc and Clinton Campaign have been investigated/looked at as part of the overall process here. If there are wacky irregularities I want them looked at regardless of side

What? There's literally no evidence of "collusion" by the Clinton campaign, the Uranium One thing is total bullshit made up by Alex Jones and the fever swamp. The DNC's conduct in 2016 was shitty, but for reasons totally unrelated to Russia, they're the victims here, along with John Podesta.

There's nothing to investigate on the Democratic side, at all.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:11 PM on March 4 [51 favorites]


Okay well, I said wacky irregularities. I did not mention Russia or collusion. I meant following the money trail.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:32 PM on March 4


Following the money trail... to what...from what? What conduct from the Clinton campaign, or anyone connected to the Democratic party, is supposed to be the crime is this vague scenario? "Wacky irregularities" isn't exactly a term of art, you're going to have to provide some sort of context, or better yet evidence, in support of that statement.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:45 PM on March 4 [28 favorites]


fluffy battle kitten, what are you actually talking about? Your attempt at clarifying makes your initial comment even less coherent.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:55 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter Politics: It’s Worse Than We Thought
posted by schmod at 1:01 PM on March 4 [9 favorites]


There's nothing to investigate on the Democratic side, at all.

But...QAnon...the Oncoming Storm...WHAT ABOUT THE BREADCRUMBS?!
posted by scalefree at 1:10 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


it’s not worse than i thought, but mostly because i expected a nuclear exchange or a land war in asia by this point
posted by murphy slaw at 1:12 PM on March 4 [14 favorites]


Rules vary depending on whether the case is federal or state, whether it's criminal or civil, and the type of spousal privilege. Federal courts differentiate between communications privilege and testimonial privilege.

Especially in an administration as leaky as Trump's, the cooperation of Melania would be invaluable even if she never testified. The main thing would be telling prosecutors what happened, what the schemes were, and who was involved. Where the bodies are buried, as we say.

They can find evidence elsewhere. The key right now is unraveling the schemes.
posted by msalt at 1:34 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


There's nothing to investigate on the Democratic side, at all.

Actually, I’d like to know if Revolution Messaging or r/SandersforPresident or any of the others either had contact with known Russian state-backed entities or were otherwise manipulated by Russian state-backed entities.

We already know the IRA went after Hillary from the left. I’d like to know how organized it was.

Truth and reconciliation is the only way to go.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:36 PM on March 4 [37 favorites]


Either Melania is the honey pot or she knows nothing. Both are possible, neither really matter.
posted by mumimor at 1:39 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


It would be great if Mueller has done a cursory look-see at the D's to make sure nothing super fucked went down during the current political hellscape/last presidential election campaign like has clearly happened on the R side with everyone in trumpville making deals, laundering money, stupid large questionable PAC donations, quid pro quoing, etc.,

I do not think it's silly to want to know whether or not that stuff has happened on the D side whether related to Russia or not.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:46 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]




I do not think it's silly to want to know whether or not that stuff has happened on the D side whether related to Russia or not.

Mueller's remit is specifically limited to "any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."

It is not only silly to ask Mueller to investigate the DNC and the Clinton campaign, but beyond that it would be an unethical overreach of Mueller's mandate to do so, unless the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference brought him there first.

Which it has not.

It would be great if Mueller has done a cursory look-see at the D's to make sure nothing super fucked went down...deals, laundering money, stupid large questionable PAC donations, quid pro quoing,

But there isn't any evidence of that on the behalf of the Clinton campaign or the DNC, is there? There's no evidence of obstruction, there's no evidence of collusion with foreign powers, there's no affirmative reason to investigate. And going beyond that, Clinton's tenure at State was examined quite closely and nothing came out of that worth pursuing, so there's a higher bar than usual to clear (in a public-opinion sense) for justifying this. What's the justification?
posted by cjelli at 2:00 PM on March 4 [31 favorites]


"Trump spoke 32 minutes, longer than normal. At one point, a woman heckled Trump to 'stop,' and had to be shushed by tablemates."
Because whatever Trump said, of course, it's good that he said that. He's saying real good things.

It's a good life, and they're all good people. The best.
posted by Pinback at 2:01 PM on March 4 [11 favorites]


I do not think it's silly to want to know whether or not that stuff has happened on the D side whether related to Russia or not.

There have to be reasons for investigations. Cops don't get to just show up at your house and sift through your stuff to see if you've committed any crimes. While the order establishing the special council is fairly broad, it pertains to Trump, not democrats or Clinton. That's outside the scope of this investigation.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:04 PM on March 4 [25 favorites]


The closing of Trump's routine last night is as good a window as any into the raw, sadistic cruelty in Trump's heart and in the heart of the modern conservative movement. Take away the unquenchable thirst for liberal tears and all that's left is the looting and the calamitous-beyond-all-reckoning eventual outcome.

"I better wrap it up. I have to be up early tomorrow morning—six o’clock—to be listening to Fox and Friends. But I do want to say this is one of the best times I can ever remember having with the media. This might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night. I apologize. Years, years, years taken off your life. Oh, John King, with that beautiful red map. His hand was shaking toward the end.[...] Look, whether you like me or not, you have to say that was good. That was exciting. Lot of tears were in this room. You’re not supposed to cry. Mike are they supposed to be crying?"
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:06 PM on March 4 [31 favorites]


There's nothing to investigate on the Democratic side, at all.

We have no idea what or where Mueller is going with this, so that statement is pure speculation.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:15 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


So we should probably be investigating both sides equally, is that right?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:20 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


This might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night. Years, years, years taken off your life.

And thanks for the reminder about all the people who have died unnecessarily because of you in only one year.

Years, years, years taken off your life
Years, years, years taken off your life
Years, years, years taken off your life
Years, years, years taken off your life
Years, years, years taken off your life
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:20 PM on March 4 [50 favorites]


>There's nothing to investigate on the Democratic side, at all.

We have no idea what or where Mueller is going with this, so that statement is pure speculation.


We have ample evidence of where Mueller is going with this! Multiple people have already plead guilty! And his own investigative remit, through Rod Rosenstein, is specifically into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. We have extremely well informed speculation, and not all outcomes are equally likely given what we know. That Mueller would start investigating the Clinton campaign is very unlikely.
posted by cjelli at 2:21 PM on March 4 [42 favorites]


NYT, Gardiner Harris, State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0.
As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy.

As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.

