Reminder: Nunberg was less than a Scaramucci ago
March 8, 2018 8:06 AM   Subscribe

It seems very fitting that Merriam-Webster chose this week to add "dumpster fire" to the dictionary.
Some of the choice chunks of flaming refuse today:
  • Mother Jones releases its first excerpt of Michael Isikoff and David Corn's upcoming book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump .
  • The WaPo discovers that Erik Prince may have misspoken about the reasons for his January 2017 vacation in the Seychelles.
  • Hope Hicks has some email trouble.
  • As questions swirl around his NDA with adult film entrepreneur Stormy Daniels, the president is less than pleased with his press secretary's handling of the isssue.
  • The president has expressed mild interest in the discussions his staff have been having with the special counsel.
  • posted by murphy slaw (2072 comments total) 115 users marked this as a favorite
     
    Because I'm not sure if it went to the last politics thread, I want to toss in this link, and also to thank Governor Inslee.

    Link

    My father passed away some six weeks ago from health complications related to his time at Hanford, and while his situation was taken care of well by DoE, not all health problems related to it have been.

    So thank you, Governor Inslee, on behalf of my father, and his coworkers.
    posted by Archelaus at 8:10 AM on March 8 [39 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 8:12 AM on March 8 [34 favorites]


    The Hicks email thing is certainly interesting, mostly because Trump has publicly proclaimed over the years that he personally doesn't use email.

    If Hicks was sending and receiving DJT email traffic for him, you have to wonder what was stolen from Hicks' account.
    posted by JoeZydeco at 8:14 AM on March 8 [18 favorites]


    [Official reminder: help keep these threads information-dense and not a headache to moderate. If you haven't read that MetaTalk, give it a go; if you have but not recently, give it another skim. Life's weird these days, we're all in this together, I love you all, and don't make me turn this car around.]
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 AM on March 8 [123 favorites]


    I can't believe for real this Russia nonsense is going to come back to us Malaysians, not just via 1MDB (that investment arm that the DOJ is investigating), but also with the downing of MH17 over Ukraine. I strongly suspect it was through this Broidy guy was how my PM's wife got in touch with Putin (she was taking credit over the change of attitude of allowing international investigators into the crash site)
    posted by cendawanita at 8:19 AM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    This is fascinating in light of Jane Mayer's report. WSJ, Rob Barry and Shelby Holliday, Russian Trolls Tried to Torpedo Mitt Romney’s Shot at Secretary of State
    Romney for Secretary of State! #NeverRomney,” wrote the Twitter account USA_Gunslinger on Nov. 25 to its then more than 26,000 followers. Around that time, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Mr. Romney had been “nothing but awful” to Mr. Trump during the campaign, and tweeted that she was getting a “deluge” of negative comments about him from Trump loyalists.

    The Russian front accounts tried to do more than just spread messages on social media.

    One group, “Being Patriotic,” which earlier purchased pro-Trump advertisements on Facebook, encouraged people to gather outside Trump Tower in New York City and protest Mr. Romney’s possible nomination, according to an event listing linked to the group.

    “We did NOT fight this hard to get backstabbing Romney as Secretary of State! He will run it like the Clinton Foundation!” the event post said.
    ...
    Most of the posts about Mr. Tillerson in the Journal’s analysis were repetitions of news reports, though a scattering of Russian accounts voiced a positive opinion about the formerly “dark horse” candidate. “Trump to name Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State! Good! #NeverRomney,” wrote the Twitter account ELEVEN_GOP on Dec. 10.
    This appears to be based off their own analysis of social media posts from accounts that were taken down after being identified as propaganda accounts, rather than the usual sloppy Hamilton 68 reporting (that site didn't exist at the time either).
    posted by zachlipton at 8:22 AM on March 8 [33 favorites]


    Finding Common Threads In Trump Cabinet Members' 'Unethical Behavior' (NPR, March 7, 2018)

    A weird piece that both catalogs a number of ethics issues with Trump appointees who abuse tax payer funds (naming Ben Carson and Tom Price, former Cabinet secretary of Health and Human Services), but then interviews Elizabeth Sanders, a political scientist at Cornell University, who says these sort of ethics violations come up in every administration, only to cite ... Ronald Reagan. Yes, there have been federal political scandals in every past presidency (helpful Wikipedia list), but Trump is worse in the scope and scale, as well as in their casual dismissal of these issues as even being issues.

    Sanders said "Is Trump worse than others? I think he's different because the scandals are more related to the incompetence and venality, one might say, of people that he brought in." Regarding Reagan, Sanders noted that after there was public backlash, "He appointed people who were not only competent but who had experience and who didn't have personal interests in conflict with the agencies they were heading." As if Trump might be like Reagan and come along and appoint qualified, non-conflicted people at some point in the future. This is after a year of record turn-overs, with a president who said "I like conflict" after denying that the West Wing was in chaos.

    Peter Overby, with NPR, went on to say about Trump's administration
    One common thread of these current scandals is a sense of privilege. Federal officials are supposed to fly coach whenever possible, not first class and certainly not charter. And they're not allowed to bill the government for pleasure trips as Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin tried to do. This leads to the other common thread - a tendency to say, my staff did it.
    They also interview Ethics consultant Susan Liautaud, who notes "The more dangerous part is that not only does unethical behavior spread, but it mutates into other forms of unethical behavior."

    THIS is my biggest fear - that ethics breaches become the norm, and get worse.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:25 AM on March 8 [90 favorites]


    @AJentleson (Former DCoS for Harry Reid)
    On this Seychelles meeting where Erik Prince acted as a conduit for Trump:

    The server connecting the Trump Organization with Russia ran through a company owned by Betsy Devos’ husband.

    Erik is Betsy’s brother.

    Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore, does it?
    posted by chris24 at 8:28 AM on March 8 [105 favorites]


    The Associated Press's Jill Colvin @colvinj, last night—"An update on the Nunberg will-he, won’t-he drama: He says he’s now compiled all the docs Mueller asked for, tells me, 'It ended up not being as onerous as I thought it would be.'"

    This was of course after his mentor Roger Stone was invited to NBC for an interview with Chuck Todd, during which he insisted, "I didn't ask Sam Nunberg to protect me. I don't think I require any protection." Later, in a statement, he declared, "I don't know what Donald Trump knew about the WikiLeaks disclosures regarding Hillary or the DNC if anything and who he learned it from if anyone."

    So, the end result of Nunberg's Monday meltdown is that he's completed Mueller's request for his e-mails and made Roger Stone seem reliable and reasonable by comparison...
    posted by Doktor Zed at 8:28 AM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    Trump donor Eliott Broidy discussed setting up a consulting contract with Jho Low a Malaysian on the run who has just had his 250 million dollar yacht siezed.
    This blossoming scandal also features white house visitor and Trump hotel guest Najib Razak
    posted by adamvasco at 8:38 AM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    Pelosi swung and missed on Stormy Daniels: "I’m more concerned about the president’s policies," she says. Adds that she doesn't think Democrats need to get involved, but says "you can be sure" that if it were a Democratic president doing this, Republicans would be "very involved."

    Problem is, it's not about the affair. It's the fact that he's open to blackmail, paying hush money, FEC issues, and sketchy legal maneuvers. And his behavior with Clifford broadly helps corroborate the stories of Jessica Drake and Summer Zervos, who report non-consensual harassment and assault at the same location around the same time period. I understand Pelosi not wanting to fan the fires and completely turn this into a partisan issue, but if everybody would stop snickering at "porn star," there are serious problems here.
    posted by zachlipton at 8:40 AM on March 8 [107 favorites]


    I don't think this made Roger Stone seem reliable or reasonable.

    I think Nunberg just splashed a huge bucket of collusion and flop-sweat all over his mentor. Stone is not some sort of Machiavellian genius playing 9-dimensional chess. Most people weren't even thinking about Stone until Nunberg spent all of Monday dumping out his purse all over the news networks.

    If Stone were smart, he would have told Nunberg to shut the fuck up and keep his name out of his mouth.
    posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:41 AM on March 8 [16 favorites]


    Trump donor Eliott Broidy discussed setting up a consulting contract with Jho Low a Malaysian on the run who has just had his 250 million dollar yacht siezed.
    This blossoming scandal also features white house visitor and Trump hotel guest Najib Razak

    Don't forget, if you're talking about that lot, that will have to also involve the Trump Tower in Vancouver!
    posted by cendawanita at 8:41 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore, does it?

    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." (Henry David Thoreau)
    posted by thelonius at 8:46 AM on March 8 [46 favorites]


    I suspect that this whole Stormy Daniels NDA is going to become a part of contract law curriculum in the not so distant future in law school. What a hot mess.
    posted by azpenguin at 8:50 AM on March 8 [16 favorites]


    cendanita i see Adam Khan was all over that - Trump Tower Vancouver is funded by a Malaysian tycoon Tiah–who was implicated in stock fraud–his son was told to woo Ivanka to seal the deal.
    posted by adamvasco at 8:53 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    I don't think this made Roger Stone seem reliable or reasonable.

    I think Nunberg just splashed a huge bucket of collusion and flop-sweat all over his mentor. Stone is not some sort of Machiavellian genius playing 9-dimensional chess. Most people weren't even thinking about Stone until Nunberg spent all of Monday dumping out his purse all over the news networks.

    If Stone were smart, he would have told Nunberg to shut the fuck up and keep his name out of his mouth.


    I agree. This isn't a chess move. These are not brilliant tacticians, and I think Democrats and anti-Trumpers don't do ourselves any favors by seeing subtle, chess-y, headfake-y moves rather than taking things at face value until proven otherwise. If Sam Nunberg was doing some high-level "let's fake 'em out" move then he's given the finest professional actors a run for their money and has missed his calling.

    I think Nunberg just had a public Bring Me My Brown Pants! moment. This was a man who was freaking the fuck out on TV because he was going to have to face the music.

    I believe we demoralize ourselves by attributing massive genius and tactical skills to our opponents. People were screaming "ratfuck!" when Al Franken's first accuser came forward - nope, It Happened. "Headfake!" when the first travel bans were announced - nope, it was a travel ban and largely stymied due to protests. What you see is really what you get with these people.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:54 AM on March 8 [72 favorites]


    The Banking Lobbyist Act Democrats are helping Trump pass keeps getting worse:

    SENATE CLAIMS TO FIX ITS WALL STREET BILL, BUT A LOOK AT THE TEXT SAYS IT’S STILL A GIVEAWAY
    The last-minute moves were made partially in an attempt to insulate lawmakers from criticism about giveaways to big banks. But more alterations are likely, because House Financial Services Committee chair Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has demanded his imprint on the final product, in the form of a load of deregulatory bills that the House has approved over the past year.

    “We’re up to four dozen bills that we’re expecting to be included in the final package,” Hensarling told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. Those could be tucked into a final manager’s amendment to the Senate bill, without much advance warning, and put on the floor before senators have had a chance to read or analyze it. “[Hensarling’s] going to get a bunch of bills he can crow about,” said one financial services lobbyist working on the bill.
    Not only are at least 12 and possibly 17 or more Democrats helping Trump repeal Dodd-Frank, they’re also giving away a wishlist of other financial deregulation bills none of them have seen or read, or the public has seen. Just a tour de force of Democratic selling out. You literally could not write a more stereotypical caricature of Democratic cravenness.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 8:56 AM on March 8 [39 favorites]


    People were screaming "ratfuck!" when Al Franken's first accuser came forward

    Still screaming this, more now that Roger Stone and emails to Roger Stone have popped up.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:56 AM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    Pelosi swung and missed on Stormy Daniels

    how, exactly? she was asked a question and appeared to give a reasonable answer. I don't think the Democrats should be sucking all the air out of the room by demanding PORN STAR HUSH MONEY hearings. just a friendly reminder that every time a Democrat opens her mouth we don't need to frame it as incompetence and failure thx
    posted by prize bull octorok at 8:56 AM on March 8 [71 favorites]


    > Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore, does it?

    You could go back and post this comment multiple times in every Trump-related thread since the very first one and it would always fit.
    posted by The Card Cheat at 8:57 AM on March 8 [25 favorites]


    Sanders said "Is Trump worse than others? I think he's different because the scandals are more related to the incompetence and venality, one might say, of people that he brought in."

    Well, I think he's different because this is the first time in US history that the leadership of both the executive and legislative branches have ceded the US government and its decision making to the influence of a foreign power.

    But what she said was also right. We can both be right on this one.
    posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 8:58 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    Regarding the Stormy Daniels NDA, is there a breakdown anywhere online which explains whether it is likely to be voided by the court? My google fu is failing me.
    posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on March 8


    "Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk." (Henry David Thoreau)

    This means the dairy farmer watered down the milk by dipping the bucket in a stream in case you were wondering and didn't want to wander off googling it (I just wandered for you).
    posted by srboisvert at 9:01 AM on March 8 [184 favorites]


    WaPo, Greg Sargent, How Trump’s big mouth accidentally undermined his case for tariffs:
    The administration is defending Trump’s unilateral action on the tariffs — which are opposed by most Republicans and Democrats in Congress — on national security grounds, invoking an obscure, rarely used legal provision to justify it both in terms of U.S. law and international trade rules.

    But Trump has openly said that the tariffs are designed, at least in part, to exert pressure on Canada and Mexico in NAFTA talks, and other countries challenging the tariffs before the World Trade Organization could make use of this against the U.S. case.

    “That statement hurts the fundamental defense that the U.S. will need to make in the World Trade Organization — that this is about national security,” Holleyman told me this morning.
    What terrifies me is that Trump is setting himself up to lose a trade dispute with the WTO over these tariffs, and he reacts rather poorly when he loses things. And I fear that may be precisely what people like Peter Navarro are counting on, starting a total war against the WTO by intentionally provoking Trump.

    NYT, Michael Tackett, Blue-Collar Trump Voters Are Shrugging at Their Tax Cuts, in which the Times once again ventures into the Real America where the Real Americans live (pro tip: all the parts of America are the real America)...and the blue collar workers we parachute in to meet aren't all that impressed by their tax cuts. Missing from this though is any sense of the inequality, that they're getting a few bucks a week while CEOs are getting millions, and I hope that can become more of a campaign theme:
    “He’s pulling out jazz hands and shiny stuff up front and will screw us on the back end,” said Brian Barkalow, a worker at Requarth Lumber, where the Wright Brothers once bought wood for their planes.
    ...
    When asked which candidate he supported in 2016, Mr. Eifert said, “Regretfully now, I voted for Trump.”

    He said the president’s manner, more than his policies, put him off and he would not vote for him again. “It’s somewhat embarrassing to hear how he talks, tacky and uneducated.”
    WaPo, Danielle Paquette, Why a white town paid for a class called ‘Hispanics 101’. In which Branson, Mo is desperate for workers in hospitality and health care, yet the number of H-2B visas to bring in foreign workers has been cut (unless you're Trump), so they're looking to encourage people to come from Puerto Rico. It's not going so smoothly, with racists being racist, a class on how to recruit and retain Hispanic workers inexplicably making its employer attendees do the merengue, and even a mayor who says crap like "I would love to give all of our jobs to folks in the mainland U.S," but they're slowly working on it.

    NYT op-ed, Sylvie Kauffmann, Why Europe Is Giving Up on Trump’s America:
    For those who still bought it, the “adults in the room” theory took a serious beating last month at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of top dogs in foreign and defense policy. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis came, but surprisingly did not take the floor. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, did speak but was very publicly chided a few hours later by a presidential tweet because he “forgot” to say that Russian interference had no impact on Mr. Trump’s election.

    Senior European officials admit that however good their cooperation may be with counterparts in the Trump administration, the president’s unpredictability looms too large over decision-making. We have now entered the third stage of the great European disbelief. It could be called the “Angela Merkel was right” stage, in a nod to the German chancellor’s statement after the NATO and Group of 7 meetings last May that “we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”

    American officials keep trying to reassure their puzzled European interlocutors: “Don’t look at the tweets, look at what we do.” Repeated over and over, it is truly an extraordinary line. Think of representing your administration and telling foreigners every day: Ignore our president. But that’s a pipe dream. This president cannot be ignored because he is already profoundly transforming international relations, well beyond promoting unilateralism at the expense of multilateralism.
    Democrats have been introducing a bunch of legislation lately, not that it's going anywhere. The "Undo Sabotage and Expand Affordability of Health Insurance Act of 2018" looks like a lovely example of what could be, a sort of "Obamacare 2.0" that expands subsidies beyond 400% FPL, lowers out-of-pocket costs, and undoes various Republican sabotage to the ACA. Charles Gaba has a wonkish summary of the bill. And we can all go back to 2018, where none of that is happening.

    McSweeney's, Dan Carroll, WELCOME TO NEWSCYCLE: THE WORLD’S MOST EXHAUSTING CYCLING WORKOUT
    The class can last an hour, or the point when everyone is sobbing — which tends to happen around after seven or eight Twitter refreshes. Either way, I promise you’ll get your $51 worth and will have never felt so emotionally drained. To my ladies in the room, it looks like Fox News is hosting a town hall called “A Woman’s Place in Women’s Health,” so prepare to be what we call SadSore™ tomorrow!
    posted by zachlipton at 9:11 AM on March 8 [42 favorites]


    Trump on Gary Cohn: "This is Gary Cohn’s last cabinet meeting. He’s been terrific. He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He’s seriously globalist, no question, but he’s also a nationalist because he loves our country."

    Worst. Fucking. People.
    posted by zachlipton at 9:13 AM on March 8 [73 favorites]


    Regarding the Stormy Daniels NDA, is there a breakdown anywhere online which explains whether it is likely to be voided by the court? My google fu is failing me.

    Here ya go.

    TL;DR: the fact that Donny didn't sign probably doesn't matter, but there are terms which are so grossly unfair and disproportionate that it may get the whole thing tossed. Plus, if there was coercion by Donny's lawyer, it may also get the agreement tossed and Donny's lawyer disciplined.
    posted by Capt. Renault at 9:14 AM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    He said the president’s manner, more than his policies, put him off and he would not vote for him again. “It’s somewhat embarrassing to hear how he talks, tacky and uneducated.”

    it's a real shame how much the mellifluous oratory of candidate trump has declined since he was elected
    posted by murphy slaw at 9:18 AM on March 8 [116 favorites]


    I don't think this made Roger Stone seem reliable or reasonable.

    Well, I did say, "by comparison". Everyone knows that Stone is an inveterate liar and self-propagandist, and yet the media still allows him airtime. Chuck Todd had the opportunity to really grill Stone, which he failed to do (did he want to seem less aggressive after the pushback against the media for "exploiting" Nunberg?). Instead, he permitted Stone to deliver his carefully worded version of the Trump-Russia scandal virtually unchallenged. Blogger-indepedent journalist Marcy Wheeler expertly dissects Stone's performance such as how he deflected Todd's questions about the (GRU-backed) Guccifer 2.0 to answer instead about his ties to Julian Assange (a "courageous journalist” with a “track record for accuracy and authenticity is superior than the New York Times or The Washington Post.”).

    Stone is not some sort of Machiavellian genius playing 9-dimensional chess.

    None of them are, from Putin and Trump on down. They are sociopathic opportunists who'll snatch whatever advantage presents itself. This doesn't lend itself to long-term planning, though, and their windows for taking action are contracting every day. Stone doubtless wants to buy himself some time, the same way Rick Gates apparently did when he was stalling Mueller while the Nunes Memo donnybrook was unfolding on Capitol Hill. They're all about political tactics but no strategy.

    People were screaming "ratfuck!" when Al Franken's first accuser came forward

    That was a classic Stone rat-fuck, beginning with his tip-offs to friendly rightwing fringe outlets that the initial story was coming. What he accomplished was opening up the subject of Franken's misconduct for other people to come forward (note how Franken's initial accuser stepped out of the spotlight once more women spoke out against Franken). Give credit to Stone—he has an instinct for when someone's got something to hide.

    Most people weren't even thinking about Stone until Nunberg spent all of Monday dumping out his purse all over the news networks.

    And yet people seem to have mostly forgotten about it only a few days later. Stone's an acute judge of the contemporary media cycle and the court of public opinion, if nothing else. Mueller won't forget, though, and he has a grand jury.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 9:19 AM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    We should be thanking Stone for exposing Franken.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 9:21 AM on March 8 [31 favorites]


    Problem is, it's not about the affair. It's the fact that he's open to blackmail, paying hush money, FEC issues, and sketchy legal maneuvers. And his behavior with Clifford broadly helps corroborate the stories of Jessica Drake and Summer Zervos, who report non-consensual harassment and assault at the same location around the same time period. I understand Pelosi not wanting to fan the fires and completely turn this into a partisan issue, but if everybody would stop snickering at "porn star," there are serious problems here.

    Yeah, Pelosi should have hammered the point that the world already knew that Trump was an adulterer, and for some reason only Democrats seem to care about that standard any more, so the real scandal is that we know the President of the United States is paying hush money to cover it up.

    Which is one of the things that brought down Nixon.
    posted by Gelatin at 9:24 AM on March 8 [39 favorites]


    We should be thanking Stone for exposing Franken.

    Yep. Personally I feel entitled to elected officials I can stand next to without fear of being groped.
    posted by Emmy Rae at 9:39 AM on March 8 [56 favorites]


    A new poll (PDF) cited by melissasaurus toward the end of the previous thread throws cold water on Republican hopes that their shiny tax cut will allow them to turn aside an oncoming Democratic wave:
    >Do you approve or disapprove of the Republican tax plan?
    --All: 36-50% approve-disapprove (up slightly from Jan #s, down slightly from Feb #s)
    --Net negative among Democrats, independents, women, white w/ college degree, all age groups, all women, white women, all races.
    --Net positive only among Republicans, white w/out college, and white men; break-even with all men.
    And that's leaving aside the question whether garden-variety Republican incompetence on the economy takes the wind out of Republicans sails as well.

    Democrats should be braver about saying that their ideas on the economy -- that more money in the hands of the middle class, not the wealthy, is what creates prosperity in this country -- are simply and inherently better than the Republican "give it all to the rich and hope for the best" plan. And that we've known that since Reagan -- if not the Great Depression.
    posted by Gelatin at 9:40 AM on March 8 [31 favorites]


    Why Isn’t Trump President for Life Yet?

    "He is following the same playbook as other authoritarian populists around the world. He’s just bad at it—so far."

    By Yascha Mounk for Slate.
    From Hugo Chávez in Venezuela to Jaroslaw Kaczyński in Poland and from Viktor Orbán in Hungary to Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, many populists around the world have remained sufficiently popular for a long enough span of time to concentrate vast powers in their own hands. Trump has some important commonalities with them. Like them, for example, he is a master at riling up his base with lofty promises of big improvements and urgent warnings about imminent dangers.

    But the ways in which Trump differs from his populist peers are even more important: So far, he has been far less interested than them in rewarding his base with tangible material improvements. He has been far less strategic about abolishing independent institutions. And he has also been far less effective at hammering home a consistent worldview that recasts any harm to him as a threat to the whole nation.

    This is heartening: Unless Trump suddenly starts to learn on the job—something he has stubbornly resisted doing for the past 18 months—he is unlikely to emulate the successes of Chávez, Kaczyński, and cohorts.

    But it is also scary: If American institutions have, so far, stood up to Donald Trump, the reason for this seems to have at least as much to do with his personal failings as it does with the structural differences between the United States and countries like Poland or Venezuela. If Trump, or one of his successors, should learn to emulate the playbook developed by authoritarian populists around the world, he too could concentrate enormous powers in his own hands.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 9:40 AM on March 8 [33 favorites]


    Gelatin: so the real scandal is that we know the President of the United States is paying hush money to cover it up.

    Which is one of the things that brought down Nixon.


    It also brought down Denny "Child Molester" Hastert. Depressing af to know that it was hush money and not just abusing kids, but the point is that hush money was Haster's downfall. Fingers crossed that hush money does the same for Trump.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:44 AM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    If Trump, or one of his successors, should learn to emulate the playbook developed by authoritarian populists around the world, he too could concentrate enormous powers in his own hands.

    And that's why, once the Republicans are out of power, there must be a systematic, no-holds-barred effort to codify norms as law, increase congressional and judicial oversight of the executive branch, and take some powers away from the executive outright and move others from the president and political appointees and into the civil service.
    posted by jedicus at 9:45 AM on March 8 [101 favorites]


    Here ya go.

    Thanks, Capt. Renault.
    posted by zarq at 9:51 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    Updates on the UK assassination attempt.

    NYT: Ex-Russian Spy ‘Stable’ After Nerve Agent Attack in U.K.

    Skripal and his daughter are critical-but-stable and the police officer seems to be recovering.

    The expected weaksauce was dispensed from the UK Home Secretary. Weaker than HP. Certainly weaker than Henderson's Relish.

    The poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, 65, and his daughter Yulia, 33, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, was described by Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Thursday as "attempted murder in the most cruel and public way".
    The Cabinet minister promised a "robust" response once responsibility for the attack is established, but she told the House of Commons her current priority is on the immediate response to the incident.


    BBC: Russian spy: State TV anchor warns 'traitors'

    "I don't wish death on anyone, but for purely educational purposes, I have a warning for anyone who dreams of such a career," he said. "The profession of a traitor is one of the most dangerous in the world," [...] Alcoholism, drug addiction, stress and depression resulting in heart attacks and even suicide were the "professional illnesses of a traitor", according to Kleimenov. He also had a second piece of advice for such "traitors or those who simply hate their country in their free time": "Don't choose Britain as a place to live. [...] Something is wrong there. Maybe it's the climate, but in recent years there have been too many strange incidents with grave outcomes there."

    If you look close enough at the footage of Kleimenov you can see Putin's fingers behind his uvula.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 9:54 AM on March 8 [39 favorites]


    systematic, no-holds-barred effort to codify norms as law, increase congressional and judicial oversight of the executive branch, and take some powers away from the executive outright

    It's a good idea, and shoring up the foundations of our democracy will help it last longer under the assult by authoritarian populists... But it won't last forever unless we rally to defend it, no matter how well buttressed.

    After all, we've got a constitution already which nominally checks executive power. It's just that the people in power are unwilling to do that job. And their supporters don't want them too. Ultimately the laws and the Constitution are just pieces of paper unless real live humans take action to enact them, and we have seen in Turkey and Venezuela and Poland how easily laws and constitutions can be changed.

    We need an educated, secure, equitable society, or else the best laws in the world won't last long.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 9:54 AM on March 8 [46 favorites]


    Was just talking about norms and laws today: that perhaps a part of the reason Trump wasn’t actively stopped as soon as it became clear to enough people that there were shenanigans involved, shenanigans that originated in Russia, is because too much of the political process in the US is based on ‘this is the way it is done’ and the inflexibility that arises from that kind of assumption. Inflexibility because there is no rule book for what should happen if things don’t go the way they always have. Germany had no ‘government’ for almost five months yet it wasn’t the end of the nation because provisions were in place to inform what should be done next. Flexibility is strength and Trump’s election has illuminated many many weak spots in America’s democracy
    posted by From Bklyn at 9:55 AM on March 8 [23 favorites]


    Trampling all over norms that were previously followed but not codified in law was part of Rob and Doug Ford’s playbook, too. They’d practically dare people to do something about it, and too often nobody could, really.
    posted by The Card Cheat at 10:01 AM on March 8 [33 favorites]


    Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore, does it?

    It also makes Devos' long-standing interest in destroying US public education look like something more than simple profiteering.
    posted by ryanshepard at 10:13 AM on March 8 [26 favorites]


    The (thankfully ex-) Prime Minister Harper was the same, to a lesser extent. He specialized in picking out arcane ones like contempt of Parliament and prorogation, though. I shudder to think what he'd have been like if he'd had Trump's chutzpah -- he was a competent guy.
    posted by Quindar Beep at 10:13 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    A. Lincoln to Major General Hooker
    January 26, 1863
    I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set up dictators.
    posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:15 AM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    Was just talking about norms and laws today: that perhaps a part of the reason Trump wasn’t actively stopped as soon as it became clear to enough people that there were shenanigans involved, shenanigans that originated in Russia, is because too much of the political process in the US is based on ‘this is the way it is done’ and the inflexibility that arises from that kind of assumption.

    I think there was also a widespread sense that even if Trump did win, he can't damage much because for some reason people just don't believe in the power of government to actually work, while at the same time they believe that there are magical adults running government who "won't let" bad things happen. It really makes very little sense.
    posted by odinsdream at 10:26 AM on March 8 [28 favorites]


    Reuters, U.S. judge questions whether Trump can block Twitter users. Judge Buchwald seemed skeptical that Trump is allowed to block people, and—I swear this is the dumbest damn timeline—reportedly asked why he can't mute people instead, encouraging a settlement. DOJ's argument didn't go great (yep, we're spending government resources litigating this):
    A bit later, Buchwald answered the DOJ's argument that she doesn't have jurisdiction over the president more pointedly.

    "And he's above the law?" she asked.
    "No, your honor," DOJ attorney Michael Baer replied.

    (Laughter in the court)
    posted by zachlipton at 10:30 AM on March 8 [55 favorites]


    To clarify my understanding of the entire hush-money arrangement possibly constituting campaign-finance violation... is that mainly because it could only have come out of campaign funds (like, no one thinks any money was from Trump the individual)? Or because it involved facts which, if disclosed, would have affected the election? Or perhaps both?

    Like, is it generally legal to draw up that sort of contract, but if one of the signers is running for public office, they need to tell certain public authorities about the payment (which obviously would render the whole deal pointless)?
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:34 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]




    To clarify my understanding of the entire hush-money arrangement possibly constituting campaign-finance violation... is that mainly because it could only have come out of campaign funds (like, no one thinks any money was from Trump the individual)? Or because it involved facts which, if disclosed, would have affected the election? Or perhaps both?

    I think it's because Cohen (or whoever) was spending money to directly help the Trump campaign, and operating on Trump's behalf (as the signed agreement says). It would be fundamentally no different than Cohen paying to rent a stadium for a big Trump rally, or hire the campaign staff airplane for his campaign.

    It's still a contribution even if you write a check directly to the recipient, instead of writing a check to the Trump campaign so they can write another check to the recipient.
    posted by msalt at 10:38 AM on March 8 [11 favorites]


    Republicans are starting to panic about next week's Pennsylvania congressional election

    It's an election to replace the former incumbent in PA-18, which will be redistricted out of existence when this term ends. Republicans are really desperate for a momentum shift.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 10:42 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    Surely someone with deep pockets can make it worth her while for Stormy Daniels to just ignore the NDA? Guarantee to cover all costs of violation, plus some on top to line her own pocket.

    There has to be a dollar amount that tips the scale.
    posted by yesster at 10:43 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, whose "sole mission is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media."

    Things I learned on his Wikipedia page: he apparently was once very focused on the violence WWF and other televised pro-wrestling were spreading within society. Genuinely curious if anyone is going to bring up the presidents past . . . endorsements or such violence.
    posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:44 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    Ryan Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s son and inexplicably aquitted leader of the Oregon and Bundy Ranch standoffs, flies to run for governor of Nevada.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 10:47 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    One of the patterns Trump seems to follow is trying to get around legal restrictions on money flow by transparently false means.

    When his casino was losing money he got his father to try and get around the bailout limits by sending a lawyer over to buy a few million worth of chips. It didn't work, because law enforcement isn't incredibly stupid.

    But people seldom change, especially when they encounter no significant penalty for their behavior, and we see the same pattern with Stormy Daniels. Trump knew that paying her off himself would look bad, so he sent a lawyer by with the transparently false story that the lawyer, just totally randomly and with no intent of doing anything to benefit Trump at all, just happened to decide to pay a porn star six figures in hush money. And it looks as if there was some blatant money shuffling to get his campaign fund to pay it off.

    Trump can't be competent about this, because he's never needed to learn competence. In the past he has been able to blatantly and openly break the law and pay no penalty. And I fear we may be seeing that repeat with his Presidential lawbreaking, as the Republicans are completely unwilling to enforce the law.

    It turns out that being rich and shameless really is a way to evade the law.
    posted by sotonohito at 10:47 AM on March 8 [55 favorites]


    Stupidest timeline, part 172837... WSJ, U.S. Asks China for Plan to Reduce Trade Deficit by $100 Billion. Hey, remember that time Trump tweeted he was asking China to come up with a plan to reduce the trade deficit by a billion dollars? That would have been less than 0.3% of the trade deficit between the two countries.

    Turns out Trump was wrong by a couple orders of magnitude: we're asking them to reduce the trade deficit by $100 billion.

    Please remember this is the guy who announced he consults himself on foreign policy because he has "a very good brain."
    posted by zachlipton at 10:47 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    Surely someone with deep pockets can make it worth her while for Stormy Daniels to just ignore the NDA?

    I don't know. If this type of unsigned three-party arrangement is typical for Trump, I think it might be better in the long run to pursue the court case and show that Trump's NDAs are unenforceable shams. Does anyone think Stormy Daniels is the only one who has damaging information on Trump under a nondisclosure agreement?
    posted by stopgap at 10:48 AM on March 8 [55 favorites]


    Trump's brother is on the board of directors at ZeniMax.
    posted by amarynth at 10:48 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    seriously? This is the line you wanna take here on the topic?

    Well, I certainly never expected Donald Trump to take any substantive action to deal with school shootings effectively. Any movement on that topic is going to be driven by popular protest, electoral victory, and pressure on lawmakers to finally put common sense legislation in place. Meanwhile, dipshits at r/The_Donald and elsewhere are busy freaking out about their precious games while demonstrably not caring about the victims of this horrifying administration, so yeah, I'll take a bit of amusement where I can.
    posted by Existential Dread at 10:49 AM on March 8 [21 favorites]


    Democrats should be braver about saying that their ideas on the economy -- that more money in the hands of the middle class, not the wealthy, is what creates prosperity in this country -- are simply and inherently better than the Republican "give it all to the rich and hope for the best" plan. And that we've known that since Reagan -- if not the Great Depression.

    Yes - this. One of the things that frustrate me most as a left-leaning economist is the refusal, at times, for lefties to couch their policies in a positive economic lens before the right frames it as bad for the economy. There's so much reliance on some variant of the "we're doing the thing that's right" talking point that does not intersect with a lot of the center's key priority which is their job, house, and personal prosperity over ethics, identity, or the right thing to do.

    Minimum wage increases lead to more customers with money in their pockets to spend. Affordable housing means people spend their money on other things than just houses. Universal child care would create a lot of child care jobs, free a lot of parents up for their own pursuits, and the money parents spend today on child care will be spent in the economy. Health care means fewer people debilitated by illness and therefore working for and spending their money on local businesses. Having a net to prevent people from falling socially to the very bottom means they're that much closer to getting back into the economy. Students not paying loans banks back for decades mean they're buying houses, cars, and investing in businesses. Putting up windmills, legalizing pot, and building electric cars are great job creators in rural communities.

    All of it is GREAT for the economy. GREAT. That should be the first-line talking point - while the Republicans are driving us cripplingly into debt and forcing people out of the economy. Democrats have a vision for getting more people back to work, investing in businesses and into your stores. We're talking about less of your money going to multi-billion dollar corporations and more jobs available for you and customers in your local community.
    posted by notorious medium at 10:49 AM on March 8 [162 favorites]


    Surely someone with deep pockets can make it worth her while for Stormy Daniels to just ignore the NDA?

    It's probably worth it now; the book/tv special deals would cover the $130k. That's probably why she's willing to risk it, because it's not guaranteed the NDA will be found invalid. But hey, she'd also like to keep that money! If she can make a compelling argument that she didn't violate the contract, she gets both the payout AND whatever celebrity status she can pull off.

    I'd love for this to be one more thing that sets off the campaign finance watchdogs. I believe that's both from "in case he used campaign money, even indirectly, to pay it" and "in case the settlement was partially done to influence the election," which is a much stronger case; money spent on press is campaign money, and that may include "money spent to avoid bad press."
    posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:53 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Meanwhile, dipshits at r/The_Donald and elsewhere are busy freaking out about their precious games while demonstrably not caring about the victims of this horrifying administration, so yeah, I'll take a bit of amusement where I can.

    Legitimization of people like Bozell - a man who has spent decades attacking media that he feels is unclean because he wants to control what media people consume - should scare you.
    posted by NoxAeternum at 10:53 AM on March 8 [27 favorites]


    Ryan Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s son and inexplicably aquitted leader of the Oregon and Bundy Ranch standoffs, flies to run for governor of Nevada.

    I was explaining this elsewhere - the blue wave predictions based on “generic Republicans” are crap, because “generic Republicans” are not appearing to run right now and/or making it through primaries held hostage by populists. Bundy won’t win, but he might win the primary, making a D Governor almost certain.
    posted by corb at 10:55 AM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    The server connecting the Trump Organization with Russia ran through a company owned by Betsy Devos’ husband.

    Wait, what? The "AlfaBank-only" server? Is this a known thing?

    Hm

    From May 4 until September 23, the Russian bank looked up the address to this Trump corporate server 2,820 times -- more lookups than the Trump server received from any other source.
    As noted, Alfa Bank alone represents 80% of the lookups, according to these leaked internet records.
    Far back in second place, with 714 such lookups, was a company called Spectrum Health.
    Spectrum is a medical facility chain led by Dick DeVos, the husband of Betsy DeVos, who was appointed by Trump as U.S. education secretary.
    Together, Alfa and Spectrum accounted for 99% of the lookups.

    posted by petebest at 10:56 AM on March 8 [45 favorites]


    re: hacked Hope, anyone else old enough to remember Rose Mary Woods?
    posted by homerica at 10:56 AM on March 8 [17 favorites]


    Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of books including Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, and Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing, who has argued that playing violent games trains children to use weapons and hardens them against the emotional impact of killing.

    This strikes such a chord. Just last week, my 10 year old son asked me if we could get exploding homing turtles for our car, like in Mario Kart.

    In all seriousness, Lt. Col Grossman is the fearmongering schmuck (the self-described "killologist" and "Professor of Killology") who keeps telling crowds of NRA supporters that stricter gun control laws result in increased incidence of mass shootings. He considers gun control treason, and thinks we should arm everybody, including having armed adults in schools. The man isn't just a gun nut. He's a fanatic.
    posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on March 8 [34 favorites]


    Surely someone with deep pockets can make it worth her while for Stormy Daniels to just ignore the NDA? Guarantee to cover all costs of violation, plus some on top to line her own pocket.

    Inducing someone to break a contract is a tort. Bankrolling her lawsuit against Trump would generally be permissible, though.
    posted by jedicus at 10:58 AM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    Bundy won’t win, but he might win the primary, making a D Governor almost certain.

    Bundy says he’s running as an independent, which might relegate him to an afterthought, or potentially draw substantial Republican votes from the fringe on the flag / infowars wing.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 11:00 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    Just to be perfectly clear, stricter gun control laws help prevent mass shootings. In Australia, Europe and elsewhere.
    posted by zarq at 11:01 AM on March 8 [45 favorites]


    re: hacked Hope, anyone else old enough to remember Rose Mary Woods?

    it's going to turn out that hope hicks locked herself out of her email account by standing on her computer's foot pedal while she entered her password, isn't it
    posted by murphy slaw at 11:03 AM on March 8 [18 favorites]


    Legitimization of people like Bozell - a man who has spent decades attacking media that he feels is unclean because he wants to control what media people consume - should scare you.

    I apologize for the sarcastic tenor of my original comment. Sinclair is already running uncomfortably fascist pro-Trump messages across the 173 stations they own or operate, and they're poised to add dozens more pending acquisition of the Tribune Company, and so I personally find one more meeting of deeply shitty people with Trump to just be unsurprising icing on that cake, but I can certainly understand that others may not feel the same way.
    posted by Existential Dread at 11:06 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    Legitimization of people like Bozell - a man who has spent decades attacking media that he feels is unclean because he wants to control what media people consume - should scare you.

    His articles have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal,[30] Washington Post,[31][32] Washington Times, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today,[33] and National Review. He is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Creators Syndicate, and he is a regular on television, including the Fox News Channel program Hannity.[6]

    That ship sailed already, because right-wing Christian extremism has been welcome in the American mainstream for decades.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 11:08 AM on March 8 [18 favorites]


    If Trump, or one of his successors

    Successors? That's the optimism we need around here!
    posted by pracowity at 11:08 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Twitter, generally: Sen. Flake announces that he will introduce legislation to nullify Trump's proposed tariffs.

    There have been scattered reports today that representatives of multiple countries -- including both Canada and Mexico -- have been reaching out to McConnell and Ryan directly about the tariff issue.
    posted by cjelli at 11:08 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    [Grossman] considers gun control treason, and thinks we should arm everybody, including having armed adults in schools.

    So let me get this straight: He's in favor of preventing kids from playing Grand Theft Auto video games because the horrific simulated violence warps their brains. But he's also in favor of turning our schools and businesses into a live-fire Grand Theft Auto LARP, because the constant background threat of horrific actual violence is the only way to make people behave?
    posted by Strange Interlude at 11:11 AM on March 8 [56 favorites]


    We need laws that codify all these norms around the presidency to stop people like Trump from taking advantage of our apparently unwarranted faith that presidents would at least pretend to adhere to basic standards. But that's not enough, because frankly there are already many, many laws on the books that these people are breaking in wide open and with brazen confidence that they will receive no consequences.

    I think what we need the most is to prove their expectation wrong and ensure that all the people engaged in the Russian collusion, the corruption, the ethics breaches, the money laundering, the insider trading, so on and so forth... all those people face SEVERE consequences. I want them to spend the rest of their lives in prison and I want all their assets stripped so their miserable families inherit none of that ill-gotten wealth. I don't want to settle for anything less than that. And I will make it a priority to support Democrats or progressive candidates who agree. None of this looking forward not backward business. What they've done is unforgivable and I want them to actually suffer for it for a change.
    posted by the turtle's teeth at 11:14 AM on March 8 [36 favorites]


    Grossman also trains police with the lesson that after killing someone they will have the best sex of their lives.
    posted by rhizome at 11:15 AM on March 8 [24 favorites]


    "Democrats should be braver about saying that their ideas on the economy -- that more money in the hands of the middle class, not the wealthy, is what creates prosperity in this country -- are simply and inherently better than the Republican "give it all to the rich and hope for the best" plan. "

    I hope for the next few election cycles, at least, any "business as usual" Republican policies are tarred with the treason brush: "Paul Ryan wants to give tax cuts to the rich, which is a policy that Vladimir Putin approved of to weaken the United States." "Joe Republican wants to cut education spending, a policy that Vladimir Putin's allies spent millions of dollars to advance in order to weaken the United States and make it less competitive." I mean basically the entire GOP agenda now has a stamp of approval from our geopolitical enemies as being bad for the United States and likely to weaken us, and voters need to be reminded of that ON THE REGULAR.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:15 AM on March 8 [72 favorites]


    The videogames endanger the guns, that's the ultimate crime.
    posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    We may have to send out for more red thread:

    Saudi Arabia Using Law Firm Tied to Trump to Lobby U.S. for Nuclear Deal

    A law firm that reportedly has advised President Trump’s real estate empire registered last month to lobby the Trump administration as part of Saudi Arabia’s bid for U.S. approval for a civilian nuclear power program, federal documents show.

    King & Spalding, an international law firm headquartered in Atlanta that reportedly has worked for Trump’s real estate concerns, disclosed that Saudi Arabia was paying the firm up to $450,000 for a 30-day period. The disclosures were made in a filing with the Justice Department, as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

    The contract was registered with the DOJ on February 21. Five days later, Energy Secretary Rick Perry canceled a trip to India so he could fly to London to discuss a nuclear cooperation agreement with senior Saudi officials. Such an agreement could open the door for lucrative U.S. contracts to build the kingdom’s new power plants.


    Half a million dollars a month ain't bad. Flogging uranium to the Saudis... hey, what could possibly go wrong?
    posted by Devonian at 11:17 AM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    Affordable housing means people spend their money on other things than just houses. Universal child care would create a lot of child care jobs, free a lot of parents up for their own pursuits, and the money parents spend today on child care will be spent in the economy. Health care means fewer people debilitated by illness and therefore working for and spending their money on local businesses.

    And all of the above would mean that middle and working class people would be less dependent on lousy jobs that provide their only source of health care or income for housing, freeing more people to start their own businesses or look for a better job. That development -- which has already taken place to a degree with Obamacare -- gives even more economic power to the working and middle classes at the expense of the wealthy, who would prefer to have a captive working populace with few options.

    In other words, to paraphrase the ironic title of Hayek's treatise on conservative economics, trickle down economics is the true road to serfdom.
    posted by Gelatin at 11:20 AM on March 8 [23 favorites]


    As we hold our breath for the forthcoming afternoon public performance of Trump signing steel and aluminum tariffs, NPR notes Congressional Republicans Unlikely To Act To Counter Trump On Tariffs
    Congress has the power to challenge President Trump on new tariffs, but it's unlikely lawmakers will act even though nearly all congressional Republicans oppose the president's trade policy because they believe it will harm the U.S. economy.

    "It's a conundrum, really, because you do not want 100 senators and our counterparts in the House doing basically any trade initiative. That's why we give that (power) to the executive," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
    That's also why you have the power to strip him of that power.
    Like most Senate Republicans, Roberts strongly opposes Trump's impending decision to impose new tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports. Lawmakers like Roberts fear retaliation from foreign nations on U.S. exports, and agriculture is primed to take a hit. Specifically, Kansans are concerned about China retaliating on U.S. sorghum exports.
    ...
    "I don't know that there is a legislative fix that will garner the support in both chambers that will be able to override a veto because that's what would have to happen," said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., "So I'm sure there's going to be bills and co-sponsors, but it would be disingenuous to suggest there will be enough votes to override a veto."

    One of those bills is by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. He introduced legislation in January that would amend a 1974 trade law to require the president to get congressional approval before making any major trade policy moves, including imposing new tariffs. The proposal has no co-sponsors and Republicans have not warmed to the idea of limiting executive powers on trade just yet. "I don't think we're at the point where we need to consider that bill yet," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
    Behold, the eternally concerned Republicans. Look, you can see them physically quake, but take no action to reduce their concerns. Most puzzling, is it not?
    posted by filthy light thief at 11:22 AM on March 8 [23 favorites]


    Trump's brother is on the board of directors at ZeniMax.

    I have no idea what to make of this. Does Donald think that Robert Trump, who's only one member of a board that includes Jerry Bruckheimer, Les Moonves, and Cal Ripkin, Jr., will lean on the chairman and force him to publicly abase their company before a lineup of dimwitted moralizers? If so, did Donald actually run this plan by Robert first?
    posted by Iridic at 11:25 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]



    Grossman also trains police with the lesson that after killing someone they will have the best sex of their lives.


    He describes this as a job benefit. In case anybody was wondering. Not some, 'oh by the way, you might find yourself experiencing some emotional lability after shooting somebody to death.' It's straight up, 'it's a hard job but at least you'll have intense fucking so there's that'
    posted by angrycat at 11:25 AM on March 8 [21 favorites]


    I hope for the next few election cycles, at least, any "business as usual" Republican policies are tarred with the treason brush

    Not to mention the incompetence brush: Republicans love to complain about things like "unelected bureaucrats" and "the DMV" (which in my experience here in Indiana, is courteous and efficient, thank you very much), but all of this first-class-flying, expensive-dining-table-buying, sticking-taxpayers-with-the-bill high on the hog living is of a course with executives who are more about hobnobbing with their fellow plutocrats and enjoying the trappings of wealth than they are about actually adding value to their companies. Their workers do that, and time and again, what does management do? Sell them out.
    posted by Gelatin at 11:31 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    We need laws that codify all these norms around the presidency to stop people like Trump from taking advantage of our apparently unwarranted faith that presidents would at least pretend to adhere to basic standards.

    Step 1 is a bill to remove the president's exemption from conflict of interest laws. Nothing more, just that one change. It should be able to pass with a veto-proof majority.

    If it doesn't, make it a huge issue in the congressional elections, and set it up as bill #1 to be passed the day after Trump's impeachment, and if need be again when a Democrat is elected.
    posted by msalt at 11:34 AM on March 8 [19 favorites]


    msalt: "Republicans are starting to panic about next week's Pennsylvania congressional election"

    Worth noting that preemptively bashing candidates that look like they might lose is sort of a thing for the GOP.
    posted by Chrysostom at 11:38 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    From the PC Gamer article quoted by Existential Dread: Lt. Col. Dave Grossman... has argued that playing violent games trains children to use weapons and hardens them against the emotional impact of killing.

    From the WaPo article linked by rhizome: In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives. The room chuckles. But he’s clearly serious. “Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.”

    This is the same Dave Grossman. The only way it can cohere is if he sees real-vs-videogame violence the way many people naturally perceive sex-vs-porn. "We're raising a generation of young people on simulated violence that fails to capture the glorious beauty of the real thing! They're passively sitting in darkened rooms pretending to kill each other when they could be using actual guns, like the founders intended. Why, when it comes time for their first murder, their emotions will have hardened too much to appreciate what is happening"
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:44 AM on March 8 [19 favorites]


    Here are the 17 Democrats who voted to end debate on the Dodd-Frank rollback (source; apologies if these names have already been posted!):

    Michael Bennet of Colorado
    Tom Carper of Delaware
    Chris Coons of Delaware
    Joe Donnelly of Indiana
    Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire
    Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
    Doug Jones of Alabama
    Tim Kaine of Virginia
    Angus King of Maine
    Joe Manchin of West Virginia
    Claire McCaskill of Missouri
    Bill Nelson of Florida
    Gary Peters of Michigan
    Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
    Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
    Jon Tester of Montana
    Mark Warner of West Virginia
    posted by hexaflexagon at 11:45 AM on March 8 [24 favorites]


    It feels to me like the GOP is setting itself up to tout a potential narrow Saccone victory as a rousing success rather than the bare fucking minimum given the district and how much money and star power they had to throw at the problem.

    I still hope Lamb wins, obviously, but this is just the GOP hedging their bets.
    posted by lydhre at 11:47 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    Mark Warner is VA, not WV.
    posted by Chrysostom at 11:52 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    Does Trump think there are more gunnuts in his base than there are gamers?

    I would hazard a guess that he doesn't realize anyone other than children play video games.
    posted by Quindar Beep at 11:56 AM on March 8 [31 favorites]


    Isn’t it the same Grossman who wrote a book about how the military learned to train people to kill after WW2? Because they figured out that it is deeply unnatural and traumatizing to human beings to kill other human beings, so naturally they were like, how can we systematically train people to instinctively do things that go against their very humanity?

    Like he literally wrote the book on systematic production of psychopathic traits. Borrowing heavily, I believe, from the Nazis?

    So.

    That’s not terrifying at all.
    posted by schadenfrau at 11:57 AM on March 8 [30 favorites]


    I think it's just more evidence he's stuck, cognitively, imaginatively, politically in the 1990s.
    posted by notyou at 11:58 AM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    homerica: "re: hacked Hope, anyone else old enough to remember Rose Mary Woods?"

    Mostly, but there's 18 1/2 minutes that I'm blanking on.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:01 PM on March 8 [47 favorites]


    "This is Gary Cohn’s last cabinet meeting. He’s been terrific. He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He’s seriously globalist, no question..."

    I'm not at all surprised by Trump repeatedly referring to Gary Cohn with the dog-whistle term "globalist" but what's up with members of the White House press corps blithely doing this?
    posted by theory at 12:03 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    I'm not at all surprised by Trump repeatedly referring to Gary Cohn with the dog-whistle term "globalist" but what's up with members of the White House press corps blithely doing this?

    Normalization.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 12:03 PM on March 8 [44 favorites]


    Congress has the power to challenge President Trump on new tariffs, but it's unlikely lawmakers will act even though nearly all congressional Republicans oppose the president's trade policy because they believe it will harm the U.S. economy.

    "It's a conundrum, really, because you do not want 100 senators and our counterparts in the House doing basically any trade initiative. That's why we give that (power) to the executive," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.


    Jeezy creezy. It's not just American voters who need a brush-up on civics; it's (some of) our actual congresspeople! Repeat after me - checks and balances! I learned this in freaking high school! Yes, I know that the Republicans in Congress are inept, corrupt, or both, but they can't even pretend to know what their jobs are? Smh.

    That is something I think Dems can hammer home during these midterms. "Republican Congressmember X didn't know about the checks-and-balances principle that is a basic principle of Our Sacred Constitution!"

    One of the things I think we have to do is get rid of the "imperial presidency" that we've had since Bush II post-9/11. Many Democrats were apprehensive when that was first implemented, and for good reason. But then when Obama was President, it was "We need an imperial President to get things done! Obama must be TOUGH! Obama must BULLY CONGRESS like Lyndon Johnson did!*" And now we have Imperial President Donald "Joffrey" Trump, and the shoe is on the other foot again.

    *It wasn't that simple; Johnson had a Congressional majority, as well as tremendous latitude because of JFK's assassination (rather like what Bush had post 9/11).
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:04 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    I'm not at all surprised by Trump repeatedly referring to Gary Cohn with the dog-whistle term "globalist" but what's up with members of the White House press corps blithely doing this?

    The White House press corps has been blithely letting Republicans get away with calling Democrats "the Democrat Party" for a decade now, maybe two.
    posted by Gelatin at 12:05 PM on March 8 [29 favorites]


    Trump hasn't formed any new ideas since the 80s, so stay tuned for foul language in rap lyrics, fear-mongering regarding the influence of Dungeons and Dragons, and maybe playing LPs backward to discover hidden messages.

    I watched the first couple episodes of the West Wing the other day, and they were talkin' gun control. Nearly 20 years later, the gun debate has actually gotten even stupider.
    posted by aspersioncast at 12:07 PM on March 8 [17 favorites]


    "It's a conundrum, really, because you do not want 100 senators and our counterparts in the House doing basically any trade initiative. That's why we give that (power) to the executive," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

    That's also why you have the power to strip him of that power.


    This is why I think things need to go beyond simply codifying standard practices to stand in the way of an authoritarian executive. It's a fine start, sure, but we have standards already in place that Congress simply won't take any action on. Any treaty, convention, law or regulation only has as much power as the willingness of people with the power to execute it to do so. Which leads us back to the complicated and messy prospect of throwing the weight of support behind potential lawmakers who will enforce said practices, and back that up with direct action on the ground level.

    (Not to imply that y'all don't already know this; just reiterating.)
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:11 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo released a podcast episode this week where he pulls together a bunch of information about Jared Kushner and the Trump scandals in general. Before becoming a journalist he did his PhD in history, and it really shows in this, because it's a bit like listening to a historian pull together a bunch of different data to give an interpretation of events from the past, except he's doing it for the present moment. If you're interested in the various things Robert Mueller is investigating, it's worth a listen.
    posted by Kattullus at 12:15 PM on March 8 [32 favorites]


    "We're raising a generation of young people on simulated violence that fails to capture the glorious beauty of the real thing! They're passively sitting in darkened rooms pretending to kill each other when they could be using actual guns, like the founders intended. Why, when it comes time for their first murder, their emotions will have hardened too much to appreciate what is happening"

    His problem with that video games seems to be less a matter of fetishistic gun worship (although that's certainly part of it) and more that the games don't also come with ethical lessons about who should be targeted or defended. He keeps condemning society as raising children to be psychopaths who worship violence, but at the same time talks about making sure there are "good guys with guns" everywhere.

    This is very "us vs them." A simplistic military mindset which claims that guns should be in the hands of people with the proper skills, training and judgement to use them. So they can kill "bad guys." Of course, the facts don't bear this out either. Veterans have been the perpetrators of some of our worst mass shooting incidents. Nidal Hasan was a United States Army Medical Corps psychiatrist.
    posted by zarq at 12:17 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    Just another thing showing that it's not video games that are the problem, but that the stereotype of them persists onwards and is a really great distraction, I guess.

    So I'm in a really weird position, where I both think that a lot of the people saying this are bullshit bullshitters what have agendas, and also have come around to thinking that yes, some of the games out there for gamers are really fucking dehumanizing and may have contributed to our current crisis.