The delay is just one symptom of the largely passive response to the Russian interference by President Trump, who has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow and defend democratic institutions. More broadly, the funding lag reflects a deep lack of confidence by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in his department’s ability to execute its historically wide-ranging mission and spend its money wisely.

Mr. Tillerson has voiced skepticism that the United States is even capable of doing anything to counter the Russian threat.

“If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,” Mr. Tillerson said in an interview last month with Fox News. “And we can take steps we can take, but this is something that once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it.”
posted by zachlipton at 2:30 PM on March 4 [50 favorites]


“This might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night. I apologize. Years, years, years taken off your life.”

For Donald Trump, life, and every aspect of life, is a zero-sum game. For Donald to win, others must suffer. If Donald makes others suffer, he is winning. Donald Trump thinks Macbeth is a play about a really smart guy who gets to be king because he is so very great; and that’s a happy ending, believe me.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:33 PM on March 4 [36 favorites]


Cognitive dissonance is a pain, but it’s dispiriting to see that people are *still* circulating discredited talking points about the DNC and emails or whatever. You don’t have to be doing it wittingly, or even maliciously. You just need to keep repeating the discredited talking points until it’s “common knowledge” and “butwhatabout [x]?!” ad nauseam
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:34 PM on March 4 [95 favorites]


Mueller’s remit is to investigate interference in the 2016 election and any evidence of criminal activity discovered during that investigation. I hope and expect that is not partisan so that we can take some semblance of a justice system forward. It seems highly unlikely that Russians helped Clinton but it sure looks like they tried to help Bernie and we already know Stein is neck deep in it. To the extent that any of that broke laws, it all needs to come out.
posted by SakuraK at 2:35 PM on March 4 [15 favorites]


I’m sure Mueller would be happy to indict Democrats or non-Republicans; it would have the side effect of enhancing the credibility of his investigation.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:38 PM on March 4


Maybe we can table this conversation about Mueller investigating the Clinton campaign until such time as there is any evidence at all that Mueller is investigating the Clinton campaign?
posted by saturday_morning at 2:39 PM on March 4 [74 favorites]


Mueller’s remit is to investigate interference in the 2016 election and any evidence of criminal activity discovered during that investigation.

Please don't make statements based on nothing. The actual language of the actual order reads:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confinned by then-FBI
Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:
(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals
associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).


So no. He can't just investigate "interference in the 2016 election" unless it "arose or may arise directly from" the investigation into "coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump". Mueller can only investigate Democrats if he's somehow led there through the investigation into Trump.

Words matter. Not on the internet, maybe. But in reality that's based in actual legal documents.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:41 PM on March 4 [46 favorites]


I regret I have but one favorite to give to Barack Spinoza's comment.
posted by StrawberryPie at 2:45 PM on March 4 [10 favorites]


But I will say, if I were Robert Mueller and I wanted Trump not to fire me, spreading some rumours that I was actually hot on the trail of the Clintons would not be the world's worst idea
posted by saturday_morning at 2:49 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


Pinback said it best: It's A Good Life, and they're all good people. And they don't get fired; they get sent to the cornfield. And I'm sure 64 year old Bill Mumy not happy that a role he played on TV at age 7 is the model for the conduct of a 71 year U.S. President.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:51 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Maybe we can table this conversation about Mueller investigating the Clinton campaign until such time as there is any evidence at all that Mueller is investigating the Clinton campaign?

[Pretty much this, folks. Please let it drop.]

posted by cortex at 2:59 PM on March 4 [27 favorites]


Martin Cizmar, Raw Story (3/3): Fox News can’t pretend all is well anymore, breaks down White House dysfunction in an amazing 7-point list
So it’s a little jarring to watch Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith pierce the bubble. And yet that’s exactly what happened when Wallace appeared on Smith’s show to break the whole mess down.

“Let’s just go through it,” Wallace said, before laying out a shockingly lucid analysis of Trump’s troubles.

1. “Hope Hicks has quit. She’s the person closest to the president in the White House.”
2. “The president hates his attorney general.”
3. The deputy attorney general now has to defend the hated attorney general “from the attack by the president.”
4. Trump’s top economic advisor is threatening to quit because of proposed tariffs, which he wasn’t consulted about.
5. “The president reportedly wants to oust his national security advisor,” the respected H.R. McMaster.
6. “Somebody is trying to get Jared Kushner.”
7. Trump wants to be rid of Kushner, his son-in-law, but doesn’t want to do it himself and so he’s also asked his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, to “help me Kushner and Ivanka out of here.”

“Other than that, it’s sweetness, light, puppies and unicorns here in D.C.,” Wallace said, wryly.

“Wow—that’s a nice clip for whoever picks up clips,” Smith said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:22 PM on March 4 [50 favorites]


Please forgive me for this screed if it's beating a dead horse, but this argument reminded me that one of the most infuriating aspects of the 2016 election were the voters and pundits who equated the possible corruption of a Trump and a Clinton administration. For example, my boss viewed them as equally duplicitous and voted for Johnson (I think.)

Let's consider presidential corruption and venality on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Nixon and Harding and 1 being, I dunno, Lincoln. Eisenhower, Carter, and Obama are modern examples of relatively uncorrupt admins in the 2-4 range. Reagan and W were definitely in the 6-8 range. Even if you view Bill and Hillary quite uncharitably, I don't see how you put them outside that 6-8 range. Do they have any credible accusations against them that are worse than W and Cheney drumming up a disastrous war that happened to line their pockets? Worse than Iran-Contra? Please.

What are the range of realistic corruption scores one could assign to Trump in 2016? Hmmm, he didn't release his tax returns. Hmmm, he has worldwide business interests, some of them sketchy, and he's obviously too lazy and/or too greedy to divest himself. I think the 8-10 range is the very best imaginable score for Trump, and there was an obvious danger he'd shatter all presidential records for corruption and venality.

The idea that ur-Eagle Scout Robert Mueller would investigate Clinton corruption now, when the Trump admin has likely committed dozens of actions that would make Nixon blush, is preposterous. If he actually opened such a case, I'd probably head for the hills.
posted by johnny jenga at 3:24 PM on March 4 [49 favorites]




Please forgive me for this screed if it's beating a dead horse, but this argument reminded me that one of the most infuriating aspects of the 2016 election were the voters and pundits who equated the possible corruption of a Trump and a Clinton administration....