    So I am setting up an older-console game area in my home, and was looking at the games that I had from about five years ago. And some of them, looking around at the world we are living in, are not just terrible but I think actively terrible for some of the weaponized Gamergaters that have now become strong supporters of the Trump Presidency. Like, there's an entire subgenre that focuses around "other people have slighted you, now it's time to kill them".

    Naughty Bear, for example, released in 2010 and sold about 400,000 copies - a game whose entire premise is that you are a bear who has been made fun of by other bears and now it is your turn to kill them or drive them to insanity so they kill themselves.

    I was one of those people who laughed in the 1990s about "haha they think video games are a problem", but now I'm actively considering - when people spend hours a day on video games, if the video games they're focusing on are all dark, does that do good or bad things for our society?
    posted by corb at 12:20 PM on March 8 [24 favorites]


    Engadget already has us covered in yet another article in the "do video games cause violence?" saga.
    posted by Twain Device at 12:22 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    corb - from what I have seen of gamer culture they could be playing Peggle all day and a subset of people would turn weird from it. Gamer culture is a very bad culture.

    (A very Trumpy one too, which makes for some morbid curiosity over how this stupid shit is going to go down)
    posted by Artw at 12:24 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    Gamer culture exists and is a toxic cesspool. It gave us the likes of Elliot Rodger and Gamergate
    posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on March 8 [29 favorites]


    ThinkProgress with more on the good DA election results this week in Texas.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:24 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    [A few comments removed. If folks want to talk about the details of the specific We're Very Concerned About These Violent Video Games circus being orchestrated by the Trump admin, fine, but let's skip another broad go-around on games and people who play them.]
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:26 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    From happier times in the Gamer/nazi alliance: How 'Cheating' Gamers Fueled Steve Bannon's Rise to Power
    posted by Artw at 12:29 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    Gamergate--and the Sad Puppies and other similar movements--were made up of people who were already bigots and Nazis directing violence inward, that is, at other gamers, SFF authors/fans, etc. Games don't dehumanize the wannabe Elliot Rodgers, they already see marginalized people and their allies as less than human and operate accordingly. So the issue isn't with everybody that plays games or reads/writes SFF or whatever, it's the assholes and gatekeepers and their enablers.
    posted by zombieflanders at 12:37 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]




    Building on what I said earlier, this is Grossman's take:
    From a military and law enforcement perspective, violent videogames are “murder simulators” that train kids to kill. They act just like police and military simulators, providing conditioned responses, killing skills and desensitization, except they are inflicted on children without the discipline of military and police training.

    posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on March 8


    Sarah Jeong has a nice story on Maciej Ceglowski's (mefi's own Pinboard) Great Slate: Meet the campaign connecting affluent techies with progressive candidates around the country.

    I'm in awe of what Maciej has done, but I've always been somewhat skeptical of the slate of candidates, who are somewhat of a mixed bag, ideologically, and seem to have been chosen a bit haphazardly, focusing more on low-income rural Republican leaning districts, rather than based on emphasizing the best chances for taking back the House. But this article makes a case for the importance of funding these types of candidates, who live in districts where Democrats can't pull in this kind of cash. I think I mainly still come down on the "fund the most viable candidates" strategy, but building roots in these districts shouldn't be overlooked.

    There's plenty of Eric S. Raymond bashing in there too, which is always fun.

    ----
    As a sidenote, does anyone have a good current state of play as to what's going on with the banking bill? The Crapo amendment changed a lot, closing some loopholes but possibly opening others, and I've heard rumors that the House isn't on board and the whole thing might have to go to a conference committee. I'm trying to get a handle on what's changed exactly, and would appreciate links or education.
    posted by zachlipton at 12:42 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    You know it just might be that Trump is fully aware that video games don't cause mass shootings, just like plenty of other people who tow this line. It's a red herring - it doesn't matter if there is no causal link between the two if you can waste enough time and oxygen and energy on keeping people from expending that energy on actual gun control.
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:43 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    Regulating videogames is a (effective!) distraction. A distraction.

    From the Washington Post:
    Even then, though, the promise of greater transparency and oversight didn’t satisfy all policymakers. In California, the state legislature in 2005 adopted a law that banned the sale of violent video games to anyone under age 18. Apoplectic at the prohibition, the video game industry sued the state in response, and in 2011, they emerged victorious after the Supreme Court invalidated the restriction.
    From NPR:
    The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to children, saying it ran afoul of the First Amendment right to free speech.

    In one of the most closely watched cases this term, in a 7-to-2 vote, the justices said governments did not have the authority to "restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."
    Thankfully to (rightfully) concerned parents of children, they can regulate access to the content they consume.

    Trump is really good at distracting. He'll say shit that makes him look foolish, is objectively outlandish and ridiculous, and instantly distract the conversation. Unless we are all (myself included) savvy to these techniques, and resist them, we'll succumb to them.

    I'm not certain that Trump is engineering it, but I'm also certain that the Trump Porn star story is completely a distraction. It does not matter. Oh, maybe illegal shit happened, but then what? He runs afoul the toothless FEC? What if the (Republican controlled) FEC suddenly grows a spine and does something? Will that something really really matter? The best outcome is that the affair will help the Democrats in the upcoming elections. But honestly, if the Democrats start campaigning on porn-star hush money instead of the real issues that face the country, voters might not be impressed (I wouldn't be).

    There are enough real issues that are mindblogging in their impact and nontrivial to address, and the Democrats should keep their eye on the ball. Healthcare. Tradewars. Integrity of elections. Possible treason. International relations. The EPA. The Department of Education.

    I know I'm missing some big ones, but I've been too busy reading stories about porn stars and videogames. When I implore everyone to ignore these 'stories' that are straight up distractions from things that matter, I'm speaking to myself more than to any of you.
    posted by el io at 12:46 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    This is the same Donald Trump who spooked the NRA lapdogs by suggesting the government should take away people's guns without due process. He's not fully aware of anything, he just says whatever comes to his mind and then gauges how people react.
    posted by biogeo at 12:47 PM on March 8 [48 favorites]


    Manafort pleded not guilty to the Virginia charges, with the judge setting a very early trial date: July 10 (that's before the September date on the DC charges).

    He was put on home confinement, just as in the DC case, but will have to wear a second ankle monitor, because apparently the probation officers can't just talk on the phone or something.
    posted by zachlipton at 12:49 PM on March 8 [25 favorites]


    Al-Monitor's Laura Rozen delves into George Nader's murky past and digs up a Putin connection: The Dealmaker: Mueller Witness Helped Broker $4.2 Billion Iraq-Russia Arms Deal
    A Lebanese-American businessman reported to be cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe helped broker a controversial 2012 Iraq-Russian arms deal valued at $4.2 billion, Iraqi sources tell Al-Monitor.

    George Nader, 58, traveled to Moscow in 2012, telling Russian interlocutors that he represented Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the deal should be negotiated through him, according to two Iraqi sources. Nader’s role in the deal was controversial to Iraqi officials because Iraq’s minister of defense was in Russia to conduct the negotiations, and they were unaware that Maliki was working with Nader to bypass official channels.

    One of the Iraqi sources, a former Iraqi official who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition that he not be named, personally witnessed Nader’s interactions with Maliki in their Moscow hotel when he accompanied Maliki to Moscow in October 2012 to sign the arms deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Mueller may now be able to connect Nader directly with Moscow in addition to his relationship with oligarch Kirill Dmitriev, potentially putting Erik Prince one degree of separation from Vladimir Putin.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 12:50 PM on March 8 [15 favorites]


    He's not fully aware of anything, he just says whatever comes to his mind and then gauges how people react.

    This is probably so, but the Trump Whisperers du jour seem to know exactly what they're doing with this tired video game demonization.
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:51 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    As a sidenote, does anyone have a good current state of play as to what's going on with the banking bill?

    Republicans Eye Making Bank Bill Even Weaker For Consumers

    David Dayen’s Update linked earlier

    And Mike Konczal’s Twitter feed

    Edit:The CBOs analysis
    posted by T.D. Strange at 12:55 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    There are enough real issues that are mindblogging in their impact and nontrivial to address, and the Democrats should keep their eye on the ball. Healthcare. Tradewars. Integrity of elections. Possible treason. International relations. The EPA. The Department of Education.

    You don't need to lecture us on what you think is or is not important, thanks.

    I have two children in public school. They go through active shooter drills, where they are asked to hide in their classrooms with the doors locked and shades drawn, because this country's legislators have been bought by a lobbying group who promotes the prevailing mindset that guns are more precious than their actual lives. This country has been plagued by mass shootings for years. And no one with the power to do so takes action to prevent them.

    It's not a distraction. It's a revealing look at their lack of interest in solving what is in fact a very solvable problem. It's additional evidence that they don't give a shit about gun control or protecting children from mass shootings.

    I'm glad we're talking about that here. And talking about who they're trotting out as experts on the issue, and discussing just how dangerous their views are.
    posted by zarq at 12:56 PM on March 8 [88 favorites]


    Pete Souza continues his excellent trolling by posting a picture showing a group of people, including Obama, trying intensely to fix some other WH dude's shirt collar, and captioning it, "Chaos at the White House!"
    posted by angrycat at 12:56 PM on March 8 [36 favorites]


    The Guardian: Russian spy attack inquiry widens after medics treat 21 people
    The investigation into the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal has widened, as police sealed off the graves of his late wife, Liudmila, and son, Alexander, and confirmed that a total of 21 people had been treated as a result of the incident.

    The police officer who was exposed to the nerve agent used on the Skripals, named on Thursday as DS Nick Bailey, remained in a serious but stable condition.
    Reuters: Britain will respond if Russia is proved to be behind nerve attack: PM May
    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will respond appropriately if evidence shows Moscow was behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.
    Meanwhile, the Russian Embassy in the UK appears to be continuing its confrontational social media presence.
    posted by Existential Dread at 12:58 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    This is going great!

    @pdmcleod“Your father is looking down on you, he’s very proud,” Trump tells steel worker at his press conference. “He’s still alive,” the guy responds.

    There's video. Trump follows up with "then he's even more proud of you."
    posted by zachlipton at 1:03 PM on March 8 [60 favorites]


    Trump follows up with "then he's even more proud of you."

    For once, he actually makes a funny joke
    posted by OverlappingElvis at 1:04 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    @pdmcleod“Your father is looking down on you, he’s very proud,” Trump tells steel worker at his press conference. “He’s still alive,” the guy responds.

    There's video. Trump follows up with "then he's even more proud of you."


    Trump continues writing new episodes of Veep in real-time.
    posted by scarylarry at 1:05 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    I was one of those people who laughed in the 1990s about "haha they think video games are a problem", but now I'm actively considering...

    The problem isn't video games; it's cishet white male privilege. There's no sign that girls and women who play games turn vicious because of them.

    The issue isn't "video games make boys turn violent;" it's "video games are just one more medium that tells boys that it's okay to kill people who piss you off." Removing the games while encouraging gun ownership won't change that message a bit.

    (However, if someone wanted to fund a report on "history of violence in players of exclusively first-person-shooter games with a white male protagonist," I'd love to see that.)
    posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:11 PM on March 8 [76 favorites]


    “Your father is looking down on you..."

    trump can't imagine a reality wherein a father doesn't look down on his son.
    posted by Atom Eyes at 1:13 PM on March 8 [31 favorites]


    "It's a conundrum, really, because you do not want 100 senators and our counterparts in the House doing basically any trade initiative. That's why we give that (power) to the executive," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
    Jeezy creezy. It's not just American voters who need a brush-up on civics; it's (some of) our actual congresspeople! Repeat after me - checks and balances! I learned this in freaking high school! Yes, I know that the Republicans in Congress are inept, corrupt, or both, but they can't even pretend to know what their jobs are? Smh.
    To be fair (ugh, even to a Republican), I assume what he's getting at is the conventional wisdom that trade/tariff policy is especially susceptible to politicking that leads to dysfunction. My state makes cars and yours grows wheat, so I'll vote for your tariff on wheat imports if you vote for mine on car imports... and before you know it, the whole country is spinning down a drain of economic isolation. At least earmarks (which posed similar issues and have been kinda-sorta banned) generated public spending/jobs.

    Yes, in theory, all of trade policy could be "congress's job", but there are a lot of things that aren't, sometimes with sensible reason.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:14 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    Britain will respond appropriately if evidence shows Moscow was behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.

    Oh really? Can someone remind me how they responded to Alexander Litvenenko's polonium poisoning in London? I mean, as far as I can recall, the only real sanction against the person(s) responsible came years later when Obama put them on the Magnitsky Act list. Did the UK take any action? I mean, they filed extradition requests (which were declined, natch) and had an inquiry but it doesn't seem to me like the UK government ever successfully did anything to the assassins. Sure, it's possible their actions were all hush-hush, spy-vs-spy stuff. But when one of your turned assets is being assassinated in an incredibly high-profile way (in the heart of London no less!), it might behoove you to take at least some public actions.
    posted by mhum at 1:17 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    Apparently there will be sanctions.
    posted by zarq at 1:21 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    Britain will respond appropriately if evidence shows Moscow was behind a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.

    I'm, uh, sceptical on this one. Even if they wished to do so, they have little scope for it. There's not much more sanctioning to do. Thanks to Brexit, they've marooned themselves on their island, and without a strong banking sector, they're screwed; they could employ the leverage given by the Magnitsky Act, but London needs that foreign money.

    "Poisons can be untraceable, so that they are useful for covert forms of warfare. But they can also be used very obviously, as a signal and to make a point."

    Kremlin representatives are making cracks in Russian media about Britain being the true master poisoners of the world. One of the people swapped for the victim straight-up was trolling on her Insta. Hell, Putin essentially offered confirmation, though in code. Russia put a fair amount of effort into researching novel nerve agents, and I suspect there's a reason they decided to hit their targets with one just outside Porton Down, and I would not be surprised if it ends up being VR, as a clever little military warfare in-joke of sorts.

    And, of course, the effort to defend Putin has begun. The UK will awkwardly ignore this. Like it always does. Partly because there's not much else they could do. (Maybe if the US could step in to help an ally out, to work with their intelligence services, but we all know that's not happening any time soon, given the state that we're also in.)
    posted by halation at 1:22 PM on March 8 [20 favorites]


    I assume what he's getting at is the conventional wisdom that trade/tariff policy is especially susceptible to politicking that leads to dysfunction.

    Planet Money did a great show on all of what goes into trade agreements. It blew my mind just how complex it gets - so many special interests and all of them only interested in once tiny sliver of the giant pie.
    posted by mosst at 1:28 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]




    AP, Interior mum on whether Zinke spent $139K on office door. This is still thin, but if the $139,000 work order labeled "Secretary’s Door" actually included other important work or something, you'd think it would be easy enough for the press office to say so.
    posted by zachlipton at 1:37 PM on March 8 [16 favorites]


    Trump Blocks Access to Puppy Mill Inspections
      In May of last year, the Tampa Bay Times asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the three most recent inspections of 15 puppy breeders who supply Tampa-area stores.
      It took nine months, but the reply arrived last week: 54 pages of total blackout.
      Every word of every inspection — from the date to the violations — were redacted from the documents provided. Providing "personnel and medical files," the agency said, would "constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
      These records used to be available on the USDA website for anyone to search and find. But in the first month after President Donald Trump took office, the information was scrubbed entirely from the website.
    posted by Kriesa at 1:39 PM on March 8 [62 favorites]


    AP, Interior mum on whether Zinke spent $139K on office door.

    $9,000 was for the door.

    I think we all know what the remaining $130,000 will buy you in this White House.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:39 PM on March 8 [76 favorites]


    Richard Painter, the Republican ethics lawyer suing Donald Trump over emoluments, is exploring a run for Franken's Senate seat.
    “I have seen corruption firsthand. I have seen corruption in Washington, D.C., and I will emphasize that the corruption we see today is not to be blamed principally on President Donald Trump, even though I have criticized him,” he said. “It is to be blamed on the role of money in politics.” Painter said that issue would drive his campaign.
    posted by xyzzy at 1:40 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    Maybe if the US could step in to help an ally out, to work with their intelligence services

    Nah, the FSB seems to be doing fine on their own.

    Oh, you meant the Brits.
    posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:44 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


    Forgive me if this was posted already and I missed it, but HEY GUESS WHAT Sinclair's found a way to make its must-run propaganda segments somehow even worse:
    The instructions to local stations say that the promos "should play using news time, not commercial time." Like the Epshteyn commentaries, this takes away from local news time.

    "Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written," the instructions say. "This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience."

    The promos begin with one or two anchors introducing themselves and saying "I'm [we are] extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces. But I'm [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country."

    Then the media bashing begins.
    The internal memo also offers sartorial suggestions: talent is to "avoid totally red, blue and purple" ties, dresses, or suits and instead favour "jewel tones" because "the goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional" while delivering said propaganda.

    Thanks again, Ajit Pai!
    posted by halation at 1:49 PM on March 8 [54 favorites]


    Richard Painter, the Republican ethics lawyer suing Donald Trump over emoluments, is exploring a run for Franken's Senate seat.

    This is a bit weird. Painter has said he's considering running as GOP, DFL (Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor), or an independent.

    Which...I understand he's trying to figure out where he belongs, but how does this practically work? Does the MN GOP really want a never-Trump Republican whose commitment to the party is so weak he's considering running as a Democrat? Are the Democrats really going to toss Tina Smith? And what kind of ticket-splitting mess would an independent campaign stir up?
    posted by zachlipton at 1:49 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    Good news, everyone! Trump confirms steel is steel, but no word on whether up is still up, or possibly down. Oh, and he signed the tariffs:
    The president ordered a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent levy on imported aluminum to take effect in 15 days. Although Trump initially wanted to apply the tariffs worldwide, carve-outs were added for Canada and Mexico for the time being. Aides say exceptions could be made for other U.S. allies.
    So the first question is how long will other countries wait to see if they get added to exception lists before issuing counter-tariffs? And Paul Ryan was concerned, but partially appeased:
    House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., issued a statement disagreeing with the administration's approach, arguing instead for "targeted enforcement" against bad trade practices by countries like China.

    "I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences. I am pleased that the president has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further," Ryan said. "We will continue to urge the administration to narrow this policy so that it is focused only on those countries and practices that violate trade law."
    Thoughts and prayers, Ryan. Thoughts and prayers.
    posted by filthy light thief at 1:58 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    And to show everyone that this has already worked, U.S. Steel announced plans to restart one of two idle blast furnaces in Granite City, Ill., and call back some 500 workers. Century Aluminum plans to invest $100 million to restart its idled smelter in Hawesville, Ky. and hire 300 additional workers.

    Both links are press releases, FYI.
    posted by filthy light thief at 2:01 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    Does the MN GOP really want a never-Trump Republican whose commitment to the party is so weak he's considering running as a Democrat?

    No.

    Are the Democrats really going to toss Tina Smith?

    No.

    And what kind of ticket-splitting mess would an independent campaign stir up?

    Hard to say, could be a real problem.
    posted by Chrysostom at 2:08 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    Hard to say, could be a real problem.
    That's the reason I posted the link to the article. Painter, due to the unique nature of his politics, could peel off voters from both parties and be very attractive to independents. Probably not enough to win if he ran as an independent, but could be enough to cause trouble for Tina Smith. Which I don't want to happen.
    posted by xyzzy at 2:13 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    Funfact: Granite City is home to Ken Bone
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:14 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


    Paul Ryan was concerned, but partially appeased:

    Goddamn is it infuriating to see again and again that although Ryan and McConnell, among others, spent 8 years doing their best to see to it that Obama couldn't do a damn thing , even things that both sides had traditionally agreed a President had every right to do -- and even things the Republicans had originally proposed!!!! -- they keep claiming utter powerlessness when faced with Trump's excesses, incompetence, and overreach.
    posted by lord_wolf at 2:20 PM on March 8 [41 favorites]


    And to show everyone that this has already worked, U.S. Steel announced plans to restart one of two idle blast furnaces in Granite City, Ill., and call back some 500 workers. Century Aluminum plans to invest $100 million to restart its idled smelter in Hawesville, Ky. and hire 300 additional workers.

    Both links are press releases, FYI.


    Yep. Let's wait and see how many manufacturing jobs are lost due to the cost of raw materials. It'll be more than 800.
    posted by azpenguin at 2:26 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    WH press pool is reporting that about 15 mins ago Trump stuck his head into the briefing room to say that South Korea will be making a "major statement on a big subject" and I just cant wait to see if they are gonna give Stormy the rose or not. . .
    posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:27 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    I was kind of speculating last night when I mentioned how the consensual Stormy Daniels story is important to understanding the many allegations of nonconsensual behavior by Trump, but I wasn't expecting this direct of a link today:

    @mj_lee: NEW: A woman named in Stormy Daniels' NDA as having confidential info about Stormy's affair with Trump -- "Angel Ryan" -- is Jessica Drake, an adult film performer who herself accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Gloria Allred, the lawyer representing Drake, confirms to CNN that Drake = Angel Ryan. But Allred would not comment further on the nature of Drake's relationship with Stormy Daniels.

    Drake's publicist said that she signed an NDA, then retracted that. And now here she is in Daniels' NDA under a pseudonym.
    posted by zachlipton at 2:35 PM on March 8 [21 favorites]


    There's plenty of Eric S. Raymond bashing in there too, which is always fun.

    Courtesy my old friend Tom Ptacek, @tqbf. ESR really is a worthless human being; repurposing him to raise money for worthwhile Democrats was a genius move.
    posted by scalefree at 2:55 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Meanwhile, in the Kansas voting rights trial, Kris Kobach presents as evidence a spreadsheet showing 38 cases of non-citizen voting activity as proof of the need for proof-of-citizenship for registered voters.
    Those alleged non-citizen voters cast collectively about 10-12 votes, the earliest in 2004, testimony revealed. According to the challengers in the case, that’s out of 1.3 million votes cast in the relevant time period in the county. Sedgwick County accounts for a little over one sixth of Kansas’ population.

    Yet Kobach is using those examples to defend his proof-of-citizenship requirement, which was implemented in 2013. An appeals court has said Kobach must prove that non-citizen voting is a “substantial” problem in Kansas. So the spreadsheet — along with testimony expected in the days to come from “experts” in voter fraud — is key to Kobach’s argument.

    The spreadsheet details 38 cases where non-citizens purportedly voted, registered to vote or attempted to register to vote. Eighteen successfully registered before the law was enacted, 16 were blocked by the law, and four registered after the law was temporarily blocked in 2016, the spreadsheet alleges.

    Many of the people cited on the spreadsheet as non-citizens had registered at the DMV, where people getting drivers licenses or state IDs are also asked if they want to register to vote.
    posted by murphy slaw at 2:57 PM on March 8 [17 favorites]


    Shorter Kobach:
    Better that 10,000 legitimate (Democratic) voters be disenfranchised than to allow one non-citizen to (unsuccessfully) attempt to register to vote.
    posted by Atom Eyes at 3:09 PM on March 8 [34 favorites]


    18 non-citizen votes out of 1.3 million total votes = huge problem that requires immediate action
    Around 15% of Americans living below the poverty line = enjoy your rations Harvest Box™
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:09 PM on March 8 [53 favorites]


    The first Democrat to point out 69,105 flagrant examples of Republicans using word and deed to attempt to, quite literally, dehumanize the poor, the left and everyone outside of the conservative tribe gets a cookie.

    And also gets to write the Democratic response to Trump, Bozell & Co. bemoaning how HORRIBLE it is that violent video games supposedly train teenagers to dehumanize those that they hate.
    posted by delfin at 3:15 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    18 non-citizen votes out of 1.3 million total votes = huge problem that requires immediate action

    Voter ID advocates could make a bigger impact by several orders of magnitude in more accurately tallying votes by pushing for better ballots design.
    posted by PenDevil at 3:15 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


    Speaking of voter ID laws I was required to vote via provisional ballot in Texas because I got married and updated my voter registration and my ID and even got a card with my new last name but the voter Database still had my old name.

    Voter ID laws are bullshit. They are designed to disenfranchise voters and that’s fucking it. Even if you follow the steps you are still at the mercy of their fucking system.

    Guess whose names never change?

    Men, that’s who.
    posted by Annika Cicada at 3:18 PM on March 8 [135 favorites]


    Goddamn is it infuriating to see again and again that although Ryan and McConnell, among others, spent 8 years doing their best to see to it that Obama couldn't do a damn thing , even things that both sides had traditionally agreed a President had every right to do -- and even things the Republicans had originally proposed!!!! -- they keep claiming utter powerlessness when faced with Trump's excesses, incompetence, and overreach.

    GOP Über Alles. The GOP nominated Trump for the Presidency. They're all on the same team, so there is of course no pushback.
    posted by mikelieman at 3:21 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    And what kind of ticket-splitting mess would an independent campaign stir up?

    In Minnesota? Ask Jesse Ventura.
    posted by nickmark at 3:22 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    The instructions to local stations say that the promos "should play using news time, not commercial time." Like the Epshteyn commentaries, this takes away from local news time.

    "Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written," the instructions say. "This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience."


    I would pay $MANY_DOLLARS for someone to forge Sinclair Media instructions. Have them broadcast that aliens were about to land at Devil's Table and all true Americans were instructed to come greet them. Have them pass on a message from the Great Lord Satan, and his Son on Earth Donald Trump. The possibilities are endless.

    I also acknowledge, upon reflection, that Sinclair Media is terrifying and fucking with the Midwest is probably not as important as withdrawing their broadcast license.
    posted by Merus at 3:22 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


    (The senate seat in question, incidentally, has been held by two of the three former wrestlers to win statewide elections in Minnesota in the time I've lived here.)
    posted by nickmark at 3:25 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    @JenGriffinFNC: EXCLUSIVE Sr US official tells me S Korean National Security Adviser will announce at 7 pm EST from WH: an invitation from Kim Jong Un to meet Trump; no change to planned US South Korea military exercises in April and commitment by Kim Jong Un to stop nuclear & missile testing.

    @ArmsControlWonk: So, teeing up this presser on the DPRK. Its good if we are willing to talk. But our expectations are unrealistic IMHO. Kim ain't giving up the bomb. So, what happens when these expectations meet reality? Do we settle for less? Or do we blow it up because we didn't get a pony?

    @MiraRappHooper: This. If Trump gets all valedictory over simple willingness to talk, he may also tack hard in the other direction when hopes are dashed.
    posted by zachlipton at 3:27 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    @headfallsoff:
    you best believe the ESA were popping bottles when trump started rambling about violent video games and suddenly all the headlines about them being scum fighting for the right to sell gambling traps to children went away
    posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    I find it more likely that Kim is going to flatter Trump and get an enormous concession out of him in exchange for a token gesture of deference. Trump has always been a cheap date.
    posted by J.K. Seazer at 3:31 PM on March 8 [60 favorites]


    "...and make South Korea pay for it!"
    posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    Good grief, this is an invitation to a fiasco for Trumpian diplomacy in the Korean Penninsula, if true. Kim Jong Un has unquestionably seen how easy it is to flatter and manipulate Trump, especially with pomp and circumstance (see the Saudi Arabia trip), how inept the Trump White House is at statecraft (see Mike Pence's pathetic Olympics visit and Ivanka's inexperienced Seoul stopover), and how unprepared the administration is diplomatically (see the continued absence of a US ambassador to South Korea). Trump spent his first year in office by blustering and bumbling about on the world stage while autocrats everywhere took note. For his second, they're going to line up to play him like a harp.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 3:36 PM on March 8 [32 favorites]


    Inside Trump’s private meeting with the video-game industry — and its critics
    Trump himself opened the meeting by showing “a montage of clips of various violent video games,” said Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri. Then, Hartzler said the president would ask, “This is violent isn’t it?”
    The White House has now posted their montage, a minute and a half worth of clips from video games cut together at taxpayer expense so the President, who has previously enjoyed making his son fast-forward through all the non-violent bits of a movie for him, can ask whether things are violent.
    posted by zachlipton at 3:42 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    So, not to get too far into a video game derail, but what I've been thinking about since the last shooting and the fallout is about violence in media in general. When was the last time you watched a movie, TV show, or read a book that didn't involve prolonged action scenes? What I've been noticing is this normalization of heroic violence, particularly by untrained "normal" people. So often there are scenes where some average civilian is given a gun or just put in an intense situation, and suddenly they're a fucking badass.

    And we wonder why there are people seriously suggesting that arming bystanders is the answer.

    Meanwhile the people actually trained in this stuff hesitated to engage a crazed shooter with an AR-15, and they are relentless hounded and castigated for it. BUT THAT'S THE NORMAL HUMAN REACTION. The normal human reaction to violence is to hide, to freeze, to do really stupid things and make big mistakes. We AREN'T action heroes. We panic. We are cowards. We shoot innocent people because we're scared. That is what happens in real world violent situations.

    We've just all seemingly forgotten that what we've seen endlessly in entertainment ISN'T REAL. I'm not arguing for censorship or anything. I'm a gamer. But our media landscape has REALLY been taking over by action tropes to the point where it's tough to find ANY property free of them. And seeing human beings acting in the same way over and over has affected us. It's changed the conversation about violence, and NOT in a good way.
    posted by threeturtles at 3:54 PM on March 8 [37 favorites]


    Counterpoint: No, it hasn't.
    "We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices," ESA said in a statement.
    Emphasis added by me. I don't wonder why people are suggesting arming bystanders is the answer to gun violence. They're suggesting it so we won't take away their guns.

    Society has not in general become unable to discriminate between fiction and reality. Music, movies, and games have not made us all forget that fictional depictions aren't real. This is a nonsense argument that sounds plausible, which is why they're using it. Because it works. And because if it works, they have a better chance to keep their guns.
    posted by SpaceBass at 4:08 PM on March 8 [29 favorites]


    The White House has now posted their montage

    Boy, their montage of the horrors of video game violence sure seems to have an emphasis on Nazis being killed. I see 2 Wolfenstein clips and at least 3 other clips of violence against WW2 German military, for a total of 5 clips of antifascist violence.

    In contrast, 2 clips depict violence against people of color.

    Huh. Odd!
    posted by Rust Moranis at 4:08 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

    Breaking: North Korean leader has invited Trump to a meeting, U.S. officials say (WaPo)

    Trump has now said he will meet with Kim Jong Un soon — “by May.”
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:15 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    The should show some footage of some Pepe the Frog Discord servers blowing the fuck up.
    posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Society has not in general become unable to discriminate between fiction and reality. Music, movies, and games have not made us all forget that fictional depictions aren't real.

    Counterpoint: A significant minority of Americans voted for Donald Trump for president because they believed he was a smart businessman and not just a reality TV star.
    posted by biogeo at 4:17 PM on March 8 [43 favorites]


    @Reuters: BREAKING: U.S. President Donald Trump said he will meet with North Korea's Kim by May, according to South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong

    Some insta-reaction from Jeffrey Lewis, who does not think Trump has a clue what he's just done:
    North Korea has been seeking a summit with an American president for more than twenty years. It has literally been a top foreign policy goal of Pyongyang since Kim Jong Il invited Bill Clinton. I wonder if Trump's "aides" have explained that to him. Or, if in their toddler-handling, they have led him to believe that this offer is something unusual. Or perhaps he imagines that only he can go Pyongyang. This is literally how the North Korean film "The Country I Saw" ends. An American President visits Pyongyang, compelled by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs to treat a Kim as an equal.
    Also, having this announced by South Korean officials, at the White House, with nobody from the US government on-camera, is weird as hell.
    posted by zachlipton at 4:19 PM on March 8 [61 favorites]


    Remember when GOP candidate Mitt Romney was livid that Obama would meet with Hugo Chavez without "preconditions"? Has Trump declared what critical "preconditions" are associated with this meeting?
    posted by 0xFCAF at 4:19 PM on March 8 [38 favorites]


    Also, I think the point threeturtles is making is that seeing action heroes in media makes us think we could be action heroes in real life, the proverbial good guy with a gun. That trope absolutely contributes to the national dialogue and attitude about guns.
    posted by J.K. Seazer at 4:21 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


    Trump has said he will meet with Kim Jong Un soon — “by May.”

    Say, isn't May when US special representative for North Korea Joseph Yun will retire, as per his sudden announcement late last month?

    (The real worst-case scenario would be if an unrestrained Trump sabotaged these talks himself as a prelude to military action.)
    posted by Doktor Zed at 4:23 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    Remember when GOP candidate Mitt Romney was livid that Obama would meet with Hugo Chavez without "preconditions"? Has Trump declared what critical "preconditions" are associated with this meeting?

    The good news is the President of the United States of America no longer reports to Vladimir Putin. The bad news is...
    posted by Artw at 4:23 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    That trope absolutely contributes to the national dialogue and attitude about guns.

    Does that come from video games though? Seems this trope is as old as America itself. If anything, I think modern media is incorporating old tropes to strikes chords with potential consumers, rather than relatively new media like video games inventing these trope whole cloth.
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:24 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    Remember when GOP candidate Mitt Romney was livid that Obama would meet with Hugo Chavez without "preconditions"? Has Trump declared what critical "preconditions" are associated with this meeting?

    I know that the temptation to flip things around on the current administration because of Trump's mirror, but I say we let this one go since Hugo Chavez was not capable of starting an actual nuclear war.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    Remember when GOP candidate Mitt Romney was livid that Obama would meet with Hugo Chavez without "preconditions"? Has Trump declared what critical "preconditions" are associated with this meeting?

    I wouldn't hold my breath. Everything Obama was slammed for by the GOP is totally okie-dokie when Trump does/doesn't do it. Hell if Obama did a fraction of the stuff Trump has gotten up to he'd be facing monthly impeachment hearings.
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:26 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Only Stupid-Nixon can go to Next-to-China.
    posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on March 8 [93 favorites]


    Remember when GOP candidate Mitt Romney was livid that Obama would meet with Hugo Chavez without "preconditions"?

    Or the GOP freakout over Obama meeting Raul Castro.
    posted by chris24 at 4:33 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    North Korea has been seeking a summit with an American president for more than twenty years.

    I get that it's a major PR plus for North Korea, but I don't understand why that also makes it bad. I think the obvious solution to the NK situation is one that is unfathomable according to conventional wisdom: welcome them back into the international community, and treat them like any other state. We certainly have no compunction about treating other authoritarian states with terrible human rights records (like Saudia Arabia, cough cough) as though they were legitimate members of the international community. Remove the sanctions, let them know they won't be reuiniting with the South and be done with this idiocy.

    I have no idea what Trump's plan here is, but why not meet with Kim?
    posted by dis_integration at 4:37 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    I mean what possible end game is there here? North Korea isn't really giving up their nuclear program, because their nuclear program is precisely the one thing that just got them what they've wanted for decades: recognition by the President of the United States. So Trump goes and does this, North Korea does what they always do, and then we're in the same place we are now, except Trump is madder.

    North Korea gets their PR coup simply by having these talks. Is there any actual objective for the talks under which we receive anything too? Once we get past "give up your nuke," "I'd prefer not to," what's part 3 of the plan? And what are the odds of Jared coming up with a plan all on his own since nobody in this administration talks to experts and they're all quitting?

    On the bright side, I guess there's a lower chance of a nuclear war between now and May, and we all know how the White House likes to stretch deadlines, so that's nice.
    posted by zachlipton at 4:40 PM on March 8 [23 favorites]


    Personally, totally fine with de-escalation with regard to DPRK. I just have grave trepidations about Trump at the helm.

    It's like learning you're finally going to get that badly-needed bypass surgery, but that it will be performed by a chocolate Labrador.
    posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:41 PM on March 8 [105 favorites]


    Conspiracy Theorists Arrested After Harassing Sutherland Springs Pastor The pair have spent months stalking families of victims and their communities in a failed attempt to prove the November 2017 mass shooting in Texas was a "false flag."
    posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    but why not meet with Kim?

    Because long-term you can make a case this increases chances of a war there. Once Trump doesn't get what he expects, he's more likely to react badly. And he'll have the excuse that "well, I went there and tried."

    Plus it's fucking Trump, not Obama or hell even Nixon. He's stupid, awful, and a terrible negotiator. What possibly good can come of this.
    posted by chris24 at 4:44 PM on March 8 [26 favorites]


    I have no idea what Trump's plan here is...

    Well that's one problem here, isn't it? Nobody knows what Trump's plan is, nor his goals, so it's impossible to evaluate. Whatever they are, they probably don't align with many of our goals. We can probably also trust that the traditional checks to executive opacity and overreach -- the bureaucracy and the formal checks and balances set out in the Constitution -- are today so weakened that we may never know his goals or plans, nor be in position to evaluate them and hold him accountable later.

    ...but why not meet with Kim?

    So far Trump has been offering the Stick -- the Carrot is the face-to-face and the normalization of relations. What's the point of either -- but especially the Carrot -- unless there's a get (reduced tensions, shuttering of the nuke facilities, expansion of democratic and human rights, etc in the DPRK) for the United States and the broader community?

    It's terrible that the United States has been cozy with authoritarians elsewhere. That the U.S. has been is not a convincing argument that it should be here.
    posted by notyou at 4:56 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    @joshledermanAP: Secretary Tillerson, just a few hours ago: "In terms of direct talks with the United States – and you asked negotiations, and we’re a long ways from negotiations."

    Whatever Trump's plan is, that it didn't involve a friendly chat with the Secretary of State before making this announcement is a pretty good clue that there isn't one.
    posted by zachlipton at 4:58 PM on March 8 [52 favorites]


    Whatever Trump's plan is

    Trump's plan is the same one as always: to simultaneously please and get revenge on the ghost of his dad.

    How that relates to what will happen when he sits down with Kim is a mystery to all, probably including Trump himself. The only certainty is that it will not be good.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 5:04 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


    Society has not in general become unable to discriminate between fiction and reality. Music, movies, and games have not made us all forget that fictional depictions aren't real.

    Counterpoint: A significant minority of Americans voted for Donald Trump for president because they believed he was a smart businessman and not just a reality TV star.


    Might want to check the age demographics on Trump supporters. Not exactly a big demo for video games. Or violent rap music, or much of their other straw men.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:05 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    Here come the walk-backs!

    CNN's Will Ripley @willripleyCNN reports, "Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: 'President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation & President Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea'"
    posted by Doktor Zed at 5:06 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    This administration has made me want to become a gambler so badly. I feel like I could win $20 easily with this particular circumstance. Like, I bet $20 that Trump goes to N. Korea and says on TV something like "It's a pretty nice place!"
    posted by gucci mane at 5:10 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


    that denuclearized quickly
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:10 PM on March 8 [24 favorites]


    The reason I don't want Trump to meet with North Korea is that we've seen over and over again that there exactly two possible outcomes when Trump tries to negotiate:

    * He utterly fucks up the negotiation and leaves both participants more pissed off than when they started and no closer to a deal
    * He says something placating and his senior staff walks it all back immediately afterwards

    Neither of these are good outcomes in a meeting with an entitled, childish, monomaniacal nuclear-wielding idiot and a 30-something dictator.
    posted by 0xFCAF at 5:11 PM on March 8 [31 favorites]


    Meanwhile, in the Kansas voting rights trial, Kris Kobach presents as evidence a spreadsheet showing 38 cases of non-citizen voting activity as proof of the need for proof-of-citizenship for registered voters.

    The other side should enter the very same spreadsheet -- the best Kobach could do, presumably --
    as an admission that there's practically no evidence voter fraud is the problem he claims it to be.
    posted by Gelatin at 5:11 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    but why not meet with Kim?

    Because long-term you can make a case this increases chances of a war there. Once Trump doesn't get what he expects, he's more likely to react badly. And he'll have the excuse that "well, I went there and tried.


    Yeah if his goal here is denuclearization then that's just bonkers. I can't even imagine what bargain we could possibly offer them in exchange for denuclearization. "We won't invade you" is 100% not the wise strategy here. The only realistic viewpoint is: they've got nukes and icbms and that's not going to change without war. Apparently South Africa is the only nation to have a succesful nuclear program and then abandon it? North Korea is not going to be next one. Now that I talk about it, I'm terrified of a Trump meeting with Kim. But in principle I think it's fine. I think Obama should've had bilateral talks.
    posted by dis_integration at 5:13 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    Might want to check the age demographics on Trump supporters. Not exactly a big demo for video games.

    Sadly all that new alt-right/white supremacist growth is /all/ fucking the age demographic for video games. It’s hugely scary, especially given people are actively trying to “redpill” from within communities offering depression support, as another Mefite posted a thread or two ago.
    posted by corb at 5:14 PM on March 8 [15 favorites]


    @RadioFreeTom (NeverTrumper, Naval War College prof)
    I’m sorry, do we not remember how awful that photo of Albright toasting Kim Jong Il was? She took a raft of shit for that - and *rightly so* - and the new answer is “let’s do that again, this time with his weird freak of a kid and a sitting POTUS?” Has everyone lost their minds?

    @GenMhayden (former Director CIA and NSA)
    Replying to @RadioFreeTom
    I got a bad feeling here

    @RadioFreeTom
    Replying to @GenMhayden
    You’re worrying me, sir, and I don’t worry easily :/

    @GenMhayden
    Probably gonna give him a sword dance or parade or something

    @RadioFreeTom
    And then backtrack on everything, and leave us worse off TVs if we had just declined as all previous POTUSes did. This trap is so obvious even Wile E. Coyote wouldn’t walk into it.
    posted by chris24 at 5:22 PM on March 8 [31 favorites]


    oh my god how are we in a timeline where gen. michael hayden is star wars catchphrasing on twitter about foreign policy
    posted by halation at 5:26 PM on March 8 [18 favorites]


    Which...I understand he's trying to figure out where he belongs, but how does this practically work? Does the MN GOP really want a never-Trump Republican whose commitment to the party is so weak he's considering running as a Democrat? Are the Democrats really going to toss Tina Smith? And what kind of ticket-splitting mess would an independent campaign stir up?

    Conventional wisdom: If he runs as a Republican, the current state of the MN GOP probably wouldn't let him get past a primary, much less get a party endorsement. (Standard disclaimer: the conventional wisdom is not always right.)

    If he runs as an independent, he could act as a spoiler for one party or the other. The actual Independence Party (think Jesse Ventura) lost major-party ballot status after 2014, though, so he wouldn't have automatic ballot access via that route.

    Pawlenty got elected governor in 2002 and 2006 in races where there were strong Independence Party candidates, one could argue whether that was correlation or causation. High-water mark for the Independence Party after Ventura was 15%-16% (Penny, 2002 for governor, or Barkley, 2008 for Senate--2008 was Franken's first election, which was memorable for being extremely close).

    In a close race, even a couple of percent drawn into an "independent" bucket would be uncomfortable and unpredictable. In the current climate, tough to say which side would lose more to the spoiler.
    posted by gimonca at 5:28 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


    @jonathanvswan (Axios)
    Text of an email I just got from a Republican official who has worked on North Korea & non-proliferation for >20 years:
    There is zero chance that Kim talked about "denuclearization" in the sense of giving up his weapons. I have no idea what the South Koreans heard. Or convinced themselves they heard. Trump either got it wrong, is exaggerating, or is putting pressure on Kim by publicly committing him to this. Or the South Koreans, in their eagerness, are being a bit too expansive on what he actually said.
    ---

    And the media idiocy has begun.

    @erichartmane
    Erin Burnett on CNN: If Trump solves the North Korea problem he "would be going down as a great president, and there's no getting around that."

    VIDEO
    posted by chris24 at 5:33 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    Erin Burnett on CNN: If Trump solves the North Korea problem he "would be going down as a great president, and there's no getting around that."

    even his detractors have to admit, having no plan, terms, or functional diplomatic corps is an approach that hasn’t been tried
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:38 PM on March 8 [138 favorites]


    Might want to check the age demographics on Trump supporters. Not exactly a big demo for video games. Or violent rap music, or much of their other straw men.

    57% of white America voted for Trump. Presumably all of Gamer Gate voted for Trump.
    posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:41 PM on March 8 [32 favorites]


    also, people always remember “only nixon could go to china” but that’s because if anyone else went nixon would have called them a commie stooge
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:43 PM on March 8 [39 favorites]


    Nixon went to China. Definitely went down. Just not as a great president.
    posted by chris24 at 5:47 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    I think it's entirely possible Trump could "solve" the Korea situation by effectively capitulating to Kim. Why not, he doesn't have any particular moral aversion toward dictators who brutalize their own people. All he has to say is that he trusts his good friend Kim's claim that their nuclear program has been dismantled, and no we don't even need to check. I mean once Kim throws him one of those ginormous parades it's game over.
    posted by xigxag at 5:49 PM on March 8 [20 favorites]


    Last week I heard Republican apologists telling me Trump could make gun control happen 'cause Nixon went to China. Now he's talking about video game bullshit and a tariff nobody wants and I'm not seeing much happen with guns.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:50 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


    This is a nonsense argument that sounds plausible, which is why they're using it. Because it works. And because if it works, they have a better chance to keep their guns.

    Are there absolutely people pushing this narrative for very cynical reasons in order to keep the gun money flowing and their power from waning? Of course. But why does this argument work? Because a lot of people out there have trouble telling fantasy from reality on a grand scale.

    I'm not saying that anyone is confusing a particular depiction of violence with reality. I'm saying that our entertainment has become so saturated with action scenes and people acting like action heroes that it's become just The Way The World Works. I mean, I'm physically disabled and even I would be likely to spin some kind of narrative about how I could fight off an attacker, or how I could survive in an apocalypse type situation. And yet I tried to carry some stuff to the garbage a few days ago and fell, injured my ankle, shattered a bunch of glass, and came close to seriously injuring my eye.

    Some of us are educated and honest enough to realize we wouldn't really do well in these action movie scenarios. I don't think that's a majority, though.
    posted by threeturtles at 6:02 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    And I'm not talking about video games at all here. I'm talking about The Walking Dead and Marvel movies and fucking every cop show on TV.
    posted by threeturtles at 6:05 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


    Victor Cha @VictorDCha asks, pointedly, "Nk agreed to freeze, us-sk xercises, meet with DJT. The question becomes what r we putting on table: sanctions? Normalization? Peace treaty?"

    Cha had, of course, been under consideration by the Trump administration for US ambassador to South Korea until he cautioned against the White House's bellicose posturing with regard to Kim Jong Un.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 6:08 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    I feel like violence in media is very much worth discussion (perhaps not here) regardless of any possible direct impact on real-world violence. Like, even though I'm unaware of any statistical correlation between Confederate statues and hate crimes, I still want them taken down, either by public removal or voluntarily if on private land. Messages can matter in themselves.

    The effect, if any, could be highly indect. Maybe playing hours upon hours of certain sorts of violence-celebrating games doesn't make anyone violent, but could nudge some people in the direction of policies that proliferate guns. There is some sort of neo-reactionary, authoritarian, blood-hungry sociopathy in this culture that gave us Trump, and I think all its facets are worth examination.

    I say this as someone who has consumed, and enjoyed, plenty of violent media. The GoldenEye game was an important middle-school bonding experience before I even knew about the film. I still love action movies. I just wish they were… less violent, plain and simple. Or rather, more honest about the nature of violence. I dunno.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:19 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


    Why not, he doesn't have any particular moral aversion toward dictators who brutalize their own people

    More than that, Kim and Trump are both emotionally-stunted megalomaniac starfuckers who capitalized on inheritances from their fathers by being more vicious than their rivals could anticipate. They have far more in common with each other than with the people they rule, or with any other world leader. Perhaps they recognize that on some level and can bond over their common monstrosity—god help us.
    posted by Iridic at 6:25 PM on March 8 [39 favorites]


    Erin Burnett on CNN: If Trump solves the North Korea problem he "would be going down as a great president, and there's no getting around that."

    HOW HOW HOW are you expecting this to happen? How can those words come out of your mouth without a presumable plan where it could be possible?
    posted by corb at 6:42 PM on March 8 [35 favorites]


    I have no idea what Trump's plan here is, but why not meet with Kim?

    Please enter into the record Exhibit A: Everything Donald Trump has ever said or done, ever.

    Exhibit B: Russia's relationship with North Korea.

    Exhibit C: Trump meets with a terrible gardening accident while there, US forced to go to war as if we were mad about it

    posted by petebest at 6:44 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    @Robert_E_Kelly (Pusan U poli sci prof, dad from the hilarious kids walk in on his live BBC interview video)

    On the Trump-Kim Summit: Summits normally come at the end of a long series of negotiations at lower levels in which lots of devils in the details r hammered out. Trump, always the publicity-seeker, is just diving right in, which is why the Korea analyst community is responding so hesitantly to the May summit news. So sure talks are good, and were this any other POTUS in the last 3 decades, I'd be thrilled. But consider that B Clinton wanted to visit North Korea only after 5 years of negotiating the Agreed Framework, & George W. Bush never seriously considered a summit despite years of effort in the Six Party Talks. But now, less than a year after the 'armada,' fire and fury,' & 'totally destroy NK,' Trump is suddenly going to have a break-through summit? Wait, what? Just like that? Maybe. But that 'art of the deal' stuff has mostly been vacuous fluff, and we know Trump doesn't study or even read.

    He also tends to fly wildly off-script (will he make some unpredictable, off-the-wall concession to NK?). And May means there's almost no time for all the staff prep necessary. Nor has public or elite opinion in S Korea and the US been consulted. And the ideological and strategic differences between the US & NK remain basically as wide as ever; NK has not, despite all the upbeat atmospherics this year, actually made or even suggested any real concessions yet. Test freezes, not pulling provocations on the border, family reunions, or reopening the Kaesong industrial park are not concessions. These are costless to the North, easily taken away or reversed, or profitable to it. The acid test is if the North will actually give up something real, something they really value, like movement on human rights or nuclear safety. Of course denuclearization is the ultimate concession, but it is highly unlikely Pyongyang will just suddenly do that in the next few months after 40 years trying to develop these weapons.

    It is far more likely that there would be a series of concessions and counter-concessions building trust and credibility over time (likely years) eventually rising to a serious discussion of denuclearization. Yet somehow Trump is going to get around all this? Even though we know about Trump's chaotic management style, erratic, moody personality, and chronic staffing problems, especially regarding East Asia. I just don't see it, We can always hope, but it is just as reasonable to fear that Trump, the reality TV star who somehow stumbled into the presidency for which he is woefully unfit, will wander from decades of joint US-South Korea policy, about which he naturally knows nothing, and make some kind of deal for a 'win' that no other US official would endorse.

    Obviously I hope I am wrong, but nothing in Trump's management of his campaign or White House says he is focused or knowledgeable enough for something this high stakes. And that's not ideology talking. I am a registered Republican and worked once for a GOP congressman. It's just from watching 3 years of Trump's shambolic incompetence.
    posted by chris24 at 6:44 PM on March 8 [65 favorites]


    He also tends to fly wildly off-script (will he make some unpredictable, off-the-wall concession to NK?).

    It's going to be like when he has those negotiation meetings with members of Congress and casually throws long-held Republican non-negotiables under the bus, but with actual consequences instead of Ryan and McConnell sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "lalala can't hear you".
    posted by jason_steakums at 6:54 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    Vox: The Trump administration is stepping in to stop Idaho’s plan to allow non-Obamacare insurance coverage back onto the market, in a rebuke of the conservative state’s brazen flouting of the health care law.
    posted by Chrysostom at 6:56 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    @nktpnd: Who is sweating the details on North Korea outside of the sanctions folks at Treasury right now? Serious question. If this is going to be serious, Trump will have to show up in May with some form of an agreement prepared, ready to negotiate the finer points. Who will prepare it?

    WaPo, Trump’s North Korea gambit blindsides U.S. diplomats
    Hours earlier, Tillerson said there may be no talks at all. “We’re a long way from negotiations. We just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it,” Tillerson said. He said he did not yet know whether “the conditions are right to even begin thinking about negotiations.”
    ...
    “It’s going to take time to get this underway under any circumstances. I would get going right away,” said Wendy Sherman, who served as North Korea policy coordinator for the Clinton administration and lead negotiator with Iran during the Obama administration.

    “When we did the Iran negotiation, we wrote an entire agreement, over 100 pages, before we began the negotiation, so we had a sense of what we were trying to achieve,” Sherman said. “It was incredibly detailed and incredibly technical. There’s homework to be done.”

    Traditionally, talks would require a lead negotiator with gravitas and the trust of both the White House and Congress, who would nail down the details of any agreement over a series of meetings before proposing any summit with the U.S. commander in chief. But Trump has long fashioned himself his own negotiator, potentially rendering past diplomatic playbooks void.
    posted by zachlipton at 6:58 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    el io: "I'm not certain that Trump is engineering it, but I'm also certain that the Trump Porn star story is completely a distraction. It does not matter."

    The porn star story doesn't matter; the NDA story matters. Both the existence of so many personal detail NDAs associated with Trump which provides all sorts of leverage for anyone wanting to wear him as a puppet and the specifics of this NDA execution where it appears the payment made was shady at best and likely illegal.
    posted by Mitheral at 7:05 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    So.... This North Korea thing. When I saw the headline my reaction was "OMG we're all going to die." Is anyone available to reassure me that that is not going to be the likely outcome?
    posted by soren_lorensen at 7:07 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


    Accidentally committing genocide in North or South Korea remains a more likely bad outcome than NK being able to do anything to the US, though it should be noted that China has an actual no kidding nuclear capacity and a long standing interest in maintaining NK as a border state.

    Most likely it’ll just end in a big embarrassing mess when it turns out both leaders are expecting bribes from the other.
    posted by Artw at 7:19 PM on March 8 [20 favorites]


    The Trump administration is stepping in to stop Idaho’s plan to allow non-Obamacare insurance coverage back onto the market, in a rebuke of the conservative state’s brazen flouting of the health care law.

    Yeah, except not really. They are simply eliminating outright defiance of the Obamacare rules preventing the sale of non-compliant long term insurance policies.

    But Trump has another (arguably legal) method of effectively doing the same thing. Obamacare allows the sale of non-compliant short term insurance often used as a temporary bridge between jobs or situations in which people purchase fully compliant coverage. Short term typically means no more than three months because that is the maximum coverage gap for non-compliant coverage allowed without paying an Obamacare penalty.

    Trump is simply using HHS regulatory power to change the definition of "short-term" to be up to 12 months, in which case it effectively becomes the equivalent of long term insurance. And in 2019 the penalty for non-compliant coverage goes to zero (Obamacare penalty repeal) so there's nothing to discourage people from buying these non-compliant policies every year.

    So HHS is preventing the sale of "long term" non-compliant insurance because that would be a direct violation of Obamacare law. But by changing the definition of "short term" to be 12 months, they can accomplish the same thing without direct conflict with Obamacare.

    This is within the regulatory power of HHS as managed by the president -- once again demonstrating that elections have consequences.
    posted by JackFlash at 7:21 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


    If Russia really wanted to help Trump get a second term, one way they could do it would be to somehow (?) induce North Korea to let the situation seem "solved" to Americans. Unrelatedly, does anyone know who sells cheap, reasonably fashionable tinfoil hats?
    posted by Jpfed at 7:22 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


    I have faith that Trump will not rest until Kim finally relinquishes the remains of Lt. Colonel Henry Blake.
    posted by delfin at 7:41 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


    Hello, he crashed into the Sea of Japan.
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:43 PM on March 8 [14 favorites]


    There's a non-zero chance Trump would just get on Air Force One and fly to Pyongyang if Kim promised him a parade. Maybe they'll keep him.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:48 PM on March 8 [16 favorites]


    Trump has now said he will meet with Kim Jong Un soon — “by May.”

    Trump is about to get outmaneuvered by a dynasty dictator.
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:50 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    @hughesroland: It would be quite something if Donald Trump visits Pyongyang before London.

    This is one of those tweets that becomes a little more astonishing every time you think about it. Trump is more welcome in the palaces of authoritarian regimes than he is in the world's major cities.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:54 PM on March 8 [101 favorites]


    ELECTIONS NEWS

    ** PA-18 special: Roll Call: Unions are working hard to elect Lamb.

    ** 2018 Senate:
    -- Axios/SurveyMonkey polling shows several Dems in trouble. Note that there has been some strong criticism of the demographics used in these polls (here's an example).

    -- MS: Sen Wicker is out with ads laying into possible GOP challenger McDaniel. Basically, the GOP wants McDaniel out, whether he sticks with the run against Wicker, or switches to the special for the Cochran seat.
    ** 2018 House:
    -- IL-03: Bernie Sanders endorses Dem primary challenger Marie Newman. Sanders won this district in the Dem primary 54-45, so the endorsement might carry some weight.

    -- Dems are +12 on the generic ballot in Virginia.

    -- Linked earlier, Sabato moved 26 district ratings, all towards the Dems.

    -- Overall generic ballot lead has been quite stable, points out Nate Cohn.
    ** Odds & ends:
    -- One of the GOP challengers in the TX Lt Gov primary has endorsed the Democratic nominee.

    -- Utah and Washington are about to enact automatic voter registration legislation.

    -- A last look at Texas Dem primary turnout, showing how the surge was mostly in metro areas (note that a lot of those panhandle counties have *very* low populations).

    -- Elizabeth Warren has donated $5K to every state Democratic party. This is a good thing that more senators should do, but obviously can be seen as laying groundwork for a White House run.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:05 PM on March 8 [36 favorites]


    So I just discovered Department of Influence this incredibly useful website that gives a deep dive into Trump's Interior Department appointees, from Zinke on down to people like the Undersecretary for Water and Science or the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. It is exhaustive and terrifying.

    Department of Influence is a project of the Western Values Project, which also produces well researched blogs and reports, such as One year of corruption at Interior under Secretary Ryan Zinke.
    posted by rockindata at 8:40 PM on March 8 [43 favorites]


    Goddamn is it infuriating to see again and again that although Ryan and McConnell, among others, spent 8 years doing their best to see to it that Obama couldn't do a damn thing

    Robert Draper Book: GOP’s Anti-Obama Campaign Started Night Of Inauguration
    As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.
    ...
    According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) — who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.
    The Party of No: New Details on the GOP Plot to Obstruct Obama
    ...secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor (in December 2008) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (in early January 2009) in which they laid out their daring (though cynical and political) no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency.
    ...
    Vice President Biden told me that during the transition, he was warned not to expect any bipartisan cooperation on major votes. “I spoke to seven different Republican Senators who said, ‘Joe, I’m not going to be able to help you on anything,’ ” he recalled. His informants said McConnell had demanded unified resistance. “The way it was characterized to me was, ‘For the next two years, we can’t let you succeed in anything. That’s our ticket to coming back,’ ” Biden said.
    The Opposition Strategy
    This oral history of that pivotal night is drawn from hours of FRONTLINE interviews conducted over the course of the Obama years — most recently for the documentary Divided States of America. It includes first-hand accounts from GOP lawmakers who attended the dinner; the event organizer, Frank Luntz; Obama administration officials and veteran Washington journalists.
    Strict Obstructionist
    McConnell, [76], is owlish, phlegmatic, and gray, and often looks bothered, as though lunch isn’t agreeing with him. He has been described as having “the natural charisma of an oyster.” Yet you sense that this is not so much a burden as a choice, that he has pared away any qualities extraneous to his political advancement.
    ...
    McConnell called TARP’s passage “one of the finest moments in the history of the Senate.” Obama took over expecting this spirit to endure. But from the outset, McConnell blocked or frustrated just about everything the administration tried to do, including the government’s distribution of TARP funds, in January 2009, just three months after McConnell voted to authorize them.
    MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:15 PM on March 8 [79 favorites]


    MetaFilter: Goddamn is it infuriating.
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:15 PM on March 8 [21 favorites]


    It seems like part of Trump's affinity for authoritarian regimes is not just the macho ruthless leader image, but also the fact that they're almost all corrupt, which turns his eyeballs into big dollar signs.

    So whatever goes down between DJT and N. Korea, I hope intelligence communities will be watching closely. It's like a cornucopia of counterfeit and black market crap over there, which I'm sure the Trump family would happily invest in if given the chance.
    posted by p3t3 at 9:16 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


    Boy, their montage of the horrors of video game violence sure seems to have an emphasis on Nazis being killed. I see 2 Wolfenstein clips and at least 3 other clips of violence against WW2 German military, for a total of 5 clips of antifascist violence.

    Well, for the last year or so I have really enjoyed playing video games where you kill the fuck out of a bunch of Nazis, or watching movies where they kill the fuck out of a bunch of Nazis, or reading books where they kill the fuck out of a bunch of Nazis, or listening to songs about killing the fuck out of a bunch of Nazis. I've wondered what to wear to smash the state and daydreamed about punching some fucking Nazis in the face. And I'm angry! I'm really, really angry! But I haven't even punched anyone in the face, not even an extremely punchable fucking Nazi, much less killed anyone. So, no, I don't think video games are the problem.
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:30 PM on March 8 [15 favorites]


    Odds on him bringing Junior along to pitch Trump Tower Kaesong?
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:33 PM on March 8


    Maybe they'll put his name on the Ryugyong Hotel.
    posted by J.K. Seazer at 9:40 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


    The NK want's photo ops that they can parade around showing KJU is a world statesman and equal with the POTUS. Remember when NK kidnapped those two US journalists and literally all they wanted in return was a shitty Bill Clinton and Kim Jong Il photo.
    posted by PenDevil at 10:54 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


    I mean, it's gotta say something: who else is inviting Trump anywhere? Nobody.
    posted by rhizome at 11:03 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


    Trump has now said he will meet with Kim Jong Un soon — “by May.”

    am I the only one thinking, hmmm, they don't have an extradition treaty with America (obviously), this is actually Trump cunningly escaping justice ... in broad daylight?
    posted by philip-random at 11:19 PM on March 8 [15 favorites]


    I mean, it's gotta say something: who else is inviting Trump anywhere? Nobody.

    Well, a visit to London is still on the cards.

    Emmanuel Macron and Shinzo Abe have both scheduled return visits to the US, so I assume he'd be welcome in Paris and Tokyo.
    posted by lovelyzoo at 11:44 PM on March 8


    I can't even imagine what bargain we could possibly offer them in exchange for denuclearization.

    Donald Trump, May 11, 2018: "North Korea has agreed to give up nukes! In return for a few small Pacific islands no one ever heard of. Who knew Hawaii had more than 3?!?"
    posted by msalt at 11:45 PM on March 8 [19 favorites]


    57% of white America voted for Trump. Presumably all of Gamer Gate voted for Trump.

    This. The notion that support for Trump is just an old people thing, or a rural thing, or a blue-collar thing, or whatever, has really, really got to go into the fucking trashbin.
    posted by non canadian guy at 11:56 PM on March 8 [79 favorites]


    WP:
    Dumpster fire was one of hundreds of new phrases and words the dictionary introduced into its online version Monday. Others included “hate-watch,” “bandwidth” as a figurative term referring to emotional capacity, “embiggen” and “mansplain.”
    So "embiggen" really is a perfectly cromulent word now.
    posted by flabdablet at 12:11 AM on March 9 [63 favorites]


    Trump has now said he will meet with Kim Jong Un soon — “by May.”

    Is this actual May, or just the same bullshit "within six weeks" he always pulls out when he wants to look like he's actually going to do something?

    I know which way I'm betting.
    posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:42 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    Emmanuel Macron and Shinzo Abe have both scheduled return visits to the US, so I assume he'd be welcome in Paris and Tokyo.

    Well I can only speak as an Australian, but just because our prime minister has been to the White House, don't assume there wouldn't be protests if Trump came here. That stuff makes diplomacy a bit tricky.
    posted by chiquitita at 2:08 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    Breaking: North Korean leader has invited Trump to a meeting, U.S. officials say (WaPo)

    It's going to be like Russell Brand vs. Jordan Peterson, only with nukes!

    I suspect that Trump will come back saying what a great guy Kim is, a solid leader and a guy you can really do business with. Perhaps he'll even be inspired to bring Juche ideology to the US.
    posted by acb at 2:48 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    Well this is certainly a great time to have John Bolton in the mix. /spits
    posted by angrycat at 3:47 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    Well, 57% of just over half of white america (those who actually voted in unpopular election).
    This tends to happen. (Pew Research election demographics)
    posted by rc3spencer at 4:11 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    Trump is going to love North Korea.
    Military parades.
    President for life.
    No illegal immigration: who'd want to go there.
    Border wall with their southern neighbor.
    posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:53 AM on March 9 [54 favorites]


    This. The notion that support for Trump is just an old people thing, or a rural thing, or a blue-collar thing, or whatever, has really, really got to go into the fucking trashbin.

    I mean, I get what you're saying, but -- majority of old white people + majority of rural white people + majority of blue collar white people easily = 57% of all white people. Which is why it's simultaneously true that the majority of white people voted for Trump and also that a lot of the young, educated, urban white people who *didn't* vote for Trump don't know a single person in their own demographic who did. Their primary encounters with Trump voters are their older relatives, hence the sad jokes about Thanksgiving tables.

    I do think there's some value in recognizing that because it gets to the core of why the political divide / culture war is becoming intractable -- because we are simply extremely isolated from each other, not just in the media we consume online, but in our actual real-life communities. And why I personally feel that building a strong progressive movement for the future means that young educated white people like myself need to work much harder to reach out and build connections with rural and blue collar folks of our own generation. I just wish I knew better how to do it.
    posted by the turtle's teeth at 5:14 AM on March 9 [17 favorites]


    I don't know why it's unreasonable to expect them to make the first move. We've been reaching across the divide for years, in some cases decades. That feeling you have that you're fighting against the evils of the world one-handed is because you've got it reached out across the divide expecting them to take it.
    posted by Merus at 5:31 AM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    Presumably all of Gamer Gate voted for Trump.
    Exactly: that was what I was trying to get across in my unfortunate Mountain Dew calumny of yesterday. Gun people buy guns to trick out their gunsafes and dream of future glory, but gamers use their toys, on the daily. Talking out loud before witnesses about trying to take away GTA? That's easily the stupidest thing he's done this entire time.
    posted by Don Pepino at 5:40 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    I don't know why it's unreasonable to expect them to make the first move.

    Well, just speaking for myself -- despite being educated and relatively well-off, I live here in rural America and I am very aware of how privileged I actually am: to have health insurance, to be able to access dental care, to have enough food every month, to be literate, to not suffer from unmanageable chronic pain, to not have the health conditions that arise from a childhood without proper nutrition or healthcare, to not have to care for family members with heroin and meth addictions, etc etc. So as the innumerably more privileged one, I do take the burden on myself. But my privilege also means it's hard for me to know how to begin to breach that divide without coming off like a patronizing asshole.

    However, the "compassion for ignorant, hateful rural people: should we or shouldn't we" conversation is already well-trod here and not super relevant to the current thread, so I'm going to bow out of this now.
    posted by the turtle's teeth at 5:51 AM on March 9 [14 favorites]


    Word of Trump-Kim Summit Meeting Stirs Concern in Asia (Motoko Rich | NYT)
    As North Korea conducted ballistic missile and nuclear tests and President Trump threatened fiery responses last year, Japan and South Korea feared the worst: a nuclear conflict on their front doorsteps.

    But now, as President Trump accepts an offer from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to discuss the country’s nuclear program, another fear is looming: that President Trump might offer concessions that the North’s Asian neighbors would find unpalatable, or, if the talks fail, resort to a military option. ...

    “I think there’s real concern about a deal-maker president [sic] talking one-on-one with Kim, accepting something less than” verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, said Tobias Harris, a Japan analyst at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk consultancy based in New York.

    But analysts quickly noted the risks for Washington and Seoul if Mr. Kim did not live up to American expectations for negotiations, or if South Korea pursued better relations with the North should Mr. Kim not take any steps toward denuclearization. ...

    “Announcing intention for a U.S.-North Korea summit, with so many details yet undetermined, carries risks,” said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “If the Trump-Kim meeting breaks down, both engagement and pressure campaigns could suffer.”

    ... Any talks could end up offering only a temporary reprieve, given the American readiness for military action.

    “What is worth paying attention to is whether North Korea will state very clearly that they are willing to give up their nuclear weapons,” said Zhang Liangui, professor of international studies at the Central Party School of the Communist Party. ...

    “If North Korea tries to beat around the bush again this time,” Mr. Zhang added, “I think the U.S. is ready to resolve the problem with force.”

    ... Euan Graham, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, said it was worrying that the North Koreans were dictating the pace of events.

    “Kim Jong-un is playing this very well,” he said. “He’s got South Korea acting as his emissary, and now an unprecedented summit with the U.S. president, all on the basis of a vague and untested commitment to denuclearization.”

    “My concern is the U.S. is being drawn into a negotiation prematurely, without the internal coherence required to hold the North Koreans to a meaningful bargain that doesn’t compromise U.S. interests, and those of its allies,” he added.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:54 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    Charles Koch Complains About Corporate Influence In Politics. WTF does he think he is doing?
    posted by yoga at 5:56 AM on March 9 [36 favorites]


    a lot of the young, educated, urban white people who *didn't* vote for Trump don't know a single person in their own demographic who did

    I think maybe - didn’t know a single person in their own demographic who admitted it. Remember all that polling that said he had no chance? A lot of people denied voting for Trump on the phone or online, but went ahead and pulled the lever. And I suspect a lot of these voters are closer than they may appear. In the heart of NYC, or even Chicago, there were a surprising amount of Trump voters. Hell, over half of Staten Island voted for him. If you live in a major city, it’s likely 1-2 of 10 people you know voted for Trump.

    They’re just not talking about it. Which means it’s convenient to blame it all on “the other”, people who aren’t like you, but some people like you did vote for Trump. And that’s what makes him and his poison ideology such a danger.
    posted by corb at 5:57 AM on March 9 [29 favorites]


    Hell, over half of Staten Island voted for him.

    I mean, that is standard operating procedure for Staten Island, it is the city's conservative bastion -- it's older and whiter than most other parts of the city, demographically speaking, and has fewer immigrants too, although that's been changing in the past decade or so. It's much closer to Long Island in spirit, and it's pretty insular; few people who live in other parts of the city trek out to SI. People on SI might come in to the city for work, but the reverse is not true. It's a miniature version of the rural/urban divide described above (except that a lot of people on SI do have pretty good healthcare, since a fair number work for NYPD or NYFD, and it's a pretty prosperous place overall).

    A lot of major cities can be like this, and I don't necessarily disbelieve those who say they don't know anyone who voted for Trump, depending on where they live and where they work. These divides are not going to be easily transcended.
    posted by halation at 6:07 AM on March 9 [11 favorites]


    *writes The Following Sentence Has Nothing To Do With The Primary So Don't Go There 100 times on the chalkboard*

    It's likely 1-2 of 10 people you know would say "I didn't vote for Trump. I voted AGAINST Hillary."
    posted by delfin at 6:08 AM on March 9 [11 favorites]


    Koch understands that the tech giants have finally been roused to become politically involved, and they are not on his side.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 6:26 AM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    and they are not on his side.

    They are also not on our side. They're on their own side. That they occasionally overlap with progressive goals should not be mistaken for them having progressive goals.
    posted by chris24 at 6:29 AM on March 9 [79 favorites]


    Urban/rural is a distracting false dichotomy: in general, the conservative vote is concentrated in the suburbs.
    posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:42 AM on March 9 [27 favorites]


    In the heart of NYC, or even Chicago, there were a surprising amount of Trump voters. Hell, over half of Staten Island voted for him

    Lolololol Staten Island, with the exception of the Wu and a few other enclaves, is literally where we keep our non-oligarch Republicans. It is really isolated from the rest of the city (seriously no one who doesn’t live there goes there, not even to get laid), really white, and really racist, and rightfully belongs to Nassau County or New Jersey.

    My experience of people who vote Republican in NYS is that they are almost universally pretty racist, pretty misogynist, pretty wealthy, or some mix of the triad. They tend to self-sort, both in terms of where they live and what kind of work they do.

    So it’s the same cultural divide as everywhere else, I think. And they don’t tend to mix.
    posted by schadenfrau at 6:50 AM on March 9 [15 favorites]


    Urban/rural is a distracting false dichotomy: in general, the conservative vote is concentrated in the suburbs.

    It's more a partial picture than a distracting false dichotomy. You're correct that suburbs are problems too, because a lot of suburbs are white flight communities. But those of us who live in mostly rural states with two or three urban centers know very well that the urban/rural split is real and fundamental to state politics.

    Here in Arkansas, the contrast is starkest up in the northwest. If you live in Fayetteville (where the largest state university is), you'll see a very (by US standards) liberal climate. You visit a four-figure-population town in that region chosen randomly, someone might literally hit you with a bible.

    You can even see it in some churches. Methodist churches in Little Rock frequently have openly gay members and staff. Out in the country, the same UMC churches preach fire and brimstone against it.
    posted by middleclasstool at 7:03 AM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    It’s a lot easier to demonize people you never see, I guess.

    Diverse, accessible, neighborhood-friendly cities for everyone!
    posted by schadenfrau at 7:07 AM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    My guess is that Kim Jong-un is bargaining for world prestige -- another picture with Bill Clinton.
    posted by JackFlash at 7:17 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    Even in the super-duper indigo-blue San Francisco Bay Area, there are a few Trump supporters. I've seen two or three "Trump/Pence" stickers on vehicles, and there was a man sitting at a folding table in front of a strip mall with a "Sign Here To Support Donald Trump" sign. (Lotsa luck getting anyone to pull over in rush hour traffic, buddy.) There were even some in San Francisco! Nobody's shit is stink-free.

    I think Democrats' biggest issue is nonvoters. Here is a profile of nonvoters. And here is a whole website dedicated to them. (Note how many are "pessimists" and how many are "too busy.") Waiting for old people to die isn't going to cut it. Nor is counting on the diversity of the younger generation, if those young people are to demoralized and/or too busy and/or disenfranchised. Nor will the GamerGate crowd turn into woke social-justice activists If Only they would stop playing violent video games.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:26 AM on March 9 [21 favorites]


    My gut feeling on the NK visit is that the planning is being taken care of by Putin, who has more leverage over Trump than is publicly known (though anticipated help with 2018 is plenty). And who essentially owns Kim Jong Un as well.

    Putin choreographs a performance (core competency), Trump basks in the glory (core competency), NK stays nuclear for the foreseeable future with sanctions lifted. Putin is thanked by Trump in words and deeds diverse. Repercussions from Japan et. al. trading and diplomatic partners? Trump is not statesman enough to worry about that, and probably easily talked out of it.

    Say Trump basically welcomes NK as an ally, with no real concessions. The backlash in the US would serve to further damage our government. One of the Russian state's strategies against the US is to undermine our government and stimulate civil war. It's already happening, viz. the past election.

    I don't worry that much about nuclear war. Putin doesn't want that, he wants supremacy. War is but one tool in the kit, and all the better if he can get his adversaries to fight on both sides when the occasion calls for war. Not unlike US global imperial policy. When it was run by competent despots, anyhow.

    ps - Can the Skirpal poisoning not be seen through the same strategic lens? Given Trump's deference to Russia, Skirpal drives a wedge between US and UK.
    posted by maniabug at 7:29 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    Kim is playing Trump for a sucker, which he is. This is perfectly in keeping with the pattern of North Korea going back decades, they continually escalate until a breaking point, then turn on their version of charm and extract as many concessions as possible to pad the Kim family pocket or increase their legitimacy.

    A meeting with Kim isn't by itself ridiculous, it really could be a positive development in the right context. But giving it to them just because they asked for it is idiotic. A face to face meeting should be the culmination of a series of engagements and concessions made by North Korea, not a gift in return for nothing. We should of course be open to diplomacy, but not unconditionally. If we had a competent Secretary of State, this would be what you want your State Department doing. Not the President himself. At least not the first meeting, and not without appropriate groundwork.

    And that doesn't even consider whatever Trump concedes to them in the meeting, because he will undoubtedly offer major concessions out of the blue. And they'll take him at his word. It's not like the US has a set of asks worked up for this meeting, we've done no preparation for this because before yesterday it wasn't even on the table under any serious persons framework of US interests. But when Trump gives away the farm at the meeting, then walks it back after the entire US government tells him how much he just fucked us, North Korea will use that to fuel their next cycle of escalation, and this time they'll be justified.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:33 AM on March 9 [43 favorites]


    from the "deadline, what deadline?" dept.:

    White House Refuses House Oversight Committee’s Info Request On Rob Porter
    White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) politely neglecting to cooperate with their demands for information on how and why Porter was allowed to continue to work as White House staff secretary, a senior position, for months after the FBI had informed senior White House staff of allegations of spousal abuse. The letter was obtained by TPM Thursday evening, shortly after the committee received it.

    “Consistent with your letters’ requests, we would be pleased to update you and others on the progress of the working group at the appropriate time,” Short writes to Gowdy at the end of the letter after detailing what the White House is doing differently now on security clearance procedures, a courteous way of ignoring Gowdy’s specific requests on what the White House’s procedures were at the time and who knew what when about Porter.

    Gowdy’s letter was the most aggressive he’s been towards the White House since Trump’s inauguration.

    It’s unclear how he’ll react. If he so chooses, he could subpoena the information. Gowdy’s office didn’t immediately respond to questions about what his next steps would be or what he thought of the White House’s response.
    my money is on "hide under his desk until everyone forgets" but i could be surprised.
    posted by murphy slaw at 7:39 AM on March 9 [15 favorites]


    The North Koreans must feel like they've won the lottery.

    There has never been a stupider, more disorganized, or easily manipulatable American administration with which to negotiate and probably never will be again in Kim's tenure. It is a once in a lifetime chance to extract concessions, drive wedges between allies, and generally spread the sort of diplomatic FUD that will pay dividends for many years to come. The hasty, haphazard path to these talks is a plain signal to the Europeans that America is no longer as reliable an ally as they once supposed.
    posted by Chrischris at 7:39 AM on March 9 [46 favorites]


    Ann Coulter went batshit insane on Twitter last night saying the quiet parts of (((globalist))) very loudly.
    posted by Talez at 7:39 AM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    went batshit insane

    i don't think she's earned that "went"
    posted by murphy slaw at 7:44 AM on March 9 [53 favorites]


    Nigel Farage was on Fox News just now for his take on the Skripal poisoning. Summary:

    "This is terribly embarrassing for May but there's just nothing we can do about it other than maybe pull out of the upcoming football game and the last time it happened here we didn't do anything, so oh well. Putin doesn't like traitors and this should just be a lesson about what happens when you cross him."

    The anchor didn't respond with "this was a WMD attack on UK soil and your response is to shrug and say sic semper anti-Putinis? Where is your loyalty to your own country as a supposed nationalist?" because the anchor is himself as much of the operation as Nigel. The difference being that Farage knows his turn could come too if he doesn't parrot RT talking points correctly.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 7:48 AM on March 9 [29 favorites]


    "This is terribly embarrassing for May but there's just nothing we can do about it other than maybe pull out of the upcoming football game and the last time it happened here we didn't do anything, so oh well. Putin doesn't like traitors and this should just be a lesson about what happens when you cross him."

    Or, and this is just an alternative suggestion, you could remove Russia completely from SWIFT and release all the intelligence we've been hoarding on Putin's murders over the past god knows how long.

    That's just off the cuff.
    posted by Talez at 7:50 AM on March 9 [23 favorites]


    Ann Coulter went batshit insane on Twitter last night saying the quiet parts of (((globalist))) very loudly.

    For those who don't twitter:
    Israel must be defended as last redoubt of the globalists.
    and
    Jake Tapper is half Globalist.
    posted by Sophie1 at 7:55 AM on March 9 [32 favorites]


    'Stand down': How the Obama team blew the response to Russian meddling
    Knowing that Putin was notoriously protective of any information about his family, Wallander suggested targeting Putin himself. She proposed leaking snippets of classified intelligence to reveal the secret bank accounts in Latvia held for Putin’s daughters — a direct poke at the Russian president that would be sure to infuriate him. Wallander also brainstormed ideas with Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a fellow hard-liner. They drafted proposals to dump dirt on Russian websites about Putin’s money, about the girlfriends of top Russian officials, about corruption in Putin’s United Russia party — essentially to give Putin a taste of his own medicine. “We wanted to raise the cost in a manner Putin recognized,” Nuland recalled.

    One idea Daniel proposed was unusual: The United States and NATO should publicly announce a giant “cyber exercise” against a mythical Eurasian country, demonstrating that Western nations had it within their power to shut down Russia’s entire civil infrastructure and cripple its economy.

    But Wallander and Daniel’s bosses at the White House were not on board. One day in late August, national security adviser Susan Rice called Daniel into her office and demanded he cease and desist from working on the cyber options he was developing. “Don’t get ahead of us,” she warned him. The White House was not prepared to endorse any of these ideas. Daniel and his team in the White House cyber response group were given strict orders: Stand down. She told Daniel to “knock it off,” he recalled.
    Obama's response to Russia looks worse and worse with every passing day. When American Democracy is gone, we should remember who declined to fight for it at the time.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:56 AM on March 9 [28 favorites]


    When American Democracy is gone, we should remember who declined to fight for it at the time.

    yeah but it might have tarnished his brand slightly and subsequently made it more difficult to bag a content deal with Netflix so
    posted by halation at 8:02 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    So as the innumerably more privileged one, I do take the burden on myself. But my privilege also means it's hard for me to know how to begin to breach that divide without coming off like a patronizing asshole.

    In the conflict resolution world, they say, when you're pretty damned sure you're right about something, get curious, ask questions.
    posted by philip-random at 8:02 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    I mean, people who support their party over the rule of law, and use their political leverage to provide coverage for foreign adversaries to manipulate our political process, and endorse fascism and white supremacy, and directly subvert the electoral system through legal and extralegal mechanisms, these people are pretty bad, I guess.

    But you know who I really hate? People who sometimes make the wrong decision.
    posted by biogeo at 8:04 AM on March 9 [125 favorites]


    Ann Coulter went batshit insane on Twitter last night saying the quiet parts of (((globalist))) very loudly.

    I was hoping this was an undeniable example of anti-Semitism that I could use to discredit Coulter to my conservative relatives. But looking at her twitter I think she was actually trying to claim that "globalist" is NOT code for "Jewish" by giving a bunch of examples where it would make no sense to substitute the one for the other, and where no one does.

    Her first tweet on this subject was: (1) .@HuffPost: "This Anti-Semitic Term Was Casually Used At The White House 3 Times This Week" (The "Anti-Semitic Term" is "Globalist"!)

    Bunch of people replying to say that of course "globalist" doesn't mean "Jewish." And then Ann goes on to say stuff like (2) "Paul Newman is only half Globalist" and (3) "Israel must be defended as last redoubt of the Globalists."

    So I think this is supposed to be some kind of reductio ad absurdum proof that "globalist" doesn't mean "Jewish." Conservatives don't actually use the word this way.

    She is also trying to imply that conservatives can't be anti-Semitic because they "defend" Israel. But then in her replies people say stuff like: "How about all of the Jews will be sent back to Izrael. Problem solved." ... I think that kind of "support" for Israel is not exactly evidence FOR her argument.

    And one of Ann's examples of how it supposedly makes no sense to use "globalist" as a synonym for "Jewish people" is (4) "Boy, a lot of Globalists popped up in the #MeToo scandals!"

    I think she's trying to say something here like "Liberal women are the ones who really hate Jews." I mean presumably she thinks all #MeToo allegations are politically motivated attacks based on lies. So liberal women are the ones really attacking Jews. And also this is supposed to be another example of something you wouldn't actually hear a conservative say, as evidence that conservatives don't use "globalist" as a synonym for "Jewish."

    But actually I can easily imagine a conservative saying this! And so can many other people! That's why a lot of people are assuming she really meant it!

    And I have yet to meet a conservative who thinks Harvey Weinstein was innocent, even if they think the rest of the #MeToo men were unfairly targeted (conservatives really hate Harvey Winstein). So the #MeToo accusations against him weren't actually attacks by liberal women targeted at him because he was Jewish, then? So this particular tweet really undermines her point.

    It kind of bothers me that I understand Ann Coulter's mindset well enough to parse this stuff.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 8:08 AM on March 9 [26 favorites]


    Well, I reported her ass anyway.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:13 AM on March 9 [36 favorites]


    Ann Coulter absofuckinglutely knows what she's doing. She thinks it's clever and nudgey and winky, when it's just Nazi.

    Fourteen days before Trump's inauguration, she tweeted "14!" Well, she had made prior tweets with a similar countdown... but not in weeks. Like there was a "30!" tweet or something beforehand, but no 15 or 16 or 17. She picked the number quite intentionally. And if you could somehow get her to admit it was deliberate, she'd probably say the point was to mock all the snowflakes who think an innocent ol' number like 14 has anything to do with white nationalism. Which, come the fuck on.

    It's entirely within her power to just clarify things for once. Block her more overtly racist followers. Acknowledge how her "JOAKS" could maaaaybe be perceived as the dog bullhorns they are. Draw a line or two to establish where exactly she stands. Of course she won't because she is a neo-Nazi.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:22 AM on March 9 [34 favorites]


    One thing you can say about the steel and aluminum tariffs - it shifts the focus back on the rust belt, which makes for good stories about life-long white, working class Democrats who voted for Trump (NPR, March 9, 2018)

    Mahoning County, Ohio, is the focus, where President Barack Obama had won by 22 percentage points in 2012, went for a Republican president for the first time since 1972.
    And the initial evidence, based on more than a dozen interviews with Obama/Trump voters and disillusioned Democrats across the Mahoning Valley, is mixed. Some, like Kessler, say they're ashamed of modern day Democrats and no longer want to be a part of the party. Others insist they're still loyal to the party and will grab a Democratic ballot in the Ohio primary this May.

    In 2016, there was a massive discrepancy between national and local Democratic performance. Even though Trump won Trumbull County by 22 percentage points, Democrats won every county-level race. In neighboring Mahoning County, Clinton pulled off a slim victory — 25 points behind Obama's 2012 victory there — and, again, local Democrats won many races. In fact, the Democratic congressman from the region, Tim Ryan, won re-election with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

    Many in the Mahoning Valley say that divide is evidence that the national Democratic Party has moved too far left — prioritizing "transgenders" and "immigration," as multiple people said, at the expense of the economy.
    My knee-jerk response to this is to say "oh, so they're in favor of companies over minorities?" And they value short-term gains over long-term pains, citing the tariffs as a good thing for local steel mills but ignoring the fact that a global trade war is a very bad thing for everyone.

    Also missing from that article: any questions about how the Republican Tax Scam, the biggest thing the Republicans have done with their control of the White House, Senate and House, helped these folks.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:27 AM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    When the history books are written about the challenges to American democracy in the first decades of the 21st century, Russian meddling will merit a sentence or two, maybe just a footnote. Whole chapters will be devoted to conservative talk radio, Fox News, and the erosion of political norms by the GOP starting at least as far back as the Clinton presidency and reaching its peak during the Obama years. Mitch McConnell refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland will be pointed to as a turning point when democratic norms and institutions were dealt a critical blow. The rise of Trumpism will be identified as a natural evolution of this anti-democratic beast the GOP created. And when discussing the undermining of democratic responses to Trumpism during the 2016 election, Russian meddling may merit some discussion, if it turns out to have been effective in changing voters' decisions (something we still don't know for sure). But much ink will be spilled discussing Jim Comey's attack on Hillary Clinton immediately before the election, something polling data tells us definitely had a large impact on voters' decisions.

    External attacks on our democracy are serious, but pale in comparison to our home-grown anti-democracy movement that has captured the GOP.
    posted by biogeo at 8:27 AM on March 9 [76 favorites]


    I agree with OnceUponATime that she is attempting some sort of rhetorical "smackdown" that will slay her opponents but it doesn't succeed by half. With that said, from reading the comments on her facebook postings of this ideas it is clear her followers have no idea she is doing this. It is an awful toxic-cesspool-train wreck of terrible people.
    posted by mmascolino at 8:28 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    I wish Obama had taken a more aggressive stance against Putin in his presidency - just one of my disappointments with him - but the two options from Wallander and Daniels would have brought significant risk. Going after Putin personally, to embarrass him, would have hardened his resolve to try something else later, the way he took revenge for the Panama Papers by interfering with the 2016 election. Holding a cyberwar exercise could have tacitly endorsed digital warfare as acceptable for all nation-states. A dilemma looks very different in retrospect than when you're in caught in the middle of one (and I certainly don't have an answer for what the optimal response would have been).

    This comes out in the Mother Jones article:
    “If we got into a tit-for-tat on cyber with the Russians, it would not be to our advantage,” a participant later remarked. “They could do more to damage us in a cyber war or have a greater impact.” In one of the meetings, Clapper said he was worried that Russia might respond with cyberattacks against America’s critical infrastructure—and possibly shut down the electrical grid.[...]

    After two weeks or so of deliberations, the White House put these options on hold. Instead, Obama and his aides came up with a different plan. First, DHS would keep trying to work with the state voting systems. For that to succeed, the administration needed buy-in from congressional Republicans. So Obama would reach out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to try to deliver a bipartisan and public message that the Russian threat to the election was serious and that local officials should collaborate with the feds to protect the electoral infrastructure.
    While we know now where the loyalties of Ryan and McConnell truly lie, it's hard to berate Obama for not being so pessimistic about American politics that he should have assumed a complete absence of patriotism. It also would have helped if his FBI Director had, you know, informed him fully about the Bureau's investigation into Putin's infiltration of the Trump campaign.

    While it's fine to acknowledge shortcomings in the past, we have more in the present to concern ourselves with. For all the inadequacy of Obama's response, Trump's total dereliction of duty, not only to investigate the 2016 interference, but also to prevent further such meddling, is of paramount importance.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 8:30 AM on March 9 [41 favorites]


    External attacks on our democracy are serious, but pale in comparison to our home-grown anti-democracy movement that has captured the GOP.

    It's probably no accident that Putin is a keen student of judo, one of whose fundamental principles is using your opponent's strength and momentum against them.
    posted by acb at 8:31 AM on March 9 [18 favorites]


    A more positive story about the impacts of Trump, indirectly: Statehouses Have A Ways To Go To Accommodate New Moms - but they're addressing the need, thanks to the first wave of women to run for office after President Trump's election, including women with babies and young kids.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:31 AM on March 9 [11 favorites]


    Obama's response to Russia looks worse and worse with every passing day. When American Democracy is gone, we should remember who declined to fight for it at the time.

    I think Obama and Rice's response was correct. To engage in cyber tit for tat, while emotionally satisfying, is extremely dangerous, civilization ending dangerous, like nuclear warfare. They needed to tamp down the cyber war hawks before this spiraled out of control.

    This type of thing could lead to the collapse of world wide banking system, the power grid, medical systems, global communications, cell phones, the internet.

    Unlike nuclear warfare, in the case of cyber propaganda warfare duck and cover really works. You can immunize the public to some extent by massive information campaigns pointing out the dangers of Russian interference. The NSA could use all their computing power to flag Russian bots on Facebook and Twitter and show the public where they are and expose them so the public becomes more discerning. Don't censor the data, just flag it so the public can see for themselves how Russians are trying to influence them.

    But Mitch McConnell refused to cooperate in this moderate counter propaganda. Obama was in a delicate situation because of the timing before the election. If he acted alone he would be attacked as politically motivated which could be just as damaging as the Russians, discrediting the election. You can second guess Obama on which was worse, the foreign Russian attack or the domestic political attack -- either of which would cause a disruption to democracy. Obama apparently calculated that with a Clinton victory in hand, it was better to wait, given McConnell's intransigence. In hindsight, that turns out to be wrong but it wasn't necessary a bad decision at the time.

    But in any case, direct cyber warfare, as suggested by the war hawks, should be avoided because the consequences are too dire.
    posted by JackFlash at 8:32 AM on March 9 [50 favorites]


    External attacks on our democracy are serious, but pale in comparison to our home-grown anti-democracy movement that has captured the GOP.

    russian interference in the election was an opportunistic infection made possible by the intentional attacks on the norms and institutions that act as the country's immune system against despotism
    posted by murphy slaw at 8:33 AM on March 9 [30 favorites]


    "Sign Here To Support Donald Trump" sign.

    These are just your garden-variety LaRouchies. Last week, they set up shop on the main shopping drag in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood - they had three Burma-Shave-type signs leading people to a card table staffed by one lone woman outside the local Bank of America (normally they show up in clusters, but West Roxbury is kind of out of the way; maybe the rest of her cadre got lost). Kind of startling to see, but she wasn't getting much business.
    posted by adamg at 8:41 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    Here, deep in buggy whip country, the people are still reeling from the shutdown of the factory in 1938. One resident, Joe Johnson, says he's waiting for the factory to reopen. "My daddy was a buggy whip maker, his daddy was a buggy whip maker, and I don't intend to be the first man in my family to give that up. I think President Trump's election is good for us here in buggy whip country, he'll bring back the jobs. The Democrats spent too much time worrying about illegals and Muslims, Trump is about us real Americans!"

    That sentiment is shared among most of the locals. "Those latte sipping elitists want us to give up our way of life, they think we should 'move with the times' and give up on buggy whips." says Tom Wilting, another out of work buggy whip maker. "Well, that just shows how out of touch they are with the values that made America great, and why we support President Trump."

    Democrats say they care about the people in buggy whip country, but so far that message doesn't seem to resonate with people here.

    I'm Susan Bland with NPR, back to you Ari
    posted by sotonohito at 8:44 AM on March 9 [96 favorites]


    biogeo:
    When the history books are written about the challenges to American democracy in the first decades of the 21st century, Russian meddling will merit a sentence or two, maybe just a footnote. Whole chapters will be devoted to conservative talk radio, Fox News, and the erosion of political norms by the GOP starting at least as far back as the Clinton presidency and reaching its peak during the Obama years.
    Given the way history books today talk about the Civil War... eh. Unless you're talking, like 500 years from now, sure.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:47 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    While we know now where the loyalties of Ryan and McConnell truly lie, it's hard to berate Obama for not being so pessimistic about American politics that he should have assumed a complete absence of patriotism.

    I mean, Obama acted like he'd just met Mitch McConnell for the first time, every time he met him. As he was counting on McConnell to issue a bipartisan statement in defense of democratic values, McConnell had been stealing his SCOTUS pick for over a year. You can defend Obama's choices in terms on not wanting to escalate against Russia to avoid open war, but you can't defend him trusting Mitch McConnell.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 8:48 AM on March 9 [19 favorites]



    [snip]
    ...I'm Susan Bland with NPR, back to you Ari


    Needs [real] of [fake] tag.

    (but marvelously done)
    posted by Twain Device at 8:48 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    It's probably no accident that Putin is a keen student of judo, one of whose fundamental principles is using your opponent's strength and momentum against them.

    I would probably love this Pierce Brosnan Bond movie if I weren't living it.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:54 AM on March 9 [13 favorites]


    External attacks on our democracy are serious, but pale in comparison to our home-grown anti-democracy movement that has captured the GOP.

    Recall that FDR's hands were tied, even as Britain was under daily bombardment, because of the fascists, anti-communists and anti-semites in the U.S. Republican Party. Henry Ford refused to manufacture war equipment for the British. It took the Pearl Harbor attack to finally unify the public.
    posted by JackFlash at 9:01 AM on March 9 [75 favorites]


    Obama's response to Russia looks worse and worse with every passing day. When American Democracy is gone, we should remember who declined to fight for it at the time.
    Substitute "Fascist Republicans" for "Russia" above, and you get pretty much the same thing. Obama never struck me as "fighting" for anything; while he played '11-dimension chess', his adversaries were flipping the table on a regular basis.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 9:10 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    Obama never struck me as "fighting" for anything


    Something something Affordable Care Act...something something tens of millions more Americans have insurance coverage now...
    posted by darkstar at 9:16 AM on March 9 [68 favorites]


    NBC News: Michael Cohen used Trump company email in Stormy Daniels arrangements
    In a statement last month, Cohen said he used his "personal funds to facilitate a payment" to Clifford, who says she had an intimate relationship with Trump a decade ago.

    "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said in that statement.

    But an email uncovered in the last 24 hours and provided to NBC News by Clifford's current attorney, Michael Avenatti, shows First Republic Bank and Cohen communicated about the money using his Trump company email address, not his personal gmail account.

    "I think this document seriously calls into question the prior representation of Mr. Cohen and the White House relating to the source of the monies paid to Ms. Clifford in an effort to silence her," said Avenatti, who is representing Clifford in a lawsuit against Trump.
    posted by cjelli at 9:18 AM on March 9 [47 favorites]


    WNYC's On The Media has a great episode about how most mainstream media journalists' naivete and credulousness (to be charitable) has given media-savvy white supremacists a platform: Face The Racist Nation. One of the guests is Ibram X. Kendi (his bit starts around 51:00), author of Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas (somebody recommended that book in one of the previous threads).

    I can't find a transcript, sorry.
    posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:23 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    As he was counting on McConnell to issue a bipartisan statement in defense of democratic values, McConnell had been stealing his SCOTUS pick for over a year. You can defend Obama's choices in terms on not wanting to escalate against Russia to avoid open war, but you can't defend him trusting Mitch McConnell.

    This wasn't about trust. This was about the fact that for such a proclamation to be seen as nonpartisan coming in an election, it required the signoff of not only the President, but also the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader. And it was that which gave McConnell the power to unilaterally scrap such an agreement. Now in hindsight, we can say that Obama should have gone ahead anyways, but at the time, it's understandable why he was reluctant to do so.

    Stop blaming McConnell being an asshole on Obama. It's tiresome to always have the Democrat being the one "responsible" for Republican shitiness.
    posted by NoxAeternum at 9:27 AM on March 9 [107 favorites]


    Dorsey decides to just give up responsibility as a company owner. Twitter to open verification until its meaningless?
    posted by rc3spencer at 9:31 AM on March 9


    “The intention is to open verification to everyone,” Dorsey said during a Periscope livestream. “And to do it in a way that’s scalable, where we’re not in the way and people can verify more facts about themselves. And we don’t have to be the judge or imply any bias on our part.”

    ...make it a bunch of dumb algorithms more easily gamed by bots and nazis. Got it.
    posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on March 9 [21 favorites]


    Can we add relitigating the Obama Presidency to the don't go there dumpster fire with relitigating the 2016 primaries?
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:43 AM on March 9 [53 favorites]


    Obama never struck me as "fighting" for anything

    Alternatively -- Obama held back the rising fascist tide for 8 years. He imposed DACA by executive order, commuted the sentences of thousands of people who had been mistreated by the criminal justice system (far more than any other president), took executive action to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, and order the review which handed a victory to the standing rock protestors, signed the Paris Accords, negotiated the Iran Deal, etc. All without congressional involvement. There is a reason that Republicans called him an "Imperial president." He did the best he could, to get around their obstruction.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 9:44 AM on March 9 [121 favorites]


    The Jeff Sessions DOJ's focus on "religious liberty" cases has produced this monstrosity: The DOJ is helping an anti-vaxxer nurse sue her public employer (a county-owned nursing home) because she was required to get a flu shot.
    posted by jedicus at 9:52 AM on March 9 [50 favorites]


    OMG. I always thought the most ridiculous possible 'religious liberty' argument would be if one day Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided to tell Trump that it's against her religion to lie. (I would laugh.)
    posted by puddledork at 9:54 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    I’m basically just going to assume that’s not accidental and that anti-vax is an official Republican position at this point TBH.
    posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on March 9 [17 favorites]


    It's like learning you're finally going to get that badly-needed bypass surgery, but that it will be performed by a chocolate Labrador.

    I'm so sorry that the operation dingo well!
    posted by hexaflexagon at 9:59 AM on March 9 [22 favorites]


    For all the finger-crossed pee pee tape hopers out there. You may want to buy Russian Roulette
    posted by rc3spencer at 10:00 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    The mention of religious liberty also reminds me of the fix Obama created to allow Catholic organizations to opt out of covering birth control for their employees -- by requiring the insurance companies to cover it instead. And the mention of Sessions reminds me of how Obama de-prioritized the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal under state law.

    And something about the combination of those topics reminds me of how Obama's justice department issued guidance to schools saying that under title IX, they were required to let trans students use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. And how the state department started issuing passports that reflected the correct gender for trans people as well.

    Okay, I'll stop. Even though I'm pretty sure I could come up with a lot more examples.

    (editing to correct my previous comment. Truman seems to have granted even more clemency than Obama. But no one else is event close.)
    posted by OnceUponATime at 10:01 AM on March 9 [34 favorites]


    jedicus: The Jeff Sessions DOJ's focus on "religious liberty" cases has produced this monstrosity: The DOJ is helping an anti-vaxxer nurse sue her public employer (a county-owned nursing home) because she was required to get a flu shot.

    Reviving a classic Onion article, like reviving nearly eradicated diseases, with a minor edit: I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Myself Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back
    posted by filthy light thief at 10:02 AM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    Obama did a lot of great things, but calling him a fighter is just weird. He is a negotiator and a debater and a bringer-together of people. He believes in the best of things.

    Which made him completely unable to appropriately deal with the Republicans and Russians, who were completely uninterested in dealing in good faith at any time ever. He is a good and pure man, but we needed a fighter.
    posted by TypographicalError at 10:07 AM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    Obama did a lot of great things, but calling him a fighter is just weird.

    Eh, Obama killed OBL, ramped up drone strikes worldwide, and God knows what else. Let's step back from the hagiography.

    Even Jimmy Carter's hands are bloody.
    posted by notyou at 10:14 AM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    I'm not affiliated with a church but Jesus came to me in a vision and told me not to pay income tax, so hopefully Jeff Sessions has got my back
    posted by salix at 10:14 AM on March 9 [21 favorites]


    He is a good and pure man, but we needed a fighter.

    Good, pure men don't drone-murder 100+ innocent people, regardless of whatever justifications they might find along the way. Obama is as morally compromised as anyone who ever held the office, because it is the nature of the position to force otherwise good men to do evil things. That he had other admirable qualities is undisputed, but lets be clear: there are many, many maimed kids and childless mothers in this world because of his direct decisions.
    posted by Chrischris at 10:20 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    my god can we not with the Obama: quisling or monster? shit
    posted by prize bull octorok at 10:22 AM on March 9 [131 favorites]


    Stray thought -- it's weird how Obama had to become an "imperial president" because the Republican controlled congress opposed everything he did. But Trump is acting like an "imperial president" because a (dysfunctional) Republican controlled congress refuses to oppose anything he does.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 10:22 AM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    If you live in a major city, it’s likely 1-2 of 10 people you know voted for Trump.

    I think people badly underestimate the degree of geographic sorting that exists in this country.

    In Seattle's 43rd district, which had about 90,000 votes in 2016, Clinton voters outnumbered Trump voters 15:1. There were nearly as many Johnson/Stein voters (4,300) as Trump voters (5,300). And Seattle is one of the whitest large cities in the country -- if you look at cities with large majority-minority areas, I suspect you could find even more drastic ratios.

    This is all before accounting for age effects - if you're under 50 and live in a liberal enclave, you could easily have a social circle of 30-50 people and not know a single Trump voter.
    posted by 0xFCAF at 10:23 AM on March 9 [33 favorites]


    salix: I'm not affiliated with a church but Jesus came to me in a vision and told me not to pay income tax, so hopefully Jeff Sessions has got my back

    That depends on how much you owe. Was it under a hundred thousand, because you're a deadbeat parasite? Or was it in the millions to billions, because you're an industrious job-creator, a shining genius whose tricklings are undeserved by the sniveling masses downstream? I know which one my Jesus would give his blessing to.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:35 AM on March 9 [31 favorites]


    [Everybody please, yes, drop the "No, here's why Obama was very good/very bad" rehash already. This is not new ground to tread.]
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 AM on March 9 [31 favorites]


    New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, Why Are Undocumented Minors Spending So Much Time in Custody?, in which the Office of Refugee Resettlement is supposed to be helping kids, yet seems to be locking them up on the basis of unsubstantiated gang affiliations, even after an immigration judge rejects the government's evidence.

    WaPo, James Hohmann, The Daily 202: Trump reversal of elephant trophy ban underscores the need to watch what he does, not what he says
    posted by zachlipton at 10:39 AM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    If you live in a major city, it’s likely 1-2 of 10 people you know voted for Trump.

    I can tell you with near-certainty that this is not the case for me. My friend group isn't a random sampling of people who live in my city, and from conversations and Facebook posts I know what all of my friends' political leanings are - because I self-select for people who care about the same stuff as me.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 10:39 AM on March 9 [17 favorites]


    if you're under 50 and live in a liberal enclave, you could easily have a social circle of 30-50 people and not know a single Trump voter.

    This is kind of me (I know a handful of folks I have Suspicions about, but they're people at work, not folks in my social circle as such); I remember seeing a couple of Trump bumper stickers around in 2016 but not a lot.

    So the other day I was a little startled to see a Trump bumper sticker - until I did a double take and realized it actually read "Putin/Trump 2020".
    posted by nickmark at 10:39 AM on March 9 [14 favorites]


    PA-18 special poll has Lamb [D] up 48-44 on Saccone [R]. Eyebrows have been raised at the demographics, though.

    Sounds like we'll be getting a couple of more polls on this race yet before the election on Tuesday.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:40 AM on March 9 [17 favorites]


    A while back, they claimed that they donated Trump Organization profits from foreign governments to the Treasury, but refused to even say how much that was. Somebody gave a number to the Daily Mail (I know, I know, blech, worst timeline, etc...): $151,470.

    That's profit, not revenue, but we also have no idea how it was calculated, so we're just taking their word for it. That always works well when it's Trump and money.
    posted by zachlipton at 10:42 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    Years ago (in my Major City) I met a guy I really liked, and on our second date he said we probably shouldn't talk about politics because he got the feeling we wouldn't agree on a lot of stuff. It turned out that he had been raised Republican and, as he just wasn't a very politically-minded guy in general, he'd stuck with it.

    I went along with the 'not talking about it' thing for a while, but ultimately I just couldn't NOT talk about it, especially because his beliefs didn't seem to be that strongly held and I thought maybe I could talk him out of them. (If not for one or two other late-appearing dealbreakers, I might actually have attempted this.)

    But the point is - my politics are a big enough part of who I am that this guy picked up on them almost immediately without my having to specifically mention them, and not discussing politics with him was actively hard for me to do. Given all of this, any Trump voter in my friend circle (or among my colleagues) is doing an Oscar-worthy job of hiding it, and I can't think of a single person I even vaguely suspect of doing so.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 10:45 AM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    if you're under 50 and live in a liberal enclave, you could easily have a social circle of 30-50 people and not know a single Trump voter.

    Pauline Kael is vindicated.
    posted by non canadian guy at 10:48 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    I wonder if one unintended consequence of this Trump/Kim confab will be the rapid promotion of Japan and South Korea from "nuclear latent" nation status to "secret" (Ala Israel) members of the Big Bang Club. Because it sure as hell looks like we as a nation are becoming more and more willing to punch holes in our strategic umbrella--holes that will need to be plugged one way or another...
    posted by Chrischris at 10:48 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    If you live in a major city, it’s likely 1-2 of 10 people you know voted for Trump.

    This really depends on whether you mean "know" as in "knowingly choose to associate with" or as in "somehow connected on a social graph." Yeah, over a certain population density a certain number of those voters are around me, statistically, but that doesn't mean I really "know" them.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 10:54 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    NYT, North Korea Asks for Direct Nuclear Talks, and Trump Agrees
    Behind the scenes, events unfolded even more haphazardly. Mr. Trump was not scheduled to meet Mr. Chung until Friday, but when he heard that the envoy was in the West Wing seeing other officials, the president summoned him to the Oval Office, according to a senior administration official.

    Mr. Trump, the official said, then asked Mr. Chung to tell him about his meeting with Mr. Kim. When Mr. Chung said that the North Korean leader had expressed a desire to meet Mr. Trump, the president immediately said he would do it, and directed Mr. Chung to announce it to the White House press corps.

    Mr. Chung, nonplused, said he first needed approval from Mr. Moon, who quickly granted it in a phone call. Mr. Trump later called Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, and the two discussed coordinating diplomatic efforts. Mr. Trump also plans to call President Xi Jinping of China.

    By day’s end, dazed White House officials were discussing whether Mr. Trump would invite Mr. Kim to come to the United States. That seemed entirely likely, the senior administration official said, though American officials doubt the North Korean leader would accept.
    He had no clue what he was doing by accepting this invitation whatsoever because he just "let's just do it and be legends, man'd" this without speaking to anyone first.

    One of the strangest things about all this is that he, personally, stuck his head in the briefing room to tell the press there would be an announcement last night. His approach is so much centered around announcing things before anyone on his staff can offer him any information or try to change his mind that he just does whatever the first thing that comes to mind.
    posted by zachlipton at 10:55 AM on March 9 [48 favorites]






    The judge ruled earlier this week that Shkreli would have to forfeit more than $7.3 million in a brokerage account and personal assets including his one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album that he boasted he bought for $2 million.
    Ol' Dirty Bastard smiles down upon us all today.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 11:12 AM on March 9 [59 favorites]


    Mr. Chung, nonplused, said

    That is 1) a weird word to see in a major newspaper, even the snooty NYT; 2) a weird characterization for a reporter to assume; 3) evidence the Times' weird decision to erase the Copy Desk was a bad one.
    posted by notyou at 11:16 AM on March 9 [26 favorites]


    A while back, they claimed that they donated Trump Organization profits from foreign governments to the Treasury, but refused to even say how much that was. Somebody gave a number to the Daily Mail (I know, I know, blech, worst timeline, etc...): $151,470.

    So, as far as I'm aware, there are two ways to donate money to the federal government: a gift designated to pay down the public debt (aggregate monthly numbers reported here, Feb #s not released yet), or a general gift -- the check is made out to different places depending on the type of gift. The Bureau of Fiscal Service's website for general gifts implies that it's only possible for citizen individuals to make such a gift, and it's not clear if a business entity can do so (there's no similar implication in the law allowing for gifts for the public debt, but this 2011 report states only that individuals can do so). Which type of gift did the Trump Org make? Who was the check made payable to? Is it standard and legal for the US government to accept gifts from business entities? And if so, are there restrictions on which types of entities can make a gift (e.g., organized in the US, controlled by US persons, not delinquent in tax payments, etc.)? Does the Trump Org plan to deduct the gift as a business expense, and if so, under what theory?

    Also, because gifts to the US government go to the Treasury' Bureau of Fiscal Service (not the IRS) and are not related to tax returns, it is likely that the same privacy restrictions do not apply, so hopefully we'll get some FOIA answers eventually, if in fact a payment was made, which I'm still skeptical actually happened.
    posted by melissasaurus at 11:20 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    If Once Upon a Time in Shaolin were forfeited to the federal government, would that make its content public domain, or would the album be sold at auction, or what? I'm guessing the latter, but I'm very much not a lawyer. All I can say is that every dang day of this timeline brings another marvelous conundrum of legal thorniness
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:24 AM on March 9 [15 favorites]


    The Nation, Sean McElwee, It’s Time to Abolish ICE
    The call to abolish ICE is, above all, a demand for the Democratic party to begin seriously resisting an unbridled white supremacist surveillance state that it had a hand in creating. Though the party has moved left on core issues from reproductive rights to single-payer healthcare, it’s time for progressives to put forward a demand that deportation not be taken as the norm, but rather as a disturbing indicator of authoritarianism.