Nate Silver tried. Others tried to get the media to cover it fairly. But with the Times and their Clinton Rules and bothsidesism, etc., now we have Trump. A comment I made on Sept 16 2016.
The depth, tenor and duration of coverage of Trump has paled in comparison to his issues. Nate Silver had a good tweetstorm yesterday that covered it. Basically, if a "mitt" is a unit of measurement of scandalousness, then Romney and Obama are probably one mitt candidates. Clinton is probably a 5 mitt candidate and covered thusly. But Trump is being covered like a 7 mitt candidate, but he's really a 50 mitt candidate. Despite covering him more than others, it's nowhere near the coverage necessary given his corruption and issues.
posted by chris24 at 3:32 PM on March 4 [59 favorites]


That's exactly it. There simply weren't enough hours in the day in the runup to the election to cover everything going on. And journalists and news outlets made the decision to cover Clinton like a real candidate and Trump like a novelty... even when he was the GOP nominee. If they covered him like a real candidate it would be like what we're getting now; probably 95% of the news most days would be about Trump bullshit and Clinton's email papercut of an issue would get a one sentence update. There are undoubtedly a lot of reasons for doing that. Mental inertia (you say CLINTON I say SCANDAL), $$$, misogyny, you name it.

But a big one is, I believe, the same institutional failure that happened everywhere from Obama, to Comey, to the media, to the voters. That is, nobody except apparently Nate Silver actually managed to come to grips with the idea that hey people DONALD TRUMP IS CLOSE TO BECOMING PRESIDENT. Everyone thought Clinton had it. Obama thought so and didn't tell McConnell to go fuck himself over the Russian meddling and hold a massive press conference flanked by his intelligence chiefs. Comey thought so and torpedoed Clinton's campaign in order to supposedly preserve the nonpartisan look of the FBI and hey if in the process it reinforces the Cult of Honor and Justice Above All Comey well, all the better. The media failed by failing to cover Trump as a person who might soon have his finger on the nuclear button. The voters failed though the proof of the breadth and scope of their failure will not fit in the margins of this page.

Some of the people above have probably come to grips with their failures. I suspect both Obama and Comey have, though Obama probably still sleeps better as the motives behind his choices were more pure. Some voters have though many are still in denial. But the media? As far as I can tell they have swept their abject failure into the memory dumpster and have always been at war with Eurasia TrumpCo.
posted by Justinian at 3:52 PM on March 4 [148 favorites]


Justinian can you turn that comment into a Medium post or something so I can share it all over the fricking place?
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:58 PM on March 4 [12 favorites]


An Axios scoop from Jonathan Swan: Mueller's Hit List
Axios has reviewed a Grand Jury subpoena that Robert Mueller's team sent to a witness last month.

What Mueller is asking for: Mueller is subpoenaing all communications — meaning emails, texts, handwritten notes, etc. — that this witness sent and received regarding the following people:

Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Donald J. Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon

The subpoena asks for all communications from November 1, 2015, to the present. Notably, Trump announced his campaign for president five months earlier — on June 16, 2015.
This indicates only so much about Mueller's line of investigation, of course. Swan's Axios colleague Mike Allen cautioned yesterday, "All we know is what yappy witnesses tell reporters they were asked about. [...] And expect plenty more 'scoops' about what Mueller is asking gabby witnesses."
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:00 PM on March 4 [10 favorites]


Mr. Tillerson has voiced skepticism that the United States is even capable of doing anything to counter the Russian threat.

“If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,” Mr. Tillerson said in an interview last month with Fox News. “And we can take steps we can take, but this is something that once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it.”


Holy shit. I had held out hope for a while that Tillerson maybe had a sliver of integrity, that he might try to act in good faith, that he might not be compromised.

He's compromised. Someone has tied his hands, or someone is shoving cash into his hands, or both.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 4:01 PM on March 4 [19 favorites]


The voters failed, though the proof of the breadth and scope of their failure will not fit in the margins of this page.

The voters didn't fail; they elected Clinton. The voters were failed by the system again, and it's proof of that systemic failure that has the marginbusting breadth and scope.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:03 PM on March 4 [57 favorites]


Why wouldn't Mueller subpoena communications from the beginning of the campaign?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:05 PM on March 4


He's compromised. Someone has tied his hands, or someone is shoving cash into his hands, or both.

Are you implying that a man who Putin decorated with the Order of Friendship for his cooperation with Rosneft might be compromised?
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:09 PM on March 4 [47 favorites]


I would absolutely include our archaic electoral system as one of the things that failed as an institution, Don Pepino, but it didn't really fit into the theme of my comment since electoral systems can't have motives and thought processes about whether Trump has a chance to become President. Secondly, Trump is so manifestly unfit to be a human being let alone President that receiving 63,000,000 votes is a massive failure on the part of those voters. Plus the Aleppo and RussiaGreens voters. Plus the ones who stayed home for no good reason (not blaming disenfranchised voters here). Like I said, it was a failure from top to bottom.
posted by Justinian at 4:09 PM on March 4 [19 favorites]


“If it’s their intention to interfere, they’re going to find ways to do that,” Mr. Tillerson said in an interview last month with Fox News. “And we can take steps we can take, but this is something that once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it.”

Attaboy, Tillerson! That's the Can't-Do attitude that first made this country great, and is making it great again!
posted by perspicio at 4:10 PM on March 4 [27 favorites]


Why wouldn't Mueller subpoena communications from the beginning of the campaign?

Caveat Lector: This Axios leak is just a single subpoena from one witness from last month. Now I'm trying to remember everyone who was interviewed at that time—Steve Bannon, Mark Corallo, Sam Nunberg, who am I missing? In any case, Mueller's almost certainly not using a boilerplate.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:16 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


> "The left controls not only the universities in this country, but they also control Hollywood in this country, and the mainstream media, so conservatives in this country are under attack ... they attack people who are trying to get to the truth," the head of the House Intelligence Committee added.

It's funny: I keep misreading "Intelligence" as "Un-American Activities" here. Probably all those references to Cold War 2.0 going to my head or something.
posted by Westringia F. at 4:16 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


And going beyond that, Clinton's tenure at State was examined quite closely and nothing came out of that worth pursuing, so there's a higher bar than usual to clear (in a public-opinion sense) for justifying this. What's the justification?

Clinton is in fact a 2 on the corruption / scandal scale. She is not 6-8- but hey, she is a woman who ran for a man's job, which adds at least 3, I guess, and then there's both-sides which is good for another 2, is that how the math goes? Does sending email count?
posted by Dashy at 4:21 PM on March 4 [51 favorites]


That is, nobody except apparently Nate Silver actually managed to come to grips with the idea that hey people DONALD TRUMP IS CLOSE TO BECOMING PRESIDENT.