    White supremacy can no longer be the center of the immigration debate. Democrats have voted to fully fund ICE with limited fanfare, because in the American immigration discussion, the right-wing position is the center and the left has no voice. There has been disturbing word fatigue around “mass deportation,” and the threat of deportation is so often taken lightly that many have lost the ability to conceptualize what it means. Next to death, being stripped from your home, family and community is the worst fate that can be inflicted on a human, as many societies practicing banishment have recognized. It’s time to rein in the greatest threat we face: an unaccountable strike force executing a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
    As Chris Hayes noted, this is an issue Democratic candidates for 2020 are going to have to grapple with, which will be inordinately painful, but the conversation needs to keep happening.
    posted by zachlipton at 11:28 AM on March 9 [83 favorites]


    Hmm, looks like "nonplused" is ok by some dictionaries, but Garner claims it's incorrect.
    nonplus, the verb meaning “to baffle or confound unexpectedly,” preferably makes nonplussed and nonplussing in AmE and BrE alike, because the second syllable is stressed. But the variant *nonplused appears in some American writing.
    posted by cybertaur1 at 11:30 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    @seungminkim: .@PressSec says "We’re not going to have this meeting take place" between Trump and Kim Jong-Un without seeing “concrete actions” from North Korea

    Did...did we just accept the meeting, going so far as to set a date by which it would happen even, and then impose conditions a day later?

    She's now attacking the media for "elevating" North Korea in their Olympics coverage.
    posted by zachlipton at 11:31 AM on March 9 [17 favorites]


    I think the main issue with 'nonplussed' is that it assumes the mind state of a third party. It would have been better to have written "Mr. Chung, seemingly nonplussed, said..."
    posted by Atom Eyes at 11:32 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    listen, this demand that unconditional talks not have conditions is just the kind of hide-bound thinking that Trump was elected to overthrow
    posted by murphy slaw at 11:33 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    Did...did we just accept the meeting, going so far as to set a date by which it would happen even, and then impose conditions a day later?

    are you just tuning in? (I know youre not) or did you seriously think this thing would be different (and if so why)?
    posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:33 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    It’s Time to Abolish ICE

    It's time to abolish DHS. It's an Orwellian manifestation of post 9-11 overreaction and capitulation on civil rights and in some ways represents Osama Bin Laden's most lasting victory over the US citizenry.

    We don't need a cabinet level DHS and the extraordinary powers it's been ceded just to solve the problems of intelligence stove-piping and inter-agency coordination. It needs to go.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 11:35 AM on March 9 [119 favorites]


    I’m basically just going to assume that’s not accidental and that anti-vax is an official Republican position at this point TBH.

    It's getting closer, yes. Not 100% yet, but getting closer. What's interesting is before California voted to end all exemptions except for medical, the states with the toughest exemptions were Mississippi & Alabama and they have increased exemptions since.
    posted by The_Vegetables at 11:36 AM on March 9


    @seungminkim: .@PressSec says "We’re not going to have this meeting take place" between Trump and Kim Jong-Un without seeing “concrete actions” from North Korea.

    American citizens currently held for political crimes in North Korean prisons:

    Kim Dong Chul
    Kim Sang-duk (Tony Kim)
    Kim Hak-song
    posted by scalefree at 11:44 AM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    It’s Time to Abolish ICE

    Last week I learned that ICE was only founded in 2003. That the organization is barely old enough to get a Learner's Permit came as a huge surprise: I had thought it was....30 years old, maybe? That I (a person who without exaggeration or irony considers ICE a fascist paramilitary currently operating genocide test-runs) had normalized them to this degree this fast was downright chilling.

    Fuck ICE. If there's ever another actual election, the whole criminal organization needs to be abolished the day the other side takes control. Maybe a severance package for ICE employees, maybe just a notification to be glad that they're not locked up like their superiors. It needs to be over and done with the second the worm turns.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 11:55 AM on March 9 [52 favorites]


    2020 watch: Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed seven women running for Congress in Texas. All advanced to a runoff or won the primary outright.
    posted by Chrysostom at 11:56 AM on March 9 [30 favorites]


    She's now attacking the media for "elevating" North Korea in their Olympics coverage.

    That was a thing that happened in the right wing bubble. During the opening ceremonies it appeared that Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong was doing a much better job at charming the South Koreans than grimace-faced Mike Pence and there was coverage to this effect (nytimes, ABC, AP, WaPo). The rightwingospere called this an elevation of the North Korean regime's message and an attack on Trump. From the WaPo, How Kim Jong Un's sister fueled Trump's war on the media:
    Yet by chronicling the show, the media drew charges of glorifying Kim and lending credence to North Korea's charade.

    “The American press is buying into it,” Brian Kilmeade said Monday on “Fox & Friends,” pointing to the three aforementioned reports as evidence. “I would contest it is because this administration is hated so much by the American press they're actually taking the side of Kim Jong Un's sister.”
    ...
    The conservative Daily Caller criticized a CNN report that described Kim as “a foil to the perception of North Korea as antiquated and militaristic.” In the very next sentence, CNN added that “as North Korea's brutal dictator, Kim's brother has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power, operating Nazi-style prison camps, repressing political opposition and even executing senior officers and his own family members in an effort to consolidate power.”

    Unsatisfied, the Daily Caller wrote that “the media has been providing a megaphone for North Korean propaganda.”
    I caught about two minutes of SHS's press briefing and the funniest part is when she was asked "what does N Korea get out of this?" Her answer was something like, "they get what they've wanted for the past twenty years, they get to denuclearize."
    posted by peeedro at 11:59 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    I will admit, building nuclear weapons is a novel strategy for getting rid of your nuclear weapons.....
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:02 PM on March 9 [13 favorites]


    Back in January, Trump tweeted:
    Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others
    When he says "sailors pictures on submarine," he's talking about a sailor who was sentenced to a year in prison for taking pictures inside the propulsion area of a nuclear submarine, then destroyed the laptop and camera, throwing the laptop in the woods, after learning he was under investigation (Trump should take note here on what prosecutors think of obstruction of justice).

    Trump turned it into a campaign issue to attack Clinton's handling of classified information.

    Well, he just pardoned Kristian Saucier.

    There are thousands of pardon and clemency petitions pending, but they belong to people who Trump didn't use as props during his campaign.
    posted by zachlipton at 12:04 PM on March 9 [33 favorites]


    Last week I learned that ICE was only founded in 2003.

    Immigration enforcement functions were part of INS before that - DHS was founded in 2003 and there was a lot of restructuring at the time. INS was not any better than ICE, just had a different name.
    posted by InfidelZombie at 12:06 PM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    Yeah, it was basically just a renaming with a bit of shift in mission since pretty much everything was thrown into the blender to create DHS. The Border Patrol have always been dicks.
    posted by rhizome at 12:11 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    They did definitely increase in dickishness (dickitude?) since being renamed, though. Something about that branding as ICE strikes racist shitheads as hardcore or something.
    posted by odinsdream at 12:17 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    After Defeating Cohn, Trump’s Trade Warrior Is on the Rise Again
    "This is the president’s vision,” said Peter Navarro, Trump’s ascendant trade adviser. “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.”
    *pukes*
    posted by Atom Eyes at 12:17 PM on March 9 [32 favorites]


    Fuck ICE. If there's ever another actual election, the whole criminal organization needs to be abolished the day the other side takes control. Maybe a severance package for ICE employees, maybe just a notification to be glad that they're not locked up like their superiors. It needs to be over and done with the second the worm turns.

    We don't want to put a bunch of radicalized nuts with weapons training out on the street. They can all go guard the Aleutians.
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:17 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    "This is the president’s vision,” said Peter Navarro, Trump’s ascendant trade adviser. “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition. And his intuition is always right in these matters.”

    This is literally, actually working towards the Führer.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 12:20 PM on March 9 [81 favorites]


    They did definitely increase in dickishness (dickitude?) since being renamed, though. Something about that branding as ICE strikes racist shitheads as hardcore or something.

    I think this has to do with the shift in responsibilities that focused them much more politically, not to mention that the renaming happened during a politically charged time, so lots of people polarized themselves in support.
    posted by rhizome at 12:20 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    Center for budget and policy proposals: Alabama’s Medicare plan won’t work, won’t lead to more jobs

    It’s basically” if you don’t work you can’t get Medicare (what?) and if you start working you can’t get Medicare (hair pulling out)”
    posted by The Whelk at 12:20 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    We don't want to put a bunch of radicalized nuts with weapons training out on the street. They can all go guard the Aleutians.
    Ahem.. Speaking as an Alaskan (though not an Aleutian resident): find someplace else.
    posted by Nerd of the North at 12:21 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


    WSJ, Trump Lawyers Seek Deal With Mueller to Speed End of Russia Probe
    President Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking to negotiate a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that uses an interview with the president as leverage to spur a conclusion to the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

    The president’s legal team is considering telling Mr. Mueller that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations, including that the special counsel commit to a date for concluding at least the Trump-related portion of the investigation. One idea is to suggest a deadline of 60 days from the date of the interview, the person said.

    Another consideration for the legal team is reaching an agreement with Mr. Mueller on the scope of his questioning of the president, which they expect to focus largely on his decision to fire former national security adviser Mike Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, according to people familiar with the matter.
    Yeah, I'm sure that provided for hours of laughter at Mueller's office.
    posted by zachlipton at 12:23 PM on March 9 [68 favorites]


    It seems a little early for a plea bargain, are they sure they're not tipping their cards?
    posted by rhizome at 12:24 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


    Maybe a severance package for ICE employees, maybe just a notification to be glad that they're not locked up like their superiors.

    I started out my career in nonprofits which worked to help heal various societal wounds in post-conflict countries. I've been thinking a lot about what I learned in those jobs recently, for obvious reasons! But the thing I keep coming back to is the relatively new field of security sector reform (which covers military, police, etc). There are lessons to be gained from the past couple decades of SSR work, and (god willing) we are going to need those lessons sometime in the next few years, not just regarding ICE but also the police forces and the military (though in my opinion the urgency is greater for the police forces).

    One of those lessons is that you really can't/shouldn't do a totally clean sweep of security sector institutions where you just fire everyone and ban them from re-entering the sector. Which is not to say ICE shouldn't be disbanded - it should - but you create a couple new problems when you try to do a clean sweep.

    If we're talking about an institution which will need to continue to exist after the firings in some form, then you lose a ton of institutional knowledge and skills, resulting in a totally green security sector. But an arguably even bigger problem is, suddenly all the people with military and police training in your country are unemployed and possibly unemployable, and also they have a new and personal reason to hate the new regime, even if they didn't before (even if they personally supported it before). That's a perfect recipe for quick radicalization. That's how you get attempted coups and guerrilla-occupied territories and what-have-you, and your new green security forces just won't be able to cope.

    The 'best practices' for this stuff as I understand them are to quickly remove the worst actors, change and clarify the laws governing security sector behavior, and then rigorously enforce those laws. (Usually this is in the context of a broader national conversation about reconciliation and transition.) Many people will then wind up quickly fired, but more will actually change their behavior, if not necessarily their thinking.

    All of which is to say, I get the impulse to say "shitcan them all and give them nothing." But as satisfying as it would be, it isn't a good idea. A severance package and/or some form of retraining are called for. It may not seem fair, in a country where ordinary people don't have access to those things, but if we want to transition back to the general neighborhood of the rule of law anytime soon, we are going to have to recon with stuff like this.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 12:26 PM on March 9 [118 favorites]


    After Defeating Cohn, Trump’s Trade Warrior Is on the Rise Again

    Jonathan Swan, Axios's Anonymous Senior White House Official Whisperer: "Senior officials tell me they expect the entire National Economic Council staff would quit their posts immediately if Trump appoints Navarro; and Republicans on the Hill would go crazy."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 12:27 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    The president’s legal team is considering telling Mr. Mueller that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations, including that the special counsel commit to a date for concluding at least the Trump-related portion of the investigation. One idea is to suggest a deadline of 60 days from the date of the interview, the person said.

    This plan feels like it originated with trump. "Listen, if I can give him my side of the story, it'll clear everything up in an hour or so. After that, we give him a couple of weeks to finish up his paperwork and then we're good."
    posted by murphy slaw at 12:34 PM on March 9 [18 favorites]


    The 'best practices' for this stuff as I understand them are to quickly remove the worst actors, change and clarify the laws governing security sector behavior, and then rigorously enforce those laws.

    "Remove the worst actors," in this case, can involve "prosecute them." Just stop skipping past crimes committed by various law enforcement personnel, and that gives an easy way to "phase out" the corruption without firing everyone.

    Let the asshole talkers keep their jobs (until you've finished reshaping the whole organization); throw out the people who've used their position to actively assault or kill people who dared not defend themselves. Push that in the media - "look look we found The Bad Guys! And to keep this from happening again, we're gonna restructure the whole thing and create accountability!"

    Add in a personality test and complaints history review, and let the not-quite-as-bad guys know they're on watch and need to improve their behavior, or they may be gradually replaced by newcomers who "show better commitment to the agency's core values."

    (Of course, all that requires a justice department that's at least marginally interested in justice, so it may be a while.)
    posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:35 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    "Remove the worst actors," in this case, can involve "prosecute them."

    Oh, yes, I didn't mean to imply that wasn't the case!

    We desperately need a group of people who investigate and charge cops and prosecutors and who are not... those exact same cops and prosecutors.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 12:35 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    This is literally, actually working towards the Führer.

    Jesus H. Christ, if you file the names "Hitler" and "Nazi Germany" off that section it could describe the executive branch under Trump to a....er, T.
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:35 PM on March 9 [13 favorites]


    Regarding this attempt at a "deal" with Mueller, it's fun to imagine the president's lawyers going "Look, our client has already confessed to tons of obstruction on social media, television, and in speeches to his supporters. His various conspiracies with Putin are basically a matter of public record! How much longer can it possibly take you to drag this thing out? He just wants this over with. Give the man a little peace and quiet."
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:50 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    @MichaelCBender: White House clarifies Sarah Sanders’ statement on N Korea that “president will not agree to the meeting without concrete steps and action." Not so fast: “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands,” WH official tells WSJ.

    The rapid reversals here are frankly unusual even by Trump Administration standards, which is saying a lot.
    posted by zachlipton at 12:51 PM on March 9 [43 favorites]


    Legal experts said they were skeptical that the special counsel would be open to the Trump legal team’s requests…

    after taking several minutes to stop laughing and catch their breath.
    posted by murphy slaw at 12:52 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    Chaos? That’s actually good, high energy.
    posted by notyou at 12:54 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    Not so fast: “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands,” WH official tells WSJ.

    For Pete's sake, which White House official? We're just making international policy announcements on background now? That contradict the public ones?
    posted by saturday_morning at 12:55 PM on March 9 [54 favorites]


    The rapid reversals here are frankly unusual even by Trump Administration standards, which is saying a lot.

    I guess Hope Hicks was doing more Communications Directing than people gave her credit for.
    posted by Uncle Ira at 12:58 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


    see the misapprehension that you are all operating under is that the statements of the Press Secretary represent the policy of the administration.

    or that any number of human syllables could represent the policy of the administration.
    posted by murphy slaw at 12:59 PM on March 9 [17 favorites]




    For Pete's sake, which White House official? We're just making international policy announcements on background now? That contradict the public ones?

    Isn't there a rumor that sometimes when it says that it means Trump said it off the record?
    posted by drezdn at 1:19 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    For Pete's sake, which White House official? We're just making international policy announcements on background now? That contradict the public ones?

    At this point it seems like there's absolutely nothing stopping journalists from just writing national policy themselves, and releasing it in the form of anonymous policy statements from the White House.
    posted by MrVisible at 1:22 PM on March 9 [54 favorites]


    Am I overfitting too few data points or has Trump been tweeting less now that there's hardly anyone left to prevent him from bopping into a press conference and unilaterally announcing policy?
    posted by murphy slaw at 1:22 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    drezdn, I think that mainly gets suggested in response to “a person familiar with [X]’s thoughts on the matter”-style attributions.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:23 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    murphy slaw or that any number of human syllables could represent the policy of the administration.

    That's because this administration has no policy. Trump is neither intelligent nor interested enough to have a policy.

    He wants all the money, all the sex, and all the admiration. Beyond that he doesn't give a shit.
    posted by sotonohito at 1:25 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    So the other day I was a little startled to see a Trump bumper sticker - until I did a double take and realized it actually read "Putin/Trump 2020".

    Сделайте Америку прекрасной
    posted by kirkaracha at 1:26 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


    Not so fast: “The invitation has been extended and accepted, and that stands,” WH official tells WSJ.

    we sure could use a mole in the WH Graphics and Calligraphy Office
    posted by Iris Gambol at 1:33 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    ABC News, Michael Cohen dismisses claims of email as proof that Trump knew about payment to porn star to buy her silence
    “Mr. Avenatti has clearly allowed his 15 minutes of fame to affect his ludicrous conclusions. The earth-shattering uncovered email between myself and the bank corroborates all my previous statements; which is I transferred money from one account at that bank into my LLC and then wired said funds to Ms. Clifford’s attorney in Beverly Hills, California. How Mr. Avenatti or the media at large believes this to be ‘breaking news’ is a mystery to me,” Cohen told ABC News.

    When asked where the $130,000 sent to Daniels’ attorney came from, Cohen told ABC News “the funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my LLC account in the same bank.”

    "I think this document seriously calls into question the prior representation of Mr. Cohen and the White House relating to the source of the monies paid to Ms. Clifford in an effort to silence her," Avenatti told NBC News, which first reported the use of the email. "We smell smoke."

    When asked about this statement, Cohen responded: " “He should either evacuate the room he’s standing in or immediately seek the attention of an ENT doctor.”
    Wait. Cohen's story is that he took on personal debt to make the payment? Yeah he's got issues with the state bar here.

    Bonus: Rolling Stone has Clifford's friend saying Trump would call "all the time" while they were on set, to the point she'd "put him on speakerphone and walk away and he'd still be talking."
    posted by zachlipton at 1:37 PM on March 9 [43 favorites]


    The president himself being the anonymous source has almost definitely happened, because his old habits die hard. Once or twice, a hilariously obvious Donald line gets attributed to "a high-level official" (I recall it happening in the New Yorker). And it would match his documented love of chaos to intentionally undercut underlings with a simple "anonymous" call to the press.

    (Personally, I think he doesn't "love chaos" so much as rationalize it by telling himself he does. Deep down, he hates change and craves consistency. He just dislikes anyone consistently telling the world what he, Trump, thinks. It's a personality trait would obviously would pose problems for the manager of a small office supply store but I'm sure is totally fine and cool for the presidency.)
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:46 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    He's obviously expecting an offer on his house for 3X market value from overseas any day now.

    InTheYear2017: "If Once Upon a Time in Shaolin were forfeited to the federal government, would that make its content public domain, or would the album be sold at auction, or what? I'm guessing the latter, but I'm very much not a lawyer. "

    The copyright, barring specific transfer, still resides with the artist. They can sell the media but they can't upload it to thepiratebay.

    Iris Gambol: "we sure could use a mole in the WH Graphics and Calligraphy Office"

    Good luck, thoose guys can keep a Top Secret Clearance.
    posted by Mitheral at 1:47 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    One of those lessons is that you really can't/shouldn't do a totally clean sweep of security sector institutions where you just fire everyone and ban them from re-entering the sector. Which is not to say ICE shouldn't be disbanded - it should - but you create a couple new problems when you try to do a clean sweep.

    Example #1: the Iraqi Republican Guard.
    posted by scalefree at 1:47 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    Am I overfitting too few data points or has Trump been tweeting less now that there's hardly anyone left to prevent him from bopping into a press conference and unilaterally announcing policy?

    I genuinely thought it was because his tweets were actually typed out by Hope Hicks while he shouted them from another room. It seems like that would explain the drop in tweeting, too.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:49 PM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    Wow, so Cohen wants us to believe he was just being a good buddy and deciding to pay $130,000 to quiet someone he says is lying about having an affair with Trump? But he also still was Trump's lawyer and didn't mention it to him? In what world does any of that make sense? They really do think we're stupid.
    posted by downtohisturtles at 1:50 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


    he just pardoned Kristian Saucier.

    Inevitable follow-up: Saucier's lawyer says that going on Fox & Friends was part of a strategy to attract the President's attention and get a pardon. It worked.

    ----

    @mkraju: A stone-faced Sam Nunberg leaves his grand jury testimony and refuses to answer questions, shakes his head when asked for comment. He escapes to a waiting white car, which zooms away

    Well, this has not been an enjoyable week at all.
    posted by zachlipton at 1:54 PM on March 9 [40 favorites]


    More bad news for Kobach in the Kansas voter fraud case:
    In order to impeach the testimony of Hans von Spakovsky, a witness called to defend Kansas’ proof-of-citizenship requirement, ACLU lawyer Dale Ho introduced as evidence an email von Spakovsky wrote about the now-defunct Trump voter fraud commission.

    In the email, von Spakovsky said that putting Democrats or even “mainstream Republicans” on the commission would result in “abject failure.” The email was eventually passed on to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    The email was presented by the ACLU’s Ho when he was asking von Spakovsky who else he considered to be an expert in non-citizens registering to vote, as von Spakovsky claims to be. Von Spakovsky has refused to name other experts, claiming that he is not aware of other people’s expertise and can only speak to his own.

    Kobach objected to the admission of the transcript of the audio recording of von Spakovsky denying to the reporter that he wrote the email. Kobach argued that the transcript shouldn’t be admitted because, he said, Pro Publica has in the past misrepresented itself to Kobach. The reporter who asked von Spakovsky about the email (and tweeted audio of his response) is in the courtroom.

    The judge allowed the audio, which Ho had provided, to be played.
    posted by murphy slaw at 1:58 PM on March 9 [29 favorites]


    @mkraju: A stone-faced Sam Nunberg leaves his grand jury testimony and refuses to answer questions, shakes his head when asked for comment. He escapes to a waiting white car, which zooms away

    And...scene! Good job everyone. If we hurry we can get this all broken down and back on the truck in time for happy hour.
    posted by notyou at 2:01 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    On North Korea, it seems likely that Trump will find a reason to bail on the meeting. At that point, Kim Jong Un will go around bragging that he stared down the most powerful leader in the world and made him blink.

    And he'll be right.
    posted by msalt at 2:12 PM on March 9 [19 favorites]




    Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight: Making sense of Trump's two big moves on North Korea and tariffs.

    I'm honestly wondering if this is, at least partly, a way to try to get the sinking ship to sail on. Trump's ratings seem to have stayed steady at around 40% approval (FiveThirtyEight again), the Democrats are energized specifically by opposition to Trump, various aides and staff are leaving or having public meltdowns, the revelation of the Stormy Daniels affair is tawdry at the least, even taking away the "hush money" aspect, there looks to be blood in the water for the FBI...Trump may be thinking that the Kim Jong Un meeting will be the Big Win he needs to no longer be a monster or a laughingstock (read: Big Loser).
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:19 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


    Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight: Making sense of Trump's....

    There are two possibilities here:
    1) Here is the 11th-dimension chess interpretation, in which the president's actions serve some long-view purpose, or serve to distract from other recent dramas.

    2) The president thought "oh hey that sounds awesome!" and announced what he was going to do.

    Guess which one I think is correct. Guess which one is the general plot of most articles about the president's actions.
    posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:28 PM on March 9 [25 favorites]


    I'm honestly wondering if this is, at least partly, a way to try to get the sinking ship to sail on.

    I think I'm cool with it, though. The tariffs will pay for themselves in undeniably subpar outcomes for the economy, specifically with consumer prices, and those will ultimately not serve Trump very well.

    The rest of it I take as very good news that he's settled on "no war" as being a more popular, crowdpleasing option than "bombs-n-missiles, war war war." Unless he's got a prank up his sleeve, which, who knows. But I'm feeling good about our chances right now.
    posted by witchen at 2:30 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    Trump is a yawning maw of need and impulse. There is no plan other than the base need to satisfy the first with very little control of the second.
    posted by chris24 at 2:32 PM on March 9 [28 favorites]


    If you want to follow the Kobach trial, in addition to Tierney Sneed's Twitter and TPM writeup, Jessica Huseman of ProPublica is also at the trial and tweeting.

    IANAL, but it seems to me that, a) Kobach's essential case is fairly weak, and b) his decision to represent himself is not going well at all.
    posted by Chrysostom at 2:43 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    Well this doesn't sound good. “Trump is Going for a Clean Reset”: Fuming in the West Wing, Trump Prepares to Defenestrate Cuck Allies and go Full MAGA. The president will meet with potential chief-of-staff candidates at Mar-a-Lago next weekend. McMaster is likely next to go. Then Jivanka.
    Even before he decided to launch a trade war and roll the nuclear dice by agreeing in the course of a West Wing afternoon to a risky sit-down with Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump was telling friends he was tired of being reined in. “I’m doing great, but I’m getting all these bad headlines,” Trump told a friend recently. A Republican in frequent contact with the White House told me Trump is “frustrated by all these people telling him what to do.”
    posted by scalefree at 2:48 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


    Mark Follman for Mother Jones: "Trump Spoke to a Russian Activist About Ending Sanctions—Just Weeks After Launching His Campaign"

    subtitle: "Here’s the video of their exchange."
    Just a month after Trump announced his campaign for the White House, he spoke directly to Maria Butina, the protégé of the powerful Russian banking official and Putin ally Alexander Torshin. During a public question and answer session at FreedomFest, a libertarian convention in Las Vegas in July 2015, Butina asked Trump what he would do as president about “damaging” US sanctions. Trump suggested he would get rid of them.

    “I am visiting from Russia,” Butina said into the mic.

    “Ahhhhh, Putin!” Trump interjected, prompting laughter from the audience as he added a mocking riff about the current president: “Good friend of Obama, Putin. He likes Obama a lot. Go ahead.”

    “My question will be about foreign politics,” Butina continued. “If you will be elected as president, what will be your foreign politics especially in the relationships with my country? And do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging of both economy [sic]? Or you have any other ideas?”

    After going off on Obama and digressing into trade policy, Trump responded: “I know Putin, and I’ll tell you what, we get along with Putin… I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK? And I mean, where we have the strength. I don’t think you’d need the sanctions. I think we would get along very, very well.”
    posted by OnceUponATime at 3:00 PM on March 9 [36 favorites]


    For right now the comments on that YouTube video seem like preserved-in-amber specimens of the IRA's work from two years ago.

    speterson085 2 years ago
    Trump and Putin would be great allies.

    riva2003 2 years ago (edited)
    hes really talking sense...if you have any idea of geopolitics you would understand it. im surprised that mr.trump has such vision. this is a true leader you americans need.

    Neveah Lorne 2 years ago
    Go Trump ☺ you should've been president 8years ago.

    regolo gellini 2 years ago
    As a liberal or even more as a socialist I admire this guy for his clear ideas (which of course I don't share entirely but his clear speaking is so refreshing after the hypocritical SOBs we are always confronted with starting from Ms fucking Clinton !
    Of course if I could vote in US I'd give my vote to Bernie Sanders, but if he is not in the race it will be Trump for me !
    Notice his practical, business sense when he says : with our hunky punky we managed to have Russia and China go to bed together and that's no good . We must be friends with everybody and make money for all ! That's common sense !
    posted by OnceUponATime at 3:03 PM on March 9 [31 favorites]


    I wonder if one unintended consequence of this Trump/Kim confab will be the rapid promotion of Japan and South Korea from "nuclear latent" nation status to "secret" (Ala Israel) members of the Big Bang Club. Because it sure as hell looks like we as a nation are becoming more and more willing to punch holes in our strategic umbrella--holes that will need to be plugged one way or another...

    Japan's situation is capital-C Complicated, and probably a derail here, but: Just like the rest of the world they've been having a rash of radical right-wing politicians. The prime minister Shinzo Abe is not only a nationalist, but the Japanese equivalent of a Holocaust denier - he denies that their WW2 war crimes even happened - and he wants to remilitarize. And he at least thinks that public opinion favors his hawkish stance. He called a snap election back in September, won a slightly bigger majority, and now has the majority he needs to amend the constitution so they can remilitarize. (if I'm reading those results right.)

    However, nuclear weapons are a bridge too far for pretty much everyone. Abe is on record saying that nukes are "not constitutionally prohibited", but public opinion is so strongly against them that the topic is practically taboo. For obvious reasons.

    Japan's situation is particularly complicated because they've been heavily reliant on the USA since WW2. Not just for the post-war stability that the US maintained, not just the shipping lanes staying open (which they very much rely on), not just for trade, but they depend on the US for explicit military protection even more than South Korea does. Trump's flipped the table on every single one of those things. The entire post-war order, as far as Japan's concerned. And in addition to North Korea, who keeps throwing fake bombs at them, China is pulling some funny business in the South China Sea. So: it's Complicated.

    quick edit: another news story about right wing politicians in Japan
    posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 3:08 PM on March 9 [25 favorites]


    @rabrowne75: CNN Exclusive: The Pentagon has issued a memo outlining how President Trump's sought after military parade on Veterans Day will look. Parade will include period uniforms, airplanes but no tanks to avoid damaging infrastructure. Route will go from the White House to the Capitol

    We're told we can't afford Medicaid, but sewing period uniforms is a necessity. And just practically, that's a long-ass parade
    posted by zachlipton at 3:18 PM on March 9 [47 favorites]


    But he also still was Trump's lawyer and didn't mention it to him? In what world does any of that make sense? They really do think we're stupid.

    Yeah, if the cover story is a slam-dunk on you 'only' getting disbarred, then the actual story must be really fucking bad.
    posted by Capt. Renault at 3:20 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    It's also worth noting that this Veterans Day parade is going to be five days after the midterm elections.
    posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 3:41 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


    can someone who has a better understanding of the law than me elucidate the ways that Cohen’s recent statements put him at risk of being disbarred?
    posted by murphy slaw at 3:43 PM on March 9


    IANAL summary:

    -Used an email address identifying himself as a member of his client's business for personal purposes
    -Those personal purposes were to use his own money to act on his erstwhile client's behalf without said client's knowledge
    -Lied like a rug about the whole thing
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:46 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


    I predicted a while ago they would manage to convince him to do the exact same thing they do every year and tell him it’s just for him. People already use period uniforms in the Veterans Day parade. Because if you’re a veteran you wear uniforms from your era of service.

    He is the stupidest fucker that has ever stupided. I wonder if even the airplanes are just the Blue Angels or something similar.
    posted by corb at 3:46 PM on March 9 [68 favorites]




    Here's a summary of some of Choen's legal ethics problems. Taking out a loan against your house to pay hush money for your client doesn't seem to be a situation precisely contemplated by the rules of legal ethics, but you can't provide "financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation." There are also questions about whether Cohen had Trump's authorization to speak in all his many statements about this matter, and indeed whether he had Trump's authorization and kept his client informed while negotiating the deal.

    Philip Bump also walks through the campaign finance issues. If you buy the theory that the payment constituted a contribution to the campaign, Cohen made an illegal $130,000 campaign contribution. His use of a Trump Organization email raises the question of who he was working for; corporations, like say the Trump Organization, can't contribute to political campaigns.
    posted by zachlipton at 4:00 PM on March 9 [17 favorites]


    Nixon Goes to McDonaldland
    (Jeffrey Lewis | Foreign Policy)
    It’s like Richard Nixon going to China, but if Nixon was a moron.

    By now, you’ve heard that Donald Trump is meeting with Kim Jong Un by May. You’ve probably also seen the White House walking it back. And then, anonymously, walking it forward again. Things are crazy. Let’s try to sort through them all.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:00 PM on March 9 [14 favorites]


    murphy slaw, see the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct section on the Client/Lawyer Relationship. Rule 1.8 Conflict Of Interest: Current Clients: Specific Rules --

    (3) e. A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that:

    (1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and

    (2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.

    posted by Iris Gambol at 4:00 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    So far as I can tell, the supposed dodge is that Cohen is a member/manager of EC, LLC. It's bullshit, and he's probably inviting the wrath of the Delaware Court of Chancery too.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 4:04 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    About that potential hack in Tennessee, involving the campaign of former governor Bredesen (D) running for Corker's seat:
    "The sender knew that the campaign was preparing to purchase air time for a TV commercial and knew the dates of the proposed media buy," wrote campaign lawyer Robert Cooper Jr. "These emails urged the campaign to wire funds to an international bank account."
    So... someone on the campaign staff told someone else when they were planning to buy ads? Either the article is missing some details, or the campaign managers are oblivious to how much info their copy-room staff has.
    posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:34 PM on March 9


    Trump's bold stroke on North Korea dissolves into confusion

    Reading between the lines on this and other pieces, I just get the impression that all the worlds dictators want to have private meetings and slice up the pie. And Trump desperately wants to be a part of that club.
    posted by valkane at 4:42 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    Michael Cohen signed the certificate of organization as an "authorized person" which, while not absolutely 100% the case, typically means the signer is not a member of the LLC. So who is? Who is the responsible person for tax purposes?
    posted by melissasaurus at 4:44 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    Kind of a quiet Friday aftern—WaPo, In a personal letter, Trump invited Putin to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant
    Donald Trump was so eager to have Vladi­mir Putin attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow that he wrote a personal letter to the Russian president inviting him to the event, according to multiple people familiar with the document.

    At the bottom of the typed letter, Trump scrawled a postscript adding that he looked forward to seeing “beautiful” women during his trip.
    posted by zachlipton at 4:49 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


    At the bottom of the typed letter, Trump scrawled a postscript adding that he looked forward to seeing “beautiful” women during his trip.

    PUTIN: Yes, we will give you many beautiful women - who will pee on you! Wait, you're into that? Yes, OK, we'll still send them over. Who knows, might come in handy some day.
    posted by scalefree at 4:59 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    Kris Kobach and the terrible, no good, very bad day in court:
    Jessia Huseman (ProPublica):
    Today in court (after, you know, he called me a “reported reporter”) the ACLU showed a much anticipated deposition in which he discussed 1) a proposal to amend the NVRA and 2) a sheet of paper he took w him into a meeting w then President-Elect Trump in November. That sheet of paper mentioned amending the NVRA, and he gave one to everyone in the meeting: Trump, Stephan Miller, Bannon, Kushner and Priebus. It was also discovered that Kobach’s proposed amendment contained IDENTICAL language to a filing in the case from the ACLU that indicated how the NVRA would need to be updated in order for his proof of citizenship law to be legal. He denied copying the language. Kobach also denied writing the draft and proposing such an amendment to Trump was an attempt to impact this case, or an admission that he knows his proof of citizenship law violates the NVRA. Repeatedly called it a “contingency plan” in case he lost this case He also said he’d twice approached Rep @SteveKingIA about sponsoring a bill to amend the NVRA as per his draft, and King had said he would do it. He said the amendment would be necessary after trial to “restore the original intent” of the NVRA if he were to lose, and he said he felt he would not lose. During the deposition, Kobach looks visibly pained and, at times, frazzled. His face was often obscured by his hands - rubbing his eyes irritatedly, resting his face on his fists, etc. He was clearly not pleased to be answering the questions.
    So, Kobach essentially admitted in a deposition forced by the ACLU in the separate case against the sham Trump vote suppression committee that he knew the Kansas law at issue in this case was against the NVRA, and that sheet of paper we saw him carrying 1 billion Trump-adjusted years ago was in fact his proposal to amend the NVRA to retroactively legalize the Kansas law. And that deposition was played in open court in the case against the Kansas ID law.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 5:26 PM on March 9 [56 favorites]


    While we know now where the loyalties of Ryan and McConnell truly lie, it's hard to berate Obama for not being so pessimistic about American politics that he should have assumed a complete absence of patriotism.

    It's the GOP mirror. They assumed Obama was up to something, so they dismissed the threat as political posturing. After all, political posturing's all the GOP does.
    posted by Mental Wimp at 5:27 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    Lawfare has a really interesting piece about how Mueller charging those Russian hackers with, essentially, impeding the functions of government, opens the door to all kinds of conspiracy charges for other parties over actions that are not, in and of themselves, actually crimes.
    posted by Andrhia at 5:35 PM on March 9 [19 favorites]


    The president will meet with potential chief-of-staff candidates at Mar-a-Lago next weekend. McMaster is likely next to go. Then Jivanka.
    Even before he decided to launch a trade war and roll the nuclear dice by agreeing in the course of a West Wing afternoon to a risky sit-down with Kim Jong Un, Donald Trump was telling friends he was tired of being reined in.


    Here's the thing: Trump is an idiot who cannot accept blame for anything, so he needs to blame everyone around him and complain about them constantly. It's standard procedure. Might rise and fall in intensity, but if things aren't going well, he has to blame someone other than himself.

    Speculating about who might go or when is a waste of time until they actually go. They are all Schrodinger's scapegoats: forever about to be sacrificed, while simultaneously never going anywhere.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:36 PM on March 9 [18 favorites]


    @Preet Bharara ("banned by Putin, fired by trump") : Sometimes my personal lawyer will just pay my mortgage off. Without asking. Such a good guy. I'm lucky.
    posted by Dashy at 6:11 PM on March 9 [69 favorites]


    John Dowd, an attorney for President Trump, said he was not familiar with the letter. “It’s all nonsense,” he said. A White House spokesman and attorneys for the Trump Organization declined to comment.

    why would you make a comment like that
    why are his lawyers so bad at lawyering
    posted by murphy slaw at 6:11 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    At the bottom of the typed letter, Trump scrawled a postscript adding that he looked forward to seeing “beautiful” women during his trip.

    This is...so stupid. Is Trump a masochist? Is he into humiliation? "Hey Putin, compromise me!"
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:15 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    I can only hope that Trump's endorsement for Josh Hawley turns out to be poison.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:21 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    We didn't talk about Dean Heller today, and it's probably worth mentioning. The endangered GOP senator who thinks Justice Kennedy could save him
    “Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer,” Heller predicted in Las Vegas last week, according to audio of an event he spoke at that was obtained by POLITICO. “Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated.”
    So that's going to be a reason I don't sleep at night.

    Heller, for his part, was supposed to file for re-election on Monday, but did it today, claiming he had to get back to DC early. Which I'm sure is a totally credible story and there's no way he isn't trying to avoid the press.
    posted by zachlipton at 6:42 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


    I've been hoping SO HARD that Trump's policies wouldn't make it to my town, but they have.

    I understand that non-citizens don't have constitutional rights, but being captured, separated from children and family and detained indefinitely ignores and denies basic human rights. This is criminal.

    Not helping me at all: my 76 year old dad in South Carolina sent me a link to a youtube vid talking shit about immigrants that consists of a single static frame of "Triumphant Trump" and text-to-speach audio. The take-away is that dems are putting the welfare of illegal immigrants above the rights of citizens. I didn't assault my dad, but I definitely chopped that vid into pieces to illustrate what kind of enemy propaganda he's spreading.

    I am not exaggerating at all now: I feel like I'm living in late 1930s Europe and my friends and neighbors are being dragged away for no better reasons than simple racism. There is no benefit for anyone. Everyone loses when the government prays on the most vulnerable.

    (Ok, oligarchs and Mega-Corps don't lose...everyone else does.)
    posted by snsranch at 6:44 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


    " The president will meet with potential chief-of-staff candidates at Mar-a-Lago next weekend. McMaster is likely next to go. Then Jivanka. "

    Is this sort of business typically done outside the actual Whitehouse/government offices?
    posted by Mitheral at 7:05 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    It's possible Kennedy is going to retire this summer. On the other hand, a) Kennedy already hired his fall clerks, which seems pretty weird, if he's planning to leave, and b) Heller has every reason to make it up, considering he's in a very challenging Senate race.

    I'm filing this under, "worry about it when it comes."
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:06 PM on March 9 [28 favorites]


    "I understand that non-citizens don't have constitutional rights"

    That's not even a little bit true. Every person within the borders of the United States -- legally or illegally -- has the same rights to free speech, free religion, a fair and speedy trial, equal protection, not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and so on.

    Non-citizens don't have the rights that pertain to citizenship -- to vote, to run for office, to live freely anywhere in the US -- but every person within the borders of the United States has the general rights granted to ALL people that are enumerated in the Constitution, and it's part of what distinguished the Constitution from other forms of government when it was written, and it's part of America's greatness that we have sought equal justice and due process for EVERY person in contact with America's legal system and granted freedom of speech, press, religion, and association to EVERY person within our borders.

    Don't buy this bullshit that white nationalists are pushing about undocumented immigrants not having Constitutional rights. It is flatly unamerican to deny someone due process of law and equal protection of those laws based on their national origin. Don't let them create this false narrative that only citizens have rights -- that has never been how our laws work, and people fought damn hard to keep it that way and to expand those rights so that "all people" truly meant "all people."

    (In general, aside from issues related to living and working freely in the country, which non-citizens do need papers for, the question to ask yourself is, "Would a 16-year-old child have this right?" If the answer is YES, then a non-citizen has that right too -- freedom of speech and religion, right to a fair and speedy trial, right to equal protection of laws, etc. If NO, a non-citizen doesn't have that right -- right to vote, right to serve on a jury, etc. It's not a perfect rule of thumb (16-year-olds can run for office in some places!), but it's a good gut-check!)
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:11 PM on March 9 [222 favorites]


    Is this sort of business typically done outside the actual Whitehouse/government offices?

    He's soliciting his club members for recommendations / resumes.
    posted by ryanrs at 7:11 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


    Kennedy rumors have been going for the last two years of "this summer", so. Also, the clerks thing may not mean anything. Souter hired a full slate of clerks before he retired. SC clerks would be absorbed into other Justice's offices when one voluntarily retires, they don't just get kicked to the curb. But yea, there's nothing to be done either way and it's not like Democrats can stop another Gorsuch anyway without winning the Senate. This is the price of losing in 2016. Democratic voters have never cared about the Court, and Republicans have, so its not a surprise that they're able to reap the benefits of thwarting likely the only chance to flip the Court's ideology in any of our lifetimes. It's win the Senate in 2018 (and hold the line against the Joe Manchin's for two years) or live with a Trump Court for the next several decades.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:21 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    I understand that non-citizens don't have constitutional rights,

    I've NEVER understood that reasoning.

    Starting with the Magna Carta, Clause 39,
    No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.
    And the US Constitution
    No person shall be subject, except in cases of impeachment, to more than one punishment or trial for the same offense; nor shall be compelled to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor be obliged to relinquish his property, where it may be necessary for public use, without just compensation....
    do not say "Citizen". They say "free man" and "person" respectively.
    posted by mikelieman at 7:23 PM on March 9 [33 favorites]


    Today's edition of "pay state reps enough money to live on."

    @josheidelson: Just had a state representative pause our interview to deliver someone Panda Express as part of his side job with Postmates
    posted by zachlipton at 7:30 PM on March 9 [34 favorites]


    Trump administration studies seeking the death penalty for drug dealers (Katie Zezima and Josh Dawsey, WaPo)
    Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, is leading much of the work on opioids for the White House. Singaporean representatives have briefed senior White House officials on their country’s drug policies, which include treatment and education, but also the death penalty, and they provided a PowerPoint presentation on that country’s laws.

    Singapore’s model is more in line with the administration’s goals for drug policy than some other countries, a senior administration official said.

    “That is seen as the holistic approach that approximates what this White House is trying to do,” a senior administration official said.
    This is fine.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:36 PM on March 9 [36 favorites]


    Eyebrows: Non-citizens don't have the rights that pertain to citizenship -- to vote, to run for office, to live freely anywhere in the US --

    This confuses me. I've never heard of restrictions on where non-citizens can live. I understand that certain types of work visa's essentially indenture you to the sponsoring company, and they could dictate where you work, but that's a decision between you and your employer. Am I missing something?
    posted by michswiss at 7:42 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    Sure, Trump will be gung-ho for executing opioid dealers right up until he realizes it would literally kill off members of his hardcore base.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 7:44 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    aren’t half of the “drug dealers” in the opioid crisis doctors with hyperactive prescription pads? we gonna hang them, too?
    posted by murphy slaw at 7:44 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


    just ignore the word anywhere.
    posted by Bovine Love at 7:45 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    Singapore’s model is more in line with the administration’s goals for drug policy than some other countries, a senior administration official said.

    “That is seen as the holistic approach that approximates what this White House is trying to do,” a senior administration official said.


    In that model, holistic approach, possession of a pound of weed or an ounce of cocaine gets you a mandatory death sentence.

    This is rule by death cultists.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 7:47 PM on March 9 [26 favorites]


    "I've never heard of restrictions on where non-citizens can live."

    Yeah, just that you need permission to live in the country generally if you're not a citizen, ignore anywhere, that was coming in from a different but related rant about federalism. :)
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:53 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    aren’t half of the “drug dealers” in the opioid crisis doctors with hyperactive prescription pads? we gonna hang them, too?

    No, of course mandatory death sentences would follow preexisting racial disparities in sentencing. Pill mill doctors would keep on milling, while 19yr old black kids in Baltimore would be summarily executed. That's what they mean by "holistic approach".
    posted by T.D. Strange at 8:02 PM on March 9 [40 favorites]


    aren’t half of the “drug dealers” in the opioid crisis doctors with hyperactive prescription pads? we gonna hang them, too?

    Absolutely, along with all the evil OxyContin pushers, i.e., entire sales and marketing divisions of of Big Pharma.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 8:06 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    I would imagine trump would use lethal prosecution of "drug dealers" much like his idols do, which is to selectively and "legally" kill people he doesn't like. His base would be unaffected.
    posted by codacorolla at 9:01 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    That's pretty much his m.o. for everything - announce the maximum, then selectively enforce/negotiate. Look at the steel tariffs.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:09 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


    Today's edition of "pay state reps enough money to live on."

    I wonder what state that particular rep is a legislator for. Some states have part-time legislatures where state reps' jobs as legislators are part-time gigs at best, and the legislature is only in session for a relatively short portion of each calendar year. An extreme example of this is Montana, where the state Constitution dictates that the legislature may meet in regular session for no longer than 90 days in each odd-numbered year. Their pay is very low as a result, because the expectation is that their service in the legislature will be barely more than a volunteer service opportunity with a minimal time commitment.
    posted by The World Famous at 9:15 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


    Trump is already going after immigrants of all types, since it's been easy to lock them up without appeals thus far, next up is how to get rid of/disemfranchise black americans, who are inarguably citizens. Kobach failed for the most part with his bullshit disenfranchisement panel, thus the need for a new strategy -- and what better playbook to use than Reagan's war on drugs brown people. Thus Sessions' ridiculous and unpopular war on weed, which will be enforced selectively against blue states and nonwhites. I would not be surprised if Sessions gets a hold of dispensary records in blue states and tries to disenfranchise all of them in bulk right before the 2018 elections.
    posted by benzenedream at 9:16 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


    Trump is already going after immigrants of all types, which is easy, since they have almost no constitutionally guaranteed rights

    For crying out loud, they have almost all the same constitutionally-guaranteed rights as everyone else in the United States, so long as they are in the U.S. Even the disgusting Jennings v. Rodriguez case had to impliedly concede that this is the case, punting on that particular issue by creating a stupid fiction about whether, in detention, they are technically within the U.S. for constitutional rights purposes. FWIW, I fully agree with the dissent, but the majority did not actually go so far as to hold that immigrants lack constitutional rights.
    posted by The World Famous at 9:23 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    Annie Linskey, Boston Globe: Trump wants new authority over polling places. Top election officials say no.
    President Trump would be able to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during a federal election, a vast expansion of executive authority, if a provision in a Homeland Security reauthorization bill remains intact.
    posted by adamg at 9:26 PM on March 9 [26 favorites]


    For crying out loud, they have almost all the same constitutionally-guaranteed rights as everyone else in the United States, so long as they are in the U.S. Even the disgusting Jennings v. Rodriguez case had to impliedly concede that this is the case, punting on that particular issue by creating a stupid fiction about whether, in detention, they are technically within the U.S. for constitutional rights purposes. FWIW, I fully agree with the dissent, but the majority did not actually go so far as to hold that immigrants lack constitutional rights.

    they have the same Constitutionally guaranteed rights as everyone else except they are locked up without trial and appeals within the US borders. Jennings vs. Rodriguez invents a stupid fiction but that stupid fiction goes against the intent of the constitution, is a violation of basic human rights, and is functionally ruining the lives of immigrants (unless you're white and rich). You are never going to win over immigrants by pointing to the Constitution to split hairs ("see! you have rights!") while they are getting dragged away.

    If the Dems ever get back in power they need to make the path to citizenship 3 years or less.
    posted by benzenedream at 9:42 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


    Trump wants new authority over polling places. Top election officials say no.

    Alarming as this sounds, I'm not really getting where the "Trump wants new authority" part comes from, and it's kind of sloppy of the Globe to report it that way absent some reason to believe it's true. It sounds more like they intended a clarification of existing law that prohibits armed federal forces from being sent to polling places (except if they want to vote or they need to "repel armed enemies of the United States"). The new language (which the Senate apparently already stripped out in its bill) said:
    SEC. 4012. Secret Service protection at polling places.

    Section 592 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

    “ This section shall not prevent any officer or agent of the United States Secret Service from providing armed protective services authorized under section 3056 or pursuant to a Presidential memorandum at any place where a general or special election is held.”.
    This really sounds like someone was trying to make sure that nobody is technically breaking the law if a protectee goes to vote and the Secret Service is doing their jobs at the time. Fixing the language to make damn sure it's not used to tamper with elections is important, but this doesn't seem to me like the start of a voter suppression plot.
    posted by zachlipton at 10:01 PM on March 9 [11 favorites]


    So this is something. Stormy Daniels's attorney is claiming Michael Cohen isn't licensed to practice in CA, which is where the arbitration was filed. These people. There's just no bottom.
    posted by scalefree at 10:09 PM on March 9 [24 favorites]


    On the lighter side: Pittsburghers pissed by politicization of Pirate Parrot.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:15 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


    This really sounds like someone was trying to make sure that nobody is technically breaking the law if a protectee goes to vote and the Secret Service is doing their jobs at the time. Fixing the language to make damn sure it's not used to tamper with elections is important, but this doesn't seem to me like the start of a voter suppression plot.

    Between uniformed officers & investigative/protective agents Secret Service has 4500 men & women to bring to bear. Assuming they were all tasked with interfering with the election that makes 90 per state; there's over 100,000 polling places in the US. I suppose you could distribute them more intelligently, identify hot spots that need suppression the most. But still, they'd either be spread very thin or the places chosen to deploy them would give away the game. I don't see it.
    posted by scalefree at 10:24 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


    On the lighter side: Pittsburghers pissed by politicization of Pirate Parrot.

    Sadly, the best line was not in that article: “Neither I, nor the Parrot, were promoting any candidate".
    posted by dirigibleman at 10:30 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


    That line is being *relentlessly* dragged on Pirates Twitter.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


    I love how surprising this is North Korea meeting is when Trump heavily hinted at it a week ago.

    Anyone else have the feeling that Pres. Moon is using Trump's obliviousness and DGAF to just kinda bypass US Dep't of State / Intelligence Community and get this done? The way it was announced, as a surprise, at the White House, by the South Korean officials... like they wanted to get it out there live before someone could shut the whole thing down.
    posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:18 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


    I love how surprising this is North Korea meeting is when Trump heavily hinted at it a week ago.

    What is so weird about the whole thing is that the Korean media is reporting on last weekend's North/South dialog and saying that North Korea has already agreed to disarm.
    posted by Literaryhero at 12:56 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


    The Economist: "Proceed with caution: Donald Trump’s gift for Kim Jong Un. A premature summit will do more for the North Korean leader than for America’s president".
    "Mr Trump no doubt believes that it is his toughness alone that has brought Mr Kim to the negotiating table and that, once there, his unique force of personality and his genius for the deal will bully and coax Mr Kim into giving up his nukes.

    In fact hell will freeze over before Mr Kim voluntarily surrenders a capability that his father and grandfather believed would be the ultimate guarantor of their dynasty’s survival and which has taken decades and huge sacrifices to construct.

    Tightening sanctions and loose talk in Washington of a bloody-nose strike on his nuclear facilities may indeed have persuaded Mr Kim that this was a good moment to strike up a dialogue. But he will also believe that it is only because he is very close to having nuclear-armed missiles which can hit the United States that Mr Trump is so keen to meet him.

    In other words, it is his nukes that demand respect. They have created the conditions for him to be treated by an American president as an equal rather than as an awkward pariah."
    posted by amf at 1:41 AM on March 10 [15 favorites]


    Second excerpt of the new book by Mother Jones' David Corn and Michael Isikoff is posted:

    “Why the Hell Are We Standing Down?”The secret story of Obama’s response to Putin’s attack on the 2016 election.
    At this point, Obama’s top national security officials were uncertain how to respond. As they would later explain it, any steps they might take-calling out the Russians, imposing sanctions, raising alarms about the penetrations of state systems—could draw greater attention to the issue and maybe even help cause the disorder the Kremlin sought. A high‑profile U.S. government reaction, they worried, could amplify the psychological effects of the Russian attack and help Moscow achieve its end.
    (Both of these reporters were mentioned in the Nunes memo as people Steele talked to and, according to Republicans, should not have. But a lot of people seem to talk to them, based on the depth of information in these excerpts!)
    posted by OnceUponATime at 4:56 AM on March 10 [7 favorites]


    Stormy Daniels's attorney is claiming Michael Cohen isn't licensed to practice in CA, which is where the arbitration was filed. These people. There's just no bottom.

    So, going further down this rabbit hole.... Essential Consultants LLC is not registered to do business in CA. But EC LLC (the entity that got the restraining order), is a Delaware entity that registered to do business in California in Jan 2017 as an alternate name for Enterprise Court LLC [you can view the docs using CA's business entity search]. That LLC was formed in Delaware in Dec 2016 using a registered agent service, but that's where the online paper trail ends. What is Cohen's relationship to EC LLC? And how does that entity have standing in the case? The registered agent for EC LLC in California is George Mayer, the founder of a property management company called Coastline Equity - how is he connected to all this? (And why has no one reported on this? Am I just way off base here??)
    posted by melissasaurus at 4:59 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


    Here's some datapoints to support the claim against Cohen: he's not listed in the CA Bar Association website & his entry in Martindale-Hubbell, the national lawyer database, only lists him as licensed in NY. And CA Bar Rule Rule 5.5 (Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multi-jurisdictional Practice of Law) says that's not enough to practice law in CA. IANAL but he might be in some trouble over this.
    posted by scalefree at 5:26 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    This really sounds like someone was trying to make sure that nobody is technically breaking the law if a protectee goes to vote and the Secret Service is doing their jobs at the time. Fixing the language to make damn sure it's not used to tamper with elections is important, but this doesn't seem to me like the start of a voter suppression plot.

    I don't feel there's any reason for a protectee to go to a polling place other than a photo op, when they can just use an absentee ballot.
    posted by mikelieman at 5:31 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


    So, going further down this rabbit hole.... Essential Consultants LLC is not registered to do business in CA. But EC LLC (the entity that got the restraining order), is a Delaware entity that registered to do business in California

    I feel this is simply Michael Cohen's stupidity/laziness/privilege. He never considered that there was a reason that entities have names for reasons, and just initialed it. FWIW, the official spelling of MY LLC ends in L.L.C. for reasons of my own. ( I'm a dork )
    posted by mikelieman at 5:35 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    I understand that non-citizens don't have constitutional rights,

    The problem to solve here isn't the definition of the rights they have.

    The problem to respond to here is the fact that so, so very many people both implicitly and explicitly believe that non-citizens don't have rights (and/or aren't human).
    posted by Dashy at 5:37 AM on March 10 [15 favorites]


    hus Sessions' ridiculous and unpopular war on weed, which will be enforced selectively against blue states and nonwhites. I would not be surprised if Sessions gets a hold of dispensary records in blue states and tries to disenfranchise all of them in bulk right before the 2018 elections.

    If you want to feel reassured, the blue states are not going to meekly comply. Sessions came to California, he threatened, California laughed in his face. Blue states are the economic powerhouses and account for much of the US tax revenue - the rest of the US needs California and other blue states more than we need them, and the blue states know it.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:54 AM on March 10 [18 favorites]


    "Not human" is unreachable, but "don't have rights" can be untaught.

    As I've mentioned before, a lot of people maintain it all in their minds by assuming that citizenship itself can't possibly be too difficult to obtain. Part of that is extrapolation from their own dealings with bureaucracy ("It took agonizing months but I finally had a passport / paid my taxes / got a fishing license, so I know that red tape can always be overcome"). Part of it is assumptions of base-level fairness (not dissimilar to the assumptions that if politicians do something especially destructive or unconstitutional, "somebody" would intervene). Either way, it's assumed that noncitizens are just being stubborn or something. So if they have almost zero rights, and they want some rights, they should just "get in the back of the line" for them.

    Once people are informed on the fundamental near-impossibility of legal status in some cases, they might reveal whether those beliefs were just a cover for basic xenophobia, which of course they often are.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:55 AM on March 10 [10 favorites]


    Some thoughts in no particular order:

    -You don't have to be licensed in the state to represent a client at an arb - it's not court. You do have to register with the Bar -- but the actual determination is actually made by the arbitration company, not the bar and it does not appear to be something that would show up in attorney search. And for all I know, ADR, Inc. might let you register at the same time as making an emergency application for a TRO. It's not discussed in their rules (at least the ones floating around the web).

    - We haven't seen the emergency application by EC, LLC -- so we don't know if there's local counsel. Although Daniels' lawyer presumably has.

    -The nuts and bolts of the LLC stuff isn't being fully reported because it makes most people's eyes glaze over. That there are two 'EC LLCs' out of Delaware involved is....weird. Having a registered agent in a state for service of process in a remote state is not. That it's someone with an equity/property company instead of a local law firm or one of the registered agent services is a bit unusual maybe.

    -The two LLCs -- it's been previously speculated that there may have been a series of shell LLCs set up to handle additional payoffs. Off the top of my head, maybe their signature laziness and sloppiness saw them using form documents that refer to EC, LLC for convenience, creating multiple LLCs with the same initials, then bungling the foreign registration.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:00 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    This is old news (lo these many Scaramuccis ago), but I had somehow missed it until yesterday, so:

    SPECIAL ELECTIONS NEWS
    (ragtag edition, with apologies to Chrysostom)
    • NYS is conducting special elections on April 24th to fill out a number of vacancies in the state assembly (including one in my district ♥) and, notably, two vacancies in the state senate.
    • The state assembly holds a safe Democratic supermajority.
    • The state senate, however, is Republican-controlled despite a minority, because of the IDC, a group of Democrats that caucus with the Republicans. There is an agreement between the Democrats and the IDC to reunify if both state senate seats up for this special election are won by Democrats. This would allow the Democrats to regain the trifecta they lost in 2014.
    • The two vacant state senate districts are 32 (Bronx) and 37 (Westchester).
    • District 32 is contested between Sepulveda (D), Delices (R), and Stewart-Martinez (I). The district is considered safe D. [The other candidates don't seem to have a web presence o__o]
    • District 37 is contested between Mayer (D) and Killian (R). Killian ran and lost to Latimer (D) in 2016 (by an 11-point margin).
    Spread the word if you know anyone who lives downstate. ♥
    posted by ragtag at 6:04 AM on March 10 [19 favorites]


    He never considered that there was a reason that entities have names for reasons, and just initialed it.

    This seems likely, and another likely professional responsibility violation. I feel like that should void the TRO. I suppose that could be the underlying basis for calling it a "bogus arbitration proceeding" in Daniels' complaint.
    posted by melissasaurus at 6:06 AM on March 10


    Something else that might not be clear to people is that ADR, Inc.'s "TRO" is not the same as a real judicial restraining order. ADR's toughest saction is basically ruling against you in the underlying matter.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:12 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


    And to be clear I think mikelieman’s explanation is probably the correct one, and the “Essential Courts/EC” LLC with the CA foreign registration is uninvolved.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:27 AM on March 10


    Arrgh. Make that "Enterprise Courts/EC" -- Spectrum is having trouble in SoCal this morning and it's making it hard to preview and correct.

    I suppose that could be the underlying basis for calling it a "bogus arbitration proceeding" in Daniels' complaint.

    The complaint itself basically asserts the arb is bogus because the contract is void. Daniels' attorney's comments to the media emphasized lack of notice and opportunity to be heard on the arb app -- but of course this is in the nature of an ex parte order and we don't know what kind of service Cohen will claim was attempted. That is a potentially hazardous area for Cohen (or whoever filed the emergency arb application) given that they will have had to give a sworn declaration. Here's ADR's rule (at least as of mid 2017):
    The notice must also be accompanied by a completed sworn declaration that includes one of the following: (a) that notice was given, including the date, time, manner, and name of the party informed, the relief sought, any response, and whether opposition is expected; (b) that the applicant in good faith attempted to informthe opposing party but was unable to do so, specifying the efforts made to inform the opposing party; or (c) that, for reasons specified, the applicant should not be required to inform the opposing party.
    Another aspect of its potential bogosity could involve the arbitrator not having been given the side agreement, if that's what happened, and not knowing the true identities of the parties.

    I'm hesitating to assign too much importance to the arbitrator referring to Essential Consultants, LLC as EC, LLC despite the existence of another EC, LLC, and issuing the arb order that way because it's entirely likely that in the arb app there was language like 'Essential Consultants, LLC (hereinafter "EC, LLC" or "EC"),' and you read them together. Plus that language exists in the settlement agreement/NDA that the arb order refers to. Also not sure it really matters unless/until they try to seek some judicial enforcement of the TRO, as opposed to a subsequent and better worded preliminary injunction, or arb award -- after all, ADR knows who it means.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 6:51 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


    Trump-Kim Meeting Could Have Negative Implications for Iranian Nuclear Deal, Officials Say (Laurence Norman | WSJ)
    The planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May will make it more likely the administration will kill the Iranian nuclear agreement, some current and former western officials said.

    The Kim meeting could come within days of Mr. Trump’s May 12 deadline for deciding whether to extend U.S. sanctions waivers on Iran. The president has repeatedly attacked the Iran agreement and warned he may refuse to sign the waivers, a step that would likely breach the agreement’s terms and could see Iran revive key nuclear work.

    People involved in the Iran deal have long said its fate could weigh heavily on diplomacy with Pyongyang. They argued that abandoning the 2015 Iranian accord will lead Mr. Kim to conclude that security guarantees he will almost certainly seek from the U.S. in exchange for scaling back his nuclear program can’t be relied on.

    Now, some of the same voices said they fear the opposite will happen. With the diplomatic window suddenly opening with North Korea, it could persuade Mr. Trump that killing the Iran deal could strengthen his hand with Mr. Kim.
    I’m sure Trump carefully weighed the possibility of such unintended (?) consequences.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:00 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    I wonder what Michael Cohen's wife, Laura, thinks of him using their HELOC--a valuable marital asset--to pay off Stormy Daniels with, as he would have us believe, no expectation of being reimbursed. I've never had a HELOC. If the collateral is in both their names, I presume she would have had to sign the original application, but would she also have had to sign off on drawing down this chunk?
    posted by carmicha at 7:01 AM on March 10 [12 favorites]


    If the collateral is in both their names, I presume she would have had to sign the original application, but would she also have had to sign off on drawing down this chunk?

    Yes to the former (unless it's his separate property), probably no to the latter. My Dad never needed my Mom's permission to draw on their HELOC in down months, much to her consternation. (However we did record those draws as short term loans to the firm by the household.) No one believes this no reimbursement bullshit. If direct repayment became too dangerous it was going to come back in later favors and lump sum invoices for services rendered. Nothing particularly new there, that's how Roy Cohn did business with the Trump family. (And this Cohen would do well to consider how that Cohn wound up.)
    posted by snuffleupagus at 7:06 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]




    snuffleupagus, I’m enjoying these breakdowns of things even though it’s making my head spin. It’s also a reminder that there’s a reason you want a lawyer if you’re facing a court proceeding of any real consequence. Things that may seem cut and dry can get picked apart by people who do this stuff for a living. Trump thought his NDAs have been cut and dry. Now we may get to see how they hold up.
    posted by azpenguin at 7:36 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


    I’m enjoying these breakdowns of things even though it’s making my head spin

    Glad it helps! This is honestly all a little exotic for me -- the little corner of professional liability and business law I'm used to gives me some familiarity with the procedures and some of the underlying issues w/the NDA, but the matters I handle tend be a lot more cut and dried than this mess. (The most unprofessional thing I've dealt with personally so far is probably an attorney going completely AWOL at the end of a case he was about to lose.)

    There are more experienced attorneys hanging around here that could probably offer more insight into probable outcomes -- but they're also busier so you get my musings. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    posted by snuffleupagus at 7:56 AM on March 10 [26 favorites]


    Thanks for the preview of next week's Sarah Huckabee Sanders talking points. Can't wait.

    Putin: Jews might have been behind U.S. Election interference

    In an interview with NBC News broadcast Friday, the Russian president stated that he "could not care less" about indictments issued by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller accusing Russian nationals and companies of election interference, stating that "they do not represent the interests of the Russian state" and are unrelated to the Kremlin.

    "Maybe they're not even Russians," said Putin. "Maybe they're Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship, even that needs to be checked."

    posted by Rust Moranis at 8:02 AM on March 10 [37 favorites]


    Trump thought his NDAs have been cut and dry. Now we may get to see how they hold up.

    Oh please please please let there be consequences to this fuckery, and let those consequences be that anyone who ever signed an NDA with Trump is now released and can tell the world everything
    posted by schadenfrau at 8:03 AM on March 10 [40 favorites]


    Thanks for mentioning that NY Senate stuff, ragtag. This could be a big deal - a lot of progressive legislation has been bottled up by these turncoats.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:13 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    "Maybe they're not even Russians," said Putin. "Maybe they're Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship, even that needs to be checked."

    This is a head of a sovereign state announcing that many citizens of his state are not true citizens, because of their heritage or religion. This is not a good thing. It's not a good thing when Putin does it, it wasn't a good thing when Hitler did it, and it's not a good thing when Trump does it.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:51 AM on March 10 [121 favorites]


    “The last time Obama was too timid, the Republicans roared. His party can’t afford to see Obama make that same mistake once again.”

    If we look forward-not-backward, does Obama have a leadership role to play right now? Do (we) Dems need him to stir up some midterm energy, or nah?
    posted by GrammarMoses at 9:08 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


    does Obama have a leadership role to play right now

    Let the man be retired and do what he wants. Remember, we are the cavalry we've been waiting for.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:14 AM on March 10 [46 favorites]


    Say what you will about Putin, but the guy knows how to throw an American-style bomb.
    posted by rhizome at 9:23 AM on March 10


    And does "President Trump" mean we throw out all traditions and it's now desirable for ex-presidents to talk shit about the current one? I'm not going to give him that power.
    posted by rhizome at 9:24 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


    Let the man be retired and do what he wants.

    President Obama has the right to relax and enjoy his retirement, and I have the right to criticize him for seeking and achieving such power and influence, only to seemingly abandon it at the time of greatest need. He’s the hero we need. Whether we deserve him is, at this point, academic.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:27 AM on March 10 [16 favorites]


    NYT: Obama's in negotiation with Netflix on some kind of civic-oriented project.

    Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 9:35 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


    rhizome: "And does "President Trump" mean we throw out all traditions and it's now desirable for ex-presidents to talk shit about the current one? I'm not going to give him that power."

    This is a pretty late developing "tradition" that mostly arose because most of the latter 20th century presidents either died in office or shortly thereafter or were succeeded by members of their own party. Looking earlier, Hoover was a vocal critic of FDR, TR strongly opposed Taft, etc.

    Selling out the way Bush 41 did is bad. Devoting your life to service like Carter is awesome. But I see no issue with remaining politically active in the post-presidency, if you want to.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:52 AM on March 10 [14 favorites]


    Let the man be retired and do what he wants. Remember, we are the cavalry we've been waiting for.

    Since when has a former POTUS just retired and done nothing?
    posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 9:57 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


    Bush 43 has laid pretty low.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:00 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


    Bush 43 has laid pretty low.

    And we thank him for that service to his country.
    posted by scalefree at 10:04 AM on March 10 [77 favorites]


    Barack Obama is not doing nothing. He's running the Obama Foundation, for one thing.

    I'm of two minds. There's no doubt that Obama is not viewed as just another ex-president by the opposition. He's the devil incarnate, and he inflames right wingers in a manner comparable only to Hillary Clinton. Is it a good or bad thing to have him taking a leadership position in the left? I don't know, but I do know that we definitely need to stop trying to find a singular hero. Those people come along once in a generation. We are the ones we've been waiting for.
    posted by soren_lorensen at 10:05 AM on March 10 [23 favorites]


    Since when has a former POTUS just retired and done nothing?

    This has been the pattern for most 20th century former Presidents. Only real exceptions are Carter and Clinton. But to be fair, JFK died, LBJ died basically immediately after leaving office, Nixon was disgraced, Ford was a big dummy, Reagan was senile. HW Bush got up to a thing or two but it was mostly getting himself nice and rich, W. was disgraced (paints). And only Clinton has been "political" in the traditional sense. Carter has restricted himself to philanthropic and humanitarian efforts.
    posted by dis_integration at 10:05 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


    It would piss Trump off so much if, while Trump is President, Obama became a bigger TV producer and star than Trump ever was. Not that I think that would be a good thing. But seriously, Trump would be so pissed.
    posted by The World Famous at 10:07 AM on March 10 [18 favorites]


    Also, Reagan went around giving speeches to rally for gun control legislation after his presidency ended.
    posted by The World Famous at 10:08 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    Personally, I would love Obama pulling a John Quincy Adams and returning to Congress, but that's just as a political trivia guy.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:10 AM on March 10 [12 favorites]


    All he really needs to do is win an Emmy.
    posted by mochapickle at 10:23 AM on March 10 [21 favorites]


    Personally, I would love Obama pulling a John Quincy Adams and returning to Congress, but that's just as a political trivia guy.

    I wanted Clinton to put him on the Supreme Court. Now I'm holding out hope he'll return to the presidency as the first under the new Constitution.
    posted by gerryblog at 10:26 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


    Metafilter Politics Thread: Trump is a disaster....Thanks Obama

    Sincerely,
    the circular firing squad
    posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 10:28 AM on March 10 [50 favorites]


    soren_lorensen: There's no doubt that Obama is not viewed as just another ex-president by the opposition. He's the devil incarnate, and he inflames right wingers in a manner comparable only to Hillary Clinton. Is it a good or bad thing to have him taking a leadership position in the left? I don't know, but I do know that we definitely need to stop trying to find a singular hero. Those people come along once in a generation. We are the ones we've been waiting for.

    I agree with both your points. Obama's very election tapped into a great big vein of ugliness running through much of the American population. The right-wingers went NUTS, and, unfortunately, a visible Obama leadership as ex-president will just serve to inflame the opposition even if it inspires us. It seems he's in a damned-if-he-does-and-damned-if-he-doesn't position. (And Obama might just be exhausted and demoralized after battling the Party of No, hearing that he wasn't an American citizen, etc. for eight years. Maybe he just can't with the limelight for right now.)

    We are the ones we've been waiting for. Charismatic heroes and heroines might inspire, but it takes the participation of ordinary people to really get the job done. That goes for Civil Rights, feminism, #MeToo, LGBT rights, in fact every social justice movement one can think of. It's not healthy in many ways to look for heroes to do our jobs.

    Depending on heroes can be toxic - for instance, the women that got thrown under the bus because we "couldn't afford to lose" Bill Clinton. And the idea of charismatic leadership disadvantages women: we are still reluctant to look for leadership potential beyond the people who self-nominate for the role — mostly by bullying and stepping on others. This is one of the principal reasons for the low representation of female leaders in senior political or corporate roles (Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review).
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:29 AM on March 10 [46 favorites]


    It's not like Trump is going to abide by the tradition of ex-presidents staying out of politics anyways.
    posted by lumnar at 10:30 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    P.S: Anchorite of Palgrave: Metafilter Politics Thread: Trump is a disaster....Thanks Obama


    I lol'd bitterly because it's so true. I couldn't blame Obama if he gave us all the finger, said "Fuck you, you ungrateful little shits, I am going to retire and live in a nice little beachfront house and enjoy my family and leisure and never appear in public again."
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:33 AM on March 10 [14 favorites]


    Reminder: Nunberg was less than a Scaramucci ago

    Nunberg is talking to the press again. Today he gave an interview to ABC's Good Morning America:
    Five and a half hours after testifying before a grand jury in the Russia probe, a former political adviser to Donald Trump told ABC News exclusively that he believes the investigation is “warranted.”

    “No, I don't think it's a witch hunt. It's warranted because there's a lot there and that's the sad truth. [...] I'm very worried about [Roger Stone]. He's certainly at least the subject of this investigation, in the very least he's a subject.”[...]

    It's unclear what exactly Nunberg testified about before the grand jury. He declined to publicly elaborate on what prosecutors wanted to know, saying he “got into enough trouble this week” already.[...]

    “They said it was a media meltdown. I felt I melted down the media,” Nunberg said in an interview with ABC News on Friday. “I felt it was a good game… And if you want to know the truth it’s kind of therapeutic too.”

    He did admit that the performance was partially due to the pressure of testifying in the special counsel’s probe.

    “I wanted to show what this independent counsel, this independent investigation does to people like me,” Nunberg said. “I'm collateral damage in this independent special investigation.”[...]

    Nunberg declined to say whether he’d be back in front of the special counsel’s attorneys or the grand jury. A source close to him said he is scheduled to testify five more times.

    “Look I can't talk. I can't. I'm just not going to talk about it. Maybe, maybe yes, maybe no, I'll give you a Donald Trump answer,” he said. “We'll see.”
    FLASHBACK .1 Scaramuccis ago (March 9) the Washington Post's Spencer Hsu: "Mueller prosecutors Andrew Weissmann and Brian Richardson entered the courthouse after 4 p.m., entered the chambers of Chief Judge Beryl Howell. Minutes later one went to the grand jury area, the other to the court clerk's office area for new filings. Only then did Nunberg leave [...] with his attorney Patrick Brackley. They were followed immediately by Weissmann, who exited in a separate direction. Whatever was filed, and whether it relates to Nunberg or another party, or will be made public, will have to wait for Monday. Stay tuned."

    FLASHBACK .7 Scaramuccis ago (March 3) to MSNBC's Ari Melber: "If they're trying to build a case against Roger, I'm not going to be part of it. I'm not. Roger didn't do anything. Roger didn't do anything but get treated like crap by Donald Trump, the President."

    FLASHBACK 2 Scaramuccis ago (February 22) to MSNBC's Ari Melber: "What I worry about is, what Michael [Cohen]’s going to say when he’s called in by somebody like Andrew Weissman about the payouts.”
    posted by Doktor Zed at 11:04 AM on March 10 [26 favorites]


    I repeat myself but, no one is coming to save us, we must save each other.

    “We'll live together or we'll die alone“ and all that
    posted by The Whelk at 11:09 AM on March 10 [22 favorites]


    Rosie M. Banks: "I lol'd bitterly because it's so true. I couldn't blame Obama if he gave us all the finger, said "Fuck you, you ungrateful little shits, I am going to retire and live in a nice little beachfront house and enjoy my family and leisure and never appear in public again.""

    We have to be able to talk honestly about the things that cause the rise of fascism. Appeasement doesn't work, even if our virtue asks us to do it. Obama's inability or unwillingness to directly address Republican duplicity was a problem that stemmed from his incredible, wonderful commitment to statemanship. Future leaders must treat Republicans as bad faith actors by default--this is dangerous and bad for our democracy, but the alternative is worse.

    None of these things is a condemnation of Obama so much as an admission that our goodness makes us vulnerable. He wanted to see the best in McConnell, and the American people paid (and pay) for it. I think he was wrong (and I thought he was wrong at the time), but it's hard to blame him wanting to be the man that fixed the schism in this country rather than deepening it.

    As always, hindsight is 20/20. I think Obama will go down in history as a tragic figure whose abilities fell incredibly short of his beautiful vision, but if things had gone differently, if Republican malfeasance wasn't so terribly ingrained, maybe right now we'd be talking about the new progressive America leading the way for the world. Ultimately the amount that you blame him depends on how real you think that vision ever was, I think.
    posted by TypographicalError at 11:22 AM on March 10 [31 favorites]


    I still don't understand the framing "Obama unwisely trusted McConnell" when the far more obvious conclusion to me is "Obama took that traitorous weasel at his word when he threatened to incite a civil war over 'election tampering.'"
    posted by Freon at 11:25 AM on March 10 [50 favorites]


    s/Obama/the Democratic party for the last 40 years/g
    posted by LarsC at 11:26 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    I repeat myself but, no one is coming to save us, we must save each other.

    “We'll live together or we'll die alone“ and all that.


    On this note, I've been thinking about this a lot like a lot of others, and one of those things I've been thinking about is strikes.

    I would like to ask people to carefully consider the following - and I mean this without any kind of disaster porn or intent to instill fear at all.

    Mentally or logistically preparing yourself, your life and your home for the general idea of a general strike, and what that might mean.

    I'm not sure what that means, either, but I think it means a couple of things:

    Networking locally and getting involved, be it being aware of union activities, local community groups and more. Libraries and food banks are sometimes good places to start for this. Also, Food Not Bombs, LGTBQA centers and more. Get active and aware beyond voting. Step outside of your class and comfort, too. If you're fairly well off, reach down. If you're not, reach up and sideways.

    Thinking about food. Attempting to store food and non-perishables is almost always a good idea anyway, but thinking in terms of having a garden and some stores enables a lot of freedom to do things like participate in a general strike. I'm working out plans for my first own basic garden mainly because I'm craving fresh veggies a lot more, and I want the work. (And, apparently, the battle of wills with the local kale-fed deer.)

    Thinking about work. Do you work somewhere not shitty that's politically favorable? Maybe you have an opportunity to talk about the idea of general strikes and exploring what that means with respect to your employers and to develop theoretical contingency plans. Work somewhere totally shitty and/or corporate? Maybe it's time to explore what that really means in the face of a constitutional crisis or coup.

    Savings/rent/housing: Well, we're almost all up the creek, here. We can talk about how late stage capitalism makes it nearly impossible to save money or resources another time, but if possible, people should be looking to build some housing stability in the 1-3 month range whether it's through savings, discussions with independent landlords or being willing to risk and miss mortgage payments and make sticking it to the banks part of the general strike action. (No, seriously, if a significant fraction of the home owning population suddenly stopped paying mortgages at the same time? That would get their attention, fast.)


    And last, spending some time mentally/physically preparing oneself for this kind of thing. It's not a happy thought. It's not a safe, easy thing to even think about doing.

    Reviewing the history of striking and civil disobedience techniques may help. Mentally preparing oneself for using this dire tool may help.

    And in an age of modern and highly asymmetrical warfare, corporate influence and the current state of affairs, it may end up being the only rational choice left to preserve democracy for the actual people, not just the few.
    posted by loquacious at 11:40 AM on March 10 [29 favorites]


    Planting seeds today. (Zone 4a)
    posted by MtDewd at 12:02 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    It's unclear what exactly Nunberg testified about before the grand jury. He declined to publicly elaborate on what prosecutors wanted to know, saying he “got into enough trouble this week” already.[...]

    He's still shilling for Trump, because AFAIK you can talk about your grand jury testimony all you want.
    posted by rhizome at 12:07 PM on March 10


    It's not like Trump is going to abide by the tradition of ex-presidents staying out of politics anyways.

    He can follow Martin Luther King's example & write Letters From Federal Prison.
    posted by scalefree at 12:10 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


    He's still shilling for Trump, because AFAIK you can talk about your grand jury testimony all you want.

    You can but you don't have to (and in many cases probably shouldn't). He almost certainly didn't mean he'd be in legal trouble if he spoke out only that maybe it was time to shut up and stop spinning out publicly. Nurnberg deserves all the shit that's rolling over him but "doesn't want to keep talking about the grand jury" doesn't even rate on the "shilling for Trump" scale.

    In other news, I still don't understand people. Trump's approval rating etc is on the upswing again and may test his highs soon. He is the luckiest asshole on the planet; completely and utterly incompetent but handed the strongest economy in decades, not faced with any real crisis outside that of his own making, and supported by a solid base of ignorant diehards.

    Like on the one hand we need his incompetence to be revealed even to the ignorant diehards, but on the other hand if that happens because of a major crisis we're all screwed. So... 🤷
    posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on March 10 [27 favorites]


    Justinian: I still don't understand people. Trump's approval rating etc is on the upswing again and may test his highs soon.

    As I see it, changes to approval ratings are statistical noise unless they are extreme. What matters foremost is whether the rating is generally low or high. (His is very consistently low — remember, his people get excited about outlier, low-quality polls that maybe suggest 50%. It's just assumed by everybody that 50% is his absolute ceiling — I wouldn't be surprised if he said things like "So really, when you think about it, that's like 100%" or some such gobbledygook.). It also matters whether it has changed dramatically, and I'm not aware that happening any time in his whole term.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:25 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


    AYFKM? Out of Public View, Trumps and Kushners Are Talking Business
    Jared Kushner’s family company recently began construction on an oceanfront development in this Jersey Shore city, a project that has the strong backing of local officials, who agreed to support it with $20 million in bonds.

    But unknown to Long Branch officials, the Kushners have been in talks to team up with another family-run company that has an even bigger presence in the White House: the Trump Organization.

    The Kushners are in private discussions to have President Trump’s company manage at least one hotel at the center of the development known as Pier Village, according to people briefed on the previously unreported talks. The Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization have signed a letter of intent, though no deal is final and the Kushners are not required to inform city officials.
    ...
    Last year, in another previously unreported endeavor involving the two family businesses, the Trump Organization began managing a Kushner-owned hotel in Livingston, N.J., people briefed on the matter said. That property, the Westminster Hotel, is believed to be the only hotel that the Trumps manage but do not brand.
    posted by zachlipton at 12:27 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


    This article from upthread, about how Kellyann Conway is taking the lead on the administrations approach to the opioid crisis by looking at the Singaporean model and mandatory death sentences etc, should set off every alarm bell everywhere.

    Kellyann Conway isn’t a policy expert. She’s a messaging expert. She’s there to defend the midterms and Trump’s re-election.

    They’re going to roll out something deeply horrifying and manipulative wrt to drug policy ahead of the midterms. They’re going back to the old racist drug scare playbook, but, you know. More extreme.

    I don’t know if it will work, politically. But people will probably suffer for it.
    posted by schadenfrau at 12:33 PM on March 10 [29 favorites]


    The GOP tried to celebrate Women’s History Month with an Instagram story about how many women he's appointed. This message of equal opportunity is rather undercut by a quarter of the women featured consist of Karen Pence, Melania Trump, and Ivanka Trump
    posted by zachlipton at 12:47 PM on March 10 [18 favorites]


    David Smith in Teh Guardian 'Hollowed out' White House: Trump is on a dangerous path toward no advisers
    […] The existing staff are stretched increasingly thin. Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project, told the Associated Press: “You have situations where people are stretched to take on more than one job.”

    She offered the example of Johnny DeStefano, who oversees the White House offices of personnel, public liaison, political affairs and intergovernmental affairs. “Those are four positions that in most administrations are each headed by an assistant to the president or a deputy assistant,” Kumar said.

    At first glance, the endless comings and goings appear to have little impact on ordinary Americans. But on another, personnel is policy. If tumbleweed is blowing through the West Wing, there are fewer voices to dissuade Trump from the view he expressed at the 2016 Republican national convention: “I alone can fix it.”
    […]
    It's still hard to believe that this really is a real thing that is happening. At some point there won't be enough people to cover a whole host of basic jobs, like reminding their bosses to promote and/or hire staff. Natural attrition will mean that government departments are run by under-under-secretaries or whatever, without the authority to manage policy and coordinate with other departments. This isn't the sort of thing you get from normal government; it's usually the result of a revolution or civil war.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 1:00 PM on March 10 [54 favorites]


    This is really real too, not an outtake from Cabaret: Steve Bannon tells French far-right 'history is on our side'
    As Bannon entered the hall to cheers and applause, the US flag was unfurled above the stage.
    […]
    “Our dear President Trump said: ‘We’ve had enough of globalists’,” he told FN members.

    “Today’s politics cannot be summed up by the left-right divide. During the 2008 financial crisis, the governments and banks looked after themselves above all, they saved themselves and not the people.”
    […]
    “You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.”
    posted by Joe in Australia at 1:17 PM on March 10 [28 favorites]


    Dog whistle pretty much gone on the antisemitism I see.
    posted by Artw at 1:19 PM on March 10 [34 favorites]


    Another exhibit in the ironies of our time: French fascists loving an American waving an American flag specifically because of how much they hate "internationalism".

    As Alexandra Erin put it in a thread about the politics of trade policy, "Nationalism isn't founded out of an abhorrence to the idea of a global ruling elite, but rather out of being enthralled by the idea of one. The right one."
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:28 PM on March 10 [43 favorites]


    And the supreme irony is that their hero, Donald Trump, dedicated his life to kissing the asses of many of the Global Elite (primarily, the non-Jewish, fossil-fueled and mob-connected) and still does, and when he deviates from their standards, it comes from the belief that he himself is the most elite of the Elite.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 1:58 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    Obama's inability or unwillingness to directly address Republican duplicity was a problem that stemmed from his incredible, wonderful commitment to statemanship.

    No, it was a problem that arose from America's racism. As a black man in a position of authority, he's wasn't allowed the luxury of righteous anger. In order to get where he was, he already had to ignore his rage and disgust and find a place of calm, because otherwise he would've been spewing disgust and rage every single day. If he had had the impulsive fury he's been blamed for lacking, he would never have made it past his first primary. Once elected he quickly learned, six months into his presidency, when his friend Skip Gates was wrongfully arrested by the white Sgt. James Crowley, that his condemnation of any white man could lead to a backlash where he would be humiliated. And doubtless the last thing he wanted was being made to publicly apologize to scum like Donald Trump. Because you are all tripping if you think that an overt accusation by Obama's White House would've ended any other way, after being instantly undermined by the Republican machine. And, considering what we already know about how Trump reacted to the tepid investigation that actually took place, who knows what would've happened if Obama had gone all-in and lost. And maybe Obama thought 8 years of having a target on his back, and Michelle, Sasha and Malia's backs, was long enough. It's frankly ridiculous for people to imply that Obama lacked courage and resolve.

    We've seen since that the entire Republican establishment is willing to do anything, no matter how craven or outright treasonous, to maintain grip on power. Obama couldn't even get a hearing for his Supreme Court nominee, something clearly within his right. He couldn't even get the Republicans on board with their own health care plan. And people are still pretending he could've single handedly held back a tsunami of fascism spearheaded by kaiju Trump, and blaming him for not doing so.
    posted by xigxag at 1:58 PM on March 10 [160 favorites]


    Coming back around to something from yesterday....

    > I predicted a while ago they would manage to convince him to do the exact same thing they do every year and tell him it’s just for him. People already use period uniforms in the Veterans Day parade. Because if you’re a veteran you wear uniforms from your era of service.

    I bet you're right; it's certainly the least damaging option. And the essay Barack Spinoza posted about Trump and the meeting with Kim Jong-Un makes essentially the same argument: that the staff allowed Trump to believe that something completely commonplace (namely, perennial invitations from DPRK for a leader-to-leader summit) was in fact special to him.

    I'm sensing a pattern.
    posted by Westringia F. at 2:03 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    Side note, there was a protest against the Sackler family’s involvement in the opioid crisis in the Sackler Wing of the Met
    posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on March 10 [10 favorites]


    As a black man in a position of authority, he's wasn't allowed the luxury of righteous anger.

    See also: Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.
    posted by kirkaracha at 2:17 PM on March 10 [14 favorites]


    They’re going to roll out something deeply horrifying and manipulative wrt to drug policy ahead of the midterms.

    Rick Wilson: I asked a Singaporean one time to explain their system. He said: "You ever play D&D? Lawful Evil."
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:17 PM on March 10 [18 favorites]


    Rick Wilson, of course, prefers a Neutral Evil judicial system.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 2:20 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


    If this is what conservatism has become, count me out, by Max Boot:

    In the Orwellian language of the far right, someone who wants to combat Russian aggression is a “Russian propagandist,” whereas someone who echoes Russian propaganda is putting “America first.” . . .

    Being conservative used to be central to my identity. But now, frankly, I don’t give a damn. I prefer to think of myself as a classical liberal, because “conservative” has become practically synonymous with “Trump lackey.”

    Principled conservativism continues to exist, primarily at small journals of opinion, but it is increasingly disconnected from the stuff that thrills the masses. I remember as a high school student in the 1980s attending a lecture at UCLA by William F. Buckley Jr. I was dazzled by his erudition, wit and oratorical skill. Today, young conservatives flock to the boorish and racist performance art of Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. The Conservative Political Action Conference couldn’t find room for critics of Trump, save for the brave and booed Mona Charen, but it did showcase French fascist scion Marion Maréchal-Le Pen.

    posted by flug at 2:50 PM on March 10 [20 favorites]


    It seems that Trump's finally figured out that Mueller isn't just going to go away. He's talking to Emmet Flood (again)

    Maggie Haberman, NYTimes Trump Talks With Clinton Impeachment Lawyer About Aiding in Mueller Response
    posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:02 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


    It's still hard to believe that this really is a real thing that is happening. At some point there won't be enough people to cover a whole host of basic jobs, like reminding their bosses to promote and/or hire staff. Natural attrition will mean that government departments are run by under-under-secretaries or whatever, without the authority to manage policy and coordinate with other departments. This isn't the sort of thing you get from normal government; it's usually the result of a revolution or civil war.

    This is already the case across many agencies, I posted at the bottom of the last thread about how the Social Security Administration is without a Commissioner, or Acting Commissioner, without anyone even nominated to any Senate confirmed position, and operating on bootstraped memos developed after 9/11 for what would happen in case of another terrorist attack. SSA employs 68,000 people and is probably the biggest public footprint of the federal government next to the military and post office.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 3:14 PM on March 10 [17 favorites]


    Maggie Haberman, NYTimes Trump Talks With Clinton Impeachment Lawyer About Aiding in Mueller Response

    OMG. Reading this, they go into all of his prior legal counsel, and I get the sense it's clear to everyone ( but Michael Cohen, it seems ) that it's clear to all of them that DJT is roadkill on the Robert S. Mueller III Highway to Justice, and they don't want to be anywhere nearby.
    posted by mikelieman at 3:40 PM on March 10 [16 favorites]


    DJT is roadkill on the Robert S. Mueller III Highway to Justice,

    This is my most fervent hope and wish.
    posted by bluesky43 at 3:54 PM on March 10 [46 favorites]


    Pete Souza or maybe the Obama plus kids twitter account sent out a tweet today/yesterday that shows some gathering that looks a bit like a wedding reception, with seperate little tables. There are two kids plus Obama in the foreground of the picture. One of the kids is Zonked. Out. Like, head back, drool, just sleeping in his chair, oblivious to everything. His little friend is looking into the camera with a smile that is like four-year-old body language for "I'm in on the joke!"

    And then you have Obama casually leaning over the sleeping, zonked-out kid and seriously pointing a finger at him.

    In the background are a table of people of color, looking at what's going on and apparently laughing their fucking asses off at seeing the POTUS take a picture with Zonked Kid.

    I've been thinking about this photo a lot today, because it's a little messed up. I mean, imagine you lived from age seven-on being that kid sleeping with his mouth hanging open as Obama seriously points to him. That's a little fucked up.

    But it's like 1/100 fucked up, and that's what makes it funny, the fact that POTUS is being teasing with a sleeping child. But the sleeping kid is surrounded by his allies, I guess, including the kid by his side who looks like he will be narrating this moment for the rest of his life. And also, who wouldn't want to be that kid, even if you were drooling, your mouth hung open, as the leader of the free word fake-sternly pointed at you? That is COOL. That is AWESOME. That is fucking the story you tell the woman you want to impress on the first date.

    That Obama was always, as far as I know, able to thread that needle, of being funny while also so empathetic, strikes me as part of the package that we're dealing with now, even though Obama is out of the picture. He was SO graceful. He was SO excellent in SO many things. Yes, I know, drones are horrible, but looking at in the context of the pantheon of POTUSes, man, he was good.

    And now we have Trump, who I sort of doubt has produced a nobly-shaped poop. He is SO bad, SO irredeemable, and we as a nation chose this, I'd say POS, but going back to the earlier poop thing, there are literal pieces of shit I respect more than Trump.

    Anyways, yeah, I'm sure Obama was problematic for a host of historical reasons, presidents, even the great ones, are, but for now I need my Obama night light and my Obama sleeping bag and my Obama wallpaper NO YOU CAN'T TAKE IT FROM ME I NEED IT
    posted by angrycat at 3:56 PM on March 10 [58 favorites]


    And then you have Obama casually leaning over the sleeping, zonked-out kid and seriously pointing a finger at him.

    It was a father's day event in 2013 and it's adorable.
    posted by peeedro at 4:09 PM on March 10 [27 favorites]


    Trump, or presumably Scavino since I think Trump was on stage at the time, just tweeted and deleted the word "Epic"

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    posted by zachlipton at 4:11 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


    It was probably somebody on a bed who weighs a lot.
    posted by contraption at 4:14 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    I promise I'm not going to liveblog this, but good god this is just unhinged.

    @seungminkim: Trump now pivots to @chucktodd, calls him "Sleepy eyes Chuck Todd .... sleeping son of a bitch"
    posted by zachlipton at 4:17 PM on March 10 [14 favorites]


    On Monday night, President Donald Trump welcomed Seb Gorka back into the White House.
    posted by adamvasco at 4:25 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


    The Toronto Star's Washington correspondent Daniel Dale @ddale8 is live-tweeting the Trump rally. After a week of scandals erupting right and left, his enablers and aides falling by the wayside, and Mueller inexorably moving closer, he sounds like he has a lot of pent-up rage to uncork. He's already referred to D.C. as "evil" with a "lot of bad people there", "joked" about being president for life, and attacked Elizabeth Warren and Oprah.

    Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 4:27 PM on March 10 [13 favorites]


    Trump just tried to claim he won 52% of women. He won about 52% of white women.

    That's awfully on the nose, even for him.

    Insulting Maxine Waters intelligence was the next topic after this, in case there was any doubt.
    posted by zachlipton at 4:34 PM on March 10 [37 favorites]


    As he did at the Gridiron dinner, going with racist bullhorn after Waters.

    @ddale8
    Trump calls Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters "a very low-IQ individual."

    He repeats: "She's a low-IQ individual."

    Likely uncoincidentally, Waters is Black.
    posted by chris24 at 4:37 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


    That Max Boot piece, in the part flug quotes, very unsurprisingly contrasts Trump's boorish racism with the "erudite" manner of (retches groaningly) William F Buckley. As a refresher, Buckley endorsed the entirety of Southern legal segregation based on some nonsense about whites being "for the time being, the advanced race". (His own brother-in-law L Brent Bozell Jr condemned it a while later, saying "This magazine has expressed views on the racial question that I consider dead wrong, and capable of doing great hurt to the promotion of conservative causes. There is a law involved, and a Constitution, and the editorial gives White Southerners leave to violate them both in order to keep the Negro politically impotent.")

    So now I wonder, has any NeverTrumper correctly identified just how far back the rot goes? Or at least traced it to Reagan? I guess they'd have to be well and truly ex-Republican to make such a proclamation (is Jennifer Rubin there yet?).
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:49 PM on March 10 [42 favorites]


    Good lord he's just babbling out his perceived greatest hits again.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:15 PM on March 10


    The Washington Post's Ashley Parker @AshleyRParker observes, "For those watching this Trump rally with... interest, many West Wing aides say this what to expect in the midterms: Trump, unleashed, traveling the country, 'campaigning' as he pleases."

    And the New York Times' Maggie Haberman @maggieNYT adds, "+ a West Wing trying to figure out a) who will want him to come campaign for them given his negatives and b) where they can safely send him"

    Daniel Dale, with admirable Canadian understatement, remarks, "Trump's current hingedness level is not extremely high."

    Each time Trump says something so insane it seems important to quote here, he's moved on to even crazier statements before I finish typing. We haven't seen Trump like this since the last stretch of the 2016 campaign, and this is just a warm-up for the 2018 mid-terms and 2020 election.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 5:22 PM on March 10 [24 favorites]


    Good. I hope he tanks Josh Hawley. I also hope that Postcards to Voters goes HAM for McCaskill.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:34 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


    Bit of trivia re: the Max Boot piece: I remember as a high school student in the 1980s attending a lecture at UCLA by William F. Buckley Jr. I was dazzled by his erudition, wit and oratorical skill.

    Larry Hama, who created the GI Joe characters and comics of the 1980s, said William F. Buckley Jr. was his inspiration for Cobra Commander.

    I'm sorry, go on, what was that about how conservatism used to be great?
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:36 PM on March 10 [41 favorites]


    It was a father's day event in 2013 and it's adorable.

    This kid pretending to be on a phone call at the Resolute Desk is more presidential and a better phone call faker than Trump.
    posted by kirkaracha at 5:36 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


    has he mentioned the candidate he’s purportedly out there to support yet or nah
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:38 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


    [Take chatty reactions to the chat room!]
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:50 PM on March 10


    to answer my own question, he did, after ranting for an hour. CNN Chyron guy has fun with it: BREAKING NEWS - TRUMP INTRODUCES GOP CANDIDATE ONE HOUR INTO SPEECH

    said candidate looks shell-shocked
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:51 PM on March 10 [36 favorites]


    "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it."

    And to prove it, I will fix it alone.
    posted by kirkaracha at 5:58 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


    When Trump travels around for electioneering, does he now use his own plane or a government one?
    posted by Joe in Australia at 6:21 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]



    One of the many corrosive effects of Trump and his presidency is the way it emboldens others to copy and mimic his style, rhetoric and his ignorance. For example, the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, ever the populist, is claiming is no evidence that Russia was involved in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. And, what's more, speaking of the "alleged" Russian meddling in the US elections, "We have a lot of allegations, but we do not have the facts laid out clearly," said Mr Peters. Now this is in the context of negotiating a free trade agreement with Russia, but why on earth Peters feels to pander to the Russians and their "unproven" meddling is beyond me. Peters, unlike Trump, isn't stupid and he has a ton of political cunning, but parroting pro-Russian propaganda is an appalling way to act as Foreign Minister.
    posted by vac2003 at 6:21 PM on March 10 [14 favorites]


    When Trump travels around for electioneering, does he now use his own plane or a government one?

    The President, any US President, always flies in Air Force One for security reasons. When it's flown for campaigning the campaign is required to pay a portion of the cost.
    posted by scalefree at 6:33 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


    Note: a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost. The campaign pays an amount similar to a first class commercial ticket.

    But this is not unique to Trump, and it's not even bad policy unless abused.
    posted by ryanrs at 6:38 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


    Also, to be super pedantic, whatever plane the President is on is called Air Force One.
    posted by Chrysostom at 6:39 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


    said candidate looks shell-shocked

    And it couldn't happen to a bigger asshole. Rick Saccone had been campaigning on being "Trump before Trump was Trump." He might be a bit peeved that prez couldn't remember his name but make no mistake, this dude is a Trumpist 100%. He deserves every bit of blowback that may arise due to the cavalry arriving in the form of this Nazi rally.

    I'm sitting in a room with a PA 18 voter right now. He had been duly grilled regarding house plans to vote a la my canvasser training.
    posted by soren_lorensen at 6:40 PM on March 10 [29 favorites]


    To add to the pedantry, the president doesn't always fly in the 747 we call Air Force One, just most of the time. I've read somewhere that the Secret Service and the Air Force strongly prefer the president fly in a jet with more than two engines.

    The notable exceptions are when GW Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a Lockheed S-3 Viking called Navy One. Obama flew in a Gulfstream V on a 2009 date night with Michelle and Clinton flew in a Gulfstream IV for a surprise trip to Pakistan in 2000 but both of these planes went by the callsign "Air Force One" while the president was onboard.
    posted by peeedro at 6:53 PM on March 10


    the "erudite" manner of (retches groaningly) William F Buckley

    If you watch the Cambridge Union debate between Buckley and James Baldwin (on the subject "Has the American Dream been achieved at the expense of the Negro?"), you can hear Buckley putting on his Virginia accent. Quite deliberately, I'm sure. Which, given the time, context, and setting, is a very particular sort of dickishness.
    posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 6:54 PM on March 10 [10 favorites]


    WP: The GOP’s messages don’t seem to be working in Pennsylvania. Is that a warning sign?
    posted by Chrysostom at 6:59 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


    The Trump White House having people way overstretched is going to really hurt them when a crisis breaks out, for instance if someone starts a trade war.

    I think one of the notable things about a lot of these approval polls is that they seem to be vulnerable to a massive shift in how many people identify as Republicans, which does not seem to be something they're correcting for.
    posted by Merus at 7:12 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


    UPCOMING SPECIAL ELECTIONS - APRIL - part 1

    Boilerplate: Lots of law comes out of state legislatures, plenty of it bad. These elections don't get much attention, doubly so for special elections. Because of the small scope, a small amount of your money or time could help elect these folks! Please pitch in, if you can!

    Lots of special elections in April, so I will post this in three chunks.
    ====

    April 3 - Massachusetts House Second Bristol - Jim Hawkins

    HD-Second Bristol is currently a D seat (the incumbent resigned to become mayor of Attleboro); D was unopposed in 2016, won 61-39 in 2014, won 58-42 in 2012. The district was won by by Clinton 51-42 and by Obama 54-44. The Ds control the Massachusetts House by about 90 seats.

    => Should be safe Dem. We did lose a MA race earlier, but that one had an indy candidate who split the left vote.

    ====

    April 3 - Rhode Island Senate 8 - Sandra Cano

    SD-8 is currently a D seat (the incumbent resigned due to health issues); D was unopposed in 2016, 2014, and 2012. The district was won by by Clinton 63-32 and by Obama 73-26. The Ds control the Rhode Island Senate by about 25 seats.

    => Should be safe Dem.

    ====

    April 3 - Wisconsin Supreme Court - Rebecca Dallet

    Rare non-legislative item here. The previous (conservative) justice chose not to run again. The election is nominally non-partisan, but a Dem win here would reduce conservative control of the WI SC to 4-3.

    => The R candidate won in the three person open primary, but the combined Dem candidate total was about 55% of the vote. So, outlook is positive for a win.

    ====

    April 10 - Florida Senate 31 - Lori Berman

    SD-31 is currently a D seat (the incumbent resigned after it emerged that he was having an affair with a lobbyist); D was unopposed in 2016, the D won 84-16 in 2012. The district was won by by Clinton 61-36 (district lines were different in 2012). The Rs control the Florida Senate by about 8 seats.

    => Should be safe Dem.

    ====

    April 24 - US House Arizona 8 - Hiral Tipirneni

    AZ-8 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned after a sexual harassment scandal); R was unopposed in 2016 and 2014, R won 63-35 in 2012. The district was won by by Trump 58-37 and by Romney 62-37. The Rs control the US House by about 45 seats.

    => This is a reach for the Dems. It's not out of the question, given the current environment and the fact that there has already been some scandal about the GOP candidate.

    ====
    More to come.
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:39 PM on March 10 [36 favorites]


    I just wrote 5 Postcards to Voters reminding registered Democrats that early voting starts soon for AZ-8! It's my Thing to Do when these threads make me anxious (which is always.) Chrysostom, thanks for keeping us all abreast of these local races!
    posted by WidgetAlley at 7:56 PM on March 10 [23 favorites]


    Even in Trumpworld this is both weird & disturbing. Shulkin cancels meetings with Trump appointees amid VA strife: report.
    Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has reportedly cut off contact with top agency officials and now operates out of an office with an armed guard at the door amid ongoing tensions with top staff.

    Shulkin, a VA holdover from the Obama administration promoted to the head job by President Trump, has canceled morning meetings with top Trump appointees in the department and hasn't spoken to his public affairs chief in weeks. He fears that his aides in the nation's second-largest bureaucracy, behind only the Pentagon, are actively lobbying the White House for his ouster, The Washington Post reports.

    In addition, several senior officials Shulkin personally suspects of disloyalty have lost access to the secretary's 10th floor executive suite.
    posted by scalefree at 8:10 PM on March 10 [34 favorites]


    UPCOMING SPECIAL ELECTIONS - APRIL - part 2
    ====

    April 24 - New York Senate 32 - Luis Sepulveda

    SD-32 is currently a D seat (the incumbent resigned when elected to NYC City Council); D was major party unopposed in 2016, 2014, and 2012. The Bronx district was won by Clinton 93-5 and by Obama 97-3. As mentioned earlier in this thread, the Ds *should* control the Senate, but there's a splinter group of Dems who effectively have given the GOP control.

    => Dead safe seat.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Senate 37 - Shelley Mayer

    SD-37 is currently a D seat (the incumbent resigned on becoming Westchester County executive); D won 56-44 in 2016, won 50-46 in 2014, and 54-46 in 2012. The suburban NYC district was won by Clinton 59-38 and by Obama 54-45.

    => Much closer than the other Senate race, but in the current environment, this should pretty easily be a Dem win.


    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 5 - Deborah Slinkosky

    AD-5 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned to become a judge); R won 64-35 in 2016, won 67-33 in 2014, and 59-41 in 2012. The Islip-based district was won by Trump 60-36 and by Romney 51-47. The New York Assembly is controlled by the Dems by about 65 seats.

    => Definitely a reach, but it was much closer in the Romney race, there might be a shot.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 10 - Steve Stern

    AD-10 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned for another government job); R won 59-41 in 2016, won 63-37 in 2014, and 55-45 in 2012. The Huntington (Long Island)-based district was won by Clinton 52-45 and by Obama 51-48.

    => Good opportunity here - the long-term incumbent is out and the district seems to me light blue.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 17 - Matthew Malin

    AD-17 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned for a seat on county legislature); R won 63-37 in 2016, won 69-31 in 2014, and 57-43 in 2012. The Levittown-based district was won by Trump 58-39 and by Romney 53-46.

    => Bit of a reach, but not impossible.

    ====
    One more batch to come.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:19 PM on March 10 [28 favorites]




    UPCOMING SPECIAL ELECTIONS - APRIL - part 3
    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 39 - Ari Espinal

    AD-39 is currently a D seat (the incumbent resigned to take a seat on NYC City Council); D won unopposed in 2016, 2014, and 2012. The Brooklyn district was won by Clinton 83-15 and by Obama 85-14.

    => Should be very safe seat.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 74 - Harvey Epstein

    AD-74 is currently a D seat (the incumbent was elected to state Senate); D won 82-15 in 2016, won 85-15 in 2014, and was unopposed in 2012. The Manhattan district was won by Clinton 85-11 and by Obama 82-16.

    => Also very safe seat.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 80 - Nathalia Fernandez

    AD-80 is currently a D seat (the incumbent was elected to NYC City Council); D won 85-12 in 2016, won 84-16 in 2014, and won 71-9 in 2012. The Bronx district was won by Clinton 82-16 and by Obama 84-15.

    => Also very safe seat.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 102 - Aidan O'Connor

    AD-102 is currently an R seat (the incumbent resigned for an EPA job); R won unopposed in 2016 and 2014, R won 66-34 in 2012. The suburban Albany district was won by Trump 59-36 and Romney 52-46.

    => Not impossible to flip, but definitely a reach.

    ====

    April 24 - New York Assembly 107 - Cindy Doran

    AD-107 is currently an R seat (the incumbent was elected county executive); R won unopposed in 2016, won 66-34 in 2014, and won 52-48 in 2012. The suburban Albany district was won by Trump 49-45 but by Obama 53-45.

    => Good flip opportunity here.

    ====


    April 24 - New York Assembly 142 - Patrick Burke

    AD-142 is currently an D seat (the incumbent was elected county clerk); D won unopposed in 2016, 2014, and 2012. The suburban Buffalo district was won by Trump 51-45 but by Obama 54-44.

    => Little bit of a danger zone on this one, given the move to Trump. I would guess it's probably a hold in the current environment, though.

    ====
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:46 PM on March 10 [27 favorites]


    Politico: A bloc of Senate Republicans is readying legislation to halt Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs, in the most provocative step yet taken to thwart the president on trade.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 PM on March 10 [12 favorites]


    That Politico article implies that the difficulty in achieving a veto-proof Congressional majority to prevent the tariffs lies with Democrats who are not in favor of free trade. I find that extremely hard to believe. It surely lies with Republicans who are scared to overrule their own party’s President attempting to fulfil a campaign promise, at least while he remains popular with their base.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:03 PM on March 10 [16 favorites]


    Also, he seems to think he personally won The Olympics.
    posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:34 PM on March 10


    First, Mitch McConnell isn't going to allow a vote against Trump, period. Next, lame duck Jeff Flake is the supposed sponsor, and there's only a couple Republicans quoted in favor, none with a hard committment, and one of those is Orrin Hatch. Then they'd need either a unified vote from Repulbicans against Trump plus a few Dems, which is absolutely farsical, or basically every Democrat plus some free trade Republicans, and at least a couple in rust belt states actually like the tarffis, plus theres zero incentive for any 2020 prospect to help, or really for any Democrat that doesn't represent a giant steel producting state to go along with an override. Politically working with Trump is absolute posion within the party outside of red states. Even if Flake got a vote on this I can't see how it gets 50 much less 60 or 67.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 9:40 PM on March 10 [10 favorites]


    It seems that Trump's finally figured out that Mueller isn't just going to go away. He's talking to Emmet Flood (again)

    Maggie Haberman, NYTimes Trump Talks With Clinton Impeachment Lawyer About Aiding in Mueller Response


    This interesting snapshot from Trumpland also provides us with an example of how journalists cover it. The current version of this article ends with the damning disclosure, "Through intermediaries, Mr. Trump’s advisers have reached out to prominent lawyers to feel out their interest in joining his legal team. Most have expressed no interest." This undercuts the official position earlier on, "Mr. Flood had been on the wish list of some of the president’s advisers to join his legal team last year, and he is the only person the White House has been in contact with about such a leading role."

    The Internet Archive's capture of the original, however, doesn't contain that conclusion at all. Instead, it closes with the official Team Trump line about Flood as the only one talking with the White House, which is now in the middle of the piece. (There are multiple versions of this article, although the NYT site doesn't mention it's been rewritten.) In fact, it looks like Haberman tested that in a tweet yesterday evening after the piece was first posted, "Trump intermediaries have done soft approaches to a number of top lawyers in recent months to join the team. They've gotten almost no takers."

    Here's another of her tweets about her article, providing some analysis she can't (yet) put in print: "One aspect of what Flood would do day to day is be intermediary between WH and DoJ, with subtext being that Cobb hasn’t and McGahn can’t."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 5:59 AM on March 11 [28 favorites]


    The news vortex just keeps spinning. This morning, Trump tweeted, at length, in reaction to the NYT article about his legal search:
    The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and....*
    ...have shown conclusively that there was no Collusion with Russia..just excuse for losing. The only Collusion was that done by the DNC, the Democrats and Crooked Hillary. The writer of the story, Maggie Haberman, a Hillary flunky, knows nothing about me and is not given access.**
    * To which Haberman responded, "Several people close to Trump confirmed our story. Trump also met with Emmet Flood in the Oval last week for purpose of potentially hiring him. Our story was confirmed by other outlets." And furthermore, "....which raises possibility Flood has turned him down"
    ** @maggieNYT: Lol
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:05 AM on March 11 [25 favorites]


    If the NYT is A/B testing which truth it feels like enshrining, that's the biggest scandal of the week(end) and is frankly horrifying.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 7:12 AM on March 11 [20 favorites]


    If the NYT is A/B testing which truth it feels like enshrining, that's the biggest scandal of the week(end) and is frankly horrifying.