Michael Moore
posted by thelonius at 4:22 PM on March 4 [15 favorites]


At What Point Does Trump Simply Resign?

at no point - he's in too deep and any power he has to starve off the process or distract from it is from the office of the presidency - without that office, he will be at the utter mercy of others, even more than he is now

this isn't nth dimension chess, it's nth dimension texas hold em with a large amount of hole cards and flops to be seen - (and it might be possible to bolster a bad set of hole cards by drawing more, as this is nth dimensional)

first, he's got a bad set of hole cards and the odds are against him drawing better or winning with all the flop cards once they're turned over

second, it's a long, long, long game and he can drag it out by eliminating some of the players

third, he can bluff

fourth and most important - no one ever, ever won a hand of poker by dropping
posted by pyramid termite at 4:22 PM on March 4 [6 favorites]


It seems we were just talking about Rudy Giuliani laying low...
On Friday night, President Trump entertained around 250 Republican donors in his Mar-a-Lago ballroom. Spotted in the audience: Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen, who recently admitted to paying $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels.

The most shocking moment of the evening came when Trump brought his old pal Rudy Giuliani onto the stage. Giuliani told the crowd he had been down there for Trump's wedding.

"Hillary was also here," he said, according to two sources in the room, "and she actually fit through the door.”

The crowd gasped. I'm told Giuliani's wife gave him a "most foul look." Trump later told the audience: "I'm just glad I didn't say it."
posted by chris24 at 4:26 PM on March 4 [16 favorites]


David Atkins, Washington Monthly: At What Point Does Trump Simply Resign? Grifters like Trump don’t stick it out. They run and find a new con.

I still think that if he's out of power, Republican powers that be will ensure that he and his go to prison to shut his damn mouth. Or just have him whacked. And that he knows this.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:43 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


I think more important, Trump is stupid but not so stupid he's unaware of how vulnerable he'd be if he did quit. He burned a lot of money and time to become President, the sunk cost fallacy affects everyone. He hasn't had a chance yet to grift all he can from being President, and he probably has some debts that won't be serviced unless he holds the office for as long as he can.

More personally, Trump hates looking weak, and quitting would look very weak.

Plus, of course, quitting would up his chances of added polonium in his diet significantly and he's got to be aware of that no matter how dumb and senile he is.
posted by sotonohito at 4:48 PM on March 4 [2 favorites]


"electoral systems can't have motives"

Well, it was designed to give slavers a continued seat at the table, so there is a bit of a motive, surely?
posted by pdoege at 4:53 PM on March 4 [64 favorites]


And to follow up on the "Mitts". I'm not aware of any scandal that Hillary was actually involved in. Her IT guy set up a server, her husband got a blow job and lied about it, she stood by her idiot chief of staff, Obama didn't have the stones to stand up to McConnell, etc. .... Seems like a 1 Mitter to me.
posted by pdoege at 4:58 PM on March 4 [14 favorites]


That cattle futures trading thing was a little suspicious. Forty years and god knows how many shady Romney financial deals ago.
posted by LarsC at 5:04 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


On the scale of Arkansas good-old-boy crony politics, that’s a 2 for Hillary. Bill might get a 3 (though he gained more points over the years). Here in the Natural State, we grade that shit on a curve.
posted by box at 5:13 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


I… can't tell what Rudy intended with that joke on Hillary, a joke even Donald thought went too far. The usual thing they like to imply about her is frailty. So he swapped that schtick for… a fat joke? Which doesn't make sense? Or is it like, her pockets are full of Clinton Cash or something?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:19 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


So he swapped that schtick for… a fat joke? Which doesn't make sense? Or is it like, her pockets are full of Clinton Cash or something?

Like the rest of the creaking remnants of Giuliani's brain, his Republican misogyny is stuck in the late 80s-early 90s. The "Hillary Special" KFC joke is still in use and dates at least as far back as 1993.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:33 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


If Trump resigns, he loses that precious pardon power.
posted by octothorpe at 5:34 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


Democrats apparently can't find a candidate to run against Republican David Valadao, who's sitting in a Clinton +16 district (PVI D+5). Emilio Huerta, the only candidate running after his mother, labor rights icon Dolores Huerta, reportedly threatened other candidates to stay away, just dropped out. There's one other potential candidate, local engineer TJ Cox who may be running but hasn't yet filed candidacy papers in the district, with only 300k cash on hand, and who's website says he's running for a different district. The filing deadline is in 5 days, on March 9.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:07 PM on March 4 [18 favorites]


Why wouldn't Mueller subpoena communications from the beginning of the campaign?

The implication would seem to be that Mueller has information, which we don't know about, that Trump became compromised in November 2015. Like, Russia confronted him and gave him marching orders in a meeting then, or they'd reveal the pee tape.

OTOH, it could just be that the witness who shared their subpoena wasn't in a position to have anything before that date.
posted by msalt at 6:08 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


Either Melania is the honey pot or she knows nothing. Both are possible, neither really matter.

She could also be the translator, as she speaks 5 languages. Russian is not listed as one of them, but her parents were communist party officials and Slovenian is also a Slavic language, so it's not hard at all to imagine she has at least some fluency in Russian, or could translate in third language such as German.

Translators know all the things.
posted by msalt at 6:12 PM on March 4 [15 favorites]


That is, nobody except apparently Nate Silver actually managed to come to grips with the idea that hey people DONALD TRUMP IS CLOSE TO BECOMING PRESIDENT

Sarah Kendzior. Katy Tur (seriously, read her book)
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:41 PM on March 4 [14 favorites]


Is the "how many Mitts = a Clinton" discussion useful? I mean, whats the metrics? accusations, investigstions, convictions, maximum legal penalties, head count on evidence. This is just relitigating whether our gut memory of various headlines was "this is trumped up bs" or "where there's smoke there's fire." we have no new information, do we ? lets focus on the raging scandal that has nukes and conspired with a foriegn adversary.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 7:05 PM on March 4 [13 favorites]


ZeusHumms: "David Atkins, Washington Monthly: At What Point Does Trump Simply Resign? Grifters like Trump don’t stick it out. They run and find a new con."

Between ego, pardons and Putin, Trump can't quit.
posted by Mitheral at 7:38 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]




The NBC story seems to be the same as the Axios one, no?. As I read it, it's subpoenaing documents from a witness that include communications with Trump, not documents from Turmp directly.
posted by zachlipton at 8:18 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "Democrats apparently can't find a candidate to run against Republican David Valadao, who's sitting in a Clinton +16 district (PVI D+5). Emilio Huerta, the only candidate running after his mother, labor rights icon Dolores Huerta, reportedly threatened other candidates to stay away, just dropped out."