    It's not at all uncommon, at least for the Times, for stories hosted at a single URL to evolve several times over the course of the day, without any acknowledgement of the changes. While some equivalent of Track Changes might indeed be some kind of gold-standard best practice for online journalism in a better world, and the Times practice clearly falls short of that, neither do I think we need to go seeing dark Conspiracies Against The Truth where there are none.
    posted by adamgreenfield at 7:26 AM on March 11 [31 favorites]


    I suspect the NYT reporters rushed the story yesterday evening in order to make the Sunday print edition and continued to investigate/confirm it over the course of last night (and possibly this morning). It's nevertheless annoying that their disclosure - "A version of this article appears in print on March 11, 2018, on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump Is Said to Want Clinton Impeachment Lawyer to Deal With Mueller" - doesn't reflect this. Anyone who read the earlier versions wouldn't know they weren't getting the whole story.

    Twitter does, however, furnish reporters with an outlet for airing details and opinions that didn't make it into their published pieces. It's certainly a stage for them to try out preliminary reports on their subjects.

    It's also fascinating and unnerving to watch Trump push back against a news story - essentially accusing the reporters of lying - after his numerous attacks on the press last night in Pennsylvania.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:27 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


    Also, if you think anyone in the chain between keyboard and live server on the NYT doesn't know that early versions are captured the moment they appear, you are sadly underestimating how aware NYT editorial is of basic web truths.

    I'd like versioning to be more explicit than de-facto, but the fact that how stories are openly revised after first pub is right out there, is a good thing. It has always happened in print between editions - sometimes uproariously so - but been much harder to spot. It's standard newsroom practice that is now harder to abuse than before.
    posted by Devonian at 7:55 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]


    It's pretty standard practice for stories to be revised while keeping the same URL. It's not just the NYT, it's basically everyone who expects their news sites to be linked. (This is why you sometimes see sites with ridiculous URLs attached to innocuous-seeming articles.)

    If you want to criticise the NYT for not versioning their articles, that's one thing, but it's not commonly done so it's not a standard they're failing to meet. The obvious question they would ask is 'why should we provide a history of the article when the whole reason we changed it was that the old version was less accurate?'
    posted by Merus at 8:01 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


    Making minor or even major revisions to a story after first print is also what Trump and Republicans use to cry "fake news!", pretending that any later revision invalidates the entire story and proves political bais by the entire outlet.

    The NYT has enough legitimate problems with how they cover for and enable Trump already without liberals buying into the same practice of criminalizing basic journalism.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 8:06 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


    Yup, take a look at newsdiffs.org if you think this is a new or idiosyncratic practice. Major media's been rearranging stories after printing, sometimes changing their headline and entire central argument, for some time now.
    posted by jackbishop at 8:06 AM on March 11 [10 favorites]


    In the Information Age, transparency between edits and updates is essential—especially since Trumpists are ready to decry "fake news" for any pretext. Editing history is a cornerstone of Wikipedia's policy and inspires more confidence, not less, in their commitment to accuracy. It's infuriating staid journalistic institutions like the NYT haven't caught up.

    In this case, acknowledging the updated reporting would provide readers with a better understanding of why Trump reacted so furiously this morning. The official line that the White House had supplied was supposed to be the end of the story. Instead, the NYT's reporters dug a bit more and came up with some embarrassing details, e.g. that Team Trump's indirect overtures to other legal counsel were unsuccessful. Now that the story's out there, other sources may be willing to come forward with more potentially awkward information. On top of that, after Trump's attack, the NYT reporters can unload more ammo, at least on Twitter.

    Haberman just tweeted, "For additional context on Trump tweets re story about his legal team, some of his advisers are unhappy about prospect of a newcomer and had highlighted for him Flood’s Dem background."

    n.b. Please note that Trump didn't attack, or even mention, Haberman's co-writer, Michael Schmidt. By this time, Trump's Law of Misogyny should be indisputable: When Trump feels angry and insecure, he attacks women personally.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 8:19 AM on March 11 [41 favorites]


    "The Democrats continue to Obstruct the confirmation of hundreds of good and talented people [...etc.]" -trump

    Does he know that he still needs to nominate them first?

    Trump hits Dems on ‘record’ number of unconfirmed nominees [The Hill]

    "“And that's not good,” he continued. “It's never been like this, ever. They've never held them this long. Republicans have never done this to this extent with the Democrats." - in which trump forgets once again that the Republicans stole an entire supreme court seat for him.
    posted by mrgoat at 8:30 AM on March 11 [32 favorites]


    A profile of voters in PA-18 on the eve of the special election. I'm struck by the factoids that the district is 93.7 percent white and has a median age of 44.6 years. Not that I'm surprised that Western PA is old and white but I am surprised at how poorly Saccone is doing in a district that seems like a canonical example of Trump country. He obviously still has a good chance to win but it's a good sign that he's struggling so much.

    This kind of stuff is so baffling and infuriating though:
    Local resident Frank Dallas, 80, was finishing up his cup of coffee at The Diner, where he’s a regular.
    He said his primary concerns are health care and the cost of medications.
    “I have three prescriptions that cost $600 a month, and that’s a copay,” he said, adding:
    “If I don’t have ‘em, I don’t leave the house.”
    Dallas said his problem is a lung condition that he attributed to years of breathing in the county’s polluted air.
    He hopes whomever wins can “do something about controlling the cost [of medicine] — for the elderly especially.”
    Dallas said he’s voted in every presidential election since 1960, when he voted for Republican Richard Nixon in his first, unsuccessful run for president. Like then, he plans to vote for the Republican, Saccone.
    posted by octothorpe at 8:33 AM on March 11 [17 favorites]


    It's pretty standard practice for stories to be revised while keeping the same URL.

    Last week I refreshed a Washington Post article with a headline stating that Trump has decided not to announce tariffs, and it had transformed into an article about newly announced tariffs
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:38 AM on March 11 [17 favorites]


    NYT: The Missing Obama Millions
    Much of the political commentary since the presidential election has focused on two groups of party switchers: those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016 and those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    Trump voters who previously voted for Mr. Obama are the subject of intense fascination because they are viewed as providing critical insights into the racial and class dynamics that helped determine the outcome of the election. On the other side, many analysts see Romney voters who flipped to Mrs. Clinton as an illustration of how the Democratic Party now survives in significant part by appealing to more upscale voters.

    Frustratingly, however, these perspectives play down the importance of a crucial group of disaffected voters: those who voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 but then failed to go to the polls in 2016. Because this group is disproportionately young and black, this erasure is racially tinged. [...]

    Democratic strategists should recognize that Obama-to-Trump voters do not represent the future of their party. Obama-to-Trump voters diverge from the Democratic Party on many core issues, and in any case they are not particularly loyal Democrats: Less than one third of Obama-to-Trump voters supported Democrats down-ballot in 2016, and only 37 percent identify as Democrats. [...]

    Getting these voters to the polls on Election Day is the most important task for progressives. And given their outlook on the important issues of the day, Obama-to-nonvoters are also likely to be easier to mobilize after two years of a Trump presidency — never mind four.
    posted by tonycpsu at 8:50 AM on March 11 [34 favorites]


    octothorpe, quoting Public Source: Dallas said his problem is a lung condition that he attributed to years of breathing in the county’s polluted air. He hopes whomever wins can “do something about controlling the cost [of medicine] — for the elderly especially.” ... [H]e plans to vote for the Republican, Saccone.

    We keep reading about these Republicans who seemingly have no idea what their party is actually about. I have to wonder, is there any non-trivial set of equivalently deluded Democratic voters? People who cast their vote for the Democrat because they love assault weapons, hate sanctuary cities, and think teachers are overpaid?

    To partly answer my own question: when I was knocking on local Democrats' doors for Obama in 2008, one of the respondents said he "wouldn't vote a Muslim for dog-catcher". So I know there were some unreconstructed-Confederate Democrats even that recently (and even in my state of Pennsylvania).

    Additional research has confirmed this for me. (Basically, until Obama was elected, some white Democratic politicians in deep-red territory could count on a handful of votes from racists who still hadn't gotten the memo, or at least gave the "D" candidate the benefit of the doubt that they were still on Team White Identity.)
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:58 AM on March 11 [11 favorites]


    The Saturday Night Live impression of Mueller on The Bachelor was awful. They had him played much like the Jeff Sessions character in terms of accent and makeup. Watching that made me realize that I haven't actually heard Mueller speak. So, I went out on Youtube and listened to some of the few instances of him speaking in public. Some of them were pretty interesting. The two best were:

    At Georgetown

    At Stanford
    posted by bootlegpop at 9:04 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


    I haven't heard Mueller speak either, but if he doesn't sound exactly like Sam the American Eagle I don't want to know about it.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 9:09 AM on March 11 [110 favorites]


    We keep reading about these Republicans who seemingly have no idea what their party is actually about.

    There aren't really Dem equivalents to Fox News & the Sinclair Broadcast Group, at least not with anywhere like the same catchment area.

    GIGO...
    posted by Buntix at 9:09 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


    FPP on NewsDiff from 2012. Their page for Doktor Zed's trump-mueller-flood.html article.
    posted by XMLicious at 9:11 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


    One rally, four headlines. Guardian, NYT, WashPost, WSJ.

    Can you guess which one is the Times?

    - Donald Trump Advocates Death Penalty for Drug Dealers in Rambling Speech

    - Trump Extols Himself, Pennsylvania GOP Candidate at Rally

    - At Rally for Struggling PA Candidate, Trump Again Suggests Executing Drug Dealers

    - 'Is There Anything More Fun Than a Trump Rally?'
    posted by chris24 at 9:12 AM on March 11 [52 favorites]


    Yup, take a look at newsdiffs.org if you think this is a new or idiosyncratic practice.

    And all this time I've been doing this manually! This is really going to help my news intake/digestion. For instance, this site quickly tells us that the history of the Washington Post's corroborating article on Flood - After Once Predicting Quick End to Mueller Probe, White House Now Looking to Expand Legal Team - contains only minor copy-editing changes and an update about Trump's Twitter attack on the NYT piece.

    Also, CNN's Robert Costa ‏@costareports furnishes some inside gossip about Trump's negotiating with Flood: "a bit of news: Emmet Flood is being considered for associate attorney general, per people familiar with the discussions. That possibility, along w/ potential WH posts, came up in convo w/ the president"

    And incidentally, CREW's Norm Eisen @NormEisen points out, "Ed Williams, founder of Flood’s firm, had a rule: only the clients should go to jail, never the lawyers. Trump’s constant lying will have consequences for him & maybe his counsel. Risk of working for Trump is high—maybe too high for a star like Emmet."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 9:15 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]


    Will Saletan on Twitter: On CBS, Pompeo brags that Kim has agreed to let US do its usual military exercises with South Korea: “He’s allowed us to continue our exercises on the peninsula.”

    Allowed. The dictator of North Korea has allowed exercises outside his country.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:26 AM on March 11 [87 favorites]


    This exchange (between NYT reporter Haberman and Trump) is particularly fascinating to me. The President of the U.S. personally and directly responded to a "front-page" article from a national (international) news/media company, and one of the reporters, the White House Correspondent for the New York Times , directly and personally responded to the President of the U.S. with "Lol."

    Donald Trump is such a laughing-stock, has so greatly diminished any respect for the office or role of the President, that a senior reporter for a major news producer can dismiss and mock him to his face*, and not even worry about a reprimand from her editor, let alone her job or reputation. This exchange just perfectly encapsulates a huge paradigm shift that I'm fascinated to be living through, and makes clear to me that there remain two kinds of options for Donald Trump: autocratic take-over of the U.S. government; or massive failure, criminal charges, midnight flights to Moscow to escape, and etc. You don't persuade people back from considering you a laughing-stock, you either start hitting them with a stick to make them shut up and comply, or you get the hook and are pulled off-stage. I'm confident that the latter is occurring, and am more fearful about what's next, since Trump is a symptom more than a cause.


    *(in a less consumption-addled world, we would call "tweets" what they actually are, "messages" or "communication," rather than by a dumb brand name. Trump's messages and Haberman's replies are absolutely direct, personal communication between those two human beings, that we are all privy to.)

    (....and it really makes my teeth hurt to read the constant use of the branded term 'tweet', like it's not the stupidest thing to ever stupid. We have a perfectly cromulent word for what 'tweets' are, it's 'messages.' The President doesn't 'tweet,' he broadcasts personal messages indiscriminately. 'Tweets' are not some specialized mode of communication, they are messages composed of the words and sentences chosen to symbolize and communicate his thoughts, ideas and feelings. Most Presidents have used a Press Secretary, Communications Director, etc., to do these things, but Trump just wants to vomit his messages directly to us all. Calling them 'tweets' obfuscates this basic fact in a way that actually makes it harder for people to see how abnormal this person's behavior really is. IMHO.)
    posted by LooseFilter at 9:36 AM on March 11 [84 favorites]


    There aren't really Dem equivalents to Fox News & the Sinclair Broadcast Group, at least not with anywhere like the same catchment area.

    GIGO...


    I think partly it's a mindset more prevalent among Republicans and partly because there's no equivalent bottomless pool of targeted donor money among Democrats. For even a partial equivalent on the Democratic side, consider Jeff Bezos, who has more money than God, but he bought a mainstream newspaper, the Washington Post.

    Which makes me wonder why the New York Times and some other mainstream publications want to be so bothsidesy, when it's mostly Democrats who really read them anyway. It's the journalistic equivalent of chasing the Mythical Unicorn Swing Voter. Maybe they just want Brooks and Douthat to have jobs...
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:40 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]


    Maybe I've been stupid on this, but I didn't realize a Dem hadn't even run for this seat since 2012.

    @NateSilver538
    Stating the hopefully-obvious, but the fact that PA-18 is competitive is a really bad sign for Republicans. It voted for Trump by 20 points and Romney by 17.
    - The previous Republican incumbent there (Tim Murphy) didn't even have a Democratic challenger in 2014 or 2016 & won by 28 points the last time he did, in 2012.
    posted by chris24 at 10:02 AM on March 11 [14 favorites]


    'Is There Anything More Fun Than a Trump Rally?'

    The NYT has been objectively pro-Trump from the beginning. He's one of them, New York media coverage made him a star, and he's making them millions every day because people want to believe the 4th estate still exists.

    Cancel your subscriptions.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 10:14 AM on March 11 [30 favorites]


    Yinz guys. Look at this hot garbage.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a formerly liberal(ish) paper, has endorsed Rick Saccone. The paper is now owned by the same people who own the Toledo Blade, they are Trumpists, and Pittsburgh--a deeply Blue city--now has no liberal or even centrist newspapers.
    posted by soren_lorensen at 10:34 AM on March 11 [29 favorites]


    The Saturday Night Live impression of Mueller on The Bachelor was awful.

    I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. Kate McKinnon looked just like Mueller, especially when walking away from the camera (seems like her whole impression was based on the stock footage of Mueller ducking cameras).

    And this was so much fresher then any of the last 731 Alec Baldwin cold opens.

    (But thanks for finding that actual footage of Mueller, bootlegpop!)
    posted by pjenks at 10:38 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]


    I haven't heard Mueller speak either, but if he doesn't sound exactly like Sam the American Eagle I don't want to know about it.
    Relax, Mueller is Sam the American Eagle.
    posted by mumimor at 10:55 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


    Actually, I'd like to amend my statement. Pittsburgh has the New Pittsburgh Courier, which is a Black-owned paper that for some reason I have never been able to convince their delivery service that my address is in their service area (it totally is).
    posted by soren_lorensen at 10:59 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]


    Mueller in his own words. Just a short collection of public remarks Mueller has made, courtesy of that twit Brian Williams, if you're looking to get a feel for the guy.
    posted by xyzzy at 11:26 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    Mueller in his own words.
    I like that he seems to wear many off the rack suits until they are falling apart.
    posted by rc3spencer at 12:14 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    CNN and Harvard have a report out today documenting the millions of dollars paid by opioid manufacturers to doctors to promote sales. The more a doctor prescribes opioids, the more they are paid. Some receive tens of thousands of dollars for writing testimonials and speaking at seminars to promote sales.

    I wonder when Trump is going to recommend executions for drug dealing doctors and pharmaceutical CEOs.
    posted by JackFlash at 12:22 PM on March 11 [59 favorites]


    From the PG article above:

    The Democrats in the House have only one agenda item at the moment, and it isn’t health care or jobs. It is impeachment. Regardless of whether one likes this president or his policies, one must ask what the consequence for the country will be if we dive into so great a distraction.

    So is making this election about impeachment something the GOP and it's various associated entities want? Given how incredibly unpopular the president is, are people actually wary about impeaching him?
    posted by Slackermagee at 12:24 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    I wonder when Trump is going to recommend executions for drug dealing doctors and pharmaceutical CEOs.
    The capital crime will be diverting income away from the major pharma companies, duh.

    And seeing Trump directly attack Maggie Haberman is a surprise... isn't she the Times' most reliable Trump apologist? "The Trump Whisperer"? Of course her "LOL" response shows he hasn't lost her... yet, but it has to be very awkward for her - I can just imagine how fawning her next White House exclusive will be...
    posted by oneswellfoop at 12:41 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]




    Oh, a lawsuit seeking prior restraint! That's a bold strategy cotton, let's see how it works out for them.

    Spoiler Alert: It will not.

    The barriers to prior restraint are enormous as they should be. Additionally it seems like an idiotic strategy. Whatever information Daniels wants to get out is going to get out whether or not it comes out on 60 Minutes. There is no way to prevent it and this will simply Streisand Effect the interview if they actually file.
    posted by Justinian at 1:08 PM on March 11 [16 favorites]


    Donald Trump is such a laughing-stock, has so greatly diminished any respect for the office or role of the President, that a senior reporter for a major news producer can dismiss and mock him to his face*, and not even worry about a reprimand from her editor, let alone her job or reputation.

    I don't disagree, but this is also a good illustration that "access journalism" works both ways. Trump says right in that tweet that he has cut off Haberman's access; so what does she have to lose?
    posted by msalt at 1:11 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    This kind of stuff is so baffling and infuriating though:

    I don't find it that baffling. The GOP is the party of racism, and recently it's become the party of overt racism. Unremarkable men like that one need to feel their foot on someone's neck, and the GOP gives them the political identity that allows them to do that, their own wellfare be damned. Identity is more important than survival, so the redfaced racist white men of the country will keep voting for their corporate overlords regardless of any sense it makes for them personally (although those fates often overlap), or for the world at large. They need power and respect and voting R is the way that they get it.
    posted by codacorolla at 1:12 PM on March 11 [11 favorites]


    Trump says right in that tweet that he has cut off Haberman's access
    ...And of course we all know that Trump always means what he says and sticks to his word...
    posted by neroli at 1:13 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    David Roberts (Vox, don't know him) has an interesting and impassioned tweetstorm on the NYT and conservative columnists. tl;dr - there's no coherent intellectual basis to conservatism any more, and pretending there is - and running the five percent of GOP commentators who connive in this pretence - is dangerous and wrong. Progressives really, really wish there was... but there isn't.

    His conclusion - so run the foaming attack dogs and show the truth about the enemy - is horrible, but given his analysis, what else do you do? Pretending there is something at the heart of Republicanism that can be expressed coherently and argued about isn't working.
    posted by Devonian at 2:47 PM on March 11 [55 favorites]


    Yeah the whole point of those think tanks and fellowships and such was to provide a friendly face to this ideaology and make it seem like it had a rational ideaology, but the mask is gone and the core is revealed (the literal meaning of apocalypse) and no hard right winger actually cares about tax law or the inherent freedom of robust capitalism.

    It’s not enough to beat this down, we have to make sure it never comes to power again and loses the ability to wage warfare on the poor, the sick, or anyone else they consider less than human.
    posted by The Whelk at 2:51 PM on March 11 [34 favorites]


    It is truly -bizarre- that the Missing Obama Millions article doesn't contain a single mention of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. I mean, that was a real thing that suppressed turnout in populations that are vital to Democratic victories.

    After the election, registered voters in Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County were surveyed about why they didn’t cast a ballot. Eleven percent cited the voter ID law and said they didn’t have an acceptable ID; of those, more than half said the law was the “main reason” they didn’t vote. According to the study’s author, University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Kenneth Mayer, that finding implies that between 12,000 and 23,000 registered voters in Madison and Milwaukee—and as many as 45,000 statewide—were deterred from voting by the ID law. “We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,” he says.
    posted by longdaysjourney at 3:04 PM on March 11 [81 favorites]


    Progressives really, really wish there was... but there isn't.

    That’s because you need a loyal opposition for politics to work otherwise you’re just in an autocracy.
    posted by Talez at 3:24 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


    tl;dr - there's no coherent intellectual basis to conservatism any more
    Well, there never was. Obvious agendas to further and maintain systemic racism in the US, a purported ethics that bases itself on mythical super-beings, an across the board stance of resisting all change (Buckley's famous " . . .standing astride history saying . . . No!"). Conservatism has ALWAYS been about maintaining systemic racist, moneyed corporate advantage, by manipulating populist anger when possible. They've just been more spectacularly successful in the last 18 years. And thus occasionally have to really face and publicly accept that reality recently.
    posted by rc3spencer at 3:42 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


    His conclusion - so run the foaming attack dogs and show the truth about the enemy - is horrible, but given his analysis, what else do you do?

    Why is it horrible to show truth about a group who are unrepentantly opposed to all your ideals, and would probably be fine with deporting / killing you if they could get away with it?
    posted by benzenedream at 3:48 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


    Why is it horrible to show truth about a group who are unrepentantly opposed to all your ideals, and would probably be fine with deporting / killing you if they could get away with it?

    Because if we showed the extreme of both sides we’d be equally fucking stupid. Do we start letting members of the local communist society start extolling the virtues of confiscation of private property and forced collectivism?

    It just feels like a cheap tactic to point to any ideology’s most extreme element and say “Look! They’re fucking crazy!”
    posted by Talez at 3:52 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    I was just highlighting that Roberts thread to my old-school liberal mom. I've been saying as much since 2016, when Ryan (remember, I live in his district) clearly became non-plussed [yes, I'm calling back to that] as the primaries rolled on and his two decades of exemplifying the movement conservative line were laid bare as useless before the raw, naked reactionary resentment of the Republican base. It was always there, but leadership class folks like Ryan (and the Buckley-Will-Brooks class of interlocutors) were able to disguise it in the anodyne Atwater sense ("first you say n* then you say forced bussing"). But the problem is deeper than the "loyal opposition" issue Talez highlights.

    I think the left is increasingly fractured, to my dismay, and now contains at least four tendencies ranging from the neoliberal to the more traditional liberal to the identity politics to a passel of One True Marxism approaches. They all have differing responses to this new reactionism, and none of them is really good. We're fighting over the Women's March and who gets to wear pussy hats and the Farrakhan issue stems from that -- it's a weakness that the right may have instinctively seized on. We're fighting over who gets to don the mantle of "the Resistance". We're divided on whether Russia is even a thing.

    So that's the other problem -- we can't confront the evil without naming it, and we can't confront it disunited, but we seem to have few ways to resolve this internal conflict. I mean, I know that conservatives around here know to shut up or avoid politics threads for the most part, nowadays, and I also know that the far left (including both very principled and decent, and scary red-brown types) that I see on Twitter aren't part of making this come together and work either. I don't have many answers myself, other than we must all hang together, otherwise we may find ourselves all hanged separately, so to speak.
    posted by dhartung at 4:01 PM on March 11 [12 favorites]


    I was going to say it's horrible because what we'd discover if we did that is that lots of people who read the NYT are quite receptive to overt, over-the-top bigotry when an authority they like shows it to them.
    posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:01 PM on March 11 [11 favorites]


    the extremes of the modern right: round up minorities and gas them
    the mainstream: dismantle the last remnants of the welfare state, mass deportation, worry about the white birth rate

    the conservative mainstream is crazy now. that there are fringe elements even crazier than that doesn’t make that untrue.
    posted by murphy slaw at 4:06 PM on March 11 [41 favorites]


    It’s taken as a fact that the left is divided and circular firing Squamish but ...I don’t see it?

    Sure you see it online, and on twitter, but those things Do Not Exist. Basically no one reads Twitter and the engement from links outside twitter is minuscule- Facebook kind of exists, but that’s because it’s the fault way to engage. Friends and family for a slice of the US, and it’s easier to organize groups there.

    But on the ground? Nope. My biggest feeling since last year, since going to meetings and protests and canvassing and working groups and mutual aid actions and postcard drives and phonebanking is the feeling of THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I’m suddenly friends with a lot of anarchists! It’s been increasingly easy to get self described liberals to join solidarity actions. Canvassing for Medicare For All is a literal delight cause of how excited people are for it once you explain it. I have made it my duty to personally radicalize members of the upper middle class. People who took pride in being apolitical or thought the system was too rotten to repair and suddenly showing up to STOP ICE training and strike organizing.

    Solidarity Not Unity. It means we work toward our common goals using all our tendencies and methods to create a broad, flexible and quickly adaptive movement. We are all in this together.
    posted by The Whelk at 4:40 PM on March 11 [105 favorites]


    And seeing Trump directly attack Maggie Haberman is a surprise... isn't she the Times' most reliable Trump apologist? "The Trump Whisperer"? Of course her "LOL" response shows he hasn't lost her... yet, but it has to be very awkward for her - I can just imagine how fawning her next White House exclusive will be...

    You kick the dog that is close not the ones that stay away.
    posted by srboisvert at 4:47 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


    Trump privately slamming GOP candidate in Pa. House race as 'weak': report (The Hill)

    Trump privately trashes Rick Saccone (Axios)
    There's a reason Trump said hardly anything about Republican candidate Rick Saccone during a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night that was supposed to promote his candidacy.

    The reason: Trump thinks Saccone is a terrible, "weak" candidate, according to four sources who've spoken to the president about him.

    Trump held that opinion of Saccone before leaving for the rally, and I've not been able to establish whether his time on the ground with the candidate changed his mind.

    Trump isn't the only top Republican who’s found Saccone underwhelming. The widely-held view from Republican officials: Democrat Conor Lamb is a far superior candidate to Saccone and running a far better campaign. Lamb is running effectively as Republican Lite. He's pro-gun and says he personally opposes to abortion (though he supports abortion rights).

    The thing that most irks senior Republicans involved in the race: Saccone has been a lousy fundraiser. Lamb has outraised Saccone by a staggering margin — nearly 500%.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:49 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


    "One rally, four headlines. Guardian, NYT, WashPost, WSJ."
    To which someone replies:
    "Wow. The NYT would have found Nuremberg in 1938 a hoot!!"
    Hmm, let's see…
    1938 Nuremberg Rally Sept. 5-12.
    NYT, Sept. 12 1938.

    "NAZIS INSIST ON ANNEXATION; SUDETENS WANT PLEBESCITE; HITLER TO TELL AIMS TODAY.
    No War Psychosis Seen in Berlin; Sunday Crowds Parade as Usual"
    Yup, nothing changed there…
    posted by Pinback at 4:53 PM on March 11 [50 favorites]


    Solidarity Not Unity. It means we work toward our common goals using all our tendencies and methods to create a broad, flexible and quickly adaptive movement. We are all in this together.

    Ok so that is a fairly privileged thing to say. I'm Jewish- this thing with Farrakhan makes me wonder how many people on the left want to see me gassed, and it makes me fear for my safety at a protest. It's very easy to dismiss twitter and facebook and say "well these things do not exist" outside of online, but what if you're trans and you're worried that the local woman's group has a lot of terfs and you might get killed? trans women are the victims of a crazy amount of violence, especially if they're WOC. What if the local group is really really white and you're a POC and you wonder how much of your concerns about violence will be dismissed by the local tankies even if their violence will likely get pinned on you? Criticisms of the left aren't necessarily all circular firing squads, some of them are real issues that maybe because you're a cis man aren't so important to you. But this latest dust-up with the woman's march makes me really suspect of their aims. Am I not allowed to be concerned?
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:06 PM on March 11 [34 favorites]


    What was that old slogan? Solidarity is for white women? It applies to more than that.
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:11 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    David Roberts (Vox, don't know him) has an interesting and impassioned tweetstorm on the NYT and conservative columnists.

    I cannot recommend reading that thread highly enough. I don't know how I feel about his proposed solutions, but on the whole the message he lays out needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:23 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


    I don't really know how it might be in NYC (are you in Nadler's D+26ish?) but I do suspect it's a lot more unified than here in WI-01. We have white progressives, traditional liberals, and urban contingents of POC, very few tankies ... and a whole lot of "things need shaking up" Trumpists. The first two groups are having a somewhat confused replay of the 2016 primaries, with many supporters of "Ironstache" coming from the Sanders contingent presuming that his opponent again my friend Cathy Myers (if they acknowledge that the primary hasn't happened yet, which is rare) is a dyed-in-the-wool Hillary stan with matching neoliberal positions, and frustrating bitterness on both sides. (From where I sit she's actually a bit to his left on most issues and he's the one with a few problematic neoliberal flourishes. You can see some of that in local and online coverage.) It doesn't say the general will have a lot of defections as a result, but it doesn't bode well for the idea of party unity on a large scale. In any event, the overall success of our district's local parties in forging solid relationships across the racial divide is definitely mixed but mostly breeds pessimism. I mean, I do hope we'll be all of one purpose come November. I'm just not seeing it yet.
    posted by dhartung at 5:32 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


    Steve Bannon tells French far-right 'history is on our side' "Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.”

    @DrPhilGoff (President, Policing Equity)
    I don’t think folks get how truly dangerous this is. Racial progress in this country and others takes a winding path. Racism is often economically advantageous, so folks who suffer need to make it cost. Folks need to break down the barriers to seeing vulnerable peoples’ humanity. But most important for defeating racism, we need to forge a shared cultural norm making it plain that racial oppression is bad.

    The U.S. Civil Rights Movement is a master class in this. King and SNCC’s non-violent protest made it increasingly clear that racial segregation and exploitation were monstrous. In other words, among our greatest accomplishments as a nation is turning “racist” into a bad thing to be. Because this didn’t happen overnight—and because folks don’t read history books—some folks forget that “racist” wasn’t always a dirty word. Consequently, many don’t really give weight to considering what would happen if that protection went away. HEADS UP. THAT PROTECTION IS GOING AWAY!

    This isn’t new. A mix of concerted efforts and accidental activism have chipped away at the definition of racism for some time. These attacks narrowed the definition from “the historically rooted pattern of social stratification and exploitation rooted in race” to “mean people.” They have belittled the consequences of racial violence and focused cultural attentions on small slights to one’s identity.

    That said, what Bannon is doing here, and neo-Nazi’s all over have been doing globally, is different still. They are extending the popular tropes that suggest claims of racism are really rooted in “excess sensitivity” and “weakness.” And that extension says, “See. To be called a racist ONLY means that you are angering the sensitive and the weak. That’s all racism really is!” This perversion of our moral compass is not just nauseating. It is dangerous. It is how we lose the moral authority to name racism for what it is.

    Importantly, the solution is not to stop calling things racist (lest the word lose its meaning). The solution is to insist on the right definition. And to pair the murderous rhetoric these ideologues use with their historic consequences. This stuff is not just politics. It’s not a joke. This stuff kills whole groups and generations of people. Just because it’s not happening yet, doesn’t mean it’s not the same as before.
    posted by chris24 at 5:33 PM on March 11 [88 favorites]


    I'm Jewish- this thing with Farrakhan makes me wonder how many people on the left want to see me gassed, and it makes me fear for my safety at a protest.
    I don't know why people on the left insist on buddying up to Farrakhan. He's caused problems for the left before (see: Keith Ellison, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters) and I don't know what they're getting in return for his support that makes it so vital to shake his hand and attend his hate speeches. Obama's team had a photo of him with Farrakhan suppressed during his first bid for POTUS and Ellison repeatedly denies having anything to do with him while Farrakhan brags about their ongoing relationship, so it's not like Dems don't KNOW he's a problem. Just stop going to his rallies and inviting him anywhere, why is it so hard?
    posted by xyzzy at 5:58 PM on March 11 [12 favorites]


    I'm Jewish, and my dad has been falling down the Fox News hole for the last ten years. Every time I try to pull him back out, he brings up Farrakhan. So yeah, it would be nice if the left would cut ties, and yeah, it's worrying that they won't.
    posted by nonasuch at 6:02 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


    Adam Serwer (who is both black and Jewish) has a good thing giving some context about why some people refuse to denounce Farrakhan.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:06 PM on March 11 [21 favorites]


    Talking Points Memo:“To me it felt like he was a Talmud teacher and I was back in Yeshiva,” Nunberg told Witt, describing the lawyer interviewing him before the grand jury.

    “It was ‘boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.’ There was nothing subjective,” he continued.

    No matter your faith, this is manifestly a journey toward wisdom for young Nunberg. Godspeed, young Nunberg. May jail only enclose you when justified.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:10 PM on March 11 [13 favorites]


    That article by Adam Serwer is frightening. Again and again Mallory is called out for anti-semitism and each time she equates being called and anti-semite more damaging than the Jew-hate itself.

    So she and I had a conversation. The two things that happened in that moment were one, she basically arrested my language and explained to me why that language was not good for the Jewish community, and at the same time I explained to her why using the terminology that she used was cause for me to feel attacked. And she understood that.

    The terminology she felt was "attacking her" was the fact that a friend called her out on saying Jews were good with money and saying that that idea is anti-semitic.

    That's like a white person saying the "real racist" is the black person calling a white person racist!
    Coupled with this when called out for the support of Farrakhan:

    One tweet, in which Mallory wrote that “If your leader does not have the same enemies as Jesus, they may not be THE leader! Study the Bible and u will find the similarities. Ostracizing, ridicule and rejection is a painful part of the process...but faith is the substance of things!” was interpreted by some of her critics as Mallory invoking the anti-Semitic canard that the Jews killed Jesus, a meaning Mallory said she did not intend.

    I mean... the same enemies as Jesus, that's pretty stark.

    I get what the article is saying about Farrakhan having helped so many people who didn't have any other help, and why people sometimes defend him because of that, but while that article made that clear, it also made it clear that Mallory is pretty anti-semitic, and completely unwilling to change that about herself.
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:19 PM on March 11 [15 favorites]


    Maybe I’m confused but my impression from the Gospels is that Jesus would have punched Donald in the throat, ymmv
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:27 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


    Maybe I’m confused but my impression from the Gospels is that Jesus would have punched Donald in the throat, ymmv

    Whips also aren't out of the question.
    posted by Talez at 6:30 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


    I don't know why people on the left insist on buddying up to Farrakhan. He's caused problems for the left before (see: Keith Ellison, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters)

    ...Malcolm X...
    posted by Sys Rq at 6:31 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


    Details are emerging on what North Korea really said to Trump via South Korea. It's a doozy.

    @NoonInKorea:
    SK media report the special message from KJU conveyed to Trump via SK envoys involves setting up US embassy in Pyongyang as part of normalizing US-NK relations. "It's much bigger than releasing 3 US hostages. KJU wants full diplomatic relations with US."

    What does that mean? That means NK wants a peace treaty and that's why KJU said, "We need some warranty: we need assurance of regime preservation and safety from our counterpart (US)." So NK wants to not only remove accumulated UNSCR sanctions but wants full diplomatic relations.

    That could set separate agendas for the 2 summits taking place in April & May: for the US-NK summit, security and military-related issues will be on the table: denuclearization & peace negotiations. For the SK-NK summit, relaxing tensions, separate families, cultural exchanges.

    Per SK insider, "KJU wants firm US pledge of peace and 'regime preservation' is key consideration." That's what's being asked for the offer of "apparent denuclearization" on the part of NK. KJU also voluntarily described NK as a "poor country."

    NK watchers are still skeptical. But some believe NK does not see nukes & missiles as ends in themselves but as currencies to trade for things like security guarantees, economic aid and even diplomacy: "It could be a long-term strategic move on the part of KJU," who's still young.

    Obviously one strong factor in the decision is the economic squeeze wrought by continuing sanctions. They may be beginning to shake the faith of KWP* and military elites and could widen to regular Pyongyangites. "He probably saw there're limits to what he can do with nukes".
    *Korean Worker's Party (North Korea)
    posted by scalefree at 6:32 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


    My question is, is any realistic person considering anything other than “regime preservation”? There is not going to be an Arab Spring in North Korea, even if an Arab Spring was an effective outcome to aspire to. Kim is going to try to secure the comfortable future of himself and his family above all else. The idea of negotiating otherwise seems unrealistic, unless one is willing to let many thousands of innocent people die.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:38 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


    It would be hilarious if KJU just wants to defect and end the problem, like the Dutch withdrawing from Africa (ideology being the colonialism). "Here, you guys do this. I am DONE." He can get a flat in whatever building Kissinger lives in and order Postmates all day.
    posted by rhizome at 6:45 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


    Just stop going to his rallies and inviting him anywhere, why is it so hard?

    I keep coming back to this question myself. The only rational answer I can come up with is that there are still a couple nasty strains of antisemitism that pervade the left. They're usually less in-your-face than the ones on the right, what with the lack of swastikas, SS runes, and tiki torches but just as present.

    We've probably ignored it as fringe for too long. The "mainstream" Republicans would have made the same claim up until two years ago and look where that got them. No more. This will be harder in some cases than others. Farrakhan's comments mark him as beyond the pale (as they should have many years ago). Some folks, on the other hand, will cloak their antisemitism much more skillfully behind legitimate criticism of Israel and such but it's still possible to tell the difference with any sort of effort.

    If we can rightfully take a much harsher zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment as with Al Franken we can do the same for antisemites.
    posted by Justinian at 7:09 PM on March 11 [28 favorites]


    KJU wants full diplomatic relations with US.

    We don't even have an ambassador to South Korea yet. Maybe he can send Jared.
    posted by scalefree at 7:12 PM on March 11 [13 favorites]


    As much as I want to believe this could be a "Nixon going to China" moment, Nixon had more intelligence in one finger than Trump in his entire body. Nixon was a paranoid, evil genius. Trump is two of those things.

    "Denuclearization" is a trap. It sounds wonderful but it's nothing but a trick for NK to drive a wedge between us and South Korea. And I think Trump is too stupid to see it.
    posted by Justinian at 7:15 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


    Sec. DeVos went on 60 Minutes, and it went pretty poorly.

    Here's a short clip that will give you an idea. Lesley Stahl pokes some holes in her argument that taking money away from public schools and giving it to charters causes the public schools to get better:
    Lesley Stahl: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

    Betsy DeVos: I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.

    Lesley Stahl: The public schools here are doing worse than they did.

    Betsy DeVos: Michigan schools need to do better. There is no doubt about it.

    Lesley Stahl: Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they're doing?

    Betsy DeVos: I have not-- I have not-- I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.

    Lesley Stahl: Maybe you should.

    Betsy DeVos: Maybe I should. Yes.
    Next week on 60 Minutes: Stormy Daniels.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:57 PM on March 11 [83 favorites]


    I keep coming back to this question myself. The only rational answer I can come up with is that there are still a couple nasty strains of antisemitism that pervade the left.

    Someone said the answer in this thread: the African-American community apparently sees solidarity as translating to 'black people have to do what white people want, but white people don't have to help black people in return'. When the only people who are doing anything about a problem happen to be virulently anti-Semitic, cutting them off means no-one is doing anything about a problem.

    Which means no-one is doing anything about the problems the Nation of Islam is addressing who isn't virulently anti-Semitic. So maybe... more people should?
    posted by Merus at 8:09 PM on March 11 [18 favorites]


    That Devos interview is being savaged tonight by the commentariat, not that it matters.

    @Philip Rucker (WaPo/NBC): Just watched the whole @60Minutes piece on Betsy DeVos. Pretty rough. @LesleyRStahl seemed to know more about the nation’s public schools than the education secretary.

    @axios: Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos struggles to answer fairly basic questions on school performance on 60 Minutes

    @Patrick Monohan:
    STAHL: What about students back at the schools that aren’t working?

    DEVOS: …

    STAHL: Madam Secretary?

    DEVOS: Okay, I’ll bite. What is a “school”
    when you've lost Axios....
    posted by lalex at 8:15 PM on March 11 [31 favorites]


    Axios, Swan, Scoop: Trump finally losing patience with VA Sec. Shulkin. This is clearly a one-sided view of a phenomenally dysfunctional situation from the anti-Shulkin faction, but among the awfulness, this detail is particularity WTFworthy:
    Right after his meeting with Kelly, Shulkin was brought into the Oval Office to talk to Trump. The conversation quickly turned to discussing important legislation to reform the VA health care system.

    Trump surprised Shulkin by dialing in Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth on speaker phone to get his opinion of the legislation, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation.
    The President of the United States called up a Fox & Friends host in the middle of a meeting with a cabinet secretary to ask for advice.
    posted by zachlipton at 8:24 PM on March 11 [95 favorites]


    Pete Hegseth was originally a favorite for VA Sec., so that must have been extra-special awkward.
    posted by lalex at 8:32 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


    Pete Hegseth has a long history of being a convenient super-right-wing veteran. We saw this with Vets For Freedom, the astroturfed pro-Iraq-War group of the mid 2000s. I am completely unsurprised that Trump adores him.
    posted by corb at 8:44 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


    When your cult leader is calling for mass executions and you're pretty sure that's a bad thing, but you dare not say so and anyway you know you'll be fully on board with everyone else soon enough... (Crooks and Liars reporting CNN)

    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Sunday said that he was "not sure" if the death penalty should be applied to drug offenses.
    posted by Devonian at 8:50 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


    Re Farrakahn. Yes, anti-semitism should be a red-line litmus test. so should homophobia. So should misogyny. So should able-ism. so should racism. So should reproductive rights, gun control, opposition to apartheid in the mid-east, climate change, sep of church and state, genital mutilation, etc etc etc.
    Republicans are a cishet patriarchal christian militant capitalist white supremacy... because that is still a large enough and powerful enough faction to hold power.
    the left is trying to maintain a coalition of all the people who fail that litmus test and some who could pass but reject it. Many people in that coalition have horrible baggage in several dimensions of the political space. Its unfortunate, and we must work to help people seek common cause. Color me unsurprised that an 84yr old populist religious demogogue hates another religion. Disappointed, but not unsurprised.

    EDIT: in case it's unclear, yes we should shun Farrakhan. no matter how many votes he can deliver.
    posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 8:51 PM on March 11 [11 favorites]


    I've seen previous reporting that Trump has considered firing Shulkin and making Hegseth the Secretary and that he asks Hegseth stuff all the time. Here's the Daily Beast on Hegseth the other day:
    Two sources with knowledge of their conversations told The Daily Beast that President Trump will often call Hegseth after the Fox personality is done hosting to chat with him about the episode that had just aired. When the two talk, Hegseth will sometimes try to inject VA and veterans issues into the conversation and steer the discussion in a more policy-oriented direction. According to these sources, Trump will typically acknowledge Hegseth’s points before quickly steering the phone conversation back in the direction of what he just saw on Fox & Friends.
    I can only imagine how these conversations go, with Hegseth trying to convince Trump to privatize the VA and Trump trying to pivot the conversation back to, idk, co-host Abby Huntsman's physical appearance or something.
    posted by zachlipton at 8:54 PM on March 11 [13 favorites]


    One amazing thing about the DeVos interview is that she has one line she pulls out twice when things get tough, and it's absurdly banal:
    Lesley Stahl: No, but your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better, is not working in Michigan where you had a huge impact and influence over the direction of the school system here.

    Betsy DeVos: I hesitate to talk about all schools in general because schools are made up of individual students attending them.
    ...
    Lesley Stahl: Yeah but let's say there's a disruption in the classroom and a bunch of whites kids are disruptive and they get punished, you know, go see the principal, but the black kids are, you know, they call in the cops. I mean, that's the issue: who and how the kids who disrupt are being punished.

    Betsy DeVos: Arguably, all of these issues or all of this issue comes down to individual kids. And--

    Lesley Stahl: Well, no. That-- it's not.
    I'm sure some press aide just told her to talk about "individual students," but the women is the Secretary of Education for the entire country; it's pretty reasonable to expect her to be able to talk about the education system as a whole instead of one student at a time, nor does she has anything to say about individuals either.

    It's like if Tim Cook tried to duck questions on an investor call by saying "I hesitate to talk about revenues in general because revenues are made up of individual purchases for phones."
    posted by zachlipton at 9:23 PM on March 11 [64 favorites]


    But it’s 1000% in line with a lot of conservative logic re: individual vs. collective. DeVos is speaking here to voters who own DVD copies of The Blind Side and refer to it often as evidence of their not being racist.
    posted by witchen at 9:28 PM on March 11 [21 favorites]


    One amazing thing about the DeVos interview is that she has one line she pulls out twice when things get tough, and it's absurdly banal:

    arguably the most bonkers was her variation on that theme:
    Lesley Stahl: Why take away money from that school that's not working, to bring them up to a level where they are-- that school is working?

    Betsy DeVos: Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school-- school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.
    truly our students are being coddled by holding school in weatherproof shelters with "classrooms" and "cafeterias"
    posted by lalex at 9:34 PM on March 11 [60 favorites]


    The Saturday Night Live impression of Mueller on The Bachelor was awful.

    Just watching it now. The makeup is spot on, compared side-by-side with the real Mueller. Kate is shortish & female so her voice is higher & her body's lower, not much to be done about those. She did have the mannerisms & gait down cold.
    posted by scalefree at 9:36 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


    For those who missed it, McKinnon/Mueller's first SNL appearance (I'm pretty sure) was on Weekend Update in January, and it's terrific.
    posted by lalex at 9:38 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


    I think it's important to reiterate the point that Merus made above:

    When the only people who are doing anything about a problem happen to be virulently anti-Semitic, cutting them off means no-one is doing anything about a problem.

    Which means no-one is doing anything about the problems the Nation of Islam is addressing who isn't virulently anti-Semitic. So maybe... more people should?


    When I hear African-Americans talk about it, what I hear is that no one else is on their side. That they're not the children of immigrants, they're the children of kidnap victims, the descendants of the slaves of conquering invaders. They had to fight upward to achieve second-class citizen status, and that only been the last 50 years. They have ample proof that their freedom, their bodies, and their lives are unimportant to the rest of society... until society decides there's something it wants (entertainment, votes, what have you). No one actually values them, except their own. So Farrakhan may be anti-Semitic, but he cares about his people , and actively does things to help. No one else is.

    I saw Tamika Mallory speak about the election, where she said (and I'm paraphrasing) she confronted some African-American men for not voting; their response was, how is one any different than the other *for me*?

    If African-Americans are more trusting of a man speaking hate about others than anyone else... can you blame them? As Baldwin said "...I see what you do." They see what Farrakhan does: he defends, he leads, he promotes African-Americans above all others, in a time when decades of compromise only gets them shot dead in the streets by agents of the authority we want them to care about.

    I'm not intending to speak for any person of color, just relate what I've heard and read. After a period that started with seeing the first black President treated with the same racism as every other black man, and culminated with election of Trump... why should they give a crap about what the rest of us think about Farrakhan?
    posted by Kelrichen at 9:39 PM on March 11 [23 favorites]


    I think she means it exactly the way she said it: she wants to fund students so they can be educated in the private sector, and let buildings and systems deteriorate so there are no public options left.
    posted by zachlipton at 9:39 PM on March 11 [18 favorites]


    The "individual students" line is just a reworking of Thatcher's old "there is no such thing as society" bit.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:39 PM on March 11 [21 favorites]


    Know Your Players (or StormyGraphic) "Since the complexity is great I created this infographic to assist you in following the Stormy Daniels story."
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:48 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


    I'm seeing some of the commentariat say that Lesley Stahl was 'excellent accountability', and the bits I saw of that interview seemed like pretty standard political interviewing to me? Like, do the research, find actual problems and counter-examples to the kinds of arguments they're going to make, and press them on the details until they give you a straight answer. I'm worried that this is seen as exceptional. Every country needs a few interviewers that politicians dread but recognise that if they don't talk to them, the electorate will decide they have something to hide.

    It was excellent in terms of entertainment value, though! It was fun to watch as it became clear that DeVos' vision for education doesn't actually work. It basically boils down to 'if we give people choice then everything will be better', without making the connection that you're asking people to choose between paying lots for a good education or getting an inadequate free one, and that this undermines the point of schooling entirely.
    posted by Merus at 9:51 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


    Betsy DeVos: Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school-- school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems.

    I, for one, am 100% behind direct cash grants to elementary school students in lieu of school funding. Imagine the investment and job creation in the lemonade stand industry, not to mention the boom to the video game industry. It's amazing how closely Betsy DeVos's attitude matches my viewpoint as a 10 year old who really really hates school. Cancel school, write checks to the kids!
    posted by dis_integration at 10:10 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


    Following up on that conspiratorial tweet from Wednesday, concerning the $129,999.72 in Trump Campaign disbursements to Trump properties, I decided to look more closely at the FEC filings. Specifically, I tried to track down all campaign payments to Trump entities in 2015-2016, to see what was regular and what might be anomalous1.

    All disbursements to Trump entities can be grouped into three basic categories: rent, payroll, and other (mostly facilities rental/catering for "events"). I made plots of each and I'll give a little summary:
    • Rent: The campaign paid monthly rent to Trump Tower Commercial LLC ($35k rising to $170k in the general election campaign), Trump Plaza ($9k), and Trump CPS ($6k). There were also $15k rent payments to Donald J. Trump, himself.2
    • Payroll: Donald J. Trump collected $20-40k/mo in "Payroll" from the campaign. Each of these payments was exactly matched by an equal disbursement split between Trump Payroll Corp and Trump Tower Commercial (Payroll).2
    • Non-rent/Non-payroll (zoomed-in version): Apart from low-dollar ($1-5k) payments to Trump properties for food and lodging (most of which were paid for on an AMEX card), there were frequent $10-50k (non-AMEX/direct) disbursements for "Facilities Rental / Catering" at the Trump National golf clubs and Mar-A-Lago, I assume for fundraising events. If money was re-directed from the campaign for a specific purpose, it likely came from these latter payments, or from some suspicious looking "Travel: Lodging" disbursements and payments to Trump Restaurants (see below).
    While these payments indicate a general level of ongoing grift that we all already knew about, there are a few things that poke up above the regular disbursement schedule (see plots):
    1. Regular $10-50k events at Trump National properties. These amounts are not outlandish, and are in fact comparable to single-event stadium rental values for Trump rallies. But I wonder if the FEC has tied each disbursement to specific events, or if they even can.
    2. The largest single disbursement made by the campaign (that was not related to advertising, consulting, swag purchases, and plane rentals) was a $423k payment to Mar-A-Lago in May 2016. This was noted, e.g., in the NYTimes in June 2016, but, at the time, there were few other payments for comparison. The payment to Mar-A-Lago is an order of magnitude more than any other golf club entry.
    3. Over three separate payments in October and November of 2016, Trump International Hotel Las Vegas was paid $237k for "Travel: Lodging". These payments were in addition to $35k in AMEX credit-card payments to TIHLV over the same months. Looking at all of the Campaign disbursements for "Lodging", non-AMEX payments were very rare (72 of 5881, by my count); but 95% of the $302k spent in these 72 payments came from the 17 payments that were for Trump hotels (and of course most of that was directed to TIHLV in late-2016).
    4. Trump Restaurants was likely the primary beneficiary of the five-fold rent increase in May 2016, and then received $74k in additional payments in Oct-Dec 2016. The Trump Tower Commercial rent increase in June 2016 was preceded by a one-time $125k payment to Trump Restaurants, almost exactly the amount of the increase. So, it seems likely that the Trump Restaurants rent was rolled into the TTC value for the general election campaign. This makes the large, additional, payments to TR in late-2016 look even more unusual.
    All of these things can probably be explained by someone who knows the details of campaign finance, and/or has a clear view inside the Trump Campaign. It seems unlikely that they would be so bold/stupid to pay off Stormy Daniels with campaign funds.

    But, if there was money skimmed from the campaign (beyond the monthly rent/payroll payments that Trump was collecting) then it likely came through one/all of these four items.


    1 - While Susan Simpson arrived a nice round number, it seemed weird to me that some of the "laundered" payments would go through an AMEX card. I was wondering in particular about the large non-credit-card payments, and whether any similar payments were made at other times. I saw no reason to think that if Trump found a way to pull free money out of the campaign that he would only do it only once.

    2 - The rent and payroll to DJT might be declarations to the FEC of "In Kind" contributions that he made to the campaign without being reimbursed (the entries were labeled "In Kind", but it's unclear if payments were actually made to him). Hillary Clinton, for example, seemed to collect $1.2M in "Payroll and Benefits" from her campaign, but they claimed that these were not payments. Opensecrets.org gave a different analysis of the Trump payroll payments back in 2016.
    posted by pjenks at 10:14 PM on March 11 [84 favorites]


    " It's amazing how closely Betsy DeVos's attitude matches my viewpoint as a 10 year old who really really hates school. Cancel school, write checks to the kids!"
    "And that, Virginia, is where Republicans come from…"
    posted by Pinback at 10:16 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


    The Shulkin situation is extra fucked, because he's holding the line against Trumpists plotting to sabotage and then privatize the VA...but he's doing it while clearly abusing taxpayers funds as bad as Price, arguably retaliating against whistleblowers, and abusing all manner of government personnel protections in announcing a 'purge'. So. Do we root for the corrupt, unethical jackass trying to salvage the only successful model of public health care in United States history? Or insist our leaders adhere to basic ethics and sacrifice veterans health our sole workable model for fully public healthcare reform on the altar of Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan?

    Goddamnit Shulkin.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 10:21 PM on March 11 [22 favorites]


    Following up on that conspiratorial tweet from Wednesday, concerning the $129,999.72 in Trump Campaign disbursements to Trump properties, I decided to look more closely at the FEC filings.

    Metafilter: now with original investigative reporting
    posted by T.D. Strange at 10:24 PM on March 11 [86 favorites]


    This American Life did a good intro to DeVos' educational philosophy. tl:dr rich people should save the "good ones" so that they can be helped to save themselves with good bootstrapping hard work. The system should be dismantled. She has rescued a few disadvantaged people as pet projects. Good (i guess) for those she chooses, bad for the public education system as an idea and as a functioning pillar of democracy. I also don't get the aversion in media outlets to pointing out her brother's mercenary army and her husbands pyramid scam businesses. 101 dalmations seems to have her number though.
    posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:04 PM on March 11 [30 favorites]


    You can read the DeVos "This American Life" transcript here.

    The only time in her life that she ever set foot in a public school was a short period of time when she was a mentor to kids in a poor neighborhood school. A chauffeur in an SUV would drive her up to the school and wait for her. One teacher said she looked very out of place in a school with broken drinking fountains and non-functioning restrooms "in a $1000 suit and camel hair coat."

    She used her time there not to help the school but to recruit the few children she "mentored" to transfer to a private Christian school that she favored. She hired one of the kid's mother to do the laundry at her houses -- not house -- houses. And when one of the kids became a teenager she hired her to clean her houses too.

    So when DeVos says "all of this issue comes down to individual kids" she's not kidding. The Amway billionaire plucks one or two kids from a poor school, puts them in a private Christian school, and leaves the other 500 behind. That's her plan for America.
    posted by JackFlash at 11:29 PM on March 11 [117 favorites]


    Trump in his campaign rally in Pittsburg:

    "And, you know, I went to the Wharton School of Finance. That's a great school. The best business school, I think."
    "I went to school. I went to Wharton. I went to school here."

    Trump spent his first two years as an undergraduate at Fordham. With the help of his father's money, he transferred to U Penn for the second two years of his undergraduate degree. He took some undergraduate classes at Wharton and received a standard bachelor's degree in business. He tries to give the impression that he received a prestigious Wharton MBA but he never attended graduate school.
    posted by JackFlash at 11:37 PM on March 11 [33 favorites]


    Like, it is literally creating an underclass of people under the mistaken impression that if you pluck enough elites out of the muck, they'll make up for the shortfall, and it just doesn't work. Elites aren't thousands of times more productive than the average person, it caps out at about 10-15x. If you push down the average to match, say, Bangladesh, you're expecting these elites to be tens of thousands of times more productive.