He was considered a very weak candidate. I'm not going to freak out just yet - with Dolores Huerta out of the picture, you may get a number of people interested.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:32 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


PA-18 special updates:

* Gravis has a poll out in the field, numbers back Tuesday. Gravis is an ehh pollster, but these are likely the last numbers we'll get (election is next Tuesday).

* National Journal: GOP Panic Spreads to Pennsylvania [missed opportunity to title it, "Panic On The Streets of Mt. Lebanon", if you ask me]

* Final Lamb ad is out. I think a) this is a very effective ad for his district, and b) makes clear why progressives in the new PA-17 are not super thrilled about Lamb possibly being the nominee here in the general).
posted by Chrysostom at 8:50 PM on March 4 [13 favorites]


Let's hope so, but someone credible needs to file to run like, tomorrow. It'd be the most Democrat thing ever to somehow be unable to even run a canidate in a Democratic leaning district when every single seat matters for retaking control of the House.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:51 PM on March 4 [12 favorites]


Sure. But the vibe I've gotten is that there were a number of interested folks who got scared off by Huerta. They have a couple of days to take the plunge.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:55 PM on March 4


Further TX primary early vote breakdown. Comparing 2014 to 2018 voter shares:

* Women: 51% => 56%
* Black: 5.6% => 9.1%
* Hispanic: 16% => 21%
* White men: 38% => 30%
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 PM on March 4 [109 favorites]


Chrysostom, those numbers are what the Alt-Right fears and lashes out against, may it be their ruin.

Also thank you for all you post here.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 9:08 PM on March 4 [37 favorites]


Guess Who's Not Coming To America? International Students

That is probably all for the best under the circumstances.

At What Point Does Trump Simply Resign? Grifters like Trump don’t stick it out. They run and find a new con.

I wish, but that would be "losing." He will seriously declare himself president for life. He's even said it now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:31 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


Guess Who's Not Coming To America? International Students

That is probably all for the best under the circumstances.


I mean, for THEM, maybe. But not if you work at a university, or live in a university town, or depend on a business that depends on students...
posted by threeturtles at 9:51 PM on March 4 [24 favorites]


AP, DACA deadline arrives with diminished urgency. As a court ruling gives Congress an excuse to continue to do fuck all, there's another shutdown looming on March 23rd if there's no spending deal.

WaPo, Trump says American workers are hurt by immigration. But after ICE raided this Texas town, they never showed up. In which a meat processor finds refugees to do the job following a massive immigration raid.
posted by zachlipton at 9:56 PM on March 4 [26 favorites]


I'm very well aware of that lack of cash cow issues if international students don't come here. But for their own safety in America, I can't say I'd recommend coming to the US to anyone any more. Not for school, not for tourism.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:58 PM on March 4 [10 favorites]


WaPo, Trump says American workers are hurt by immigration. But after ICE raided this Texas town, they never showed up

"Corbin voted for Trump, but he does not agree with the president when he says the country needs a merit-based immigration system favoring those with advanced skills."

They buried it at the end this time, but it's always there. Every. Single. Time.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:18 PM on March 4 [36 favorites]


Speaking of Katy Tur and Mueller: JUST IN: Mueller subpoenas documents from Trump, numerous campaign associates

That tweet was deleted and the story was updated:

1) The headline on an earlier version of this article misstated the recipient of Mueller's subpoena. The subpoena seeking all documents involving President Trump and a host of his closest advisers was given to a witness, not to the president himself. The story itself was correct.

2) [Corrected headline] Special counsel wants documents involving President Trump and numerous campaign associates http://nbcnews.to/2FfDaxU

So, yeah, it looks like NBC news got their own copy of that same subpoena.
posted by msalt at 11:08 PM on March 4 [17 favorites]


from the ICE article

Many of the industry’s processing plants are located in remote, rural areas of Midwestern states where employers in nearly every industry are struggling to find qualified workers, especially job candidates who will not test “hot” for drugs.

part of the problem of not being able to find american workers is there's only so many in a rural location and few are going to want to relocate there to try to get a job

they'd have better luck if they built the plants in the cities - but less control over the workforce
posted by pyramid termite at 2:38 AM on March 5 [9 favorites]


Texas Democrat's Underdog Bid To Unseat Ted Cruz Picks Up Momentum

In any other year, I'd be sceptical of his chances but so far this year seems very different.
posted by octothorpe at 4:39 AM on March 5 [32 favorites]




The New Yorker's profile of Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier has its share of bombshells, this scoop about Steele's last memo is devastating:
One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney’s run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President.

As fantastical as the memo sounds, subsequent events could be said to support it. In a humiliating public spectacle, Trump dangled the post before Romney until early December, then rejected him. [...] In any case, on December 13, 2016, Trump gave Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of ExxonMobil, the job. The choice was a surprise to most, and a happy one in Moscow, because Tillerson’s business ties with the Kremlin were long-standing and warm. (In 2011, he brokered a historic partnership between ExxonMobil and Rosneft.) After the election, Congress imposed additional sanctions on Russia, in retaliation for its interference, but Trump and Tillerson have resisted enacting them.
The article glosses over some of Steele's errors, such as the Guccifer 2.0 release timeline, but more and more, Steele's coming out ahead of his critics.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:50 AM on March 5 [99 favorites]


pyramid termite they'd have better luck if they built the plants in the cities - but less control over the workforce

That's the big thing.

Every headline about how employers can't find qualified employees needs to have the words "at the wages and conditions offered" inserted.

There's no labor shortage. There's a shortage of people willing to do really horrible shitty jobs for really low shitty wages. If they'd either make the job less horrible or pay a premium "this job sucks" fee they'd be able to find employees.

But they want to be located in the middle of nowhere, so employees have no other options and have to stick with the job no matter how horrible it is or how low the wages are, and so employees are isolated, can't see better jobs or better working conditions, and won't agitate for change.

That's why they're increasingly turning to prison labor or bogus "drug treatment programs" that really just funnel them what amounts to slave labor.
posted by sotonohito at 6:51 AM on March 5 [109 favorites]


The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria.

According to Sarah Kendzior before they settled on Tillerson as Secretary of State Dana Rohrbacher was in the running.
posted by PenDevil at 7:02 AM on March 5 [16 favorites]


If Trump supplied information that somehow got an agent or asset killed, is that manslaughter? Or even actual constitutional treason?
posted by lumnar at 7:04 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


More Democratic names linked to supporting the Banking Lobbyist Act to repeal Dodd-Frank:

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

That would be 17 Democratic votes to deregulate Wall Street again on the 10th anniversary of causing the worst financial crisis since 1929.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:06 AM on March 5 [30 favorites]


Democrats apparently can't find a candidate to run against Republican David Valadao ... There's one other potential candidate, local engineer TJ Cox who may be running but hasn't yet filed candidacy papers in the district...

More on TJ's hopping from one race to another: Cox Upends CA-10, Switches to CA-21. The move was prompted not only by Huerta's withdrawal, but also by the late entry into the CD-10 race by Michael Eggman, who was beaten by the Republican incumbent in the last two cycles. Ballotpedia has details on the district's recent electoral history and the current crowd of candidates.
posted by ogooglebar at 7:08 AM on March 5


Here's a WaPo explainer on the elements of treason -- it's reasonably narrow. In short, it requires some kind of declared or open and active war.

Note that misprison of treason (knowing failure to report it) is also a crime, although misprison is one of those sort of vestigial crimes that's hardly ever charged.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:14 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


NYT: Audio Recordings Prove Russian Meddling in U.S. Election, Escort Says

A Belarusian escort with close ties to a powerful Russian oligarch said from behind bars in Bangkok on Monday that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian meddling in United States elections. The escort, Anastasia Vashukevich, said she would hand over the recordings [lordy] if the United States granted her asylum. [...] “If America gives me protection, I will tell everything I know,” Ms. Vashukevich said on Monday. “I am afraid to go back to Russia. Some strange things can happen.

They sure can.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:15 AM on March 5 [25 favorites]


Affirmative asylum applications are made to the DHS. So....good luck with that.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:19 AM on March 5 [9 favorites]


Priebus and Christie were on This Week with George Stephanopolis yesterday, heavily hinting that Jared and Ivanka should get out of the White House:
STEPHANOPOULOS: This is following, most heavily now, Christ Christie, on Jared Kushner. What a week he had. Loses his top secret clearance, series of stories about these meetings with the bankers, his vulnerability to foreign blackmail. At the end of the week, this report about one month after his father met with the finance minister of Qatar was refused some financing, Jared Kushner organizing actions -- diplomatic actions against Qatar.

Does he have to go? Is he still well serving the president?

CHRISTIE: Well listen, the president’s going to have to make that judgment. And this is most particularly sensitive because it’s a family member. And this is why lots of --

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s part of the problem.

CHRISTIE: Well, of course. And that’s what I was going to say, George, that -- that the situation is made much worse by the fact that we have family members in the White House. It makes it much more difficult. And there were (ph) many of us who counseled the president -- and not just about Jared, but about any other members of his family having official positions. Not because they weren’t competent or qualified or that the president didn’t trust them, but because when circumstances come up that the president couldn’t have been aware of -- and in a normal situation, you might terminate a staff member for that reason. Becomes a lot more difficult if you’re going to be sitting at Thanksgiving dinner with that person. And so for Jared and for Ivanka and for all the other members of the family we were involved in one way or the other, I think everybody’s got to focus on what’s best for the president.
The withered stump of establishment republicans has the knives out.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:23 AM on March 5 [21 favorites]


The housing crisis was in 2007, not 2008.

(pedant)
posted by Yowser at 7:26 AM on March 5


> Why wouldn't Mueller subpoena communications from the beginning of the campaign?

Caveat Lector: This Axios leak is just a single subpoena from one witness from last month. Now I'm trying to remember everyone who was interviewed at that time—Steve Bannon, Mark Corallo, Sam Nunberg, who am I missing? In any case, Mueller's almost certainly not using a boilerplate.


Sarah Kendzior ID's Mark Corallo on the Mueller subpoena: "In terms of a timeline, it matches Michael Caputo, who joined the Trump campaign in Nov 2015 and has contacts with everyone on that list." And "Caputo left the campaign before Pence was picked, so this kind of backs up my theory. But I'm of course only guessing about Caputo; there are a couple others I think it could be too. As for Pence, he had better be on another list..."

According to Sarah Kendzior before they settled on Tillerson as Secretary of State Dana Rohrbacher was in the running.

Rohrbacher openly declared, on Twitter, of course, that Trump was considering him for Secretary of State. It's horrible to contemplate that Trump could have picked a more obvious Putin stooge than Tillerson, but there it is.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:45 AM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Trump Org Ordered Golf Course Markers With The Presidential Seal

Walter Shaub:
“Whoever knowingly displays any printed...likeness of the...seals of the President...in...any advertisement...or on any building... in a manner reasonably calculated to convey...approval by the Government...shall be fined...or imprisoned not more than six months” 18 U.S.C. § 713
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:05 AM on March 5 [97 favorites]


"In terms of a timeline, it matches Michael Caputo, who joined the Trump campaign in Nov 2015 and has contacts with everyone on that list."
And who moved to Russia in 94, assisted Yeltsin's successful campaign, worked for Gazprom, and has advised political campaigns in both the Ukraine, and NY (Paladino).
Schiff wants Caputo's House Intel testimony released.
posted by rc3spencer at 8:07 AM on March 5 [9 favorites]


Juicy tidbit from that golf course marker story - Even Trumps Coat of Arms is stolen from someone else. Of course the Integrity was the one thing he didn't take.
posted by achrise at 8:12 AM on March 5 [10 favorites]


Here's a WaPo explainer on the elements of treason -- it's reasonably narrow. In short, it requires some kind of declared or open and active war.

Yeah. We've been over this about 1000 times since these POTUS45 threads started, but once more with feeling: even if they found a contract titled "An Agreement between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to Collude in the 2016 election in order to exchange mutual benefits to each other" (half in english, half in squiqqly), that was signed and counter signed and witnessed and also we had a video of the meeting where they signed the contract, and recordings of conversations where they talked about how well their collusion was going (just great collusion. fantastic. the best), none of this would amount to a charge of treason, because we're not at war with Russia.
posted by dis_integration at 8:23 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


Big wins for Russia in the Italian Elections.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]




also, isn't an investigation the thing you do to obtain proof of wrongdoing?
posted by murphy slaw at 8:32 AM on March 5 [22 favorites]


none of this would amount to a charge of treason

So fucking what?

“Treason” has meaning beyond the legal definition, and it’s obtuse and disingenuous to suggest otherwise. It means betrayal. It means, in a fundamental sense, that you have allied with a foreign power against your own countrymen, because you have already decided that your own countrymen are your enemy.

The Trump campaign, and the Republican Party, have betrayed us all. They are treasonous, even if we can’t prosecute them for the crime because the statute was written at a time when people still did things like formally declare war according to the Marquess of Dueling rules or whatever the fuck.

They have still betrayed their country to a foreign power in pursuit of power. They are traitors.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:33 AM on March 5 [74 favorites]


Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling.

But I heard somewhere that he started an investigation into the Trump Campaign
posted by theodolite at 8:34 AM on March 5 [51 favorites]


Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling.

I heard that he imposed more sanctions and also directly told Putin: we know what you are doing, cut it out.
posted by thelonius at 8:37 AM on March 5 [34 favorites]


also, isn't an investigation the thing you do to obtain proof of wrongdoing?
Originally, yes. But in modern republican parlance it's something that allows you to schedule televised hearings where you make sinister-sounding but never specific insinuations about political opponents in order to convince your base that "where there's smoke there's fire."

Trump is, in my opinion, trying to consciously confuse two different meanings here but it should be obvious to anyone but rabid partisans that there is a huge and salient difference between an "investigation" that was so discreet we never heard confirmation of it before the election (when it might actually have accomplished the purpose Trump claims was its raison d'etre) and the highly-public Benghazi circus pursued by Congressional republicans to successfully tar the presumptive presidential nominee of their opposing party with whatever taint of scandal they could manage, even if nobody can explain exactly what the malfeasance was supposed to have been.

It's really galling to me that, having debased the very concept of investigating, that they are now attempting to use that in Trump's defense.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:43 AM on March 5 [12 favorites]


Regarding the work that others don't want to do, there's also home health care -- U.S. Immigration Policy Threatens Shake-Up In Home Health Business (NPR, March 5, 2018)

It's a workforce of about 3 million people who help older adults remain in their homes. They assist these clients with things like bathing, dressing, and taking medication on time.

About a quarter of these workers are immigrants. But as Congress and the White House consider changes to immigration policy, some people in the home care industry worry that there won't be enough people to care for the nation's growing number of elders.

This story focuses on a class in Albuquerque (New Mexico, represent!), taught entirely in Spanish. All of the students are immigrants, mostly from Mexico, and not all are here legally.
That's not just a theoretical concern for Sherwin Sheik. He's the founder and CEO of a company called CARELINX, which he describes as a cross between Uber and Match.com for connecting home care workers with clients.

"It takes a very special person to want to do these jobs," Sheik says. "They tend to be immigrants. If we have tighter policies, it's going to impact the industry, without a doubt."

The nation's rapidly aging population has made personal care assistants and home health aides (who have more specialized training around health issues) the fastest growing low-skilled occupations in the U.S.

But Steven Camerota isn't worried about a shortage in home care workers. He's the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restrictions on immigration. He points out that, despite the growing immigrant workforce, three-quarters of the people currently providing home care were born in the U.S.

There's no mystery to what it would take to increase that percentage, says Camerota. "Raise wages. Treat workers better."
Hahahahahaha ... ohohohoho ...
Home care workers sometimes make as little as $10 an hour. At the same time, he says, "we have an enormous supply of less-educated [American citizens] currently not working who could easily fill these jobs if employers treat them reasonably well."
Ohohohoho ... hahahaha ... sorry. You were saying? Oh right, immigration hawks say "just pay people better and you'd get more applicant!" Good luck with that one. Say, have you met the techbro who wants to drive down worker wages? His 2015 championing of a $15 minimum wage still sounds like a steal for home health care, and not enough to entice less-educated American citizens to a really physically, mentally demanding job. And it doesn't look like CareLinx is leading the charge in higher wages, according to Glassdoor's record of salaries.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:43 AM on March 5 [27 favorites]


The (early) blue wave in Texas is getting some (more) national attention: Ahead Of Texas Primary, Early Signs Of A 2018 Democratic Surge (NPR, March 4, 2018)
Texas's primary brings the first actual voting in the 2018 midterm cycle, giving both parties a chance for a more concrete measure ahead of November's elections. Early signs of such a swell in a bulwark red state could be an even more ominous sign for Republicans nationally this fall if it's borne out by Tuesday's results.
...
After the last day of early voting on Friday, the Cook Political Report's David Wasserman found that in the top 15 counties in the state, the Democratic early vote had spiked 105 percent over 2014 numbers. On the Republican side, there had been only a 15 percent uptick.
...
It's not just an uptick in Democratic voters happening in Texas, but an increase in candidates putting their names on the ballot, too. Democrats are fielding a modern-day record number of candidates across the state. There are 111 U.S. House candidates running for the minority party, and they are spread across all 36 Texas congressional districts — the first time that's happened in 25 years, and a departure from two years ago when Democrats didn't run candidates in eight seats.

On a state legislative level, Democrats have candidates in 132 of the 150 state House districts and in 14 of the 15 state Senate districts up for election this year. That includes four Senate districts where Democrats didn't field candidates in 2014 or 2012, and 20 new House districts where they didn't have candidates in either 2016, 2014 or 2012.
I'm sad that Dems aren't running in all the races, but this is still great.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on March 5 [18 favorites]


thelonius: MI heard that he imposed more sanctions and also directly told Putin: we know what you are doing, cut it out.

Sanctions that were excessive because Russia did NOTHING wrong! Coulda been China or someone in a basement! It's a witch hunt! Also, speaking of Russia and NOTHING: Obama did NOTHING to stop Russia! Putin (who is innocent because I asked him and he said so) is laughing at us all now, for not stopping his evil scheme! His laughter sounds incredible because he's a wonderful person and America's best friend! Electoral college! Watergate!
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:52 AM on March 5 [15 favorites]


Junior, Kushner, and Manafort meeting with Russian Criminals was not treason, the crime, but it was certainly treasonous , the adjective .
posted by mikelieman at 8:52 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


And looping back to tariffs and possible/likely trade wars: Economist Ned Hill Looks At Potential Impacts Of Tariffs On Steel-Producing States (NPR, March 2, 2018)
SHAPIRO: We're talking about manufacturers of steel and aluminum. But there are other big manufacturing plants that use steel and aluminum, whether it's GE or car companies. What's this going to do to them?

HILL: For Ohio, it will be devastating. One of the largest manufacturing employers in the state is GE jet engines down in Evendale. So what that will do - it will increase the cost of their jet engine compared to Rolls-Royce, and you'll see the market shift. The backwash effects will be huge.

SHAPIRO: You're an economist who studies manufacturing. You spend all day every day thinking about these issues. For some of the blue-collar workers in these plants, do you think there is an appropriate level of skepticism, or are they celebrating that this is going to mean a return of American steel and aluminum, whether or not that's what it actually turns out to be?

HILL: It depends how close they are to their retirements. If they're going to retire in the next two to three years, they should be doing high fives and dancing in the streets. If they're part of the new, young group of workers who are coming into the plants because the plants have been hiring for the past two and a half years, their life just got a lot dicier because if you look 30 years out, you can look forward to recession and look forward to a trade war.

SHAPIRO: Tell me more about the potential trade war here. We're talking specifically about aluminum and steel, but Ohio exports a lot of other things, agricultural products. Do you think other countries might retaliate in ways that would harm those exports?

HILL: Oh, I think it's inevitable. Agriculture is still a very important part of Ohio. Corn exports and soybean exports are critical. And if we put a large tariff on Canadian or Mexican steel, and they retaliate with a tariff on agricultural products knowing that Argentina and Brazil, our competitor, can fill the hole, all of a sudden you blow a hole in the inner important part of the economy of the state. I think of this as the president doing a cannonball into the low end of a swimming pool. The water's going to go everywhere, and you just don't know where it's going to hit.
The question is how fast will this all hit US economies, and how quickly can it be fixed, post Trump or with a blue wave in 2018?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:53 AM on March 5 [15 favorites]


Big wins for Russia in the Italian Elections.

While this grim news definitely warrants its own FPP, it's worth keeping in mind that Bannon is a big fan of the far-right Forza Italia, and Matteo Salvini, Forza Italia's leader, is a big fan of Trump.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:56 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I read through Jane Mayer's New Yorker profile of Christopher Steele (linked above by Doktor Zed). It is long but very good. In addition to the big scoop regarding the new, late-Nov-2016, Steele memo about Romney, there were a few other things I hadn't heard before (or had forgotten):
  • Steele made first contact with the FBI agents in London on July 5, 2016 and shared his dossier memo (according to dates on the Dossier, this would have just been the first memo). An ongoing theme of the profile is Steele wondering why nothing was done over the summer and fall, and then finding other ways to get it out (first to the government, then the public). Steele met again with the FBI in late October, in Rome.
  • The Clinton Campaign wasn't notified of Steele's contact with the FBI by Fusion GPS --- as Glenn Simpson noted in his testimony to the Senate: "This was not considered by me to be part of the work we were doing. This was like you’re driving to work and you see something happen and you call 911". They only learned of the FBI investigation after Steele made contact with Mother Jones in late October.
  • Steele's raw intelligence memos were passed from his firm Orbis to Fusion GPS, which then orally briefed Marc Elias, of the DNC/Clinton law firm Perkins Coie. Information seemed to be getting through quickly, however, since almost immediately after Steele's late-July memo1, Robby Mooks was on CNN (July 24, 2016) saying: "experts [CrowdStrike?] are telling us Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and other experts [Steele?] are now saying that the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of actually of helping Donald Trump"
  • Steele claims to have never provided the Dossier to journalists (some journalists who met with Steele in September and October 2016 confirm this). The most likely chain by which the Dossier became public is through a former aide to John McCain, David Kramer, who was sent to London by McCain after Steele requested a meeting with McCain in mid-November 2016. Kramer met with Steele in London and was then given a copy of the Dossier when he returned to Washington, after promising to share it only with McCain. "A lawyer for Kramer maintains that Kramer ... never promised to show the dossier only to McCain."
  • David Kramer reportedly had hoped McCain would confront Trump with the Dossier and force him to resign (Kramer denies this). Instead McCain met briefly with James Comey in early December 2016 and delivered the Dossier to him, which, of course, he already had.
  • The murder of Oleg Erovinkin on December 26, 2016 has been widely claimed to be connected to the Steele Dossier, but Mayer claims "Special Counsel Mueller is believed to be investigating a different death that is possibly related to the dossier."
  • Although Steele had been providing his dossier memos to the FBI since July 2016, Obama and Biden were not told about him or the Dossier until January 5, 2017, when the FBI and intelligence heads briefed them on the upcoming report on Russia meddling. Biden responded “If this is true, this is huge!”. Comey's briefing of Trump was the next day.
1 --- This memo, #95, was undated in the Steele dossier, but appeared between entries dated 19Jul and 30Jul. The New Yorker article claims a date of 26Jul, but that would place it after Mook's appearance on CNN.
posted by pjenks at 8:57 AM on March 5 [37 favorites]


Regarding the 4 most likely outcomes piece linked above... it says that the presidency is effectively over if Trump and/or his closest advisors are charged with felonies.

Is it though? Republicans will just shrug this off. What happens next?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:58 AM on March 5 [14 favorites]


Say, have you met the techbro who wants to drive down worker wages? His 2015 championing of a $15 minimum wage still sounds like a steal for home health care, and not enough to entice less-educated American citizens to a really physically, mentally demanding job.

I'm confused, it looks to me like that article is supporting a SEIU effort calling for home health care workers wages to increase, from the current average of $11/hr to $15/hr, so that the industry norm is to pay it's workers fairly and have labor costs reflected in the market prices, rather than having the health care providers competing with each other to cut prices by slashing worker pay.
posted by Reverend John at 8:59 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Doktor Zed, what did you mean by this:
... some of Steele's errors, such as the Guccifer 2.0 release timeline
I'm not familiar with the timeline error.
posted by pjenks at 9:01 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


some of Steele's errors, such as the Guccifer 2.0 release timeline

This is one of Marcy Wheeler's criticisms of the Steele Dossier:
One reason all this matters is because of the way Mayer ignores the same thing every other Steele booster did: the release of Democratic documents by Guccifer 2.0 on June 15. Mayer, like all the other boosters, jumps immediately from the (erroneous) WaPo reporting on the DNC hack to the WikiLeaks release.[...]

As I’ve noted, repeatedly, the first Steele report, dated June 20 and so completed on the same day Guccifer 2.0 promised to release a “dossier” of his own on Clinton, describes the dirt Russians were peddling as old FSB intercepts, not recent hacked emails. The Steele report remained way behind public contemporaneous reporting on the hack-and-leak, and by jumping right to Wikileaks, boosters avoid dealing with several more reports that conflicted with known public facts.

So Guccifer 2.0 not only proves Steele’s sources were at best misinformed about the opera