    Most of the countries that have been pulled out of poverty did the exact opposite: overseas companies exploited their poor populations to make cheap, low-skill items like T-shirts, and then as the average skill level grew, they could start reliably making more complex items until that country could make high margin goods like electronics. Workers overthrow their exploitation and demand real wages and conditions, the overseas companies start moving to somewhere easier to exploit, the locals start their own companies, start doing their own R&D and you get companies like Sony and Samsung and Huawei.

    Of course, if the kind of elite this system raises are people like Betsy DeVos then the errors are basically self-demonstrating, aren't they.
    posted by Merus at 11:43 PM on March 11 [21 favorites]


    pjenks, kudos certainly to your diligence, but I haven't unless I missed something in all the mess seen anyone knowledgeable saying that the campaign reimbursed Cohen directly for the payment to Daniels. What I've seen is that the payment itself comprised something of value to the campaign, therefore it constitutes an in-kind donation that has not been properly disclosed. This is the legal argument used to convict Rod Blagojevich (offering of a Senate seat = something of value) and that almost ensnared Robert Menendez (assuming the DOJ declines to retry). So the fact that you've found nothing in the actual monetary receipts is helpful but ultimately not of legal relevance to the question at hand. This is in addition to whatever disbarment and other jeopardy Cohen himself has put himself in. It's sort of like he can absolve himself of one misdeed only by implicating himself -- or his client -- in another.

    It's problematic, but probably germane, that this has become a thorny area of law just recently. And probably germane that this entire administration is chock full of grifters, self-dealers, and rules-lawyers ("if you can't win the race under the rules, race the rules"). So I'm not saying it's impossible, just that even without actual reimbursement we still have a holy-shit situation but this is the Trump era so it was just Wednesday.
    posted by dhartung at 12:09 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    why should they give a crap about what the rest of us think about Farrakhan?

    It’s not that anyone should give a crap about what other people think of Farrakhan. Antisemitism is not like a mildly embarrassing habit that people will pooh-pooh. It is flat out, hands down, morally wrong no matter what other good that person has done in the world.

    The Venerable Pope Pius XII presided over a lot of Catholic good works, but that doesn’t make the Reichskonkordat anything but a steaming pile of shit that ignored the plight of the Jews as the first anti Semitic laws rose in Germany. You don’t get a pass for being the head of a religion that does a lot of good.

    If other people want to grant him a pass, they are saying antisemitism is tolerable. That’s on them and the state of their soul. I don’t care what they think of our opinions. I care what they do and how they make antisemitism tolerated in this country where Jewish headstones are being toppled and JCCs live in fear of bombs.
    posted by corb at 12:17 AM on March 12 [27 favorites]


    If African-Americans are more trusting of a man speaking hate about others than anyone else... can you blame them?

    Actually, yes. I would blame African Americans who think Democrats are just as bad for them as Republicans, or that Hillary Clinton was just as bad as Trump. There is no amount of squinting that can make either one a reasonable conclusion.
    posted by msalt at 12:22 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    He tries to give the impression that he received a prestigious Wharton MBA but he never attended graduate school.

    As much as I agree with the impression he's trying to make here, it appears that any business degree from UPenn is legitimately through the Wharton undergraduate program (as opposed to an actual degree in the science called economics, which isn't). That is, it's a real thing, not some one weird trick he pulled off. I'ma give him this one.
    posted by dhartung at 12:24 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    Actually, yes. I would blame African Americans who think Democrats are just as bad for them as Republicans, or that Hillary Clinton was just as bad as Trump. There is no amount of squinting that can make either one a reasonable conclusion.

    Who exactly are you talking about? Are you referring to the 8% of black voters that voted for Trump?
    posted by rdr at 12:47 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    Farrakhan may be anti-Semitic, but he cares about his people , and actively does things to help. No one else is.

    He defines "his people" as people of African descent excluding Jews and gays. Black Jews don't have a high profile in the US but there are actually quite a lot. And many, many gay ones of course. Who's looking out for them?

    I have a lot of sympathy for people who find themselves unable to renounce problematically-admirable community leaders, but in this case the "admirable" part of his leadership is a tool he uses to oppress people. Farrakhan has never been of the Left: he's a clericalist bigot who effectively endorsed Trump while condemning Clinton in the 2016 elections and has won plaudits from David Duke for doing so. And, when people praise his clericalist, homophobic, antisemitic speech, or congratulate him for having "the same enemies as Jesus" it's pretty clear that they're not really of the Left either.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 12:48 AM on March 12 [45 favorites]


    [One deleted. Sorry, but this is a thread for discussing Trump and related administration news. I suppose we are going to need a separate thread for Farrakhan if folks really, really, really want to get into an extended argument about how anti-semitism isn't always bad, and transphobia and homophobia are understandable under some circumstances, etc.]
    posted by taz (staff) at 5:02 AM on March 12 [34 favorites]


    Bloomberg: Mueller Weighs Putting Off Trump Obstruction Decision
    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice is said to be close to completion, but he may set it aside while he finishes other key parts of his probe, such as possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats, according to current and former U.S. officials.

    That’s because Mueller may calculate that if he tries to bring charges in the obstruction case -- the part that may hit closest to Trump personally -- witnesses may become less cooperative in other parts of the probe, or the president may move to shut it down altogether.[...]

    The obstruction portion of the probe could likely be completed after several key outstanding interviews, including with the president and his son, Donald Trump Jr. The president’s lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s team over such an encounter since late last year. But even if Trump testifies in the coming weeks, Mueller may make a strategic calculation to keep his findings on obstruction secret, according to the current and former U.S. officials, who discussed the strategy on condition of anonymity.
    Ironically, one key component of the obstruction charge is Trump's obsession with firing Mueller.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 6:08 AM on March 12 [33 favorites]


    Mueller may make a strategic calculation to keep his findings on obstruction secret,

    The beauty of this is, as I've commented before, that Mueller's deep-dive into money laundering, means that on the way up, he can tie all the money laundering to the people involved in the campaign, ( Manafort, Kushner, Junior ), and with all going on, yeah, he can keep his findings on obstruction secret.

    Which is another way of saying, "Filing the indictments for the obstruction charges under seal"...
    posted by mikelieman at 6:12 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    Reading between the lines, the Bloomberg article strongly implies that the Special Counsel intends to charge the President of the United States with felony obstruction of justice.

    Good.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:16 AM on March 12 [48 favorites]


    Qataris opted not to give info on Kushner, secret meetings to Mueller

    They think they'll still get better results blackmailing Kushner than sending him to prison and pissing off the administration.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 6:16 AM on March 12 [30 favorites]


    Which is another way of saying, "Filing the indictments for the obstruction charges under seal"...

    Does the President have the right to see the indictments under seal?
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:24 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    Anchorite_of_Palgrave tl:dr rich people should save the "good ones" so that they can be helped to save themselves with good bootstrapping hard work. The system should be dismantled.

    That's been the conservative/Republican position on welfare since forever. That's why they keep talking up charity as opposed to welfare.

    Because their main idea is that only people who deserve help should be helped, and that a rich person dispensing charity can personally evaluate which of the poors deserve their help and help those specific poors while the rest, the undeserving poor, starve, beg, and die off as they should.

    A system of social welfare helps everyone, including those who are "undeserving" (a nebulous category based on race, age, attractiveness, charisma, and the personal whim of random rich people). Therefore social welfare systems are bad. Only the "deserving poor" should get help.
    posted by sotonohito at 6:25 AM on March 12 [64 favorites]


    "Does the President have the right to see the indictments under seal?"

    ... is a VERY interesting Google search...
    posted by mikelieman at 6:37 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    dhartung: the payment itself comprised something of value to the campaign, therefore it constitutes an in-kind donation that has not been properly disclosed

    Yup, I get that. I was just intrigued by this other possibility and wanted to nail it down a bit more carefully. Such a scenario would of course depend on (1) Michael Cohen lying about the origin of the funds, and (2) Trump et al being colossally stupid. Neither seem to have zero probability.

    I agree it's really unlikely that they used campaign funds, but I wonder how/if anyone keeps track of the validity of these payments.
    posted by pjenks at 6:47 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    This morning’s Bloomberg piece linked by Doktor Zed is a really good read on where Mueller seems to be with the entire investigation right now. Sounds like there’s a lot of there, there.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:52 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    I agree it's really unlikely that they used campaign funds,

    Counterpoint: Trump’s razor.
    posted by schadenfrau at 6:52 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    Sergei Skripal: Theresa May set to hit back at Russia over spy attack
    Senior government sources suggested that the police and security services had established sufficient evidence to link Moscow with the nerve agent used to try to kill the former Russian double agent and his 33-year-old daughter. One said that ministers were preparing to take a “hard line on early action”.

    Announcement will possibly be around 4:30 in parliament.
    posted by Buntix at 6:59 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    If she really wants to piss off Russia she’d pull the breaks on Brexit.
    posted by Artw at 7:02 AM on March 12 [63 favorites]


    "Betsy DeVos: Well, we should be funding and investing in students, not in school-- school buildings, not in institutions, not in systems."

    Yeah, this is not nonsense, it's the key to DeVos's thinking. In her perfect world, we wouldn't fund schools -- we'd give grants or "vouchers" to parents of elementary school students (of somewhat less than per-student spending because we wouldn't have to pay for "administrative bloat" and "union giveaways"), of let's say $10,000 per student. You as a parent would then take that money and do whatever you wanted with it, letting "the market" decide which schools were good and which were bad. If you were poor and lived in the inner city, you'd turn it over to the remaining, struggling public schools that were rapidly collapsing due to lack of funds. If you were a wealthy suburban parent, you'd use it to offset your $20,000/year private school tuition. If you were a religious organization running schools, you'd have an influx of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TAX DOLLARS as all your families suddenly had a $10,000 grant from taxpayers to hand over to churches. And if you were a fundamentalist Christian, you get $10,000/year for each child you homeschool. Have six, you can be "earning" $60,000/year to keep them at home while you teach them vile bigotry and zero science. Oh, maybe they say "it has to be a chartered school," but lots of states allow you to "charter" your homeschool by filling out a single piece of paper.

    And if you were really clever/evil, you might index the per-student grant to current per-student spending, so families in Peoria (where the school system is high-poverty) would get $9,000/student/year, while families in wealthy suburban Chicago would get $18,000/student/year. Which fucks over the inner cities while allowing "real Americans" in rural and exurban areas to take advantage of lower cost of living, and rich Republican suburbanites get beaucoup bucks.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:04 AM on March 12 [119 favorites]


    Alex Isenstadt: GOP sending ads to liberal households in PA18 casting Lamb as anti-union + opposed to $15 min wage (Politico)
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:04 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    Republicans don’t want an engaged electorate where every individual participates and selects a preferred candidate, because under such a system, they would get kicked to the curb. In their opposition to the Democratic Party, America’s right wing has developed an opposition to the Democratic Process.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:11 AM on March 12 [25 favorites]


    I still doubt that Lamb can pull a win out of PA-18 but it does say something that the republicans are having to pour so many resources into such an old and white district.
    posted by octothorpe at 7:17 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    casting Lamb as anti-union + opposed to $15 min wage

    It’s like they know something about the minimum wage that the DNC/DCCC doesn’t.
    posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]




    I still doubt that Lamb can pull a win out of PA-18 but it does say something that the republicans are having to pour so many resources into such an old and white district.

    I'm soothing my nerves by reminding myself that either which way, it's a win. If Lamb goes to Congress, it's a HUGE, crazy, unlikely win (I mean, of a sort, because he's quite conservative for a Dem). If Saccone wins, well, the GOP was just forced spend a completely bonkers sum of their own Congressional Committee money (since Lamb out-raised Saccone among direct donations by a lot) for a seat that is mainly just a placeholder for a few months, after which the district is redrawn to be much more favorable for a conservative Democrat like Lamb.
    posted by soren_lorensen at 7:38 AM on March 12 [21 favorites]


    There were stories over the weekend that there was a Cabinet bust-up over May's reluctance to get heavy on Russia. But it was pointed out that this was a state-sponsored attack on British soil using chemical weapons. Which is possibly a thing.

    Did 45 give his strong support for one of his closest allies? A policeman is very ill in hospital, after all, and I know he cares a lot about that too, and terrorism by foreigners, and all that stuff, so he must have done, but I somehow missed it.
    posted by Devonian at 7:41 AM on March 12 [18 favorites]


    As far as I know he is yet to issue a statement in support of the Russian spies.
    posted by Artw at 7:43 AM on March 12 [21 favorites]


    I'm soothing my nerves by reminding myself that either which way, it's a win. If Lamb goes to Congress, it's a HUGE, crazy, unlikely win (I mean, of a sort, because he's quite conservative for a Dem). If Saccone wins, well, the GOP was just forced spend a completely bonkers sum of their own Congressional Committee money (since Lamb out-raised Saccone among direct donations by a lot) for a seat that is mainly just a placeholder for a few months, after which the district is redrawn to be much more favorable for a conservative Democrat like Lamb.

    Yes to all of this, and it gets Democratic infrastructure on the ground for the future. Democrats have neglected local races and party activity post-2008, and getting it back up again (as long as it isn't allowed to fall dormant!) will make future races easier to launch and (hopefully) to fund and publicize.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:47 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    I wore a yellow tie this morning in case it turns out to be Mullermas, and then I can spend all tomorrow's snowday reading the indictment.

    It's a nice yellow silk bowtie that I bought at Mount Vernon; it has George Washington's signature all over it.
    posted by wenestvedt at 7:56 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    if that Bloomberg article is reliably sourced, it seems unlikely that Muellermas is going to happen until after Trump and Don Jr. get their turn in the barrel, which Mueller has several compelling reasons to delay.

    keep your ties dry
    posted by murphy slaw at 8:07 AM on March 12 [28 favorites]


    In Kansas, voter-fraud Witchsmeller Hans von Spakovsky took the stand. A single quote sums up how well that went for him:
    Von Spakovsky admitted that he couldn’t cite a single case where non-citizen voting changed the outcome of an election.
    posted by murphy slaw at 8:30 AM on March 12 [52 favorites]


    FYI, there's a Monmouth poll of PA-18 out this afternoon, and I've got some analytical links, too. I'm probably going to pass on all of these "could something be happening in PA???" summary stories coming out that aren't breaking any news.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:36 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]




    Trump Administration Moves To Reshape Who Qualifies For Asylum (NPR, March 12, 2018)
    The Trump administration is taking steps to limit who gets asylum in the United States, and immigration lawyers are warning that thousands of people who fled violence and persecution in their home countries could be turned away.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is using his authority to reshape the law on who qualifies for asylum, and whether they get a hearing in court. Sessions has intervened in two cases that could have big implications for people who come to the U.S. and seek asylum.
    ...
    "The system is being gamed, there's no doubt about it," Sessions said in October of last year, in a speech to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (C-SPAN video) in Virginia. Back then, he was asking Congress to tighten asylum rules. Last week, he acted on this own.

    In one case, the attorney general vacated a precedent-setting ruling that said most asylum seekers have a right to a hearing in front of a judge before their claim could be rejected. In a second case, Sessions is reviewing whether victims of "private crime" should qualify for asylum.

    These moves come as no surprise to anyone who's followed Sessions's positions on immigration and asylum.

    "We can close loopholes and clarify our asylum laws to ensure that they help those they were intended to help," Sessions said in his October speech. "As this system becomes overloaded with fake claims, it cannot deal effectively with just claims."
    ...
    "The crisis we're managing is not one of fraud," said Lenni Benson, a professor at New York Law School, "but one of the global situation." She pointed to a rise in gang-related violence in Central America that's pushing migrants north in search of safety.
    Emphasis mine. It seems that Sessions was tired of waiting for other people to help him apply his racist views to the asylum system, so he did it himself.
    Not every crime makes the victim eligible to claim asylum. The victim must have a well-founded fear of persecution based on certain factors like race or religion, or membership in a "particular social group." They must also come from a place where the government won't help them. The law around this has been fiercely litigated, says McKinney, the immigration lawyer.

    "The fear is that this Justice Department will undo all of those gains that were made through decades of litigation," he said.

    McKinney and other lawyers are worried that Sessions is ultimately going to overturn a landmark asylum case from 2014 that made it easier for domestic violence survivors to get asylum.
    Oh, let me expand my prior comment - Sessions wanted to make the asylum seeking process more racist and misogynistic.
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:45 AM on March 12 [37 favorites]


    Or maybe Sessions didn't want to be out-racist-ed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services when they removed "nation of immigrants" from their mission statement in February.

    (I was drawing a blank trying to recall which agency had changed its mission statement, which lead me to finding an op-ed from Pensacola titled Immigration is foundation of America's greatness, which informed me that MS-13 was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s, reminding me that once again we are the manufacturers and exporters of terror.)
    posted by filthy light thief at 8:56 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    posting this solid gold thread again

    Having never actually seen Moonraker all the way through, I only just understood that James Adomian's Gorka impression is based on Gorka's physical, vocal, and ethical resemblance to Hugo Drax.
    posted by Iridic at 9:05 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    Stormy Daniels' lawyer wrote a letter offering to pay the hush money back in exchange for being able to speak freely about her relationship with Trump.

    Two highlights: the letter refers to "text messages, photos and videos relating to the President that she may have in her possession," and the lawyer told NBC that she is offering to pay Trump 'because we do not believe there is any doubt as to where the money came from originally, in reality.'
    posted by box at 9:09 AM on March 12 [32 favorites]


    The GOP tried to celebrate Women’s History Month with an Instagram story about how many women he's appointed. This message of equal opportunity is rather undercut by a quarter of the women featured consist of Karen Pence, Melania Trump, and Ivanka Trump

    To be fair, Ivanka is an unpaid government employee, with the official title of Senior Advisor to the President.

    That presents a significant conflict of interest with her continued affiliation with the family business, not least since it turns out she's still drawing a salary from it. McClatchy: Ivanka Trump Never Cut Ties With The Trump Organization. That’s Turned Into a Problem.
    Ivanka Trump — a senior White House adviser who is doing everything from lobbying the Senate on tax policy to representing her father at a G20 summit of world leaders — will pull in more than $1 million a year from the family business that has continued to develop luxury resorts across the globe during the Trump presidency.

    Some of those Trump-branded developments are hiring state-owned companies for construction, receiving gifts from foreign governments in the form of public land or eased regulations and accepting payments from customers who are foreign officials.

    Ivanka Trump’s continued relationship with the businesses affiliated with the Trump Organization creates countless potential conflicts of interest prohibited by federal law and federal ethics standards as she works as a special assistant to the president. And just like her father, she is being accused of violating the so-called emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution that forbids government officials — not just presidents — from accepting gifts from foreign governments without the approval of Congress.[...]

    When her father was sworn in, Ivanka Trump resigned her numerous vice president positions with the Trump Organization but she planned to continue to receive money from its businesses, according to her financial disclosure report filed last year, which outlined her future relationship to the companies.

    Each year starting in 2017, she was expected to receive a total of $1.5 million from three companies affiliated with the Trump Organization. She was expected to receive more money from additional Trump Organization businesses but the other amounts were not detailed.

    The companies involve at least five projects that have come under scrutiny for possible ethics and legal violations[.]
    Anne Applebaum argues this rank corruption isn't some kind of bug of demagogic populism/authoritarianism, it's a feature, and it doesn't matter to his supporters.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 9:12 AM on March 12 [28 favorites]


    Ivanka Trump Never Cut Ties With The Trump Organization. That’s Turned Into a Problem.

    "Turned Into."
    posted by adamgreenfield at 9:16 AM on March 12 [50 favorites]


    Two highlights: the letter refers to "text messages, photos and videos relating to the President that she may have in her possession,"

    Now that's interesting if she still has them "in her possession", because the contract specified she agrees that she turned over all copies to "DD" and Micheal Cohen.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 9:30 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    This Opening Arguments podcast has a good rundown of the legal implications of the Stormy Daniels case.
    posted by melissasaurus at 9:33 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]




    You as a parent would then take that money and do whatever you wanted with it, letting "the market" decide which schools were good and which were bad. If you were poor and lived in the inner city, you'd turn it over to the remaining, struggling public schools that were rapidly collapsing due to lack of funds. If you were a wealthy suburban parent, you'd use it to offset your $20,000/year private school tuition. If you were a religious organization running schools, you'd have an influx of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TAX DOLLARS as all your families suddenly had a $10,000 grant from taxpayers to hand over to churches.
    DeVos and her family are detestable people and they deserve to burn up in hell, which they will if it exists, though I'm not gambling on it. Maybe if we're lucky they'll get caught up in the muellermas and spend some healthy time in jail. But I digress, because what I wanted to say was that here in socialist Denmark we actually have such a system for historical* reasons, and it can be a fine thing if it comes with strictly controlled regulations securing that national standards of education are upheld. You don't get to teach creationism or bigotry and you have to teach civics and sex-ed, etc. It's been a blessing these last years since the government introduced "reforms" that led to the closing of hundreds of village schools.
    Also, as someone who lives in an inner city district where the public school was out-competed for a while, I've seen how this gave the local public school the incentive to improve their work, so it's now a great school.
    I guess what I am saying is that even though they are doing this for wrong reasons, it can be turned into something positive over time.

    *The original law is from 1855, and it was written to support the progressive schools people were building to support our then young democracy
    posted by mumimor at 9:54 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    Now that's interesting if she still has them "in her possession", because the contract specified she agrees that she turned over all copies to "DD" and Micheal Cohen.

    Since we know she sent copies to other people, she might have recovered them after signing the contract.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:54 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    Sleepy Tillerson goes on tour soon, I wonder if he'll be available for the North Korea talks: Diplomacy And Damage Control: Tillerson Tours Africa After Trump's Comments (NPR, March 11, 2018)
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on a five-nation tour heading to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria. Before he left, aides said the themes of the trip are governance and democracy, trade and investment and counterterrorism. Before he left, he laid out his U.S.-Africa strategy this way...

    (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

    REX TILLERSON: The United States pursues, develops sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens rule of law and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet.
    Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as ambassador to Liberia and as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Presidents Obama and Trump, but left in the early days of the State Department "downsizing" (it sounds like she left because others were asked or encouraged to leave), talks about how the administration seems to see Africa, and what might be discussed:
    MARTIN: Do you have any sense that this administration has defined a posture toward Africa apart from, frankly, these derogatory comments?

    THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think that remains to be seen. I think the fact of the secretary's trip says to all of us that they are trying to make an effort to develop a policy and to reaffirm the relationship with African countries. They realize that Africa matters one year into the administration, and they realize that they have to engage with Africa. So I think that's a positive thing, but I do think they are still working to develop a coherent policy.

    MARTIN: Has anybody even been nominated to replace you as assistant secretary of state?

    THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I don't think anyone has been nominated. I did hear a name on the news last week - Tibor Nagy, who I know quite well - and we were very pleased to hear that, finally, there's a name out there.

    MARTIN: But what does that say, though?

    THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, I think it says that, for this administration, Africa was not important.
    In Nigeria, Tillerson might get asked what happened to the arms promised to Nigeria under Obama (but there might have been significant issues with that transaction), while in Chad, he'll probably be asked why they're on the travel ban list.
    posted by filthy light thief at 10:02 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Hey, maybe if Republican president Donald Trump suffers the bullshit and humiliation of revenge porn, we might actually see some movement to make that shit illegal?

    After he has to live through it, of course.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:03 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


    trying to come up with any hypothetical set of dick pics that i would want to see less than the ones involved in the stormy daniels case and i got nothin'
    posted by murphy slaw at 10:06 AM on March 12 [19 favorites]


    ...I'm not saying I'll turn on the television or look at Twitter for a good six months, but still.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:07 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    New Monmouth poll for PA-18 special.

    Like they did in the AL Senate special, they're providing three models:
    • special elections turnout: Lamb 51 - Saccone 45
    • presidential turnout: Lamb 51 - Saccone 44
    • midterm turnout: Lamb 49 - Saccone 47
    Last Monmouth poll on Feb 15 had Saccone 49 - Lamb 46.

    Reminder that all House polling has large error bars, special elections even more so. But still.
    posted by Chrysostom at 10:08 AM on March 12 [37 favorites]


    Theresa May's statement to the House of Commons. She's not holding back.

    Military-grade nerve agent, of the kind developed by Russia, Novichok class.

    Either a direct act by the Russian state, or it has lost control of its nerve agent. Russian ambassador summoned and asked which one. Russia must account for its Novichok programme.

    Part of a pattern of Russian aggression, starting with Crimea...

    Stand ready to take extensive measures. Without an adequate response from Russia, this is an unlawful use of force against the UK.
    posted by Devonian at 10:14 AM on March 12 [102 favorites]


    May's politics are abominable, but at least she's not a Russian puppet.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 10:17 AM on March 12 [51 favorites]


    How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy (Melissa Lyttle, Buzzfeed)
    For the first time, BuzzFeed News has verified the surprising sweep of Sater’s undercover work and many of his specific exploits. He worked as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) and tracked Osama bin Laden. Then he worked for more than a decade for the FBI, providing intel on everything from the mob to North Korea’s drive for nuclear weapons. He still operates as a source for the bureau, according to two current FBI agents.
    What in the what?!
    posted by Freon at 10:18 AM on March 12 [34 favorites]


    The thing about Murllermas is - I was listening to one of Vox's podcasts and they said that when it comes to the obstruction of Justice charges, which are pretty cut and dry, Rosenstein would need to recuse himself from that issue just the same as Sessions did. Rosenstein wrote the memo that blah blah blah. But he's also one of the key things protecting the investigation, standing in the way of a Saturday Night Massacre situation.

    This part is my own analysis, but it seems to me that pulling the trigger on the obstruction charges might put pressure on Rosenstein to recuse himself, and also put pressure on him to close the investigation. He's obviously got his sights set much higher than that, so he's got an incentive to hold off on obstruction.
    posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 10:19 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    from the "haven't we suffered enough" dept:

    Trump Heads To State He Loves To Hate For 2020 Cash, Border Wall Prototypes
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Donald Trump is coming — at last — to the state he loves to hate, setting foot in California for his first time as president.

    This is turf he lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 4 million votes in 2016. He has mocked its judges for blocking his agenda, sued over its lax enforcement of immigration laws and threatened to pull out federal agents.

    But there’s something he’s dying to see here: the prototypes for his long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. And there’s something he’s eager to do here: raise cash from the Beverly Hills crowd.
    he had better pack a lunch, cuz there's not a restaurant kitchen in the state that can guarantee him a spit-free plate
    posted by murphy slaw at 10:28 AM on March 12 [46 favorites]


    May's politics are abominable, but at least she's not a Russian puppet.

    You sure? Russia put 800 thousand quid into her election and it's easy to put on a show. If anything the response has been lukewarm.
    posted by Talez at 10:31 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    Hm. I retract my previous statement, pending further developments.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 10:32 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    there's not a restaurant kitchen in the state that can guarantee him a spit-free plate

    This is why his lackeys go out to McDs and KFC for him.

    Los Angeles street closures will be coming out shortly and there are a number of groups holding their breaths waiting for info to start posting protest meeting points. Traffic is going to be a clusterfuck on the west side tomorrow.
    posted by Sophie1 at 10:33 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


    ....Rosenstein would need to recuse himself from that issue just the same as Sessions did.

    So would Rosenstein recusing himself be followed immediately by Meuller coming down the chimney, before Rosenstein's replacement can jump in and cancel the investigation?
    posted by wenestvedt at 10:36 AM on March 12


    How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy

    I think a lot of these details are new, but we've know that Sater worked with the FBI and CIA for a while.
    posted by diogenes at 10:37 AM on March 12 [12 favorites]


    from the "you think you're cringing" dept:

    White House officials alarmed at education secretary's '60 Minutes' performance
    White House officials were alarmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' struggle to answer basic questions about the nation's schools and failure to defend the administration's newly proposed school safety measures during a tour of television interviews Sunday and Monday, according to two sources familiar with their reaction.

    The White House did not respond to a request for an official comment regarding DeVos' performance. It is unclear what Trump's own reaction to her interviews was, but officials in the West Wing said things went from bad to worse as DeVos continued her interviews.
    if only the administration's embarrassment hurt them 1/1000 as much as their policies are hurting us
    posted by murphy slaw at 10:44 AM on March 12 [69 favorites]


    If they think that was embarrassing, they should have watched her confirmation hearing.
    posted by Autumnheart at 10:44 AM on March 12 [97 favorites]


    So would Rosenstein recusing himself be followed immediately by Meuller coming down the chimney, before Rosenstein's replacement can jump in and cancel the investigation?

    No. It may involve pulling the trigger on state level charges where Trump can't pardon but the federal charges would be dead in the water.
    posted by Talez at 10:46 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    They may be alarmed at the DeVos performance, but they can't claim to be surprised. She proved to America that she knew nothing at all about education policy during her confirmation hearings.

    Or, perhaps, they're alarmed that the journalist was so gauche as to expose her ignorance and thoughtlessness rather than lobbing her softballs?

    It's like they go on FOX a few times and think "hey this is easy, why was I ever worried!" And then decide to try out a real (for American values of real) news show and discover that even American journalists can, occasionally, ask semi-tough questions.

    What's really sad is that, like Katie Couric with Sarah Palin, I doubt very much that Stahl had set out to stump her or make her look foolish or even ask tough questions. Like Palin, DeVos is simply so incredibly incompetent and unsuited for her job that even American press softball questions can throw her off.
    posted by sotonohito at 10:55 AM on March 12 [29 favorites]


    Jed Handelsman Shugerman, Slate: If Trump tries to evade/pardon his way out of federal charges, states could bring all of these. Loads and loads. And not just New York. (And I have a feeling that if CA AG Becerra could find something against Trump, he'd nail Trump's ass to the wall, with glee.)
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:56 AM on March 12 [25 favorites]


    Stand ready to take extensive measures. Without an adequate response from Russia, this is an unlawful use of force against the UK.

    NATO article V?
    posted by ocschwar at 10:58 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    Also from Shugerman, back in the distant mists of February, here's a round-up of the order of succession at Justice if Rosenstein recuses himself, now that Rachel Brand is out.
    posted by murphy slaw at 11:01 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    A WaPo food & travel reporter travels to a bunch of Trump properties around the world.

    Today, Atlantic City just limps along as always, dazed and confused by endless promises, sale pitches and big talk. It was the perfect place for Donald Trump, someone who would promise you the spectacle of a horse diving into the ocean, and then deliver a mule diving into a swimming pool.
    posted by suelac at 11:04 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    In Nigeria, Tillerson might get asked what happened to the arms promised to Nigeria under Obama (but there might have been significant issues with that transaction), while in Chad, he'll probably be asked why they're on the travel ban list.

    Or why South Africa still does not have an ambassador yet.
    posted by PenDevil at 11:08 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]




    NATO article V?

    Mostly further isolation from the IC. Designation of state sponsor of terrorism by the US could really hurt, removing Russia from SWIFT could really hurt, locking them out of London (and the EC) could really hurt.

    If May was serious she'd announce that effective tomorrow opening of business they're shutting off the money pipe between Russian oligarchs and The City and freezing the assets of Russian state actors. But since Philip Hammond is a little worm who would give a Russian oligarch anything to keep power that's never going to happen. Instead we get this weasel word infested statement which politely infers it could be Russian state actors.
    posted by Talez at 11:20 AM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    "Does the President have the right to see the indictments under seal?"

    ... is a VERY interesting Google search...


    Professional guess: Donny the Defendant only has a right to see the indictments when he's arrested. Donny the President doesn't have the right, not without provoking a real separation of powers constitutional Marbury v. Madison II: Collusion Booglaloo crisis. There's only one King of the Courtroom, and the President of the United States isn't it.
    posted by Capt. Renault at 11:23 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Stormy Daniels’ ingenious settlement offer to Trump

    Folks, that's what good lawyering looks like.
    posted by leotrotsky at 11:25 AM on March 12 [12 favorites]


    What's really sad is that, like Katie Couric with Sarah Palin, I doubt very much that Stahl had set out to stump her or make her look foolish or even ask tough questions. Like Palin, DeVos is simply so incredibly incompetent and unsuited for her job that even American press softball questions can throw her off.

    She tanked HARD with Today Show host and human ray of sunshine Savannah Guthrie*, as well.

    *What I love about Savannah's interviews is that she's always underestimated by guests because she's an attractive woman hosting a morning show. Nobody seems to remember she's got a law degree from Georgetown. Just because you're a nice person with a sunny disposition doesn't mean that 1. you're stupid or 2. you're not good at your job.
    posted by leotrotsky at 11:29 AM on March 12 [21 favorites]


    i really admire the restraint of all of these interviewers for not asking DeVos how much a banana costs
    posted by murphy slaw at 11:31 AM on March 12 [71 favorites]


    White House officials were alarmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' struggle to answer basic questions about the nation's schools

    As if it was a marked contrast -- or any contrast at all -- to her performance in her Senate confirmation hearing. After which all 12 Republicans voted to send her nomination to the full Senate, though two -- why, yes, it was Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski -- having cast the votes that counted, made a show of opposing her nomination on the Senate floor.
    posted by Gelatin at 11:33 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    He's obviously got his sights set much higher than that, so he's got an incentive to hold off on obstruction.

    I agree. The Bloomberg article is a bit odd in this respect--it reads to me like the writer (or their sources) believes there may not be any there there on the collusion question. But everything about how the investigation has proceeded so far suggests to me that the special counsel thinks there is (or already knows there is) and that he's going all out to build a case, rolling his way to the top. The obstruction case seems like a back up plan or an insurance policy, if they can't prove something, and want to at least preserve some sense of institutional integrity. It makes me wonder about who's leaking with this particular story and why.
    posted by cudzoo at 11:34 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    For the first time, BuzzFeed News has verified the surprising sweep of Sater’s undercover work and many of his specific exploits. He worked as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) and tracked Osama bin Laden. Then he worked for more than a decade for the FBI, providing intel on everything from the mob to North Korea’s drive for nuclear weapons. He still operates as a source for the bureau, according to two current FBI agents.

    What in the what?!


    Explains how he stayed out of prison.
    posted by leotrotsky at 11:35 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    This doesn't make it any easier for me to distinguish "Felix Sater" from "Felix Leiter".
    posted by Slothrup at 11:39 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Regarding Sater... in the world of Donald's defenders, is there any chatter to the effect that all this stuff that seems fishy is actually a giant undercover operation against Russia? Like, they'll all go "Aha! Sater is a double agent, which means egg all over liberal faces!" Will Donald himself will try such a "defense"? (Obviously, among many other things, it doesn't square at all with the firing of Comey.)
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:47 AM on March 12


    Talez: "Instead we get this weasel word infested statement which politely infers it could be Russian state actors."

    Pedantry: The statement IMPLIES. The reader INFERS.
    posted by Chrysostom at 11:47 AM on March 12 [27 favorites]


    Betsy DeVos has definitely seen a school at least once (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
    Lesley Stahl: Have you ever seen a school?

    Betsy DeVos: A school? I have — well, I hesitate to say a school. We, of course, know a school is not a building, nor is it a bus — unless it’s a bus? I’m pretty sure it’s not a bus. Although one can certainly learn on a bus. Indeed, that unconventional instructor with red hair who boldly threw away the lesson plan often taught on a bus. Indeed any place that learning occurs for a student, that, I would say, is a school.

    Maybe the real school is life.

    No, I’m sorry, Lesley, you must think I am an idiot. Of course this is a trick question: Schools do not exist. The real school is inside all of us.

    Stahl: I thought this was going to be an easy question, but now I’m genuinely concerned. Have you never seen a school?
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:50 AM on March 12 [53 favorites]


    You know how sometimes Petri isn't so funny because what she's lampooning is actually worse than the joke? This is one of those times. Like... I laughed... but with a grimace on my face.
    posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:57 AM on March 12 [20 favorites]


    Regarding Sater... in the world of Donald's defenders, is there any chatter to the effect that all this stuff that seems fishy is actually a giant undercover operation against Russia

    I'm sure it could be bolted onto the QAnon/The Storm conspiracy theory counter-narrative. It's not like it needs internal consistency or anything.
    posted by scalefree at 11:57 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Will Donald himself will try such a "defense"? (Obviously, among many other things, it doesn't square at all with the firing of Comey.)

    I'm still hoping that at some point Donald goes all serious, says "you're on candid camera", and then proceeds to shame the entire fucking country for letting this shit go on way too long.
    posted by Talez at 12:00 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    Today in Austin: Austin Police Say Deadly Package Explosions Could Be Hate Crimes
    "We are looking at these incidents as being related based on similarities that we have seen in the initial evidence," interim Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference Monday, hours after the explosion in East Austin, which left one teenager dead and another woman with serious injuries.

    Manley said both packages were sent to homes of black residents, "so we cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this."
    There has been a third explosion just reported.
    posted by Surely This at 12:00 PM on March 12 [14 favorites]


    Hahahaha! Trump won it by 20, Romney by 17, and there wasn't even a Dem challenger in 2014 and 2016.

    Pennsylvania GOP chairman says Tuesday special election is in 'Democrat district'
    posted by chris24 at 12:01 PM on March 12 [45 favorites]


    Talez - pretty sure we've been hoping for this since the very first politics thread at the very beginning of this rancid miasma. I believe with all my heart that this is only going to stop with a majority dem congress with ovaries the size of wrecking balls.
    posted by Sophie1 at 12:02 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]


    The World Series champion Houston Astros were at the White House today. "Maybe José Altuve just has a nasty case of resting visceral disgust face." Or maybe it's the handsy president.
    posted by kirkaracha at 12:05 PM on March 12 [16 favorites]


    Pennsylvania GOP chairman says Tuesday special election is in 'Democrat district'

    Well we've long said that reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    From your lips to God's ears, random GOP scumbag.
    posted by leotrotsky at 12:06 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    Pennsylvania GOP chairman says Tuesday special election is in 'Democrat district'

    The Republican internal polling on the eve of the election -- and after Trump's campaign rally for himself must be abysmal.

    Democrats of PA-18, please get out and vote.
    posted by Gelatin at 12:08 PM on March 12 [42 favorites]


    The Republican internal polling on the eve of the election -- and after Trump's campaign rally for himself must be abysmal.

    Yeah, should Lamb win, we're on the verge of many more upcoming GOP congressional "retirements," I would think.

    These guys were desperate for a momentum shift in this race, even though the seat's disappearing. We're on track for an absolute bloodletting in 2018. Then it'll be nothing but constant vociferous hearings, investigations, and impeachments from then until 2020.
    posted by leotrotsky at 12:10 PM on March 12 [13 favorites]


    Keep in mind - a narrow Saccone victory would still be a strong indicator that the GOP is in big trouble in the fall. The media won't portray it that way, but that kind of underperformance (with almost $10M in spending!) is not what they need to retain control of the House.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:13 PM on March 12 [45 favorites]


    Then it'll be nothing but constant vociferous hearings, investigations, and impeachments from then until 2020.

    /me bets the house on popcorn futures.
    posted by notyou at 12:14 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    Keep in mind - a narrow Saccone victory would still be a strong indicator that the GOP is in big trouble in the fall. The media won't portray it that way

    Nah, the media narrative is that narrow wins are bad news for Democrats (see also: "Democrats in disarray"). The media views Republicans as winners -- probably having absorbed that narrative from the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan. That's its own kind of media bias, and yet one that goes entirely unspoken and unexplored.
    posted by Gelatin at 12:18 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Fun times with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Meet the Press
    Chuck Todd: "What are you supposed to say when [Trump] is using those vulgarities, to kids?"
    Secretary Mnuchin: "Again, I think you should be focused on what the policies are. He's using those vulgarities in the context of a campaign rally, and obviously there were a lot of funny moments on that rally."
    Chuck Todd: "Yeah, they were hilarious." [CLAPS HANDS] "...anyway, Secretary Mnuchin I appreciate you coming on."
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:20 PM on March 12 [16 favorites]


    > Pennsylvania GOP chairman says Tuesday special election is in 'Democrat district'

    Well, maybe it is now.
    posted by The Card Cheat at 12:21 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    Nah, the media narrative is that narrow wins are bad news for Democrats

    I don't disagree in general, but I think the media narrative on this one is pretty much consonant with it being a really red district ("Is an upset brewing?"). It's man bites dog - they get to write, "GOP In Disarray" for once.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:22 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]




    Keep in mind - a narrow Saccone victory would still be a strong indicator that the GOP is in big trouble in the fall. The media won't portray it that way

    You can never tell what they will do but I had CNN on during lunch today and the consensus was that if Saccone barely wins it is still awful for a.) Trump/Republicans because of how much money R's spent in a Trump+20 district, b.) the district will cease to exist in months and c.) a narrow victory just shows how week the R's are as compared to 2 years ago.

    They further went on to say a R narrow victory might delude some into thinking its not going to be bad in November, but, it will be.

    With that said, the consensus was that a R narrow victory wasn't likely.
    posted by mmascolino at 12:26 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Iowa State Senate leader Willy Dix (R)* has resigned after a video showed him kissing a lobbyist.

    For all those folks who went wishy-washy on Al Franken, remember that this is what happens when we hold to our principles.

    Not only is is obviously the right thing to do, but we can immediately shut down the "both sides do it" argument and keep the #MeToo momentum going. We're making this behavior unacceptable now and forever.

    Added benefit, you just KNOW there's more of these assholes with an"R" after their name.
    posted by leotrotsky at 12:49 PM on March 12 [80 favorites]


    Iowa State Senate leader Willy Dix (R)* has resigned after a video showed him kissing a lobbyist.

    Dix represented SD-25. He won unopposed in 2014. District - which is near Cedar Falls - went Trump 60-34 and Romney 54-45.

    There will be a special election scheduled; GOP currently controls the Iowa Senate by about 9 seats.
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:54 PM on March 12 [19 favorites]


    you just KNOW there's more of these assholes with an"R" after their name Please let them be Ann Wagner and Josh Hawley
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:56 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    "Maybe José Altuve just has a nasty case of resting visceral disgust face."

    Maybe José Altuve is America's patronus.
    posted by middleclasstool at 1:02 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    >Iowa State Senate leader Willy Dix (R)* has resigned after a video showed him kissing a lobbyist.

    For all those folks who went wishy-washy on Al Franken, remember that this is what happens when we hold to our principles. Not only is is obviously the right thing to do, but we can immediately shut down the "both sides do it" argument and keep the #MeToo momentum.


    To be clear, the distributor of the video does not claim it shows harassment, nor has anyone accused Dix of harassment (either in this case or previously); rather, the accusation is that he appears to be in a relationship with a woman who is not his wife, and with a woman who is a lobbyist whose lobbying overlaps with his job as a Senator.
    posted by cjelli at 1:02 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    remember that this is what happens when we hold to our principles.

    THIS. Being the Party of Principles and Honesty can do nothing but benefit us in the long run. The people who are thrilled to death with voting for hypocrites and liars are voting R. It's not just "we're better than that" it's that sticking to our principles means that fewer voters will stay home in disgust because "they're all the same" or whatever.

    And speaking of voting...Ralph Northam wasn't elected because he's a charismatic charmer. He's pretty much a plodder, but he was elected anyway, because of turnout. (I remember the howls of "he'll lose 'cuz he's boring and won't turn out the voters!" Nope. Ground game turns out the voters.) We don't need to pull rabbits out of hats or find the One True Charmer of a candidate. We just need to vote. Conor Lamb is no Kamala Harris or Ted Lieu, but he is a Democrat and a credible challenger. Even a narrow loss will be holding Republicans' feet to the fire.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:02 PM on March 12 [21 favorites]


    Getting away with cheating on your SO is seen as a basic skill by politicians.
    posted by rhizome at 1:03 PM on March 12


    rather, the accusation is that he appears to be in a relationship with a woman who is not his wife

    And he resigned. I've said it before, but Democrats should point out that they and only they are held / hold themselves to this standard. Trump was a serial adulterer even before his Presidential run, as was Newt Gingrich -- you know, the guy who advised Republicans to paint Democrats as libertine threats to the American family. Republicans -- even, if not especially, evangelicals -- have demonstrated that they do not care if a candidate has had affairs so long as he or she has an (R) after their name.
    posted by Gelatin at 1:08 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    Yeah, there was one of these "hooking up with a lobbyist" scandals in the FL legislature recently, too.

    Adultery = tasteless. Relationship with lobbyist = huge ethical violation.
    posted by Chrysostom at 1:09 PM on March 12 [27 favorites]


    i would give a significant donation of plasma, platelets, and whole blood to see the GOP internal polling in PA-18 pre- and post- Trump rally
    posted by murphy slaw at 1:09 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    There is a very nice and reasonably conclusive discussion of which nerve agents were used against Skripal and his daughter over at Derek Lowe's In The Pipeline , and one commenter toward the bottom of the thread asserts that the Telegraph is claiming Skripal is connected to the Trump Dossier.
    posted by jamjam at 1:11 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    The Wall Street Journal has an anonymously sourced update on HPSCI's Trump-Russia investigation: House Intelligence Panel Wraps Up Russia Probe Interviews—Committee is set to write a report as Senate and Mueller investigations continue
    The House Intelligence Committee has finished interviewing witnesses in its yearlong probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the matter, signaling the end is near of a contentious investigation that has revealed deep partisan divisions on the panel.

    The Republican-run committee is now preparing to write a report based on the testimony of dozens of witnesses and thousands of pages of documents. Republicans and Democrats on the panel are unlikely to come to a bipartisan conclusion on some of the central questions in the probe, including whether anyone from President Donald Trump’s campaign worked with Russians to help tip the election in his favor, according to interviews with multiple lawmakers and aides on both sides.[...]

    Republicans on the committee and in the full House of Representatives are eager to put the Capitol Hill investigations to rest, according to people familiar with the matter, citing the coming midterm election season.

    “We have not been informed that there will not be any more interviews conducted; we have also not been informed that the investigation has ended,” a senior Democratic aide on the committee said.
    CNN's reporting the same thing from an anonymous source, except with the addition of this ticking clock: "Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the Russia investigation, is expected to announce Monday that the committee has concluded its interviews and will now be moving onto writing a final report summarizing its findings."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 1:13 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    Bloomberg: Mueller Weighs Putting Off Trump Obstruction Decision

    We know that obstruction is basically a slam dunk, so I'm actually encouraged by this, because it means Mueller thinks he can aim higher
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:14 PM on March 12 [27 favorites]


    Lobbyists' jobs depend on the access granted to them by politicians. They're at least as vulnerable as employees but with none of the legal recourse. The circumstances make it impossible to judge whether the kiss was truly consensual, even assuming consent can exist in such an unequal relationship.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 1:16 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    To be clear, the distributor of the video does not claim it shows harassment, nor has anyone accused Dix of harassment (either in this case or previously); rather, the accusation is that he appears to be in a relationship with a woman who is not his wife, and with a woman who is a lobbyist whose lobbying overlaps with his job as a Senator.
    That's true, but it lacks some context. He's been in charge of handling a big sexual harassment scandal involving the state Senate Republican caucus, and he's made a mess of it. He figured out a way to make taxpayers cover the cost of a settlement paid to the former communications director of the senate Republicans, and he hushed up an internal investigation that was done after they lost the sexual harassment suit. There's been a lot of bad publicity about the scandal, but also about his handling of it. And now he's messing around with a woman with whom he has a professional relationship, and one with a pretty big power imbalance. It's not good, and the Iowa senate Republicans don't need any more not-good. Plus, my sense is that they're pretty pissed at him and happy to see him go.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:18 PM on March 12 [13 favorites]


    Republicans on the committee and in the full House of Representatives are eager to put the Capitol Hill investigations to rest, according to people familiar with the matter, citing the coming midterm election season

    in their shoes, i might drag my feet on the investigation until Mueller wraps his up. otherwise if Mueller comes out and shows collusion and obstruction after house republicans release a report saying "nothing to see here, move along" that is not going to be a good look for the 2020 election season
    posted by murphy slaw at 1:19 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]


    if Mueller comes out and shows collusion and obstruction after house republicans release a report saying "nothing to see here, move along" that is not going to be a good look for the 2020 election season

    We already know that Mitch McConnell not only flatly refused to join Obama in a bipartisan condemnation of Russian election interference, but also actively threatened to accuse Obama of partisan meddling that he knew for a fact was false. It's beyond obvious that the likes of Devin Nunes are helping cover up whatever Trump and Company are so desperate to cover up. And it's also true that the Fox News crowd has been convinced that the whole shebang is "fake news."

    By this point it's clear that the cover-up is the priority, no matter how temporarily embarrassing it it to individual Republicans. Which only highlights how serious Republican officials seem to think the underlying crimes must be.
    posted by Gelatin at 1:25 PM on March 12 [37 favorites]


    And now he's messing around with a woman with whom he has a professional relationship, and one with a pretty big power imbalance.

    Indeed: I would be not at all surprised if Dix turns out to have harassed either this lobbyist or other lobbyists (or other women); just noting that that hasn't, as yet, actually been reported by anyone, even if it the chances of such reporting looking incredibly likely and even if it's a very reasonable thing to infer from what has been reported.
    posted by cjelli at 1:26 PM on March 12


    Getting away with cheating on your SO is seen as a basic skill by politicians.

    And yet Trump has been caught cheating on all three of his wives...
    posted by T.D. Strange at 1:28 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    murphy slaw: "i would give a significant donation of plasma, platelets, and whole blood to see the GOP internal polling in PA-18 pre- and post- Trump rally"

    FWIW, the Monmouth was taken both pre- and post-rally (I think about 2/3 pre-). There's some indication they had trouble finding enough Republicans to fill the quota, which could maybe be indicative.
    posted by Chrysostom at 1:29 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    CNN's reporting the same thing from an anonymous source, except with the addition of this ticking clock: "Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the Russia investigation, is expected to announce Monday that the committee has concluded its interviews and will now be moving onto writing a final report summarizing its findings."

    From that CNN reporting:
    In another sign of the partisan tensions, the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, had not been told as of midafternoon Monday that Republicans planned to end the witness interview portion of the Russia investigation, according to a Democratic source. Conaway and Schiff do plan to speak on Monday, another source said.
    This isn't 'the committee' getting ready to announce an end to 'its' investigation: it's the GOP half of the committee getting ready to end the investigation without any input from the minority party.
    posted by cjelli at 1:30 PM on March 12 [48 favorites]


    Yeah, there was one of these "hooking up with a lobbyist" scandals in the FL legislature recently, too.

    Adultery = tasteless. Relationship with lobbyist = huge ethical violation.
    posted by Chrysostom at 4:09 PM on March 12 [9 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


    Ah yes, you must be referring to erstwhile Senator Jeff Clemens who was set to become Florida's Senate Minority Leader. He resigned pretty quickly when caught.

    Not to be confused with erstwhile Senator Jack Latvala, a serial sexual harasser who was also caught attempting to trade votes for sex with a lobbyist.

    These two bozos left over 600,000 Floridians without representation when they resigned prior to the beginning of this year's legislative session.
    posted by Cookiebastard at 1:34 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    Parkland kids are just killing it on twitter:

    Everybody please give @BetsyDeVosED a break in regards to the 60 Minutes video...

    Answering questions about education is hard. It’s unfair to put the United States Secretary of Education on the spot like that.

    Secretary DeVos, you are in an office, so I will stand by you.
    -----

    Everybody please stop saying @BetsyDeVosED isn’t qualified for her job.

    I bet NONE of you have enough money to buy that position anyway, so please allow the secretary to do her good work without your criticism.
    posted by leotrotsky at 1:43 PM on March 12 [66 favorites]


    Altho my schade is freudening once again at the Bill Dix story, I also am so weary of POS hypocrite Republicans. Decade after decade I've endured these people preaching the code words "family values" (anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-"those people"), only to for them to inevitably be revealed as gross, grabby hypocrites.

    I give not 2 shits what anyone does in their private life. But if you're someone who's caused untold grief for others because of your fake holy-roller judgemental bullshit, then you deserve to be knocked from your throne in the most publicly humiliating way possible.

    Thus endeth my sermon.
    posted by NorthernLite at 1:47 PM on March 12 [19 favorites]


    But it was pointed out that this was a state-sponsored attack on British soil using chemical weapons. Which is possibly a thing.

    We should be very clear about the seriousness of such a conclusion. I can't speak to British doctrine and law but were this in the United States it would fulfill the requirements for a nuclear response.

    Obviously I don't actually expect a nuclear response. But it could reasonably be said to fall under our nuclear deterrent doctrine.
    posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Now that's interesting if [Stormy Daniels] still has [copies of the photos, videos and nasty tweets] "in her possession", because the contract specified she agrees that she turned over all copies to "DD" and Micheal Cohen.

    Oopie! Must have forgot the sent items folder. I wonder if there are photos or videos of Trump on porn sites that everyone assumed were photoshopped and actually were real.
    posted by msalt at 1:50 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    The guy who took the video that brought down Bill Dix recognized Dix, because he's interested in politics, but can't vote because of an old drug conviction. Maybe the Republicans should stop trying so hard to disenfranchise people, because people will find other ways to have their voices heard.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:51 PM on March 12 [42 favorites]


    Britain's nukes all belong to the US, the US belongs to Russia, Putin can sleep easy on that front.
    posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    You know how sometimes Petri isn't so funny because what she's lampooning is actually worse than the joke? This is one of those times. Like... I laughed... but with a grimace on my face.

    It's good to keep in mind that Tom Lehrer got out of satire when Henry Kissinger got a Nobel Peace Prize.
    posted by mikelieman at 2:07 PM on March 12 [29 favorites]


    Like I said there's no way the UK (or US) retaliate with massive force.

    But it's also true that Russia used chemical weapons on a NATO country. There has to be a response. I have no idea what should be done here so thank god I'm not in charge of UK Russia policy. But this goes way beyond some sanctions targetted at a few oligarchs or fucking with RT.

    How much play is this getting in the UK, UK mefites? Is it dominating the news? Is it a B-story?
    posted by Justinian at 2:09 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    The Daily Mail reports, so take it with a bag of salt until it gets confirmed elsewhere, that just by coincidence a bunch of top intelligence officials from the UAE just happened to be in the Seychelles at the same time as Erik Prince and a bunch of Russians.
    posted by PenDevil at 2:10 PM on March 12 [12 favorites]


    AP, Trump Jr., donor have longtime undisclosed ties
    Donald Trump Jr. has a previously undisclosed business relationship with a longtime hunting buddy who helped raise millions of dollars for his father’s 2016 presidential campaign and has had special access to top government officials since the election, records obtained by The Associated Press show.

    The president’s oldest son and Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach have been involved in business deals together dating back to the mid-2000s and recently formed a company, Future Venture LLC, despite past claims by both men that they were just friends, according to previously unreported court records and other documents obtained by AP.

    Beach last year met with top National Security Council officials to push a plan that would curb U.S. sanctions in Venezuela and open up business for U.S. companies in the oil-rich nation.
    Is there no set of sanctions a Trump family member won't try to sell out for their buddies?
    posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on March 12 [29 favorites]


    Justinian I think, to an extent, that's what Putin is looking at and for.

    He's realized that he's an atomic power and the Cold War ended, which has left him basically free to do whatever he wants because "fuck, do we really want to go toe to toe with a nuclear power over X" is a part of everyone's mental calculus with regards to Russian bad acting.

    He took a big productive chunk of Ukraine and knew he could get away with it because none of the big powers were going to have a nuclear standoff over Ukraine.

    He's pushing the boundaries to see where the hard limits are, to see where (if anywhere) the line is drawn that **WILL** cause the other big powers to risk a nuclear confrontation with him. Can he get away with murdering ethnic Russians in the UK? He has so far. Can he get away with basically declaring any place that has a big enough ethnic Russian population to be part of Russia? He has so far.

    It's risky on his end, but more risky on our end. Eventually some power with the nukes to back it up, whether the US, or China, or the European/UK members of NATO, is going to have to credibly threaten actual military responses.

    Then we'll see what happens. Is the world going to have to set up for Cold War 2.0? I'm a bit doubtful, Russia today would be more isolated than Russia during the first Cold War, China after all isn't going to be on Russia's side this time, and I'm not sure even Cuba would be.

    And of course, no one wants to really push back because cold wars have that unfortunate ability to become hot. And we just barely got past the **LAST** time the entire world was on the edge of a self-extinction event. Putin, however, seems to be perfectly willing to go back to that era of constant threat of mutual annihilation.

    Right now most of the world's nations are involved in a sort of collective denial about what Russia is doing precisely because actually acknowledging it would require massive responses and people are reluctant to set off something they're unsure about the final consequences of doing. On the one hand you can say it's kind of cowardly, but on the other I can appreciate the restraint even though I'm sure the people in Ukraine wouldn't agree.

    But somewhere, sometime, Putin is going to hit the hard limit. And then what?
    posted by sotonohito at 2:13 PM on March 12 [48 favorites]


    Also, speaking of Don Jr., who is totally supposed to be off running the business and not in politics, please enjoy this photograph of him being interviewed by a giant chocolate bunny while campaigning.
    posted by zachlipton at 2:20 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    Josh Schwerin on Twitter: Donald Trump wants more preconditions for a meeting with Bob Mueller than he does for a meeting with Kim Jong Un
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:23 PM on March 12 [75 favorites]


    Josh Marshall on why Stormy Daniels might be politically damaging (I apologize in advance):
    I’m told that in her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper Daniels suggests that Trump, how to say this, likes it when women aren’t nice to him, treat him in perhaps denigrating ways.

    I think that would be very much off brand for Trump.
    God, it’s so depressing how predictable this fuckhead is.
    posted by schadenfrau at 2:24 PM on March 12 [58 favorites]


    So, in a spot of levity, remember when we were looking askance at Tammy Duckworth regarding the $50 NRA donation she got?

    Looks like it's not from the gun-NRA, but rather the food-NRA.

    (edited the typo out, where i put in good, not food)
    posted by anem0ne at 2:25 PM on March 12 [18 favorites]


    treat him in perhaps denigrating ways

    We're all thinking it, right?
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:30 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Looks like it's not from the gun-NRA, but rather the food-NRA.

    To save you a click, that’s the National Restaurant Association. The right to keep and care farms shall not be infringed.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:31 PM on March 12 [19 favorites]


    What I take from the Felix Sater story is that he was constantly involved in dirty deals with dirty people. But he had no issue finking on the ones he didn't like. The US government no doubt found him useful, but that doesn't mean he isn't corrupt.

    Hopefully, he's already finked on Trump.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 2:36 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    To save you a click, that’s the National Restaurant Association.

    I mean they probably mostly lobby for shittier working conditions in restaurants, so can't we just destroy them too and call it acceptable collateral damage?
    posted by contraption at 2:38 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach

    What is it with these names? Gentry: for when Baron is too on the nose.
    posted by trig at 2:41 PM on March 12 [17 favorites]


    He's pushing the boundaries to see where the hard limits are, to see where (if anywhere) the line is drawn

    From lukeharding1968 (the Graun's Russia specialist):
    The use of novichok in Salisbury not surprising but remarkable. Developed by Soviet Union in 70s and 80s, and more deadly than VX nerve agent. A brutal calling card that would inevitably be discovered. Conclusion: Putin and FSB wanted this row now
    (other tweets also worth a gander).

    It's fairly hard to see it as anything other than unequivocal provocation. One theory in the replies to the tweet is that it's essentially to weaken US/UK relations (and NATO), which seems to have some explanatory merit, and certainly seems likely to be the case.


    Not sure there will be much in the way of real repercussions as the two major responses that would target the Kremlin oligarchy:

    * Targeting all the oligarch cash and land ownership in the UK and particularly in the City.
    * Revisiting and re-referenduming Brexit.

    are options with also zero likelihood of coming to pass as there's too much investment in Westminster in keeping those arrangements as they are.


    How much play is this getting in the UK, UK mefites?

    Headline news pretty much across the spectrum, and while there's some infighting (e.g. regarding the Tories who've taken the Tsar's shilling) there's no real side taking a pro-Russia tack.

    One seriously disappointing exception is a segment of the Scottish indy movement who drank the RT kool aid (via the usual conspiracy fodder) who have gone full whataboutist/false-flag-explanation in backing Putin.
    posted by Buntix at 2:45 PM on March 12 [22 favorites]


    I mean they probably mostly lobby for shittier working conditions in restaurants, so can't we just destroy them too and call it acceptable collateral damage?

    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    From Wikipedia:
    [The National Restaurant Association] is very active in fighting efforts to raise the minimum wage in the United States as well as laws requiring paid sick leave. In July 2013, it boasted that it had successfully lobbied against raises in the minimum wage in 27 of 29 states and blocked paid sick leave legislation in 12 states. It also takes credit for halting any increase in the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, which has remained at $2.13 per hour since 1991.
    posted by Atom Eyes at 2:46 PM on March 12 [26 favorites]


    Headline news pretty much across the spectrum, and while there's some infighting (e.g. regarding the Tories who've taken the Tsar's shilling) there's no real side taking a pro-Russia tack.

    Hammond is sure desperate to retain Russian bribes to make sure he doesn't tar Putin's oligarch buddies with Putin's brush.
    posted by Talez at 2:47 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    It's fairly hard to see it as anything other than unequivocal provocation. One theory in the replies to the tweet is that it's essentially to weaken US/UK relations (and NATO)

    Maybe over the long term, but the first practical result of it that came to mind for me was to force the US to pick sides.
    posted by rhizome at 2:50 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    A brutal calling card that would inevitably be discovered. Conclusion: Putin and FSB wanted this row now

    Hmm. Natasha Bertrand wrote this a year ago:
    Russia's intervention in the US election was "unusually loud," FBI Director James Comey said during a hearing on Monday before the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian efforts to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
    "They were unusually loud in their intervention," Comey said when asked by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida what the Russians did in the 2016 presidential race that they hadn't done before.

    "It's almost as if they didn't care that we knew," he said.

    Comey suggested that Russia may have wanted the US government to tell the public what Russia was doing, so as to "amplify" its efforts.

    "Their loudness, in a way, would be counting on us to amplify it by telling the American people what we saw and freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our elections successfully," Comey said.

    Many cybersecurity and Russia experts share the view that the Russian hacking and disinformation campaign throughout the election was highly conspicuous.

    Digital footprints were left on the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta hacks, which were sloppy and easy to link back to the Kremlin, as state-sponsored Russian news agencies like Russia Today and Sputnik openly backed Donald Trump. American eavesdroppers, meanwhile, reportedly intercepted calls between foreign nationals and Russian officials discussing the presidential campaign — and between Michael Flynn and Russia's ambassador to the US discussing sanctions — a similarly sloppy move, given the open secret that intelligence agencies routinely spy on one another.
    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it. Just to mess with our heads? Just to prove some people will believe the Kremlin's denials rather than the American government's findings?
    posted by OnceUponATime at 2:52 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    segment of the Scottish indy movement who drank the RT kool aid (via the usual conspiracy fodder)

    Just how many elections did they mess with?
    posted by schadenfrau at 2:53 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    more deadly than VX nerve agent

    I'd quibble with this, as it's inexact -- there's a range of agents in this class. The most potent may be considerably more potent than VX, even 5-8x more potent, but the point wasn't to achieve sheer LD50 dominance, the point was to have... flexibility. A range of options for any number of applications, battlefield and otherwise. Improved shelf-life and portability, varying times of onset after dose, and a variety of delivery mechanisms. And, chillingly, fewer effective options for antidotes/treatments.

    But, agreed on the calling-card bit. Someone is definitely trolling here.

    (One hallmark of this class of agents: they are more likely than VX and sarin/tabun/soman to induce comas in their victims. One scientist accidentally poisoned while working on one of these in the 80s was in a coma for ten days; he did come out of it eventually but never recovered fully. I'd be surprised if either Skirpal regains consciousness.)
    posted by halation at 3:03 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it.

    If you admit you did it, foreign nations and corporations are compelled to punish you to a much greater extent.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:08 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    CNN: House Intel committee says no evidence of collusion, ending probe.

    That would be the GOP part of the House Intel committee.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:10 PM on March 12 [20 favorites]


    Random Tinfoil Thought: Stormy Daniels' narrative is being helped along by state actors because getting Trump to publicly try to quash any "photos" she might have proves they're real... and that, um, observations made in same might be useful for guaranteeing the, er, "provenance" of the real kompromat when it's finally exposed.

    The fact that there are multiple, opposing states who would fit that description either makes it more likely or completely not falsifiable. I'm honestly unsure which.
    posted by Freon at 3:11 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it. Just to mess with our heads?

    Gaslighting. Distraction. Unbalancing your opponents by taunting them, and tying their hands by forcing them to either equivocate in response or yell 'YES YOU BLOODY WELL DID' and then inevitably escalate into World War III because that's where all this is going to end up, eventually. It's the diplomatic equivalent of one kid in the backseat on a long car trip who won't stop poking their sibling but smugly insists they didn't do anything. Except there is no parent who can turn the car around and all the kids have nukes.
    posted by halation at 3:12 PM on March 12 [26 favorites]


    I’m told that in her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper Daniels suggests that Trump, how to say this, likes it when women aren’t nice to him, treat him in perhaps denigrating ways.

    I'll bet anybody $50 that if this comes out, Trump allies spin it as proof that he's feminist.
    posted by msalt at 3:12 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    I love it when a story has a good notary angle. Dallas Morning News, Texas notary's failure to sign Stormy Daniels' hush agreement is under investigation. The NDA we've seen shows the notary seemingly notarized a document with a blank signature line and there's no notarial certificate, and it's hard to imagine how she verified the identities of the signers "PP" and "EC, LLC" unless they gave her the side agreement. So she's got some problems here, and the Texas Secretary of State would like answers.
    posted by zachlipton at 3:20 PM on March 12 [56 favorites]


    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it. Just to mess with our heads? Just to prove some people will believe the Kremlin's denials rather than the American government's findings?

    Yes to all, and more. Vladislav Surkov is likely the person whom you should most thank for your confusion ("The Hidden Author of Putinism"). To avoid typing an essay (I've been thinking about this aspect a lot), it's most succinct to say that Surkov's ideas and practices leverage our habits of immersive mediation (literally, knowing the world and what happens in it mostly by media--like through a newspaper, TV or gadget--rather than empirically) to make the Theatre of the Absurd large-scale practice out in the world.

    Their intent is to obfuscate our sense of reality until we don't really trust what we experience with our own eyes, ears and bodies; or, trust what media tells/shows us more than what we personally experience, because if you don't think that there is an empirical, trustable, fact-based reality, then you are superbly manipulable fodder for autocrats.
    posted by LooseFilter at 3:21 PM on March 12 [49 favorites]


    Maybe over the long term, but the first practical result of it that came to mind for me was to force the US to pick sides.

    David Frum, The Atlantic: ...Trump simply will not act to protect the U.S. and its allies against even Russian aggression, even on their own territory, even in the form of attempted murder.

    Trump’s inaction speaks louder than any words. It is a confession for all to hear.
    posted by nubs at 3:23 PM on March 12 [40 favorites]


    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it. Just to mess with our heads?

    Just backing up: It's possible Comey is responding here to the recent press reports and analysis that slam the Obama Admin (and Comey's FBI, among others) for the muted response to the hacking effort: "Nah, see, we meant to do that because we didn't want to amplify those efforts..."
    posted by notyou at 3:23 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    A reminder of what a sham the House Intel Committee investigation was:

    Kyle Griffin [via Twitter]:
    Several witnesses thought to be central to the investigation never came before the panel, NYT notes, including:
    —Paul Manafort
    —Rick Gates
    —Michael Flynn
    —George Papadopoulos
    posted by Atom Eyes at 3:25 PM on March 12 [56 favorites]


    From the Times story on House Intel:
    Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, who is leading the investigation, said committee Republicans agreed with the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered with the election, but they broke with the agencies on one crucial point: that the Russians had favored Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

    “The bottom line: The Russians did commit active measures against our election in ’16, and we think they will do that in the future,” Mr. Conaway said. But, he added, “We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
    To be clear, this isn't just a "narrative," it's the public assessment of the intelligence agencies they oversee:
    We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

    We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
    I certainly do not have blind faith in what our intelligence agencies put out, but for House Republicans to, without providing any evidence and after running a fake investigation for political purposes, put out statements contradicting the intelligence community and evidence that has already been made public should be shocking and appalling.
    posted by zachlipton at 3:27 PM on March 12 [69 favorites]


    the point of committing a crime in an obvious way

    It was a Russian, very accomplished in politics, who said that the main question in that arena is "Who, whom?" - that is, in politics there is a subject and an object, a party that acts and a party that is acted upon. For some decades after WWII, the American Empire enjoyed such dominance that in substantial matters it was not acted upon, while it acted on large swathes of the globe. At most the object of the USG's attentions might resist, as in the Iranians overthrowing the puppet ruler.

    Eventually, in 2001 Osama Bin Laden was able to act upon the "homeland" in a major way. Being made the "whom" in the quote was more damaging than anything physical. Imagine if the same damage had been wrought by some freak coincidence of accidents - a meteor striking downtown Manhattan, a plane crash in Pennsylvania, and a big gas explosion at the Pentagon. It would have been damaging, but not the epochal event the real terrorist attacks became.

    Putin is working on the same principle, making the USG the "whom," wounding nationalism, inciting chaos like an inflammatory response. The response afflicts the USG to a much greater extent than the first-order effects of his meddling, which from what I've seen was generally low-grade shitposting with weak memes, and basically shilling for everything but the Hillary and Jeb establishment. "It hurt itself in its confusion!"

    Barack Obama's getting shit on for it, but he had a much better response. If someone's trying to troll you on the Internet, the proper response is to keep your cool, not to lose your shit.
    posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:27 PM on March 12 [39 favorites]


    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it. Just to mess with our heads?

    In this particular case, Comey was talking about Russian interference in the 2016 elections, which is important to understand in terms of why doing it loudly mattered: the point of the interference wasn't solely to help elect Trump, it was to sow dissension within American political and civic life, and to sow doubt about the democratic process itself.

    As the quoted article goes on to note:
    "Their number one mission was to undermine the credibility of our entire democracy enterprise of this nation," Comey added.

    Rogers agreed.

    "I fully expect them to continue this — this level of activity," Rogers said. "Our sense is that they have come to the conclusion that it generated a positive outcome for them in the sense" that they've called into question the US's democratic process.

    "We have to assume they're coming back," Comey said.
    The point wasn't to rig an election; the point was to undermine the public's faith in elections. If doing that also helped put someone more friendly to Putin in power, that was a bonus.
    posted by cjelli at 3:30 PM on March 12 [27 favorites]


    for House Republicans to, without providing any evidence and after running a fake investigation for political purposes, put out statements contradicting the intelligence community and evidence that has already been made public should be shocking and appalling.

    As the NYT notes, they didn't even both conducting interviews with (among others!):
    Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort;
    Mr. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates;
    Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn;
    and Mr. Trump’s former campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, all of whom are under indictment by the special counsel.
    There are multiple people directly involved in the campaign who have already taken plea deals and plead guilty and they didn't even chat with them briefly before declaring 'case closed' -- it isn't only a fake investigation, it's a completely inadequate one.
    posted by cjelli at 3:37 PM on March 12 [38 favorites]


    Comey is responding here to the recent press reports

    To clarify, I dug up that quote from Mar. 21, 2017. Almost a full year ago. So this is not a response to recent press reports. It foreshadowed those reports, and, it turns out, forshadowed Russia denying a chemical weapons attack that it went out of its way to commit in a way that was obviously traceable back to Russia. I was just trying to point out that "going out of your way to leave a calling card, only to deny that you were ever there" is exactly what Russia did to us, too. It has confused me for a year, but at least now there is some more evidence that this is a thing that they do, on purpose.

    Also... the day after the 2016 election, when Trump was still denying that his campaign had had any contact with Russia, a Russian official said: "There were contacts” -- “Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Ryabkov said.

    I was so confused at the time. Why weren't they trying to hide it? I found it chilling, and still do, that they felt they could be so open about it.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 3:38 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    CNN: House Intel committee says no evidence of collusion, ending probe.


    Which presumably is kinda obstruction of justice as well. The blue wave could end up happening by default because there's only a handful of Republicans left who aren't in jail*.


    If someone's trying to troll you on the Internet, the proper response is to keep your cool, not to lose your shit.

    ...just to note that there's still a rational (non-compromised) core left to the lefty indy movement,

    @NicolaSturgeon: "Exactly right. Cool heads certainly required but also a firm response. Russia simply cannot be allowed to launch attacks on our streets with impunity."

    [retweeting]

    @StewartMcDonald (SNP Spokesperson for Defence): "What the Prime Minister has just outlined is a sobering and horrifying example of the range of threats we now face - not unknown to our Baltic allies. Cool heads must prevail, but this crime cannot go unpunished."

    * it was somewhat heartening watching that youtube of the talk by Mueller ^^^ and seeing what an utter justice-nerd the guy is, and that he feels about putting criminals in jail the same way a forensic entomologist feels about discovering improbably geo-located silphidae.
    posted by Buntix at 3:39 PM on March 12 [38 favorites]


    Reality check, please: I know the president is exempt from conflict of interest laws, but his family members in the government aren't, are they? I mean, Don Jr. and Eric (who don't have government positions) would in fact be protected by Donald's immunity, but Ivanka and Jared Kushner have committed numerous and blatant conflicts of interest under federal law that Mueller should have no problem at all proving, right?

    Also, what are the penalties?
    posted by msalt at 3:42 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    National security guy whose name escapes me, on CNN’s The Situation Room, regarding the GOP House Intelligence report: “If this report was printed on toilet paper I wouldn’t deign to wipe my ass with it.”
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:42 PM on March 12 [45 favorites]


    U.S. Posts Biggest Budget Deficit Since 2012
    The U.S. recorded a $215 billion budget deficit in February -- its biggest in six years -- as revenue declined.

    Fiscal income dropped to $156 billion, down 9 percent from a year earlier, while spending rose 2 percent to $371 billion, the Treasury Department said on Monday. The deficit for the fiscal year that began in October widened to $391 billion, compared with a $351 billion shortfall the same period a year earlier, according to the Treasury report.
    It begins.
    posted by Talez at 4:02 PM on March 12 [43 favorites]


    To be clear, this isn't just a "narrative," it's the public assessment of the intelligence agencies they oversee...

    Not to mention we have 13 indictments from Mueller showing it.
    posted by chris24 at 4:04 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    A short but sharp take from Chatham House: The Skripal Attack Is a Test for the UK. "Fortunately, whatever the allied response, the UK is the repository of a national asset of very high value to Russia: the City of London. For many years, it has effectively allowed key Russian stakeholders to use the services of the City – in particular, the London Stock Exchange, as well as the high-end property market – for purposes legitimate, illegitimate and even illegal. It is time to transform them from a source of advantage to Russia to a strategic asset for the UK. "
    posted by MonkeyToes at 4:07 PM on March 12 [29 favorites]


    There are multiple people directly involved in the campaign who have already taken plea deals and plead guilty and they didn't even chat with them briefly before declaring 'case closed' -- it isn't only a fake investigation, it's a completely inadequate one.

    Not to defend the GOP or anything, but interviewing people who had been indicted or entered pleas would predictably lead nowhere because they'd take the 5th and say nothing.
    posted by The World Famous at 4:09 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]



    I’m told that in her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper Daniels suggests that Trump, how to say this, likes it when women aren’t nice to him, treat him in perhaps denigrating ways.

    I guess now we know why he has such a complicated emotional reaction to Hillary.
    posted by Autumnheart at 4:17 PM on March 12 [14 favorites]






    Trump’s going to wake up at 4am and call it a false flag isn’t he
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:26 PM on March 12 [18 favorites]


    A short but sharp take from Chatham House: The Skripal Attack Is a Test for the UK.

    From the same article:
    From the earliest days of the Cold War, the USSR and its Russian successor viewed Britain as Washington’s number one proxy in Europe. From Moscow’s perspective, the UK’s position at the EU top table enhanced US and British influence simultaneously. That advantage has been thrown away.

    I hadn't really looked at it that way, but the UK has been at best the 53rd state proxy for the US, and even at worst a conduit linking to the EU (and yet again NATO). Which has been a fairly strong Maginot line type bond in the whole global economic area stability thing.

    Brexit, trade wars, and provocative assassinations are all working to sever that link (and thanks to quisling fuckers like Farage, the Daily Mail, Britain First, et al selling their putative self-absorbed nationalism to malignant foreign interests) we have become the weakest link.

    Divide and conquer.

    Same as the whole mostly-supporting-fascists in the US, but trying to troll BLM into conflicts as well.


    ed: #Solidarity
    posted by Buntix at 4:29 PM on March 12 [14 favorites]


    ...the same way a forensic entomologist feels about discovering improbably geo-located silphidae.

    Must we always make the same comments over and over in these politics megathreads?
    posted by leotrotsky at 4:30 PM on March 12 [102 favorites]


    BREAKING: Tillerson says ex-spy's poisoning in UK 'clearly came from Russia,' vows it 'will trigger a response.

    ...like sanctions? Because you guys have real trouble with those.
    posted by leotrotsky at 4:37 PM on March 12 [34 favorites]


    Maybe another very thorough House Intel Committee investigation?

    "The House Intel Committee has come to the conclusion that Sergei Skripal tripped and fell on some naturally occurring Novichok in the environment"
    posted by Talez at 4:43 PM on March 12 [36 favorites]


    A short but sharp take from Chatham House: The Skripal Attack Is a Test for the UK. "Fortunately, whatever the allied response, the UK is the repository of a national asset of very high value to Russia: the City of London. For many years, it has effectively allowed key Russian stakeholders to use the services of the City – in particular, the London Stock Exchange, as well as the high-end property market – for purposes legitimate, illegitimate and even illegal. It is time to transform them from a source of advantage to Russia to a strategic asset for the UK. "

    T.D. Strange had the right idea earlier. Raid the money laundering enablers, seize ALL the
    overseas assets. Has the effect of seriously pissing off a bunch of powerful Russians, while not tit-for-tating with violence, which would take us in a bad direction. That said, if 007 wants to start popping bad blatnoys in Moscow, I'm all for it.
    posted by leotrotsky at 4:43 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    You all seem to be making the mistake of thinking the Secretary of State in any way speaks for the government of the United States. What gives you that confidence? I'm not joking, is there any reason to listen to anything anyone but Trump says?

    Trump would say l'etat, c'est moi except he is barely literate in English much less French.
    posted by Justinian at 4:43 PM on March 12 [12 favorites]


    If Tillerson says it you know it's not going to happen.
    posted by lumnar at 4:44 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    Sadly, the US is actually better positioned for this, because our weird income tax laws make it much less likely for our wealthy folks to stash assets overseas compared to wealthy UK folks (it's why there were so few Americans in the Panama Papers). So there's less blowback for us than for them to act. But we've got a Siberian candidate in the White House, so it won't happen.
    posted by leotrotsky at 4:44 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Exactly. Deny them access to The City. It's not like there's any political retribution to be paid. What are the powers that run London going to do? Put Comrade Corbyn in the PM slot? Hardly.
    posted by Talez at 4:45 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    ...and pair it with similar actions in Paris and Frankfurt (particularly important given the UK's recent Brexit self-castration). Make all of Western Europe a no-go for Russian money. That includes Real Estate. Seize ALL the flats.
    posted by leotrotsky at 4:49 PM on March 12 [12 favorites]


    i really admire the restraint of all of these interviewers for not asking DeVos how much a banana costs

    Huh? Is this a thing? We’ve been slogging through so much I’m barely sure what’s even real anymore.
    posted by corb at 4:56 PM on March 12


    We committed to Article 5 26 Scaramuccis ago.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:58 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    I have a bad feeling that Stormy Daniels is negotiating for another NDA with a bigger payoff.
    posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:58 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    Huh? Is this a thing?

    It’s a reference to Arrested Development where Lucille says “it’s one banana, Michael. How much can it cost? 10 dollars?”
    posted by Talez at 5:00 PM on March 12 [30 favorites]


    Specifically, this clip from Arrested Development.

    It's Lucille
    posted by thefoxgod at 5:04 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    I have a bad feeling that Stormy Daniels is negotiating for another NDA with a bigger payoff.

    Where in the world are you getting that from? I could well be wrong, but everything I’ve seen so far suggests quite the opposite.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:05 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


    the worst thing about josh marshall's speculation about the daniels case is that it introduces a non-zero possibility that trump is getting sexual gratification from the whole media feeding frenzy because he's being publicly humiliated by a woman
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:06 PM on March 12 [16 favorites]


    House Intel committee says no evidence of collusion, ending probe

    They're ending it now in hopes the public will have forgotten it and its utter incompetence entirely by 238 Scaramuccis from now, when the real indictments drop.

    Frankly I'm glad that farce of fake news is done. Maybe Nunes will actually shut tf up now? Or feel the need to spend time with his family?
    posted by Dashy at 5:06 PM on March 12


    Sadly, the US is actually better positioned for this, because our weird income tax laws make it much less likely for our wealthy folks to stash assets overseas compared to wealthy UK folks (it's why there were so few Americans in the Panama Papers).

    Also the rather canny move of inventing Delaware behind the wooly coats in the wardrobe. Keeping it in-house in shell companies is good infosec.

    The thing that strikes me as odd is that the CIA, NSA, MI\d+, DGSE, Bundesnachrichtendienst, et al must surely have way juicier weaponised tax haven/laundering secrets to leak than anything that ever made it to the Panama funny pages. It's quite literally the most important information have in geopolitics these days.

    Then, also not entirely sure how the Kremlin is winning a propaganda war against the aggregated BS and meme creativity of both the western and eastern world.

    It's possible that the FSB is also responsible for Supernatural. Distracting would-be anti-propagandists into endless Tumblering and fanfic writing.


    (also of course the subversion of the major US propaganda outlets such as 4chan, and 4chan's TV station: Fox news).
    posted by Buntix at 5:09 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    I have a bad feeling that Stormy Daniels is negotiating for another NDA with a bigger payoff

    The amount of money she can make from her story, with or without visual evidence, will dwarf anything the Trump Organization is likely to provide.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:13 PM on March 12 [26 favorites]


    @JaredHuffman (CA 2nd District Congressman)
    Dear President Trump, if you want to meet someone who has an actual IQ problem (as opposed to just being black), meet your Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Rich, white, and dumber than a bag of hammers.
    posted by chris24 at 5:27 PM on March 12 [67 favorites]


    One page draft report summary from HPSCI.
    posted by scalefree at 5:28 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    I like that Democrats are realizing they can enhance their career prospects by getting on their iPhone and savagely burning the President
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:28 PM on March 12 [58 favorites]


    The summary takes a pass on conclusion, yet finds "How anti-Trump research made its way from Russian sources to the Clinton campaign." Sounds like yet more Steele Dossier bashing.
    posted by zachlipton at 5:31 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Even DNI Coats thinks the HPSCI is full of shit.

    @jimsciutto (CNN)
    Breaking: Responding to GOP House intel Cmte draft report, “The Intelligence Community stands by its January 2017 assessment, 'Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.' We will review the HPSCI report findings." -Brian Hale, ODNI spokesman tells me.
    posted by chris24 at 5:32 PM on March 12 [13 favorites]


    god, trump is going to be whacking the entire country in the face with that one-pager until the minute he's perp-walked out of the residence. he's gonna re-wallpaper the oval office with this thing and an incorrect 2016 election map.
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:37 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]




    Profile in courage:

    HSPCI member Rep. Tom Rooney: "We've gone completely off the rails, and now we're just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day's news...we've lost all credibility" - Rep. Tom Rooney on the Republican decision to end the House Russia investigation

    Rep. Rooney is a retiring Republican who's nonetheless been voting with Nunes and voted to end the investigation.

    Naval War College Prof. David Burbach:
    For the IC, having your oversight committee formally declare to the world that a major cross-agency finding was just plain wrong, is really a big deal. 1/ Just in general it's a huge credibility and morale hit, while acknowledging sometimes agencies probably deserve to be criticized (the point of oversight). 2/That House Intel is making such a transparently political judgement, not only to clear Trump of involvement but to clear _Russia_ of doing it, puts the IC and a heck of a bind. 3/ It's a strong signal to the intel professionals that their political masters would rather not know the truth if it is highly damaging politically -- and we risk the IC responding to that signal 4/ Or if you believe your Constitutional oath requires acting despite wishes of political leaders who are aiding foreign adversaries, as a primary or collateral goal, the ways IC might do that are of course highly problematic and also bad to encourage 5/ There's really no good answer, and it's why Congressional intel oversight has been reasonably bipartisan over the years. Things get bad fast otherwise. As we will see. 6/6
    This is how you start getting widespread leaks of raw intel from aggrieved individuals inside the IC.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 5:43 PM on March 12 [78 favorites]


    I'm not sure I fully understand, still, the point of committing a crime in an obvious way, and then denying you did it. Just to mess with our heads? Just to prove some people will believe the Kremlin's denials rather than the American government's findings?

    Provoking the US could also strengthen Putin domestically by both providing an external enemy to rage against and also by providing an excuse for domestic economic woes (it's the sanctions of Imperialist America that are stopping you from buying and selling what you want).

    So even a sanctions response works for Putin politically. Tough luck for all the other Russians though.
    posted by srboisvert at 5:45 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Profile in courage

    @mkraju (CNN)
    Tom Rooney added that he "absolutely" thinks Russians tried to help Trump and hurt Clinton, adds it's just a draft report
    posted by chris24 at 5:45 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    Tom Rooney added that he "absolutely" thinks Russians tried to help Trump and hurt Clinton, adds it's just a draft report

    so this is a trial balloon to see how many people demand their heads over it, and if the heat is too much they'll tone it down? inspiring.
    posted by murphy slaw at 5:50 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    I saw the interview live and these tweets don't really convey what happened. Burnett thought Rooney was agreeing that the Russians were not just causing general chaos but were specifically trying to get Trump elected (because that's the only reasonable position) but that's not what he meant and he kind of panicked and tried to walk it back when he realized he was out over his skies.

    Rooney was trying to finesse his answer along these lines: Yes, Russia meddled. Yes, Russia tried to help Trump. But the Russians were trying to cause chaos in general and tried to help other people too, not try to get Trump elected. Basically he was trying to appear reasonable by saying that Russia did some things to help Trump but only in the context of doing things to help other people and not to hurt Clinton as much as they could because they weren't trying to get Trump elected, only to cause chaos.

    Burnett didn't pick up on what he was saying right away because it was moronic but that's what was going on and it was clear to me. I don't know what these twitter folks were seeing. I mean, their quotes are accurate. They were said. But the context was completely different.
    posted by Justinian at 5:51 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]


    Rooney even said that the Russians hacked both sides as an example. Which is true. He just left out the fact that they only released the Democratic hacks! Like that literally happened.
    posted by Justinian at 5:53 PM on March 12 [35 favorites]


    This confuses me. I've never heard of restrictions on where non-citizens can live. I understand that certain types of work visa's essentially indenture you to the sponsoring company, and they could dictate where you work, but that's a decision between you and your employer. Am I missing something?

    You can live where you like just not "freely". You are obligated to keep la migra updated on your address.
    posted by srboisvert at 5:53 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    I don't know what these twitter folks were seeing. I mean, their quotes are accurate. They were said. But the context was completely different.

    Well, you have "twitter folks" and "context" together in the same sentence. I think that's your problem right there.
    posted by Uncle Ira at 5:54 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Well Trump got so excited about this, he's tweeting in all caps.
    posted by zachlipton at 5:56 PM on March 12 [8 favorites]


    Easiest explanation for the timing: Republicans wanted to create a "good news" story for themselves the night before the PA election. I mean the House investigation has been useless for a long while, thanks to the GOP. I imagine they've been saving this headline for a rainy day.
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:58 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]


    Oh fire
    "I won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product," Clinton continued. "So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, 'Make America Great Again,' was looking backwards."

    Clinton described what she believed to be the underlying message of Trump's 2016 campaign: "You didn't like black people getting rights, you don't like women, you know, getting jobs," Clinton said. "You don't want, you know, see that Indian American succeeding more than you are. Whatever your problem is, I'm going to solve it," she said.

    posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:58 PM on March 12 [49 favorites]


    San Francisco Chronicle, Hamed Aleaziz (who has been doing damn good work on this beat), ICE spokesman said to quit over officials’ description of 800 eluding arrest
    The San Francisco spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement resigned after the agency’s recent Northern California sweep, believing Trump administration officials made false public statements about a key aspect of the operation, The Chronicle has learned.

    ICE officials confirmed James Schwab’s resignation, saying Monday that he “recently announced his departure” from the office of public affairs, but they would not discuss specifics, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters. Schwab would not comment when reached Monday.

    However, a source familiar with the matter said Schwab was frustrated by repeated public statements by officials including Attorney General Jeff Sessions that roughly 800 undocumented immigrants escaped arrest due to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warning the public about the four-day operation the night before federal officers began staking out homes and knocking on doors.

    Schwab wanted the agency to correct the number, which he understood to be far lower, and didn’t want to deflect media questions about it, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Schwab was hired in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.
    posted by zachlipton at 6:02 PM on March 12 [27 favorites]


    Yeah sorry, that tweet is a 31 word sentence with proper spelling, grammar, hyphen and comma usage. There is no way in holy hell it was written by Trump.
    posted by xigxag at 6:02 PM on March 12 [9 favorites]


    Hope Hicks is out, so maybe he's got somebody transcribing his tweets with less fidelity to his actual rantings?
    posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:05 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    i really admire the restraint of all of these interviewers for not asking DeVos how much a banana costs

    Huh? Is this a thing? We’ve been slogging through so much I’m barely sure what’s even real anymore.


    I remember it being a thing in the UK where Tory politicians were asked the price of bread and milk and they had no idea, supposedly showing how out of touch with regular people they were. Didn't stop them from winning the election mind you.
    posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:09 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Dan Scavino is probably writing/transcribing Trump's tweets now that Hope is gone from the White House.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 6:09 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    So, is there any way to strip a pound of flesh from Nunes & Co. to make them pay a political price for ending this investigation early and contributing to the continued erosion of trust Americans have in their government?
    posted by xyzzy at 6:21 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    I’m gonna go with “help to elect a Democratic Speaker of the House”
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:24 PM on March 12 [36 favorites]


    Rep. Adam Schiff is pissed and has issued a statement:
    BREAKING: GOP just shut down House Intel investigation, leaving questions unanswered, leads unexplored, countless witnesses uncalled, subpoenas unissued.

    If Russians have leverage over the President, GOP has decided that it would rather not know. The minority's work continues
    Schiff Statement on House Republicans’ Premature Shutdown of Russia Investigation
    posted by Doktor Zed at 6:25 PM on March 12 [76 favorites]


    So, at this stage, when we the American people ask the question of whether the Russian government intended to help elect a Republican as our President, we must contend with two contradictory assessments from two authoritative sources:
    1. The entire American intelligence community, including the Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence.
    2. Some Republican politicians.
    Whom shall we believe? Whom? It is a quandary.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:31 PM on March 12 [35 favorites]


    Pelosi: “House Republicans have abandoned their oath to support and defend the Constitution and protect the American people.”
    posted by chris24 at 6:35 PM on March 12 [87 favorites]


    >2. Some Republican politicians.

    Some Republican politicians--let's be clear--who will be damaged by association, and whose party will be damaged by association, if Trump is found to have been involved in something shady, have determined that he was NOT, in fact, involved in anything shady. What an astonishing result, my word.
    posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:36 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


    For anyone wondering, it takes a two-thirds majority to expel a member of either house of Congress. Too bad.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:39 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Hope Hicks is out, so maybe he's got somebody transcribing his tweets with less fidelity to his actual rantings?

    Cap’n Lock locks caps
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:41 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    I feel like the HPSCI Republicans figure they're just about at the last moment where they can say nothing happened, so let it fly. I mean, nobody believes they don't think something happened because they aren't wailing about Gates/Pap/etc pleading out, but for appearance's sake they've done their job.
    posted by rhizome at 6:41 PM on March 12


    for anyone who's concerned that the investigation wasn't thorough and complete, here's Rep. Mike Conaway (R) last week:
    “I don’t have any clue who George Nader is,” says Rep. Mike Conaway, who leads House Intel’s Russia probe.
    posted by murphy slaw at 6:42 PM on March 12 [22 favorites]


    it takes a two-thirds majority to expel a member of either house of Congress

    Takes 50.01% on November 6th.
    posted by chris24 at 6:42 PM on March 12 [62 favorites]


    If I recall correctly this is the second time a presidential election has been decided by a Nader
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:43 PM on March 12 [20 favorites]


    So, is there any way to strip a pound of flesh from Nunes & Co. to make them pay a political price for ending this investigation early and contributing to the continued erosion of trust Americans have in their government?

    The political price is voting them out.

    A legal price would be investigating them for obstruction of justice. There are pros and very real cons to doing that, and the price has to be weighed along with the possible benefits. Remember how much shit Trump rightly got for threatening to investigate the loser of an election against him? Yeah, because investigating your political opponents is an extremely serious and severe step which is easily abused. Is this situation different? I believe it is. I assume the idiot Republicans would claim the same from their side. Some of them would, stupidly, even believe it.

    This is possibly the start of a very real breakdown of civil governance.
    posted by Justinian at 6:43 PM on March 12 [17 favorites]


    over at NYMag, jonathan chait (cw: jonathan chait) sums up some of the recent stories coming out of trump's legal team and has some interesting speculation:

    Also this weekend, the New York Times reported that Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, “has told friends for weeks that he views his position as temporary and does not expect to remain in the job for much longer.” Cobb has reportedly counseled his client, President Trump, not to fire Robert Mueller by assuring him last year that the Russia inquiry would be completed by Thanksgiving (of 2017), and then, when that deadline slipped, by the end of the year, and then by the end of January. That is not the kind of trick a lawyer can keep pulling forever.

    So, the lawyer who has been holding Trump back from taking drastic action seems to be on his way out. And Trump’s lawyers are contemplating some extremely rash strategies that have about a zero percent chance of succeeding. It’s difficult to know exactly what’s happening behind the scenes, but these stories seem to indicate some sense of desperation is setting in.
    posted by murphy slaw at 6:55 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]


    This is possibly the start of a very real breakdown of civil governance.
    Well, I don't feel particularly civil right at this moment. I don't want to wait several years to watch Nunes get whipp--I mean, voted out of office by the most Republican part of California. Which, let's face it, will never happen.

    So, great. No consequences, this will be fun.
    posted by xyzzy at 6:55 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    there is a new fucking fuck thread over at MetaTalk if you're having a hard time being erudite about the latest developments
    posted by murphy slaw at 7:01 PM on March 12 [10 favorites]


    I would just note that any investigation the Senate does is a political move designed to distract, derail, and discredit the actual law enforcement investigation. The Intelligence Committee investigation is, itself, an ongoing exercise in obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and politicization of a process that must be apolitical. It has always been that and nothing more, and we're better off if the Intelligence Committee investigation ends and stops completely.
    posted by The World Famous at 7:15 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    Wait, what happened to all the other shocking memos Nunes was gonna release?
    posted by SpaceBass at 7:16 PM on March 12 [13 favorites]


    I would just note that any investigation the Senate does is a political move designed to distract, derail, and discredit the actual law enforcement investigation.

    Do we have evidence that Senator Burr wants to undermine Mueller, aside from the (R) next to his name? My naïve impression is that the Senate investigation is vastly more sincere than the House investigation. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it descends into partisan bullshit, but for now I think it could go either way.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:23 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    Well, Grassley's on that committee, too.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:25 PM on March 12


    The World Famous, there are two intelligence committees. Nunes is on the House Intelligence Committee. Burr & Warner are also doing an investigation for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, but there have been no leaks from that investigation as far as I know.
    posted by xyzzy at 7:26 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


    The Senate Republicans will bend like a Mar-A-Lago palm tree under a hundred-year climate-change-fueled hurricane once the time comes.
    posted by tivalasvegas at 7:26 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    Do we have evidence that Senator Burr wants to undermine Mueller

    We have evidence that a parallel investigation by a body with no authority to prosecute, which leaks information the prosecutor wants kept confidential, conducts separate interviews and examination, and taints both witnesses and the public's understanding of the issues undermines and obstructs the special prosecutor's investigation. That there may be Senators or House members who fail to grasp that doesn't lessen the obstructive effect or the general intent behind the investigation.
    posted by The World Famous at 7:27 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    Burr is bought and paid for by DeVos. He’s a horrible person by any metric. I would trust his integrity as far as I could throw him with Thom Tillis strapped to his back (also a disgrace to the state).
    posted by winna at 7:28 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    The World Famous, there are two intelligence committees.

    My apologies for being sloppy with that. Please read my previous comments as applying to all legislative bodies conducting investigations of the same subject matter as an ongoing law enforcement investigation.
    posted by The World Famous at 7:30 PM on March 12


    I've said it before, but i cant believe nunes is so clean that there aren't leaks everywhere about him and the other obvious collaborators. Also, I'm frightened of the direction we're taking.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:35 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


    Well Trump got so excited about this, he's tweeting in all caps.

    Rep. Schiff fired back on Twitter, "This was not the finding of the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. President, but only a statement by its GOP members, who lack the courage to stand up to a President of their own party when the national interest necessitates it."

    Meanwhile, on Anderson Cooper's CNN show: "Rep. Chris Stewart on House Intelligence Committee Republicans found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and that they are shutting down their yearlong investigation: 'If there's more evidence that comes forward, we will pursue'" But: "'The CIA just got it wrong,' says Rep. Chris Stewart about the intelligence community's assessment that Russian President Putin was trying to help the Trump campaign over Hillary Clinton. 'They just misinterpreted some very key intelligence and drew the wrong conclusions.'"

    And here's another profile in Republican courage, as reported by the Washington Post's Aaron Blake: "Conaway on whether Mueller might find collusion: 'Well, we found none, so you never know what you never know, but we found no reason to think that there’s something we’re missing in this regard.'"

    You know things are bad when they're channeling Rumsfeld to cover this up.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:36 PM on March 12 [36 favorites]


    This is possibly the start of a very real breakdown of civil governance.

    I think we’ve been on that path for a while.

    Also, I'm frightened of the direction we're taking.

    Maybe that fear will inspire people to finally start taking this seriously. Maybe.
    posted by Artw at 7:37 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    Well, Grassley's on that committee, too.

    The Burr/Warner Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Russian involvement as is Grassley's Senate Judicial Committee. There are two Senate committees involved. Grassley is not on the Senate Intelligence Committee and only involved in his own committee's investigation.
    posted by chris24 at 7:38 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    Let's take just a moment to see how the Kris Kobach voter fraud trial is going:
    Judge Julie Robinson repeatedly chastised an expert witness called to the stand by Kobach for interrupting her and the other counsel.

    “You’re not here to advocate, you’re not here to trash the advocate, you’re not here to argue with me,” she said.
    Oh, gosh, well maybe it's not as bad as it looks...
    I asked the Kansas AG's office if they still had confidence in Kobach's ability to represent the state in voting trial.

    Spox: "The secretary of state requested to represent himself in this and related cases. For any comment, I refer you to the secretary of state’s office."
    At this rate, this might even torpedo Kobach's gubernatorial candidacy.
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:49 PM on March 12 [37 favorites]


    He’s probably lost the non-citizen vote at least
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:55 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    A short but sharp take from Chatham House: The Skripal Attack Is a Test for the UK. "Fortunately, whatever the allied response, the UK is the repository of a national asset of very high value to Russia: the City of London. For many years, it has effectively allowed key Russian stakeholders to use the services of the City – in particular, the London Stock Exchange, as well as the high-end property market – for purposes legitimate, illegitimate and even illegal. It is time to transform them from a source of advantage to Russia to a strategic asset for the UK. "

    This is like saying you've got them by the balls while you yank on your own scrotum
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:08 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    A legal price would be investigating them for obstruction of justice. There are pros and very real cons to doing that, and the price has to be weighed along with the possible benefits.

    It's not just about investigating your opponents, but also there are very legitimate separation of powers concerns re: the executive branch jailing legislators when it doesn't like their work. Judgment and caution are important here.

    Luckily, Nunes is too stupid to be of much use to Mueller as he rolls people upwards toward Trump. There are many other ways to document obstruction of justice. So the smart move IMHO is to prosecute Nunes (for sure) and maybe 1 or 2 other blatant obstructors after Trump or at least his top lieutenants have already been convicted, in mopping up operations.

    It's important to do it, to re-assert the "Don't obstruct justice" norm and back it up with some real jail time. A little jail goes a long way with white collar criminals. But wait until guilt is no longer an issue.
    posted by msalt at 8:12 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


    think we’ve been on that path for a while

    Even though we’ve been on that path for a while, it’s important not to lose sight of how it’s escalating. Three black families’ houses were bombed in Texas, and our national government is insulating itself from the law. We are watching the rise of fascism real time and it is important to keep trumpeting that. And fighting.
    posted by corb at 8:32 PM on March 12 [70 favorites]


    Tim Kaine pretends to respond to criticism of his sell-out by pretending to sponsor an amendment to the Banking Lobbyist Act that would slightly roll back changes in detecting discriminatory loans. Except, he acknowledges that the amendment probably wouldn’t get a vote — and wouldn’t be necessary for his ultimate support.

    So, thanks for nothing, Tim. You're still a fucking sell out.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 8:52 PM on March 12 [18 favorites]


    What's the over/under on Trump using the closing of this investigation to say "see, this Mueller guy is just wasting everyone's time. He's fired" ?

    I'd say Trump isn't that dumb but *gestures wildly at everything*
    posted by Twain Device at 8:53 PM on March 12 [12 favorites]


    ELECTIONS NEWS

    ** 2018 House:
    -- GOP is on the defense in the erstwhile Republican stronghold of Orange County, CA.

    -- Job numbers are fairly strong predictors in presidential races, but there's no correlation in midterm House results.
    ** 2018 Senate:
    -- MO: Gravis poll gives incumbent Dem McCaskill a narrow 42-20 lead over likely GOP opponent Hawley.

    -- FL: Clearview poll has possible GOP candidate Scott up 43-41 on incumbent Dem Nelson. This is pretty different from other recent polls, may be due to the turnout model being a bit weird.

    -- CA: The filing deadline has passed, and no serious GOP candidate has entered the Senate race. This should have a slight suppressive effect on Republican turnout. If, as seems reasonably likely, no Republican makes the runoff for governor either, it could have a serious impact.
    ** Odds & ends:
    -- You might remember that weird by-law change the Utah GOP passed in an effort to force candidates to go through a party convention. It had some possible conflicts with state law, but the legislature failed to pass a fix before the session ended. So now it's a mess, and it looks like there is at least a chance that no one on the ballot will be allowed to be listed as a Republican.

    -- We Ask America poll of the IL gov Dem primary shows Pritzker comfortably in the lead with 35 percent; Biss 16, Kennedy 15. The IL primaries are next Tuesday.

    -- Dem contested races in Georgia way up, female candidates up about 1/3.
    ** PA-18 special:
    -- Good all-around summary on the race from 538. And another good one from David Byler.

    -- Were the county benchmarks in the 538 article not enough for you, you sadist? Try these ones on: DKE, Crosstab, Wasserman.

    -- Enten: Any outcome short of a (very unexpected) blowout by Saccone, means trouble for the fall for the GOP.

    -- Sargent: It's not just the closeness, it's that the GOP tax cut message seems to have very little traction. Probably why the closing Saccone argument is, "Dems hate God."

    -- As in the Doug Jones race, national Dems (the DCCC this time) have been giving plenty of stealth assistance.

    -- PA polls close at 8 ET. When things are over, I will reveal if my prediction was correct.

    ===

    There's also another special election tomorrow, for Tennessee Senate 14. I'd surely like to see this flip, not least because the Dem is an atheist, and the local GOP is being super classy about it.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 PM on March 12 [46 favorites]


    I'd say Trump isn't that dumb but *gestures wildly at everything*

    I’m not sure that firing Mueller at this stage would be dumb. It would unleash political Ragnarok, but it is also a roll of the dice. For Trump and his family, the outcome could well be favorable to the result of allowing Mueller to issue all his indictments.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:59 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


    He'll fire Mueller in the morning and then later that day some new salacious outrage will be revealed, even more outrageous and scandalous than the last, with porn stars and pee and smoking the Constitution or whatever, and the news cycle will turn to that new weird unfathomably bizarre scandal, the Left will focus entirely on it, the Right will MAGA all over it, and by the next Tuesday, nobody with any power to do anything about it will even remember who Mueller is.
    posted by The World Famous at 9:12 PM on March 12 [15 favorites]


    MO: Gravis poll gives incumbent Dem McCaskill a narrow 42-20 lead over likely GOP opponent Hawley.

    Sadly this is a typo, and not polling humor as I first surmised. The actually narrow Dem lead is 42-40, not 42-20.
    posted by contraption at 10:13 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


    So, thanks for nothing, Tim. You're still a fucking sell out.
    In the last thread you linked a long article about this bill that I read with interest despite the sad fact that I have a reflexive gagging reaction to The Intercept. It was a pretty decent piece but I didn't feel like it explained enough to me--there would be statements in that article (and others like it) where it would mention the fact of a gift to special interests but not the mechanism. So I was still pretty confused about the whole thing and still believed that it was possible that some Democrats might actually believe that small banks were dealing with unfair regulatory pressure or that small banks were in fact having issues meeting their compliance obligations.

    So I decided to talk to a friend of mine who recently left the banking industry, specifically a community credit union. I asked him if he truly believed that regulatory pressures were harming his ex-customers who are effectively paying for these regulation compliance measures by being part of the credit union. He laughed. He laughed so hard I thought he was going to break something. And he said to me, paraphrased, "Look, my colleagues fucking hated regulations and it's their job to get rid of them as much as possible, but Dodd-Frank isn't causing any problems for small banks. Period. This bill is a joke, that it is even being contemplated is a joke, and all these Democrats are either suckers or have malicious intent."

    So, that was the final nudge to convince me of everything Professor TD Strange has been writing for weeks in these threads. It took me awhile to get there, but ultimately it seems silly to support Democrats who are suckers or corporate bootlickers. Get rid of all of them.
    posted by xyzzy at 10:22 PM on March 12 [78 favorites]


    This bill is a joke, that it is even being contemplated is a joke, and all these Democrats are either suckers or have malicious intent.

    The Dodd-Frank regulations currently exempt banks smaller than $50 billion in assets. The average community bank has assets of $10 billion, already well below those limits. The new bill will raise the regulatory exemption to $250 billion which exempts all but a few of the very biggest national banks. Even American Express and SunTrust will fall under that new limit. It's just a plain lie that this is about community banks.

    It is a cruel joke. It's like the Great Recession never happened.
    posted by JackFlash at 11:08 PM on March 12 [75 favorites]


    The Weeds had an overview of the bill. One special thing is that there are a lot of foreign banks that are very large overall, but whose American assets are under $250 billion. This bill would literally give them a competitive advantage over American banks. They'd have the reserves and resources of a large bank - to help them survive economic shocks - with none of the downsides of regulation compliance.
    posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 11:56 PM on March 12 [11 favorites]



    What's the over/under on Trump using the closing of this investigation to say "see, this Mueller guy is just wasting everyone's time. He's fired" ?


    I'm betting Trump doesn't know there are two different investigations, so he'll say something like "Why is Mueller still investigating? Doesn't he know the investigation is closed?"
    posted by mmoncur at 12:26 AM on March 13 [7 favorites]


    Luckily, Nunes is too stupid to be of much use to Mueller as he rolls people upwards toward Trump. There are many other ways to document obstruction of justice.

    Consider this: Mueller's focus of investigation so far is apparently the financial end. Money Laundering, Tax Evasion, Filing false returns, etc.

    Obstruction of Justice seems to be the last thing Mueller will look at, if the indictments aren't drafted already, given the public record.

    I believe there's 100% chance that one or more accounts that he's looked into, contain disbursements to legislators.
    posted by mikelieman at 12:53 AM on March 13 [14 favorites]


    WaPo: Roger Stone claimed contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, according to two associates
    In the spring of 2016, longtime political operative Roger Stone had a phone conversation that would later seem prophetic, according to the person on the other end of the line.

    Stone, an informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, said he had learned from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that his organization had obtained emails that would torment senior Democrats such as John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    The conversation occurred before it was publicly known that hackers had obtained the emails of Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee, documents which WikiLeaks released in late July and October. The U.S. intelligence community later concluded the hackers were working for Russia.

    The person, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation into Russian campaign interference, is one of two Stone associates who say Stone claimed to have had contact with Assange in 2016.

    The second, former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, said in an interview Monday that Stone told him that he had met with Assange — a conversation Nunberg said investigators for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III recently asked him to describe.
    posted by chris24 at 4:07 AM on March 13 [13 favorites]


    Trust me, it will soon the Roger Stone’s time in the barrel. #CrookedRoger
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:12 AM on March 13 [6 favorites]


    “I wish him no ill will, but Sam can manically and persistently call you,” Stone said, recalling that Nunberg had called him on a Friday to ask about his plans for the weekend. “I said, ‘I think I will go to London for the weekend and meet with Julian Assange.’ It was a joke, a throwaway line to get him off the phone. The idea that I would meet with Assange undetected is ridiculous on its face.’’’

    Oh yeah? Is that why you sent Nigel Farage instead? Does he have a higher Stealth attribute?
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:20 AM on March 13 [5 favorites]


    If our brave criminal investigator manages to flip Roger Stone he’s going to have to buy a new dog-eared notebook to fill.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:21 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


    I'm sort of mildly surprised that Trump hasn't done a Saturday Night Massacre yet. We know that he wanted to last summer, and also, as seen in the issue of tariffs, he will find a way to go around his advisers if he wants something. That the GOP is so willing to roll over for him just feels like a rolling out the red carpet to a constitutional crisis.
    posted by angrycat at 4:38 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


    I watch (and shout at) Fox and Friends so you don't have to:

    They're crowing about the House Intel report and criticizing the other networks for only giving it "an average of 58 seconds" of coverage.

    Don Jr. on claiming the House Intel report proves that the investigation is a "witchhunt by Democrats" -- Mueller is Republican, you dipshit.

    Don Jr. complaining about double standards for how the media treats Republicans vs Democrats DUDE DID YOU NOT NOTICE WHICH SHOW YOU ARE ON the hosts were literally just joking asking each other if they'd released their tax returns yet.

    Now they're talking about The Wall. Don Jr.: "He knows how to build!" I wonder if he's going to call Trump after the segment, "Did you see me on TV, Daddy? Did I do a good job?"
    posted by Jacqueline at 4:46 AM on March 13 [12 favorites]


    Don Jr. on claiming the House Intel report proves that the investigation is a "witchhunt by Democrats" -- Mueller is Republican, you dipshit.

    Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein who was appointed by some guy named David Dennison (D.D.)
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:49 AM on March 13 [4 favorites]


    I'm sort of mildly surprised that Trump hasn't done a Saturday Night Massacre yet. We know that he wanted to last summer, and also, as seen in the issue of tariffs, he will find a way to go around his advisers if he wants something. That the GOP is so willing to roll over for him just feels like a rolling out the red carpet to a constitutional crisis.

    The second thing obviates the need for the first.
    posted by perspicio at 4:58 AM on March 13 [6 favorites]


    I'm sort of mildly surprised that Trump hasn't done a Saturday Night Massacre yet.

    He already did. Remember Comey?
    posted by Andrhia at 5:01 AM on March 13 [7 favorites]


    We're more likely to see a Saturday Night Live massacre: everyone played by Kate McKinnon gets fired.
    posted by snuffleupagus at 5:04 AM on March 13 [22 favorites]


    Let’s take a moment to appreciate how monumentally not-normal it is for the President to remain silent on the use of a Russian chemical weapon on the territory of a NATO ally, leaving it up to his Secretary of State to comment. This would never, never have happened with any President but Donald J Trump.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '9