Fear and Trembling and the Sickness Unto Death
March 15, 2018 12:50 PM   Subscribe

The Trump Show, Episode 22: amid deadly showdowns with Russia, North Korea, Iran, and the UAE, the President gets tough with Canada. And there's oh, so much more inside.

-- Republicans reel from a special election loss in a deeply red, gerrymandered PA district
-- Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization financial docs, crossing Donald's bright red line
-- Russia's blatant nerve agent attack in UK finally gets this administration to slap them with a silk handkerchief; massive retaliation expected
-- Republicans are caught purging the State Dept on ideological and ethnic grounds
-- Neo-Nazis are now literally cuckholding each other
-- Jared, Ivanka, McMaster and Jeff Sessions are all rumored to be getting forced out of the administration soon
and
-- Trump finally meets his match in public discourse manipulation: one Stormy Daniels
posted by msalt (2304 comments total) 123 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sarah Sanders has an explanation for why Donald Trump admitted to contradicting Justin Trudeau and claiming that the US has a trade deficit with Canada, despite his admission that "I didn’t even know. ... had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’", and despite the US not actually having a trade deficit with Canada. Sarah Sanders' explanation is that the Federal Government's figures are wrong and the US does in fact have a trade deficit with Canada, and that is what Trump was referring to, accurately, despite his explicit acknowledgment that he didn't know whether there was a trade deficit. So. That's solved now.

In related news, Sarah Sanders was not able to provide the corrected trade data she was referring to, but she knows that "we have it and will be happy to provide it to you". How exciting! I'm excited.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:53 PM on March 15 [69 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. Help us help you help us help you.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:54 PM on March 15 [29 favorites]


Sarah Sanders also had an explanation for why the President of the United States said this:
We send a car to Japan, they analyze it for four weeks before they decide to send it back because it’s not environmentally friendly. … One of the car companies actually had a car made and it was the most environmentally perfect car, cost them a fortune. They spent a fortune. … But they wanted to see if they could get it in [to Japan]. And it, they were going crazy. Four days went by. Then five days. And they were ready to approve it and they said, no, no, we have to do one more test. It’s called the bowling-ball test, do you know what that is? That’s where they take a bowling ball from 20 feet up in the air and they drop it on the hood of the car. And if the hood dents, then the car doesn’t qualify. Well, guess what, the roof dented a little bit, and they said, nope, this car doesn’t qualify. It’s horrible, the way we’re treated. It’s horrible.
Nobody knows what the President was referring to, because what he said was not true, but, said Sarah Sanders, there is an explanation.

The explanation is that "obviously the President was joking".

Yes. The paragraph in blockquote that I just posted here is an obvious joke, by the President. If you don't find the President's joke to be funny, try reading it again now you understand it's a joke. Maybe it will be funny the second time.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:56 PM on March 15 [105 favorites]




From the Democratic gains in recent elections, it seems clear that while Trump is popular with his base, he's unpopular -- and massively so -- with everyone else. Saccone defined himself as "Trump before Trump" and it wasn't enough, which ought to strike some fear into Republican politicians everywhere.

Democrats need to draw the line and define Republican politicians everywhere as the party of Trump. They should not let the likes of Ryan and McConnell pretend to disapprove of Trump while supporting his agenda (or expecting him to support theirs). They should force Republicans to abandon Trump loudly and publicly or go down to humiliating electoral defeat.

Trump's bullying and bluster has always covered up for the fact that he is a loser. Which makes him a perfect Republican, and Democrats should never let America forget it.
posted by Gelatin at 12:58 PM on March 15 [26 favorites]


I have thought for a while that the first question about anything Trump does should be whether it was a joke. Put them on the record before it's used as an excuse, with the double-duty of obviating any more detail to the question. "Yes? OK, let's move on, then: why would he joke about something like that?"
posted by rhizome at 1:00 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


I'm not a professional comedian or anything, but it seems to me that if your personal spokesperson has to come out and explain to the world that something you said was "obviously" a joke, then not only was it not obvious, it was a shitty joke.

(Also, it was not a joke, he is a senile person who wasn't very intelligent to begin with.)
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:03 PM on March 15 [68 favorites]


A little political gaming levity for your afternoon: "How could we elect Robotnik?!"

"He's going to build a giant egg to keep all the disgusting animals in there!"
posted by Servo5678 at 1:04 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


I have thought for a while that the first question about anything Trump does should be whether it was a joke.

Or, every time (literally every time) they say something was a joke follow up with an enormous list of all the other lies he's told and ask if they were also a joke.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:12 PM on March 15 [16 favorites]


Zinke responded: "Oh, konnichiwa"

Another day, another five-alarm-fire of blatant racism and general stupidity from a cabinet member which will be largely ignored because of all the other fires.

My jaw is on the floor. I'm so angry at this. And I'm angrier still at where it fits in the context of this gigantic shitshow.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:18 PM on March 15 [165 favorites]



I have thought for a while that the first question about anything Trump does should be whether it was a joke.


what if we just skipped a beat to an automatic, "Mr. President, that's not funny." Regardless of what he says. It would deny he and his team that fallback.
posted by philip-random at 1:20 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]


Hadn't seen this VF article posted yet: Robert Mueller Is Still Laying the Groundwork

No big bombshells here, but I did find this last part interesting (and alarming):

When it comes to the 2016 American presidential election, however, the Putin regime looks increasingly unwilling to follow rules of any kind. “I suspect Skripal was talking to Christopher Steele or someone on Christopher Steele’s team,” Carpenter says, referring to the former British spy who in 2016 compiled the “dossier” of alleged ties between Trump and Russia. “That is why this got Putin’s ire up, and so that’s why they went after him. The Kremlin’s No. 1 goal here is to intimidate anyone that may have talked to Steele or any of his associates, or who might cooperate with Mueller. Yeah, it’s pretty ominous. It’s a really, really bad development.”

Overreading or connecting the dots? Haven't seen anyone else suggesting Skripal is a message to Mueller.

Also, following up on this George Nader pedophilia stuff from the previous thread:

There, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators stopped Nader, people familiar with the case said. His electronics were seized and he was then allowed to go to his lawyer. Nader later agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, said the people with knowledge of the case as it pertains to Nader.

Given Nader's history, I wonder what they found on his electronics and if that's why they've got his, um, cooperation. I wonder if they knew what they might find.
posted by cudzoo at 1:21 PM on March 15 [27 favorites]


The VF article's headline reads, "MUELLER HAS LAID THE GROUNDWORK: WHY HIS NEXT TARGETS COULD INCLUDE ROGER STONE"
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:28 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Overreading or connecting the dots? Haven't seen anyone else suggesting Skripal is a message to Mueller.

Brings to mind that top secret security briefing last year when all of the senators emerged looking ashen and shaken.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:30 PM on March 15 [34 favorites]


The Maine Republican who threw slurs at Emma Gonzalez of Parkland, FL for her gun reform advocacy has an opponent for that House seat.
Eryn Gilchrist, a 28-year-old Bates College graduate who lives in Greene, ME, and works for a medical device company, filed her paperwork on Thursday

There's a link to donate to her campaign in the article, for those interested.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:32 PM on March 15 [132 favorites]




Zinke responded: "Oh, konnichiwa"

Let us be clear, by the way. This was not a closed door meeting. This was not friends shooting the shit. Not that either would've been, y'know, excusable. But Zinke is on camera doing this. There is video with sound. Because it was a hearing of the fucking House Committee on Natural Resources

and a Congresswoman just told him about learning that her grandfather was interned

and the Secretary of the Interior responds

OH

KONNICHIWA

LOOK AT THE REACTION OF THE WOMEN IN THE BACKGROUND
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:41 PM on March 15 [63 favorites]


by the way, from the splinternews article by molly osberg that atomeyes linked to:
“Oh, konnichiwa,” Zinke said, smiling, using a term normally meant for the afternoon. “I think it’s still ‘ohayo gozaimasu’ [good morning], but that’s okay,” Hanabusa responded, after a brief but painful silence.
i just
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:42 PM on March 15 [72 favorites]



LOOK AT THE REACTION OF THE WOMEN IN THE BACKGROUND


Apparently the tweet was deleted.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:44 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


Parrott stood on a box outside the trailer and watched Heimbach and Jessica have sex inside, according to a police report. When the box broke under Parrott’s weight, he entered the trailer to confront them.

Now that Nazi Love Triangle story truly is a ray of sunlight in dark, dark times. Thank you, universe ❤️
posted by The Toad at 1:44 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


LOOK AT THE REACTION OF THE WOMEN IN THE BACKGROUND

Apparently the tweet was deleted.


It was worth hunting for: YouTube link
posted by gladly at 1:47 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


I don't know how to link to a specific time on youtube, but it's 12:18 on this video, watch the reactions of the two women behind him. Jaws literally drop.
posted by Think_Long at 1:48 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


[One comment removed. Should-be-needless reminder that criticizing racist fuckos by inventing some additional racist imagery for us all to imagine is not doing it right.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:48 PM on March 15 [15 favorites]


Re: trade with Canada, one angle is the fetishization of certain types of industries. Trudeau was foolishly focused on the monetary value rather than how manly it makes the U.S. look.

"Goods" are proper manly jobs, like resource extraction and manufacturing. "Services" are effete coastal elite jobs and can be ignored.
posted by RobotHero at 1:50 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


From TweetLand:

Liz Cheney: The Enhanced Interrogation Program saved lives, prevented attacks, & produced intel that led to Osama bin Laden. The techniques were the same as those used on our own people in the SERE program. No one should slander the brave men & women who carried out this crucial program.

Meghan McCain: My father doesn’t need torture explained to him.
posted by Dashy at 1:51 PM on March 15 [135 favorites]


Okay...

One: Nazi Love Triangle is probably, at this moment, being written down on a punk rocker’s list of possible band names,

Two: Obviously, once Mueller lays the groundwork, his next step is to get the Stone, and

Three: the existentialist title for this thread, and its description as an episode, as if this were some horrible alt-reality dystopia show like Man in the High Castle, with every week bringing a new dramatic outrage, is so achingly apt I can’t even.
posted by darkstar at 1:51 PM on March 15 [15 favorites]


Re trade with Canada, I assume that on the various news outlets in the US this will now be debated by the experts, with some of the experts supporting the Trump view. Something along the likes of: "When the President says we have a trade deficit with Canada he is thinking of some numbers. We don't have those numbers but the President has them, he's looked at them, and he says we have a trade deficit. The question is how are we going to respond? We'll need to get tough with Canada."
posted by Vindaloo at 1:56 PM on March 15 [3 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 1:56 PM on March 15 [29 favorites]


Obvious but needs stating: Black Children Will Be the Victims of Armed Teachers
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on March 15 [84 favorites]


I'm not a professional comedian or anything, but it seems to me that if your personal spokesperson has to come out and explain to the world that something you said was "obviously" a joke, then not only was it not obvious, it was a shitty joke.

I am a professional comedian, and this was not a joke at all. It was a colorful "zinger" story, a pointed but apocryphal political anecdote like the old one about the bureaucrat/politican who ordered the firing of half of the cattle guards or Ronald Reagan's tale of the WW2 pilot who could have parachuted out but chose to say with a tail gunner who was stuck in his seat -- which turned out to be a scene from an old movie.

It's also not funny, but these stories are designed for audience reaction of a chuckle (or a tear), so they have the vague form of a joke. Mostly they're manipulative bullshit though.
posted by msalt at 1:58 PM on March 15 [35 favorites]


Much of the Trump “joke” oeuvre consists of “kidding on the square” - he says it like it’s a joke, and his audience is supposed to laugh, but actually he really means it and just wants the deniability of a joke format.

(that he means something and that it is true of course being two different things)
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on March 15 [21 favorites]


LOOK AT THE REACTION OF THE WOMEN IN THE BACKGROUND

(since that tweet was baleeted)

the white woman sitting behind him has a reaction
the asian-american woman who sat behind him has a reaction

tbqh, this sort of candy-ass attempt by a certain group of people to "connect" with people they consider (sub)consciously foreigners isn't anything new; it's done on the regular all the fucking time, and usually you can't do the eyeroll exemplified here.

it's such a part of the background radiation in some circles, such that like, i dunno, my reaction to that was less "this is offensive" and more "well, what can you expect from a gweilo like him?"
posted by anem0ne at 2:02 PM on March 15 [41 favorites]




Besides the incoherent sputtering, of course, I am boggled because saying "konnichiwa" to Asian women, I thought, 'usually' occurs in the context of a random catcall or a racist assumption that a woman you haven't actually heard speak probably doesn't speak English. But.... he just heard her speak perfect English at length. WTF.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:10 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


This is a good read: Stormy Daniels Is Crushing Trump At His Own Game:
One remarkable feature of Stormy Daniels' chess match with Trump is that shame — this White House's usual instrument against its adversaries — isn't working. Porn stars don't find shame especially useful, and Daniels is no exception. This poses a problem for the president: Daniels (aka Stephanie Gregory Clifford) is utterly unembarrassed about profiting off her connection to him. She's unembarrassed in general. As the president's most virulent defenders have come after her, she's parried their attacks with jokes that defang them. Cracks about her age earn GILF humor, cracks about her being a prostitute have her crowing with glee. She's so good at this that her attackers often end up deleting their tweets; it's just not worth it.

The entire Trump playbook — imply that an enemy's motives are shameful, dishonest, and not what they claim — falls apart when they have no interest in seeming better than they are. Daniels is open about the fact that her motive is money. Just as Trump has always been.

posted by TwoStride at 2:10 PM on March 15 [131 favorites]


It was worth hunting for: YouTube link

The description under the video, hosted by an account called "House Natural Resources Committee Democrats":
The House Natural Resources Committee holds a March 15, 2018, hearing with Secretary Ryan Zinke on the Trump administration's radical FY2019 budget proposal, which cuts popular programs and does nothing to improve conservation around the country. This video is part two.
Which is all true enough, but like, could you guys maybe mention the most remarkable part of the video? The part that is the reason why anyone is watching it?
posted by saturday_morning at 2:12 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Manafort Urges Judge to Dismiss Laundering and Lobbying Case.
In the filing, Manafort’s lawyers argued that Mueller exceeded his authority under an appointment that directed him to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller can also investigate other matters that arise from his investigation, but he’s abused that authority, according to the filing.
posted by scalefree at 2:13 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


The Honorable Rep. Hanabusa is my rep. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but out here in Hawaii, unless you are somebody's Japanese language teacher and are trying to make them speak Japanese, you'd almost never greet a fellow local in Japanese no matter what their ancestral ethnicity. I mean, its embarrassing and horrifying that this even needs to be said, but you don't greet your fellow Americans - especially (but not limited to) fellow Americans who you don't actually know personally - with a language you imagine their ancestors once spoke. Rep Hanabusa showed tremendous restraint in not immediately responding "And guten tag to you, Herr Zinke."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:15 PM on March 15 [238 favorites]


The techniques were the same as those used on our own people in the SERE program...

This is just your periodic reminder that the SERE program was designed to prepare our soldiers and help them avoid cracking in the face of the horrible, despicable, Geneva-conventions-violating tactics of our totalitarian enemies who we fully expected to fight dirty. The entire justification for SERE was that "our adversaries are going to commit such terrible atrocities that we need to give you special training and support to survive." This isn't a defense, it's an admission of war crimes. Basically a statement that we have knowingly forfeited any moral high ground we might ever have had in this area.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:19 PM on March 15 [125 favorites]


siggghhhhh @Alexander Panetta (Canadian journalist):
Here's another twist in the Trudeau-Trump story... It turns out, the meeting details may have been... wait for it.... made up. The Canadians are unsure what meeting Trump's referring to. One said the conversation might have been by phone. Apparently,

2/ they have these sorts of chats about the deficit/surplus once in a while. But this story - "Justin comes in," etc, etc, we send our officials out of the room, they come back in, I was right on trade... Apparently it's a blend of different chats. And one person I heard from

3/ said this anecdote from Trump most resembles a chat they may have had by phone.

4/ So... this Trump anecdote about making up a fact on an allegedly made up trade metric might have been slightly... made up. Behold, a matryoshka doll of tall-tales
:headdesk:
posted by lalex at 2:22 PM on March 15 [83 favorites]


Zinke's been doing great lately. Yesterday he said he never flew on a private jet because the private planes he was on had propellers [real].

He also clarified that he had never been to parties where rich people get together to drink champagne and laugh at poor people. Those parties served asti.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:22 PM on March 15 [43 favorites]


The Maine Republican who threw slurs at Emma Gonzalez of Parkland, FL for her gun reform advocacy has an opponent for that House seat.
Eryn Gilchrist, a 28-year-old Bates College graduate who lives in Greene, ME, and works for a medical device company, filed her paperwork on Thursday


Wwwwwwow. I have never run for my credit card that fast in my life. And it appears that she has raised nearly all of the stated $50,000 goal, already. On day one? Give 'em hell, Eryn!
posted by scottatdrake at 2:26 PM on March 15 [76 favorites]


I'm willing to believe Trump wasn't deliberately lying about that meeting because if he had the mental capacity to distinguish between separate talks with the same head of state we wouldn't coming up with theories about Japanese bowling-ball drops.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:27 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]




Liz Cheney: The Enhanced Interrogation Program saved lives, prevented attacks, & produced intel that led to Osama bin Laden. The techniques were the same as those used on our own people in the SERE program. No one should slander the brave men & women who carried out this crucial program.

"The techniques were the same as those used on our own people in the SERE program. " is a lie of omission of detail. The SERE program exposed troops to the methods. Not the full technique.

The full technique was repeated simulated drowning repeated in the 20 minute sessions every second day for months with no end in sight. The amount of simulated suffocations endured by the victims of torture in the Enhanced Interrogation Program were quite high. KSM was reportedly waterboard 183 times. Remember that Christopher Hitchens broke after being water boarded just once for a few seconds despite being very motivated to not break (though perhaps not a man known for resolve or fortitude).

No American soldier has been subjected to the full extent of that by American interrogators.

It was so dumb and evil that the FBI walked out on the interrogations because it was too evil for them.
posted by srboisvert at 2:29 PM on March 15 [85 favorites]


the other thing is that Hanabusa just finished telling an anecdote about her Japanese-American grandfather’s internment, which means that she’s at least third-generation, which makes treating her automatically as a Japanese speaker even more racist, if that’s even possible.
posted by murphy slaw at 2:30 PM on March 15 [52 favorites]


Which is all true enough, but like, could you guys maybe mention the most remarkable part of the video? The part that is the reason why anyone is watching it?

Come to see the jerk who's in a competition for Biggest Turd in the trump Shithole, stay for the thoughtful, informative Dem discussion on how they're dismantling important programs and conservation efforts.
posted by NorthernLite at 2:33 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


At some level this is pointless gossip, but since we had a long discussion last thread about spousal communications privilege...

TPM Livewire: Vanessa Trump Files For Divorce From Trump Jr.
... Vanessa Trump reportedly filed for an uncontested proceeding where “she’s not expecting a legal battle over custody of the couple’s five children or their assets."
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:34 PM on March 15 [25 favorites]


Daniels is open about the fact that her motive is money. Just as Trump has always been.

Speaking of which, she now has a fundraising site, to crowdfund her "attorneys' fees; out-of-pocket costs associated with the lawsuit, arbitration, and my right to speak openly; security expenses; and damages that may be awarded against me if I speak out and ultimately lose to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen"

I mean, there are better charitable causes you could donate money to. On the other hand, we all spend money on entertainment too, and this seems like good value for money from that perspective.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:37 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


Sorry if this was already mentioned:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent $1 million in taxpayer money to use military aircraft between the spring and fall of 2017 — and requested a military jet to fly him and his wife on their European honeymoon, travel records show.
Past Treasury Secretaries traveled commercial.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:43 PM on March 15 [35 favorites]


Oh, the nostalgia trip! I remember being outraged about James Watt back when I was, like, 12 years old.

Favorite bumper sticker ever, recently spotted on the guitar case of a folk musician – I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap
posted by maniabug at 2:44 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


My big question for today is, who in the administration pushed through the new Russia sanctions? It’s obviously not Trump but I can’t figure out who else in the cabinet would have the presence of mind to bother chasing down even this fig leaf of retribution.

Okay, that’s a lie, my big question is “WTF!?”, just like every day since Nov 2016.
posted by murphy slaw at 2:46 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


the other thing is that Hanabusa just finished telling an anecdote about her Japanese-American grandfather’s internment, which means that she’s at least third-generation, which makes treating her automatically as a Japanese speaker even more racist, if that’s even possible.

i don't know if it's *more* racist, per se?

it's already quite well-established that conservatives do not consider hawaii to be the 50th state, given how they've viewed the one president born there to be a foreigner; add to that the bog-standard 'asian-americans are perpetually foreign' thing that nytimes columnist bari weiss also fell into, it's just...

well, it's as racist as american pie. i wish it were new, but it's just... well, if it were novel, i think i'd be more shocked, rather than numb
posted by anem0ne at 2:49 PM on March 15 [21 favorites]


The new sanctions were enacted by Treasury and they are definitely touch football while the other side is playing tackle.
posted by peeedro at 2:50 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


(and, fwiw, liberals often seem to think that puerto rico would be the first majority minority state if it ever joined, conveniently ignoring that hawaii is, and has always been, majority minority, after an illegal occupation and annexation...)
posted by anem0ne at 2:50 PM on March 15 [40 favorites]


Scottadrake, I got to Eryn Gilchrist's funding page 25 minutes after you did. They raised the goal to $100K, presumably because the total so far was over $51K.

Blue wave, y'all. Keep working.
posted by Sublimity at 2:52 PM on March 15 [47 favorites]


The administration’s delay in imposing sanctions, too, is especially frustrating. It basically has allowed ample time for the targets to liquidate their holdings and shift them into other markets where the sanctions won’t affect them.
posted by darkstar at 2:53 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]


Hanabusa just finished telling an anecdote about her Japanese-American grandfather’s internment, which means that she’s at least third-generation

According to wikipedia, she's fourth generation.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:54 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


(and, fwiw, liberals often seem to think that puerto rico would be the first majority minority state if it ever joined, conveniently ignoring that hawaii is, and has always been, majority minority, after an illegal occupation and annexation...)

California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas also exist, FWIW.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:57 PM on March 15 [28 favorites]


According to wikipedia, she's fourth generation.

And Donald Trump is a third generation American. I would be very gratiful if we could not count how many generations somebody has been here. My wife (for example) is a naturalized immigrant and you know what that makes her? An American, same as every other American.

Again, I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but this "how many generations thing" is (in my opinion and I recognize its being used here at MeFi with good intentions) a way of making certain (almost exclusively non-white) people seem less American. Once you're American, you're American. I'll go back into lurk mode now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:00 PM on March 15 [96 favorites]


Here on the grey and rainy island, the news running order has been upset by the nerve agent attack. 500 people being told to wash their clothes and possessions if they were in a restaurant/pub was a strange thing; and it appears Salisbury is suffering more. The net effect of this being that Trump is suddenly not making the top three in the strangely-consistent-for-a-long-time UK TV news story running order now, which is pretty much:

1. Theresa hurls sanctions at Russia; Russia hurl some back.
2. "Everyone" is "outraged" that Jeremy Corbyn will not full-throatedly condemn Russia without evidence.
3. Brexit; Government says vague words, Europe says "nope".
4. Trump tweets something outrageous and/or fires someone.
5. Jose Mourhino is a bit shit nowadays.

Over on the Isle of Lewis, where Trump's mother comes from and several of his relatives still live (blog post by an ex-politician there), the island is still split over him. The Facebook groups - Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump - are still active to a degree, and there is hope amongst some on the island that he will pay another visit (though this seems unlikely, as he stayed less than two minutes in his mother's house on the last visit).

And (this is a regular thing) a journalist from a US newspaper has received a not-so-positive Hebridean welcome when he decided to go and skulk around the island, asking people what they thought of the Trump/Stormy Daniels story (his angle was "Very religious Trump ancestral island: are they shocked by his sexual immoralities?"). If he'd done his research he would have discovered that this is does not go down well there, and yadda yadda yadda another large bill for a hire car mysteriously greatly damaged in the middle of the night.
posted by Wordshore at 3:00 PM on March 15 [19 favorites]


(sorry for the generation-counting derail and picking apart "degrees" of racism. shitty racist thing is shitty.)
posted by murphy slaw at 3:09 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Jeremy Corbyn will not full-throatedly condemn Russia without evidence.

It's a chemical weapon developed and closely guarded by Russia. How much more evidence does he need? Who does he think did it? Jealous lover with access to Novichok?
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:10 PM on March 15 [15 favorites]


It's lovely of everyone to point out exactly why Zinke's comment makes him an ignorant asshole, truly, but... I wish we could just take it for granted that, SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS after Hanabusa's grandfather (an American citizen born on American soil, as she says) fought to be recognized as American, that Japanese Americans are in fact American and that it's rude to greet them with "hahaha konnichiwa." I mean, really.

This is my official comment on this debacle as the self-appointed Japanese American spokesperson of Metafilter.
posted by sunset in snow country at 3:10 PM on March 15 [64 favorites]


If you’re in Miami, FL:

Gramps' Dark and Stormy Daniels Cocktail Will Benefit Stormy Daniels' Legal Defense Fund

Beginning tonight, Gramps Wynwood will donate $1 from every Dark and Stormy Daniels cocktail to Stormy Daniels' legal fund. The libation, Gramps' Adam Gersten says, is a cross between a traditional Dark and Stormy and a bourbon bramble. The drink ($12) will debut tonight during Gramps' happy hour and will be offered until "Daniels succeeds in court and she's able to break her illegal gag order or Trump's impeachment, whichever comes first," Gersten says.
posted by gucci mane at 3:11 PM on March 15 [52 favorites]


I had a thought earlier today, that Trump has been so awful that GW Bush may actually be able to start campaigning for Republicans. He's been almost completely absent from the campaign trail and that's a very odd thing for a former president. I could be off base here. Trump makes Dubya look like a real statesman, and that's saying something.
posted by azpenguin at 3:11 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


Trump makes Dubya look like a real statesman, and that's saying something.

i figure if trump can appoint a guy who said that invading iraq was a great idea that would add 1000 points to the dow as his economic advisor, the moment is ripe for dubya's re-emergence
posted by murphy slaw at 3:16 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


... Vanessa Trump reportedly filed for an uncontested proceeding where “she’s not expecting a legal battle over custody of the couple’s five children or their assets."

I'm just going to read this as her knowing full well that her elephant-murdering failscion of a husband is going to federal prison soon
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:18 PM on March 15 [105 favorites]


... Vanessa Trump reportedly filed for an uncontested proceeding where “she’s not expecting a legal battle over custody of the couple’s five children or their assets."

It's my understanding that Vanessa Trump can be forced to testify against Don Jr. by Mueller once their divorce is final (which can be relatively soon since it's a no-contest divorce). Federal spousal privilege ends when the marriage ends.
posted by orange swan at 3:22 PM on March 15 [20 favorites]


I mentioned in a thread about a hundred years ago that one of the terrible aspects to the tenure of President Dumbass will be that it would make Dubya seem not all that bad in comparison.

I mean...one of the key reasons the country was so willing to entertain the prospect of a candidate that was a relative newcomer to politics, indeed, a POC with a Muslim name (one word of which was the same as one of our nation's arch-enemies and another was similar to the name of another one), was because GEORGE W. BUSH JR. WAS TERRIBLE IN VIRTUALLY EVERY WAY.

Every time I hear that Bush Jr. is slowly, slowly making inroads at having his reputation being rehabilitated, it is like a jagged piece of metal in my guts.
posted by darkstar at 3:22 PM on March 15 [81 favorites]


Bush Jr. should never have his reputation rehabilitated, it should just be further evidence of how deeply flawed the entire Republican Party is.
posted by gucci mane at 3:25 PM on March 15 [21 favorites]


@davidfrum: Trump’s omnidirectional regardless-of-the-facts belligerency toward everybody else makes all the more striking his continued personal unwillingness to acknowledge the Russian nerve gas attack on UK soil.

I'm never going to get used to being on the same side as Frum and friends
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:26 PM on March 15 [15 favorites]


It was so dumb and evil that the FBI walked out on the interrogations because it was too evil for them.

@matthewamiller (MSNBC)
As a side note, there are many impressive moments from Bob Mueller's career, but one of his finest was ordering FBI agents not to participate in the CIA's torture program, at a time of extraordinary pressure.
posted by chris24 at 3:30 PM on March 15 [177 favorites]


It's a chemical weapon developed and closely guarded by Russia. How much more evidence does he need? Who does he think did it? Jealous lover with access to Novichok?

These are the arguments I've seen. Mostly I think they're obviously wrong, but one of them I think is not totally impossible. A bunch of links in this article here - caution, I know nothing about this blog except that it is regularly linked from news aggregator Naked Capitalism, a site with which I do not always agree but which I've been reading for many years now and don't think is stupid:

1. Novichok is mostly hype - that is, Russia has nerve agents, but the specifics of this particular class of agent come from an extremely dubious source who has a lot of incentive to lie. Possible, but something still happened to these people - even if it's not Super Secret Extra Dangerous Nerve Agent, it's still something very dangerous.

2. This all happened right next to the UK's own secret chemical research facility - why couldn't it have been an accident? That just happened to this particular dude out of all possible people...

3. That it's a false flag and either didn't happen at all (guy and daughter are actually fine) or was done by the British themselves, either to take the heat off May because of the disaster of Brexit and other stuff or to justify some kind of thing about Russia. Incredibly unlikely because it seems very difficult to fake this kind of thing and keep it really secret and the repercussions if a whistleblower or leaker talked are absolutely staggering to contemplate. A faked nerve gas attack in the middle of the UK? That's not the same as lying about WMDs abroad.

4. The only one I think is actually plausible is the idea that some Russia-related actor but not the Russian state did it - some oligarch or gangster with reasons of their own and access to some kind of dangerous nerve agent. Such a person might have their own independent reasons to attack this guy and his daughter or might have knock-on reasons to do something that would redound on Putin. It's not clear that every Russia who has been murdered in the UK was murdered by the state - some of them appear to have been murdered by members of the oligarchy for their own reasons. This is the one I would like ruled out. It seems unlikely but not absolutely impossible, and in this political climate I would rather be 100% sure.
posted by Frowner at 3:32 PM on March 15 [14 favorites]


According to wikipedia, she's fourth generation.

And Donald Trump is a third generation American. I would be very gratiful if we could not count how many generations somebody has been here. My wife (for example) is a naturalized immigrant and you know what that makes her? An American, same as every other American.


I agree, although it would be glorious if reporters began each question to 45 with, "Guten tag, Herr Präsident."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:33 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]




Oh good, we're taking policy proposals from Grindhouse.
posted by The Gaffer at 3:35 PM on March 15 [42 favorites]


In the filing, Manafort’s lawyers argued that Mueller exceeded his authority under an appointment that directed him to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller can also investigate other matters that arise from his investigation, but he’s abused that authority, according to the filing.

This is frivolous bullshit. Ok, it's a little less frivolous than a drug dealer claiming that he can't be prosecuted for the fully automatic AK-74 found in plain sight on his kitchen table because the warrant the DEA served when they busted down his door was for drugs... but not by much.

His lawyers can't possibly think it will succeed. I suppose when your client is gonna go to the pokey for 400 years you throw everything against the wall. And it supports your (and the President's) talking points, I guess.
posted by Justinian at 3:37 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


US Senate candidate proposes arming homeless people with shotguns

(Libertarian candidate, doin' it for attention. Don't give it to him.)
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:37 PM on March 15 [36 favorites]


... Vanessa Trump reportedly filed for an uncontested proceeding where “she’s not expecting a legal battle over custody of the couple’s five children or their assets."

I'm just going to read this as her knowing full well that her elephant-murdering failscion of a husband is going to federal prison soon


I think it might be “give me everything or I tell them everything”

IANAL, so no idea if it’s legal to make the assertion of spousal privilege part of a divorce agreement, but considering the things spousal privilege doesn’t cover — metadata, if you will — I’m really tickled by the idea that she could use this to get everything and then still screw him in the investigation anyway.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:44 PM on March 15 [24 favorites]


I think it might be “give me everything or I tell them everything”

I think it's "I'm protecting myself and the children, so that when all YOUR assets are seized, our Trust Funds will remain intact."

I presume her lawyers are smart enough to only go after the known-clean assets.
posted by mikelieman at 4:03 PM on March 15 [34 favorites]


I have been acutely conscious of Bush Jr.'s ill-conceived joking at the 2004 White House Correspondents' Dinner about "searching for the Weapons of Mass Destruction". If he's going to comment on the UK nerve agent assault, all he needs to say is "THERE they are..."
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:14 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Libertarian candidate, doin' it for attention. Don't give it to him.

Why not, though? He's not going to win, he's not going to take votes from the Dem, and if it gets enough press the Republican will end up having to endorse arming the homeless or concede that it's dumb to distribute guns as a means of reducing violent crime.
posted by contraption at 4:15 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


This is because a libertarian can't get attention for saying obviously sensible things.

"As well as the shotgun plan, he would focus on minority rights and said he would oppose foreign military intervention."
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:26 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


end up having to endorse arming the homeless or concede that it's dumb to distribute guns

After all, the NRA was for gun control when it was the Black Panthers arming themselves. Republicans/NRA don't really want everyone to have guns, just themselves.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:27 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


the couple’s five children

Idiocracy didn't account for this.
posted by rhizome at 4:31 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Republicans/NRA don't really want everyone to have guns, just themselves.

Sure, but I'm all for getting Republicans monologuing about which people are the good kind that should get free guns, and which ones are the bad kind who might misuse the free government guns, especially when it's in the context of fighting with a Libertarian about the True Meaning of Freedom.
posted by contraption at 4:32 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]




yeah, they botched the rollout.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:47 PM on March 15 [79 favorites]


US Senate candidate proposes arming homeless people with shotguns

If we have to live in a low-budget film, Hobo With A Shotgun may be less existentially depressing than Idiocracy.
posted by acb at 4:51 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


The best people. HUD advisor is apparently a complete fraud. But since he's a believer in privatization, they didn't bother checking his background at all.
posted by suelac at 4:52 PM on March 15 [25 favorites]


Loony Left (upbeat!) Report: The latest issue of Democratic Left, the DSA House publication , is dedicated to Medicare For All and arguing it from a socialist perspective, a labor perspective, a force for empowerment, and how on the ground campaigns will work. This Is How We Win.
posted by The Whelk at 4:52 PM on March 15 [41 favorites]


They did botch the rollout, I'd say. It was bad politics. All they had to do was say they'd found no evidence of collusion, case closed, Democrats are sore losers who won't let us move on. That was the news cycle they've been working up to for the last year. Claiming the intelligence agencies were wrong, especially because that claim isn't in the report they were releasing, was just stupid.

Yes, they're pathological liars and they're terrified of admitting to any facts that don't cover Trump in glory, which explains why they did it, but it was still dumb as rocks.
posted by saturday_morning at 4:53 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


Undocumented immigrant appointed to statewide post in California: (Taryn Luna & Billy Kobin, Sacramento Bee)
Lizbeth Mateo, a 33-year-old attorney and immigrant rights activist, will serve on the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee. The committee advises the California Student Aid Commission on efforts to increase college access for California students from low-income or underserved communities.

"While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities," de León said in a news release. "Ms. Mateo is a courageous, determined and intelligent young woman who at great personal risk has dedicated herself to fight for those seeking their rightful place in this country."
Mateo graduated from Santa Clara University Law School and passed the California bar last year. I hope she does well at her new post. And I'm proud of Kevin De Leòn; no doubt this is his way of saying "ha ha fuck you we aren't the fifth largest GLOBAL economy because we shit on our immigrants, Republicans!"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:06 PM on March 15 [44 favorites]


> Bush Jr. should never have his reputation rehabilitated, it should just be further evidence of how deeply flawed the entire Republican Party is.

GWB is, as of this post, directly and indirectly responsible for many, many, many more innocent deaths than Trump is. The odiousness of his policies was just somewhat masked by the last fumes of the old-school Republican "genteel" racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.. that the Tea Party and then Trump blew away.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:13 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


[Oh my God are we not having a historical slavery debate here in service of a derail.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:15 PM on March 15 [74 favorites]


US Senate candidate proposes arming homeless people with shotguns
posted by Artw at 3:34 PM on March 15 [7 favorites +] [!]


I stay the fuck outta these threads for my mental health but drop in when they are young to check up on my homies, like Art. I miss you guys out in the rest of the site.

That said:

Arm the Homeless (Dec 1993)

I know one of the formerly young gentlemen involved with this outstanding, visionary prank, and the local media published the prankster's home addresses, resulting in death threats. Interesting times, as some source once said.
posted by mwhybark at 5:17 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


ProPublica: Correction: Trump’s Pick to Head CIA Did Not Oversee Waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah
"ProPublica erred when it reported in 2017 that Gina Haspel was in charge of a secret prison in Thailand during the infamous interrogation of an al-Qaida suspect."

There's a whole lot of retraction in here. Of relevance, however, buried within the article (emphasis mine):
The New York Times, which also reported last year that Haspel oversaw the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and another detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, published a second story this week making the same point. It quoted an unnamed former senior CIA official who said Haspel did not become base chief until late October of 2002. According to the Times, she was in charge when al-Nashiri was waterboarded three times.
So, this sucks. The attention-grabbing headline is "She didn't torture anyone, it wasn't her," but there still seems to be some level of "she did torture another guy" in the mix, so how is that any better? Argh.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:34 PM on March 15 [19 favorites]


4. The only one I think is actually plausible is the idea that some Russia-related actor but not the Russian state did it - some oligarch or gangster with reasons of their own and access to some kind of dangerous nerve agent.

Quite possible. The Guardian from a few hours ago:

"The years following the fall of the Berlin Wall were chaotic, with chemical weapons laboratories and storage sites across the Soviet Union abandoned by staff who were no longer being paid. Security was almost non-existent, leaving the sites at the mercy of criminal gangs or disenchanted staff looking to supplement their income. “Could somebody have smuggled something out?” Amy Smithson, a US-based biological and chemical weapons expert, said to Reuters. “I certainly wouldn’t rule that possibility out, especially a small amount and particularly in view of how lax the security was at Russian chemical facilities in the early 1990s.”
posted by Wordshore at 5:38 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Haspel participating in carrying out GWB’s orders to torture is bad, but erasing the tapes of torture is in my opinion qualitatively worse. It shows a corrupt intent and the desire to avoid democratic oversight of illegal acts.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:39 PM on March 15 [70 favorites]


Federal spousal privilege applies to communications during marriage even after divorce - however, it only applies to communications between husband and wife, not "metadata" and other information, and it can be waived if she's accused herself; she can take immunity to testify to some details that would otherwise be privileged.

Even with the full privilege in place, she's allowed to talk about what he did - who he met with, when he left and when he returned, how much money was spent, who called to ask about him, and so on. Only talks between the two of them are restricted information, and unless he spent a lot of time talking about "I gotta go see a guy about arranging a Russian money laundering business for daddy," their actual discussions aren't going to be the important bits of evidence. (Note: They got married in 2005 and have five children. She's had no TIME to be involved in money laundering schemes.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:56 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


About the play sanctions: it seems very similar to that bombing of a Syrian airbase they did once. One gets the sense that some Trumpian calls their Russian handler and says — we need to do something now or it will be too obvious that we are puppets. The handler promises to get back and calls the Kremlin to figure out something that looks like an appropriate action to ignorant conservatives but does minimal damage in real life. That is then what happens.
posted by mumimor at 6:02 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow (WaPo)
President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration.

Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said.

The turbulence is part of a broader potential shake-up under consideration by Trump that is likely to include senior officials at the White House, where staffers are gripped by fear and un­certainty as they await the next move from an impulsive president who enjoys stoking conflict.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:05 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


(Note: They got married in 2005 and have five children. She's had no TIME to be involved in money laundering schemes.)

Because they couldn’t afford a nanny??
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 6:07 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


It’s worth remembering that before bombing Assad’s airstrip, Trump gave Assad’s ally Putin a heads up, so he could get his people out of the way. Whether Putin was asked to pinky-promise that he wouldn’t tell Assad about the airstrike is a question lost to history.

Assad’s attacks on the Syrian people continue unabated to this day. It appears that a single pre-announced airstrike was insufficient. Sad face emoji.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:08 PM on March 15 [14 favorites]


President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser

Funny how this decision happens now.

@politico
McMaster calls for further U.S. punishment of Russia over ‘atrocities’ in Syria
http://politi.co/2FMww2k
posted by chris24 at 6:19 PM on March 15 [53 favorites]


Deranged man-child presidunce begins Saturday night massacre two days early, next on vraknews.
posted by vrakatar at 6:19 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


Haspel participating in carrying out GWB’s orders to torture is bad, but erasing the tapes of torture is in my opinion qualitatively worse.

I get what you’re saying here, but the actual torture is still worse. I think it’s important that we never lose sight of the fact that the US committed an extensive series of war crimes and then legislated amnesty for our war criminals.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:20 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


Funny how this happens now.

Not only does the President of Russia control the President of the United States, he wants everybody to know about it, while maintaining implausible deniablility.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:22 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


Several candidates have emerged as possible McMaster replacements, including John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council.

Kellogg travels with Trump on many domestic trips, in part because the president likes his company and thinks he is fun.


So our best hope of avoiding the all-but-certain war that would come with Bolton in power is that our toddler-in-chief picks his new national security advisor on the criteria of "fun".
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:22 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


I'm never going to get used to being on the same side as Frum and friends


And fucking Bill Kristol! I feel like I'm on crazy pills!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:27 PM on March 15 [35 favorites]


And fucking Bill Kristol! I feel like I'm on crazy pills

For real. He follows me on Twitter now and I’m like, I can’t believe I hadn’t blocked you before, but now I don’t know what to do.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:30 PM on March 15 [32 favorites]


I get what you’re saying here, but the actual torture is still worse.

The actual torture is more horrifying, but it should have been obvious that "enhanced interrogation" was illegal under the country's treaty obligations, despite the bullshit construction of a category of "unlawful combatants" with no rights. So ordering the torture videos to be destroyed is willful destruction of evidence of a crime. She is part of a conspiracy with the people who personally committed the horrifying acts.
posted by mubba at 6:31 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


From the Washington Post link above:

Also, Trump has sometimes expressed confusion about what agencies and secretaries are in charge of what duties, a senior administration official said. For example, this official said, he has complained to Pruitt about regulatory processes for construction projects, although the EPA is not in charge of the regulations.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 PM on March 15 [40 favorites]


The average tenure of a national security advisor is over 2.5 years. With McMaster's replacement, Trump will be on his third NSA in 13 months. Running like a well oiled machine!
posted by Justinian at 6:34 PM on March 15 [17 favorites]


At least this one hasn't actively committed treason (I mean, probably).
posted by Chrysostom at 6:35 PM on March 15 [9 favorites]


The Trump divorce photo montage Page 6 put together takes a sudden, dark turn at picture 15. It's all Family, Family, Family, GRIM PORTENT, Family, Family, Family..
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:40 PM on March 15 [21 favorites]


RE: the Canada deficit/surplus. The funny thing is, of course, the US isn't the only one tracking these numbers. Naturally Canada is too and we've come out pretty firmly that the US has a trade surplus with Canada.
posted by Mitheral at 6:40 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


This is like Stupid I, Claudius
posted by EarBucket at 6:40 PM on March 15 [70 favorites]


Question: I keep seeing speculation on Twitter that the DJTJr divorce may be an effort to transfer assets to Vanessa Trump for protection from the investigation, but I haven't yet seen it from people I'd consider legal experts. Can anyone here say whether or not that's a realistic scenario?
posted by lalex at 6:48 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


I'm never going to get used to being on the same side as Frum and friends

Don't worry -- I've got enough snide loathing for Frum to cover us all. He'll sicken you again eventually, I promise.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:48 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


I picked the wrong week to quit taking SSRIs.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:56 PM on March 15 [40 favorites]


Question: I keep seeing speculation on Twitter that the DJTJr divorce may be an effort to transfer assets to Vanessa Trump for protection from the investigation, but I haven't yet seen it from people I'd consider legal experts. Can anyone here say whether or not that's a realistic scenario?

Probably not? Mueller is taking down people left and right, you think he wouldn't see through a little fraudulent conveyance?
posted by Talez at 7:00 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


you think he wouldn't see through a little fraudulent conveyance?

I...did not know "fraudulent conveyance" was a thing! Thank you.
posted by lalex at 7:04 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


More "stormy" legal weather ahead for Trump—MSNBC's The Beat With Ari Melber: "A new BuzzFeed letter revealed first on The Beat demands the Trump White House 'preserve any documents' related to 'Michael Cohen…Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal.' In an exclusive interview on The Beat BuzzFeed’s Editor-in-Chief and lawyer say they are 'ready to fight that fight'[.]" Ty Cobb responds, "I believe this is the first time I'm seeing this letter. I'll review it and make sure the White House does the right thing."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:05 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


I'll review it and make sure the White House does the right thing.

Translation: Ignore any smoke you may see coming out of the White House in the next 72 hours.
posted by Talez at 7:10 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


The turbulence is part of a broader potential shake-up under consideration by Trump...

Yeah, I think we've reached the point where the president says, "oh hey, all these appointed people... I can throw them out if they don't do what I want!" And since he's oblivious to the idea that the government actually does important things, he doesn't care how disruptive it is to eject people for not obeying his whims.

However, most politicians and bureaucrats would like their job security to be better than "you're here until you annoy me," so he's going to have problems finding replacements. He has no problems finding cronies, but he's reached a point where he's having trouble finding cronies that can even superficially work with his existing cronies. The bigotry and entitlement crowd doesn't get along with itself, and once you've removed "get the damn job done" as a reason to cooperate, you get nothing but infighting and drama (and news leaks, lots of news leaks).
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:11 PM on March 15 [12 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House:
-- In the aftermath of the PA-18 special election, both contenders appear to be filing for the fall general. Lamb in the new PA-17, where he is probably the favorite in the primary, although there are several other folks who were already in. And Saccone in the new PA-14, where he has opposition, and can't be considered a favorite.

-- Mentioned earlier, Sabato moved ratings for 5 races today, all towards the Dems.

-- IL-03: This Dem primary race continues to be hot. Incumbent conservative Dem Lipinski is getting a big donation from the Susan B Anthony fund, which normally backs pro-life Republicans. He also managed to piss off Obama folks by implying in a flyer that he supported Obama's candidacy (he had not). Meanwhile, challenger Newman continues to get ad spending from NARAL and picked up an influential endorsement from the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

-- In the wake of the Lamb upset, GOP leadership calling out House members who aren't hustling hard enough. Names named include: IL-12 (Bost), MI-07 (Wahlberg), MI-08 (Bishop), NC-09 (Pittenger), NC-13 (Budd), VA-05 (Garrett), VA-07 (Brat), WI-06 (Grothman).
** 2018 Senate:
-- MO: New ethics complaint against likely GOP candidate Hawley, who seems to be picking up a lot of little dings lately.

-- WI: Inside the battle for Tammy Baldwin's seat.

** Odds & ends:
-- A judge's ruling in Nevada has struck a likely fatal blow in the GOP's efforts to recall three Democratic state senators. More backstory here, if you've forgotten this (tl;dr: It's all bullshit).

-- Poll by the Missoulian of Montana politician approvals had meh numbers for Democrats (Sen Tester: -2 / Gov Bullock: -4) but outright lousy for Republicans (Rep Gianforte: -29 / Sen Daines: -21 / GOP-controlled state legislature: -48). Note that the wording of the poll was a bit unusual.

-- Illinois primaries are next Tuesday, and it looks like the GOP governor primary could be tightening up. Far right wing candidate Ives is out with a poll showing her trailing incumbent gov Rauner by just 7 points. Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association is up with an ad trying to help Ives along.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:20 PM on March 15 [48 favorites]


If we have to live in a low-budget film, Hobo With A Shotgun may be less existentially depressing than Idiocracy.

Probably less racist, too.
posted by msalt at 7:26 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


These are the arguments I've seen. Mostly I think they're obviously wrong, but... The only one I think is actually plausible is the idea that some Russia-related actor but not the Russian state did it - some oligarch or gangster with reasons of their own...

You seem to be under the impression that the Russian State, Oligarchy, and Bratva are three distinct things. I don't see much evidence to support that assumption.
posted by dirge at 7:29 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


Probably not? Mueller is taking down people left and right, you think he wouldn't see through a little fraudulent conveyance?

Pretty sure splitting assets in divorce isn't putatively fraudulent. Fraudulent conveyance comes in more when somebody gifts all their assets to their kids or to an irrevocable trust because they know they've got a large potential judgment looming, or a bankruptcy.

I mean, unless they're so stupid as to have lots of text messages about how it's just a sham transaction.

oh, right.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:30 PM on March 15 [29 favorites]


This is like Stupid I, Claudius

Soon the Secret Service will find Tiffany hiding in the closet and declare her President.

I look forward to her reconquest of Britain.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:36 PM on March 15 [56 favorites]


the DJTJr divorce may be an effort to transfer assets to Vanessa Trump for protection from the investigation,

Quite the opposite.
(1) Divorces aren't quick enough to dodge another court's existing investigation, even when they're simple and uncontested. While this may be uncontested, it's not simple - there are a lot of assets involved, plus custody of children. (It doesn't matter how much the parents agree on who should have custody; the court is obligated to consider what's best for the child. In most cases, that's "whatever makes both parents happy," but it still takes review. Any debates over schools or visitation stretch out the timeline.)

(2) The assessment and split of assets of a divorce may be part of the public record. Even without that, it means both sides' attorneys and the judge seeing a list of all assets. If it's filed confidentially, another court (*koff* Mueller *koff*) could still easily get access to the record.

You don't hide your shady money dealings by listing them in detail for legal review.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:37 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


okay, i think i figured it out

trump's new plan is to rotate people in and out of his cabinet so fast that mueller won't know who to subpeona
posted by murphy slaw at 7:40 PM on March 15 [23 favorites]


Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says
United States officials and private security firms saw the attacks as a signal by Moscow that it could disrupt the West’s critical facilities in the event of a conflict.

They said the strikes accelerated in late 2015, at the same time the Russian interference in the American election was underway. The attackers had compromised some operators in North America and Europe by spring 2017, after President Trump was inaugurated.

In the following months, according to a Department of Homeland Security report issued on Thursday, Russian hackers made their way to machines with access to critical control systems at power plants that were not identified. The hackers never went so far as to sabotage or shut down the computer systems that guide the operations of the plants.

Still, new computer screenshots released by the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday made clear that Russian state hackers had the foothold they would have needed to manipulate or shut down power plants.
Well, this isn’t terrifying.
posted by non canadian guy at 7:42 PM on March 15 [46 favorites]


California appoints 33 year old undocumented immigrant to statewide post (California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee):
Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney and immigrant rights activist, was appointed to an advisory committee that seeks to improve access to college for low-income California students
[...]
In 2015, Mateo applied for legal status under the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, better known as DACA, but has twice been denied because she briefly traveled to Mexico in 2013 as part of the “Bring Them Home” campaign to see how border agents would react when they tried to reenter the United States.
I can hear the heads asploding from here.
posted by Mitheral at 7:45 PM on March 15 [16 favorites]


So our best hope of avoiding the all-but-certain war that would come with Bolton in power is that our toddler-in-chief picks his new national security advisor on the criteria of "fun".

whether or not we launch another war in the persian gulf is going to come down to how much trump hates john bolton's moustache
posted by murphy slaw at 7:49 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


@MelissaStetten (former model)
Surprised his marriage didn’t work out since he was sending me DMs a month after his wife gave birth. (I tweeted a joke about pulling a muscle changing a tampon and he replied asking if I smelled bacon? Cool joke)

SCREENSHOT OF ONE OF THE DMS
posted by chris24 at 7:55 PM on March 15 [45 favorites]


I expect Lizbeth Mateo is quite competent but that is definitely some trolling by California.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:56 PM on March 15


Scottadrake, I got to Eryn Gilchrist's funding page 25 minutes after you did. They raised the goal to $100K, presumably because the total so far was over $51K.


I ... What? Maine House 57 has about 8,600 people living in it. It's entirely rural - no downtown, no business district. You could run a ROBUST campaign there for $10k. I cannot IMAGINE how anyone would spend $100k to run for that seat.

I support the desire to support her, but there are plenty of other Maine Dems who could use the support, starting with either of the candidates in CD2 or any of the Dem Gov candidates.
posted by anastasiav at 7:58 PM on March 15 [13 favorites]


So is Trump now firing anyone and everyone just so the Saturday Night Massacre will look somehow less suspicious in comparison? "What, I didn't fire them to obstruct justice, I fire lots of people, just for funzies. That's my brand."
posted by p3t3 at 8:05 PM on March 15 [10 favorites]


My hope is that she takes some of the surplus money and passes it around to some other candidates she likes. I don't know if that's legal, though. I can't imagine it wouldn't be.
posted by Merus at 8:05 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


"I cannot IMAGINE how anyone would spend $100k to run for that seat. "

In a lot of states, candidates can use their campaign funds to donate them to other candidates. (Paul Ryan, for example, donated $646k to other candidates from his own campaign war chest.) And the fundraiser says "Contribute now to the Lewiston Democratic Party. We'll use every dollar to beat Gibson and his hateful allies." So it sounds like it's not even the candidate's personal committee, but the local party, and they're clear that they intend to use it to defeat not just him but his "allies" -- other Republicans, one assumes.

When you have a candidate who's a stunningly good fundraiser, for whatever reason, it's almost always a good idea to take that as far as you can so that the funds raised can benefit many other politicians on the same side. You've got a crazy situation where a Maine Democrat has gone viral and is raising crazy money on the internet; you're not only going to spend her campaign into the stratosphere for that local race, but you're going to get that money to every Democrat in the state facing an uphill battle or contesting a newly-contestable seat -- and not just at the statehouse level, but at the federal level and at the local level, running for city council or mayor or water district manager. It's going to be a huge boon, and do a lot to "build the bench."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:05 PM on March 15 [75 favorites]


Since we're talking about Roman emperors now, can I just express my profound disappointment that the thread title has nothing to do with the Ides of March?
posted by J.K. Seazer at 8:13 PM on March 15 [40 favorites]


Capt. Renault: Don't worry -- I've got enough snide loathing for Frum to cover us all. He'll sicken you again eventually, I promise.

Hoo boy. You got that right. David Frum is only doing this for the money. He's a bigot:

"But those of us who oppose gay marriage, and we remain the majority at least for now, believe that these new values are not changing the family--they are destroying it, and harming those within it. As such beliefs become more widespread, so do divorce and illegitimacy. The proponents of gay marriage can only get what they want by weakening Americans' attachment to the traditional family even more than it has already been weakened. And as such, these proponents are hastening a process of social dissolution that has already brought misery to untold millions of people, with children suffering most grievously of all."

...and a warmonger:

David Frum served as a speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush, and helped write Bush's famous "Axis of Evil" State of the Union address in 2002. "My role was small," Frum told Big Think. "He made the choice to say it and it may have been reckless."

Frum is a cowardly homunculus.

He dedicated a huge chunk of his life to building up the far right in Canada, and when things didn't move fast enough for him here he moved to the US and became a speechwriter for W., culminating in the Axis of Evil speech.

Now he's rebranded himself as an anti-Trump polemicist. Just because things have gotten so bad doesn't make him good. He is the corporeal manifestation of those who laid the groundwork for Trump's rise. For him to act surprised, alarmed, or upset is something that genuinely requires the suspension of disbelief.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:13 PM on March 15 [63 favorites]


"Far right wing candidate Ives is out with a poll showing her trailing incumbent gov Rauner by just 7 points."

A University of Illinois researcher today released an analysis showing that the Russian bots are boosting Ives LIKE WHOA. (She has more mentions than all three Democratic candidates combined, who all have much higher profiles.) Clearly they're doing it because she is the absolute worst candidate in the race (and that's saying something because I would not pee on Rauner if he were on fire, but Ives is still WAY WAY WORSE) and that by supporting a horrendous and very public bigot they can fire up the bigots who feel like she's speaking for them AND fire up the anti-bigots who are freaking out that a bigot is getting so much attention and press coverage.

I'm sure Ives's campaign is not involved (they are not even a little tech savvy and barely have an online strategy), which makes it all the more frightening that Russian bot farms zeroed in on this horrible bigot and signal boosted her like crazy. I'd be skeptical of claims that they managed to single-handedly boost her to viability as a candidate, but they for sure didn't hurt, and they're for sure giving bigots more outlets and a sense of credibility.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:21 PM on March 15 [36 favorites]


This is like Stupid I, Claudius
posted by EarBucket at 6:40 PM on March 15 [28 favorites +] [!]


Old King Log, as he would have it
posted by mwhybark at 8:24 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


He dedicated a huge chunk of his life to building up the far right in Canada, and when things didn't move fast enough for him here he moved to the US and became a speechwriter for W., culminating in the Axis of Evil speech.

And when the American Big Time slacks off, he comes back to Canada to suck at the teat of the public television and radio he was too good for before and (presumably, were he philosophically consistent), should oppose the very existence of.

‘Opportunist’ is hardly the word. ‘Traitor’, more like.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:26 PM on March 15 [16 favorites]


"... he replied asking if I smelled bacon"

Is this a joke? I don't get it.
posted by Tarumba at 8:44 PM on March 15 [37 favorites]


I can only think it's a metaphor so mixed it might as well have been a Madlib.
posted by rhizome at 9:04 PM on March 15 [8 favorites]


I’m terrified that all of this recent firing is going to culminate in the Fire Sessions, Get New AG to Fire Mueller plan and it will get lost in the firehose of crap coming out of the White House. Somebody talk me down?
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:10 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]


Guessing it was after this tweet?
posted by greermahoney at 9:10 PM on March 15


Fire Sessions, Get New AG to Fire Mueller plan

this is the one (1) thing that will not get lost in the firehose of crap. Promise.
posted by lalex at 9:11 PM on March 15 [18 favorites]


What happens to all of Mueller & co.'s documents and such if he's fired? Do Trump's stooges just walk in and take everything?
posted by gucci mane at 9:17 PM on March 15


Pretty sure Mueller is smart enough to have backups.
posted by emjaybee at 9:37 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


Well, money isn't everything. It's all in how you spend it. I'm not involved so much on the finance side of things-- I know it does help, a lot. I'm a field hand, and the boots on the ground is what I know. Field margin-- and that is all volunteer driven, direct voter contact, knocking on doors and making phone calls, that kind of thing-- is the thin blue line, the 3-5%.

My own race, we got into the runoffs on pure field margin. I say this with zero ego, mind, but pound for pound, my candidate has the best field team working in the country today.

And it is hard. It's backbreaking and frequently tedious work. I spent two full days putting updated stickers on the brochures left on the doorstep with my back bent at a weird angle. And that was kind of a break from my usual routine.

Let me tell you about it. I get to work at 8:30, enter whatever data is left over from yesterday, and plan out who I'm talking to for the day. This involves weird strategy stuff, and actual brainpower.

From probably 11am to 4pm, I knock on the doors I've chosen, and hand out literature and try to tell people why my candidate is the best and why they should vote for her, should give up their time to her. (most experienced, best hope of beating the republican, etc, etc. it happens to be the truth, but also it's because my team is my family, and I love them with all of my heart, and I want to keep them through November. The candidate, too, who has taken care of me better than my own blood family ever has.) And every day I come away with a new story, a new connection. I give up a little piece of my heart in every single conversation I have. I get doors shut in my face, a lot, while I'm putting this part of me out there. But every so often someone responds, tells me something that makes it worth it.

From there, I get back to the office and make phone calls to other supporters, other democrats, to get them to knock on doors, for my person. I'm trying to build connections, trying to put a few people in a room together and maybe make friends, give them something they'll remember and take with them that will last past this election. A memory, a sense of doing something, because building these networks is the only thing that gets us through. Something that will make them show up past just this race. So I call people, trying to invite them behind the curtain, from 5pm to 9pm. Most people doing this, while they're making phone calls, they're making texts at the same time.

There's little spaces to breathe, in between, to laugh and joke and throw things at these people going through this with me, to commiserate and revel in this absurd thing that we do, to whistle against the darkness in the possibility of loss. Because every single call and every single text, behind each one of those is someone exhausted down to their soul, fighting for something that they think is worth it. For a candidate they believe in. For a family that they found. Occasionally they even eat food.

So.

Y'know.

Maybe you get some calls you don't like. Maybe you get too many. Maybe you don't like being texted. Someone reads those replies back. Someone is thankful for every moment you give up to try to make the world a better place. Someone is reading those texts, those emails, and taking all of it right to the heart.

Be kind to them.
posted by dogheart at 9:39 PM on March 15 [153 favorites]


Really trying not to derail, but genuinely curious - why would the "Related Posts" to this particular post all be Bush threads from November and December of 2000? Glitch in the matrix, or coding error?
posted by yhbc at 9:40 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


Re: Stormy Daniels....

I’ve had and have friends who were/are call girls and one who is pretty well known in adult entertainment (who is a call girl on the side) We’ve spent time talking about “the life” (their title for the world they work in)

These are some takeaways

1) These women are smart, shrewd and honest, namely because what they have to offer is so clear.

2) Most of the high-powered men who have come to these women share secrets with them that the men wouldn’t share with any one else. Sometimes it’s information the women don’t want to be privy to. Their discretion influences reputation and, thus, their price with current and future clients. No matter what, however, the women hold the secrets.

3) The power dynamics that happen between the women and their clients are not what people expect. A tight fitting dress and a judicious shift of the hips can turn powerful men into blubbering fools. I’ve seen this happen and was flabbergasted by it.

4) “They don’t pay me for sex. They pay me close the door on the way out”

These women have more power than people give them credit for. Your contract is the time you pay for. If you break this contract, then you pay for it. Daniels is going for the money and more power to her.

Had a Dark and Stormy Daniels cocktail tonight. It was delicious.
posted by goalyeehah at 10:29 PM on March 15 [111 favorites]


Really trying not to derail, but genuinely curious - why would the "Related Posts" to this particular post all be Bush threads from November and December of 2000? Glitch in the matrix, or coding error?

OP here, no idea. I didn't do anything to make that happen, unless it was shared tags?
posted by msalt at 10:34 PM on March 15


South Korea: Foreign Minister Kang to Meet Ivanka Trump in US. This is a thing kings do, not elected leaders of a democracy.
posted by scalefree at 10:39 PM on March 15 [20 favorites]


One: Nazi Love Triangle is probably, at this moment, being written down on a punk rocker’s list of possible band names,

Or is about to be in the running for Worst New Order Cover Ever.
posted by gtrwolf at 10:57 PM on March 15 [31 favorites]


Goalyeehah, all four of your points jive perfectly with my experiences with friends and acquaintances who work or have worked in the industry, as well. Mainly in jurisdictions where it's a legal enterprise, yes, but still... note for note.

It's always boggled me when the media portrays these women as fools or (worse) victims, when they've held enormous power in the same way for, like, millennia.
posted by rokusan at 11:04 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]


These women are smart, shrewd and honest

From February 2016, before all this hit.

New York magazine's The CUT: The Female Porn Director Winning All the Awards
Even as Hollywood remains a bastion of white male power, the adult film industry’s most honored director this year is a woman, Stormy Daniels. She won Best Picture and Best Director at the XBIZ Awards on January 15, as well as Best Drama at the AVN Awards on the 22nd, for her three-hour Western epic, Wanted, which she stars in and also wrote.

Oh, and Daniels has already directed 70 films. But that doesn’t mean it’s been an easy ride. “For years everyone was like, ‘Stormy Daniels, she’s the best female director.’ That’s always bugged me. What does my vagina have to do with directing?” she says. She’s all tousled blonde hair and a canyon of cleavage, curled up on a purple plush sofa 18 stories up at Las Vegas’s Hard Rock Hotel with Sin City splayed out behind her. “Why do I have to be the best female director? Why can’t I just be one of the best directors?”

As a director, she has ambitions beyond the usual vignettes of seemingly random strangers banging each other in half-furnished condos. Her films have character, dialogue, plot, and setting — Wanted’s desert shoot was as arduous as any classic Western’s.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done by far. There’s no running water, no electricity, it’s 115 degrees,” she says. “There was fire, a flash flood, grip truck broke down, prop truck broke down, camera truck got stuck in the sand, the cameras went down, I was robbed, 16 people cried.”

Not only did she have to manage disasters, she had to deliver on-camera, too: “It’s hard to be sexy when covered in sweat and horsehair and wearing the same outfit without being able to wash it for 20 days.”
And her Twitter is great too. She's smart, funny, and self-deprecating. And she tools on trolls.

@anetizyn
@StormyDaniels what if you go to hell from taking so many dicks? aren't you concerned?

@StormyDaniels
Does heaven have a maximum dick-taking number? More importantly, does hell have a minimum? Just want to check that my quota is on track.

@ScottBayless2
Pretty sure dumb whores go to hell, I don't make the rules.

@StormyDaniels
Whew! Glad I'm a smart one.

---

@SGOqueen
Oh Stormy, go back under the rock you crawled out from!

@StormyDaniels
In case you haven't noticed, I'm ALWAYS under two boulders.
posted by chris24 at 3:42 AM on March 16 [126 favorites]


You may remember way back when 45 retweeted the leader of Britain First, a bunch of bloody racists.

Said leader has recently received a healthy serving of porridge at Her Maj's expense, due to being found guilty of being a bloody racist. Yum yum.

Life inside hasn't gone well for him so far.

I commend this cautionary tale to those who are contemplating being bloody racists, are in danger of being retweeted by 45, or (as regrettably often) both.
posted by Devonian at 4:36 AM on March 16 [24 favorites]


She's untrollable and really sharp and funny with the responses. I wonder if these doofuses realize that an adult actress might have some experience being called a whore by frustrated morons before.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:40 AM on March 16 [70 favorites]


WSJ's Rebecca Ballhaus @rebeccaballhaus backs up the rumors about McMaster's borrowed time:
Confirmed: Trump has told Kelly he has decided to oust McMaster, administration officials tell me + @MichaelCBender. Trump doesn’t yet have a replacement in mind and wants a more graceful exit for McMaster than he afforded Tillerson, whom he fired via tweet.
And Rep. Ted Lieu @tedlieu calls BS on the White House:
This tweet by Sarah Sanders on H.R. McMaster gives rise to 2 possibilities:
1. Five sources lied to @washingtonpost that @POTUS has already decided to remove McMaster
2. @realDonaldTrump lied to @PressSec
Which do you think it is?
Sarah Sanders @PressSec Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster - contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.
Trump's management style formed in two organizations: either Trump Org, in which everything revolves around his every whim, or The Apprentice, in which a huge fuss is made over whether or not he'll fire someone.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:05 AM on March 16 [25 favorites]


Doktor Zed: This tweet by Sarah Sanders on H.R. McMaster gives rise to 2 possibilities: 1. Five sources lied to @washingtonpost that @POTUS has already decided to remove McMaster 2. @realDonaldTrump lied to @PressSec Which do you think it is?

3. Sanders knows what's going on, but is happy to lie about it because that is what Trump wants her to do.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:13 AM on March 16 [49 favorites]


From publisher Melville House, this offer is good for a couple more days:

We’re offering a FREE e-book of the Torture Report, now that Trump has nominated Gina Haspel to head the CIA
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:17 AM on March 16 [55 favorites]


I'm never going to get used to being on the same side as Frum and friends

And fucking Bill Kristol! I feel like I'm on crazy pills!


And JENNIFER RUBIN!!!

"The Right Turn," indeed!
posted by jgirl at 6:02 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Trump doesn’t yet have a replacement in mind and wants a more graceful exit for McMaster than he afforded Tillerson, whom he fired via tweet.

So he’s using the rumour mill instead. Bold choice; let’s see how it works out for him.
posted by nubs at 6:05 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


He both likes to see McMaster squirm and wants at least a few days of crowing 'fake news, fake news!' after the rumor mill reported McMaster out, no doubt rumors he himself started.

If there was a president of bad TV drama he'd be the best.
posted by readery at 6:11 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


So much turnover! I don't even remember why I'm supposed to hate McMaster, but I assume he's done some shit.

Personally, I'm waiting for Zinke to get fired. I have a bunch of half-mast jokes ready to go.
posted by ryanrs at 6:17 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Re: Stormy Daniels. Her lawyer indicated this morning on Morning Joe that she has been threatened with physical violence with regard to the Trump lawsuit. He would not comment on whether or not those threats came from the Trump folks. Avenatti is a really good lawyer according to a lot of disparate sources and I don't think he's talking about threats on Twitter.

Also, know lots of folks in the industry and yes, goalyeehah, I have very similar observations.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:50 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Because of course, because obviously: WaPo roundup on Trump's plans to I guess fire everyone who even tangentially has government experience and replace them with talking heads poached from cable news
posted by halation at 6:52 AM on March 16 [18 favorites]


Confirmed: Trump has told Kelly he has decided to oust McMaster, administration officials tell me + @MichaelCBender. Trump doesn’t yet have a replacement in mind and wants a more graceful exit for McMaster than he afforded Tillerson, whom he fired via tweet.
The man oozes consideration. No exit is more graceful than leaking about it all over the news for weeks right up until you find the replacee’s replacement.
posted by notyou at 6:57 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Re: Stormy Daniels. Her lawyer indicated this morning on Morning Joe that she has been threatened with physical violence with regard to the Trump lawsuit.

Not the first time she's been involved in politics and faced violence as a result:
Daniels eventually dropped out of the race, but not before a bomb blew up her political advisor’s car.
"It looks like the pictures you see in Iraq following a roadside car bombing."
posted by clawsoon at 7:12 AM on March 16 [21 favorites]


Personally, I'm waiting for Zinke to get fired.

Zinke will never be fired. He simultaneously epitomizes the abject worship of elite military units and physical force rampant in the Trumpian strain of American culture (and not only there, of course), the grifter mindset endemic to the Cernovichian right, and the smirking, sneering desire of contemporary conservatives to "trigger libs" at all times.

He's one of the more perfect crystallizations of this moment in our history I can think of, in fact, and one of the very last characters I can imagine Trump turning on.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:12 AM on March 16 [25 favorites]


Excellent video summary of Fox News's... evolving... feelings on diplomacy, after President Obama was replaced by President Trump.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:34 AM on March 16 [47 favorites]


Excellent video of Fox News's... evolving... feelings on diplomacy, after President Obama was replaced by President Trump.

Wow, the difference is so black and white.
posted by chris24 at 7:35 AM on March 16 [106 favorites]


Bloomberg: FEMA Strips Mention of ‘Climate Change’ From Its Strategic Plan
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, responsible for dealing with the effects of disasters like hurricanes and floods, has stripped the words “climate change” from the document meant to guide its actions over the next four years.

FEMA on Thursday released its strategic plan for 2018-2022. It replaces a version issued under former President Barack Obama that repeatedly cited the challenges caused by a changing climate, and the need for FEMA to incorporate those risks into its long-term plans.

By contrast, the new document doesn’t mention climate, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather, or any other terminology associated with scientific predictions of rising surface temperatures and their effects.
This is the obvious consequence of Trump promoting a crypto-climate change denier to head the Agency: "Brock Long, whom President Donald Trump appointed to run FEMA last year, has equivocated on whether climate change is real and man-made. 'The term climate change has become such a political hot button that, I think, I keeps us from having a real dialogue,' he told Bloomberg in an interview last summer."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:36 AM on March 16 [18 favorites]


[Bunch of stuff removed. Please remember how big these threads get and make the effort not to dig in on sidebar arguments about stuff as much as possible; also maybe like triple check whether "I have a good joke about porn stars" is gonna really go anywhere good. I know the Stormy Daniels stuff is in the news but blowing up catch-all threads by having multiple simultaneous arguments about her and Trump and second-degree arguments about how people are having those original arguments is just gonna take us down a vortex that I have zero interest in spending my Friday navigating.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:37 AM on March 16 [28 favorites]


I've seen a couple of articles saying that WH staffers are more worried about Stormy than Mueller, but I can't figure out why. Isn't the S.D. thing just an embarrassment with minimal legal repercussions, or am I missing something?
posted by Optamystic at 7:39 AM on March 16


Isn't the S.D. thing just an embarrassment with minimal legal repercussions, or am I missing something?

I imagine it's more relatable to a lot of people. Trump camp colluded with the Russians to rig the election vs.rich old white man pays woman to be quiet about an affair.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:42 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Also, as long as the GOP stands behind Trump he doesn't have to care about any legal repercussions, so even minor damage to his reputation -- especially if it's in an area that could turn voters against him -- is worse than proof of treason.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:44 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Isn't the S.D. thing just an embarrassment with minimal legal repercussions, or am I missing something?

Using the threat of physical harm to coerce someone into staying quiet should have legal repercussions, if it can be proven. It's certainly something to impeach a President over. But we have lots of those things already.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:44 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Isn't the S.D. thing just an embarrassment with minimal legal repercussions, or am I missing something?

Given Trump's level of hyper-ego and extreme investment in his public image, I'd say there's probably a lot of people at the White House cowering in fear of their boss's response should any intimate, sexual details be made public.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:44 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


I feel like screaming out the window like a crazy person about how dangerous John Bolton is. It's going to be Bolton and a bunch of yahoos from Fox? I'm sorry, does Mattis have zero influence here? I mean, I'm not saying Mattis is the Supreme Mellower-outer or anything, but I did have the impression that he cares about being good at his job. How can he, wraith-like, float along with this travesty? Like, until he gets his war with Iran? Does he think that this crew of dumb fucks could handle anything like a war with Iran? Is Mattis, with all his accolades, just like, 'Trump is influenced by Putin cool cool alright.' Because I was under the slight impression that out of all these sacks of worm food Mattis was like, sort of a patriotic dude.

I just don't get it. It's like Comey, with all the damage he caused, has been the only one within the administration or recently of the administration, to call bullshit. And then he gets made a fucking hero, even after he done fucked up in a serious manner. Don't any of these people who have friends who are like, "Seriously, Steve, just quit and burn the place down. You can sleep on my couch if you lose the house."

I guess there was that ICE guy, but that news got buried in the whole casting for Season Two of Trump: America's Worst Nightmare Ever
posted by angrycat at 7:46 AM on March 16 [20 favorites]


Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has died aged 88. First elected in 1986, Slaughter became the first woman to chair the powerful House Rules Committee.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:48 AM on March 16 [26 favorites]


Saw this tweet from astute and witty ex-DOJ flack Matthew Miller:

"There's not a lot to love about this chaos presidency, but John Kelly calling Pruitt to tell him to stop floating his own name for AG is pretty fantastic."

Haven't seen details reported anywhere; if anyone has a link, please do share, because that's just awesome.
posted by martin q blank at 7:50 AM on March 16 [21 favorites]


Isn't the S.D. thing just an embarrassment with minimal legal repercussions, or am I missing something?

USA Today has a breakdown of the legal issues of Trump's payoff to Stormy Daniels: Did the $130,000 Payment to Stormy Daniels Break the Law? "If the $130,000 payment came from Trump himself, the payment did not violate the law on contribution limits. Candidates can put unlimited amounts of their own money into campaigns. But Trump’s campaign, and Cohen, could be in legal jeopardy if Cohen, or another unnamed party, was the source of the money. "

And, as cited in a previous thread, Blogger Susan Simpson @TheViewFromLL2 found a very suspicious coincidence in the timeline:
Something I'd love to see a reporter ask Trump Org about:

1) Cohen formed EC LLC on Oct 17 2016
2) The contract provided for EC LLC to pay Stormy $130K by Oct 27 2016
3) Between Oct 17 & Oct 25, the Trump campaign made payments to Trump Org properties that add up to $129,999.72.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:52 AM on March 16 [41 favorites]


Louise Slaughter was my Representative and an awesome one at that. We are incredibly sad here in Fairport.
posted by valkane at 7:52 AM on March 16 [25 favorites]


It was mentioned in last night's WaPo story.
White House officials have grown agitated that Pruitt and his allies are privately pushing for the EPA chief to replace Sessions, a job Pruitt has told people he wants. On Wednesday night, Kelly called Pruitt and told him the president was happy with his performance at EPA and that he did not need to worry about the Justice Department, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:52 AM on March 16 [20 favorites]


@robwhisman: really good seeing the people i’ve watched post some variation of the phrase “fuck your feelings, snowflake” sixty times a week since 2015 suggest school shootings might end if every student were nicer to the sad kid
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:00 AM on March 16 [92 favorites]


Adding to the podcast suggestions in the last thread, Ian Masters's Background Briefing has been excellent on Trump/Russia all along, and it's available for streaming and download the next day. It's just sober discussion without the pretense of a journalistic "view from nowhere." This segment from Wednesday was particularly good: Is the Trump Organization a Racketeering Enterprise? with Tom Adams.
posted by mubba at 8:10 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Hmmm. Theresa May and Boris Johnson signaling they may go after oligarch assets in Britain. (The Week, via Reddit.)

I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m not sure what a public warning is supposed to accomplish that wouldn’t be better accomplished by, you know, actually seizing the assets, so...I’ll believe it when I see it.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:15 AM on March 16 [30 favorites]


"If the $130,000 payment came from Trump himself, the payment did not violate the law on contribution limits. Candidates can put unlimited amounts of their own money into campaigns. But Trump’s campaign, and Cohen, could be in legal jeopardy if Cohen, or another unnamed party, was the source of the money. "

so… trump can either fess up to paying hush money to a former lover, or run afoul of campaign finance law.

delicious. more rocks and hard places for this administration, pls.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:18 AM on March 16 [46 favorites]


It occurs to me that a public warning gives them warning to move as much of their assets out of the country as possible as fast as possible. Not that one can divest from assets like property that quickly. If there's a strategy behind making those noises, it might be an attempt to ratchet up pressure Putin by the oligarchs. At least they seem to be contemplating an effective method of retaliation, which is heartening.

Also, what's the legal situation on seizing the assets of private citizens of another country for political purpose? Presuming oligarchs fall under the heading of "private citizen." I have no idea at all the method by which this could be executed under the rule of law. If it was a declared war, sure. Filing this under "sanctions" is enough?
posted by wires at 8:21 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


All the replacements are worse people in every way, but one heartening consequence is they may well be worse at keeping their jobs. Not that there's a magic method of placating Trump for long. John Bolton will have a high-level role in the administration until the day he pisses the president off, quite possibly by agreeing with him on something, or by inadvertently taking up too much of the spotlight. Compared to other authoritarians, Trump isn't just bad at carrying out actual plans, he's at some level hostile to the idea. He self-sabotages because it gives him a sense of control (and also because of general ineptitude, of course).

I think most of the difference between the old laughably-high rate of turnover, and the new ludicrously-accelerated one, isn't the nature of the people holding the jobs. It's more about Trump's own discovery of the extent to which he does have a say in things (or he's hit the right emotional extremes to no longer care, I'm not sure which). The people who had thought "He can't just do whatever he wants because, like, someone has to stop him, right?" were maybe 15% correct -- the adults in the room, for a time, could convince him about certain norms/rules. But for whatever reasons they no longer can. And because of this, he's just going to keep firing people (or making them want to quit).

I could be wrong, we could be looking at semi-stable rule by Bond villains who praised Donald on the TV. But my instinct is that, while things will stay bad for a solid length of time, they won't stay the same kind of bad for more than a couple months within it.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:24 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Bolton is another wonderful reminder that the Republican party was chock full of race-baiting halfwit shitlords long before Trump graced the scene.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:29 AM on March 16 [94 favorites]


I’m not sure what a public warning is supposed to accomplish that wouldn’t be better accomplished by, you know, actually seizing the assets

I don't think the UK wants to seize the assets any more than Putin et al want the assets to be seized, frankly; the economy is weak and the problems are structural; tourism is one potential bright spot, and banking / foreign investment is another. The public warning may be a coded message for Putin et al to knock it off with the snarky comments and conspiracy theories and cracks about 'impotence' (and to turn off the social media bots and silence the compromised actors, depending how far down the rabbit hole you want to go). Basically saying: we have to do something, or at least look like we're doing something, and we don't want it to be this, and neither do you, so simmer down.
posted by halation at 8:30 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


bolton is also a reminder that as terrible as this administration is, at least they didn't nominate a UN ambassador who believed that the organization should disband and joked about its headquarters being bombed
posted by murphy slaw at 8:31 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


CBS reporting that Kelly could quit as soon as today, and that Mulvaney is a potential replacement.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:37 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has died aged 88.

I grew up in her district (more or less, given redistrictings), and she repped it for nearly my entire life thus far. I have (not fond) memories of my Trumpster parents ranting about her, so you know she's good people; she protected my rights when no one in my family would, and I can never thank her enough for that.

Anyone know if there will be a special election? I don't know many folks in the area anymore (other than the ones I'm related to), but would definitely make a trip up for canvassing/campaigning/GOTV (caravan from NYC anyone?). I wonder if Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren would run (her name has come up recently for Lt. Gov.).
posted by melissasaurus at 8:40 AM on March 16 [20 favorites]


Unclear if this would replace either or both or neither of Mulvaney's current jobs.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:40 AM on March 16 [14 favorites]


CBS reporting that Kelly could quit as soon as today, and that Mulvaney is a potential replacement.

And the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Trump and Kelly have reached a truce. (link to CNBC because the WSJ article is paywalled).


¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by sporkwort at 8:46 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Mulroney takes over CoS as well as all other cabinet-level staff positions with exception of Secretary of State. Secretary of State is filled by Trump himself, who hails the consolidation as a cost cutting measure.
posted by contraption at 8:48 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


contraption: You're going to need to link the article, or mark that as fake.

(Okay, I'm kidding.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:50 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


It really seems like Trump knows about ten, maybe fifteen people, total, and has to keep shuffling them around. How long before Vince McMahon joins Linda in the cabinet?
posted by uncleozzy at 8:50 AM on March 16 [14 favorites]


Basically saying: we have to do something, or at least look like we're doing something, and we don't want it to be this, and neither do you, so simmer down.

I thought May's suggestion that the poison may have come from stocks Russia had lost control of was designed to offer Putin a face-saving story which would spare the UK from taking any real action (and hence endangering all that delicious Russian money that's been flooding into London recently).

The fact that Putin declined to take her up on this offer just shows the degree of scorn with which he views May's threats. The UK's a paper tiger on this issue, and he knows it.
posted by Paul Slade at 8:53 AM on March 16 [22 favorites]


US housing department adviser quits amid questions of fraud and inflated biography
Naved Jafry, who called for radical privatization to fix America’s cities, steps down following inquiry from the Guardian about his record
Styling himself as an “entrepreneur and philanthropist”, Jafry said he controlled a multimillion-dollar trust fund built since 1885 by relatives in India. According to court records, however, he struggled to pay rent and bills while engaging in a series of failed takeovers of gas stations and other ventures in Texas over the past decade.

In November 2013, a judge ordered Jafry and a fuel company he chaired to repay more than $800,000 to the family of Alfred Oglesby, a former NFL player and investor in the fuel firm, who died in 2009. Oglesby’s widow accused Jafry of fraud. Jafry has not paid the money. Debt collectors said they had been trying to locate him for years.
posted by XMLicious at 8:59 AM on March 16 [29 favorites]


The BBC is now reporting that the second Russian death is being treated as murder.
posted by stonepharisee at 9:01 AM on March 16 [12 favorites]


Presuming oligarchs fall under the heading of "private citizen." I have no idea at all the method by which this could be executed under the rule of law.

Unexplained wealth orders. Hardly any of the money coming into the UK from Russia is “clean”.
posted by Talez at 9:02 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


BBC: UK police launch murder investigation after death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov in south-west London
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:05 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


It's not the second death - the nerve agent victims are still alive, as far as I know - but it may be the fifteenth, as the police have re-opened investigation on 14 previous suspicious deaths of Russians in the UK.
posted by Devonian at 9:10 AM on March 16 [28 favorites]


Wow, the New Yorker cover next week. Is, um. I think I'm going to turn that one face down.
posted by angrycat at 9:11 AM on March 16 [22 favorites]


US housing department adviser quits amid questions of fraud and inflated biography

This administration is a bat-signal for grifters.

But man, just reading the biographies of these people, it all just sounds exhausting. Spinning lies so hard, moving around whenever shit catches up with you, lying lying lying nonstop, dealing with lawsuit upon lawsuit... don't these people get tired of it all? I can barely keep my head above water in my normal non-fraudulent job and my real life actual family and the simple paperwork required to open a HELOC.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:12 AM on March 16 [55 favorites]


Buzzfeed: Trump's CIA Has Set Up Teams To Kill Terrorists
The Central Intelligence Agency has been deploying small teams of commandos to kill selected suspected terrorists, according to two sources familiar with the program.

The program, which has not been previously disclosed, is coordinated by units from the CIA’s Special Activities Center, which oversees the agency’s paramilitary capability, the sources said.

The CIA denied that it has such a program. “Your story is wrong,” said Ryan Trapani, an agency spokesperson.

Director Mike Pompeo, who President Trump has just tapped to become secretary of state, has publicly said the agency will become more “aggressive” and “vicious” but has not mentioned the new effort to kill terrorists.

...

The Special Activities Center is now led by a former commando at the agency. BuzzFeed News is withholding his name at the request of the CIA. Until this spring, he was a senior aide to Pompeo, and before that, he served under John Brennan, Pompeo’s predecessor. He was, according to a source who knows him, a vocal proponent of more aggressive and audacious operations, and he pushed for the use of the SAC to kill terrorists.

Pompeo, according to the two sources, also pushed for the capabilities and the authorization to launch lethal ground operations.

...

The Special Activities Center, previously known as the Special Activities Division, houses the CIA’s Ground Branch, a group of commandos; the Air Branch, which has intelligence, attack, and transport aircraft; and the Maritime Branch. All three branches have been on a recruitment and hiring and acquisition binge, according to the two sources familiar with the program.

The Ground Branch, shortened to just “Branch” or “GB,” inside the agency, is made up of elite fighters, often taken from the ranks of SEALs, Delta Force, and Marine Special Operations Command. They are dubbed Paramilitary Operations Officers, or PMOO, which they pronounce “peemoo.” In the past, they were largely seen as support staff, helping case officers on projects, or for training foreign forces. Now they are used in direct actions and are operating on their own.

There are only about 100 or so of these fighters, but under Trump the numbers have been growing.

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:13 AM on March 16 [19 favorites]


bolton is also a reminder that as terrible as this administration is, at least they didn't nominate a UN ambassador who believed that the organization should disband and joked about its headquarters being bombed

Haven't nominated yet.
posted by Gelatin at 9:14 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Philip Bump has updated his timeline: A (so far) complete timeline of the investigation into Trump and Russia. It covers events from 2013 to the present, complete with a filter to show only actions involving a particular individual or entity. A comprehensive and useful tool.
posted by zachlipton at 9:15 AM on March 16 [47 favorites]


They are dubbed Paramilitary Operations Officers, or PMOO, which they pronounce “peemoo.”

So...death squads. Cool cool, this is all well and good.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:20 AM on March 16 [37 favorites]


I thought May's suggestion that the poison may have come from stocks Russia had lost control of was designed to offer Putin a face-saving story which would spare the UK from taking any real action (and hence endangering all that delicious Russian money that's been flooding into London recently).

The fact that Putin declined to take her up on this offer just shows the degree of scorn with which he views May's threats. The UK's a paper tiger on this issue, and he knows it.


And she's made Britain a paper tiger by choice. If memory serves me correctly, we have discussed in these threads how the Magnitsky Act has put a real crimp in the wealth of Putin and the other oligarchs, and also in Putin's power, as his oligarch supporters need a safe foreign haven for their ill-gotten wealth.

May could deal a real blow against the murderous kleptocrats in Russia with the stroke of a pen, without firing a shot. But she can't resist that sweet, sweet Russian money to prop her up, so she sells her country out.

Much like Trump.
posted by Gelatin at 9:21 AM on March 16 [35 favorites]


"Special Activities."

They always come up with the best euphemisms.
posted by notyou at 9:23 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


"Special Activities."

They always come up with the best euphemisms.


They didn't come up with it.

Special Action 1005
Special Action Krakow
Special Unit
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:26 AM on March 16 [16 favorites]


The Central Intelligence Agency has been deploying small teams of commandos to kill selected suspected terrorists, according to two sources familiar with the program.

The Buzzfeed article notes this in passing, but it's still worth highlighting that the CIA already contemplated this exact kind of program and found it to be ineffective:
All of the attempts ultimately had to be scrapped, often because of logistical difficulties or because the risks were deemed too great, said several officials who served in counterterrorism units or had access to top-secret files.

The program was active in fits and starts, and it was essentially killed in 2004 because it was deemed ineffective, former and current intelligence officials said. It reemerged briefly in 2005 but remained largely dormant until [2009, when]...Shortly after learning of the plan, Panetta terminated the program and then went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, who had been kept in the dark since 2001.
Ethics aside (and ethics should not be put aside), as a practical concern this is still, probably, a very bad idea, and I hope someone asks Pompeo about it: why was the CIA planning to do something it had already decided was a bad idea multiple times, and why did he not inform Congress about it?
posted by cjelli at 9:51 AM on March 16 [42 favorites]


If memory serves me correctly, we found out about the Iran-Contra program when one of the American mercenaries working for it got captured. These jokers really can't distinguish between movies and reality.
posted by Gelatin at 9:53 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something huge, but... isn't this idea better than droning? At least with respect to civilian casualties?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:55 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Here's a 2016 backgrounder on the "Ground Branch" by SOFREP News. This bit is interesting:

When people envision Ground Branch, they tend to picture “Rainbow Six” or “Splinter Cell” black helicopter-type stuff, but the reality is that their mission is essentially the same as the unconventional warfare mission of Army Special Forces (Green Berets). What makes GB unique is that they can operate under the CIA’s Title 50 authority for covert action. This makes GB a deniable force, unlike active-duty SEALs, Rangers, or Delta operators.

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:57 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something huge, but... isn't this idea better than droning? At least with respect to civilian casualties?

It's a moot comparison in that neither Pompeo nor Trump is proposing (from what's been reported) using fewer drone strikes; this would complement and expand on the drone program. And ground raids will kill civilians because raids have killed civilians.
posted by cjelli at 10:02 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: "Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has died aged 88. First elected in 1986, Slaughter became the first woman to chair the powerful House Rules Committee."

She was a trailblazer and a great advocate, this is sad news. It must also be said she was well liked by GOP folks as well - the statements that have been coming out have been going beyond pro forma, and make it clear she will be missed.

melissasaurus: "Anyone know if there will be a special election?"

It's basically up to Cuomo if he wants one or not. Given we're already in the back half of March, he may not. The seat should be safely blue, regardless.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:05 AM on March 16 [7 favorites]


I probably was in the momentary grip of "like in the movies" thinking, and I very humbly apologize.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:05 AM on March 16


Just quoted by verstegan in another open thread, an article called "Kill Lists" from last June by Clive Stafford Smith in The Times Literary Supplement (paywalled, unfortunately):
The CIA’s dabbling in assassination caused so many problems that, in 1975, a Church Committee Report declared assassination “incompatible with American principle, international order and morality”. Among the reasons to reject the practice, the Report identified the danger of political instability following a leader’s death; the inability of a democratic government to ensure that such covert activities remain secret; and the inevitable fact that the use of assassination would invite reciprocal or retaliatory action against American leaders. One result was Executive Order 11905, signed by President Gerald Ford on February 18, 1976, which officially banned political assassinations. Subsequently, between 1978 and 1981, President Jimmy Carter and then President Ronald Reagan broadened the prohibition: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination”.

The gradual evolution of the rule against assassination came to a head at almost the same time as the 1984 Convention Against Torture; both principles would be cast aside after 9/11 without debate. Naturally, since bad cases make for unwise practices, the US began by trying to target Osama bin Laden, who was seen as responsible for the outrages in New York and Washington. Jane Mayer, in her article “The Predator War” published in the New Yorker in 2009, describes how, in February 2002, “along the mountainous eastern border of Afghanistan, a Predator reportedly followed and killed three suspicious Afghans, including a tall man in robes who was thought to be bin Laden. The victims turned out to be innocent villagers, gathering scrap metal”. Thus began America’s unravelling of the law.
posted by XMLicious at 10:06 AM on March 16 [12 favorites]


The Central Intelligence Agency has been deploying small teams of commandos to kill selected suspected terrorists, according to two sources familiar with the program.
----
Maybe I'm missing something huge, but... isn't this idea better than droning? At least with respect to civilian casualties?


Define "suspected terrorists."
posted by melissasaurus at 10:08 AM on March 16 [35 favorites]


The most (well perhaps one of the most) concerning aspects of this approach seems that it is, like nearly everything Trump does, a product of some ego-driven need to outdo Obama. Trump's quandary is there isn't anyone out there who could actually do that for him, since Osama Bin Laden was kind of the top of the heap on that front, no?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:14 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


KC Star: ‘He’s ahead. Wake up.’ Kansas Republicans fear defeat in 2018 congressional race
Anxiety over the GOP's weakened grasp on Kansas’ 2nd congressional district, which includes Topeka and Lawrence, was on full display during last month’s state party convention.

GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins is retiring. Republicans lack a clear front runner in the race to replace her, while Democrats have coalesced around Paul Davis, a former state lawmaker who won the district during his unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2014.

"If the election were held today, (there's) a 70 percent chance Davis gets elected,” Mike Stieben, co-chair of Kansans For Life’s political action committee, told the crowd at a convention prayer breakfast.

He passed an empty KFC bucket around the room, urging people to drop in donations so his anti-abortion group could start campaigning in the district. "We cannot elect Paul Davis," Stieben said. "And he's ahead. Wake up. We need your help."

And this was before Conor Lamb, a Pennsylvania Democrat, eked out a victory in a conservative district that in 2016 went strongly for Donald Trump, bolstering Democrats' hopes of a blue wave and spiking conservative concerns about what this could all mean for the Republican majority in Congress.
posted by chris24 at 10:14 AM on March 16 [41 favorites]


I should add that of course the whole underlying idea that foreign terrorists absolutely must be killed or caught, regardless of the ethical/financial/human cost, is straight-up irrationality, even if the terrorist is more than just "suspected".

I often figure that American voters and government will never be rid of that idea, and we just need leaders who placate that bloodlust in the least bloody way they can. But this is too cynical on my part. After all, a logically overlapping notion is "guns don't kill people, people kill people". That results in a belief that massacre-prevention policy should focus on individual perpetrators, but the winds are changing on that.

The more we can treat terrorism-prevention as a matter of some non-onerous logistical security (plus solving the root social causes), and less about "figure out who the terrorists are, kill them, ta-da no more terrorism", the better.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:23 AM on March 16 [18 favorites]


Trump's quandary is there isn't anyone out there who could actually do that for him, since Osama Bin Laden was kind of the top of the heap on that front, no?

I would bet money that someone at the CIA has been tasked with sifting through all the old Castro assassination plots to figure out which ones can be adapted for Kim Jong Un.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:24 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: I would bet money that someone at the CIA has been tasked with sifting through all the old Castro assassination plots to figure out which ones can be adapted for Kim Jong Un.

And then Donald will suggest doing it himself, arguing that North Korea would never suspect it, and it would cement his legacy forever. It's the perfect combination of his ridiculous tough-guy act and his constant shtick of "Past leaders have been doing complicated stupid things, instead of simple genius things".

Holy shit. I give like a 35% chance that is literally what he had in mind when agreeing to the meeting.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:31 AM on March 16 [29 favorites]


Bolton is another wonderful reminder that the Republican party was chock full of race-baiting halfwit shitlords long before Trump graced the scene.

Yeah, this is why I don't understand why Bolton is being described as a new level of existential threat. He's had a seat at the table before. I'm not denying that he's terrible or dangerous. I just don't see how his re-entering the picture marks a new, previously unrealized circle of hell.
posted by diogenes at 10:35 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


anastasiav : I support the desire to support her, but there are plenty of other Maine Dems who could use the support, starting with either of the candidates in CD2 or any of the Dem Gov candidates.

Looks like the money is being directed to the Lewiston Democratic Party, which has promised to divert all of proceeds from the page to her campaign (its new goal is $250k!). The Greene/Sabbatus and the Lewiston area is in ME Congressional District 2 (the odious Poloquin, R), so I'd imagine freeing up other funds to support the opposition to him, and encouraging GOtV efforts would be a big help. Some people may not know but, there is a refugee Somali community, some of whose children born in the US are likely getting close to voting age, so maybe some money can be put towards their outreach as well. 100k would go towards a lot of outreach in that area!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:37 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Cook Political moves ratings for ten races, 9 towards the Dems:

CA-07 (Bera): Likely D => Solid D
CA-24 (Carbajal): Likely D => Solid D
FL-13 (Crist): Likely D => Solid D
NJ-07 (Lance): Lean R => Toss-up
NM-02 (open): Likely R => Lean R
NY-03 (Suozzi): Likely D => Solid D
OH-12 special: Likely R => Lean R
PA-08/01 (Fitzpatrick): Lean R => Toss-up
PA-12/17 (Rothfus): Lean R => Toss-up
PA-18/14 (Lamb): Toss-up => Likely R

Note that the PA ones are a little goofy because of the redistricting.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:40 AM on March 16 [20 favorites]


PA-18/14 (Lamb): Toss-up => Likely R

Are they saying that Lamb is less likely to win in November, despite having just won in a heavily gerrymandered district that's going to be less gerrymandered in a few months? What happened to trigger the shift?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:45 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this is why I don't understand why Bolton is being described as a new level of existential threat.

Instead of talking to him from Fox, he'll be talking to Trump from the room and often be the last or only voice he hears. All I know is that politics/defense/foreign relations twitter, including many sane Rs, are very worried.

@djlavoie (D speechwriter)
People aren't freaking out ENOUGH about John Bolton as NSC.

He will tell Trump that bombing countries will make him "tough" and "strong" and "willing to do what Obama was too weak to do."

It is an apocalyptic confluence of ego, ignorance, and anger.
posted by chris24 at 10:47 AM on March 16 [70 favorites]


That might be them resetting the probabilities from a heavily-polled special election to a starting-from-scratch general.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:47 AM on March 16


I *think* what he's saying is that the PA-18 Lamb just won doesn't exist anymore. The biggest piece of it is the new PA-14 - it's much more GOP, and Lamb isn't running there (he's running in new PA-17).

If you read the piece, this is when they've decided to switch to the new districts, so PA ratings are sort of misleading. The real upshot is: we have a good shot at flipping new PA-17, new PA-14 is (probably) out of reach.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:50 AM on March 16 [10 favorites]


I *think* what he's saying is that the PA-18 Lamb just won doesn't exist anymore. The biggest piece of it is the new PA-14 - it's much more GOP, and Lamb isn't running there (he's running in new PA-17).

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks.

Politics is wacky, you guys.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


TPM Livewire: Vanessa Trump Files For Divorce From Trump Jr.

A mildly intriguing update from Page Six: Vanessa Trump Hires Criminal Defense Attorney For Donald Jr. Divorce "White Plains, NY-based lawyer David Feureisen is representing Vanessa Trump, according to paperwork filed in Manhattan Supreme Court late Thursday. Feureisen is best known for securing the release of a New York man named Anthony DiSimone from federal prison in 2007 after a judge overturned a murder conviction related to a bar fight in 1994."

Bartels & Feureisen does handle divorce cases, as well as accidents, corporate business, and family ones, but they seem an odd choice.

And the timing of the divorce filing with the NYT's scoop about Mueller subpoena'ing Trump Org documents has raised eyebrows...
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:55 AM on March 16 [19 favorites]


Holy shit. I give like a 35% chance that is literally what he had in mind when agreeing to the meeting.

Sacrifice himself to undertake a bold, dangerous plan where he carries all the risk? Please. 35% chance what he had in mind is that he'd take Jared with him and Jared would do it.
posted by The World Famous at 10:59 AM on March 16 [13 favorites]


Oh, he could totally have had that scenario in mind. Just like how he would have run unarmed into Stoneman Douglas to take on the heavily armed shooter.
posted by saturday_morning at 11:03 AM on March 16 [11 favorites]


85% percent chance he told the room that's what he'd do. 0% chance he'd have the guts to exert himself or risk his life.
posted by cmfletcher at 11:10 AM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Playing catch up from two threads and a half a scarramuchi ago;

Re Escorts, dancers, sex workers, adult film actresses, when I was a student at Smu, I shared a penthouse flat with two other women working on advanced degrees at said school. I had a job working at a gentlemen's club, starting as waitress and working my way thru bartender into talent management. Most of my dancers were college students from religiously affiliated universities. My flatmates were escorts who specializes in very wealthy men and politicians. We had friends in the adult film and print industry. Those women went on to become powerhouses in their respective fields which are deeply intellectually challenging. We offered scholarships and tuition reimbursements and rent subsidies to keep our employees in college. All of us knew that these careers had a hard stop, age and looks wise. Stormy Daniels is well known in the Dallas area, and she's a shrewd negotiator, and a strong proponents for the performers who work with her. She's awesome, and the adult industry needs dozens more of women like her who are not ashamed of what they do, and refuse to be shamed into earning less than she's worth.

Re Afghanistan and wars in Asia, four of the boys who were seniors in rotc last year, joined the military out high school to earn gi bill credits to go to college. Every single one of them are being sent to the middle east. We have a massive build up happening, and it's not getting any attention.

Re time dilation, this shit has to stop. The simulation has hit a bug, and the cycles are happening too fast. If we could just reset back to before CERN pushed us into an alternate dimension, that would be great.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:16 AM on March 16 [92 favorites]


Killing "suspected terrorists" just makes more "actual terrorists."

Christ, it's been decades of this idiocy. I can't believe the stupid hatefulness of the armchair Rambos in charge of the military.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:18 AM on March 16 [19 favorites]


Faint of Butt: Are they saying that Lamb is less likely to win in November, despite having just won in a heavily gerrymandered district that's going to be less gerrymandered in a few months?

Recall that the purpose of gerrymandering is to pack lots of your opponents' votes into a few districts while still creating safe districts for your side. That means that that if republicans are doing the gerrymandering, then a republican district is drawn to be safe but not overwhelmingly so. In other words, the district wasn't drawn to be unwinnable by democrats, it was drawn to be unwinnable by democrats under normal circumstances. Less gerrymandered does not mean more competitive, it just means not optimized to maximize one party's representation at the state level.
posted by jomato at 11:19 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Josh Marshall talked to Michael Avenatti on an extra podcast episode.
posted by kingless at 11:29 AM on March 16 [3 favorites]


I took Susan Simpson's data around the money laundering to provide the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels and wrote some code to try out some things.

I filtered the list to all payments to organizations containing TRUMP. There were 466 of them.

Then, for each transaction, I considered whether the amount of that transaction plus any number of the following 10 transactions added up to within $1 of some target amount. This works out to be about 1 million different possible sets of transactions.

Then I tested for different target amounts: $90,000, $100,000, $110,000, $120,000, $130,000, $140,000, $150,000, $160,000, and $170,000.

Here's the output of that program:
Read 31170 lines from trump-campaign-2016-expenditures.txt
466 payments were to Trump properties
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $90000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $100000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $110000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $120000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $130000...
HIT TARGET: Total is 129999.72! Transactions found:
[1st] 10/17/2016 0:00,TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB WASHINGTON DC,FACILITY RENTAL/CATERING SERVICES,"$8,544.00 ",
[in ] 10/17/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL,FACILITY RENTAL/CATERING SERVICES,"$13,431.88 ",
[in ] 10/17/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL LAS VEGAS,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859911],"$18,731.90 ",
[in ] 10/17/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL LAS VEGAS,TRAVEL: LODGING,"$79,043.94 ",
[out] 10/20/2016 0:00,"TRUMP, DONALD J.",IN-KIND: PAYROLL (SEE MEMOS BELOW),"$2,574.43 ",TRUMP
[out] 10/20/2016 0:00,TRUMP TOWER COMMERCIAL LLC,PAYROLL,"$2,574.43 ",
[in ] 10/25/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859906],"$10,248.00 ",
[out] 10/25/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859906],"$16,142.61 ",
[out] 10/27/2016 0:00,TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB,TRAVEL: LODGING - AMEX [SB23.4103],$524.70 ,
[out] 10/27/2016 0:00,TRUMP NATIONAL GOLF CLUB,TRAVEL: LODGING - AMEX [SB23.4103],$524.70 ,
[out] 10/27/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859906],$956.08 ,
[out] 10/27/2016 0:00,TRUMP NATIONAL DORAL MIAMI,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859911],"$1,473.40 ",
Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $140000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $150000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $160000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations
Checking for transaction sequences totaling $170000...Done. Tested 931840 combinations

We have a sequence of transactions which is:
  • The only sequence, out of 9 million possible sequences, to total a round number of tens of thousands near $130,000
  • The only sequence in which this happens occurs exactly when the payment to Daniels occurs
  • Occurs within a window of 7 transactions, even though we considered a substantially broader window of 10 transactions when looking for "false positives"
Trump laundered money from his campaign to pay off his affair. Full stop. Zero question.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:30 AM on March 16 [505 favorites]


Re time dilation, this shit has to stop. The simulation has hit a bug, and the cycles are happening too fast.

Trump's inside our OODA Loop.
...decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act
...
In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop ... Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing, as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns, they are competing against.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 AM on March 16 [19 favorites]


I came across this essay in Current Affairs which gives the best outlining for the kind of social and political change I’m down for

“ Collective ownership means collective decision-making power. Without democratic decision-making, then there’s no collective ownership. There’s just government ownership, and governments themselves only conform to the principles of socialism to the extent they are democratic. In fact, “democratic socialism” should be a redundancy, because socialism should consist of the application of democracy to all aspects of life.” Socialism is a series of principles
posted by The Whelk at 11:38 AM on March 16 [27 favorites]


Holy crap that's awesome, 0xFCAF. You should try and get your analysis in front of someone with a big megaphone, or perhaps a friendly Senator's staff. That's pretty devastating.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:39 AM on March 16 [63 favorites]


Trump laundered money from his campaign to pay off his affair. Full stop. Zero question.

I swear to God. When the ACA went live and the site was crashing, President Obama made a national address about load balancing. Now we’re finding possible evidence that the president is a felon by running some RegExs over a text file.

If this isn’t a simulation or some mass consciousness playing games with itself, then I don’t know what the fuck anymore.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:44 AM on March 16 [40 favorites]


0xFCAF, what do the markers [in] and [out] mean in your data?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:46 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


The gradual evolution of the rule against assassination came to a head at almost the same time as the 1984 Convention Against Torture; both principles would be cast aside after 9/11 without debate. Naturally, since bad cases make for unwise practices, the US began by trying to target Osama bin Laden, who was seen as responsible for the outrages in New York and Washington. Jane Mayer, in her article “The Predator War” published in the New Yorker in 2009, describes how, in February 2002, “along the mountainous eastern border of Afghanistan, a Predator reportedly followed and killed three suspicious Afghans, including a tall man in robes who was thought to be bin Laden. The victims turned out to be innocent villagers, gathering scrap metal”. Thus began America’s unravelling of the law.

Bill Clinton attempted to assassinate Osama bin Laden in 1998, openly and publicly, well before 9/11.
posted by srboisvert at 11:47 AM on March 16 [9 favorites]


[in ] 10/25/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859906],"$10,248.00 ",
[out] 10/25/2016 0:00,TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL,TRAVEL: LODGING [AMEX: SB23.2859906],"$16,142.61 ",


What is this? Was the hotel paying money to the campaign? Some kind of refund?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:47 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]


[in] marks payments that were used to add up to the target amount, [out] marks payments that are "skipped" (i.e. legitimate activity). Add up the [in] amounts to hit the target amount, ignoring the [out] payments.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:48 AM on March 16 [15 favorites]


That seems very, very persuasive.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:50 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


0xFCAF I want to buy you a beer or coffee or whatever - also what you’ve done should go wider, please could we stay on top of its dissemination?
posted by From Bklyn at 11:51 AM on March 16 [28 favorites]


Trump's inside our OODA Loop.

His Brownian motion executive style degrades our ability to process & react, certainly. But it also degrades his own. The point of OODA loops is to make better decisions faster than your opponent. Can't do that if you're unable to Observe or Orient & your Decision function is severely impaired.
posted by scalefree at 11:52 AM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Trump laundered money from his campaign to pay off his affair. Full stop. Zero question.

Another analysis on Medium.

Statistical Model Strongly Suggests the Stormy Daniels Payoff Came from the Trump Campaign
To explore whether these payments are worth investigating further, we have approached the question from another angle. Instead of examining the individual payments forensically, we have instead focused on the rather close match between the summed payments ($129,999.72) and the $130,000 Daniels payoff. It struck us as fairly unlikely that, by chance alone, so few payments would sum to such a precise figure.

In order to investigate these suspicions, we developed 10,000 sets of simulated Trump campaign payments. Each set contained 10 randomly generated payments. We then searched each of those sets for the combination of payments with the total closest to $130,000. The simulation confirmed that it is extremely unlikely that, by random chance alone, a set of payments near a specific date would almost equal $130,000.

For each of the 10,000 sets, we generated a “closeness” value — the difference between their “best match” and $130,000. For instance, if the “best match” was $130,014.29, the “closeness” value would be $14.29.

Across 10,000 sets of simulated payments, the 99.9th percentile of closeness was $0.24. The actual degree of closeness in the real-life Trump campaign finance records is $0.28. In other words, out of every one thousand simulated payment sets, only one contained a combination of payments as close to $130,000 as the real-life payments made in the week preceding Oct. 25th.
posted by chris24 at 11:53 AM on March 16 [87 favorites]


Trump laundered money from his campaign to pay off his affair. Full stop. Zero question.

This might explain the comment above that the WH staff is more nervous about Stormy Daniels than they are about Mueller. And the Daniels and Mueller stories may even converge...
posted by Emera Gratia at 11:56 AM on March 16 [29 favorites]


The point of OODA loops is to make better decisions faster than your opponent.

I don't wanna be all time-for-some-game-theory, but I don't think Trump is playing the same game as his many opponents. With all the MAGA rhetoric pared back, his sole goals are naked self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment, and he can do that without contesting whatever it is we're perceiving as the battlespace, as it were.

He doesn't have an OODA loop in the same way we do. True to what fascist theory exalts and extolls, he just acts from gut instinct, which is why — perfect phrasing! — his Brownian strategy is so effective. (In the short term, anyway, and he'd better hope there is no "long term," because in the long term I'm quite sure it all falls to pieces.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:58 AM on March 16 [15 favorites]


Does anyone know if structuring campaign expenditure in this way to avoid scrutiny is itself illegal?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:00 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


He doesn't have an OODA loop in the same way we do. True to what fascist theory exalts and extolls, he just acts from gut instinct, which is why — perfect phrasing! — his Brownian strategy is so effective. (In the short term, anyway, and he'd better hope there is no "long term," because in the long term I'm quite sure it all falls to pieces.)

you can't win a farting contest by playing chess
posted by murphy slaw at 12:01 PM on March 16 [39 favorites]


I feel like Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap. How much more Trump can this be? None more Trump. This is disgusting.

Trump wildlife protection board stuffed with trophy hunters.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family.

A review by The Associated Press of the backgrounds and social media posts of the 16 board members appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicates they will agree with his position that the best way to protect critically threatened or endangered species is by encouraging wealthy Americans to shoot some of them.

One appointee co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with Trump’s adult sons. The oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., drew the ire of animal rights activists after a 2011 photo emerged of him holding a bloody knife and the severed tail of an elephant he killed in Zimbabwe.
posted by scalefree at 12:04 PM on March 16 [53 favorites]


0xFCAF - Rachel Maddow has a tip line that her staff actually reviews. This may be very interesting to them.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:07 PM on March 16 [55 favorites]


I sent a link to the data analysis comment to the TPM tip inbox. Pretty great stuff there.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:08 PM on March 16 [25 favorites]


I am with From Bklyn! OxCACF, take a f*cking bow!
posted by goalyeehah at 12:09 PM on March 16 [29 favorites]


What's the difference between OxFCAF's analysis and the Medium article's analysis?
posted by snwod at 12:10 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]



Statistical Model Strongly Suggests the Stormy Daniels Payoff Came from the Trump Campaign


And now I have a great example to teach students what a null hypotheses is.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:10 PM on March 16 [19 favorites]


I sent a link to the data analysis comment to the TPM tip inbox. Pretty great stuff there.

So did I, independently. :D
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:11 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


I sent it to Joe Pesci. I don't know why, I just figured he'd enjoy it.
posted by delfin at 12:14 PM on March 16 [110 favorites]


The medium article approach uses a probabilistic model to determine the odds of a "transaction like this one" appearing in the data.

My approach actually looks for "transactions like this one" in the data.

Arguably you need both to come to a firm conclusion.

I'm working on a gist on and off and will be updating it with more explanatory text as I'm able to. Also sending this to Maddow etc
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:14 PM on March 16 [129 favorites]


Ahhhh, it's a Friday afternoon. What story have they decided to wait to bury the lead on this week? Surely they got one more in 'em.
::Takes a sip of tea, refreshes browser::
posted by hillabeans at 12:15 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


What's the difference between OxFCAF's analysis and the Medium article's analysis?

Think of it as peer-review and replication of results, unless 0xFCAF happens to be the author of the Medium article.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 12:16 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Cool. Thanks for the explanations.
posted by snwod at 12:17 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


> What's the difference between OxFCAF analysis and the Medium article's analysis?

Nerd alert, but the two analyses are exploring related, but different questions.

The Medium article asks, how often do a few random (simulated) payments add up to within a dollar of $130,000? (This being the special "payoff" number.) And the answer is, not very often at all.

0xFCAF's analysis asks a different question: do small subsets of the (real world) payments made by the Trump campaign to the Trump organization often add up close to round multiples of $10,000? And the answer is, the only multiple they ever add up to (out of 9 million possible combinations) is the one case where they came in at 129,999.72, and that just so happened to be on the same week that PP was paid off to the tune of $130,000.00.

But I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Yep.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:20 PM on March 16 [110 favorites]


The medium article asks the question: what is the probability of finding a result like this if the payments were made randomly? Its important because a skeptic could just say, oh, thats just by chance that those payments totaled that amount. But the probability of randomly generated payments getting as close to or closer than the amount actually paid is about 1 in 1,000.

OxFCAF's method asks: how many groups of payments made by the trump campaign in a short period of time totaled something close to a round number? The answer is one.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:21 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


In more social science terms, the medium article conducts inference using a null hypothesis, while OxFCAF uses a placebo test.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:23 PM on March 16 [38 favorites]


> 4. The only one I think is actually plausible is the idea that some Russia-related actor but not the Russian state did it - some oligarch or gangster with reasons of their own and access to some kind of dangerous nerve agent.

This is the only alternative explanation that is even 10% plausible.

But the way Putin has been taking a victory lap over these killings and poisonings really takes the wind out of all of these alternative explanations. If this were really some rogue group that had somehow gotten ahold of the Russian nerve gas stockpiles and was using them to kill people while pasting the blame on Putin and/or the Russian government, Putin would be acting in a very, very different way right now.

This is much like the victory lap Putin took after the Trump election, when he as much as admitted--and bragged about--Russia's role in the election, while offering a few paper-thin verbal denials to retain a modest air of plausible deniability about the whole.

The important thing here is that the act of publicly claiming credit afterwards is an important part of the action itself. It's not just poisoning or killing someone or influencing the election. It's LETTING PEOPLE KNOW, very clearly, that you are capable of doing it at any time and any place.

TL;DR: We know damn good and well that Putin is responsible for this stuff because he's told us so himself, through words and actions.
posted by flug at 12:29 PM on March 16 [25 favorites]


The medium article approach uses a probabilistic model to determine the odds of a "transaction like this one" appearing in the data.

My approach actually looks for "transactions like this one" in the data.


And crucially, they concur. A consistent reality picture as to the most likely explanation emerges from a consideration of both. This is as close to a smoking gun as anything other than an own-goal, failson-Don-Jr.-style admission is ever likely to be.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:30 PM on March 16 [41 favorites]


Campaign finance law, from the FEC: Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited.

Commission regulations provide a test, called the “irrespective test,” to differentiate legitimate campaign and officeholder expenses from personal expenses. Under the “irrespective test,” personal use is any use of funds in a campaign account of a candidate (or former candidate) to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.

More simply, if the expense would exist even in the absence of the candidacy or even if the officeholder were not in office, then the personal use ban applies.

posted by mudpuppie at 12:34 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


More simply, if the expense would exist even in the absence of the candidacy or even if the officeholder were not in office, then the personal use ban applies.

I mean, technically, Trump wouldn't have to pay hush money to porn stars if he wasn't a candidate, so uh, I guess he's in the clear.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:37 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]




Jim Acosta reported a WH source said, wrt the possible purge of monsters and replacing them with worse ones, "Everyone loves a season finale."

There's something I'm feeling that's existential but also involves a feeling of a need to vomit. Oh! Existential nausea! Is that what this is?
posted by angrycat at 12:44 PM on March 16 [19 favorites]


Fuck you too, Rex. Don't pray, blow the fucking whistle on these dipshits.
posted by aiglet at 12:44 PM on March 16 [72 favorites]


It took me like six tries to parse that headline. I kept trying to figure out which diplomat was talking about Rex Tillerson because "Top diplomat Rex Tillerson" just isn't a cromulent noun phrase—it should be something like "infamous diplomacy-disrupter Rex Tillerson" or "diametrical anti-diplomat Rex Tillerson".
posted by The Tensor at 12:44 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Somebody responded to that "Season Finale" tweet with the hope that it would be a Newhart finale style 'it's all been a dream now welcome Madame President'
posted by angrycat at 12:47 PM on March 16 [47 favorites]


So if crowdfunded donations to Stormy Daniel's legal campaign end up exceeding her legal costs, can she use the excess to fund a political campaign?
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:50 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


$129,999.72

You do realize the 28 cents was left off so as to provide deniability: We didn't send $130,000 for this payment.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:50 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


The funny thing is if this *billionaire* wasn't such a cheap bastard and actually paid on his own just a few hundred dollars of the $130k payoff, it would totally look like a fluke. But no, he had to get almost every penny back.
posted by chris24 at 12:53 PM on March 16 [39 favorites]


You do realize the 28 cents was left off so as to provide deniability: We didn't send $130,000 for this payment.

Also because Trump is a huge cheapskate and would totally cheat someone out of 28 cents just for the hell of it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:55 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


The funny thing is if this *billionaire* wasn't such a cheap bastard and actually paid on his own just a few hundred dollars of the $130k payoff, it would totally look like a fluke. But no, he had to get almost every penny back.

I was actually kinda sceptical initially, both because million to one chances happen nine times out of ten, but also because I couldn't see how anyone who money launders for a living would be so mind-numbingly stupid as to not obfuscate the amount at least a little.

Also surprised that he didn't add in an extra 10% at least for himself.
posted by Buntix at 12:56 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


American Express took a chunk of the payments for themselves, making the closeness of the total to the settlement cost extra unnecessary and incompetent.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:00 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Are violations of campaign finance law prosecutable via the impeachment process?
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:02 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Are violations of campaign finance law prosecutable via the impeachment process?

Anything is an impeachable offense, if there is the political will to do so. At this moment, there isn't.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:05 PM on March 16 [18 favorites]


What is impeachable is whatever Congress decides is impeachable. They could decline to impeach Trump for being a serial killer or a paid agent of Russia, and they could decide to impeach him because he once violated a campaign finance law by overpaying $0.01.
posted by Justinian at 1:05 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Are violations of campaign finance law prosecutable via the impeachment process?

The impeachment process is for prosecuting "high crimes and misdemeanors."

The definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" is whatever a majority of the House and 2/3 of the Senate agrees it is.
posted by Uncle Ira at 1:06 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Somebody responded to that "Season Finale" tweet with the hope that it would be a Newhart finale style 'it's all been a dream now welcome Madame President'

I'll leave out the names to avoid a 2020 speculation derail, but this morning in the car my wife and I got talking about possible 2020 candidates. After a couple names I like, it occurred to me how none of them can equal Hillary Clinton's resume. Not that any of the resumes are bad at all, but none are like hers.

My wife pointed out it's really not about the resume, particularly with this dipshit in office. Anyone who runs against him is bound to be more qualified. But that only made me feel worse about it, really. I think about how massively qualified Clinton was for the job, how massively unqualified Cheeto Mussolini is...and how many people didn't care.

I still don't know how I'll ever forgive anyone for voting for him. And I don't know why I should try.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:10 PM on March 16 [93 favorites]


Not to abuse edit windows: I guess what I'm saying is it's important to move on, and I think I have, but moving on doesn't mean you're done grieving.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:11 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


Forensic Accounting is a Thing, and I am deadly curious how close 0xFCAF (glorious!) work is to best practice in that field.

To put it another way, is this the sort of evidence that routinely convinces judges to convict in fraud cases?
posted by wires at 1:13 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


NPR just continued what seems to be a disturbing Trend in its Friday weekly political report. For the second time in a month, it had a conservative columnist as usual, but instead of a liberal columnist, it had a media reporter. Casting a reporter into the role normally occupied by the likes of EJ Dionne or another liberal columnist falsely concedes that the media is, in fact, liberal.
posted by Gelatin at 1:16 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


I have to wonder: did OxFCAF also inadvertently exculpate the Trump Organization of any other illegal/questionable structuring of a similar nature? As in, the payment to Daniels looks like the only time something like it has happened?

Or should we not expect that other instances of structuring (which is also called "smurfing" according to Wikipedia!) would add up to such round numbers? Or was this just a specific time window?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:18 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Alternately, and I know this isn't the intended framing, it correctly implies that conservatives are opposed not to "liberals" but to the concept of facts.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:19 PM on March 16 [18 favorites]


InTheYear2017 I was wondering that too, I was thinking there might be others. But it actually might be that this is the only time they did it sloppily. They were rushed, right? Because they had missed the deadline?
posted by Brainy at 1:24 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


The important thing here is that the act of publicly claiming credit afterwards is an important part of the action itself.

Just like terrorism.
posted by Gelatin at 1:25 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


I am by no means an expert, but I think the next step in an investigation would be to start digging into the set of payments that are identified as part of the transaction. They are each listed as being for something legitimate (facility rental, lodging, etc.) - gather evidence and/or issue subpoenas to determine whether the listed service was or was not really provided. Hotel lodging? Who stayed there, for what dates, and in what rooms? It's hard to construct a fraudulent set of facts behind a large payment that holds up under scrutiny.
posted by allegedly at 1:27 PM on March 16 [18 favorites]


I have to wonder: did OxFCAF also inadvertently exculpate the Trump Organization of any other illegal/questionable structuring of a similar nature? As in, the payment to Daniels looks like the only time something like it has happened?

If I understand the description, the search only included $90k-$170k in $10k increments. If there was a $50k instance, or $95k, or $180k, that wasn't in the criteria.
posted by Kriesa at 1:29 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Now that's some eponystericality, right there.
"allegedly, indeed."
posted by rp at 1:29 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


did OxFCAF also inadvertently exculpate the Trump Organization of any other illegal/questionable structuring of a similar nature?

No. 0xFCAF was looking for values in ten-thousand dollar increments centered around the known value of the Stormy Daniels settlement payment. Other settlement payments might be half the size, double the size, or $5k more than the Daniels payment, and would go undetected.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:31 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


0xFCAF, how hard is it to tweak your code to run on shuffled versions of the data? You can can bootstrap a false positive rate directly from the data for added confirmation that it's not a fluke. My prediction would be that you'd essentially see no false positives when running on 100 random shuffles of the data, further bolstering the evidence for money laundering.
posted by biogeo at 1:31 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


To put it another way, is this the sort of evidence that routinely convinces judges to convict in fraud cases?

I'm not a forensic accountant, but for a time in my misguided youth I was in charge of Accounts Receivable at a ladies wear company. The way it goes is you start with the ledger and work your way down to the dress:
Dear Sirs;

Our records indicate several unpaid invoices. Attached please find copies of the relevant purchase order, the invoices, and the signed receipt from UPS indicating successful delivery. Please also note that two of the items were returned to us for alterations; those invoices are unpaid as well.

Please advise.

Warmly,

Notyou
A/R Clerk
Dress Factory
Just swap in details from 0xFCAF's analysis, plus Bob Mueller's name and office at the end there, and wait for the check to arrive.
posted by notyou at 1:43 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Stormy's lawyer is on with Jake Tapper.

@amandawgolden (CNN)
.@jaketapper: "Is there anything in the litany of accusations, you would call them facts, that surround this case that happened while Donald Trump was President?"
@MichaelAvenatti: "Yes."

@TheLeadCNN
You say your client, Stormy Daniels, felt “physically threatened” to stay silent about what she knew about Donald Trump

Daniels’ attorney: “I didn’t say she ‘felt’ physically threatened — what I said was, she ‘was’ physically threatened.”
VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 1:44 PM on March 16 [91 favorites]


New from Pew, just more confirmation that in white evangelicalism, Jesus is just a cover story for white supremacist fascism.

White evangelicals approve of Trump's job performance (78%) at twice the rate of the general public (39%).
posted by chris24 at 1:50 PM on March 16 [72 favorites]


Alternately, and I know this isn't the intended framing, it correctly implies that conservatives are opposed not to "liberals" but to the concept of facts.

While that latter part is true enough, the segment was their weekly Friday Roundup, in which they typically have a liberal and conservative provide commentary and opinion on the week's events. As far back as I remember, that's been the format.

So while journalists can provide worthy insight and opinion on the stories of the week, the problem is the format casts them, exlcusively, on the liberal side. Which is not an implication, let alone a concession, NPR has any place making.
posted by Gelatin at 1:53 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


I would like 0xFCAF to see if other "Trump" payments can be totaled to reach values close to $1k increments, ranging from much smaller to much larger than the Stormy Daniels settlement amount. Maybe something will stick out like a sore thumb. If so, we'll have the approximate date of another payment Trump didn't want us to know about.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:00 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


wabbittwax: "
I mean, technically, Trump wouldn't have to pay hush money to porn stars if he wasn't a candidate, so uh, I guess he's in the clear.
"

Except Trump seems to have paid off many sex workers previous to his run for president.

scaryblackdeath: "I think about how massively qualified Clinton was for the job, how massively unqualified Cheeto Mussolini is...and how many people didn't care."

Every time I think about the resumes of the candidate who lost and the candidate who won I want to stab myself with a spork.
posted by Mitheral at 2:01 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


The part that has me kind of skeptical it still isn't some kind of big coincidence (a very big one) is that the payments were to a variety of Trump properties, all of which would have their own books and accounts. The trail of how the money traveled doesn't really make sense to me. Cohen said he got the money out of his home equity loan. If the theory is that the campaign reimbursed him by funneling money through the Trump Organization, how did the money make it from several different entities back to Cohen? Bringing multiple properties (and the staff who handle accounting at each one) into it would increase scrutiny. And it the theory is that Cohen got stiffed (he should have known who he was working for), why make the payments at all?

There are also two transactions for the Vegas hotel for lodging on the 25th. One is [in] and one is [out], in 0xFCAF's terminology. I can certainly imagine a scheme that included real invoices amid fake ones, but essentially throwing away a data point so it all adds up to $129,999.72 is a little bit of starting with the hypothesis and working backwards.

I'm not saying they didn't necessarily funnel money from the campaign, but "oh, we'll launder most of the money through the Vegas hotel, but let's just do ~6.5% of our laundering through the DC golf club" seems like a strange way to run such an operation.

The bit of the story that's fascinating me is that City National Bank opened an internal investigation into the payment, asking Daniels’s lawyer where the money came from. That happened a year later in September 2017. I don't think banks just randomly start asking questions about a year-old transaction, so something happened around then to cause them to be suspicious. Who or what brought it to their attention then, months before the story broke?
posted by zachlipton at 2:04 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


(Click through for links to the images)
That's cool, with all the links and the evidence and numbers and facts... but have you ever noticed that the the redacted document is written in Times New Roman, 12 point font. 6 inch page width.

Although it only takes 5 minutes to see if the name "Donald John Trump" fits in there, I've also got the 30 second clickbait version for those of reddit-tier intelligence.

https://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/84xnpy/stormy_daniels_lawyer_we_both_fear_for_our/dvte9d5/
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:06 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


I'm not saying they didn't necessarily funnel money from the campaign, but "oh, we'll launder most of the money through the Vegas hotel, but let's just do ~6.5% of our laundering through the DC golf club" seems like a strange way to run such an operation.

I don't see why. It's obfuscation. Just like the 28 cents. Trump owns all of these properties and doesn't care which of them receives the money from his campaign.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:09 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


If the theory is that the campaign reimbursed him by funneling money through the Trump Organization, how did the money make it from several different entities back to Cohen?

The individual entities didn't have to pay Cohen piecemeal. The Trump Organization (or Trump himself) would have paid Cohen as part of their normal legal bills, knowing that, ultimately, the Organization (and thus Trump) had already been paid by the campaign.
posted by jedicus at 2:12 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Nobody should be able to read the summary at the end of 0xFCAF's post and think that this is a coincidence. The presence of presumably legitimate payments to Trump properties around the same time in no way invalidates his findings. The other payments are irrelevant.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:13 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


There are also two transactions for the Vegas hotel for lodging on the 25th. One is [in] and one is [out], in 0xFCAF's terminology. I can certainly imagine a scheme that included real invoices amid fake ones, but essentially throwing away a data point so it all adds up to $129,999.72 is a little bit of starting with the hypothesis and working backwards.

I'm assuming that payments were tossed out if they were stable, recurring payments rather than one-off payments.
posted by jedicus at 2:15 PM on March 16


I'm assuming that payments were tossed out if they were stable, recurring payments rather than one-off payments.

I did not exclude regular payments - I don't really have a working definition for what that would be. But none of the amounts in the specified sequence are amounts that occur anywhere else. The excluded "PAYROLL" entry, $2,574.43, is indeed extremely common in the data.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:16 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


in white evangelicalism, Jesus is just a cover story for white supremacist fascism.

That's such a brutal conclusion. I mean I come from a family of white evangelicals and it hurts me to see that. But...

Anti-Trump evangelical Michael Gerson says of Trump's support among evangelicals: "This is the result when Christians become one interest group among many, scrambling for benefits at the expense of others rather than seeking the welfare of the whole."

I'm not sure there's any difference between the substance of that conclusion and "white supremacist fascism". Gerson's piece says "Christians" in that particular quote, but throughout the body of the piece he acknowledges that it's white evangelicals specifically, and not Christians generally, who have decided to cleave to Trump.

White people seeking "benefits at the expense of others" is pretty much the definition of "white supremacy."

Gerson says "The moral convictions of many evangelical leaders have become a function of their partisan identification."

I think "moral convinctions - become a function of partisan identification" is certainly related to the definition of "fascism." Under fascism, morality is what the ruling party says it is.

Gerson says the story of white evangelical support for Trump "is the story of how an influential and culturally confident religious movement became a marginalized and anxious minority seeking political protection." That reminds me of this quote:

"In a transnational study of ethnic violence, MIT political scientist Roger Petersen found that a major risk factor for ethnic violence was anger stemming from “the feeling of being politically dominated by a group that has no right to be in a superior position.” Typically, that occurs when an ethnic group that was formally subordinate achieves new status and power."

I think it's fair to say that dynamic is related to the history of white supremacy in the US and fascism in Europe. And it matches Gerson's description perfectly.

I'm forced to conclude that people like my family members can be generous to me personally, generous to the the poor in their own communities, kind to animals, loving parents of their children, selfless caretakers of their elderly relatives... and also be white supremacist fascists. I just don't know what to do with that conclusion.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:19 PM on March 16 [112 favorites]


I would think the theory is that these various Trump properties then paid invoices to “Essential Consultants, LLC.” It’s a bland name that wouldn’t raise suspicion on their books by itself. Cohen then paid $0.28 himself so he can truthfully claim that he used his own money to “facilitate” the payment.
posted by stopgap at 2:26 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


The thing to remember about any potential transfer of campaign funds to reimburse Cohen is there was at least one article claiming that Cohen was complaining to friends he hadn't been reimbursed yet. I believe Cohen's very specific statements that he made the payment with personal funds and hadn't been reimbursed directly or indirectly from Trump's campaign or company. It's totally on brand for Trump to stiff people after he gets what he wants, especially in a situation like this where if the strange payments that add up to $129.9k really were intended to reimburse him and Cohen knew anything about them he can't really complain about potential campaign finance violations without implicating himself.
posted by edeezy at 2:31 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Doesn't Phil Ruffin own part of the Vegas hotel (this article says it's a 50/50 split)? My point is that the Organization is not a single monolithic entity. Money paid to its various parts would be accounted for at those entities. Trump profits from it, of course, but indirectly; $50K in the Trump International bank account is not the same as $50K in Trump's pocket, not least because he doesn't own the whole hotel. There would have to be a whole separate layer of sham payments out of the Trump companies, involving another bunch of accountants and fraudulent invoices and such, which is I guess possible, but dramatically increases the chances of someone finding out.

I very much don't want to be negative about 0xFCAF's fantastic work; there's just a bunch of parts of the chain of events that would have had to occur on Trump's side for this to happen that seem a bit strange to me. I'm not at dead certainty is all.

I would think the theory is that these various Trump properties then paid invoices to “Essential Consultants, LLC.” It’s a bland name that wouldn’t raise suspicion on their books by itself.

Cohen is really damn stupid (arranging the payment using his Trump Org. email, for example), but having traceable payments directly from Trump properties to EC would be incredibly bad work on his part. Which, ordinarily, would make me believe that couldn't have happened, but it's hard to overstate just how stupid this man is.
posted by zachlipton at 2:32 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Interesting new Guardian on Vil Mirzayanov who worked at the Novichok factory, commenting on the challenges of weaponizing it, and likelihood of state culpability in the Skirpal attack.


Mirzayanov said he did not feel fear for himself or his family in speaking about novichok and Russia.

“It may be a little bit crazy, but when I decide something, I’m going exactly to do it, without any distraction, to some goal,” he said. “I’m a very determined person. Because of that, if I’ve decided, all of it is gone, any fear – I don’t feel any fear.”

posted by maniabug at 2:41 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Who could have known...

WaPo: Democrats balk as Republicans try to use must-pass spending bill to fix tax law
Republicans aiming to use an upcoming spending bill to fix a glaring problem with their recently passed tax overhaul are running into a wall with Democrats, who were shut out of the tax law process and now don’t want to cooperate unless they get something in return. ... Democrats say they warned Republicans that pushing through the $1.5 trillion tax law in a matter of weeks — without public hearings — would result in problems and unintended consequences. And now that such issues are emerging, some Democrats resent being asked to lend their votes to a solution.
I'm not sure why this is framed as "Democrats say ..." when the facts are plain, and who are those other Democrats who don't resent being asked to help fix things now? But whatever, I guess. Of course it will be up to the Democrats to be the responsible adults and make sure agribusinesses don't get nuked, and of course they will then face ads complaining about Democrats raising taxes.

I'm so tired of this bullshit.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:44 PM on March 16 [46 favorites]


. I believe Cohen's very specific statements that he made the payment with personal funds and hadn't been reimbursed directly or indirectly from Trump's campaign or company.

So... He is still owed 28¢?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:46 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


"Kelly also said that Larry Kudlow’s past cocaine habit won’t be a problem for his security clearance, as it is public knowledge. Kelly joked that the 1990s were “a crazy time.”"

@ddale8: The Trump administration to prosecutors: Pursue the harshest possible sentences for non-violent drug offences The Trump administration to itself: Past cocaine use is no biggie, the '90s were wild times, man

To be clear, I don't think Kudlow's history with addiction should be disqualifying (his history of being horribly wrong about economics is plenty of reason there). His recovery is wonderful, and all the best to the man. But his addiction was the same condition the Trump Administration is currently throwing people in jail for years for having, predominately people of color.
posted by zachlipton at 2:47 PM on March 16 [99 favorites]


Which, ordinarily, would make me believe that couldn't have happened, but it's hard to overstate just how stupid this man is.

This is also why I'm sceptical about the '28 cents means deniability!' argument. If everything here is actual -- the use of the Trump.org email, the sloppy footwork -- I think it's totally believable that somebody messed up the math a little bit.
posted by halation at 2:47 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


@RWPUSA (Richard Painter, GWB's WH Ethics Lawyer)
John Bolton was by far the most dangerous man we had in the entire eight years of the Bush Administration. Hiring him as the president's top national security advisor is an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war. This must be stopped at all costs.
posted by chris24 at 2:50 PM on March 16 [66 favorites]


Re: Bolton: there will be a confirmation hearing right?
posted by photoslob at 2:56 PM on March 16


I can certainly imagine a scheme that included real invoices amid fake ones, but essentially throwing away a data point so it all adds up to $129,999.72 is a little bit of starting with the hypothesis and working backwards.

I mean, sort of, but that's not a problem. Allowing data points to be "thrown away" like this actually increases the likelihood of finding other sequences that would sum to $130k or a similar round number. It also doesn't necessarily imply a "scheme" on the part of the Trump campaign, just for the money laundering transactions to be buried among and interleaved with other transactions, which is reasonable enough to assume. The real question is, how often do you end up with a subset of 11 sequential transactions that total nearly $130k by random chance, following the procedure 0xFCAF followed? The fact that such a sequence occurs only once in the entire dataset (including when testing for other round-number sums) is a very compelling argument that the probability of this occurring by coincidence is very low. Shuffling the data would give another fairly direct way of estimating the probability of this being a coincidence.
posted by biogeo at 2:57 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Re: Bolton: there be a confirmation hearing right?

No, straight appointment.
posted by diogenes at 2:57 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


I think it's totally believable that somebody messed up the math a little bit.

Trump’s Razor cuts both ways here. The stupid explanation could be that they are sloppy with numbers. But the equally stupid possibility is that whoever came up with this plan really thought that a 28¢ discrepancy would make investigators think “nope, it ain’t exact, everything is legal here!”

What we have here is a rare case of Schrödinger’s Stupidity. Unfortunately there’s no box to open.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:59 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]



Re: Bolton: there be a confirmation hearing right?

No, straight appointment.


The NSA is an aide position - direct appointment, no confirmation needed. There's an extra stipulation for some rank of general but I've never dug into the precedent/rationale for that.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:04 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Is Director CIA a senior enough position that Pompeo does not require additional Senate confirmation to take over as SecState? I think... probably?
posted by Justinian at 3:07 PM on March 16


Why underpay Cohen by a few shiny nickels? Because he can go under oath and truthfully say "I did not receive $130,000 from the Trump Campaign. Stormy Daniels received money out of my own pocket."

Remember, this is Stupid Watergate.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:08 PM on March 16 [24 favorites]


Although a quick googling suggest otherwise and says he will need reconfirmation. So fuck if I understand anything anymore.
posted by Justinian at 3:08 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


The Atlantic, Peter Beinart, The Nancy Pelosi Problem "The first female speaker of the House has become the most effec­tive congressional leader of modern times—and, not coinciden­tally, the most vilified."
In addition to being a masterful legislative tactician, the 77-year-old Pelosi is, in Politico’s words, “the most successful nonpresidential political fundraiser in U.S. history.” Yet many of her colleagues want her gone. In November 2016, almost a third of House Democrats voted to depose her as leader. Another coup attempt erupted last summer. Why so much discontent with a woman who has proved so good at her job? Maybe because many Democrats think Pelosi’s unpopularity undermines their chances of winning back the House. Why is she so unpopular? Because powerful women politicians usually are. Therein lies the tragedy. Nancy Pelosi does her job about as well as anyone could. But because she’s a woman, she may not be doing it well enough.
...
Gender scholars would not be surprised. For a 2010 paper in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the Yale researchers Victoria Brescoll and Tyler Okimoto showed study participants the fictional biographies of two state senators, identical except that one was named John Burr and the other Ann Burr. (I referred to this study in an October 2016 article for this magazine called “Fear of a Female President.”) When quotations were added that described the state senators as “ambitious” and possessing “a strong will to power,” John Burr became more popular. But the changes provoked “moral outrage” toward Ann Burr, whom both men and women became less willing to support.

Nancy Pelosi, by leading her party in Congress, has become Ann Burr. A woman can serve in Congress without being perceived as overly ambitious. By climbing to the top of the greasy pole, however, Pelosi has made her ambition visible. She has gained the power to tell her male colleagues what to do. (The pollster Celinda Lake notes that most ads attacking Pelosi show her speaking, not listening.) She has put herself, to quote the anti-Ossoff ad, “in control.”
I do think this article doesn't give quite enough attention to the idea that some Democrats may be upset that Pelosi may be more moderate than they are ("The party, after all, is moving left, where Pelosi has been all along" is not entirely wrong, but I'm not convinced it's entirely an accurate description), so we don't need to have the "I have perfectly good reasons for disliking Pelosi that have nothing to do with sexism" fight in this thread. The extent to which Pelosi is vilified more than Schumer is really, really hard to ignore.
posted by zachlipton at 3:20 PM on March 16 [54 favorites]


The NSA is an aide position - direct appointment, no confirmation needed. There's an extra stipulation for some rank of general but I've never dug into the precedent/rationale for that.

Three- and four-star generals need to be confirmed by the Senate because their rank is appointed by Congress.
posted by hanov3r at 3:21 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Is Director CIA a senior enough position that Pompeo does not require additional Senate confirmation to take over as SecState? I think... probably?
...
Although a quick googling suggest otherwise and says he will need reconfirmation. So fuck if I understand anything anymore.


The last time this was discussed, the distinction seemed to be that Pompeo is senior enough by virtue of already having been confirmed once to be appointed in an interim capacity without needing confirmation -- but if he was appointed in an interim capacity, he couldn't be nominated as the permanent Secretary. So yes, but also no.

Considering how fast Trump is burning though positions, it feels like a lot of 'permanent' appointments are effectively interim anyway, but.
posted by cjelli at 3:25 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Is there any reason why more left Democrats couldn’t just compromise with Pelosi? Given her skillset and experience she would be a powerful ally to have in pushing more progressive policies.
posted by gucci mane at 3:26 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Except Trump seems to have paid off many sex workers previous to his run for president.

I would VERY MUCH like to know if Michael Cohen ( AKA Donald Trump ) paid off Jane Doe, the woman who sued him, and appeared ready to prevail on the preponderance of evidence, for raping her with Jeffrey Epstein in 1994, but withdrew her suit.

It cost Bill Clinton 800k for Paula Jones to withdraw her suit, and Trump settled the fraudulent Trump "university" suits for only 25M.
posted by mikelieman at 3:28 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Maybe because many Democrats think Pelosi’s unpopularity undermines their chances of winning back the House.
Appeasement in service of ineffective politics. I hope that this sentiment is increasingly rare among Democrats.
posted by LarsC at 3:29 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Pelosi need to pass the baton. There's plenty of women in the House to take it.
posted by mikelieman at 3:35 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Pelosi has fought this fight more than once -- and she hasn't lost so far. I don't expect there's another pol in the Dem House caucus who can pull it together enough to topple her this time, either.
posted by notyou at 3:35 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Leslie Gibson has dropped out of his Maine State House race.

More coverage here.
posted by hanov3r at 3:36 PM on March 16 [32 favorites]


Pelosi need to pass the baton. There's plenty of women in the House to take it.

"I'd never vote for Clinton- but I'd vote for Warren!"

Warren becomes viable

"Warren is too right wing- but I don't hate women- I'd vote for Harris!"

Harris becomes viable

"Harris is a neoliberal! We need a different woman!"

rinse repeat forever.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:37 PM on March 16 [185 favorites]


Sure, why the hell not? Happy Friday everyone! Daily Beast, Lachlan/Swin, John Kelly: Rex Tillerson Was on the Toilet When I Told Him He’d Be Getting Fired
Reporters gathered at the White House on Friday were stunned when Chief of Staff John Kelly shared a very embarrassing story about outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The reporters were there with senior White House officials for an off-the-record meeting with Kelly, who was attempting to tamp down speculation about an impending administration staff purge. The Daily Beast was not invited, but was briefed on its contents by three sources with knowledge of the meeting.

According to those sources, Kelly recounted a very awkward conversation with Tillerson during which he informed the secretary that President Donald Trump would very likely soon fire him. The awkwardness was less a result of the contents of the conversation than its setting.

Tillerson, Kelly told the room, was suffering from a stomach bug during a diplomatic swing through Africa, and was using a toilet when Kelly broke the news to him.
Swin says "We sourced the, uh, shit out of this."
posted by zachlipton at 3:40 PM on March 16 [27 favorites]


Uneasy lies the Rex upon the throne
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:43 PM on March 16 [34 favorites]


I guess you could say ol' Rex got shit-canned.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:44 PM on March 16 [26 favorites]


Christ why would they release a detail like that?

They all deserve each other.
posted by notyou at 3:48 PM on March 16 [84 favorites]


Christ why would they release a detail like that?

It’s a reality tv show. Why they don’t have the admission/confessional booth, I don’t know.

The good news is even stupid america stopped tuning into The Apprentice, and it got cancelled. So will this. So will this.
posted by valkane at 3:55 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


I mean, I guess? it's good to know that John Kelly is not a fucking nasty inhuman ratbastard exclusively to women and people of color but is capable of sometimes being a fucking nasty inhuman ratbastard to rich white guys as well. But still, he is a terrible person, and I wish him ill.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:56 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


Tillerson, Kelly told the room, was using a toilet when Kelly broke the news to him.
Christ why?
It’s a reality tv show.


OR!

What about this:
You know how Putin's been running around spectacularly poisoning people left and right? Also, remember that weirdness they still haven't figured out with the "sonic weapon" giving Americans in the Cuban US embassy brain damage? Well, what if this is more sci-fi war games like that?

What if some enemy of the US has found a poison or a freaky circus weapon that can make people say blitheringly stupid shit all the time? Just the most jawdroppingly stupid shit imaginable? Just randomly, for no reason, people in DC grab a microphone and bleat the worst, stupidest possible thing into it? I know: sounds outlandish. But really, doesn't it pretty much explain everything that's happened?
posted by Don Pepino at 3:56 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


McMasters Death Watch update from ABC White House correspondent Tara Palmeri @tarapalmeri:
Caught up H.R. McMaster outside of the West Wing. He told me "Sarah set it straight yesterday. Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point"
I asked whether he's leaving sooner rather than later: "I'm doing my job" and then he walked away. No denial. [audio link]
Her colleague Karen Travers @karentravers adds,
ALSO - McMaster walked some guests out of the West Wing entrance. Right in front of several live cameras.
Perhaps making a clever pointed statement of "I'm still here" ?
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:59 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


The Trump Org. is privately owned, right? So the money from all these playments flows back to Trump eventually. No need to write out an incriminating check to Cohen. He relaxes for an evening of gambling at a Trump casino and his room has a briefcase with some chips in it when he arrives. Never forget that casinos (and their chips) are excellent ways to launder money.

True, Trump's half ownership of the Vegas hotel means he only gets half of that particular payment. But Donald wouldn't think of that, and there's no need to burden such a busy man with that level of detail. Probably not that much money anyway, just one of many payments.
posted by msalt at 4:03 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


What if some enemy of the US has found a poison or a freaky circus weapon that can make people say blitheringly stupid shit all the time? Just the most jawdroppingly stupid shit imaginable?

Honestly, for about a year now I’ve been operating on the assumption of a gas leak.
posted by mochapickle at 4:04 PM on March 16 [15 favorites]


Christ why would they release a detail like that?

Because Republicans are pod people who think these types of stories are quirky and funny and humanizing.
Remember Mitt Romney's hilarious anecdote about the time he strapped the family dog to the roof of his car and then the dog got sick and shat all over itself and the car? He happily revealed that fucked-up story because he thought it was relatable!
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:05 PM on March 16 [36 favorites]


Gibson said he made the decision after meeting with friends, family and colleagues, saying that his dropping out is “the best thing for everybody.” He also said that “I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high.”
you SHOULD be walking away with your head hung low after the way you behaved; either you're lying or you've learned nothing and neither look is good

Never forget that casinos (and their chips) are excellent ways to launder money.

never forget that Trump literally has used precisely that tactic before
posted by halation at 4:06 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


For a little late afternoon levity, noted alt-right personality and racist dipshit Tim "Baked Alaska" Gionet attempted to make a return to Twitter today and was promptly banned again.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:11 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


So with Gibson out and with Gilchrist having entered the race on the last day to file, does that mean she is now running unopposed? Because that's fucking awesome.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:12 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


Georgia GOP pushes elimination of Sunday voting to suppress black turnout

They're not going to let Texas and Georgia and Arizona become swing states without a fight.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:14 PM on March 16 [51 favorites]


No, Republican Thomas Martin Jr., from Benton, also entered the race against Gilchrist, probably also on the last day.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:15 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Don Pepino: Also, remember that weirdness they still haven't figured out with the "sonic weapon" giving Americans in the Cuban US embassy brain damage?

There is now a pretty likely explanation for the symptoms, and if it's correct then it was accidental: multiple close-together ultrasound surveillance devices. As this article puts it: In this scenario, either the individual devices themselves or too many of them in close proximity could have had health effects unforeseen by the spies who placed them.

Why there'd be more than one bug in a room, I dunno, but maybe they were left by spies from different countries/organizations who didn't know about each other, or as the article said, maybe one bug went haywire. This does thicken the plot, but not in the mystery-weapon direction (probably), and either way the Cuban government's own absurd denial (they said it was cricket chirping) still makes sense.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:37 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Barry McCaffrey, retired four star general:

"Reluctantly I have concluded that President Trump is a serious threat to US national security. He is refusing to protect vital US interests from active Russian attacks. It is apparent that he is for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr Putin."
posted by chris24 at 4:43 PM on March 16 [100 favorites]


Saw this in the thread under Barry McCaffrey's tweet:

When he retired from the Army in 1996, he was the most decorated general officer serving at the time, with two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts.
posted by diogenes at 4:48 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


I'd like to think we're not living in a badly written simulation, but a *Chuck Harder* is representing Trump in a case with a porn star.

@nycsouthpaw
Charles Harder is representing Donald Trump in the Stormy Daniels case.
SCREENSHOT OF FILING

EDIT:

This is a suit trying to move the Stormy suit to federal court. So Trump is officially involved now.
posted by chris24 at 4:56 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


FYI: Charles Harder was the attorney that Thiel bankrolled in order to pursue Hulk Hogan's suit against Gawker.
posted by mhum at 5:00 PM on March 16 [21 favorites]


Trump gets Harder for Stormy Daniels
posted by porn in the woods at 5:02 PM on March 16 [116 favorites]


Harder's co-counsel is Stonerock.
posted by neroli at 5:30 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]



Is Director CIA a senior enough position that Pompeo does not require additional Senate confirmation to take over as SecState? I think... probably?
...
Although a quick googling suggest otherwise and says he will need reconfirmation. So fuck if I understand anything anymore.
...
The last time this was discussed, the distinction seemed to be that Pompeo is senior enough by virtue of already having been confirmed once to be appointed in an interim capacity without needing confirmation -- but if he was appointed in an interim capacity, he couldn't be nominated as the permanent Secretary. So yes, but also no.


He may serve as interim immediately, but must be confirmed for the permanent position within 210 days (per my admittedly novice reading and understanding of The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.)
posted by zakur at 5:34 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


[Rein in the riffing, please.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:36 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


Is this thread only Washington news or can I post this here? DeAndre Harris cleared of assault
posted by Botanizer at 5:41 PM on March 16 [29 favorites]


Pompeo can either be the acting SecState or the nominee to replace Tillerson permanently. Not both.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:41 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Harder's co-counsel is Stonerock.

[real]

Less amusingly, Charles Harder is the notorious lawyer who successfully represented Hulk Hogan against Gawker and Melania Trump against the Daily Mail, as well as providing legal counsel to such sterling citizens as Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes. He's also part of Jared Kushner's legal team. Michael Avenatti is facing a very tough opponent indeed.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:48 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


Meh, he's apparently not THAT great as a lawyer...
posted by Emera Gratia at 6:00 PM on March 16


@KevinMKruse:
The Trump Cabinet This Week:

Tillerson: Shitcanned!
Mnuchin: $1m flights
Mattis: Theranos fraud
Sessions: McCabe threats
Zinke: Konichiwa!
Carson: Lied about $31K dining set
DeVos: "60 Minutes" disaster
Shulkin: Embattled, with armed guards outside office

That's just this week.

---

And this doesn't count Pruitt campaigning for AG and being told to shut it by Kelly. Or McMaster being hung out to dry publicly.

The. Best. People.
posted by chris24 at 6:05 PM on March 16 [85 favorites]


Regarding Kelly telling a roomful of reporters (off the record, but still) about Tillerson being on the can while getting the news that he's getting fired... how exactly did Kelly know? I figure there are four main possibilities:

1) Tillerson somehow just straight up tells Kelly. Maybe something like "Hey Jim, can we make this quick? I picked up some kind of bug and I'm shitting my brains out here.... No, like right now, as we speak."

2) Tillerson doesn't tell Kelly but Kelly can hear it through the phone. (yikes!)

3) Kelly hears about it later after the fact from someone else that Tillerson was pooping when he called.

4) This didn't happen at all and Kelly is just telling a story to further embarrass and diminish Tillerson.

Not sure which possibility is the most horrifying, though.
posted by mhum at 6:09 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


@allinwithchris
Felix Sater confirms: Trump was pursuing deal with sanctioned Russian bank during campaign

VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 6:16 PM on March 16 [59 favorites]


BBC: UK police launch murder investigation after death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov in south-west London

Does anyone know if there's an up-to-date list of suspected Russian assassinations? I know last year Buzzfeed did a list of possible Russian hits that have taken place in the UK.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:18 PM on March 16


4) This didn't happen at all and Kelly is just telling a story to further embarrass and diminish Tillerson.

Let's never forget about how he slandered Frederica Wilson.

Somewhat related: CNN has a piece up tonight - Trump settles in as producer in chief. Mostly boilerplate "Trump loves chaos!" stuff but the lede is fucking nuts:
Midway through the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump had an idea. Wouldn't it be fun, he told an associate, to revive his hit NBC reality show "The Apprentice" inside the White House, using his own staffers as the contestants and the West Wing as his board room? The idea, conveyed to CNN by two people familiar with the conversation, was quickly squelched by aides.
posted by lalex at 6:22 PM on March 16 [53 favorites]


@emptywheel: "So @profcarroll challenged Facebook (for not protecting his data under EU law). It moved forward today. And now Facebook cut off Cambridge Analytica."

Facebook statement on suspending Cambridge Analytica.

Mother Jones background piece on David Carroll's lawsuit referred to by @emptywheel.
posted by lalex at 6:35 PM on March 16 [32 favorites]


I have to confess I… don't really get that New Yorker cover. It's Trump in a fancy, extravagant robe. I guess they're going for a whole "thinks he's a king" thing? Eh. Still, the illustrator did a tremendous, just tremendous job with the clothes in it. Just beautiful
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:47 PM on March 16 [61 favorites]


I thought the New Yorker cover was a play on the emperor having no clothes?
posted by lalex at 6:56 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Thatsthejoke.gif
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:56 PM on March 16 [28 favorites]


There's no robe. He's naked. Emperor has no clothes.

EDIT.

Ahh.
posted by chris24 at 6:56 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


David Carroll was my thesis professor and now he is maybe saving the country. Damn.
posted by Brainy at 6:58 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


facepalm.gif
posted by lalex at 7:00 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


And McCabe is out. What a week.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:02 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]




Even more than usual, this has been Christ What an Asshole week. If I didn't know they were constitutionally incapable of forethought and planning, I would suspect they had made actual detailed plans to do every possible thing to look like the most petty, snide, venal, vindictive shitheads in all the world.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:08 PM on March 16 [23 favorites]


hanov3r: "Leslie Gibson has dropped out of his Maine State House race."

In case like me you have trouble keeping the scandals straight just by name Leslie Gibson is the Republican candidate for the Maine House of Representatives from Sabattus who called one student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., “a skinhead lesbian” and another “a bald-faced liar.”

Gibson had been cruising toward an unopposed election in the district, which includes Sabattus and Greene. But his comments stirred both Martin [Thomas Jr. GOP] and Democrat Eryn Gilchrist to join the contest.

posted by Mitheral at 7:08 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


They sure aren't trying to make any friends at the FBI.
posted by contraption at 7:12 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


[Leslie Gibson] called one student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., “a skinhead lesbian” and another “a bald-faced liar.”

And, according to the linked article, "later apologized to one of the students." I'm not going to ask the obvious question, 'cause the answer, whatever it is, wouldn't make me think any better of him anyways.
posted by jackbishop at 7:13 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


FBI’s Andrew McCabe is fired a little more than 24 hours before he could retire

Once again I'm put in the completely unexpected position of feeling sorry for an FBI agent
posted by dis_integration at 7:13 PM on March 16 [54 favorites]


Andrew McCabe has been fired

Because making an enemy of the FBI worked out so well for Nixon, right? "Those who cannot learn from history", etc, hopefully.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 7:14 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


Once again I'm put in the completely unexpected position of feeling sorry for an FBI agent

Not just an FBI agent, an FBI agent that made some really shitty decisions and was part of the whole insertion of the agency into the 2016 election. Nevertheless, he's being fired because he didn't make Russia go away and that's both really shitty and worrying.
posted by Talez at 7:23 PM on March 16 [33 favorites]


McCabe has put out a lengthy statement (here in full via Twitter), in which he does not mince words, describing this as:
an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. . . .

This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of the Administration's ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the Special Counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the Special Counsel's work.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:26 PM on March 16 [107 favorites]




Also, from the NYT: In an interview, Andrew McCabe was blunt. “The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he said, adding, “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:30 PM on March 16 [19 favorites]


@chrisgeidner
FULL SESSIONS STATEMENT

@KevinMKruse
Retweeted Chris Geidner
Jeff Sessions is angry someone lied under oath. Jeff Sessions.
posted by chris24 at 7:38 PM on March 16 [70 favorites]


Oh, and the usual garnish of craven cowardice, from CNN: "A representative for McCabe said he learned from a press release that he had been fired by Sessions."
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:58 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Your occasional reminder that another disillusioned #2 at the FBI was the anonymous source "Deep Throat" in the Watergate Scandal that brought down Nixon.
posted by Rumple at 8:03 PM on March 16 [56 favorites]


On the positive side, at least someone in the FBI has a legit reason to say, "And he was only one day from retirement" as they open the bottle of scotch they keep in their desk drawer.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:05 PM on March 16 [48 favorites]


Trump wants to punish McCabe, so he has him fired just hours before his pension kicks in. That's a loss of many thousands of dollars earned over two decades.

Now there's a former FBI agent with tons of behind-the-scenes information about Trump and his administration, carrying a sizable chip on his shoulder against Trump, and looking for a way to replace that lost money.

Master strategist, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:09 PM on March 16 [130 favorites]


On the positive side, at least someone in the FBI has a legit reason to say, "And he was only one day from retirement" as they open the bottle of scotch they keep in their desk drawer.

I give pretty good odds that the next non-treasonous President re-enstates that pension.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:12 PM on March 16 [23 favorites]


Possibly McCabe has a lawsuit here for age discrimination at the least (firing before the pension kicks in, which is an old trick that these days no one does because it opens the org to lawsuit risk), plus the slander and defamation he alleges in this statement.

(According to Notyou’s partner, the HR executive. )

Should be fun.
posted by notyou at 8:15 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


NYT reporting that Trump's lawyers have filed briefs indicating that Stormy Daniels has violated her NDA "at least 20 times".
Mr. Trump’s name surfaced in one of two motions his legal team filed Friday in Los Angeles. One, in the name of the shell company, Essential Consultants, sought to move the suit to federal court from Los Angeles Superior Court, where Ms. Clifford filed the suit.

The second motion, filed on Mr. Trump’s behalf, states that he joins Essential Consultants in seeking the change of venue and ends with the statement, “Mr. Trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by the law.”
posted by hanov3r at 8:17 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


Mr. Trump intends to pursue his rights to the fullest extent permitted by the law.

Here we see the rhetorical power of understatement
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:19 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Might have been easier if he'd signed the NDA
posted by mbo at 8:20 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


Yes, Trump is suing for damages related to an affair he did not have and a payoff he did not finance in return for an NDA contract he did not sign that wasn't at all about him.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:21 PM on March 16 [140 favorites]


i honestly don’t know what to think of this one.

from TPM’s take:
This week the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility made the recommendation that McCabe fired, putting the decision on Sessions. But it may be weeks before the report is released, so the full scope of McCabe’s alleged misconduct remains unclear.
so to OPR recommended that he be fired, even though he was already halfway out the door. has OPR been politicized under Sessions? or is the report going to show that mccabe behaved even more irresponsibly than we already know?

this is absolutely the shittiest possible way to handle the situation, don’t get me wrong. it’s clearly retaliation as far as trump is concerned. but until we see the report it’s hard to tell how gratuitous it is.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:25 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


That's the best part, really. In filing this lawsuit; Donald J. Trump (aka Daniel Dennsion) is seeking damages for violating the NDA that was in place to keep Stormy Daniels from saying anything about who she had sex with... Donald J. Trump. So; the NDA is void.

This whole thing would have been a complete non-story if Trump had done either of two things:
1) "Nope, that'a a lie." because.. porn star. sure, some people would believe her. others would not. wouldn't matter because it would just go away.

2) "Yep, I did it. So?" because nothing matters anymore, he wouldn't face any consequences from his base about it, and it would be gone by now.

He really is, as someone up-thread put it, the stupidest stupid to ever have stupided.

$20 million in damages is an interesting number, though. I wonder if that's how much Melania gets in the pre-nup if he's unfaithful.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:28 PM on March 16 [41 favorites]


They have to fire McCabe because it provides someone to set up as mishandling the Clinton case and provides an opportunity to reopen it. Let the guy retire and not fire him and the narrative is not nearly so compelling.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:32 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


On the positive side, at least someone in the FBI has a legit reason to say, "And he was only one day from retirement" as they open the bottle of scotch they keep in their desk drawer.

I have not seen any reports that McCabe ever said "I'm getting too old for this shit."
posted by rhizome at 8:33 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


$20 million in damages is an interesting number, though. I wonder if that's how much Melania gets in the pre-nup if he's unfaithful.

i would be surprised that a guy who keeps lawyers on retainer to pay off his lovers would sign a pre-nup that left him exposed in that way but we are talking about trump here
posted by murphy slaw at 8:34 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


A lot of folks are talking about the Merit Systems Protection Board with respect to McCabe, a thing I'm just learning about tonight, the zillionth thing I've learned about for no reason other than the rampant sociopathy of this administration.
posted by lalex at 8:34 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


i would be surprised that a guy who keeps lawyers on retainer to pay off his lovers would sign a pre-nup that left him exposed in that way but we are talking about trump here

Also, every one of those lawyers on retainer is an incompetent wackjob in their own right. As opposed to Stormy Daniels and her lawyer Michael Avenatti, who are a pair of smart, fearless, successful badasses.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:44 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Good lawyers avoid Trump because 1. he won't listen to their advice, and 2. he often doesn't pay them.
posted by Miss Cellania at 8:58 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


I have not seen any reports that McCabe ever said "I'm getting too old for this shit."

He didn't have to, it's the Trump administration, we're all too old for this shit, newborn babies are too old for this shit.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:04 PM on March 16 [33 favorites]


I wonder if that's how much Melania gets in the pre-nup if he's unfaithful.
Are you kidding? Trump's prenup likely allows him to fuck whoever, with specified penalties for Melania's unfaithfulness. Both of them knew what kind of cash/progeny-based marriage they were getting into.
posted by benzenedream at 9:05 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


so to OPR recommended that he be fired, even though he was already halfway out the door. has OPR been politicized under Sessions? or is the report going to show that mccabe behaved even more irresponsibly than we already know?

That's the question. I have a hard time beliveing that this incompetent administration has managed to reach all the way down to the FBI's OPR/OIG after they haven't managed to get nearly anything else done except whatever was already pre-packaged by Mitch McConnell, or the Kochs, or Heritage. We haven't seen the report of McCabe's conduct yet, and we KNOW the FBI itself committed serious malfeasance throughout the entire Hilary emails farce. I'm not pouring one out for McCabe until we see what that report tell us about what role he played in that.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:08 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


Yes, Trump is suing for damages related to an affair he did not have and a payoff he did not finance in return for an NDA contract he did not sign that wasn't at all about him.

And Stormy's lawyer is all over it.

@MichaelAvenatti
How can President Donald Trump seek $20 million in damages against my client based on an agreement that he and Mr. Cohen claim Mr. Trump never was a party to and knew nothing about? #notwellthoughtout #sloppy #checkmate

---

@emptywheel
Shorter Donald Trump: I'm suing you for $20M for telling people I'm David Dennison which I've just confirmed by suing you for $20M.

---

@joshtpm
Points worth considering: What information could possibly be so damaging that a sitting President wld openly join a suit like this when we already know they had sex? There seem to be two issue.

First Daniels says that the President like to be humiliated, spanked etc in the sack. Apparently she mentions this in the 60 mins interview. The legal machinations behind the agreement also might get one or more lawyers disbarred or worse. That’s one.

Second goes way beyond Stormy Daniels. Daniels has an NDA. The same lawyer who repped her on the NDA also repped another Trump girlfriend who sold her story to the Enquirer which promptly buried it. Avenatti says 6 more women have already come forward to him and at least 2 of them say they’re under Trump NDAs. In Michael Wolff’s book Bannon said that he and Kasowitz ‘took care of’ 100 women during the Access Hollywood uproar in October 2016. I know they worked on this together from another source. So just how many NDA’d women are there? The answer speaks for itself. A lot.

This battle with Stormy Daniels is like The Battle of NDA Hill. If Daniels can break out and tell her story, it’ll be very hard to prevent the rest from doing the same, whether the process exposes defects in the contracts or whether fighting the women in court to stay silent simply becomes politically untenable.
posted by chris24 at 9:10 PM on March 16 [79 favorites]


@pwnallthethings: "So anyway here's a thread of the backstory of the attack on FBI Deputy Director (and for a while, Acting Director) Andy McCabe, based on emails to and from him obtained via #FOIA"

Very informative!
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:11 PM on March 16 [21 favorites]


Felix Sater confirms: Trump was pursuing deal with sanctioned Russian bank during campaign

hoping this doesn’t get missed in the general shit tornado.

wikipedia on the bank in question, VTB:
29 July 2014: the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published that VTB Bank OAO, which is the second largest bank in Russia, together with its subsidiaries (“the VTB Group”) and the Bank of Moscow through its parent bank, VTB Bank OAO, and other entities have been added to the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) This freezes the assets in the United States of VTB, VTB Global, Bank of Moscow, and other entities; and blocks any United States citizen or entities from conducting business with VTB, VTB Global, Bank of Moscow, and other entities.
these sanctions were still in effect leading up to and during the 2016 campaign.

from the treasury department’s FAQ on OFAC and the SDN:
12. How much are the fines for violating these regulations?

The fines for violations can be substantial. In many cases, civil and criminal penalties can exceed several million dollars. Civil penalties vary by sanctions program, and the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Federal Civil Penalty Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, requires OFAC to adjust civil monetary penalty amounts annually. For current penalty amounts, see section V.B.2.a of Appendix A to OFAC’s Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines at 31 C.F.R Part 501. [03-08-17]
this is very serious shit.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:13 PM on March 16 [65 favorites]


Trump tweets: Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!
posted by guiseroom at 9:16 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


this is very serious shit.

And in the interview with Sater, it's clear there are emails between him and Cohen talking about putting together a deal for Trump Moscow using this Russian partner and sanctioned bank. In fact he tries to downplay them by saying they will sound worse than they really are because Cohen and he were just excited their guy Trump might become president.
posted by chris24 at 9:17 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


@PreetBharara
Once upon a time I thought Alberto Gonzales was the weakest and most craven Attorney General in modern times. I was wrong.
posted by chris24 at 9:22 PM on March 16 [96 favorites]


Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy.

He's calling Comey worse than McCabe in order to frame his firing of Comey as super-extra-justified. The actual subject of the tweet isn't McCabe but looming obstruction charges.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:23 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


i’m sure that the special prosecutor will take that tweet into account when deciding whether or not to file an obstruction charge.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:26 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


(Andrea Mitchell, NBC) @mitchellreports: One suggestion from a McCabe supporter: if a friendly member of Congress hired him for a week he could possibly qualify for pension benefits by extending his service the extra days
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:27 PM on March 16 [24 favorites]


The book deal he's going to get will make up for a lot of pension.
posted by chris24 at 9:28 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


i’m sure that the special prosecutor will take that tweet into account when deciding whether or not to file an obstruction charge.

As well as the time he asked McCabe who he had voted for. And the time he castigated McCabe for letting Comey fly home from LA on an FBI plane after being fired. And the time Trump told McCabe to ask his wife how it felt to be a loser. And the time in December when he tweeted: "FBI Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!"
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:31 PM on March 16 [60 favorites]


It would be nice if one Trumpkin faced actual consequences for their wrongdoing right about now. Not white-dude-pleads-guilty-no-punishment consequences, but jail-time-asset-seizure consequences. When you have cockroaches, you put down roach traps even if the exterminator is booked out for a year.
posted by SakuraK at 9:31 PM on March 16 [26 favorites]


The book deal he's going to get will make up for a lot of pension.

The lawsuit he’s going to win. That Presidential tweet!
posted by notyou at 9:35 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


The lawsuit he’s going to win. That Presidential tweet!

@PreetBharara
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
This is called lawsuit Exhibit A

@RadioFreeTom
Retweeted Donald J. Trump
So much for the fig leaf of arguing that McCabe was fired for any other reason but a political vendetta and his connection to Comey.
posted by chris24 at 9:39 PM on March 16 [93 favorites]


In any kind of sane world, which I'm well aware we've long since left that category, Trump would be impeached and arrested -tonight- for obstruction, -just for this tweet-, absent any other evidence necessary.
posted by Archelaus at 9:42 PM on March 16 [33 favorites]


That's the question. I have a hard time beliveing that this incompetent administration has managed to reach all the way down to the FBI's OPR/OIG after they haven't managed to get nearly anything else done except whatever was already pre-packaged by Mitch McConnell, or the Kochs, or Heritage.

Isn't OPR a part of the DOJ? Seems like it would be easy peasy for the evil Keebler to politicize after all.
posted by un petit cadeau at 9:43 PM on March 16


Sure it was posted back when, but from January 26th...

Foreign Policy: Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses
President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.

In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, recently fired FBI Director James Comey disclosed that he spoke contemporaneously with other senior bureau officials about potentially improper efforts by the president to curtail the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s efforts constituted obstruction of justice.

Not long after Comey’s Senate testimony, Trump hired John Dowd, a veteran criminal defense attorney, to represent him in matters related to Mueller’s investigation. Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.

In discussions with at least two senior White House officials, Trump repeated what Dowd had told him to emphasize why he and his supporters had to “fight back harder,” in the words of one of these officials. [...]

The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.
posted by chris24 at 9:49 PM on March 16 [25 favorites]


Asha Rangappa:
THREAD. Some thoughts on McCabe's firing, and separating the merits from the circumstances:

2. On the merits: We will have to see the OIG report first, but it's worth noting that a) something that went through both OPR (within the FBI) and the OIG involves multiple layers/people and b) "lack of candor" is something that is taken *very* seriously in the FBI

3. For example, if you tell your Supervisor you have a source meeting and cut out early -- but you instead go home and pick your kids up from school, that's T&A (Time and Attendance) fraud. Punishable. But if you lie about it when asked, it's "lack of candor," and fireable.

4. Why? Because the credibility of agents is the bread and butter of what they do. They go on the stand. Or in front of Congress. Having it in your record that you lied can make you an unusable witness. It means you literally cannot perform your duties. So there are good reasons.

5. So whether McCabe's firing was justified comes down to what investigators found and whether it went to his integrity as an agent. The fact that he was close to retirement doesn't give him a pass under the FBI's standards. The merits part can be contested/appealed by McCabe.

6. The bigger issue, and I think the one most people find problematic, are the circumstances. Here, the employee in question is one about whom the President of the United States has been publicly tweeting (multiple times), advocating for his firing, and to lose his pension.

7. Further, said employee is a key witness in an active investigation against the President himself. The "corrupt intent" for obstruction is *most* probative by the accounts given by Comey, regarding his meetings with POTUS, including "loyalty oath," letting Flynn go, etc.

8. Comey told a few people at the time about those convos -- including McCabe. McCabe can corroborate those accounts, strengthening the case for obstruction. POTUS therefore has a reason to want to discredit him.

9. On top of that, the decisionmaker in McCabe's firing decision was AG Sessions. Who was a part of Trump's campaign and an outspoken critic of the FBI's investigation into HRC...which McCabe oversaw.

10. And Sessions himself has been cyberbullied by POTUS for having recused himself from the Russia investigation, making it clear that his OWN job is on the line if he does not do what POTUS wants. (And potentially leaving him in a similar precarious situation if he recused here)

11. I think the McCabe firing, had it been done by Rosenstein, or Boente, would have had much more credibility and be less controversial. (And I suspect it would have been done, if at all, less publicly and with more care for allowing the OIG report to come out first.)

12. So the bottom line is that POTUS involving himself in this has poisoned the well all around, making the FBI's internal process and the OIG look political, and Sessions as a lackey. This is ultimately bad for the FBI and DOJ -- and the country -- generally.

13. The big thing to remember is that this is the *same* OIG that will decide Strozk/Page's fate, and possibly on the legitimacy of the Carter Page FISA. For those who are championing McCabe's firing, they better not cry foul if those decisions don't come out the way they hoped.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:00 PM on March 16 [49 favorites]


World News: Chinese president Xi Jinping re-appointed with no term limits
Xi, 64, is considered the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong and last Sunday was given the right to continue in office indefinitely after the legislature scrapped term limits for the president and vice-president.
posted by porpoise at 10:01 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


With the House out of the monitoring Trump game for now, and the Senate seemingly on pause, but still extant, it's only Mueller to apply the pressure, now joined by victims of the President’s gluttony, ever growing. From here in the rafters, it appears the only thing protecting the Republic from Trump is the threat of public opinion turning against him, particularly the view of the elites that still hold some sway, and others who don’t, but who still can marshall resources to continue to fight and delay to the next election. So precarious!

The more lawsuits people can bring, the better.

Also. Vote.
posted by notyou at 10:10 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


Pompeo can either be the acting SecState or the nominee to replace Tillerson permanently. Not both.

Can Pruitt be the acting Attorney General (but not the new appointee) just long enough to fire Rod Rosenstein, while still keeping his old job at EPA? In other words, can he hold two cabinet positions at the same time, if one is acting? What if he takes a temporary leave from EPA, can he go back after he stops acting?
posted by msalt at 10:18 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


It's worth stepping back and really taking a moment to appreciate how fucking crazy it is that the President of the United States is gloating in public about firing inconvenient FBI officials in the middle of a Friday night.
posted by theodolite at 10:20 PM on March 16 [126 favorites]


Do FBI cases go through the MSPB? Two of the 3 board members are nominated (and I don't think confirmed yet) by Trump.
posted by ctmf at 10:21 PM on March 16


The Merit System Protection Board has no quorum right now, and Trump is unlikely to appoint anyone to it. So McCabe isn't going to get any help that way.
posted by suelac at 10:23 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Right, and it blocks a lawsuit until it goes through the MSPB process, no?
posted by ctmf at 10:26 PM on March 16


Dumbass appointed the second board member just a week ago. (Coincidence?). So they do have a quorum to act now.

BUT, they have an enormous backlog following a historically long stretch without a quorum, and it’s a Dumbass appointment, so who knows whether McCabe could expect relief there even if he deserves it.

He’s got a better chance angling for a million-dollar book deal at this point.
posted by darkstar at 10:31 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


How many lawsuits total are against Trump in one form or another?
posted by gucci mane at 10:36 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Pompeo can either be the acting SecState or the nominee to replace Tillerson permanently. Not both.

Can Pruitt be the acting Attorney General (but not the new appointee) just long enough to fire Rod Rosenstein, while still keeping his old job at EPA? In other words, can he hold two cabinet positions at the same time, if one is acting? What if he takes a temporary leave from EPA, can he go back after he stops actin


Cite a statute or case, or realize that these are norms without force of law.

A formulation that is getting increasingly disturbing by its widespread application to each day's fresh horrors.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:10 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]


Numerator of lawsuits against Trump will go to infinity with no effect until the denominator of judgments against him increments above zero.
posted by SakuraK at 11:13 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


According to the NYT's Matt Appuzzo as well as Matthew Miller and some other commentators, one of the suspicious elements of McCabe's firing is that the FBI disciplinary process never works as "lightning fast" as it did here. They do say that the players in the OIG are straight arrows and the "lack of candor" charge may have merit, but the fact that this was carried out at a manic pace suggests that someone (Sessions?) was pushing things along specifically so the recommendation would be delivered to Sessions before McCabe's retirement. If the process happened at its normal rate, he would have been long gone before its conclusion.

Of course, I'm sure Jeff "I'm shocked at this lack of candor" Sessions will claim that he made the decision to act on that recommendation totally independently, but come on.

My favorite part of McCabe's statement is the ending, where he notes that "to have my career end in this way . . . is incredibly disappointing and unfair. But it will not erase the important work I was privileged to be a part of, the results of which will in the end be revealed for the country to see."
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:22 PM on March 16 [77 favorites]


This Twitter thread from a few months ago, going through emails from a FOI request, suggests that McCabe had been generally diligent about conflicts of interest. (I don't know how to unroll threads, sorry.)

It's hard to see where the lack of candor charge comes from, if this is indicative. If he recused himself from the Clinton investigation, we probably can't blame him for Comey's bullshit decision to tip the election to Trump.
posted by Merus at 11:31 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


@ClintWatts: This IG report would need to be extremely damning to justify firing McCabe with 2 days to retirement. At a minimum, AG Sessions should make public the report and clearly note reasons for firing McCabe, a Deputy Director FBI

@Susan_Hennessey: I appreciate the caution of saying "wait for the IG report." But unless there is some utterly shocking conduct by McCabe—hard to believe on available evidence—this just isn't business as usual. The timing, the speed of investigation, the severity of punishment. It's all off... As @joshgerstein notes, this stuff usually takes forever in federal government. It's only responsible to acknowledge it's possible there is something big we don't know. But all signs here point to a foul here.
posted by Jpfed at 11:35 PM on March 16 [28 favorites]


McCabe was a political actor against Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the US Presidency. Can we agree on that?
posted by SakuraK at 11:42 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


@emptywheel: "So @profcarroll challenged Facebook (for not protecting his data under EU law). It moved forward today. And now Facebook cut off Cambridge Analytica."

So Facebook acknowledging that it has no real way to enforce its platform policies around data sharing seems like a big deal, as does the implicit acknowledgment that a major foundation of Trump's digital operation was based on violations of Facebook policy. And dropping the story at 9pm on a Friday night is a very clear effort to bury it.

Even in a case as blatant as this with so much public scrutiny, it took years and a lawsuit to understand where data was being sold contrary to policy and that "oh yeah, we totally deleted that valuable data" isn't actually a meaningful guarantee. That seems like really good reason to believe this is happening an awful lot in cases we'll never know about.
posted by zachlipton at 11:43 PM on March 16 [59 favorites]


On top of all the holy-shittery this McCabe retirement business raises in itself, I feel like the fallout from the message it sends to everybody else is going to be interesting. In case anybody had any doubt about how little Trump cares about their personal well-being, and how far he'll go to prove it, he just fired a guy two days away from retiring. I'm guessing civil servants don't appreciate being bullied by an incompetent tyrant for political reasons, and people outside government who have dirt on Trump may decide this tips the scale in favor of airing it. For the average member of the public (who are paying attention, anyhow), the gut-punch of such a dick move is sure to arouse sympathy for the guy, and any subsequent firing of Mueller may energize more politically engaged people to fight back harder.
posted by Rykey at 11:56 PM on March 16 [16 favorites]


Just watched the Chris Hayes interview with Felix Sater (I think this is it, probably geo-locked but it will presumably show up on yt shortly) and it's hilarious, between Sater's earnest innocent poker face while trying to imply that he was just a reformed honest business man successfully doing business in the Russian Federation in the 90s, his protestations about Trump's noble character and patriotic honor, and Hayes's dogged refusal to accept any evasive or ambiguous answers to questions.
posted by XMLicious at 12:50 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Chuck Schumer's war on black people and the poor
The new Democratic leader is providing crucial assistance to Republicans and President Trump to get a sweeping rollback of Dodd-Frank pushed through Congress. It is political and policy malpractice — and amounts to announcing open season on African-Americans and the poor, so that his state's marquee industry can bleed them for profit.
...
As I have previously argued, this deregulation is profoundly racist both in general and in its specifics. Deregulated banks cause economic crises that hit black Americans by far the worst — for example, during the foreclosure crisis the percentage of black households underwater on their mortgage spiked over 20-fold, while over the same period the corresponding white figure increased "only" 6-fold. Meanwhile, if they aren't carefully prevented from doing so, Wall Street preys on black people. That's a constant in American history going back to before the revolution.
...
Now, Schumer himself did not vote for the bill. But make no mistake, he was the key to its passage. Party leadership has a considerable power in the Senate, both direct and indirect. He could have twisted arms and kept this thing off the floor as Reid did — but instead, as The New York Times reports, "he has given conservative-state Democrats leeway to vote as they see fit and has urged progressives in the party to tread lightly when criticizing moderates."
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:31 AM on March 17 [26 favorites]


Now, Schumer himself did not vote for the bill. But make no mistake, he was the key to its passage. Party leadership has a considerable power in the Senate,

I'm a big fan of party unity, and while I don't believe this is owned by Schumer, the fact that so many traitors to the party, who shouldn't need reminding, broke ranks says more about the traitors, than Schumer.

After all, we don't want to reduce the Democrats in Congress to RICO tactics, despite what the Republicans do, do we?

SEE ALSO: ST: DISCO S01
posted by mikelieman at 4:42 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]




Ex CIA director John O. Brennan is not mincing words today.

When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you.
posted by Devonian at 5:15 AM on March 17 [117 favorites]


“do what you gotta do,” per @Sen_JoeManchin

If they're not going to listen to Professor Warren, then they're not acting rationally, and in good faith. What they need to do is replace Manchin, etc...
posted by mikelieman at 5:16 AM on March 17


"Damn You NPR" Filter: Just listened to Scott Simon do a puff-piece fangirl interview with a former Mike Pompeo staffer about what kind of Secretary of State he'd be. And not once did Simon bring up any of Simon's more questionable views, like how he opposed the closing of Guantanamo and how he wanted to use drones in North Korea.

....Turns out Scott Simon tweeted out "hey, check out my interview" to his listeners only a few minutes before. I let him know what I thought, if anyone heard that same interview and wants to join in....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:36 AM on March 17 [18 favorites]


The people of Indiana had a literal tug of war with Wall Street for Senator Joe Donnelly's soul over the banking bill. I guess we see who won.
posted by Rykey at 5:41 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Well done Republicans.

Percentage of Germans (very) worried by the policies of:

Donald Trump: 82%
Vladimir Putin: 53%
posted by chris24 at 5:45 AM on March 17 [16 favorites]


Donald Trump: 82%
Vladimir Putin: 53%


Was there no "¿Porqué no los dos?" option?
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:47 AM on March 17 [12 favorites]


@tedlieu
I interviewed Andrew McCabe during a closed door Judiciary Committee Hearing. You should read his statement below. I believe him.

But even if you disagree, the punishment he is receiving is far out of proportion to his 21 years of service. McCabe will win his appeal.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's statement on his firing
posted by chris24 at 6:05 AM on March 17 [29 favorites]


what i'm wondering is if there really are several women with ndas and some of them decide to violate them and reveal what they did with trump, what happens if melania decides she's had enough and DTMFA? can he be served with divorce papers while he's president?

this has the potential to make the watergate scandal really look like a third-rate burglary - what a massive, awful thing this is turning out to be
posted by pyramid termite at 6:16 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Breaking on the Facebook-Cambridge story.

Guardian: Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in the tech giant’s biggest ever data breach, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with an academic at Cambridge University to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis that the entire company was built on.”

Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.
posted by chris24 at 6:18 AM on March 17 [85 favorites]


what happens if melania decides she's had enough and DTMFA?

She’s played the long game so far, I don’t see her splitting unless there’s a threat of jail time or the money goes away.
posted by Artw at 6:21 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


can he be served with divorce papers while he's president?

Served, yes. The actual divorce proceedings could get weird considering Trump is not supposed to have personal knowledge of his assets under management (ha!). But I agree with Artw, it's vanishingly unlikely.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:24 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Donald Trump: 82%
Vladimir Putin: 53%

Was there no "¿Porqué no los dos?" option?


As 82%+53%=135%, I think there was.
posted by box at 6:27 AM on March 17 [15 favorites]


And from the writer of the Guardian FB-CA piece. FB really didn't want this out there.

@carolecadwalla
Yesterday @facebook threatened to sue us. Today we publish this.
Meet the whistleblower blowing the lid off Facebook & Cambridge Analytica. LINK
posted by chris24 at 6:27 AM on March 17 [43 favorites]


And now the Times has the story as well.

NYT: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions
As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem. The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.

So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair. They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”
posted by chris24 at 6:32 AM on March 17 [55 favorites]


I would be extraordinarily interested in knowing whether that data pool of Facebook users had significant populations in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
posted by Room 101 at 6:44 AM on March 17 [28 favorites]


Hey, remember Facebook promoting how much help they gave the Trump campaign? While they knew their entire network had been raided by the same campaign?
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:45 AM on March 17 [28 favorites]


The congressional investigations of Facebook if Ds win a house are going to be lit.

RIP Zuckerberg 2020.
posted by chris24 at 6:46 AM on March 17 [71 favorites]


Does anyone know if there's an up-to-date list of suspected Russian assassinations? I know last year Buzzfeed did a list of possible Russian hits that have taken place in the UK.

British Insider UK has such a list, and the Independent has an article, though some in it are people who have keeled over under odd circumstances outside the UK.

There's also a bit of discussion around this on the current UKpolitics thread on the blue.
posted by Wordshore at 6:50 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


The congressional investigations of Facebook if Ds win a house are going to be lit.

I guess we're not going to get into the weeds (at least here), but the details in this story suggest the possibility of more than just a regulatory or even criminal response. There are state privacy laws to consider, as well as the fact that Facebook is a publicly owned company and owes duties to its stockholders.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:51 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Rep Eric Swalwell on Twitter, RTing Trump:

Gloat now, but you will be fired soon. And it's not going to be done cowardly, as you've done to so many who've served you. There's a storm gathering, Mr. President, and it's going to wipe out you and your corrupt organization all the way down to the studs.
posted by hexaflexagon at 6:53 AM on March 17 [59 favorites]


She’s played the long game so far, I don’t see her splitting unless there’s a threat of jail time or the money goes away.

I don't think she's playing any game. If things go south there's also the whole sicking the federal government on her citizenship. It's almost certain that she entered the United States initially to work illegally and Trump knows this. The DOJ has proven it will remove citizenship from those who have fraud in their background. With the right prodding, the DOJ could be persuaded to denaturalize her, take her into custody, and deport her back to Slovakia away from her child. Her parents would also follow her back as their green cards would be in jeopardy and probably be revoked.

I mean this is the US President we're talking about here and a legislative branch that is unwilling to restrain him or punish him for his egregious actions. It's far more likely that she's a prisoner in a gilded cage.
posted by Talez at 6:57 AM on March 17 [21 favorites]


NYT: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

I’ll give them this, the data scraping in this story does not appear to be of Russian origin, looks like they went out and spywared a bunch of suckers on Mechanical Turk all for themselves.
posted by Artw at 7:00 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Served, yes. The actual divorce proceedings could get weird considering Trump is not supposed to have personal knowledge of his assets under management (ha!). But I agree with Artw, it's vanishingly unlikely.

Counterpoint: 2017/2018... There is no "Normal" anymore.
posted by mikelieman at 7:01 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Regarding voter manipulation in swing states by use of Cambridge data:

CBS Story from Feb. 2016 -- Ted Cruz's data app helps campaign target voters
Protecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens from the government is a pillar of Ted Cruz's Republican presidential candidacy, but his campaign is testing the limits of siphoning personal data from supporters.

His "Cruz Crew" mobile app is designed to gather detailed information from its users' phones -- tracking their physical movements and mining the names and contact information for friends who might want nothing to do with his campaign.

That information and more is then fed into a vast database containing details about nearly every adult in the United States to build psychological profiles that target individual voters with uncanny accuracy...

The son of mathematicians and data processing programmers, Cruz is keenly and personally interested in the work. "Analytics gives the campaign a roadmap for everything we do," said Chris Wilson, data and digital director. "He has an acute understanding of our work and continually pushes me on it."
...
The Associated Press found the Cruz campaign's app -- downloaded to more than 61,000 devices so far -- goes furthest to glean personal data.

The Cruz app prompts supporters to register using their Facebook logins, giving the campaign access to personal information such as name, age range, gender, location and photograph, plus lists of friends and relatives. Those without a Facebook account must either provide an email address or phone number to use the app.
...
It also shares the material with analytics companies. Cruz's campaign combines the information with data from a group called Cambridge Analytica, which has been involved in his efforts since fall 2014. A Cambridge investor, Robert Mercer, has given more money than anyone else to outside groups supporting Cruz.
As the story points out, many campaigns had their own apps. They should all get a hard look.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:01 AM on March 17 [55 favorites]


I guess we're not going to get into the weeds (at least here), but the details in this story suggest the possibility of more than just a regulatory or even criminal response. There are state privacy laws to consider, as well as the fact that Facebook is a publicly owned company and owes duties to its stockholders.

Don’t stop there, keep talking
posted by schadenfrau at 7:05 AM on March 17 [12 favorites]


This is one of the things that will only be clear in retrospect. But consider that if the hypothesis that Cambridge Analytics, Russian State Actors, and people in the United States WERE sharing voter data via the Trump Tower -> Spectrum Health -> Alfa Bank server communication, that's now in the scope of Mueller's investigation, and WILL be fully investigated.
posted by mikelieman at 7:10 AM on March 17 [28 favorites]


The congressional investigations of Facebook if Ds win a house are going to be lit.

Too big to fail. Just watch.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:11 AM on March 17 [17 favorites]


And now of course they're going for the whole enchilada.

Trump’s Lawyer: It’s Time to End the Mueller Probe
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, told The Daily Beast on Saturday morning that he hopes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will shut down the Mueller probe.

Reached for comment by email about the firing of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, sent The Daily Beast the text of Trump’s most recent tweet on the subject, which applauded the firing. Then he wrote that Rosenstein should follow Sessions' lead.

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.

He told The Daily Beast he was speaking on behalf of the president, in his capacity as the president’s attorney.
posted by chris24 at 7:16 AM on March 17 [45 favorites]


If they're willing to try to pull the plug with this week's ink barely dry then they don't think they can withstand whatever's coming next.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:19 AM on March 17 [16 favorites]


That's the president, demanding that the Department of Justice terminate an ongoing investigation into the subversion of a presidential election, financial crimes, obstruction of justice and more, and making this demand through his personal attorney.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:20 AM on March 17 [105 favorites]


This is all like finding out Pearl Harbor happened, one detail at a time, 2 years after the act.
posted by klarck at 7:24 AM on March 17 [50 favorites]


The congressional investigations of Facebook if Ds win a house are going to be lit.

Too big to fail. Just watch.


Yeah Facebook is a massive, publicly traded company on the S&P 500 with a market cap more than half of Exxon; there's no way they get more than a monetary slap on the wrist even for blatant well-understood crimes, let alone something you'd have trouble explaining to your parents.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:24 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Too big to fail. Just watch.

Oh the glorious day should social networks become federated instead of lock in.
posted by Talez at 7:26 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Trump’s Lawyer: It’s Time to End the Mueller Probe

I'm seeing some "red alerts" on twitter. Am I supposed to take to the streets on red alert? Or am I being put on alert to get ready to take to the streets? This sucks!!! I don't want to be pondering when it's time to take to the streets!
posted by diogenes at 7:30 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


This is the equivalent of Trump emailing the DC DMV with a vanity plate request for: OBSTRCTR
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:32 AM on March 17 [18 favorites]


Too big to fail. Just watch.

Consider the tobacco lawsuits. The bigger they come...
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:33 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


If Trump wants the Russia probe to end he should stop committing crimes.
posted by Talez at 7:35 AM on March 17 [17 favorites]


The apparent lack of controls that Facebook has on its data is breathtaking. An academic was asked to pinky swear that he wouldn't use it for naughtiness, was given full access, and then downloaded their entire social graph. He was then asked to pinky swear that he had destroyed the data and he promptly sent it all to to Cam. Anal. via a "plausible deniability" route.

Facebook gave its family jewels and its customer's privacy to any researcher with bad intent. That is just amazingly reckless. Someone with that data could basically recreate 25% of Facebook, and become the only real competitor that they have, with the cost of a front end app and some servers.
posted by pdoege at 7:36 AM on March 17 [40 favorites]


This is the equivalent of Trump emailing the DC DMV with a vanity plate request for: OBSTRCTR

And Dowd seems to have released this and is now backtracking, changing to say he was speaking in a personal capacity and saying Mueller shouldn't be technically "fired", just that the investigation should end based on the merits. "Not fire. Just end it on the merits in light of recent revelations."
posted by chris24 at 7:37 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Someone with that data could basically recreate 25% of Facebook, and become the only real competitor that they have, with the cost of a front end app and some servers.

That's precisely what Cambridge Analytica did, at least as far as commercial campaigning data sources are concerned.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:39 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Hahaha, Dowd was literally emailing Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast while she was live with Joy Reid on MSNBC trying to massage his quotes.

The. Best. People.
posted by chris24 at 7:41 AM on March 17 [27 favorites]


Specific details from the Guardian piece on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica:
The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by academic Aleksandr Kogan, separately from his work at Cambridge University. Through his company Global Science Research (GSR), in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica, hundreds of thousands of users were paid to take a personality test and agreed to have their data collected for academic use.

However, the app also collected the information of the test-takers’ Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions-strong. Facebook’s “platform policy” allowed only collection of friends data to improve user experience in the app and barred it being sold on or used for advertising.

[...]

Kogan, who has previously unreported links to a Russian university and took Russian grants for research, had a licence from Facebook to collect profile information, but it was for research purposes only.

So when he hoovered up information for the commercial venture, he was violating the company’s terms. Kogan maintains everything he did was legal, and says he had a “close working relationship” with Facebook, which had granted him permission for his apps.
posted by XMLicious at 7:42 AM on March 17 [15 favorites]


I am getting some deja-vu from this Cambridge Analytica stuff. I thought we heard about these guys and their Facebook raiding years ago? The article posted by snuffleupagus mentions them, I could've sworn there already was discussion of how they were exploiting social media data for their own purposes. Is the difference with these articles that there's confirmation they scraped private information from profiles, rather than just what's publicly available?
posted by schroedinger at 7:45 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Kogan, who has previously unreported links to a Russian university and took Russian grants for research, had a licence from Facebook to collect profile information, but it was for research purposes only.

Oh.

Oh well, probably just coincidence.
posted by Artw at 7:52 AM on March 17 [44 favorites]


chris24
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.

He told The Daily Beast he was speaking on behalf of the president, in his capacity as the president’s attorney.
Can any lawyers tell us speaking on behalf of your client requires adopting their Style of capitalization?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:55 AM on March 17 [21 favorites]


And Dowd seems to have released this and is now backtracking...

Realized... Dowd seems to have realized this.
posted by chris24 at 7:55 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife

Point being, among others: for the love of all that is holy, stop taking those stoopid What's Your Porn Star Name? and Which Star Wars Character Are You? quizzes.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:59 AM on March 17 [74 favorites]


I'm seeing some "red alerts" on twitter.

Mueller probe is now at DEFCON 2 ("FAST PACE", which, incidentally, nicely describes the rate of news and the pace of this thread in the past 24 hours)

As a reminder, from Mother Jones, If You Want to Understand Trump, Understand This: Revenge Is What He Cares About Most. For instance, this is his warped idea of business advice: "'Always get even. When you are in business, you need to get even with people who screw you.' – Think Big"
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:03 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


You'll remember Dowd from his previous appearance in Season 1 where he claimed he wrote Trump's earlier tweet obstructing justice.

@realDonaldTrump
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!
posted by chris24 at 8:04 AM on March 17 [10 favorites]




stop taking those stoopid What's Your Porn Star Name? and Which Star Wars Character Are You? quizzes.

The "we can predict your education/income from your consumer tastes!" links turning up as 'sponsored content' lately are particularly gross AND obvious. I mean, they're using the engine to provide the gimmick that gets people to submit their data to the engine.

But package an invasion of privacy that people wouldn't tolerate normally as a Fun Game and people will voluntarily provide valuable marketing and demographic data, as well as unthinkingly clicking through the screen that permits profile harvesting. And then they'll validate the data/train the engine for you, as long as they can do it via reaction emoticon. And recruit their friends!
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:08 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


I am getting some deja-vu from this Cambridge Analytica stuff. I thought we heard about these guys and their Facebook raiding years ago?

Most of it we knew, but what seems new is that SCL/Cambridge Analytica promised back in 2016 that they destroyed data they were using in violation of Facebook's terms (they have always tried to restrict the sharing of graph data, since their whole business model is based around controlling that data themselves, but there's never really been an enforcement mechanism), and now a whistleblower is showing the NYT and Observer that was a lie. Nix also told Parliament, "we do not work with Facebook data and we do not have Facebook data," and the veracity of that seems to be significantly at various with the facts as we now know them.

Facebook's policy is that you're supposed to only slurp data as it relates to stuff that you can use in your app. For instance, Spotify might grab your friends list and all the bands you and your friends have liked so you can follow your friends and get recommendations. But they aren't supposed to sell that to a data broker (Facebook wants to be that data broker). Telling everyone "hey, please don't share this valuable data" isn't really an effective strategy. And Facebook doesn't seem to have done a whole lot in response to this situation. As I understand it, their view is pretty much that the whole system worked as intended, but for the use of the data beyond the personality profile app. Which is true—spitting out this data is the entire point of the Facebook API—, but the fact that anything your friends can see is also available to any random app they're foolish enough to authorize is part of the problem.

I, as always, remain skeptical that Cambridge Analytica wasn't mainly peddling snake oil with these psychographic profiles, but what we'd really need to understand their effect is the same kind of transparency for online political advertising that is required for broadcast, and it's maddening that isn't mandated. Every online political ad should be disclosed, including information about how it was targeted and who paid for it.
posted by zachlipton at 8:09 AM on March 17 [45 favorites]


aspersioncast: Yeah Facebook is a massive, publicly traded company on the S&P 500 with a market cap more than half of Exxon; there's no way they get more than a monetary slap on the wrist even for blatant well-understood crimes, let alone something you'd have trouble explaining to your parents.

More than that, I think an insurmountable obstacle is that it's just accepted as normal that any company a consumer does business with, any web site they visit, and any device they buy–it's accepted that those things allow the manufacturer of the device or the service provider to establish a beachhead in the consumer's life and conduct surveillance and amass information. And every other organization and company and political party leans heavily on the data sets compiled in this way to make their money and pursue their agendas.

Any serious and comprehensive response to these events would require a reckoning with that state of affairs; and none of those interests are going to give up the advantages they gain from everyone's lives being pried open and made vulnerable, so they won't very well be able to hold Facebook accountable for something they're unwilling to stop availing themselves of.
posted by XMLicious at 8:10 AM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Is the difference with these articles that there's confirmation they scraped private information from profiles, rather than just what's publicly available?

Yes, we now know they stole the data. And illegally employed foreigners in a US election.
But in July 2014, an American election lawyer advising the company, Laurence Levy, warned that the arrangement could violate laws limiting the involvement of foreign nationals in American elections.

In a memo to Mr. Bannon, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Nix, the lawyer, then at the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, warned that Mr. Nix would have to recuse himself “from substantive management” of any clients involved in United States elections. The data firm would also have to find American citizens or green card holders, Mr. Levy wrote, “to manage the work and decision making functions, relative to campaign messaging and expenditures.”

In summer and fall 2014, Cambridge Analytica dived into the American midterm elections, mobilizing SCL contractors and employees around the country. Few Americans were involved in the work, which included polling, focus groups and message development for the John Bolton Super PAC, conservative groups in Colorado and the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican.
And perhaps more importantly in this story, Facebook knew it for two years and did nothing. In fact, continued to help the Trump campaign an then have lied and covered it up since.
posted by chris24 at 8:10 AM on March 17 [51 favorites]


There were a dozen other choices for the Republican nominee. Every Trump voter needs to be reminded of this. Constantly.
posted by Cyrano at 8:11 AM on March 17 [19 favorites]


The book deal he's going to get will make up for a lot of pension.

Nope. Every book published by someone formerly holding a clearance has to go through review, and his would never make it. We will likely not know the full details of everything that has happened for a full fifty years at least.
posted by corb at 8:16 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


As per that CBS data gathering-share-with-CA news story, it doesn't seem like it would have necessarily mattered who the nominee was. A Bannon/Mercer/Nix fix was in from 2014.
Bannon for the culture war effect, Mercer for usual old rich white man crazy stuff, and Nix cuz he's power mad to prove he could do it.
posted by rc3spencer at 8:16 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Savannah drops sign ban in Pence Savannah St. Patrick’s Day security zone, in which Savannah gives up after being sued for trying to ban signs in the vicinity of Mike Pence. The city claims it was a "miscommunication" with the feds.

AP also reports on how Pence is ruining St. Patrick's Day, Savannah ‘worried about the fun’ as Pence comes to St. Pat’s thanks to a 12-block "enhanced security zone" where coolers and outside drinks and chairs are banned.
posted by zachlipton at 8:20 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


@jaketapper
Since Friday 5 pm:
*POTUS sued a porn star for $20M;
*DOJ fired embattled former deputy FBI director McCabe hours before retirement, as POTUS wanted;
* we learned the Trump campaign's data firm, Cambridge Analytica, had unauthorized access to 50 million people's Facebook data.

All three of these stories are of potential consequence.

1) POTUS suing @StormyDaniels means he is now acknowledging he was party to the non-disclosure agreement. Her attorney @MichaelAvenatti was daring POTUS to sue them and amazingly he took the bait. Discovery awaits.

2) Regardless of the merits of what the FBI disciplinary officials recommended regarding McCabe, he is now quite likely in a quite different position and frame of mind than he would have been. And he’s a witness for Mueller.

3) Trump campaign’s data firm Cambridge Analytica using, in an unauthorized way, the data of 50 million Facebook users, might have more repercussions for Facebook and its fight against regulation than it will against the Trump campaign. But as with all of these cases who knows?
posted by chris24 at 8:20 AM on March 17 [68 favorites]


Yes, we now know they stole the data

And it seems possible/likely that it was then used to facilitate other potentially actionable or illegal activities, in some scenarios making those activities illicit because of its use. For instance, the provenance of the data might make its use by apps like Cruz's a big problem. Who knew what? Cruz's data guy said Ted was breathing down his neck about their op. Lit hearings indeed, if the Dems can get Congress back.

There are also some problems for the executives on the corporate side (from the Guardian article):
Last month both Facebook and the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, told a parliamentary inquiry on fake news that the company did not have or use private Facebook data... Milner, Facebook’s UK policy director, when asked if Cambridge Analytica had Facebook data, told MPs: “They may have lots of data but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.”...Nix told the same MPs: “We do not work with Facebook data and we do not have Facebook data.”

But the whistleblower's dossier appears to contradict those assertions and has been passed onto authorities. The article says "it includes emails, invoices, contracts and bank transfers that reveal more than 50 million profiles – mostly belonging to registered US voters – were harvested from the site in the largest ever breach of Facebook data." As ever, those bank transfers should be interesting.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:22 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Every book published by someone formerly holding a clearance has to go through review, and his would never make it.

James Comey's memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, seems to have passed muster without too much delay and will be published in a month's time.

Incidentally, his book tour should prove fascinating. Axios Exclusive: Comey to Come Out Hot on Book Tour, Correct Lies
Comey has been quiet for nearly a year — fired by President Trump on May 9, precipitating the appointment of special counsel Bob Mueller eight days later. He has heard a lot of lies and misstatements about the FBI that he intends to correct. He didn’t want to be in this position, but is embracing it.

• There'll be more announcements about his book tour soon, but he’s eager to go to where his critics are and take them on.
• He has seen three presidents up close (George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump), and will compare and contrast the first two he served to the third.
• As you can guess, what he says is going to rattle a lot of china.
And last month, when he was finishing recording the audiobook version, he tweeted, "Lordy, this time there will be a tape."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:28 AM on March 17 [32 favorites]


National Geographic's running white supremacist apologetics now. Endless portaits of various flavors of fascist scum and none from the non-white residents of the "rapidly diversifying" areas discussed. Guess being bought by Fox has consequences.

As America Changes, Some Anxious Whites Feel Left Behind: Demographic shifts rippling across the nation are fueling fears that their culture and standing are under threat.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:29 AM on March 17 [11 favorites]


"Too big to fail" should be a synonym for "time to nationalize."
posted by biogeo at 8:30 AM on March 17 [64 favorites]


WaPo, Paul Sonne and Karen DeYoung, Trump wants to get the U.S. out of Syria’s war, so he asked the Saudi king for $4 billion
In a December phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Trump had an idea he thought could hasten a U.S. exit from Syria: Ask the king for $4 billion. By the end of the call, according to U.S. officials, the president believed he had a deal.

The White House wants money from the kingdom and other nations to help rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the U.S. military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State. The postwar goal is to prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian partners from claiming the areas, or the Islamic State from regrouping, while U.S. forces finish mopping up the militants.
So as usual, Trump's foreign policy strategy is to shake down an ally (well, whatever Saudi Arabia is) for cash. Missing from this strategy is any, well, actual strategy:
One senior official said the SDF should cut a deal with the Syrian regime, given that Assad is ascending and there is little U.S. appetite to expand the military mission. The SDF shares Assad’s goal of ridding Syria of opposition rebels, the Islamic State and Turkish forces.

A second senior administration official, however, completely rejected the notion that Assad is winning, saying the regime is “weaker than it has ever been, certainly in this half of the civil war.”

“If we compare it to his pre-civil-war position, he controls about half or less of prewar territory, less than half of the arable land and far less than half of strategic resources like oil and gas,” the official said. Those who say otherwise, the official added, are “misunderstanding the political process.”

A third administration official expressed shock that any top U.S. official at this point would make that case. “Really?” this official asked.
posted by zachlipton at 8:31 AM on March 17 [19 favorites]



He really is, as someone up-thread put it, the stupidest stupid to ever have stupided.

I can't find it now, but someone on MeFi once put it as "The dumbest, shittiest dumbshit who ever shitted some dumb."
posted by notsnot at 8:35 AM on March 17 [23 favorites]


Could someone elaborate on what role McCabe might have played in using the FBI/the email investigation to kneecap Hillary Clinton? I've seen a few people saying that but I can't find any more information. Googling just turns up reams and reams of articles spinning it in the opposite direction (that he intervened to protect her).
posted by the turtle's teeth at 8:38 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Haberman implying the new push to fire Mueller is because Trump is pissed/worried about the Trump Org subpoenas.

@maggieNYT
Trump was livid over subpoena story from @nytmike and me two days ago. Dowd statement about Mueller, pre-walk back, comes after that angry bout
posted by chris24 at 8:39 AM on March 17 [12 favorites]


Here, notsnot. That thread still makes me laugh/cry every time.
posted by Melismata at 8:42 AM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Andrea Mitchell: One suggestion from a McCabe supporter: if a friendly member of Congress hired him for a week he could possibly qualify for pension benefits by extending his service the extra days

Rep. Mark Pocan: Andrew call me. I could use a good two-day report on the biggest crime families in Washington, D.C.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:52 AM on March 17 [116 favorites]




I, as always, remain skeptical that Cambridge Analytica wasn't mainly peddling snake oil with these psychographic profiles, but what we'd really need to understand their effect is the same kind of transparency for online political advertising that is required for broadcast, and it's maddening that isn't mandated.

I think the key is in the microtargeting of "political" ads and fake news. Even if CA's voter profiles were off a bit, its pretty trivial to scrape who is posting anti-Hilary shit in a Michigan suburban district and then target them and 100 others in the same district for more inflammatory pro-Trump content. And that was orders of magnitude more influential than a TV buy in the same general area. And we still getting the bits and pieces of the puzzle, the likelihood that all of CA's data wasn't being fed directly to the Russian botnets seems close to zero. We're going to get those next links too.

At this point I also believe Facebook likely had direct knowledge of the entire information war backbone. Facebook data -> CA -> Russia and then right back to Facebook.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:04 AM on March 17 [10 favorites]


There were a dozen other choices for the Republican nominee. Every Trump voter needs to be reminded of this. Constantly.

Yeah, but none of the others were as clear with their bigotry, sexism, and fascism. The dogwhistles were all still there, but Trump was the only one to come out and say we should ban all Muslims from coming into the country and put together a registry for those who are already here (as, y'know, citizens, not that he or his supporters accept that).

They knew. They all knew.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:08 AM on March 17 [37 favorites]


Daily Beast: Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Lawyers Up. McCabe has retained Michael Bromwich, the ex-inspector general of the Justice department to represent him.

Andy McCabe is not fucking around here. All the Twitter esquires are noting Bromwich is a "top notch lawyer," i.e., the type who told Trump to go to hell when he tried to hire them.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:09 AM on March 17 [99 favorites]


I've been avoiding the politics thread for my own mental well being for several weeks or so now, but this McCabe thing is beyond the pale. Who fires a career civil servant, to say nothing of the Deputy Director of the FBI, TWO DAYS before he retires? There'd better be hell to pay for this one.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:13 AM on March 17 [11 favorites]


“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.

You see that right there? We already know, have already known for months, that the investigation into the Trump campaign wasn't based on the dossier but on George Popadopalous being unable to keep his big mouth shut. The right continues to insist on having not only their way but their reality in contravention of the publicly known facts, and nobody in the world is safe as long as one person who makes that demand is tolerated.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:17 AM on March 17 [26 favorites]


Andy McCabe is not fucking around here. All the Twitter esquires are noting Bromwich is a "top notch lawyer," i.e., the type who told Trump to go to hell when he tried to hire them.

The thing that keeps being re-enforced to me is how completely outgunned Trump is in every way. He's the President, he's the most powerful person in the world, but since he has absolutely no understanding of soft power or the benefits of basic human decency he's alienated or intentionally destroyed almost all of his allies. And he doesn't have the electoral value to let him get away with it (he's batting .000 with candidates he campaigns for). He's drawing the noose tighter around his neck with every step he takes.

...and if he thinks it's bad now, wait until after the 2018 elections. The only risk now is that he tries to take the rest of us with him; and I have to think that Mattis has had some pretty strong conversations with everybody in the military chain of command that involves the big booms. I wouldn't be surprised if there's already a letter a la Schlesinger and Nixon.

I also wonder about the long term impact on the GOP of abdicating their constitutional responsibilities in the face of a clear attack by a foreign power. FBI and CIA and DoD and Foggy Bottom have LONG institutional memories. A lot of these institutions are traditionally pretty politically conservative. But they sure as hell have no truck with traitors; and despite the official definitions, this is certainly treason to them.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:23 AM on March 17 [55 favorites]


At this point I also believe Facebook likely had direct knowledge of the entire information war backbone. Facebook data -> CA -> Russia and then right back to Facebook.

As apparently revealed in the Panama papers, Russian oligarchs connected to Putin (aren’t they all, if they’re still alive) have been major investors in Facebook since before the IPO. At one point, the Russian money is alleged to have come from the Russian state.

Zuckerberg should possibly be in prison.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:25 AM on March 17 [74 favorites]


Rep Eric Swalwell on Twitter, RTing Trump:

Gloat now, but you will be fired soon. And it's not going to be done cowardly, as you've done to so many who've served you. There's a storm gathering, Mr. President, and it's going to wipe out you and your corrupt organization all the way down to the studs.


Electing Donald Trump is like renting your house to a meth cook.
posted by Catblack at 9:28 AM on March 17 [24 favorites]


I feel like Trump is the giant rat in the kitchen that triggered the call to the exterminators. But the house has been infested for years. This is going to flush all sorts of stuff out of the woodwork.

And that's not even considering the congressional investigations that'll come after 2018.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:29 AM on March 17 [24 favorites]


Zuckerberg should possibly be in prison.

Wasn’t his very first product a morally iffy data-scraper?
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


Zuckerberg should possibly be in prison

In my fever dreams his private estate on Kauai (that used to be an entire country club) is seized and winds up in a native lands trust.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:32 AM on March 17 [77 favorites]


And that's not even considering the congressional investigations that'll come after 2018.

I'd really like to believe this, but I just don't see the Democrats having the spine for it. They'll have the Republicans screaming in their ears about it, and god knows they're more afraid of the disapproval of the Republicans than they are of any other entity or group in the universe.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:39 AM on March 17 [10 favorites]


Secretive religious charity run by top US housing officials raises questions
GJH Global Ministries, which made its website private after inquiries by the Guardian, does not appear to have a clear purpose
One of the top officials in Donald Trump’s housing department runs an opaque religious charity with a colleague who resigned from the administration when the Guardian found he was accused of fraud and exaggerated his biography.

Johnson Joy, the chief information officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (Hud), is part of a Christian not-for-profit in Texas with Naved Jafry, who quit [] as a Hud adviser after inquiries about his professional history.

[...]

Jafry declined to discuss GJH and said: “That was a long time ago.” According to a filing to state regulators, Jafry became the registered agent for GJH in January this year. A one-bedroom apartment in Houston is listed as the group’s headquarters.

Joy did not respond to questions about his involvement, including whether he had cited his leadership of GJH when successfully applying to work at Hud.

Joy and Jafry both lived in the Houston area recently and attended Lakewood, the megachurch there run by the television preacher Joel Osteen. Joy worked as project manager on Osteen’s cellphone app before overseeing IT at Hud – a position with a $161,900 salary that entails managing dozens of people and a $46m budget.

A former business partner of Jafry, Garson Silvers, said Jafry was given his job at Hud after being recommended by Osteen’s mother, Dodie. Jafry disputed this.
posted by XMLicious at 9:49 AM on March 17 [17 favorites]


Zuckerberg should possibly be in prison

At the least, Sorkin/Fincher have a logline on that "Social Network" sequel.
posted by BigBrooklyn at 9:52 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


that the president of the united states, a putatively wealthy man, has to resort to shysters with inadequate impulse control like Dowd for representation is an important object lesson in the many dangers inherent in alienating the entire reputable legal profession.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:57 AM on March 17 [16 favorites]


Huh. In November 2016 I decided to follow all my reps on Social Media where possible, and one of them does nothing but retweet Joel Osteen.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:02 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]




> I have a hard time beliveing that this incompetent administration has managed to reach all the way down to the FBI's OPR/OIG after they haven't managed to get nearly anything else done

There has been a pretty clear pattern of Donny becoming more sophisticated over time in his desire to manufacture a more convincing cover story. Even if he doesn't see the necessity of doing so for any legal or moral reason, he understands the utility of having a better cover story from a public relations and media standpoint.

How they might have managed to make that happen is of course an open question at this point--and one well worth investigating. But Trump is clearly well motivated to destroy potential enemies at this point, and he and his allies are becoming more skilled in manipulating the levers of government to do so.
posted by flug at 10:02 AM on March 17


Could someone elaborate on what role McCabe might have played in using the FBI/the email investigation to kneecap Hillary Clinton? I've seen a few people saying that but I can't find any more information. Googling just turns up reams and reams of articles spinning it in the opposite direction (that he intervened to protect her).

McCabe and Comey's behavior around the email investigation--the bizarre publicity, Comey's release of that letter a week before the election--helped drill in But Her Emails as an actual thing that was important and required attention. McCabe also pushed forward on investigation into The Clinton Foundation directly before the election. The Comey Letter in particular (i.e. the one released before the election) resulted in a drop in polls, a shift in undecided, and very likely helped cost her the election. Both came from the not-small-percentage of the FBI that strongly disliked her and they're perfect examples of the type of person who disliked Clinton too much to consider what life with the alternative would be like.

Now they're being targeted by the right as Shills because history is malleable and conservatives like to forget how much they (and Trump) celebrated the FBI when it was off on its wild goose chase. We were literally all existing there two years ago and watching it in real time, but sure! Let's wave our hands and pretend the actual things we experienced and read in the news never happened!
posted by schroedinger at 10:04 AM on March 17 [58 favorites]


Adrian Lamo, hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning, dies aged 37

from reading between the lines of his father’s comments, i suspect this was a suicide? but given the current zeitgeist it’s also very easy to spin this out into elaborate conspiracy theories. i hope the media leave his family alone.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:09 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Johnson Joy, the chief information officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (Hud), is part of a Christian not-for-profit in Texas

Maybe Chuck Harder and Ryan Stonerock need a third for the new firm?
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:13 AM on March 17 [12 favorites]


BREAKING: AP learns fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe maintained personal memos regarding President Donald Trump.

Looks like someone kept those receipts.
posted by PenDevil at 10:13 AM on March 17 [82 favorites]


No big surprise, from Paula Reid at CBS: "JUST IN: Lordy, there are memos. McCabe kept contemporaneous memos of conversations with the President & events surrounding Comey firing."

I wonder if Mueller got them last night or will get them Monday.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:13 AM on March 17 [55 favorites]


National Geographic's running white supremacist apologetics now. Guess being bought by Fox has consequences.
As I noted before, NG is part of the Fox media empire that's been sold to Disney, so whatever pressure they're getting is currently from The Mouse. But then, I consider "As America Changes, Some Anxious Whites Feel Left Behind: Demographic shifts rippling across the nation are fueling fears that their culture and standing are under threat" to be nothing but good news; White Supremacist Culture is what gave us Donald Trump and it needs to be sent to the 'dustbin of History' as soon as possible.

... the many dangers inherent in alienating the entire reputable legal profession.

This has been Trump's Method of Operation for DECADES, and it hadn't failed him yet. Of course, I must note (again) that one group of the legal profession he never alienated were corrupt prosecutors in New York and New Jersey... like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.

Meanwhile, Trump's turning against the highest profile of "the not-small-percentage of the FBI that strongly disliked" Hillary is going to peel off much of his support from that semi-important group. And the way his critics are lighting up Twitter, I suspect he's talking to whomever close to him is "Internet Savvy" to figure out how to use Facebook, where his TRUE friends are.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:16 AM on March 17


The FBI also manufactured a reason to "reopen" the "closed" Clinton emails investigation with Anthony Weiner's laptop, which we now know contained NO new information. Commenting publicly like that was a massive breach of procedures. They knew that at the time. If McCabe made that decision based on intent to sabotage Clinton, and it seems likely he did or was involved, he should be fired and he shouldn't get a pension.

These people are not our friends. Not McCabe, and not Comey on his fucking redemption book tour. They both VERY directly, and VERY intentionally, gave us Trump.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:16 AM on March 17 [79 favorites]


jesus, if trump ran a protection racket his enforcers would go around saying

“nice restaurant you got here, it would be a real shame if my boss, donald trump, paid me to burn it down. i mean, if it burned down! for no reason! i don’t even know my boss, donald trump, who never pays me to burn down buildings in order to intimidate people!”
posted by murphy slaw at 10:18 AM on March 17 [59 favorites]


Pensions are not a gift, they are earned by the employee and cannot legally be taken away.
posted by bz at 10:21 AM on March 17 [57 favorites]


For real. Nobody gets to say, "You committed an act of workplace misconduct, and so you don't get to collect Social Security."
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:23 AM on March 17 [10 favorites]


He's not yet eligible. He hasn't earned shit until tomorrow. Don't commit misconduct while in office.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:24 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Looks like someone kept those receipts.

Literally every high-ranking career official with any integrity at all should've started making such preparations from the moment this regime took power. Notes, relaying incriminating instructions and conversations to others immediately after they happen just to establish them as evidence, all of it. Anyone who saw this crew come into the White House should have started making plans to resign or be fired on principle at any time as a matter of survival.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:25 AM on March 17 [15 favorites]


I wonder if Mueller got them last night or will get them Monday.

Mueller will have had those memos for nearly a year at this point.
posted by Justinian at 10:25 AM on March 17 [38 favorites]


Yep last straw for Facebook here. Deleting my account.

Twitter has to go the same way, too.

And IG is owned by Facebook. That's the one I kinda like....

Mastodon it is, I guess.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:27 AM on March 17 [13 favorites]


@Brandy Zadrozny: omg @woodruffbets just reported on MSNBC that Trump lawyer John Dowd writes all his emails in PURPLE COMIC SANS

only the best only the best only the best only the
posted by lalex at 10:29 AM on March 17 [83 favorites]


Regarding Facebook and the consequences of their lost user data. The new EU privacy law GDPR takes effect on May 25. It is retroactive. It applies to data you've already collected. The fine for data breaches is up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover for the preceding financial year.
posted by Julianna Mckannis at 10:33 AM on March 17 [35 favorites]


Thanks to Dem AGs, we won't have to wait until Da hopefully take the House. I'm sure NY's Schneiderman will be next.

@MassAGO:
#BREAKING: Massachusetts residents deserve answers immediately from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. We are launching an investigation.
posted by chris24 at 10:34 AM on March 17 [83 favorites]


McCabe's attorney.

@mrbromwich:
I have been involved in DOJ and FBI disciplinary matters since 1994. I have never before seen the type of rush to judgment – and rush to summary punishment – that we have witnessed in the case of Andy McCabe:

STATEMENT
posted by chris24 at 10:39 AM on March 17 [46 favorites]


A former business partner of Jafry, Garson Silvers, said Jafry was given his job at Hud after being recommended by Osteen’s mother

It is utterly unsurprising to learn that Naved Jafry, whose entire life seems to be made out of scams and lies, is buddy-buddy with the Osteens.

Unsurprising, mind you, but not expected. It is a bit unnerving to learn that all the grifters on the conservative/evangelical circuit seem to be in on the same damn scams; that instead of a lot of individual con-men working their inividual cons there seems to be concerted, cooperative effort to hoover up all the money they can and steal everything that isn't nailed down.
posted by jackbishop at 10:41 AM on March 17 [15 favorites]


Mueller will have had those memos for nearly a year at this point.

Oh, duh, right. He has built-in access to internal FBI documents.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:44 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. #DrainTheSwamp
The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!


Looks to be a Decompensation Saturday.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:44 AM on March 17 [26 favorites]


god i just want him to go full cornered rabid animal and get it over with, the tension is unbearable.

if you want a vision of the future, imagine doctor frank n. furter saying "anticpa…" in a human face, forever.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:46 AM on March 17 [46 favorites]


🍿🍿🍿

@Comey:
Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.
posted by chris24 at 10:47 AM on March 17 [56 favorites]


Trump alone in the WH on a weekend and no golf. Bodes well.
posted by chris24 at 10:49 AM on March 17 [20 favorites]


Oh, duh, right. He has built-in access to internal FBI documents.

It's obvious both to anyone observing closely and from the reporting (last week?!?!) that Mueller has already concluded that Trump is guilty as hell of Obstruction of Justice and is keeping that charge in his back pocket while he pursues other crimes. Because if he brought that out now he might not get the opportunity to pursue the rest.

I wonder if he's got a dead man's switch with the obstruction charges. I suppose it depends on how much he trusts Rosenstein.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 AM on March 17 [30 favorites]


... the many dangers inherent in alienating the entire reputable legal profession.
This has been Trump's Method of Operation for DECADES, and it hadn't failed him yet. Of course, I must note (again) that one group of the legal profession he never alienated were corrupt prosecutors in New York and New Jersey... like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.


It kinda has....Trump's litigation record isn't so impressive. He's just managed the keep the pace of his grift (and now graft) ahead of the pace of litigation. (Which isn't exactly a superhuman feat.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:59 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


god i just want him to go full cornered rabid animal

is that not what's happening right now?
posted by ryanrs at 10:59 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Trump is nothing but a personality who needs to amplify the sound of his own hoofbeats, who is not cold-blooded, but hot-blooded. The fever pitch will be quite shrill indeed by the time anybody with authority can kneecap Mueller.
posted by rhizome at 11:00 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


On MSNBC: "This treatment of McCabe is reminiscent of Roy Cohn, Trump's mentor, who with Senator McCarthy destroyed so many American lives. Today, Roy Cohn is smiling in Hell."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:02 AM on March 17 [14 favorites]


He's just managed the keep the pace of his grift (and now graft) ahead of the pace of litigation.
But far ahead of PROSECUTION. The only structure that should have Trump's name on it is a prison cell, but it's not.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:05 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


The Trump Suite could be the crappiest cell in the shittiest federal prison in America.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:08 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


The Trump Suite could be the crappiest cell in the shittiest federal prison in America.

Or Funeral March of a Marionette, butt arranged for a concerto of whoopie cushions.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:12 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


BREAKING: AP learns fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe maintained personal memos regarding President Donald Trump.

The WSJ confirms this, with an additional detail: "Mr. McCabe wrote contemporaneous memos describing his dealings with Mr. Trump and the White House, as well as about what Mr. Comey told Mr. McCabe about his own interactions, a person close to Mr. McCabe said.

"This person said that Mr. McCabe turned the memos over to Mr. Mueller."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:22 AM on March 17 [46 favorites]


He's not yet eligible. He hasn't earned shit until tomorrow.

He's not yet eligible for an enhanced retirement benefit for federal law enforcement officers who can retire early at the age of 50, but he has earned and is still eligible for his full pension once he reaches age 57, the mandatory retirement age for federal law enforcement officers. He could only lose that pension for treason or espionage.

His early termination will result in approximately $392,000 in foregone annuity payments over the next seven years. The exact number depends on some possible performance bonuses and the possibility that he may have briefly earned a higher salary while he was acting Director for three months.
posted by jedicus at 11:36 AM on March 17 [25 favorites]


The Intercept, Ryan Grim and Sam Biddle, Democrats want to subpoena Apple to find out when key administration officials downloaded encrypted messaging apps
Down on Page 20 of the memo is a pair of ideas that could put Congress on a collision course with privacy advocates in Silicon Valley. “Apple: The Committee should seek records reflecting downloaded encrypted messaging apps for certain key individuals,” the memo suggests. “The Committee should likewise issue a subpoena to WhatsApp for messages exchanged between key witnesses of interest.”

The committee said that it would also seek to find out “all messaging applications that Mr. [Jared] Kushner used during the campaign as well as the presidential transition, including but not limited to SMS, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

The committee may also consider adding ProtonMail, the encrypted email service, to that list. One White House staffer, Ryan P. McAvoy, jotted his ProtonMail passwords and his address on a piece of White House stationary and left it at a bus stop near the White House. A source found it there and provided it to The Intercept, which confirmed its authenticity. (McAvoy did not respond to requests for comment.)
Only. The. Best. People.
But. Her. Emails.

Fun fact: when you Google Ryan P. McAvoy to find out who he is (staff assistant), one of the hits that comes up is this email on which McAvoy is CC'd inviting new staff to training on the Presidential Records Act.
posted by zachlipton at 11:47 AM on March 17 [50 favorites]


I know a lot of people here don’t like Comey (understandable), but I personally cannot wait to see him in Portland on April 21st! I am so excited and you will definitely see me there asking as many questions as I can possibly ask! I’m already making a list.
posted by gucci mane at 11:53 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


Ask him how he feels about foisting this waking nightmare on all of us, please.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:55 AM on March 17 [74 favorites]


The whole thing about a Congressperson hiring McCabe for a few days is just trolling, right? Isn't it the firing that costs his pension rather than the lack of 2 days of service?
posted by Justinian at 11:56 AM on March 17


My sense is that Comey's a fairly decent human being who made a mistake that in retrospect turned out to have hugely terrible effects.

I hope he's able to find a way to own up to the part he played in creating the Current Shitnado.
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:56 AM on March 17 [23 favorites]


At this point, I'm willing to give leeway to those People Who Didn't Intend For Quite This Much Shitnado who help work to bring down the People Who Really Do Want This Much And A Lot More.
posted by delfin at 12:02 PM on March 17 [60 favorites]


[Couple deleted; sorry, there's no coming back from the perennially irresistible topic of Which Game of Thrones Character Is Comey or any other figure in this omnishambles. Can't open that door even a crack.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:04 PM on March 17 [59 favorites]


He did a shit thing and now he's doing a not-shit thing. I don't see any reason to try and figure out whether the scales of his entire life ultimately tip one way or another based on that stuff.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:08 PM on March 17 [27 favorites]


the likelihood that all of CA's data wasn't being fed directly to the Russian botnets seems close to zero. We're going to get those next links too.

As you were saying... The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr, The Cambridge Analytica Files
There are other dramatic documents in Wylie’s stash, including a pitch made by Cambridge Analytica to Lukoil, Russia’s second biggest oil producer. In an email dated 17 July 2014, about the US presidential primaries, Nix wrote to Wylie: “We have been asked to write a memo to Lukoil (the Russian oil and gas company) to explain to them how our services are going to apply to the petroleum business. Nix said that “they understand behavioural microtargeting in the context of elections” but that they were “failing to make the connection between voters and their consumers”. The work, he said, would be “shared with the CEO of the business”, a former Soviet oil minister and associate of Putin, Vagit Alekperov.

“It didn’t make any sense to me,” says Wylie. “I didn’t understand either the email or the pitch presentation we did. Why would a Russian oil company want to target information on American voters?”

Mueller’s investigation traces the first stages of the Russian operation to disrupt the 2016 US election back to 2014, when the Russian state made what appears to be its first concerted efforts to harness the power of America’s social media platforms, including Facebook. And it was in late summer of the same year that Cambridge Analytica presented the Russian oil company with an outline of its datasets, capabilities and methodology. The presentation had little to do with “consumers”. Instead, documents show it focused on election disruption techniques. The first slide illustrates how a “rumour campaign” spread fear in the 2007 Nigerian election – in which the company worked – by spreading the idea that the “election would be rigged”. The final slide, branded with Lukoil’s logo and that of SCL Group and SCL Elections, headlines its “deliverables”: “psychographic messaging”.
...
There’s no evidence that Cambridge Analytica ever did any work for Lukoil. What these documents show, though, is that in 2014 one of Russia’s biggest companies was fully briefed on: Facebook, microtargeting, data, election disruption.
posted by zachlipton at 12:13 PM on March 17 [62 favorites]


Comey knowingly put his thumb on the electoral scale. He intentionally influenced the outcome, in a way that was plainly partisan and starkly counter to both the expected impartiality of law enforcement and informal safeguards established for such investigations, wound up in a pissing match with Trump, and lost. Now he has buyer's remorse.

We should listen to what he has to say, but we shouldn't let him rehabilitate himself just because we're eager to hear it. He disgraced his office, imperiled the basic rule of law and placed every human being on this earth at serious risk by both by his direct actions and their consequences.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:14 PM on March 17 [44 favorites]


it seems fundamentally American to me that the biggest existential crisis of the century for the republic was enabled in large part by an overly optimistic act of ass-covering
posted by murphy slaw at 12:15 PM on March 17 [44 favorites]


Wasn't Comey forced to write that letter because the FBI NY field office (or Giuiliani or both) had leaked to Jason Chaffetz about the Weiner's laptop still having mails that were not analysed?
posted by PenDevil at 12:17 PM on March 17 [13 favorites]


There are state privacy laws to consider, as well as the fact that Facebook is a publicly owned company and owes duties to its stockholders.

Facebook's in the very unusual situation where the vast majority of its shareholders are also likely to be users/customers, millions of whom also had their privacy violated in this breach.
posted by msalt at 12:20 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Wasn't Comey forced to write that letter because the FBI NY field office (or Giuiliani or both) had leaked to Jason Chaffetz about the Weiner's laptop still having mails that were not analysed?

He wasn't forced. Effectively he thought that HRC would win and she would immediately get dragged into hearings by a hostile Republican legislature. He didn't want to be seen as covering for her in any conceivable way, cries of "but our job is to be impartial" be damned. At that point he's basically between a rock and a hard place. Either he goes along with protocol and gets reamed by hearing after hearing for the next few years or he writes a stupid letter and when the Republican attack dogs come looking for him he puts his hands up and says "hey, I let y'all know".

He, like everyone else, was just surprised with the dumpster fire winning.
posted by Talez at 12:22 PM on March 17 [22 favorites]


Comey forced to write that letter

Forced? No. Pressured, at best. And certainly not that letter. And maybe just have some integrity instead of caving.

And given what we now know the FBI knew or suspected about Trump & company where was Comey's burning need for candor to the American citizenry there?

I want his receipts but he can sell his mea culpas elsewhere.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:25 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Could we -not- have the "is the enemy of our enemy -really- our friend?" debate literally every time someone who has done bad things also does useful things? I swear we have that debate in every one of these threads.
posted by Archelaus at 12:26 PM on March 17 [89 favorites]


[Well put, and seconding that.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:28 PM on March 17 [24 favorites]


The Russians, the Evil Clique of the FBI, the NRA, the Kochs and Mercers, the GOP vote-ratfuckers, the Social Media Bros... all influenced the results of the 2016 Election, but nobody really coordinated with anybody, especially Trump, who can't even coordinate himself climbing the White House stairs. All they really had in common was a disdain/hatred of Hillary Clinton. A variation of the "enemy-of-our-enemy" conundrum is the "are all our enemies allies with each other"??? And then we get the realization that "agents of chaos" unintentionally enable the worst Fascists ("No no no! We wanted CHAOS!"). Could removing any one of the bad actors have reversed the results of 2016? Maybe certain specific ones (especially the vote-ratfuckers), but it was a combined effort, just not a coordinated one.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:40 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


I don’t think we know that.
posted by kerf at 12:42 PM on March 17 [12 favorites]


nobody really coordinated with anybody

We have plenty of specific examples of people coordinating with each other, such as Stone and Assange, or Manafort, Trump Jr, Kushner and Veselnitskaya, or Kislyak and Everybody.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:49 PM on March 17 [50 favorites]


nobody really coordinated with anybody Oneswellfoop
Hmmm.... interesting talking point , where is it from *checks note card*
I hear you.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 12:58 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


I took onefellswoop to mean 'everybody didn't conspire with everybody else' in their various efforts and maneuverings, i.e. not a unified conspiracy but a patchwork of diverse conspiracies and individual efforts, some more extraordinary than others. Which seems manifestly accurate with all these different stories now in view.

Multifuckeralism.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:59 PM on March 17 [32 favorites]


Cooperating, yes, but not coordinating in any major way . Trump's victory was a "death by a thousand little cuts".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:00 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


And I am absolutely not saying that there aren't dozens if not hundreds of laws broken in the process. I like snuffleupagus' term "Multifuckeralism".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:03 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]


This was a very close election. The “cooperation” between Trump’s team and agents of Putin working to influence the election through what our President would dub “the Cyber” may very well have been decisive. Let’s not kid ourselves.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:04 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Can't open that door even a crack.

You really need some kind of slow-witted but very strong person who knows how important it is to keep the door closed
posted by chappell, ambrose at 1:04 PM on March 17 [111 favorites]


McCabe is accused of misleading investigators about allegedly giving information to a former Wall Street Journal reporter about the investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family’s charitable foundation. McCabe asserts in his post-firing statement that he not only had authority to “share” that information to the media but did so with the knowledge of “the director.” The FBI director at the time was Comey.

“I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor,” McCabe stated. “As deputy director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.”

If the “interaction” means leaking the information, then McCabe’s statement would seem to directly contradict statements Comey made in a May 2017 congressional hearing.
Jonathan Turley makes this sound ominous in a column in The Hill, but this analysis seems to me to be calling a molehill a mountain. (Allegedly) leaking and lying about doing so seems justifiable in the face of what Trump was doing at the time (and still is). Is there really some there here?
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:06 PM on March 17


The Russians, the Evil Clique of the FBI, the NRA, the Kochs and Mercers, the GOP vote-ratfuckers, the Social Media Bros... all influenced the results of the 2016 Election, but nobody really coordinated with anybody, especially Trump

NRA w/ Russians, check
Russians w/ Trump, check
NRA w/ Trump, check
Russians w/ Social Media, check
Social Media w/ Trump, check
Rorhbacher, Nunes, McConnel, Ryan check, check, amazing coinciden e, laughing on tape,

I mean, I guess i could just hyperlink each "check" with the dozens and dozens of publically available sources, but some very fine people put it all together for me already. :)
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 1:19 PM on March 17 [18 favorites]


I'm now having bitter memories of how many felt that American Nazis in the last season of Breaking Bad was to out there. Vince and his team knew. They knew.
posted by juiceCake at 1:24 PM on March 17 [13 favorites]


everybody didn't conspire with everybody else' in their various efforts and maneuverings, i.e. not a unified conspiracy but a patchwork of diverse conspiracies and individual efforts

For at least some of these actors, I see an analogy to that time when you* and your housemates opened up the big bag of Halloween candy on October 25th and had an occasional piece each over the next couple of days. Nobody had any particular plan to eat all the candy, but somehow Halloween rolls around and you've got an empty bowl and sad kids.

The media, the FBI, a handful of other actors... AFAICT, none of them wanted Trump to win, but a "display of impartiality" or "ginning up a horse race" was profitable, and, hey, Clinton was obviously more qualified and had an insurmountable lead, so why not make your own life easier or better shaving points off of that huge advantage. And then, on November 9th, surprise! You've got an incompetent fascist dictator (and, again, sad kids).

I dunno how to assess the moral valence, but there is a difference in intent between those who actually wanted Trump to win and those who didn't.

* Hypothetical you, of course. You would never do this. And neither would I.
posted by jackbishop at 1:25 PM on March 17 [21 favorites]


From The Guardian article linked to above by Carole Cadwalladr:

Millions of people’s personal information was stolen and used to target them in ways they wouldn’t have seen, and couldn’t have known about, by a mercenary outfit, Cambridge Analytica, who, Wylie says, “would work for anyone”. Who would pitch to Russian oil companies. Would they subvert elections abroad on behalf of foreign governments?

Advertisement

It occurs to me to ask Wylie this one night.

“Yes.”

Nato or non-Nato?

“Either. I mean they’re mercenaries. They’ll work for pretty much anyone who pays.”

It’s an incredible revelation. It also encapsulates all of the problems of outsourcing – at a global scale, with added cyberweapons. And in the middle of it all are the public – our intimate family connections, our “likes”, our crumbs of personal data, all sucked into a swirling black hole that’s expanding and growing and is now owned by a politically motivated billionaire.

The Facebook data is out in the wild. And for all Wylie’s efforts, there’s no turning the clock back.


I have given The Guardian some money in the past. I am now going to go give that paper some more. Journalism like this needs to be encouraged and supported.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:33 PM on March 17 [28 favorites]


Nobody had any particular plan to eat all the candy, but somehow Halloween rolls around and you've got an empty bowl and sad kids.

It's not actually the last straw that breaks the camel's back. It's the weight of all of them. Some people feel like getting their one straw up there is really important, and it's just one straw after all. Others won't get paid if they come home with any of their bosses' straw left over, even if it kills the camel for tomorrow's load. Others have a bale of fake straws and actually want to see the camel fall. Everyone sees each other lined up to get to the camel...everyone can see all the straw...but no one goes back home.

And that's how we wound up with the jackass instead.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:33 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


Well, that and irrational resentment of camels.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:37 PM on March 17 [17 favorites]


Crowdsourced Surveillance—US spy lab hopes to geotag every outdoor photo on social media
"Finder" will geotag images by terrain, sky features.
Finder is but one of several image processing projects underway at IARPA. Another, called Aladdin Video, seeks to extract intelligence information from social media video clips by tagging them with metadata about their content. Another, called Deep Intermodal Video Analytics (DIVA), is focused on detecting "activities" within videos, such as people acting in a manner that could be defined as "dangerous" or "suspicious"—making it possible to monitor huge volumes of surveillance video simultaneously.
posted by XMLicious at 1:38 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


but nobody really coordinated with anybody, especially Trump

I'm firmly convinced that there will be a non-zero number of senators and/or representatives that will be unceremoniously cashiered out of the political gig at the very least, if not imprisoned for various and sundry crimes, for coordinating with anyone and everyone, especially the Trump administration, if Mueller's investigation is allowed to proceed to it's ultimate end. Deeply dirty pols is the only explanation for a number of truly head-scratching behavioral tics exhibited by the GOP since the election.

Was it an all-encompassing mind-numbingly large conspiracy that got DJT elected? No. After he was elected? There has definitely been some shady shit going on, or getting covered up.
posted by eclectist at 1:47 PM on March 17 [22 favorites]


oh hey, i totally missed this:

Sessions’ Firing McCabe Violated His Promise to Recuse

sessions fired mccabe over his conduct in the russia probe. sessions is recused from that matter. this should have been handled by rosenstein.
posted by murphy slaw at 1:53 PM on March 17 [79 favorites]


From that Guardian Cambridge Analytica article:

A few months later, in autumn 2013, Wylie met Steve Bannon. At the time, he was editor-in-chief of Breitbart, which he had brought to Britain to support his friend Nigel Farage in his mission to take Britain out of the European Union.

What was he like?

“Smart,” says Wylie. “Interesting. Really interested in ideas. He’s the only straight man I’ve ever talked to about intersectional feminist theory. He saw its relevance straightaway to the oppressions that conservative, young white men feel.”



Do you know what? I could probably literally throw a rock and hit a straight man with whom I could talk about intersectional feminist theory. It's not that unusual if you, like, hang out with left-leaning people who read a lot.

This is just what I said about Bannon from the get-go, and I extend it to all these people - they are not actually smart or sophisticated. They're people who've hung out with people who think that deceiving and controlling and cheating other people is neat, and they think that because you spend a lot of your limited years on this earth scheming how to trick others, that makes you smart. It's like if I decided that because I spent all my time figuring out how to vomit patterns on the rug, that made me smarter than people who didn't find vomiting in patterns interesting.

I'm always reading articles like this, where some white man will pop out with some relatively banal insight about the world, and because he says it in front of a bunch of extremely ill-informed people with minimal interiority and he isn't actually stupid, they act as though he's, like, Theodore Adorno or something.

I know a lot of extremely smart people in a range of professions, and if you said to them "you're so smart, why don't you spend your time figuring out how to manipulate people and installing petty dictators so that you can make a lot of money instead of spending all your time studying sea life [or doing physics, or translating things, or looking at phages, etc etc]" almost all of them would say, "Because I'm too smart to want to, that's why".
posted by Frowner at 1:57 PM on March 17 [128 favorites]


sessions fired mccabe over his conduct in the russia probe. sessions is recused from that matter. this should have been handled by rosenstein.

Well, they're claiming they fired him over his conduct related to one of the investigations of Clinton, not the Carter Page Nunes memo stuff. However, let's remember what Sessions actually recused himself from: "I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States."
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:58 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


correction: mccabe’s coonduct in the clinton probe, which sessions also recused himself from
posted by murphy slaw at 2:00 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I feel like today puts the pieces together with the sequence of the T campaign's direction.
Russia corruption money-laundering + hacking + Wikileaks feeding media frenzy on emails and Trumpish bluster, topped up by Bannon joining up with years-long tested tool (CA, facebook data) to put it over the top in microtargeted efforts, even up to the last moment.

I finally understand the utility and power of Bannon in the campaign, all behind the scenes apparently.
posted by rc3spencer at 2:02 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Caroline O. @RVAwonk unearths this blast from the past:
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix (Nov. 9, 2016): “We are thrilled that our revolutionary approach to data-driven communications played such an integral part in President-elect Donald Trump’s extraordinary win.”
Full press release on PR Wire:
Cambridge Analytica, the market leader in the provision of data analytics and behavioral communications, would like to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on their historic victory.

Cambridge Analytica was instrumental in identifying supporters, persuading undecided voters, and driving turnout to the polls. The firm's integrated Data Science, Digital Marketing, and Polling and Research teams informed key decisions on campaigning, communications, and resource allocation.[...]

"Our internal data showed the race tightening in the last few weeks of the election because of previously hidden trends within voter sampling and demographic abnormalities in absentee ballots and early voting (particularly in rural areas). These trends, in part, were responsible for the boost towards the president-elect in the industrial Midwest," said Matthew Oczkowski, Head of Product for Cambridge Analytica. "Our models predicted most of the late movement correctly. We are extremely proud of the work that we were able to do in collaboration with the campaign."

Cambridge Analytica planned and executed the campaign's digital media planning and buying operation to win over voters, and was able to test and immediately refine its messaging and delivery platforms by using the firm's data and polling.
The country needs to investigate why CA/SCL was so confident with its internal data when those of not only the Clinton campaign but also establishment pollsters were so surprisingly wrong.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:12 PM on March 17 [50 favorites]


everybody didn't conspire with everybody else' in their various efforts and maneuverings, i.e. not a unified conspiracy but a patchwork of diverse conspiracies and individual efforts

The trick is not to put a cover page on your TPS report. Then there can be no overall conspiracy.
posted by srboisvert at 2:29 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


where some white man will pop out with some relatively banal insight about the world, and because he says it in front of a bunch of extremely ill-informed people with minimal interiority and he isn't actually stupid, they act as though he's, like, Theodore Adorno or something.

Hey, didja know there's a really great almost every TED talk on is this phenomenon?
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:37 PM on March 17 [51 favorites]


Just to reemphasize a point I've made before and to echo Zachlipton above: from what I understand, the overwhelming opinion among academics and high-tech campaign folks is that the effects of Cambridge Analytica's microtargeting are way overblown. They took an algorithm that seemed reasonably decent at predicting personality traits, and then claimed -- as so many other microtargeters do -- that because they could target ads to specific individuals based on these specific traits, therefore they could deliver persuasion. There is almost no evidence of the latter. Microtargeting works badly if at all, there is almost no evidence that CA's methods had much of any effect, and no reason to think that adding big-5 personality scores plus "social media" will suddenly transform microtargeting that already uses myriad other individual-level features into something magically effective or sinister. I hope that by six-degrees-of-Russia this doesn't make me into an apologist around here, but people should know that many experts in microtargeting, campaigns, and social media analytics consider CA to be mainly a scam, and fears about it driven much more by the wider context of anxiety about elections, Russia, social media, etc, than any good evidence that CA actually did or could make any difference, even on the scale of an election decided by a few thousand votes.
posted by chortly at 2:41 PM on March 17 [25 favorites]


Trump wants to punish McCabe, so he has him fired just hours before his pension kicks in. That's a loss of many thousands of dollars earned over two decades.

Just to point out that screwing people out of their pensions -- whether by tanking their 401k, failing to fund it -- like in Kentucky right now -- or other shenanigans seems to be the go-to Republican tactic.

They're after your life savings.
posted by Gelatin at 2:48 PM on March 17 [16 favorites]


This is a useful (and from my experience developing on the FB platform, I believe fairly accurate) thread on Facebook's API, how it's changed over time, what the Obama 2012 campaign did with similar data, and the argument over whether Facebook had a "breach" or not.

This really was how the Facebook platform worked until 2015. They didn't see it as unique or unusual because everyone was slurping down as much of the data as possible, and everyone knew that making you pinky swear you'd only use the data in certain ways was entirely unenforceable. I mean, I built apps that collected information about your FB likes and your friends' likes and stored them; that was what Facebook wanted you to do with their API. There's a good argument that the primary driver for changing the way the APIs worked was that Facebook was undercutting themselves by giving too much of their most valuable asset, their data, away for free, that you could collect and target so much without having to actually buy your ads through Facebook, and there were a series of API changes around that time period to stop that.

People are talking about this like Facebook screwed up (and I mean, they very much did, on a broad scale) and leaked 50M profiles, or that CA "stole" the data through particularly nefarious means (beyond collecting it for personality quizzes and then using it for this, and "lie about your intentions, which will never be verified" is not a cunning plot) when this to me looks like the platform working as it was basically originally designed. And that's the scary part.
posted by zachlipton at 2:52 PM on March 17 [39 favorites]


Chortly - Pretty sure their snake oil is snake oil and they are doing absolutely nothing magical at all, but between this and the data from the electoral rolls they and the Internet Research Agency could probably have cooked up a pretty effective campaign whilst pretending they were doing something clever with other data.
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Another congressman steps up to help McCabe with his pension problem: @RepTimWalz This reckless attitude towards Americans’ lives and careers is exactly why this man should not be President. Mr. McCabe, if you need a federal job for a few days, give me a call. We value servant leadership around here.
posted by scalefree at 2:56 PM on March 17 [23 favorites]


Chortly - Pretty sure their snake oil is snake oil and they are doing absolutely nothing magical at all, but between this and the data from the electoral rolls they and the Internet Research Agency could probably have cooked up a pretty effective campaign whilst pretending they were doing something clever with other data.

The crux is the "pretty effective" part. I imagine CA do believe their snake oil, and that IRA thought they were engaged in a "pretty effective campaign" -- and of course many others believe this as well -- but the point is just that, within the academic and peri-academic world of social media, microtargeting and campaigns, few believe that any techniques exist that are "pretty effective" at affecting voting behavior, and most strongly doubt that the techniques described by CA or the IRA would have any aggregate effect at all, let along be "pretty effective." Who knows, there could always be something more we don't know, but if true it would revolutionize not just campaigns but marketing in general if either of those groups had come up with new microtargeting techniques with the effectiveness that people seem to give them credit for.
posted by chortly at 3:05 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]




Identifying likely voters and bombarding them and those connected with them with disinfo and viral material and targeted ads in an attempt to push them over doesn't really seem like that much like rocket science in terms of complexity or likelihood of success, TBH. I wouldn't dismiss it even if their meyers-bridge garbage is bollocks.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on March 17 [15 favorites]


I don't think anything had to be "pretty effective". The Russia-Republican allied campaign was pushing several different messages to different audiences, all of which combined to contribute to a preexisting dissatisfaction with the candidates and futile/defeated general environment. Remember how many people were saying they're both the same? Hilary is the real war hawk? The unprecedented support for third party spoilers? All of that was being pushed by the Russia-Republicans. They told black voters their vote didn't matter so vote 3rd party. They told gun nuts Hilary was coming for the AR-15s. They told Bernie Bros the DNC rigged the primary. They told everyone Hilary was a literal murderer. And they packaged it all around overwrought stories based on complete falsehoods. All individually targeted to individual voter's Facebook feeds, and often filtered through real life social connections.

That did have an effect, either in moving votes, or contributing to the overall environment that favored apathy, and therefore favored Trump. It didn't have to be very effective, any effect was enough.

Oh, and we're still talking about literal treason here. So ANY coordination with Russia, was treason. Regardless of the effectiveness.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:16 PM on March 17 [86 favorites]


Microtargeting works badly if at all, there is almost no evidence that CA's methods had much of any effect

Yeah, I haven't heard any of the behaviorists I know saying anything other than that it's snake oil.

The thing is -- and let me rush to note that I don't think you were implying otherwise or are likely to disagree -- is that from the point of view of the larger scandal it doesn't matter whether CA's methods were effective or not.
The Trump campaign was in bed with Russian security agencies, who were busy breaking American law in the US to provide them with information, coordinating with UK firms to further violate US election laws, etc etc. It doesn't matter whether their efforts were successful any more than it matters to the law whether the hitman you hired was successful.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:25 PM on March 17 [30 favorites]


In this Guardian video interview with Chris Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica data scientist whistleblower, he talks about CA's flimflam sales techniques and does say that they didn't do anything that had not been done before (except scrape 50 - 60 million facebook user's information through the third party app). At times he does seem to get a little carried away with what he did, because I'm sure he thinks it was somewhat effective. The part where he talks about whispering something slightly different into everyone's ear is convincing.
posted by maggiemaggie at 3:33 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


I think the role of CA was not "super effective online marketing."

It was just "delivering data about American voters to Russia" (they left huge caches of voter targeting info freely available online where Russian intellgence might "accidentally" come across it) and "helping deliver Russian disinformation to American voters" (they reached out to WikiLeaks and offered to help Assange sort through the DNC emails.)

I think other people negotiated the policy concessions Trump offered to Putin (Sessions, Flynn, Manafort, JD Gordon) and the financial benefits Trump got in return (Sater, Kushner, Page, Manafort again.)

But as far as actual collusion -- Americans helping with Russian efforts -- I think Cambridge Analytica was the primary vehicle for that. Not in some voodoo social engineering way. Just as a conduit for exchanging information.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:37 PM on March 17 [11 favorites]


Axios reports, Source: McCabe Gave Interview, Memos to Mueller
Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who was fired Friday night, has met with special counsel Robert Mueller's team and has turned over memos detailing interactions with President Trump, according to a source familiar with the exchange. McCabe's interview with Mueller's prosecutors apparently included what he knows about former FBI director James Comey's firing. The memos include corroboration by McCabe of Comey's account of his own firing by Trump, according to the source.[...]

The handful of memos document both McCabe's own direct engagement with the president and Comey's. The memos include an account of at least one in-person meeting with Trump, the source said.
While this leak amounts only to confirmation of what any reasonable observer would expect, what's important is that its timing comes as a direct response to Trump firing McCabe and his effort to bundle it up with Comey's dismissal and his allegations of "tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State." McCabe and his allies are sending a clear message to Trump that this Friday night massacre won't stop him from bearing witness.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:57 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


[Deleted a pedantic derail about use of the word "treason," if you need to hash this out, it has to happen in metatalk.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:02 PM on March 17 [9 favorites]


NYt has a CA/Lukoil story up now too: Data Firm Tied to Trump Campaign Talked Business With Russians
Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters, according to two former company insiders who said there were at least three meetings with Lukoil executives in London and Turkey. SCL and Lukoil denied that the talks were political in nature, and SCL also said there were no meetings in London.

The contacts took place as Cambridge Analytica was building a roster of Republican political clients in the United States — and harvesting the Facebook profiles of over 50 million users to develop tools it said could analyze voters’ behavior.

Cambridge Analytica also included extensive questions about Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, in surveys it was carrying out in American focus groups in 2014. It is not clear what — or which client — prompted the line of questioning, which asked for views on topics ranging from Mr. Putin’s popularity to Russian expansionism.
...
“I remember being super confused,” said Mr. Wylie, who took part in one of the Lukoil meetings.

“I kept asking Alexander, ‘Can you explain to me what they want?’” he said, referring to Mr. Nix. “I don’t understand why Lukoil wants to know about political targeting in America.”

“We’re sending them stuff about political targeting — they then come and ask more about political targeting,” Mr. Wylie said, adding that Lukoil “just didn’t seem to be interested” in how the techniques could be used commercially.
The Times has a second, anonymous, source for this beyond Wylie.
posted by zachlipton at 4:05 PM on March 17 [20 favorites]


@SarahHuckabee: "When you're attacking FBI agents because you're under criminal investigation, you're losing" (November 3, 2016)

@soledadobrien: "Then girl--you're losing."
posted by mosk at 4:33 PM on March 17 [78 favorites]


The New York Times: Mueller Wants Trump’s Business Records. What’s the Russia Connection?
  • There Was a Moscow Hotel Deal in the Works During the Campaign
  • Mr. Trump Took Miss Universe to Moscow and ‘Met the Top People’
  • The Trumps’ German Bank Paid Fines in a Russian Money-Laundering Case
  • A Russian Oligarch Bought a Trump Mansion at a High Price
  • There Were Boasts That Russian Money Helped Pay for Golf Courses and Other Projects

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:50 PM on March 17 [11 favorites]


The crux is the "pretty effective" part. I imagine CA do believe their snake oil, and that IRA thought they were engaged in a "pretty effective campaign" -- and of course many others believe this as well -- but the point is just that, within the academic and peri-academic world of social media, microtargeting and campaigns, few believe that any techniques exist that are "pretty effective" at affecting voting behavior, and most strongly doubt that the techniques described by CA or the IRA would have any aggregate effect at all, let along be "pretty effective." Who knows, there could always be something more we don't know, but if true it would revolutionize not just campaigns but marketing in general if either of those groups had come up with new microtargeting techniques with the effectiveness that people seem to give them credit for.

Yes and no.

It depends on the microtargeting technique. "Hillary is just as bad/corrupt" was a very effective one. Combined with all the other confounding factors the R's wholly introduced to U.S. politics...

It was a knife edge election.

Propaganda is pretty much proven to work. Targeted propaganda only needs to land a butterfly on the scale to steal a country.

Same as Spam, it only takes a 0.001 ROI.
posted by Buntix at 4:50 PM on March 17 [33 favorites]


Chortly - Pretty sure their snake oil is snake oil and they are doing absolutely nothing magical at all, but between this and the data from the electoral rolls they and the Internet Research Agency could probably have cooked up a pretty effective campaign whilst pretending they were doing something clever with other data.

Also criminals are not judged by the efficiency and accuracy of their crimes. Receiving foreign aid, money laundering and undeclared contributions are the campaign crimes. The aid doesn't have to have mattered. The money laundering doesn't have to actually clean the money. The contributions don't have to be effectively spent. They are all still crimes.
posted by srboisvert at 4:56 PM on March 17 [49 favorites]


“Your Honor, my client may have committed this offense, but to be fair, he clearly wasn’t very good at it, or you wouldn’t have caught him.”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:57 PM on March 17 [77 favorites]


Politico: FEC probes whether NRA got illegal Russian donations

Under FEC procedures, the preliminary investigation is likely to require the NRA to turn over closely guarded internal documents and campaign finance records. Depending on what FEC investigators and lawyers find, the agency could launch a full-blown investigation, impose fines or even make criminal referrals to the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, people familiar with the probe said.

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:19 PM on March 17 [21 favorites]




Hunker down, everyone, He's bored, and up in the residence with his phone.

@realDonaldTrump
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:25 PM on March 17 [24 favorites]


The Mueller probe was in fact started based on Trump's hand-picked Deputy Attorney General being alarmed at Trump's firing of the FBI Director, something which I'm reasonably confident did happen and was not a fever dream relayed to me backwards by a creamed-corn-smeared dwarf dancing in a dramatically-lit club lounge
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:28 PM on March 17 [38 favorites]


Ah, I see now - the capital letters in Trump's tweets are wingnut signals, kinda like the bat-signal…
posted by Pinback at 5:29 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]




@kyledcheney: This is the *first* time @realDonaldTrump has used Mueller’s name in a tweet.
posted by pjenks at 5:31 PM on March 17 [22 favorites]


The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime

You know, for a probe investigating zero crimes, there sure have been a lot of people pleading guilty to crimes. Felonies, in fact. Weird!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:34 PM on March 17 [80 favorites]


Yes, that's crimes, plural. He's saying there was no crime, singular. Checkmate, liberals
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:37 PM on March 17 [22 favorites]


Now that Trump has already pretty much corroborated McCabe's statement and implicitly admitted to obstruction of justice and abuse of power, I'm just waiting until he caps it off by openly saying he had McCabe canned. Because you know he will at some point.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:37 PM on March 17 [8 favorites]


Trump on Twitter lately seems to be the equivalent of Drunk Nixon talking to the paintings in the White House in the latter days of Watergate.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:41 PM on March 17 [23 favorites]


We've all been so concerned about the ability of hostile regimes to read Trump's tweets and gain an immediate impression of his state of mind, we have failed to appreciate the precious schadenfreude provided to us thanks to our ability to read Trump's tweets and gain an immediate impression of his state of mind. Thanks @jack!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:45 PM on March 17


I guess this is what I mean by "six-degrees-of-Russia." I don't know why anyone would interpret what I was saying as a comment on Russia's criminality, CA's criminality, whether criminal non-success implies non-guilt, collusion, or any of that stuff. C'mon, people -- there really aren't any Russian trolls on here, and a community member pointing out that the science suggests CA's methods were a bunch of baloney and neither they nor the IRA were likely to have had much measurable national-scale persuasive effects (though of course plenty of indirect effects), is really not a sensible target for so much clarification that these are still crimes. Who in these threads of all places really needs this clarified?

Anyway, the point was just an empirical one, because I happen to be interested in microtargeting, social media, and high-tech campaign methods. There are a number of empirical claims being made here, eg:

• The Russia-Republican allied campaign was pushing several different messages to different audiences, all of which combined to contribute to a preexisting dissatisfaction with the candidates and futile/defeated general environment.

• Identifying likely voters and bombarding them and those connected with them with disinfo and viral material and targeted ads in an attempt to push them over doesn't really seem like that much like rocket science in terms of complexity or likelihood of success, TBH. I wouldn't dismiss it even if their meyers-bridge garbage is bollocks.

• It depends on the microtargeting technique. "Hillary is just as bad/corrupt" was a very effective one. Combined with all the other confounding factors the R's wholly introduced to U.S. politics... It was a knife edge election....Propaganda is pretty much proven to work. Targeted propaganda only needs to land a butterfly on the scale to steal a country. Same as Spam, it only takes a 0.001 ROI.


But propaganda in the form of campaign and social media interventions in the modern era is very much not proven to work. No one is "dismissing" anything: there is actual science on this, decades of political science and marketing science, and much of it suggests that almost everything is ineffective, including big-data microtargeting and especially social media methods. We have no good evidence that the CA or IRA stuff actually influenced very many people, and more generally, there have been dozens or hundreds of studies of these kinds of campaign strategies showing that mostly they don't work very well if at all.

In general, it's hard to determine causal direction: whether CA and the like helped to cause a "preexisting dissatisfaction," the HRC disapproval levels, etc, as opposed to merely crafting their messages around existing attitudes. But that's why we have to look to the existing research, which suggests that it's extremely hard to actually budge these attitudes on the national scale even with literally billions of dollars spent in campaigns, let alone some dubious personality-based targeting or $1 million/month social media trolling. Sure, if we set our threshold at "0.001" or focus on whether it flipped a few thousand votes in just the right state, then of course no one can disprove that it might have had an effect. So the overall point is just that, tiny butterfly-flaps aside, there lots of evidence to suggest that these effects, if they exist at all, are pretty tiny. And like climate science or evolution, this isn't all just a matter of our personal opinions -- this stuff has been endlessly tested by entire academic disciplines for decades. There is a very strong prior at this point that most of this stuff is BS and ineffective.

[And finally, just to reiterate what should be unnecessary: I don't discuss this stuff because I secretly want to exculpate Russian, CA, or Trump, or to suggest that a knife-edge election couldn't have been flipped. I just have a pre-existing interest in these things and think that it matters to know whether the criminals actually succeeded, as well as knowing that they are of course still criminals for trying. Knowing this matters because it affects what kind of policies we pursue in the future, but also because it's just interesting in its own right.]
posted by chortly at 6:00 PM on March 17 [20 favorites]


The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.

in trump world, an investigation is a thing you start when you stumble upon bank robbers inside the vault, loading cash into sacks. if you don’t have them dead to rights when you start, it’s not a probe, it’s a WITCH HUNT.
posted by murphy slaw at 6:08 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Daniel Dale: "Trump threaded his tweet on the firing of McCabe to the tweet on his anger about the Mueller probe, and now it seems like we’re going to get history’s first 'threading does not imply an actual link, he just threads things for no reason' statement from the White House podium."
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:09 PM on March 17 [65 favorites]


But propaganda in the form of campaign and social media interventions in the modern era is very much not proven to work.

The research you cited talks about persuasive effect on candidate choices. However, as I understand it, political judgements don't drive election outcomes - turnout does. For example, PA-18 went for Lamb because he got 80% of Clinton's votes, but Saccone only got 53%.

I've heard the research before on political advertising not being effective in driving choice, but is there any research showing how effective it is in driving turnout? I could see the propaganda campaign of 2016 being effective in motivating people to take the time to vote, or discouraging people from voting, even if it didn't change anyone's preferences. Especially if you just happen to know who the registered voters are and target them specifically...
posted by heathkit at 6:21 PM on March 17 [26 favorites]


Well, the meltdown explained...

@maggieNYT
Soon to be in mine and @nytmike's story, Trump's lawyers recently received a list of questions from Mueller's team that the special counsel would seek answers to in an interview. Adds to the portrait of what took place today.
posted by chris24 at 6:29 PM on March 17 [67 favorites]


Since Haberman's scoop indicates we're at last approaching the Trump-Mueller showdown, here's the Late Late Show with James Corden's version—Trump to Robert Mueller: 'It Wasn't Me' (w/ Shaggy)
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:43 PM on March 17 [24 favorites]


I've heard the research before on political advertising not being effective in driving choice, but is there any research showing how effective it is in driving turnout?

Yeah, there's a lot of belief around here in the importance of turnout. I guess the first thing is that, the paper I cited notwithstanding, the vast bulk of the research, as I understand it, examines effects on election outcomes, which encompasses both candidate preference and turnout; and many if not most of the negative results are that there is no effect on electoral outcomes, either via persuasion or turnout. I also recall that turnout is often seen by experts as at least as hard to affect as voter choice, except perhaps for very costly interventions, like offers to drive and physical door-to-door, which of course are very different from what's being discussed with CA, IRA, etc. But I don't have my textbooks at hand to check on that. As I've discussed here before, even candidate ideology (relative to district ideology) seems to have only a small relationship to voting and turnout. The most dominant result in political science and political psychology, I think, is that partisanship and habit trumps everything -- ideology, campaigns, candidates, social media, etc. So it's really hard to flip votes on a national scale, get people to vote if they are used to not voting, or change their attitudes about anything that has already been politically polarized. The downside of this, of course, is conflict, gridlock, acrimony, etc. The one arguable upside may be that it hardens individuals to outside manipulation.
posted by chortly at 6:45 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Political ads aren't really intended to persuade voters to choose their candidate but to convince those that support their candidate already to go out and vote.

Sort of like how Coke commercials aren't trying to convince you that Coke is better than Pepsi, it's just encouraging those that already think Coke is better to drink more Coke.
posted by VTX at 6:52 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


You know you're super fucked when you can't handle the questions you know you're going to be asked let alone the ones you don't know you're going to be asked.
posted by Justinian at 7:02 PM on March 17 [45 favorites]


Re: microtargetting - I'll note that Google has invested vastly more money into the idea than CA has ever seen and can still barely manage to target me more efficiently than obvious stuff like showing me ads for local dentists when I search for "emergency dentist." Similarly, I think the CA data may have been used to show specific things to target conservative voters, but I suspect the specific message shown to them didn't really matter that much.
posted by Candleman at 7:03 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


You know you're super fucked when you can't handle the questions you know you're going to be asked let alone the ones you don't know you're going to be asked.

It's like all the stress of a job interview, except if you fuck up you go to jail. And if you answer everything honestly you go to jail.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:04 PM on March 17 [28 favorites]


Trump has never experienced a job interview, and he will no doubt go into the meeting with Mueller believing HE is the boss and Mueller is there to plead to keep his job.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:08 PM on March 17 [41 favorites]


A problem with 'previous research' is that, however valid and conducted appropriately - the underlying conditions/ variables are arguably different/ can change/ are fluid.

The mass micro-targetting of influence and the special circumstances (racism and misogyny, voter suppression, extreme polarization, incurious/ low-information voting populace) that surround this event could render past academic research less useful.

At the very least, the CA attack was potentiated by the supposedly trustworthy media (led by Fox, then Brietbart/Drudge/etc) and decreased the threshold for defense against 'conspiracy theories' etc.

If propaganda is outright absurd, it's easy to dismiss. If you've heard something kinda sorta like it before from some outlet that the FCC doesn't shut down, one may give it more credence and allow it to affect one's decisions/ actions.

Another effect is that by producing so much disinfo, it's like chaff. Even if one was reasonably reasonable and able to dismiss bullshit from one (or a few) outlets as bullshit, if one is completely inundated with bullshit, it's very easier to become disillusioned and care less.

I have an aunt in N. Carolina - it's N. Carolina so it wouldn't have made a difference - who's nominally Democratic but she fully bought into the "both sides," "Hillary is somehow bad," "it doesn't matter" rhetoric. Then proceeded not to bother voting.

Notwithstanding, but fuck. My CSO is dual American/Canadian, libertarian, voted absentee in Alabama (his last state residence) against Trump because Trump - but even he had weird oddball prejudices against Hillary and against both Clintons. Even the conspiracy bullshit ones.

I still have a real very hard time reconciling his Hillary hate.

You know, I'm not sure he actually even voted Clinton but mailed in Johnston or Stein or something instead? He only said that he voted "not Trump."
posted by porpoise at 7:11 PM on March 17 [16 favorites]


As far as I can remember, nobody got worked up arguing about whether or not breaking into the Watergate would have guaranteed Nixon a successful reelection.
posted by schmod at 7:11 PM on March 17 [43 favorites]


[I know things are moving at a rapid pace and Mueller is closing in on Trump, but please resist the urge to comment just to blow off steam because we're all spinning our wheels on a Saturday night waiting for the next thing.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:22 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


"Both sides are the same, I'm not voting" gives you an out so you don't have to examine your own misogyny and/or racism.
posted by maxwelton at 7:22 PM on March 17 [23 favorites]


[Relatedly, I know there's a lot of ground to cover with Cambridge Analytica in terms of 1) does anything they did work and help subvert our democracy, and how do we respond to similar subversion attempts? and separately 2) How many laws did they break, and how does this tie into Trump? The conversation will go a lot more easily if we can recognize that both #1 and #2 are of interest, and try not to talk past each other (when one person is on 1 and one is on 2 but they're arguing like they're on the same point), or get upset if someone is more concerned about #1 or #2. They're both legit issues and we can talk about both, and different people will be more concerned about one thing or another depending on their personal and professional interests.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:25 PM on March 17 [17 favorites]


McCabe’s firing shows yet again how readily Trump incriminates himself (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo)
President Trump, never able to conceal his vindictiveness and incapable of understanding what evidence might be used against him, gleefully tweeted, “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” [...]

As a legal matter, this is another ham-handed and downright dumb move in a long line of actions designed to derail, undermine and discredit the Russia investigation.

Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney tells me, “Even if McCabe’s firing is appropriate based on facts in the unreleased IG’s report, because of the President’s long running campaign against McCabe and Attorney General Sessions’ perceived vulnerability if he didn’t fall in step, it has the taint of political reprisal.” She adds that, “if an obstruction case against Trump ever went to trial, there would be a large screen where the President’s tweets would be prominently displayed for the jury as evidence of his efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation, while a parade of witnesses testified about conversations they had with him preceding each Tweet.”

In sum, once more, a Trump-inspired stunt is likely to backfire. The politics are irrelevant to Mueller, who now views each of Trump’s antics through a single lens: Does this reveal corrupt intent to disable an investigation into Trump’s conduct? In this case, Trump leaves little doubt as to his motives.
Really, this man has confessed multiple times in public to obstructing this investigation--like, right after he fired James Comey, he was on TV talking about how he had done it because of the investigation into Russian interference, and it's only hit a new low with the McCabe termination. Similarly, he's repeatedly ranted in, uh, "private" about the investigation in general, how Jefferson Sessions recused himself and hasn't ended the investigation, and how various other figure in the DoJ and FBI haven't done what he wanted. I mean, jeez, he's probably ranted on the phone to various and sundry associates about all these topics, and any one of them could have recordings of these conversations.

The evidence that we've been privy to, just as the general public would basically sink any other person. In a better functioning system, this joker would have been gone with months of the inauguration*. It seems like all this could come to a head soon, and many of the likely outcomes seem...not good. I'm scared.

*In a better functioning system, this joker never would have been able to get anywhere close to the WH.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 7:45 PM on March 17 [49 favorites]


In a functioning system, the electoral college would have functioned.
posted by perspicio at 8:00 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]


The cracks in the façade of the Trump White House are becoming harder to conceal, even from quasi-friendly access journos like Maggie Haberman, who tweeted just now: "Most people close to Trump are still doubtful he will get himself to a place of firing Mueller - he rarely does these things directly, and he’s been talked off it before - but they concede he is becoming harder to contain."

"Harder to contain" is Team Trump's code for "impeding constitutional crisis" and/or "Alzheimer's aggression".
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:48 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


In a functioning system, the electoral college would have functioned.

The electoral college functioned exactly as the system set it up to. Racism prevailed because racism setup the electoral college.
posted by Uncle at 9:02 PM on March 17 [58 favorites]


FWIW, I meant my earlier comment as "It's okay to talk about whether CA was effective or not because that doesn't really matter now," not at all as "Hey chortly you are obvs too dumb to know this but..."

Also I have noticed that John Dowd looks like Nien Nunb's inbred cousin, or maybe like a BBC style Vogon. Or like the result of that mating.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:06 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


Brti Hume (professional blowhard):
What a crock. To believe this, you have to believe that McCabe did not mislead investigators, but the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility claimed that he did and used that false claim to recommend he be fired. It’s all part of a Trump conspiracy. And I’m Napoleon.

Asha Rangappa (Former FBI Special Agent, Counterintelligence Division):
THREAD. As usual, @brithume has zero idea what he's talking about. To understand why many agents, and indeed even the FBI Agents Association *which is non partisan) have issues with this, you have to understand an OPR in the FBI. The bar for "misconduct" is very low.

2. The purpose of OPR -- the Office of Professional Responsibility -- is to investigate misconduct in the FBI. Given the FBI's mission, that means that every FBI agent must be BEYOND REPROACH. This is a tough standard, and one that all agents are held to.

3. This is, of course, a good thing. OPR will investigate, e.g., a "misfiring" of a weapon. It will look into any discrepancies, whether in your use of the FBI's database, or your use of your government credit card or your Bureau car or phone.

4. But every agent knows people who got caught in OPR's net, and it can be pretty brutal -- and it's why OPR is the bane of every agent's existence. ANY infraction, no matter how small, can be "OPR'd" (yes, it's a verb). And once you're in OPR's net, it's hard to get out.

5. To give an example, my training agent, and partner, advised me when I started to never, ever use my FBI credentials for *anything* other than official business. Why? He once went to an amusement park with his kids which offered a LEO discount, and showed his creds...

6. ...not sure how it got back to the FBI (maybe the person behind him in line reported him?), but he got accused of "abusing his authority." 🙄 He was let off with a warning because he was new at the time, but that's the kind of oversight I'm talking about.

7. It's also kind of kafka-esque, at least based on the people I saw go through it. Some didn't even know until they weren't eligible for a promotion, for example. As far as I could tell it was a very opaque process, and pretty much stacked against the agent.

8. I'm sure the process is designed to protect the integrity of the Bureau, and to not allow anyone to have preferential treatment. But to me it seemed like Reverend Hale from The Crucible -- well-intentioned, but sometimes able to be carried away by its own zeal.

9. To bring this back to McCabe, it's important to remember that he was not being held to the criminal standard for perjury, i.e., where "intent" would be a major factor. I think that would explain why his attempt to proactively correct things he said would not have mattered.

10. To put another way: If anyone in the current administration or associated with it were held to the standard FBI agents are in OPR, there would literally be no one left in the Executive Branch. "Not remembering" in front of Congress? Correcting your SF-86 10 times? Yeah, FIRED

11. So Brit would be wise to save his sanctimony because members of the current admin are getting a pass that no one -- and I mean NO ONE -- in the FBI would ever get. From lying, to abusing government funds, to associating (and hiring!) with wife beaters and drug addicts.

12. Also, keeping in mind all of the above: Do you really think that multiple FBI agents, as well as senior DOJ officials, would all conspire to lie to a FISA court given the consequences they would face? No. IMO the whole McCabe thing only proves that the Nunes Memo is full of💩
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:07 PM on March 17 [71 favorites]


haberman paraphrased: the president’s staff are not conerned about him firing the special prosecutor because they are putting in enormous effort to thwart him - but they’re not sure how long they can maintain this in the face of his overwhelming urges.

guys, just stop. let’s do this. we have been teetering on this precipice since the beginning of the administration. let’s just put our cards on the table and see what kind of country we really are.

open the box and find out if the cat is dead or alive.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:10 PM on March 17 [19 favorites]


So with CA and SCL back in the news, I remembered I have this conspiracy "crazy wall" diagram image on my desktop that was floating around last year on Twitter (full size jpg).

Like most of these diagrams, it's mostly crazy, but also somewhat helpful for at least remembering names.

Like, they point out the John Bolton Super PAC has given Cambridge Analytica somewhere around $800K, (although maybe not all in the 2016 cycle.?.) and the PAC's top donor is also apparently Robert Mercer. So hey Senators, please use that to at least rub some more stink on him if he's up for confirmation hearings!

Also re: Facebook, I hope they don't steal too much of the spotlight when regulators inevitably try to put some boundaries in place, because Google and other marketing cookies/trackers could provide nearly as much demographic data, which could be even more personalized if/when cross-referenced and combined with other big databases.
posted by p3t3 at 9:18 PM on March 17 [4 favorites]


I've heard the research before on political advertising not being effective in driving choice, but is there any research showing how effective it is in driving turnout?

There is research on how negative political ads suppress voter turn out. It was Rep. Ellison who mentioned it during an interview, and I was intrigued so verified it existed.

Wikipedia A subsequent study done by Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar in 1995[5] corrected some of the previous study's flaws. This study concluded that negative advertising suppressed voter turnout, particularly for Independent voters. They speculated that campaigns tend to go negative only if the Independent vote is leaning toward the opponent. In doing so, they insure that the swing voters stay home, leaving the election up to base voters. They also found that negative ads have a greater impact on Democrats than on Republicans. According to them, base Republicans will vote no matter what (and will vote only for a Republican), but Democrats can be influenced to either stay home and not vote at all or to switch sides and vote for a Republican. This, combined with the effect negativity has on Independents, led them to conclude that Republicans benefit more from going negative than Democrats.

A more recent study (from 2012, "Keep it Clean? How Negative Campaigns Affect Voter Turnout.")(pdf) came to similar conclusions but isn't quite so cut and dried. There isn't a straight correlation, as there are many other variables at play in any campaign, but there is something to it.
posted by phoque at 9:37 PM on March 17 [27 favorites]


There's research showing that Doctors that receive free pens from a Pharma Rep are much more likely to prescribe their drugs... Of course messaging that targets your income, locale, profession, beliefs, interests, etc. are going to be devastatingly effective, especially when paired with limitless Russian resources, American political consultancy support, links to fake websites authenticating claims, served up to you from supposedly regular people in multiple rounds timed precisely, etc.
posted by xammerboy at 9:52 PM on March 17 [10 favorites]


heathkit: "The research you cited talks about persuasive effect on candidate choices. However, as I understand it, political judgements don't drive election outcomes - turnout does. For example, PA-18 went for Lamb because he got 80% of Clinton's votes, but Saccone only got 53%. "

That doesn't necessarily mean just turnout, though - there can be Trump voters who went for Lamb. In fact, this analysis by The Crosstab finds that a purely turnout driven win by Lamb is basically mathematically impossible. At a guesstimate, it looks like Lamb's win was roughly half turnout driven (both high Dem and low GOP) and half persuasion of Trump voters.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 PM on March 17 [16 favorites]


I’m curious what are the influence vectors that are effective when measured in experiments with solid methodology? When the message is that overt racism is no longer taboo and the recipient holds racist views that they only kept in check because of peer pressure, for example, it seems like that could have a lot of impact - but that’s just intuition and I’m very interested in viewpoints from practitioners. Knowing what is effective is important in prioritizing our reactions.
posted by SakuraK at 10:02 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


It's really, really hard to square "advertising doesn't do anything" with the squillions of dollars spent on it.

Also, another thing you can do on Facebook is buy an ad promoting a news story, which isn't the same thing as a political ad and definitely doesn't have that "paid for by" or "I endorse this message" tag. (I remember reading that Bannon's machine did that a lot for Breitbart.) You can also pay to promote posts from your own page (like a podcast bumping up a post about a new episode) which can be almost literally anything, and generally don't look like advertising.

It's good to be skeptical about psycography microtargeting woo, but propaganda still works, and 2016 saw a whole range of propaganda techniques being used. Just plain old advertising seems old-fashioned in comparison, and superPACs look quaint.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 10:08 PM on March 17 [52 favorites]


Apparently federal employee unions don't exist anymore? Or at least that's what Betsy DeVos would like to believe. The Dept of Ed has unilaterally changed the union contract with the 4,000 members of the local union, without completing negotiations and without having the union actually sign the agreement.

... I can't believe these people.
posted by suelac at 10:31 PM on March 17 [92 favorites]


few believe that any techniques exist that are "pretty effective" at affecting voting behavior

So one piece of my grad studies was doing a fair chunk of research into an area adjacent to this. I'm very far from an expert (and my grad work is sadly somewhat in the past now), but I think I at least have a good idea of the type of research that has been done and some of the main conclusions.

My own area was music preference, how it changes over the life span, and how music preferences can be effectively shaped or altered (sample link). Because music preference is relatively little studied in comparison to other types of preference, I spent quite a bit of time looking at research in adjacent fields, such as how political preferences can be shaped.

So the first major conclusion of all this research is exactly what you have outlined: Preferences of adults (political, musical, religious, etc) are very much hard-set and inflexible. There is really very, very little that can be done to change them.

The literature is filled with examples of experimenters trying method X or Y on adults to try to change their (for example) political beliefs with no significant result or very mixed results.

So, political attitudes of adults are fixed and there is very little that will change them.

Yet . . . people do develop political attitudes and beliefs--VERY strong attitudes and beliefs in fact. And, different people have very different political attitudes and beliefs. And any individual likely has a variety of changing political beliefs over a lifetime.

(One of my favorite little factoids about political beliefs is that an individual's political beliefs actually change rather rapidly over the years in response to their social and life situation. But almost no one recognizes this fact about themselves. Instead, nearly everyone retcons their previous lifetime political beliefs to align with whatever their current political thinking is.)

My point is: Various experimental treatments can be shown to have little or no effect on political attitudes. Yet, political attitudes are indeed created and they do indeed change!

So there is an inherent contradiction there. Perhaps it is not that political attitudes are unchangeable but rather that the means at the disposal of social science experimenters with very limited time and budget are not really up to the task--which is, admittedly, a quite difficult one.

Just for example, after a lifetime of experience, a complex emotional investment in certain political candidates, parties, and beliefs, and being embedded deep in a social web where your current political beliefs are working for you in various ways, it is hard to imagine any 30 second video presentation or twitter message that is going to seriously move the dial on an adult's current political beliefs. They're just too set in place and have too much context behind them for such a small, simple thing to have much effect.

So that is why there is plenty of research showing that things like political signs, political messages and advertisements, political mailers, phone calls, door-to-door contact, etc etc etc have relatively little measurable effect.

But on the flip side, let's do a little thought experiment:

We have a local nonpartisan political race featuring two complete political novices with no particular name recognition.

Candidate #1 raises money, builds a campaign apparatus, recruits volunteers, puts political signs on every block, spends hours knocking on doors and meeting voters, does several blanket mailings, attends candidate forums, and buys some TV, radio, and social media ads. All things that are "proven" to have "no effect".

Candidate #2 has the advantage of a political science degree and so is well aware of the research showing that all of the above is useless. So Candidate #2 saves a lot of time and energy by skipping all of the above. Why bother--they're all well proven to be completely useless! Why bother to campaign and all that when it's well known that adult political attitudes are practically set in stone and nothing you can possibly do will alter them.

It's science!

So Election Day comes and Candidate #1 smashes Candidate #2 by roughly an 80/20 margin.

Of course.

So what went wrong with Candidate #2's beautiful theories?

Well, all the things listed above are indeed pretty useless in moving votes given the vitally important context that both candidates are part of existing, well defined political parties and that both parties and candidates are using the same general techniques in a reasonably effective way to get their names and basic messages out there.

Given that both candidates are roughly equal in yard signs, campaign mailers, candidate forums, social and traditional media, etc, then YES INDEED each addition yard sign or ad or even in-person visit from the candidate is going to make a marginal difference in the outcome at best.

But that is NOT because those techniques are inherently useless and ineffective, but rather because they are being played out on a relatively equal playing field where both candidates an parties are able to get their message out with roughly equal effectiveness AND they are both fitting in to a relatively pre-set political system where people already have pre-determined political ideas and party preferences.

Not only that, but the system tends to find an equilibrium for itself. That means a lot of things, but just for one example, if Candidate #1 makes a big TV ad buy then Candidate #2 is going to try to do the same. End result is not much change on either side despite outlay of large amounts of money by both.

That doesn't mean TV ads are ineffective. It simply means that both sides have similar means at their disposal and a similar capability to deploy them effectively.

Within that system, yes, each individual messaging step you may be able to take is going to be make a very, very small difference in the final outcome--if any.

But that is very, very different from saying that messaging (whether tradition media, social media, whatever) has no effect on attitudes of those targeted at all.

So I hate to be all paradoxical and self-contradictory in my conclusion, but that fact is that this type of messaging can simultaneously have a pretty negligible effect on the election outcome while also have a pretty LARGE effect on attitudes of those targeted.

That goes even more so if it is not just a few isolated messages but a coordinated and multifaceted campaign: Getting people to join and participate in social media groups, share messages themselves, become involved in the process by organizing or participating in rallies, etc.

The importance becomes even greater when you understand that the ultimate purpose of the Russian interference is not so much to alter election outcomes as to sow division and discord while simultaneously undermining faith in our democratic institutions.

The results DO seems effective in terms of encouraging further polarization. As a fine example, look at the cesspool /r/The_Donald became. If something like 20-40% of all messages were Russian bots there, it's pretty hard to make the case that this had little or no effect on the overall polarization of /r/The_Donald and of reddit overall.

Whether or not this was effective in moving a sufficient number of votes in the election, it certainly was effective in moving the dial on a part of the internet where I spend a significant amount of time daily.

That bothers me personally whether or not it affected the election itself.

And I don't know about you, but for me just the simple fact that they were able to do this and get away with it for years does create that effect of undermining confidence in our institutions.

Who were they manipulating and to what degree where they successful?

The very fact that we must address this question at all is unsettling already.
posted by flug at 11:40 PM on March 17 [138 favorites]


Just plain old advertising seems old-fashioned in comparison, and superPACs look quaint.

I suppose I'd be undercutting my own argument if I claimed that this impression of quaintness and old-fashionedness is perhaps less a reality than it is a construct of the self-promotion of entities like CA...

But more seriously, yeah, advertising definitely has effects, albeit far less than the MBAs who direct all that money think. But its effects are strongest in specific domains, such as informing people about things they are already amenable to but don't already know. They are weakest in domains where people already have firm opinions, such as partisan politics. My own theory is that Russia and Brietbart's effects were strongest not with swing voters or turnout, or on Democrats or Bernie-leftists, but mainly within that domain of the already amenable and partisan: ie, making the right and far-right much more extreme. So the effects may be weak electorally (since those folks were already voting Republican), but they may still be significant in making the crazies crazier. But that's totally just a theory, and the more scientifically cautious view remains that, since CA and IRA operated at the scale of small-to-moderate PACs, they probably had commensurate effects -- ie, not too much.

(And finally, re Ansolabehere and Iyengar, or any other specific paper -- well, if you think psychology has a replicability problem, you should see how bad it is in a domain largely based on small-n observational data limited to specific geographies and times using a congeries of often misunderstood econometric methods. Not that there's nothing to learn there, but that's why I try to stick to broad theories that have been tested dozens of different ways over many decades and domains. But that isn't to say there might not be all sorts of well-established results in political advertising, turnout effects, etc, that I'm not aware of -- I'm by no means an expert.)
posted by chortly at 11:42 PM on March 17 [5 favorites]


I don't have any of the research on hand, but I feel like we're missing the important dimension of how advertising and propaganda is utilised in the communication ecosystem between voters? Am I wrong in recalling that there is impact when campaigning is supported by, I don't know what's the term now, people talking to each other? People have greater tendency to believe messaging coming from people from the same tribe, as it were. And a key part of this era of propaganda is the creation and existence of fake accounts that portray themselves as common people, and driving the conversation. That's where I've personally observed the insidious effects.
posted by cendawanita at 12:22 AM on March 18 [22 favorites]


But that is NOT because those techniques are inherently useless and ineffective, but rather because they are being played out on a relatively equal playing field where both candidates an parties are able to get their message out with roughly equal effectiveness AND they are both fitting in to a relatively pre-set political system where people already have pre-determined political ideas and party preferences.

This seems like it largely explains the effect Facebook had on the election: Trump was using it as a persuasive medium and Clinton wasn't. So we see a pretty dramatic effect there because there wasn't the pushback.
posted by Merus at 1:14 AM on March 18 [10 favorites]


suppose I'd be undercutting my own argument if I claimed that this impression of quaintness and old-fashionedness is perhaps less a reality than it is a construct of the self-promotion of entities like CA

I meant that there are more different kinds of ads, and they often don't look like ads, and sometimes they're not even categorized as ads and not included in that dataset. It would be way simpler if it was just superpacs buying tv ads. There's way more oversight there. Whether or not the new stuff is more effective, who knows. But it's not simple and it's not necessarily as well studied. The Facebook people have taken a year and a half to dissect the 2016 campaign. It's possible research hasn't quite kept up.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 2:15 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Way to go flug! I was going to try to make the same argument in a much less informed and eloquent manner: that whatever way in which these methods of influence have scientifically been shown ineffective, it must be a very qualified sense, otherwise candidates who make no attempt whatsoever to influence the election in their favor would regularly defeat establishment candidates who try.

chortly: But its effects are strongest in specific domains, such as informing people about things they are already amenable to but don't already know. They are weakest in domains where people already have firm opinions, such as partisan politics.

This seems to me like a pivotal part of it: the successful propaganda efforts seem particularly skilled at training their subjects to forget on command their previously-strongly-held opinions and values, or to fiercely hold opinions in such a specific and contextual way that future messaging is always effectively new, and thus achieve the "We've always been at war with Eastasia" effect: witness Trump constantly saying the complete opposite of what he's said previously, on video or in a tweet, with no consequences for so regularly provably contradicting himself much less reality, or the video montage above showing how when Obama offered to meet with North Korea without preconditions, it was portrayed as utter craven foolishness, but their viewership will readily swallow the assertions that when Trump does the exact same thing with no planning it's brilliant innovative genius statesmanship.
posted by XMLicious at 2:25 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Chris Hayes: What ‘Law and Order’ Means to Trump (NYTimes)
And this is what “law and order” means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law. It shouldn’t have taken this long to see what has always been staring us in the face. After all, the last president to focus so intensely on law and order, Richard Nixon, the man who helped usher in mass incarceration, was also the most infamous criminal to occupy the Oval Office.
posted by mumimor at 2:36 AM on March 18 [68 favorites]


From the same article;
In this view, crime is not defined by a specific offense. Crime is defined by who commits it. If a young black man grabs a white woman by the crotch, he’s a thug and deserves to be roughed up by police officers. But if Donald Trump grabs a white woman by the crotch in a nightclub (as he’s accused of doing, and denies), it’s locker-room high jinks.
posted by porpoise at 2:51 AM on March 18 [73 favorites]


On a separate note, the marketing company and the team working on Trump's campaign was apparently illegally made up of mostly Canadian and British employees. I wonder if that made a difference? I wonder if an American team would have worried more about whether or not what they were doing was legal under American law or less inclined to throw morality out of the window considering they were tipping the scales in their own country's election? Or maybe even just more aware of the rules of running ads in American campaigns in general?
posted by xammerboy at 4:32 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


The Guardian article on the guy that got the psycho-graphic data was really good, and really made it sound like this was something that was (A) illegal (B) pretty cutting-edge in terms of what's been done before with political marketing.

Hi, actual former PSYOPer here (and, curiously, FWIW, a holder of the same type of visa as the article's subject): No, it really was not a good article.

It may be useful in terms of furnishing us with biographical or (ha!) psychographical details about Wylie we didn't have before, and which may or may not be salient to our understanding of this affair and its dynamics. But lordy lordy lordy is the writer ever credulous about taking PSYOP's own institutional premises and claims for its effectiveness at face value. She may simply be passing on Wylie's own credulousness, but it doesn't speak well for her ability to do independent reporting and separate self-mythologizing tendencies from information that would be usefully clarifying to her audience.

She fails, for example, to detect that "information operations" isn't some new, superdevious form of PSYOP, but a circa-1996 doctrinal effort to pull the Army's various electronic warfare, PSYOP, public affairs and civil affairs efforts under an intellectually and operationally coherent umbrella. If you don't know any better, this kind of terminological detail lends her tale an unwonted air of spooky black-ops mindfuckery. For the most part it's puffery, though, little different than what you might find strewn through any corporate mission statement. And in particular, it doesn't go to CA's effectiveness.

I make no judgment here about that effectiveness, by the way. I just want people here not to weight this particular article too heavily in forming their judgements. Though as an occasional Graun writer my ownself I hate to be so critical about a colleague's work, I basically thought this was a hot mess.

And it showed these odd patterns; that, for example, people who liked ‘I hate Israel’ on Facebook also tended to like Nike shoes and KitKats.

Did anything jump out at anyone else about the language here, incidentally? I'm not sure whether it was conscious on anyone's part, or mere pareidolia on my own, but it's curious to me that both "Nike" and "KitKat" are near-homographs of or mere single-letter transpositions away from perhaps the most common antisemitic slur. It seems lax of Cadwalladr to raise this "odd" fact to the reader's attention without also pointing that out — but again, maybe that's just my misfiring synapses making significance where there is none.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:53 AM on March 18 [34 favorites]


On the effectiveness of Cambridge...

We know from Facebook that Internet Research Agency reached 11.4 million FB users and spent $100,000 in ads to do so. (This excludes the organic reach of their pages and user posts which reached an additional 115 million.)

Well, Trump and CA spent $100 million on Facebook ads. If IRA touched 11 million with $100k, wonder how many CA reached with $100 MILLION. In a race decided by 79,000 votes.
posted by chris24 at 4:55 AM on March 18 [11 favorites]


[A couple deleted. We can't really deal with another Bernie/Hillary fight here; feel free to roam the archives though.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:57 AM on March 18 [17 favorites]


i don't think advertising has a lot to do with the outcomes in politics - the main conduit for political propaganda in the u s is fox news and am radio - they have been preparing the ground and persuading the people for decades and when it comes to am radio, there's really been no opposing voice

this has got to have a lot more influence than whatever happened with ads in the last election
posted by pyramid termite at 5:09 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


the main conduit for political propaganda in the u s is fox news and am radio... this has got to have a lot more influence than whatever happened with ads in the last election

Except we know that Fox, Breitbart, Rush, etc. were all coordinating/working with Trump. So I'm not sure you can cleanly and clearly separate them. The narrative pushed on Fox, etc. was amplified and reiterated by ads and the messages pushed in ads were picked up and talked about on Fox, Rush, wherever. It was an ouroboros of insanity, stupidity, and lies.
posted by chris24 at 5:14 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


This idiot thinks McCabe didn't take contemporaneous notes because he didn't see him writing them in the meeting. But I guess when you have the memory of a goldfish, the idea of writing stuff down once you leave is strange.

@realDonaldTrump
Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?

---

And of course he's getting his morning briefing from Fox & Friends.

@realDonaldTrump
Wow, watch Comey lie under oath to Senator G when asked “have you ever been an anonymous source...or known someone else to be an anonymous source...?” He said strongly “never, no.” He lied as shown clearly on @foxandfriends.
posted by chris24 at 5:29 AM on March 18 [16 favorites]


I'm seeing the "Cambridge Analytica exaggerates its effectiveness" argument being countered with points about the possible persuasiveness of fake accounts, and comparisons of the respective budgets of CA and the Internet Research Agency. But as I understand it, CA definitely didn't engage in activities like fake/spam accounts. (If they did, that surely broke Facebook's terms, right?)

CA and IRA each helped the campaign, but in different ways. Jewel thieves may be able to steal a lot of valuables with inexpensive tools, but that doesn't (necessarily) mean that white-collar criminals can steal proportionately more by starting with more money, because they're not using the same tools. I could be missing something, though.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:33 AM on March 18


That's why I separated the reach of IRA, using the 11.4 million touched by "legally" bought ads, not the 126 million reached counting fake accounts and pages. The reach of ads purchased should be comparable.
posted by chris24 at 5:38 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Ooops! I apologize for my poor reading comprehension, I'd forgotten about the ads the IRA bought and just skipped pastthe part where you mentioned them.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:49 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]


So up above Bella Donna suggested encouraging and supporting the Guardian's journalistic efforts via a donation. I went to do so, but because I'm that kind of weirdo I read through the Terms and Conditions and discovered that they have some bizarrely Trumpian non-disclosure clauses:
GNM reserves the right to [...] Publicly disclose the identity of the contributor and the amount of the contribution
and yet
Contributors shall not be entitled to publicise their contribution or otherwise market themselves or any connected person or business in connection with their contribution, except with the prior written consent of GNM and then only if the contributor complies with any relevant policies, procedures or requirements of GNM.
Even more bizarrely, these conditions aren't mentioned in of all places the Privacy Policy which is linked to at the same step in the payment process.

I would say whether I took Bella Donna's suggestion to heart and donated anyways, but I may or may not be contractually obligated to go all Stormy Daniels on their asses in court before announcing that publicly.
posted by XMLicious at 5:53 AM on March 18 [10 favorites]


WaPo (Ronald Klain): I stand with Andrew McCabe
And what if McCabe did do something wrong in authorizing FBI officials to talk to a reporter, or while answering questions from investigators looking into the matter? Here is Trump’s second advantage: the fact that almost every person who stands up to Trump will, themselves, be imperfect, be vulnerable to investigation, have made mistakes — that is to say, human.

As Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt point out in their book, “How Democracies Die,” modern authoritarian leaders do not consolidate power by coming after wholly innocent people: They exploit the fact that almost every person with a long public career — those who could be a check on the leader’s power — has done something wrong, or something that can be cast as wrong, if scrutinized in a certain way. Former FBI director James B. Comey — fired for refusing to bend to Trump’s will — made substantial and hugely consequential mistakes in handling the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton. Rex Tillerson — fired just hours after being the first senior U.S. official to join Britain in sharply criticizing Russia — probably was the worst secretary of state in modern history. The list goes on.

They, and others, may well have deserved to face some consequence, perhaps even to have their government service ended. But, in the era of Trump, that is not the right question. In these instances, we need to ask not whether an individual did something wrong; the question is whether there is any reason to believe that is why Trump took action. In McCabe’s case, the answer is obvious.

From Trump’s own words, it is clear that he had McCabe fired not for anything he did wrong, but for what he did right: His refusal to pledge political loyalty to Trump, his determination that the investigation of Trump and his campaign continue without compromise, and his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee corroborating Comey’s damning account of Trump’s obstruction.

McCabe’s firing serves Trump’s purposes, whether or not McCabe did anything wrong. And every FBI agent investigating matters that Trump finds uncomfortable, every intelligence officer reporting on Russian efforts to corrupt our democracy, every career civil servant doing his or her duty in the face of political pressure has been sent a chilling message: Cross the president at your peril. He will single you out, he will harass you publicly, he will find a way to end your career. He may even deny you a pension you have spent decades earning through selfless public service.

This, then, is the challenge that confronts Trump’s opponents dedicated to protecting the rule of law from his political power. Standing up to Trump may indeed involve standing unequivocally with imperfect people, people who may have done something wrong — to stop the president from perpetrating an even bigger wrong, with an even greater cost to our system.
posted by chris24 at 5:54 AM on March 18 [90 favorites]


Except we know that Fox, Breitbart, Rush, etc. were all coordinating/working with Trump. So I'm not sure you can cleanly and clearly separate them.
I can’t speak for pyramid termite but I don’t think it’s a separation as much as ordering based on impact: those ads and the rest of the propaganda campaign wouldn’t have worked without years and years of Rush and Fox grooming people to celebrate nastiness and think of facts as a liberal conspiracy. The people who were surprised by Trump were all old enough to have developed their political instincts in the era where Fox News either didn’t exist or was a new development rather many people’s exclusive view of the world for decades.
posted by adamsc at 5:59 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


those ads and the rest of the propaganda campaign wouldn’t have worked without years and years of Rush and Fox grooming people to celebrate nastiness and think of facts as a liberal conspiracy.

Oh I agree with this. Sorry if I misunderstood. This tweet from Dan Murphy at Christian Science Monitor came across my feed yesterday and summed it up pretty well.

@bungdan
The Cambridge Analytica Trump/Bannon/Mercer story is indeed alarming and fascinating. But none of this crap works if tens of millions of us aren't resentful low-information rage babies who *like* being that way.
posted by chris24 at 6:04 AM on March 18 [83 favorites]


yes, that was pretty much what i was pointing out - decades of indoctrination - if that's the only opinion you've listened to for decades, it's going to take over your mind

a good part of my generation has been hopelessly brainwashed by it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:10 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]


it's curious to me that both "Nike" and "KitKat" are near-homographs of or mere single-letter transpositions away from perhaps the most common antisemitic slur.

The Nike thing seems plausible, but I'd rather not trawl the message boards that would be involved in finding it in the wild.

Half a minute of googling suggests the KitKat thing is a reference to a chan/reddit "eats a kitkat" meme. (That seems to have morphed into a crytpo-racist thing by 2017.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:29 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Russia, Putin's influence campaign takes a more direct approach. (YT video of CC footage at polling station outside Moscow today).
posted by pjenks at 6:39 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


AdamSC and Chris24, thank you, that has encapsulated what I've been thinking. All the bot campaigns, the Russians, Cambridge Analytica, the NRA, etc. etc., relied on fertile soil to grow their poisonous seeds. And it was Fox "News" and Rush Limbaugh (to name the two biggest) who tilled the fields and fertilized the soil, so to speak. Russia couldn't have influenced our election so much if we (collective "we") weren't so easily influenced, "resentful low-information rage babies."

Count me in as one who was surprised by the election results (and frankly I still have election night PTSD), but I live in a kind of blue bubble here in the Bay Area - The Big Sort in action. (I think a lot of people who were surprised because we are so sorted.)

When I think about "how can we prevent this?" - I've been reading Yascha Mounk's The People Vs. Democracy, and there's a lot to unpack, but I think a mistake many Democrats make is seeing our opponents as dark wizards and we are helpless little muggles. I don't think it will be an easy process but we have to believe we can do it.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:39 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


When I think about "how can we prevent this?"

Though it might seem an unlikely source for thoughts on how to regain hope&stride, the latest episode of Russell Brand’s Under the Skin podcast is an empassioned conversation with Yanis Varoufakis on how we got here, and what’s a way out/forward. (Though ostensibly about Europe, the insights apply just as well to the recent political landscape in the US.)
posted by progosk at 6:52 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Trump rails against Mueller investigation, dismisses McCabe’s notes as ‘Fake Memos’

WaPo on the president’s (undoubtedly prudent) decision to continue his obstruction of justice via petulant tweets this morning.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:53 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


DJT:I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date.

How is memo made?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:09 AM on March 18 [38 favorites]




He doesn't know what "contemporaneous memo" means lolsob
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:20 AM on March 18 [38 favorites]


Cambridge Analytica scrambles to pull Channel 4 exposé
Channel 4 reporters posed as prospective clients and had a series of meetings with Cambridge Analytica that they secretly filmed — including at least one with Alexander Nix, its chief executive. Channel 4 declined to comment.

Mr Nix referred the FT to Cambridge Analytica’s spokesperson when asked if he was aware of the Channel 4 report, which is due to air this week, according to people briefed on the situation. Cambridge Analytica’s spokesman declined to comment on the undercover Channel 4 report.
posted by pjenks at 7:28 AM on March 18 [23 favorites]


He knows it means more than a plain statement supported by the witness’s claim to remember it all clearly.
posted by notyou at 7:28 AM on March 18


The Cambridge whistleblower has his Facebook account suspended by Facebook

@chrisinsilico:
Suspended by @facebook. For blowing the whistle. On something they have known privately for 2 years.
SCREENSHOT
posted by chris24 at 7:49 AM on March 18 [49 favorites]


@GenMhayden (former CIA and NSA Director):
FWIW. I have no window into the objective merits of the McCabe case. And therefore I cannot judge that, although McCabe had a stellar reputation. 1/3
- I can say, however, if this were conducted under the rules that pertain to military justice, it would have been thrown out because of what we call “undue command influence”. 2/3
- The President’s frequent and visible comments and pressure on DOJ would have prompted a military judge to dismiss this as hopelessly tainted. 3/3
posted by chris24 at 7:53 AM on March 18 [82 favorites]


Finally at least one R is speaking out to defend Mueller and democracy.

Graham: Trump firing Mueller would be 'the beginning of the end of his presidency'
posted by chris24 at 8:01 AM on March 18 [26 favorites]


Add Rubio and Rand with some support.

@chucktodd:
Sen. @marcorubio on the Mueller investigation: “I remain confident that the Special Counsel is going to conduct a probe that is fair and thorough and is going to arrive at the truth and is not going to go down rabbit holes that are not places that we need to be going.” #MTP

@CNN:
Sen. Rand Paul says he “wouldn’t advocate” President Trump fire special counsel Robert Mueller #CNNSOTU http://cnn.it/2GDWqX7
posted by chris24 at 8:05 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


Finally - a Republican with the Strength, the Courage to...oh it's Lindsey Graham? The concern...
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:08 AM on March 18 [36 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?


Aaaaaaand, once again, thanks for corroborating McCabe's statements, Mr. President! -- "I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey." "This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness."
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:10 AM on March 18 [25 favorites]


Also lovely that he's hanging Sessions out to dry, again.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:12 AM on March 18


Sen. Rand Paul says he “wouldn’t advocate”

Portraits of courage, GOP '18 edtn.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:15 AM on March 18 [31 favorites]


Add Rubio and Rand with some support.

Ha, Rubio is using weasel-words. He comes off as supportive if he wants, or he can claim the investigation itself is a rabbit hole. Rand is only slightly braver.

What a bunch of craven assholes.
posted by schroedinger at 8:17 AM on March 18 [23 favorites]


Rubio seems to be issuing a threat. 'Take Trump but if you investigate any other GOP it's over.'
posted by lumnar at 8:21 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


Oh, screw Rubio*, Graham, and RandPaul. Republican Senators can say whatever vaguely concerned sounding stuff they want, secure in the knowledge that the House will never, ever, ever initiate impeachment proceedings as long as it's red.

*And screw Rubio extra hard for his loathsome "make daylight saving time permanent" bill.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:21 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]


I'll believe any Republican will take any concrete action against Trump, exactly when it happens and not sooner. That goes double for Graham, Paul, Sasse, Flake, Corker, McCain and Rubio.

There's a reason you always seen the same set of names first out in the media with the same almost-reasonable sounding quotes about oversight or bipartisan opposition or concerns, while nothing ever changes substantively. These fuckers KNOW they can get on TV EVERY TIME just by playing the role of Lucy, and they also KNOW they'll NEVER get called to account for pulling back the football for the 800,000th time.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:21 AM on March 18 [63 favorites]


Reuters: Sources contradict Sessions' testimony he opposed Russia outreach
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony that he opposed a proposal for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees. . . .

“Yes, I pushed back,” Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, when asked whether he shut down Papadopoulos’ proposed outreach to Russia. Sessions has since also been interviewed by Mueller.

Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all threes, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos’ idea.
Gee, I guess that would constitute a . . . lack of candor on Sessions' part.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:32 AM on March 18 [50 favorites]


I’m torn about Sessions. He clearly fucked up with the Russians, and he fired McCabe ...but he also recused himself, hasn’t resigned, and is supporting Rosenstein.

I mean it’s a low bar, but if not for Sessions we’d already be in a Constitutional crisis.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:38 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I mean I guess I’m saying he should go to prison, but I want Trump to hang.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:40 AM on March 18 [18 favorites]


FelliniBlank: And screw Rubio extra hard for his loathsome "make daylight saving time permanent" bill.

Loathsome? Everything I know about DST suggests a mixed bag regardless of whether things are changed or stay the way they are. By all mean, Rubio can go to hell, but can anyone elaborate on this reason?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:46 AM on March 18 [7 favorites]


Today's DRUDGE POLL results show that 78% of Americans want Mueller Fired. (link to twitter) – I don't know the original poll and don't want to go clicking on Drudges' website, but it felt like something worth bringing attention to here.
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:47 AM on March 18


Always amazed at moments of sanity from Gowdy. And while on Fox.

@kyledcheney (Politico)
WOW. Trey GOWDY addresses Trump's lawyer this AM: "if you have an innocent client Mr. Dowd, act like it.”

GOWDY also emphasizes that House Intel Committee's Russia report is *NOT* conclusive about collusion -- only that they didn't get evidence of collusion from witnesses they talked to -- and didn't talk to Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, etc.

"You don’t know what you don’t know."

---

And more on protecting Mueller. The video has much more than the tweet quote.

@axios
Rep. Trey Gowdy on @FoxNewsSunday addresses Trump lawyer John Dowd's call to shut down the Mueller investigation. "And when you are innocent...act like it."
VIDEO
posted by chris24 at 8:48 AM on March 18 [19 favorites]


Rubio can go to hell, but can anyone elaborate on this reason?

I just personally hate DST is all. It's particularly shitty for those of us living on the western edge of a time zone because both dawn and dusk occur way, way too late.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:48 AM on March 18 [11 favorites]


I know that feel, FelliniBlank. Atlanta is about 30 miles from the edge of the time zone and it's barely dawn when I arrive at work in the morning. Sucks.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:50 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


talk is cheap, folks

when the time comes, you can count on the GOP to fall in line like the good little authoritarian fucks they are
posted by entropicamericana at 8:51 AM on March 18 [30 favorites]


i think this is a new low in “paragraphs written in a news article in a major newspaper about the president of the united states”?
Mr. Trump, who admitted last week that he made up a claim in a meeting with Canada’s prime minister and is considered honest by only a third of the American people in polls, stayed this weekend at the White House, where he evidently is spending time watching Fox News and stewing about the investigation.
just another weekend in a functional democracy.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:51 AM on March 18 [35 favorites]


Graham calls for Senate Judiciary hearing on McCabe firing
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said he believes the Senate Judiciary Committee should hold a hearing on the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“I think we owe it to the average American to have a hearing in the Judiciary Committee where Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions comes forward with whatever documentation he has about the firing, and give Mr. McCabe the chance to defend himself,” Graham, a member of the panel, said on CNN’s “State of the Union."

“I believe when it comes to this issue we need as much transparency as possible to make sure it wasn’t politically motivated,” he added.
posted by chris24 at 8:54 AM on March 18 [50 favorites]


"Americans" in the "DRUDGE POLL" link above appears to actually mean "people who visit The Drudge Report website and click on stuff," so perversely, I think, what might be noteworthy about said poll is the fact that the number's not higher than 78%.

Also DST is an abomination and pointless but if we can't get rid of it, and for some stupid reason it appears that we can't, I'm willing to make it year-round. But we won't ever do that, either, even though the swinging back and forth is the worst part. Rubio's quixotic distraction is doomed to fail, since it would mean lots of schoolkids commuting in the morning dark.
posted by halation at 8:54 AM on March 18 [18 favorites]


Cambridge Analytica and Facebook accused of misleading MPs over data breach
The head of the parliamentary committee investigating fake news has accused Cambridge Analytica and Facebook of misleading MPs in testimony, after the Observer revealed details of a vast data breach affecting tens of millions of people.

After a whistleblower detailed the harvesting of more than 50 million Facebook profiles for Cambridge Analytica, Damian Collins, the chair of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said he would be calling on the Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, to testify before the committee.

He said the company appeared to have previously sent executives able to avoid difficult questions who had “claimed not to know the answers”.

Collins also said he would be recalling the Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, to give further testimony. “Nix denied to the committee last month that his company had received any data from [his firm] GSR,” he said. “We will be contacting Alexander Nix next week asking him to explain his comments.”
posted by chris24 at 9:05 AM on March 18 [36 favorites]


BREAKING NEWS BREAKING NEWS BREAKING NEWS

22% of Drudge Report readers do NOT want the President to fire Mueller!

Well, he's lost the Drudge Report readers...
posted by yhbc at 9:10 AM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Today's DRUDGE POLL results show that 78% of Americans want Mueller Fired. (link to twitter) – I don't know the original poll and don't want to go clicking on Drudges' website, but it felt like something worth bringing attention to here.

That poll could not possibly mean 78% of Americans, because that would mean that a substantial percentage of people who poll Democratic actively want Mueller fired. Trump is unpopular - it's just not possible that far more Americans than like Trump actually want to see the investigation ended. If the administration weren't such a shit-show you could probably count on some percentage of right Democrats who felt that it was a huge insult to Our Elected President or something, but even then I don't think you'd get to 78%.

I mean, I bet something like 95% of US mefites want Trump impeached, and a substantial number of the remaining ones want him guillotined instead, but that doesn't prove anything about Americans as a whole.
posted by Frowner at 9:14 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!


Sure is interesting how he uses a word that, when referring to humans, is normally reserved for describing criminals. Trump and the GOP have for some time been laying the groundwork for the criminalization of the Democratic Party; at the moment it's primarily rhetorical, as a counter to the entirely (and increasingly) valid accusation of rampant GOP criminality. As actual GOP criminality becomes harder and harder to refute, D criminalization will concurrently transcend the rhetorical. The difference, of course, is that the actual criminals will be in power to lock up the invented ones.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:27 AM on March 18 [67 favorites]


from the “when you said ‘family business’ i didn’t realize you meant family business“ dept.:

Kushner Cos. Filed False Documents With NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — When the Kushner Cos. bought three apartment buildings in a gentrifying neighborhood of Queens in 2015, most of the tenants were protected by special rules that prevent developers from pushing them out, raising rents and turning a tidy profit.

But that’s exactly what the company then run by Jared Kushner did, and with remarkable speed. Two years later, it sold all three buildings for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than it paid.

Now a clue has emerged as to how President Donald Trump’s son-in-law’s firm was able to move so fast: The Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:28 AM on March 18 [105 favorites]


The Cambridge whistleblower has his Facebook account suspended by Facebook

This isn't punishment! Instead they could have tormented him by micro-targeting him with interesting but already expired offers or events from local bars and restaurants that he has visited and or liked. Like they do to me.
posted by srboisvert at 9:33 AM on March 18 [13 favorites]


Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats

Stonekettle:
You see where this goes, right?

You see where this kind of thinking goes. Anybody not of THE PARTY can't be trusted.

Logically then, those not of THE PARTY must be removed from power, purged from government, military, education, etc

This is how it always starts. Right here.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:35 AM on March 18 [113 favorites]


Skripal poisoning update from ABC: the agent is believed to have been circulated through his car's ventilation system. Also, disturbingly, up to 38 people were sickened.

This was by definition a mass civilian WMD attack, and we started a 15-year (and counting) war and destroyed the entire Middle East over the mere worry of less.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:49 AM on March 18 [104 favorites]


Talking Points Memo:
The Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe gave inconsistent answers during an interview Sunday regarding whether the committee investigated potential collusion between the Trump campaign in Russia.

[Said Conaway]: “We were focused not so much on that, because that feeds into the collusion issue, and our committee was not charged with answering the collusion idea, so we really weren’t focused on that direction.”

“No evidence of collusion,” Todd repeated back to Conaway. “But if you’re not investigating collusion, then you haven’t sought the evidence.”

That’s all we investigated,” Conaway said, contradicting himself. “We didn’t investigate his obstruction of justice issue. That’s what we investigated: Was there collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians or between the Clinton campaign and the Russians?
* GOLF CLAP *
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:54 AM on March 18 [31 favorites]


Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats

He’s throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks. Even as more members of his own party back away from him. Everyone sees where this is going. Any Senators giving strong *defenses* of President? Crickets? When you’ve lost Trey Gowdy (R-Slytherin) and Marco Rubio (R-Cnidaria), you’re toast.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:02 AM on March 18 [24 favorites]


@HeidiPrzybyla:
Rep. Conaway confirmed on @nbc that the House Intel Committee closed shop despite fact it never interviewed George Papadopoulos, the key figure whose actions prompted the start of an FBI probe on Russia/Trump.


@kyledcheney:
CONAWAY says House Intel Committee did NOT conclude there was no collusion between Trump campaign and Russia. "What we said is that we found no evidence of it. That's a different statement."

He notes they didn't talk to several central witnesses.

---

Gee, I guess this explains this.

@christinawilkie:
GOP Rep Trey Gowdy: Don’t trust congressional investigations. “Have confidence in Executive Branch” investigations like the Mueller probe. @FoxNewsSunday
posted by chris24 at 10:02 AM on March 18 [24 favorites]


They didn't investigate anything. They ran a disinformation operation at the direction of the White House and blocked the Democratic minority from conducting any real investigation.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:02 AM on March 18 [74 favorites]


If you like this sort of thing (which I do) the 'you are not so smart' podcast has a new episode addressing tribalism, post-fact, politics, and more. It even has some suggestions to overcome the quagmire.

(As we know from experienced observation) it seems like facts don't matter. They don't. Full stop. Using tribal markers to frame an issue, then supporting with facts (academically) works. Fun, educational listening.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:03 AM on March 18 [12 favorites]


GOP Rep Trey Gowdy: Don’t trust congressional investigations. “Have confidence in Executive Branch” investigations like the Mueller probe. @FoxNewsSunday

Laying the groundwork for 2019.
posted by Talez at 10:05 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I'm curious about the reporting on the Skripal update -- US media are covering it, and The Guardian is covering US coverage of it, but the Graun and others are not reporting themselves, and the Graun specifically draws a parallel to other times the US has mucked up terror investigations by reporting details being intentionally kept from UK press, in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing. Those incidents led to some furore and a suspension of counterterrorism intelligence sharing; wonder if this will, as well.
posted by halation at 10:07 AM on March 18 [6 favorites]


The Guardian follows up on that ABC story about extra victims in the novichok case. It is of relevance that this was first reported through US media:
This is not the first time the US media have reported updates from intelligence officials about incidents in the UK. British police temporarily suspended intelligence sharing with the US after the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 following a series of leaks to American media.

The US television network CBS disclosed the name of the Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, citing American sources, at a time when the British authorities were asking media to withhold information to protect the investigation. Additionally, the New York Times published detailed photographs taken at the bomb scene that had been taken by British investigators.
posted by stonepharisee at 10:07 AM on March 18 [12 favorites]


god, if they were just a little bit smarter, if the could manage the slightest bit of subtlety, they could have closed the investigation quietly with a brief statement about not finding any conclusive evidence.

but their audience isn’t the public, it’s trump - so it has to be a big red sign saying that trump did nothing wrong and in fact it was probably clinton all along. anything less and they go in the doghouse with sessions.

and now they’re surprised and unprepared to defend these ridiculous claims to the media.

i remember when republicans were smart enough to pull off a snow job. this is just pathetic.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:08 AM on March 18 [25 favorites]


"Good morning, Sir. Welcome to the National Cheese Emporium!"
"Good morning! What cheese do you have for sale?"
"We're focused not so much on that, because that feeds into the cheese-selling issue, and our emporium is not charged with selling cheese, so we really aren't focused on that direction."
"So, what do you sell?"
"Cheese; we only sell cheese. The selling of cheese is our sole purpose."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:08 AM on March 18 [64 favorites]


i remember when republicans were smart enough to pull off a snow job. this is just pathetic.

They don't have to anymore because supporters of the Red Team will swallow anything hook, line, and sinker so long as they're pandered to about being the top of some imaginary social strata. You know, the poorest white guy is still "better" than the richest black guy.
posted by Talez at 10:11 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]




Quick reference - "Skripal" and "Novichok" refer to the same issue. Skripal is the guy (and his daughter) who were attacked, and Novichok is the nerve agent used.

(throwing it out there for clarity - I thought for a moment there were separate events.)
posted by notsnot at 10:17 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I hate it when you disappoint me, Wisconsin, although I should expect it by now.

And that news is especially disappointing coming from Milwaukee, America's most segregated city.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:17 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Hey now dont sully the revolutionary hue with these guys, that side is well and truly team brown
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?


McCabe attorney Michael Bromwich (@MRBromwich, to you, Twitter) is not having any of Trump's nonsense:
"We will not be responding to each childish, defamatory, disgusting & false tweet by the President. The whole truth will come out in due course. But the tweets confirm that he has corrupted the entire process that led to Mr. McCabe’s termination and has rendered it illegitimate."

Bromwich's profile on his firm's website highlights this experience in his C.V.: "He has been a federal prosecutor, a special prosecutor, an inspector general, the country’s top offshore drilling regulator, the compliance monitor of major public companies and public agencies, and a lawyer who has practiced with some of the most widely-respected law firms in the country. He has been called on countless times – by public corporations, private companies, federal, state, and local governments, cabinet secretaries, and the President of the United States – to deal with issues and problems of the greatest private and public significance."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:38 AM on March 18 [40 favorites]


Surprising absolutely no one, Russian election results are available.

Putin or Putin, the suspense was truly killing me.
posted by lydhre at 11:39 AM on March 18 [3 favorites]


To be fair, this looks like it was a (state-run) exit poll, at least they're not claiming to have counted the entire country in less time than Westmoreland county
posted by saturday_morning at 11:44 AM on March 18


"The Red Team"
It must be noted that the current party designations weren't established until after the 2000 election, and before then, the Democrats rankled at being designated "red" since it connected them with the Damn Red Soviet Russians. I have to wonder if the Republicans' non-reaction was noted by Putin's People in Post-Soviet Russia as a sign they'd be open to cooperation. Of course, for a while, "far left" political parties were self-designated
Green, but after Jill Stein's Russia Connections, it may not work anymore (and it's not easy being green). If I were consulting with the Democratic Socialists, I'd recommend they go Purple to represent a "for everybody" platform.

Also, I'm not so sure that "we know that Fox, Breitbart, Rush, etc. were all coordinating/working with Trump". The Fake News entities compete with each other as much as any Media entities (you can't say, for example, that Disney, Nick and Cartoon Network are "coordinating"). They all had common enemies in Obama, The Clintons and the Democrats, but they didn't all line up behind Trump until he was clearly 'the Great White Hope' and only Breitbart (whose founder specifically split from Drudge) had direct connections to the campaign. Rupert Murdoch specifically is a "Formerly Never Trumper" and the newfound loyalty of Fox, as well as the WSJ and NYPost is part of what is scaring most of the Congressional Republicans from being "too critical" yet. Still, I would support a full boycott of all the sponsors of all the Fake News Media (the Kochs made me tearfully give up my lifelong use of Dixie Cups & Plates years ago... which I know I should've already done for environmental reasons, but I'm from THAT generation, but I digress).
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:52 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Well I just don’t feel comfortable calling the “race” for Putin until we get results from crucial Waukesha Oblast.
posted by zachlipton at 11:58 AM on March 18 [19 favorites]


it is amusing how fragile strongmen are. RT has gone from forecasting 'record turnout for decisive re-election' to saying 'eh, turnout doesn't matter so much, lots of places have mandatory voting and that makes turnout meaningless, but hey! but look how low turnout is in the US! despite their brutal and drama-filled election, they only had 57% turnout! russia's turnout is always higher!'

turns out that when you offer concert tickets, GoPros, Apple watches and cars as prizes for voting, you can eke out a margin juuuust slightly higher than the most-recent US turnout.
posted by halation at 12:20 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Why the hell would Putin care about turnout this time? Did Navalny's campaign scare him that much? "Look! Elections in Russia are totes legit!" Dude, you're not convincing anyone over the age of 19. Possibly lower in Russia itself.
posted by eclectist at 12:39 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


NBC/WSJ poll: Democrats hold double-digit lead for 2018 midterm elections. The interesting part:
Also in the poll, the most popular political figures and institutions are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (48 percent positive, 20 percent negative), Planned Parenthood (52 percent positive, 25 percent negative), the “Me Too” Movement (35 percent positive, 18 percent negative) and special counsel Robert Mueller (28 percent positive, 19 percent negative).
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:51 PM on March 18 [30 favorites]


Why the hell would Putin care about turnout this time? Did Navalny's campaign scare him that much?
A state exit poll put the turnout at 63.7%, down on 2012. Mr Putin's campaign had hoped for a large turnout, to give him the strongest possible mandate.

Reacting to the exit poll, his campaign team said it was an "incredible victory".

"The percentage that we have just seen speaks for itself. It's a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make," a spokesman told Russia's Interfax.
not sure whether 'future decisions' is meant to sound ominous, but it does, in fact, sound kinda ominous. (it is probably meant to sound ominous.)
posted by halation at 12:54 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Also, I'm not so sure that "we know that Fox, Breitbart, Rush, etc. were all coordinating/working with Trump". The Fake News entities compete with each other as much as any Media entities (you can't say, for example, that Disney, Nick and Cartoon Network are "coordinating").

They compete for market share and eyeballs, yes, but they also form a media ecosphere, and ideas spawned in one corner of that ecosphere are quickly picked up and carried forth by others. The net effect is little different than if they were actively collaborating on what talking point would go forth next.
posted by kewb at 1:10 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Turns out Trump forced White House staff to sign non-disclosure agreements with no end date, and financial penalties for violation. WTF.

I'm fairly sure this is unconstitutional...
posted by suelac at 1:16 PM on March 18 [97 favorites]


Turns out Trump forced White House staff to sign non-disclosure agreements with no end date, and $10m in penalties for violation. WTF.

I'm fairly sure this is unconstitutional...


Obviously it's unconstitutional, but since he could only get people with half a brain to work for him, they don't know. It's pure mob-like intimidation. Sigh
posted by mumimor at 1:22 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


if not unconstitutional, it’s probably a violation of the Presidential Records Act
posted by murphy slaw at 1:26 PM on March 18 [44 favorites]


It's pure mob-like intimidation.

The dodgy capitalist version of Omertà.
posted by Buntix at 1:27 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


if he keeps trying to use his real estate playbook in the federal government, the next step is to default on the national debt and then try to sue everyone on earth who owns US bonds
posted by murphy slaw at 1:29 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]


It is noteworthy that the non-disclosure article was published under the opinion section. Even though Ruth Marcus has an unnamed source and a draft of the agreement, there might be something that doesn’t meet the Post’s reporting standards (yet). I would wait for further corroboration before taking the story as a sure thing. If it was a scoop, I think they’d publish it as a scoop, not an opinion.
posted by peeedro at 1:31 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


probably because marcus was only able to obtain the draft agreement at press time
posted by murphy slaw at 1:33 PM on March 18


The worst part is that the NDA, this draft anyway, tries to give Trump the ability to sue, personally, if staff discloses things even after his Presidency, however long it may last, is over. White House staff are supposed to work for the public, not for him. It’s like if your boss wanted to make you sign an NDA he could enforce himself instead of one you sign for your employer; no company would tolerate that, because employees are supposed to represent their employer, not their boss personally. There’s something seriously wrong with anybody who thinks of the office this way.

I did not think it was possible to have an even lower opinion of Don McGhan, yet here we are.
posted by zachlipton at 1:36 PM on March 18 [68 favorites]


Also, I'm not so sure that "we know that Fox, Breitbart, Rush, etc. were all coordinating/working with Trump".

Breitbart was run by Trump's campaign manager so I think it's safe to say they were working for and with him. And we know from the Seth Rich lawsuit that Trump got access to preliminary/draft Fox stories and instructed Fox to publish it which they did. Were Fox and Breitbart working together? Maybe not explicitly, but I said they were coordinating with Trump, not working with each other.
posted by chris24 at 1:53 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


probably because marcus was only able to obtain the draft agreement at press time

Maybe, but we can’t know that. All we know is the WaPo isn’t standing behind this as original reporting yet. This has only cleared the same institutional standards as a George Will column so far. Don't be Dan Rather’d or Gorilla Channell’d.
posted by peeedro at 1:54 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Margaret Sullivan, Middle East civilian deaths have soared under Trump. And the media mostly shrug.
The numbers are shocking — or at least they should be.

2017 was the deadliest year for civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria, with as many as 6,000 people killed in strikes conducted by the U.S.-led coalition, according to the watchdog group Airwars.

That is an increase of more than 200 percent over the previous year.

It is far more if you add in countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and many others.
...
“The media has unfortunately been so distracted by the chaos of the Trump administration and allegations of the president’s collusion with Russia that it’s neglected to look closely at the things he’s actually doing already,” said Daphne Eviatar, a director of Amnesty International USA.
...
Eviatar, and others who monitor these issues, not only deplore the deaths of innocent people, but also the government secrecy that has worsened significantly over the past year.

The Pentagon no longer reveals, she said, “even the legal and policy framework the U.S. uses to guide these lethal strikes.”
posted by zachlipton at 2:12 PM on March 18 [72 favorites]


I'm fairly sure this is unconstitutional...

The Federal Government prohibiting the publication of non-classified information in perpetuity is an extremely straightforward breach of the First Amendment’s freedom of the press.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:21 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]


TPM: Zinke On Saying ‘Konnichiwa’ To Rep: ‘How Could Ever Saying Good Morning Be Bad?’

(already-limitless capacity for hatred increases)
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:23 PM on March 18 [39 favorites]


For anyone who thinks that Trump is able to enforce these contracts in a private capacity... imagine if Congress passed a law requiring all government employees to agree to the President’s private NDA or be fired. Would that be constitutional? No. It’s no different if the President does it unilaterally. He is part of the Federal Government.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:25 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Fun fact: As Rep. Hanabusa pointed out in the moment, "konichiwa" does not translate to "good morning." Had Zinke been paying attention, he could have learned both the correct greeting for the appropriate time of day, and the more important lesson that you don't just randomly go around spitting out the one word you know in a foreign language when someone mentions their ancestry. Instead, he doubled down on both the racism and the ignorance.
posted by zachlipton at 2:28 PM on March 18 [72 favorites]


How Could Ever Saying Good Morning Be Bad?

Great question but since konichiwa means “good afternoon” we can already identify at least one bad thing about this decision
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:30 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]


zachlipton: Had Zinke been paying attention, he could have learned both the correct greeting for the appropriate time of day, and the more important lesson that you don't just randomly go around spitting out the one word you know in a foreign language when someone mentions their ancestry.

What he basically said was 'Oh, I did not hear a word you just said, because I'm not really listening. Instead, I'm only paying attention to how you're different from me. Nothing else about you matters to me.'
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:38 PM on March 18 [49 favorites]


well he’s not the Secretary of the Exterior is he
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:44 PM on March 18 [27 favorites]




Kogan, who has previously unreported links to a Russian university and took Russian grants for research, had a licence from Facebook to collect profile information, but it was for research purposes only.

And where did one of Kogan's colleagues wind up after the thisisyourdigitallife app fiasco exploded, you may ask?

CNN: Facebook Investigating Employee's Links to Cambridge Analytica
Joseph Chancellor, now a researcher at Facebook (FB), was a director of Global Science Research, a company that provided data to Cambridge Analytica.[...] "Joseph Chancellor is an employee of Facebook. We are looking into the situation," a spokesperson for Facebook told CNN.

On Friday, Facebook announced it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and data scientist Aleksandr Kogan, Chancellor's former business colleague, from using its platform while it investigates.[...]

The nature of Chancellor's role as a director of Global Science Research and his knowledge of Kogan's data collection practices are not clear. A spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said "there was no recollection of any interactions or emails with" Chancellor. Facebook didn't mention Global Science Research in its blog post. But Cambridge Analytica said Saturday that it contracted the company in 2014 to "undertake a large scale research project in the United States." Global Science Research was incorporated in May 2014 and listed Kogan and Chancellor as directors, according to UK government records. (The records show that Global Science Research was dissolved in October 2017.)[...]

Kogan and Chancellor were both at the University of Cambridge when they set up Global Science Research, according to their LinkedIn profiles. The UK government records show Chancellor left Global Science Research in September 2015. According to his LinkedIn profile, he joined Facebook in November 2015.[...]

While Kogan's collection of the data [by the thisisyourdigitallife app] complied with Facebook policy, how he allegedly shared the data was not. Facebook said it ordered Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to delete the data when it determined Kogan had breached its policies in 2015. Facebook would not say if Chancellor also had access to the data and if he was asked to delete it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:53 PM on March 18 [15 favorites]


if he keeps trying to use his real estate playbook in the federal government, the next step is to default on the national debt and then try to sue everyone on earth who owns US bonds

He literally did suggest creditors to the national debt might have to take a haircut during the campaign. It was a moment that should have caused a five-alarm-fire meltdown of his whole shitshow. Turns out it was only one such moment and got maybe an afternoon's worth of headlines before everything moved on.

I still can't wrap my head around that one. But it happened.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:32 PM on March 18 [53 favorites]


Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?

Because nothing is more terrifying than imagining others will treat you as you have treated them.
posted by srboisvert at 3:33 PM on March 18 [145 favorites]


Schools shouldn’t arm staff because they’re full of ‘lady teachers,’ Alabama lawmaker says (Alex Horton, WaPo)
Alabama state Rep. Harry Shiver (R) asserted that belief, saying that guns should not be placed in the hands of “our ladies” — meaning female teachers — many of whom he believes are “scared” of firearms.

“I’m not saying all [women], but in most schools, women are [the majority] of the teachers,” Shiver, a lawmaker representing a district northeast of Mobile, told AL.com in an interview published Thursday.

“Some of them just don’t want to [be trained to possess firearms]. If they want to, then that’s good. But most of them don’t want to learn how to shoot like that and carry a gun.”

Shiver did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:45 PM on March 18 [11 favorites]


The article in the link that ArtW posted noted that a mere three percent of the population now own half of its guns. I can't help but think of it as a fear-and-racism manifestation of hoarding disorder when somebody owns that many guns.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:46 PM on March 18 [39 favorites]


I suggest, humbly, that anyone interested in the methods of propaganda and manipulation being employed by Cambridge Analytica and other “unsavory” political groups should go and watch “Century of the Self” by Adam Curtis. It is a pretty good distilation of a) the history of advertising and how effective it is (hint: it’s all about ‘soft power’ as many people have been mentioning in these threads) and b) how politicians, starting heavily (though it was used prior, just not in the same manner) with the campaigns of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair in the 1990’s.

It’s been discussed here on the blue many times, and the majority of people panned it at the time.

I think it deserves to be revisited in light of the new information.

The biggest mistake is to think that you are immune to any of it. If you are human, you aren’t. If you consider yourself “smart”, you might consider that you might be an even easier target.

Above all else, it’s not about controlling an individual. It’s about controlling the environment. Countless repeatable experiments show that if you have individuals in a group environment, they more often than not will not go against the consensus of the group, even if it goes against their own personal beliefs or reasoning. As social beings, in social settings, acquiecence to the norms of the group are pivital in decision making and rationalization. This is where some of the methods used by the IRA and other known bad actors was basically using the same tools that advertising uses in ‘soft’ manipulation to achieve the same effects. Force reactions instead of responses. Control the group dynamic by flooding the information channels (airwares, cable news, social media, hell, even billboards) with the message(s) they want the group to hold.

Another mistake many people make is thinking they are targeting individuals. They are not. They are targeting demographicly analogous, but amorphous groupings. They are targetting specific beliefs shared by affinities. It is easy to show that you can’t make someone believe a specific falsehood or truth. You can, however, feed them subsequent information that will be either incorporated or rejected as valid information. It doesn’t matter if you get them to believe the sky is a particular color. Just that you get them to accept that the sky might not be blue. And the “trick” of it, as we have amply documented in these many threads, is that is the point. You don’t want a solid set of beliefs. You want chaos, infighting, confusion, frustration. You want to keep everything and everyone questioning their own senses to the point where anything you do is suddenly accepted as just the way things are. Even better for you if you agree with the things they are doing, as you will then support all the lunatics making things worse for everyone.

The saddest part is that when these methods were simply used to sell us products, the majority of people felt it was harmless. Simply business doing what is in the best interest of business. When it crossed over into politics, it was seen as a novel and intelligent way to market politicians to the public in order to get them elected. Now we are seeing what happens when it is used to sow dissent and create disorder. The atomization of the population in to classifiable, contained, and controllable discrete mini-cultures. Orwell ain’t got nothing on this shit. And what is worse, is that “we” (the American government, society, culture) thought it was a good idea. We valorize the idea of Ad-men (a la Mad Men). We think it is entertaining that the history of advertising is so rauchous and debaucherous and invented so many ways in which to manipulate consensus through witty commercials or catchy jingles. Sound bites that become earworms where you don’t even use the product but you can name the brand.

Anyway, that’s my nickel.
posted by daq at 3:53 PM on March 18 [113 favorites]


Schools shouldn’t arm staff because they’re full of ‘lady teachers,’ Alabama lawmaker says

Only rampant misogyny can save us from militarized places of learning. It's like Australia introducing cane toads to eat cane beetles
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:55 PM on March 18 [43 favorites]


As Trump has been, by most reports, looking for an excuse to get rid of Sessions, it's worth wondering who those "three unnamed meeting attendees" are, and what they hoped to accomplish by leaking this to Reuters.
posted by neroli at 4:21 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]


@williamjordann
Just noticed something incredible watching this @theDLCC video of Democrats who flipped state legislative seats:

Of the seats Democrats have flipped, 61% (!) were won by women. Nationwide state legislatures were just 24% female in 2015 (@NCSLorg data).
posted by chris24 at 4:25 PM on March 18 [68 favorites]


I suggest, humbly, that anyone interested in the methods of propaganda and manipulation being employed by Cambridge Analytica and other “unsavory” political groups should go and watch “Century of the Self” by Adam Curtis.

This times a thousand, times a million. It's one of the most important pieces of journalism I've ever watched, with regard to helping me understand the world that I live in, in a fundamental way. His latest from 2016, Hypernormalisation, is a rather bracing, clear framing of the motivations of the powers that most control our world (i.e., the hyper-rich and mega-corporations, especially financial institutions).

This stuff is not frivolous, and is the water in which we all swim. No one is smart enough to avoid it, because it's not about being smart. These influences are too fundamental, pervasive and pernicious for anyone to think their way out of being strongly shaped by them. Extensive, immersive experience of mediated reality on a massive scale absolutely affects human consciousness and perception, thus our imaginations, and thus our culture(s) and world. It is the giant Achilles' heel for our wonderful, humanistic societies and aspirations, as amply exploited by, e.g., Putin and his mob family. Donald Trump is the apotheosis of what Adam Curtis has been researching, investigating and making documentaries about for almost 20 years. Seriously, check out some of his work.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:29 PM on March 18 [69 favorites]


This probably isn't true but I really want it to be.

Peter Krupa @peterkrupa

wife spotted Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders trying to hail a cab on 17th St. tonight. they got one, then the driver saw them, said "nope" and drove off.
posted by great_radio at 4:33 PM on March 18 [62 favorites]


wife spotted Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders trying to hail a cab on 17th St. tonight. they got one, then the driver saw them, said "nope" and drove off.

Turned out into the street and refused all comfort would be a fitting punishment, I think.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:39 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


The Hill: Trump to release opioid epidemic plan on Monday that includes death penalty

Law enforcement measures include allowing the Department of Justice to seek the death penalty for some drug dealers “where appropriate under current law.” [...] A senior White House official declined to specify examples of those cases and referred reporters to the Department of Justice.

The GOP death cult continues apace. Note the vague phrasing that attempts to foist responsibility for executions onto the DOJ. Both the WH and the DOJ are attempting to work towards the Führer in moving things toward Trump's indistinctly presented desire to kill drug dealers, while simultaneously relying on the weakening of other institutions (see: militarized paramilitary police) to get the message and do the dirty work for them. This is how it happens/ed.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:39 PM on March 18 [27 favorites]


Schools shouldn’t arm staff because they’re full of ‘lady teachers,’ Alabama lawmaker says

Huh. BoJack Horseman is real life now. This is fine.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:47 PM on March 18 [19 favorites]


Leaving aside the monstrous nature of expanding capital punishment in such a fashion, this move would be clearly unconstitutional to my layman's understanding. The SC has ruled against states which tried to impose the death penalty on child rapists (and adult rapists). Unless TrumpCo thinks they can persuade the court that drug dealers are much worse than child rapists it would fail on the same grounds.

Kennedy wrote for the majority in that case and he'd write for the majority in this one. Unless Roberts or somebody did because it went more than 5-4.

Not that it would since there's no chance this passes congress.
posted by Justinian at 4:47 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


Unless TrumpCo thinks they can persuade the court that drug dealers are much worse than child rapists it would fail on the same grounds.

Courts don't have much to do with this. It's about word coming from the top that drug dealers die. If the Judicial branch won't work towards Trump, the more direct administrators of state violence will take it upon themselves.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:50 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


There’s already a federal death penalty for “running a large scale drug enterprise” under the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994. It’s just never been imposed. So this isn’t unprecedented.

I suspect that trump is thinking of street-level dealers, though. I also suspect that he thinks they look like Super Fly.
posted by murphy slaw at 4:56 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]


The Hill: Trump to release opioid epidemic plan on Monday that includes death penalty.

This is not just stunningly stupid, it's stunningly out-of-step stupid. The whole country, including republican LEOs and politicians in red states, have come around to treating opioid addition as a public health crisis. Once it's white people in the crosshairs, folks suddenly find their compassion. Even VP Mike Pence approved* a needle exchange in Indiana, for Pete's Sake.

Trump may think he looks tough, but it just makes him look out of step. Sessions, too. And it'll win them no friends in the states that voted for them, they're some of the hardest hit by the opioid crisis. Everybody who works a blue collar job knows somebody who started with a back injury, got hooked on pills like Fentanyl, and spiraled down. Their life already got destroyed, now you want to kill them?

*begrudgingly, to be fair
posted by leotrotsky at 4:59 PM on March 18 [18 favorites]


leotrotsky: I think you misunderstand. The death penalty isn't for users; it's for dealers who, as every loyal Tr*mp supporter "knows," are brown people.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:03 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Remember, it's the drug companies who are responsible for the current opioid epidemic. These aren't street pharmaceuticals we're dealing with; they're commercially produced.

Obviously, this law won't touch them, but let's always remember that the dealers who are responsible for an epidemic so large that it's caused the American life expectancy to drop for the first time in history are commercial pharmaceutical manufacturers, who are killing people deliberately for a profit.
posted by MrVisible at 5:06 PM on March 18 [36 favorites]


Again, am fully in favour of death penalty for drug company CEOs.
posted by Artw at 5:07 PM on March 18 [29 favorites]


leotrotsky: I think you misunderstand. The death penalty isn't for users; it's for dealers who, as every loyal Tr*mp supporter "knows," are brown people.

I'm saying we're beyond even that fig leaf. This isn't the 80s, and we're not talking about crack. This crisis is so entrenched in our communities that folks just want help, for their families and for their neighbors.

And most folks got started because of their doctors handing out shit like Fentanyl like candy under the pharma lie they weren't addictive, and then making it worse by overcorrecting and cutting everyone off.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:10 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


As a slight aside, if we could eliminate "Get Tough On" from the political vocabulary forever that would be super great.

You know that Mencken misquote? "For Every Complex Problem, There Is an Answer That Is Clear, Simple, and Wrong." The "Get Tough On" mindset is that in spades.

"Get Tough On" translates to "I Don't Understand The Underlying Issues, And Can't Be Bothered To Learn Them, So I'll Just Shout Louder."

It's never worked, it never will work, and people keep voting for it, and it's just so goddamn frustrating. It's right up there with "Run like a business," "It's those bureaucrats who don't understand the way the world is," and "They're all a bunch of crooks, kick them all out."
posted by leotrotsky at 5:18 PM on March 18 [72 favorites]


These aren't street pharmaceuticals we're dealing with; they're commercially produced.

In a lot of cases they are street drugs, though. Mostly because the phenomenon of massive over-prescribing of opioid painkillers in the USA starting c. 1990's made an awful lot of addicts. State medical boards have gotten stricter about doctors writing a lot of scripts for opioids, so a lot of those people get hooked, get cut off when their doctor says "no more", and turn to street drugs instead (and THAT problem is getting a lot worse now since street dealers are lacing their smack with fentanyl and carfentanil and it's killing more people).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 5:23 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Low information voters like Trump's low information 'solutions'.
posted by puddledork at 5:23 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


"Get Tough On" is a euphemism for "War On", which, to steal a quote from Rocket J, Squirrel, "That trick never works!"
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:25 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


@SenJohnMcCain
Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded.

---

And just minutes ago.

@CaitrionaPerry
From the White House lawyer Ty Cobb just now: “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

---

McCain gets results. Lol.
posted by chris24 at 5:30 PM on March 18 [29 favorites]


Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded.

I agree, John. If only one of us could, say, sponsor legislation to guarantee that the Special Counsel could complete that investigation unimpeded?

I guess we'll just both have to cross our fingers and hold our breaths.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:33 PM on March 18 [34 favorites]


Well. If Trump already made the decision to fire him (which he did at day one) then it's not something that would be up for discussion or consideration or even thought in this admin. Trump's just going to tweet it and then people are going to stand around with thumbs up their asses saying it wasn't discussed and it was all him while trying to take cover. (The Ty Cobb statement already reads as cover for the WH.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:38 PM on March 18 [5 favorites]


I just loathe the goalpost relocation services that we purchase, every damn time.

We can't talk about outlawing assault rifles. Instead, we twist thumbs over whether teachers should be armed.

We can't talk about agreeing not to kill people in the name of justice. Instead, we fuss about which drugs are worse.
posted by Dashy at 5:51 PM on March 18 [20 favorites]


Another vote for Adam Curtis in general and The Century of the Self in particular.

It changed the way I view the world - what I took away from it, as a core message, was that the right has weaponised the 60s hippy focus on individualism and turned it into a potent tool to detroy mass movements, framing “political choice” as “consumer choice”.

This has been the way that I’ve got through to some of the swing state Jill Stein voters (or their equivalent) in my life - convincing them that they’ve been tricked by a decades-long program of divide and conquer by the right, and that their preferences have been used against them - encouraged to use their vote to signal a wish, instead of using it for progress that’s less-than-perfect but real.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 5:55 PM on March 18 [66 favorites]


@mbsimon:
(Replying to Cambridge Analytica) 👋 I ran the Obama 2008 data-driven microtargeting team. How dare you! We didn’t steal private Facebook profile data from voters under false pretenses. OFA voluntarily solicited opinions of hundreds of thousands of voters. We didn’t commit theft to do our groundbreaking work.
posted by Artw at 6:03 PM on March 18 [50 favorites]


There’s already a federal death penalty for “running a large scale drug enterprise” under the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994.

Man, your country is really fucked up.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:06 PM on March 18 [37 favorites]


Trump is a big fan of Duterte in the Philippines, who has encouraged his country's police to kill as many drug dealers as possible. See this New Yorker article.
posted by awfurby at 6:06 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


The New York Times's Maggie Haberman has another report from inside the Trump White House: Newly Emboldened, Trump Says What He Really Feels
A dozen people close to Mr. Trump or the White House, including current and former aides and longtime friends, described him as newly emboldened to say what he really feels and to ignore the cautions of those around him.

That self-confidence has led to a series of surprising comments and actions that have pushed the Trump presidency in an ever more tumultuous direction.[...]

“This could be the manifestation of growing confidence,” said Roger J. Stone Jr., one of the president’s oldest confidantes.

Projecting strength, control and power, whether as a New York developer or domineering reality television host, has always been vital to Mr. Trump. But in his first year in the White House, according to his friends, he found himself feeling tentative and anxious, intimidated by the role of president, a fact that he never openly admitted but that they could sense, people close to the president said.[...]

[H]is closest aides say [...] Mr. Trump now feels he doesn’t need the expertise of Mr. Kelly, Mr. Cohn or Rex W. Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil executive he made secretary of state. If he once suspected they were smarter or better equipped to lead the country and protect his presidency, he doesn’t believe that now.
In the past couple of weeks, Trump has been testing his limits - moving ahead on tariffs, announcing a North Korea summit, driving out Cohn, firing Tillerson, threatening Mueller directly, and now preparing the death penalty for drug dealers - and he has yet to suffer any significant consequences or encounter any meaningful resistance.

On Twitter, Haberman sums up Trump Unbound: "He knows he feels like he has power over other people."

@CaitrionaPerry
From the White House lawyer Ty Cobb just now: “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”


New York Magazine Yashar Ali @yashar counters: "Lots of folks are understandably focused on the impact of Trump firing Mueller. But he doesn't need to fire Mueller to hobble the investigation. Replacing Sessions would mean that his new AG would not have to recuse and could oversee the investigation instead of Rosenstein."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:19 PM on March 18 [18 favorites]


And then this weekend he seemed to raise the possibility of dismissing Mr. Mueller.

“This could be the manifestation of growing confidence,” said Roger J. Stone Jr., one of the president’s oldest confidantes.


Huh. Seems like Roger Stone is interested in impeding the Mueller investigation. Why might that be?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:39 PM on March 18 [4 favorites]


But in his first year in the White House, according to his friends, he found himself feeling tentative and anxious, intimidated by the role of president,
Altogether now, "THAT was him feeling tentative, anxious and intimidated?!?"
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:43 PM on March 18 [17 favorites]


@JeffFlake
Members of Congress need to be vocal in support of Special Counsel Mueller finishing his investigation.

---

You're right. Like a senator could say he wasn't voting for anything Trump wanted if Mueller is fired.
posted by chris24 at 7:10 PM on March 18 [49 favorites]


Speaking of Flake, the WaPo has a story about Trump and Pence both visiting New Hampshire this week speculating that they are shoring up support ahead of a possible primary challenge in 2020. The top of the list is of Republicans active in NH is Flake.
posted by peeedro at 7:24 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


She's a full participant in these daily microdramas, dutifully putting out the White House line undercover of the NYT byline.

Between furnishing the likes of Roger Stone, Henry Kissinger, and Reps. Peter King and Mark Meadows with a place to air their praise of Trump - which they know will get back to him - and allowing White House staff to send up trial balloons under cover of anonymity, Haberman is practicing the worst kind of access journalism. For the appearance of balance, she does let more pessimistic aides vent in her article: "Some worried aides are less sanguine. They view the weekend’s attacks on Mr. Mueller and the F.B.I. as a particularly disturbing taste of what they believe could come. They say privately that Mr. Trump does not understand the job the way he believes he does, and that they fear he will become even less inclined to take advice."

By comparison, Daily Beast is more open about publishing leaks without the Grey Lady's veneer of objectivity: Team Trump: Expect Trump to Attack Mueller More Directly
The president, those close to him say, is determined to more directly confront the federal probe into his campaign’s potential role in alleged Russian election interference, even if it means exacerbating his legal standing amid an investigation that has already ensnared some of his most senior campaign and White House aides.

Two sources who speak regularly with Trump said they had noticed an uptick in recent months in the frequency of the annoyance the president would express regarding Mueller and his team, and the irritation at the deluge of negative news stories regarding the probe.
At the very least, we can anticipate another eventful Infrastructure Week come tomorrow.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:35 PM on March 18 [22 favorites]


Replacing Sessions would mean that his new AG would not have to recuse

Elizabeth de la Vega:
Is it necessarily true that Pruitt wouldn't have to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation if Trump appointed him AG? NO! Indeed, a fair reading of the DOJ Conflicts Rule, 28CFR45.2, suggests that NO AG appointed by Trump right now cd oversee the Mueller investigation.

Here is what the DOJ Conflicts Rule, 28 CFR 45.2, says:
§ 45.2 Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.

(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:
(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or

(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.
Taking #2 first, is there a doubt that Trump has a specific & substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the Mueller investigation? NO! Too many reasons to list, but enough to say Trump has made it crystal clear he wants the investigation over.

Equally, is there a question that Trump is “substantially involved in the conduct" under investigation? NO! An investigation into Trump campaign’s/Presidency’s ties to RU & possible obstruction of justice necessarily involves conduct in which Trump is substantially involved.

That leads us to Scott Pruitt. What is a “personal relationship” under the Conflicts Rule? Would it only apply to, say, Jared? No. 28 CFR 45.2(C) (2) defines personal relationship as:
(2) Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality. An employee is presumed to have a personal relationship with his father, mother, brother, sister, child and spouse. Whether relationships (including friendships) of an employee to other persons or organizations are “personal” must be judged on an individual basis with due regard given to the subjective opinion of the employee.
So, does Pruitt's relationship with Trump constitute a "Personal Relationship?" Quite likely, but we need not decide, because here is the definition of "Political Relationship:"
(1) Political relationship means a close identification with an elected official, a candidate (whether or not successful) for elective, public office, a political party, or a campaign organization, arising from service as a principal adviser thereto or a principal official thereof;
As a cabinet appointee, who's served as adviser to Trump, an elected official, for over a year, it's obvious that Scott Pruitt has a "Political Relationship" w/ Trump, a person whose conduct is the subject of the investigation & one who has a significant stake in the outcome.

Accordingly, the DOJ Conflicts Rule, 28 CFR 45.2, would require Scott Pruitt to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation, just as Sessions had to do. Indeed, it's difficult to conceive of any AG appointee Trump might choose right now who would not be required to recuse.

But, you say, well, that’s crazy. That means Trump can't appoint ANY AG right now who could be involved in the Mueller investigation. Since DJT himself is under investigation, that would be exactly the right result under any fair system of conflicts enforcement, wouldn’t it?

But, then you say, harrumph, no Trump appointee would follow those rules. Don’t give up so easily! They sure as hell won’t follow them if we don’t talk about them. So TALK ABOUT THEM. Tell the media, tell your MOCS's. Pruitt wd STILL have to be confirmed, so 28CFR45.2 matters!

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:56 PM on March 18 [62 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 Senate: -- NV: Danny Tarkanian has dropped out of the GOP primary, leaving incumbent Sen Heller as the presumptive nominee. Tarkanian is now going to run for NV-03, which he's already lost before. The ratings guys didn't see this as having any effect, leaving both races as is (NV Sen - Toss up / NV-03 - Leans Dem).

** 2018 House:
-- CA-49: Some polling out that indicates Dems won't get locked out of the top two in this district, which has been a concern. It's coming from one of the Dem campaigns, though, so may want to take it with a grain of salt.

-- KS-02: Mentioned earlier, GOP is worried about holding on to this one.

-- old PA-18: If you missed it earlier, long analysis from the Crosstab of the PA-18 special election results.
** Odds & ends:
-- Iowa is wasting no time filling the vacancy in SD-25, left open by the resignation of the Senate Majority Leader - it's been scheduled for April 10. You can help out Dem candidate Tracy Freese here.

-- New Victory Research poll of the Illinois Dem governor primary has a tight race:
Pritzker 32
Kennedy 26
Biss 22
There's been some indication the GOP race may have also tightened up.

-- Maryland's Senate passed a broad automatic voter registration bill by supermajority margin. It's now over to the House, where the Dems also have a supermajority (this is needed as Gov Hogan has promised to veto the bill).

-- On the flip side (and mentioned earlier), the Georgia GOP is trying to reduce voting hours in Atlanta and eliminate early voting on Sunday before the election.

-- Oddly, still no word from either SCOTUS or the federal district court looking at the PA redistricting. It's getting really late for a stay, but they've both been quiet for days.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:02 PM on March 18 [40 favorites]


Sen. Flake: Members of Congress need to be vocal in support of Special Counsel Mueller finishing his investigation.

If only someone had the power to say, put forth some kind of document that would ensure the Special Prosecutor couldn't be fired, some kind of document with rules in it, like, what's the word, a law? Who would have that kind of power? We may never know.
posted by dis_integration at 8:03 PM on March 18 [55 favorites]


Man, your country is really fucked up.

While true, that provision in the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 would be struck down as unconstitutional if anyone ever tried to use it. Nobody has because they know it would fail.

If Trump gets to replace RBG or someone else on the court I reserve the right to go back in time and delete this comment.
posted by Justinian at 8:22 PM on March 18 [8 favorites]


Man, your country is really fucked up.

There is hope, friend! My generation and all young people are fed up and hungry to fix the everlasting shit out of this country through every means possible up to and including running for office.

We've grown up with 9/11, endless pointless war, a financial downturn from which we haven't recovered, regular school shootings, political obstruction and corruption at every level, no pay raises for the average person alongside cuts in programs supporting the average person, and cutthroat competition in the education system.

And the calculus is simple. Just supporting even the most modest of measures such as getting rid of assault rifles puts you on the side of reason. There is no nuance to what decent policies would be nowadays. An average person could give you an 8-year legislative agenda. We're also hyperconnected and able to organize. And what do we have to lose? Most of us are underemployed, overindebted, and broke anyway.

We're slowly breaking down and fighting back against the moats and assumptions the Olds have put in place and relied on. There is successful leftist media now. Marches in the streets (when the hell has that happened during our lifetime?). Single payer healthcare doesn't even seem like Commie propaganda anymore.

We realize the GOP doesn't play nicely, it is playing war strategy over democratic debate. We will engage them in their bad faith war for control, something I'm afraid big-D Democratic representatives haven't done as they have stayed within the old textbook rules of engagement.

Things are still Shit because again, we're taking on Camelot, and all the highest levels of power in this country public and private are well on board with protecting the status quo with every moat possible. But I think there are signs of great momentum and big wins on the intersectionality front, and we are part of the all-important Narrative.

I'm energized and emboldened, and confident about the upside we not only have but demand.
posted by hexaflexagon at 8:33 PM on March 18 [109 favorites]


@BillKristol:
If Freedom Caucus opposes the omnibus, then Ryan will need Democratic votes. And of course McConnell needs Dems to get to 60. You'd think Dems might be tempted to insist on a vote on adding an amendment supporting the independence and continuation of the Mueller investigation.
posted by chris24 at 8:56 PM on March 18 [35 favorites]


Or...you know...the DREAMers
posted by saturday_morning at 9:06 PM on March 18 [29 favorites]


Or maybe some more deregulation of wall street.
posted by maxwelton at 9:17 PM on March 18 [9 favorites]


You'd think Dems might be tempted to insist on a vote on adding an amendment supporting the independence and continuation of the Mueller investigation.

It's like he's never even met a Democrat. What Democrats do is give away the farm for free.

When even the Republican dark maesters are pointing out how inept the other party is, there's something fundamentally broken.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:26 PM on March 18 [13 favorites]


Remember, there are only two ways to talk about Democrats:
1. Democrats are losing.
2. Democrats are winning, and here's why that means they'll lose.

Seriously. We get this shit from the media all the fucking time. Do we need it on the blue, too? Preemptively, before they have even done anything?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:33 PM on March 18 [131 favorites]


re: The Tariffs - Trump's first negotiation was an utter failure, and it involved a 20% Tariff on Mexican imports in order to pay for 'The Wall.'

Lawrence O'Donnel's 'President Donald Trump's First Negotiation Was A Humiliation' | The Last Word | MSNBC 27 Jan 2017
That is not Mexico paying for the wall, that is the taxpayer of the United States paying for the wall
Trump 'feeling more confidant' these days sounds legit. /s
posted by porpoise at 9:38 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


The thing is...that from the point of view of the larger scandal it doesn't matter whether CA's methods were effective or not.
The Trump campaign was in bed with Russian security agencies, who were busy breaking American law in the US to provide them with information, coordinating with UK firms to further violate US election laws, etc etc. It doesn't matter whether their efforts were successful any more than it matters to the law whether the hitman you hired was successful.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:25 PM on March 17 [27 favorites +] [!]


I see what you're saying, and in the sense related to guilt of the parties involved I agree. However, there is still a large issue of whether the collusion did change the outcome of the election, and on that question swings the decision on whether to challenge the 2016 results.

Facebook claims that their experimentation shows their ability to change voting behavior by modulating an individual's newsfeed; Cambridge Analytica claims the ability to target individuals based on information in their account, and Russian troll factories were reportedly capable to pumping out fake news that could be targeted to selected vulnerable individuals identified by CA to be in swing districts in swing states using FB's methods. This all seems plausible to me regardless of what academic sociologists might say.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:07 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


Speaking of Flake, the WaPo has a story about Trump and Pence both visiting New Hampshire this week speculating that they are shoring up support ahead of a possible primary challenge in 2020.

Yeah, an acquaintance told me just tonight that they can't use the gym at their college all week due to preparations for the visit.
posted by XMLicious at 10:21 PM on March 18


They changed the voter registration information on the official USA.gov site to display inaccurate information. It used to tell you that you could pre-register at a younger age in states that allowed that or that voters who would turn 18 before the next election can register, but it now provides the incorrect rule "You must be 18 to register" for many states.

As usual, incompetence over malice is a good working hypothesis, but changing accurate information to inaccurate is pretty problematic.
posted by zachlipton at 12:52 AM on March 19 [95 favorites]


However, there is still a large issue of whether the collusion did change the outcome of the election,

Historians will debate this for decades if not centuries, assuming civilization lasts that long.

and on that question swings the decision on whether to challenge the 2016 results.

There is no Constitutional mechanism to do that. The only remedy the Constitution gives us is impeachment.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:44 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


Pruitt wd STILL have to be confirmed, so 28CFR45.2 matters!

My understanding is that, as someone who has already been Senate-confirmed to a different position, Pruitt would have the technical ability to fire Mueller as Acting AG prior to his re-confirmation. But perhaps Mueller could go to court and cite 28CFR45.2 as a reason for his firing to be unlawful.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:26 AM on March 19


Punching and protesting Nazis. Apparently it still works:
Elements of the left say that antifa tactics -- direct, physical confrontations with fascists and racists -- are a "gift to the alt-right," letting them play victim and validating their paranoid fantasies about the persecution of white dudes -- but punched Nazi Richard Spencer says that antifa tactics have worked as intended, making it impossible for him to continue his on-campus recruitment tour for his forthcoming race-war.

Spencer's admission of antifa's victory was part of a long, dull Youtube video he posted last Sunday, in which he announced the premature end of his "college tour," because "When they become violent clashes and pitched battles, they aren’t fun," adding, "Antifa is winning to the extent that they’re willing to go further than anyone else, in the sense that they will do things in terms of just violence, intimidating, and general nastiness."
If only I could think of a group Spencer might like more that has been and is prepared to do things in terms of violence, inimidation, and general nastiness.
posted by jaduncan at 3:15 AM on March 19 [43 favorites]


WaPo, Kushner Companies confirms meeting with Qatar on financing
Jared Kushner’s father met with Qatar’s finance minister three months after President Trump’s inauguration, a New York City session at which funding for a financially troubled real estate project was discussed, the company acknowledged Sunday.

However, Charles Kushner said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for his son, who had run the family company until he became Trump’s senior adviser. The elder Kushner said that the Qataris had asked for the meeting, and that he told them he couldn’t accept sovereign funds.

“I was invited to a meeting,” he said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatar representatives of our decision and they agreed. Even if they were there ready to wire the money, we would not have taken it.”
Yeah. Very credible story. We would have turned down the money we desperately need to bail out our underwater investment. Right. This is concerning too:
Kushner told The Post in a January interview that he would have refused the money if it been offered, but the comment was not on the record, and he did not disclose that he had met with the Qataris after the inauguration. Kushner put the comment on the record Sunday and added details about the circumstances of the meeting.
Maybe a good reason not to allow convicted felons to go off the record so they can omit material details...
posted by zachlipton at 4:13 AM on March 19 [23 favorites]


... he told them he couldn’t accept sovereign funds.

back in the day when the building inspector came around and, uh, well, hell, asked for a bribe - it was hidden/polished/made not a bribe by the suggestion that you go to lunch together. But, oh, I can't leave the job-site so why don't you pick something up, on me, here's 250$.

Of course, that would never happen here because Kushner said he turned them down.

He said so.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:19 AM on March 19 [10 favorites]


Just to tell you how crazy the right is, Trey Gowdy said something remotely sane yesterday. And now? Trey Gowdy, undercover agent for the left and establishment.

@johncardillo
Despite all of Trey Gowdy’s bluster and grandstanding, he’s never made anyone on the left face actual consequences.

It was all a show to placate conservatives so he could protect the establishment.
posted by chris24 at 4:51 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi @Olivianuzzi introduces her juicy, insider-y profile of Hope Hicks:
I spent some time with Hope Hicks during the last several weeks. She declined to speak on the record. This is the result of interviews with more than 30 current & former senior White House officials, campaign staffers, & sources close to the president:

What Hope Hicks Learned in Washington: The departure of the Trump whisperer has left the White House in even deeper chaos. Which surely pleases some outsiders angling to get back in.
The article has a ton of insider detail that the chattering classes have been chattering about all morning. Its best reporting revolves around Hicks's romantic entanglements with Corey Lewandoski and Rob Porter, particularly how the latter involved private investigators spying on them and how their affair was revealed in the tabloids. In retrospect, it's remarkable how that gossip story morphed into a low-level security clearance problem for mid-rank staffer and then a full-blown security scandal for the White House that would go all the way up to CoS John Kelly and "special adviser" Jared Kushner.

Unfortunately, Nuzzi's profile of Hicks as a person amounts to only the standard access-journalism positivity. It's filled with sources from Trumpland, named and not, praising her for her loyalty, her good nature, and her character, barely acknowledging how she's managed to be present for so many events that Robert Mueller is now investigating. Nuzzi even writes, deadpan, "But she believed Trump was a good person, and she was angered that his critics didn’t seem open to the parts of his personality that would lead them to believe the same. To Hicks, the president’s policies were secondary considerations — the man himself came first. And at the end of the day, she really liked him."

P.S. Buried in one unnamed source's discussion about the difference between Trump's relationships with Hicks and Ivanka is this poison pill. "He knows that Ivanka has a separate agenda. Ivanka refers to him as ‘DJT’ just like the boys do, and Ivanka understands that her father is gonna be dead in ten years."
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:30 AM on March 19 [28 favorites]


Ugh, Nuzzi also wrote that Kellyanne Conway is a Star article. The flames on the side of my face continue.
posted by armacy at 5:51 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


she believed Trump was a good person

I just... how?!
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:05 AM on March 19 [42 favorites]


The Federal Government prohibiting the publication of non-classified information in perpetuity is an extremely straightforward breach of the First Amendment’s freedom of the press.

It's not a law that constrains the press. It is a confidentiality contract voluntarily entered as terms of employment, with financial penalties that survive after employment. Lots of people have to sign such contracts. For example, your doctor's office staff.

It is not obviously unconstitutional re. the first amendment.
posted by ryanrs at 6:10 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Elements of the left say that antifa tactics -- direct, physical confrontations with fascists and racists -- are a "gift to the alt-right," letting them play victim and validating their paranoid fantasies about the persecution of white dudes -- but punched Nazi Richard Spencer says that antifa tactics have worked as intended, making it impossible for him to continue his on-campus recruitment tour for his forthcoming race-war.

Spencer's admission of antifa's victory was part of a long, dull Youtube video he posted last Sunday, in which he announced the premature end of his "college tour," because "When they become violent clashes and pitched battles, they aren’t fun," adding, "Antifa is winning to the extent that they’re willing to go further than anyone else, in the sense that they will do things in terms of just violence, intimidating, and general nastiness."


I do not believe anything scumsnakes like Spencer say, even if it is something I want to hear. Antifa is willing to go further than anyone else in terms of violence is a straight up lie when white supremacists are out there shooting at people and murdering people with cars. This just sounds like posturing to make antifa into the bogeyman. His tour is more likely canceled because he is a dim, uninteresting loser bigot that nobody wants to listen to. The reason we are beating him is because antifa is more united against him than any of his meager number of supporters is united for him.
posted by Regal Ox Inigo at 6:11 AM on March 19 [65 favorites]


she believed Trump was a good person

I just... how?!


Possibly because he flirts in that creepy, faux gallant way that grim old dudes use with women young enough to be their granddaughters who they want to fuck but for some reason can't get away with abusing directly... and she takes it as kindness.
posted by doornoise at 6:12 AM on March 19 [23 favorites]


she believed Trump was a good person

I just... how?!


Stupid and vile. And I've come to believe you need to be both to be a Trump true believer. He's so manifestly awful that even the stupidest person would be repulsed if they weren't also a terrible person. And no matter how vile someone is, if they're not stupid they know he's a fucking incompetent idiot.

Which isn't to say vile people won't take advantage of the situation to further their own ends, but they're not true believers.
posted by chris24 at 6:14 AM on March 19 [18 favorites]


I do not believe anything scumsnakes like Spencer say, even if it is something I want to hear. Antifa is willing to go further than anyone else in terms of violence is a straight up lie when white supremacists are out there shooting at people and murdering people with cars. This just sounds like posturing to make antifa into the bogeyman. His tour is more likely canceled because he is a dim, uninteresting loser bigot that nobody wants to listen to. The reason we are beating him is because antifa is more united against him than any of his meager number of supporters is united for him.

Nor do I, as indicated by my snark about it. That said, I would be astonished if it is not now very hard to him to book venues and/or pay security costs, and that is a product of the conflict that counter-protesting causes...and claiming to be one of the ubermensch whilst repeatedly losing at street confrontation is not exactly the image fascists go for.

So, yeah. All of the above.
posted by jaduncan at 6:17 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


To me, the most significant part of Nuzzi’s article, at least with longstanding meaning in future scandals, is the Daily Mail stuff of private investigators following around Hicks. None of that is normal.
posted by zachlipton at 6:26 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Lots of people have to sign such contracts. For example, your doctor's office staff.

My doctor's office is not part of the Federal Government and does not have obligations under the First Amendment. The Executive Office of the President does have those obligations. Here's a summary of first amendment rights of government employees. It would seem that ex-employees who are necessarily acting as private citizens have even greater rights.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:31 AM on March 19 [22 favorites]


Ugh, Nuzzi also wrote that Kellyanne Conway is a Star article.

But she is a star!

He's so manifestly awful that even the stupidest person would be repulsed if they weren't also a terrible person. And no matter how vile someone is, if they're not stupid they know he's a fucking incompetent idiot.

If all your media comes from an alternate universe and everyone around you is saying the same thing and you've been raised in a culture that teaches you to plug your fingers firmly in your ears when it comes to the humanity of marginalized communities, well, you don't have to be innately stupid nor vile to possess stupid, vile beliefs. Except you don't think those beliefs are stupid and vile, you think they're what good, sane, decent Americans believe, as opposed to Them and Their beliefs.

And lest someone think I'm headed towards bothsidesism . . . the tribalism is similar on both sides, but the facts certainly are not.
posted by schroedinger at 6:32 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


It's not a law that constrains the press. It is a confidentiality contract voluntarily entered as terms of employment, with financial penalties that survive after employment. Lots of people have to sign such contracts. For example, your doctor's office staff.

My doctor’s office is not a state actor. A blanket non-disclosure agreement as a requirement for a government job (with the United States explicitly named as a party) is pretty plainly prior restraint, which is unconstitutional.
posted by stopgap at 6:34 AM on March 19 [23 favorites]


It is a confidentiality contract voluntarily entered as terms of employment, with financial penalties that survive after employment. Lots of people have to sign such contracts.

It's a private agreement with Trump signed as a condition of employment with the Federal Government. That's highly irregular, and probably illegal.

If it was an agreement acknowledging understanding of executive privilege, the classification system, and associated laws, regulations, and penalties, that'd be one thing. A side agreement inuring to the benefit of Trump is quite another. I don't see how it's legally much different from handing him an envelope full of cash in exchange for the job.

There are probably also first amendment issues involved, but I doubt it's necessary to bring them up in order to invalidate the NDA.
posted by dirge at 6:35 AM on March 19 [25 favorites]


@krassenstein:
Just in case you were wondering...

Mentions of 'Rosenstein' from Russian Twitter bots are up 2000% according to Hamilton diagnostic.

If there is any question about what's going to happen, there shouldn't be.

posted by Artw at 6:41 AM on March 19 [58 favorites]


If all your media comes from an alternate universe and everyone around you is saying the same thing and you've been raised in a culture that teaches you to plug your fingers firmly in your ears when it comes to the humanity of marginalized communities, well, you don't have to be innately stupid nor vile to possess stupid, vile beliefs. Except you don't think those beliefs are stupid and vile, you think they're what good, sane, decent Americans believe, as opposed to Them and Their beliefs.

I grew up in South Dakota in a Republican evangelical household. My best friend went to Hillsdale College as did his brother and father. I was a Republican for years. I understand the world you're referring to and while I can kinda rationalize staying Republican given what you say during previous incarnations of Republicanism, with Trumpism the veil is off. They literally celebrate being deplorable, constantly talk about virtue signaling which is an implicit admission that what we do is virtuous and what they do is not, and are overtly racist, fascist, bigoted and enjoy it - see Bannon's recent comments. There are no excuses. They are vile and stupid.
posted by chris24 at 6:45 AM on March 19 [56 favorites]


I do not believe anything scumsnakes like Spencer say, even if it is something I want to hear. Antifa is willing to go further than anyone else in terms of violence is a straight up lie when white supremacists are out there shooting at people and murdering people with cars. This just sounds like posturing to make antifa into the bogeyman. His tour is more likely canceled because he is a dim, uninteresting loser bigot that nobody wants to listen to. The reason we are beating him is because antifa is more united against him than any of his meager number of supporters is united for him.

Okay, actually I do basically believe Spencer, although I think there's some incorrect conclusions one can draw from his speech.

1. I have been on the periphery of nazi-punching circles for most of my teen-to-adult life, although I myself am a coward and kind of politically soft and have done little more than show up for large events or stand on the edge of things. Here in MPLS, we've run off generations of organized white supremacists through punching and other forms of militant protest. My point is not "oh, MPLS is an anti-racist utopia", because it's actually a pretty racist place with completely garbage policing. But even in this racist place with garbage policing, it has been tough for organized white supremacists to get a foothold.

2. This is different from other parts of the state. IMO, punching and inconvenience will run off white supremacists who are hobbyists and don't have a lot of state power. In a relatively wealthy, sorta-socially-liberal city like MPLS, the bulk of active white supremacists will be hobbyists, and they have little chance of capturing the government offices.

3. Again IMO, punching and inconvenience have worked against Spencer et all because they are hobbyists and grafters. That's not to say that they don't believe their beliefs, but that they are motivated substantially by the chance to make a buck and the charge they get out of attacking people who can't really hit back, especially attacking people as demonized in the US press as left activists and college students. If it weren't for the graft and the fun, they wouldn't bother; they'd just be racists in their private lives.

4. If you're faced with people who are either desperate, socialized into more committed white supremacy over generations or enmeshed in local power structures (either government or informal "big man" situations) you won't be able to punch them away. The Greensboro activists were facing this type of person and tragically underestimated them.

5. The wrong lesson to take from Spencer would be "punching is sufficient to deal with white supremacists and is always the best tactic". The right lesson would be, "figure out what kind of white supremacists you're dealing with, and if they are the kind who can be dissuaded through punching and inconvenience, use that".

6. IMO, it is worth dissuading any white supremacists you can dissuade; there's no "well, these are lightweights, why are you bothering to punch them". If you can get rid of a diffuse network of grafters and hobbyists, you should do so.

7. Charlottesville and so on: The crest of violence that happened last year (god willing it's a crest, anyway) happened because it was easy and fun for casual white supremacists to get together for punch-fests. The more they can meet up and the easier and funner it is for them, the more they want to do it.

What should chill us all about Charlottesville is that they had a plan to reeve through the town beating (and probably killing, since I don't think they're bright enough to stop) anyone they could catch. What happened to Deandre Harris was what was supposed to happen to a lot of other people. The fact that they were blocked from breaking up into smaller bands is what prevented this. Consider that this was a town de facto without police and with a huge number of pumped up, armed white men desperate to impress each other - we are damn lucky that there was very large and militant opposition, because those people were gunning for another Tulsa or Rosewood. In a better world, the damn fools who ran the city would be in prison today for running the risk.

What would things look like today if, instead of a conflict with one death, it had been a day of unchecked beatings and murder across the city? What would it look like if white supremacist fanboys had been able to pull that off? They would be enormously impressed with themselves and desperate to do it again.

8. Social change comes from leveraging multiple forces and tactics, because we are confronted with multiple forces and tactics. Punching Nazis doesn't solve all or even most problems, but it seems like it solves the problem of hobbyist Nazis.

9. In my opinion, hobbyist Naziism is the medium in which worse can grow.
posted by Frowner at 6:45 AM on March 19 [134 favorites]


There’s no question about what Trump wants to happen. There remains a question about whether he can be persuaded that it’s a bad strategy that will lead to dangerous failure. DoJ staff and the courts could work together to ensure Mueller’s investigation continues.

But it’s perfectly possible at any moment that our President tries to fire the Special Counsel who is investigating him for felonies, by tweet, and everyone should be alarmed about this.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:46 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


It's a private agreement with Trump signed as a condition of employment with the Federal Government. That's highly irregular, and probably illegal...There are probably also first amendment issues involved, but I doubt it's necessary to bring them up in order to invalidate the NDA.

My immediate reaction as well. I'd have to think about precisely why, but private side agreements that seek to condition public service aren't compatible with the whole Constitutional design of the government and the balance of powers. Just look at the oath public officials take -- protect and defend the Constitution, not the President's reputation.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:47 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


Just to tell you how crazy the right is, Trey Gowdy said something remotely sane yesterday. And now? Trey Gowdy, undercover agent for the left and establishment.

And yet it's completely consistent with their worldview. Hillary is obviously guilty of dozens of felonies including treason, so when Gowdy says "let's stick with evidence-based accusations," Gowdy is Deep State. Sessions says "We don't have a factual basis to prosecute Hillary," so Sessions is Deep State. Anyone who does not drink the tribal Kool-Aid is Deep State, and they have Fox talking heads and radio drones reciting to them day after day that the conspiracy is real and growing by the day.

What I would like these people to be open and direct about is that once they Smash the Deep State, what would they replace it with that would be even remotely Constitutional? And it's not a coincidence that Sean Hannity's radio show has advertisements for Article V Convention of States petitions.
posted by delfin at 6:48 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


The entire appeal of Trump is that he “owns the libs”, primarily by breaking stuff. He’s not doing anything else for anyone so it’s difficult to see his appeal coming from a good place.
posted by Artw at 6:49 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


> They know. They don't care. They are vile and stupid.

And of course, we up here in Canada are following along in the U.S.'s wake. Yesterday my brother in law showed me a photo he took of a pickup truck in Sarnia on Saturday, which was sporting a Confederate flag sticker and one of those peel-off decals reading (paraphrasing slightly from memory) "IT'S MERRY CHRISTMAS, NOT HAPPY HOLIDAYS - IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, THERE ARE DAILY FLIGHTS OUT OF HERE." This is the beginning of the pushback to what little progress we have made as a society, and I will honestly be (pleasantly) surprised if it does not become violent pushback both here and in the U.S. in the not-too-distant future.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:54 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


DoJ staff and the courts could work together to ensure Mueller’s investigation continues.

They really can't. The scenario where Trump fires Mueller necessarily involves a new AG to oversee the investigation, who would be the one doing the actual firing. Trump cannot fire Mueller directly.

If Mueller goes, it will be because a new boss at DOJ fired him. I guess techincally there could be a scenario where Mueller the man is fired and a new person appointed by a new AG to continue the investigation, but there's no rationale for that other than superficially appeasing Trump, and just replacing the head will not satisfy him, he wants the Russia investigation ended, and an affirmative statement clearing him of all wrongdoing. Replacing Mueller irrevocably taints the investigation.

The only way to protect Mueller is for Congress to act with legislation affirming his total independence from the office of the President. Which they will not do.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:55 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


According to Federal Regulations, Mueller can only be fired with cause. A court could find that cause unjust. They could also find that the new Acting AG is disqualified from overseeing Mueller due to their political connection to the suspect (28CFR45.2 mentioned above).
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:03 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


there's no rationale for that other than superficially appeasing Trump, and just replacing the head will not satisfy him, he wants the Russia investigation ended, and an affirmative statement clearing him of all wrongdoing. Replacing Mueller irrevocably taints the investigation.

I suppose that depends on how servile and corrupt such a replacement would be. A pliant enough ringer might be willing to spike the investigation, and then disappear back into the corporate bar. It might be more survivable than a plain old Saturday Night Massacre, but Rosenstein would have to go along.But at this point I'd expect that would cause DoJ and the FBI to start leaking like a sieve. Or maybe just go to Congress as whistleblowers.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:06 AM on March 19


A court could find that cause unjust. They could also find that the new Acting AG is disqualified from overseeing Mueller

We hope it could play out that way, but look at Mulvaney's likely illegal takeover of the CFPB for the example. While the courts ever so slowly get around to sorting out what "cause" means, the Mueller investigation will already be dead and a replacement prosecutor would have publicly cleared Trump. I don't think we can rely on a legalistic interpretation or the courts to save us here, once Mueller is canned, the damage is done.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:10 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Or maybe just go to Congress as whistleblowers.

FBI & DOJ: Look at this evidence
Republican Congress: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Talez at 7:10 AM on March 19 [48 favorites]


It would at least be a way of getting at least some knowledge of the results of the investigation in front of the public...they deserted Nixon, in the end. Once Trump's coattails turn into a ball-and-chain they will desert him too.

(But will it happen before November?....)
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:14 AM on March 19


look at Mulvaney's likely illegal takeover of the CFPB for the example

Hopefully the difference is that while many observers considered Mulvaney's takeover illegal, others including the CFPB's lawyer and the judge assigned to the case felt that Trump had the authority in legislation to replace the CFPB head with another previously-confirmed individual. If a judge feels differently in the case of Mueller's termination, they could quickly issue an injunction. Perhaps they could write a draft ahead of time!

I don't pretend to know how likely any of this is. I do know that if Trump tries to fire Mueller it's going to be a historic constitutional clusterfuck, and every avenue of resistance will need to be explored.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:18 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]


Trump lying about his daughter calling him daddy, or Ivanka manipulating him, or porque no los dos? Just gonna put this here with the rest of the fire.

Upthread:
P.S. Buried in one unnamed source's discussion about the difference between Trump's relationships with Hicks and Ivanka is this poison pill. "He knows that Ivanka has a separate agenda. Ivanka refers to him as ‘DJT’ just like the boys do, and Ivanka understands that her father is gonna be dead in ten years."


From September 2017:
Trump has interrupted his tax speech so Ivanka can be invited up on stage. He says people say about him, "he can't be that bad a guy: look at Ivanka." He also says that Ivanka asked him "Daddy, can I go with you? I like that. I said yes you can." (The "I like that" sounded like it was about being called "daddy.") It was really really weird.
posted by erisfree at 7:25 AM on March 19


On the one hand, I think that Trump really, honest-to-god wants to fire Mueller because he thinks that it is his way of cutting the Gordian knot of the Russia investigation.

On the other hand, I think he also thinks that by threatening to fire Mueller, he will gain some kind of leverage in "negotiating" with him. For his entire life, he's always gotten his way by making big bluffs and counting on not being called on them. Sadly for him, the tactics that work on a roofing contractor don't work on a federal prosecutor.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:25 AM on March 19 [53 favorites]


They literally celebrate being deplorable, constantly talk about virtue signaling which is an implicit admission that what we do is virtuous and what they do is not, and are overtly racist, fascist, bigoted and enjoy it - see Bannon's recent comments. There are no excuses. They are vile and stupid.

I wasn't really thinking of the hardcore Trumpers, the ones whose adoration of Trump is solely in his ability to piss off The Snowflakes And The Liberals. There is a wide swath of Republicans who would admit that his behavior is distasteful but do not hear about half of it, think most of the other half is exaggerated, and think the stuff that's not exaggerated is overblown and certainly not as terrible as what The Liberals are doing. Vis-a-vis policy, they think all politicians are terrible except for Trump, who is a fighter who is just Doing His Best In The Swamp and is being undermined everywhere by the Deep State and also people who criticize him just aren't giving his policies a chance and the stuff he advocates that sounds bad, well, it's all talk and probably not his idea anyway.

These are terrible, ignorant beliefs. I call it malignorance--the kind of ignorance that is purposely held in the face of others' pain because fixing it requires facing ugly truths that a person simply does not have the spine or will to face. It perpetuates the patriarchy, it perpetuate white supremacy, it perpetuates injustice, and it perpetuates the support of Trump. It is cruelty but it is a unacknowledged cruelty born of fear, not sociopathy, a cruelty that has swathed itself in the falsehood that it is Correct. The reason we must differentiate is because it is the form of ignorance that can be overcome on an individual basis by using the techniques to combat tribalism that are outlined in discussions of tribal psychology like that You Are Not So Smart podcast linked above. I am not saying this applies to your relatives--it certainly sounds like it doesn't. But it behooves us to ask who it does apply to and what we can do about it.

(whether you feel it is worth your time, well, that is something that each person has to answer for themselves. As someone with many facets of privilege, I've decided it's my duty whether I enjoy it or not, because expecting the oppressed to engage in that additional emotional labor is just another form of perpetuating their oppression)
posted by schroedinger at 7:29 AM on March 19 [50 favorites]


What is the best up-to-date site or article that lays out the case for Trump's collusion with Russia? I want to get my facts straight before Mueller gets fired.
posted by coffee and minarets at 7:29 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Of course replacing Mueller taints the investigation. But why should Trump or the Republicans care?

From a certain POV firing Mueller, replacing him with a stooge who will dink around for a few days and then get up in a nationally broadcast press conference and say that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia and the investigation was clearly started only to appease the Democrats would be the optimum outcome.

The Democrats would complain, but so what? The Republicans would march in lockstep (something they're very good at) and loudly proclaim at every opportunity that the Special Council had found absolutely no wrongdoing of any sort.

Sure, the people who had actually conducted the investigation might leak? So? Evil Deep State actors motivated by sheer hatred of Trump, America, and mom's apple pie are trying to help the terrorists, the Special Council found no collusion. FOX, hate radio, and all the guests on NPR and the other "liberal" media would be full of nothing but righteous indignation at the expense of the pointless, partisan witch hunt that went on and how even those horrible partisan Democrats couldn't find any collusion.

To people who interested and involved in politics (like us here) it'd be obvious that Trump was lying, but to the average person who is largely disengaged it'd seem like yet another he said she said pissing match between the Democrats and the Republicans, and anyway didn't the Special Council find nothing wrong?

Maybe we'd get some extra traction during the midterm elections, but I wouldn't count on it.

Really I'm confused as to why Trump hasn't reenacted the Saturday Night Massacre and ousted Mueller before now. Sure, there'd be some immediate pushback, probably lots of protests, but it seems to me as if that would die down fairly quickly and the average disengaged American voter wouldn't care all that much.

Straight up firing Mueller might not be his best policy, but firing Mueller on some trumped up (heh) pretext and replacing him with a Trump loyalist seems like a win for Trump.
posted by sotonohito at 7:36 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


What is the best up-to-date site or article that lays out the case for Trump's collusion with Russia?

NPR's Embedded began a series called Trump Stories late last year. The two latest 1 hour installments are a good listen and helped me to better understand the series of events leading to the investigation.
posted by bz at 7:38 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]






Talking Points Memo: One Of The House’s Least Reliable Democrats May Lose His Primary Tuesday

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) spent much of his career antagonizing his own party as an outspoken pro-life advocate who has been hostile to gay rights and has voted against Democratic priorities from the DREAM Act to Obamacare to Planned Parenthood funding. After more than a decade representing a safely Democratic seat stretching from Chicago’s Southwest Side out to largely working-class suburbs, he’s facing the toughest primary challenge of his career from former ad executive Marie Newman, a staunch liberal whose campaign has gotten a major boost from a constellation of national progressive groups seeking his ouster.

Since this is a safely Democratic seat, forcing out a conservative incumbent seems like an unambiguously good thing.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:00 AM on March 19 [88 favorites]


> she believed Trump was a good person

I just... how?!


There's no way she believes this unless she either suffers from Stockholm Syndrome or is, in the words of Steve Bannon in Fire and Fury, "dumb as a stone". While I can't rule out these possibilities, her participation in Nuzzi's article overall reads as a smoke signal from Hicks to Trump: You can count on me.

This laughable assessment of Trump's character is unquestionably off-the-record Hope Hicks's. It's also just one gesture among many in this article to Trumpland that she's absolutely, unswervingly, completely loyal to DJT and will pose no threat whatsoever to him once she leaves the Trump White House—which could be as soon as in two weeks' time. Having been tailed by private eyes - which, Maggie Haberman reminds everyone, is longstanding Trump S.O.P. - and heard about Stormy Daniels receiving death threats, she must be thinking of her future. Hicks, who has been professionally dealing with the media her entire career, surely by now knows how to send a message through it.

When Trump finishes reading the profile, he can rest assured that she won't be going on the talk-show/cable news expert panel circuit, she won't be writing a tell-all memoir, and she certainly won't strike a plea bargain with Mueller.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:00 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


>“I was invited to a meeting,” he said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatar representatives of our decision and they agreed. Even if they were there ready to wire the money, we would not have taken it.”

When something looks too corrupt for the New York real estate people...though lest we forget, NYT on 28 February: Kushner’s Family Business Received Loans After White House Meetings
The job never materialized, but in November, Apollo lent $184 million to Mr. Kushner’s family real estate firm, Kushner Companies. The loan was to refinance the mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.

Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show.

[...]

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

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

Mr. Kushner’s firm previously sought a $500 million investment from the former head of that Qatari fund for its headquarters at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. That investment never materialized.

Shortly after Kushner Companies received the loan from Apollo, the private equity firm emerged as a beneficiary of the tax cut package that the White House championed. Mr. Trump backed down from his earlier pledge to close a loophole that permits private equity managers to pay taxes on the bulk of their income at rates that are roughly half of ordinary income tax rates. The tax law left the loophole largely intact.
posted by edeezy at 8:03 AM on March 19 [19 favorites]


Whatever message she may want Trump to get, I wouldn't count on her agreeing to go to jail for him if talking to Mueller is her only other option.

I mean, maybe she's that much of a True Believer, but also maybe she knows how to bullshit him as well as anyone can.
posted by emjaybee at 8:03 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


These are terrible, ignorant beliefs. I call it malignorance--the kind of ignorance that is purposely held in the face of others' pain because fixing it requires facing ugly truths that a person simply does not have the spine or will to face. It perpetuates the patriarchy, it perpetuate white supremacy, it perpetuates injustice, and it perpetuates the support of Trump. It is cruelty but it is a unacknowledged cruelty born of fear, not sociopathy, a cruelty that has swathed itself in the falsehood that it is Correct.

Normalcy bias is another way to phrase it. There are many, many right-wingers who are in denial about Trump being the tip of the spear of an openly white nationalist, Christian supremacist, caste system movement. (As compared to the many, many right-wingers _overjoyed_ that Trump is all of that.) These people are in hard denial of the fact that America has _always_ had white nationalist, Christian supremacist, caste system ideology controlling large portions of it. It's Grandpa's Not A Racist mutating into It's Not Racist To Believe These Racist Things Because I've Been Assured That They're Not REALLY Racist Things and If They Really Were Racist I Wouldn't Be Surrounded By People Believing Them Too.

I like to remind people that 4/5 of America's history as a nation involves minorities being denied the benefits of citizenship, whether it was them being treated literally as property or being subjugated -- sometimes by word and statute, sometimes by open violence -- by a privileged caste. This is not ancient history. This is within the lives of those reading this post, or their parents' lives. The other 1/5 of that history (post-Civil Rights Acts of the 60s) is hardly "well, we settled all that and everyone is equal now," but it at least has several stabs at leveling the playing field for those who do not tick all of the [] white [] European descent [] Christian [] affluent [] heterosexual [] male checkboxes.

The pushback by those who are in the favored caste is incessant and as predictable as the tides.
posted by delfin at 8:05 AM on March 19 [42 favorites]


In addition to maybe thinking he can bluff Mueller into a "good deal", Trump loves TV-style suspense for its own sake. It wouldn't surprise me if his plan were to fire him right before the midterms, to provide Republicans a much-needed boost in the polls. Ratings! Yes, that makes no actual sense, but when he fired Comey he thought everyone would love him for it, and he never learns.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:07 AM on March 19 [4 favorites]


In addition to maybe thinking he can bluff Mueller into a "good deal",

IIRC, Trump's never been in a Criminal Court, only civil actions he could settle his way out of.

I wish I could "Rip Van Winkle" it to the point in the future where everyone knows enough to make sense of all this.
posted by mikelieman at 8:13 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


IIRC, Trump's never been in a Criminal Court, only civil actions he could settle his way out of.

Maybe his strategy is to sit down for an interview and poke Mueller in the leg with a brown envelope of cash
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:16 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]


I mean, maybe she's that much of a True Believer, but also maybe she knows how to bullshit him as well as anyone can.

I'd wager the latter, though her public Twitter feed, @WHCommHopeHicks, sure reads like the former. Either way—or a bit of both?—the subtext of her participation in Nuzzi's article seems to be designed to reassure Trump, who's portrayed in positive light that literally no other White House staffer has done. Really now, "I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through."?!? Does that sound like anything DJT has publicly said in his entire life?
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:17 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


What is the best up-to-date site or article that lays out the case for Trump's collusion with Russia?

I've been working hard to keep 2016 Active Measures - What the Public Knows up to date.

Here is a direct link to the evidence of collusion section. I organized it into eight categories 1.) Papadopoulos 2.) Sater 3.) Manafort 4.) Donald Trump Jr 5.) WikiLeaks 6.) Policy 7.) Secret contacts 8.) Security risks

(I may have to break the Cambridge Analytica stuff out into its own category. I'm just not quite sure what to say about it, yet.)

If you're looking for gory details of Trump's history with the Miss Universe pageant and doing real estate deals with oligarchs, I put that stuff (which is not direct evidence of collusion, though it suggests motive and opportunity) on its own page: "The Story So Far." It's not totally comprehensive because that can get unreadably long. Just the highlights. That page also has a list of all the secret contacts we now know about between the Trump campaign and Russia, before the election and during the transition.

Because I find that people have trouble processing long lists of facts without a narrative to tie them together, I went ahead and created a page for "Plausible Explanations". It has links to a variety of different narratives, as well as a short description of what I consider both the worst case scenario, and the most likely scenario. But there are still, at this point, multiple possible explanations that fit the facts. Almost all of them, however, involve some form of collusion.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:18 AM on March 19 [167 favorites]


"Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) spent much of his career antagonizing his own party as an outspoken pro-life advocate who has been hostile to gay rights and has voted against Democratic priorities from the DREAM Act to Obamacare to Planned Parenthood funding. "

Also relevant to understanding Dan Lipinski is that his father was in the seat for 22 years. In 2004, after dad won the primary, he persuaded the Dem committee to replace him on the ballot with his son so he could retire, meaning Dan didn't have to go through a primary and was guaranteed election; Dan' been serving continuously in the seat since. Bill Lipinski was an "ethnic" Democrat (Polish, Catholic (in the era when Catholics were basically universally Democrats), Chicago machine, big union guy). Dan Lipinski, like so many of that generation's children, is functionally a Republican -- Catholic pro-lifer, Polish has become "white," parents' union jobs ensured the kids went to college and became professionals. But Dan Lipinski can't quit the Democratic party because a) he can't win in that district as a Republican and b) he's entirely beholden to his father for his life, for his career, and for his public reputation. It would be tremendously embarrassing for his father if Dan became a Republican, and he isn't willing to do that. And he isn't willing to explode his entire adult life, in which he's been a Democratic politician.

Everything about him annoys me.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:20 AM on March 19 [93 favorites]


> she believed Trump was a good person

I just... how?!


See also: Members of a college/high school football team are literally videotaped committing rape, but the coach says they're good kids. Cops are videotapped shooting an unarmed black man (or child) in the back, but the other cops stand behind them and still think of themselves as the good guys. And on. And on.

Or, see also: "Yes, he's an asshole, but he's our asshole."

Many people will excuse anything out of friendship. Lots of people value their personal loyalties over their conscience. Lots.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:32 AM on March 19 [33 favorites]




OnceUponATime, thank you! This is amazing.
posted by mochapickle at 8:39 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


> she believed Trump was a good person

I don't think her judgement is so hot. She also chose to be involved (beyond just in the office) with two batterers/sexual assaulters (Lewandoski and Porter.) It's entirely possible that she see's this kind of behavior as 'normal' or 'reasonable.' People believe all kinds of things.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:40 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


Personal values and support for Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential primary
Highlights
• Personal values predict support for Donald Trump beyond political attitudes.
• Low Altruism, high Power, Commerce, & Tradition predict Trump Support.
• People with similar values to Trump were more likely to support his candidacy.
• Values were a stronger predictor of support than political attitudes.

Trump supporters were more likely to agree with statements such as “People who are poor just need to work harder”, “In life, winning is the only thing that matters”, “A company’s main focus should be profits”, “Art shows are boring”, and “Dress codes are good and should be followed strictly.”

On the other hand, Trump supporters tended to disagree with statements such as “Building relationships is more important than building profit”, “Happiness is more important than money”, “Protestors are the most patriotic citizens”, and “Applying the scientific method is the best way to discover the truth.”
Not surprising but still,
posted by Talez at 8:41 AM on March 19 [50 favorites]


What is the best up-to-date site or article that lays out the case for Trump's collusion with Russia?

Seconding OnceUponATime's site. Remarkably thorough.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:47 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]


That site should be on the sidebar.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:51 AM on March 19 [36 favorites]


>> and on that question swings the decision on whether to challenge the 2016 results.

There is no Constitutional mechanism to do that. The only remedy the Constitution gives us is impeachment.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:44 AM on March 19 [12 favorites +] [!]


Well, the courts have done it before, so there's that.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:52 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Well, the courts have done it before, so there's that.

That's not impeachment that's annulling.
posted by Talez at 8:53 AM on March 19


Well, the courts have done it before, so there's that.

That's not impeachment that's annulling.
posted by Talez at 8:53 AM on March 19 [+] [!]


Yes. That was my point, in response to the assertion that there is no Constitutional remedy to fraudulent elections other than impeachment.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:57 AM on March 19 [5 favorites]


Haha, a lot of talk of "civil war" might be hyperbole but I think a Federal judge ordering that Hillary Clinton be handed the presidency might do the trick
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:58 AM on March 19 [38 favorites]


Well, the courts have done it before, so there's that.

This kind of move for a State Senate seat is a completely different situation than pulling it off for the Presidency, and, in any case, the trick there is the discarding of ballots that were deemed fraudulent. After the ballots were discarded, the other opponent was the winner. There is no magic bullet here that would, say, discard the electoral votes of Wisconsin because the Milwaukee Suburbs are full of racist jingoists easily susceptible to propaganda...
posted by dis_integration at 9:00 AM on March 19 [7 favorites]


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Motion: Prosecutors excluded black jurors in seven death-penalty cases

In handwritten notes, Columbus prosecutors described prospective African-American jurors as “slow,” “ignorant,” “con artist” and “fat.” They also jotted a “B” or an “N” next to black people’s names on jury lists and routinely ranked them as the least desirable jurors. This astonishing system of race discrimination, revealed in a court motion filed Monday, was intended to exclude black people from juries in seven death-penalty cases against black defendants in the 1970s.

How many people similarly denied justice have already been executed?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:03 AM on March 19 [53 favorites]


Local Politics: almost every member of the IDC (Independent Democrat Caucus, a group of Dems in the NY State Senate who vote with the republicans, blocking almost all progressive legislature) now has a primary challenger

Likeminded people in those distincts should check that they are on the Democratic Party roll and vote in the upcoming primary.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on March 19 [94 favorites]


It wouldn't surprise me if his plan were to fire him right before the midterms

I think that Trump cannot conceive of Mueller as anything but a politically-motivated actor. Trump may imagine that if Mueller has a damning report or allegations to make, those will drop near the midterms to maximize their political impact. If Trump believes that, this gives him incentive to pre-emptively fire Mueller- incentive that increases asymptotically the closer you get to the midterms.

Nate Silver talks about how the mean projected Democratic gain in the House is modest, but his models show a surprisingly "heavy tail": the possibility of jaw-dropping historic gains. If Mueller were fired just before the midterms, it's hard to imagine that making the tail any lighter.
posted by Jpfed at 9:06 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]


Haha, a lot of talk of "civil war" might be hyperbole but I think a Federal judge ordering that Hillary Clinton be handed the presidency might do the trick
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:58 AM on March 19 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Yes, I've thought about that. There's been some indication that the same techniques used for the presidency may have been used for some key Congressional races. The fraudulently obtained power was then used to install Gorsuch in place of Merrick or some other choice by Obama. All three branches of government are, in my mind, illegitimate if collusion proves to be a factor in the 2016 election. Once a party controls these, they can effectively block the expression of the electorate, by simply ignoring laws. They have shown willingness to do that.

We're either a nation of laws or we're not. I feel that if we knowingly allow a party to steal the levers of government such that the will of the people is no longer heard, then we are no longer a nation of laws. This would be a test of us as a nation just as much as the question of slavery was.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:06 AM on March 19 [34 favorites]


After the ballots were discarded, the other opponent was the winner. There is no magic bullet here that would, say, discard the electoral votes of Wisconsin because the Milwaukee Suburbs are full of racist jingoists easily susceptible to propaganda...
posted by dis_integration at 9:00 AM on March 19 [1 favorite +] [!]


There are records of who was targeted and how. Some were encouraged to vote; others discouraged based on profiling. Those precincts or districts critical to the election could be revoted. I'm not saying this could be done successfully, especially given McConnell's SCOTUS, but I believe the Democratic party should be in court, today, making arguments. This is an historic event and a less shambolic GOP could create a permanent rule using exactly the techniques they've shown a propensity to use so far.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:11 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I mean, maybe she's that much of a True Believer, but also maybe she knows how to bullshit him as well as anyone can.

Hicks knifing Trump to save herself would be the truest expression of everything he ever taught her. I can't see how he could feel anything but pride, should that moment ever come.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:15 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!


Bloomberg has just published an in-depth account of new potentially illegal actions by Flynn during the Trump transition: What Michael Flynn Could Tell the Russia Investigators
A three-month Bloomberg investigation has found that Flynn, who was fired for having lied to the FBI and the vice president about his contacts with Russians, had a slew of other problematic entanglements. Previously unreported documents, including Pentagon contracts, emails and internal company papers, point to overlapping business conflicts around the world.[...]

Flynn’s troubles trace back to a previously unreported million-dollar contract for computer chips forged with a friend, Bijan Kian, a suave, Iranian-born businessman. A former governor at the Export-Import Bank, Kian was chairman of a Persian cultural nonprofit group, the Nowruz Commission, that gave him entree into high Washington circles. He built a relationship with former CIA Director James Woolsey and, in 2013, used it to get Flynn, then the Pentagon’s top intelligence officer, to support his computer chip company’s bid for a contract.

The next year, when Flynn was forced out by the Obama administration, his friendship with Kian blossomed into a business partnership. Kian brought him into the chip company, GreenZone Systems Inc., as a board member. According to Flynn’s financial disclosure, GreenZone and its parent company paid him more than $150,000 in cash, plus an undisclosed amount of stock in 2015.

Kian also helped fund and found Flynn Intelligence Group, the ex-general’s consulting firm, and served as a senior partner. While it’s been known that Flynn was advocating in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel in 2015 for a consortium seeking to build several dozen nuclear power reactors, it’s not been reported that he and Kian were also trying to sell GreenZone’s secure chips as part of the deal. Flynn lied about the trip in his federal disclosures.

Kian also brought Flynn Intel its most problematic deal: a previously reported $530,000 contract with Dutch company Inovo BV, ostensibly to improve the business climate in Turkey. Flynn later admitted that the contract primarily benefited Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that his firm had been paid to lobby U.S. officials to extradite an Erdogan enemy living in Pennsylvania.[...]

Flynn helped Kian land a spot on the [transition team’s intelligence committee], where he prepared incoming CIA nominee Mike Pompeo for his confirmation hearing and pushed a number of policy proposals, including fighting a potential threat from electromagnetic pulses, or EMPs. Pompeo has recently been named secretary of state.

Another controversial and previously unreported proposal Flynn and Kian promoted was to hire private security contractors to collect information around the globe, then sidestep the CIA and provide the intelligence directly to the national security adviser, according to people who worked with them on the transition. Flynn couldn’t hold his administration job long enough to shepherd those plans into action.
(And here I was hoping for merely an update on Flynn's dalliance with an obvious GRU dangle back in 2014.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:16 AM on March 19 [24 favorites]


A thought just occurred to me: Trump and Kushner are -- and have been -- making deals with some pretty unforgiving types.

Like, if Trump gets ousted and he and his son-in-law can't deliver on all the promises they've made in exchange for the loans and "gifts" they've gotten, it seems to me they're likely to get messages and visits from some very not-friendly types asking for repayment.

I'm starting to wonder if that's as much of a factor in his behavioral and emotional volatility as embarrassment and/or indignation that anyone dares to see him as less than the Son of Heaven.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:27 AM on March 19 [22 favorites]


Those precincts or districts critical to the election could be revoted. I'm not saying this could be done successfully,

'Could be revoted' according to which laws, at this point?

There aren't any: the point at which something vaguely akin to that could have happened was when the electoral college voted, when they could have -- not necessarily successfully -- voted not in line with the popular vote in their states, or when Congress had to certify the results of the election; or earlier, at the actual district or precinct level way back in 2016. But there's no way to have a 'revote' now in 2018, nor would that be an obviously good remedy (I mean: people might have moved! people might now be eligible to vote who weren't in 2016, and people who did vote in 2016 may have died since then, and obviously the world situation has changed; you're not exactly replicating the vote, you're just holding a new election at this point.)

We get a re-vote in 2018, and we get another one in 2020, in that we get to vote. That's the immediate remedy. If it feels like there should be a better answer than that -- I don't disagree, but it's up to us to demand that Congress make a better one by reforming how, for example, the electoral college works, or to pass a new Voting Rights Act to insure that everyone's vote will be counted, or to take steps to eradicate gerrymandering, or or or.
posted by cjelli at 9:36 AM on March 19 [27 favorites]


Great point; even if the election were illegally rigged, the electoral college vote was arguably no more rigged than usual. The constitution allows states to choose Electors in any way they see fit, and they did so. There is, as yet, no constitutional necessity for the election of the President to reflect the will of the American people, or even the people of each state.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:46 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


A thought just occurred to me: Trump and Kushner are -- and have been -- making deals with some pretty unforgiving types.

Like, if Trump gets ousted and he and his son-in-law can't deliver on all the promises they've made in exchange for the loans and "gifts" they've gotten, it seems to me they're likely to get messages and visits from some very not-friendly types asking for repayment.

I'm starting to wonder if that's as much of a factor in his behavioral and emotional volatility as embarrassment and/or indignation that anyone dares to see him as less than the Son of Heaven.


Yeah this is why I think we'll see an excuse to retire long before impeachment, IIRC you get to keep Secret Service protection if you retire, but not if you're impeached and removed. It's like a struggle between his ego and his self-preservation instincts, right now the ego is winning but he's certainly been willing to suffer the ego blow of bankruptcy enough in the past that I think we'll see some excuse made to retire if Congress switches hands or his party realizes he's dead weight who can't help them elect any other Republicans.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:48 AM on March 19 [9 favorites]


Impeachment and removal — even of judges — is not a legal remedy, but a political remedy, correct?

So any impeachable fruit of the poison tree is fair game. It’s a political question. I understand that people are afraid of the reaction if we impeach and remove Gorsuch and others after we’ve gotten rid of Trump, but I’m more afraid of the consequences for the country if we don’t.

We can’t keep kicking this can down the road. It just gives the fascists time and space to grow, regroup, evolve new tactics.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:51 AM on March 19 [56 favorites]


A thought just occurred to me: Trump and Kushner are -- and have been -- making deals with some pretty unforgiving types.

one of my big questions is "how mobbed up was trump before he had to resort to russian financing?" clearly he was driven in the direction of russian money by his ruined credit after multiple bankruptcies - but has he previously been in the position of owing money to murderous legbreakers, or is this a new level of consequence that his consequence-free life has left him totally unprepared for?
posted by murphy slaw at 10:01 AM on March 19 [11 favorites]


"...it seems to me they're likely to get messages and visits from some very not-friendly types asking for repayment.

I'm starting to wonder if that's as much of a factor in his behavioral and emotional volatility as embarrassment and/or indignation that anyone dares to see him as less than the Son of Heaven."

MMMMhm. I watched the sauce-making/helicopter errands sequence in Goodfellas last night, and Ray Liotta's irritabilty and hair trigger yelping throughout and his relief at the end of it that it's a cop and not a wiseguy who is holding the gun pointed at his ear were especially poignant.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:04 AM on March 19 [6 favorites]


What's the word on the street on who the unnamed "official" Rob Porter was seeing on/off again is?
posted by AwkwardPause at 10:11 AM on March 19


NYTimes: Trump to Hire Lawyer Who Has Pushed Theory That Justice Dept. Framed the President
Mr. diGenova is not expected to take a lead role but will instead serve as a more aggressive player on the president’s legal team.
...
The hire has not been announced, and Mr. Trump frequently changes his mind and sometimes adjusts his plans based on media coverage. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump planned to hire other lawyers.

Mr. diGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of F.B.I. agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Mr. Trump from becoming president. “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”
...
Mr. diGenova is law partners with his wife, Victoria Toensing. Ms. Toensing has also represented Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign co-chairman, and Erik Prince.
'President hires lawyer he saw defending him on Fox News' is my takeaway from that; but this also looks like Trump is doubling down on framing the FBI and the DoJ rather than actually defending himself. In light of the recent revelations about Erik Prince's conduct in the Seychelles, the overlap in representation is also interesting.
posted by cjelli at 10:21 AM on March 19 [24 favorites]


It used to tell you that you could pre-register at a younger age in states that allowed that or that voters who would turn 18 before the next election can register, but it now provides the incorrect rule "You must be 18 to register" for many states.

I'm currently working with the town committee and state party on youth outreach. That the White House is so scared of these kids that they changed the website proves my point on how important that demographic is. Kid Ruki was talking over the weekend about seeing if she could organize a voter registration event for her peers. I really think that there can be a 2018 blue wave propelled by angry teenagers, but we need to make sure they have a seat at the table now.
posted by Ruki at 10:25 AM on March 19 [34 favorites]


i suspect that trump and the fox crew may be unpleasantly surprised to see how well Moon Law holds up in actual court
posted by murphy slaw at 10:25 AM on March 19 [14 favorites]


They repped Clovis who was Papadopoulous's boss.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:28 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]


(the same Sam Clovis who was nominated for USDA chief scientist, despite knowing nothing about agriculture or science. he later withdrew.)
posted by murphy slaw at 10:31 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]


i suspect that trump and the fox crew may be unpleasantly surprised to see how well Moon Law holds up in actual court

The Mahleur lot walked... the rule of law is an extremely precarious thing in America right now.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on March 19 [30 favorites]


So... ummm... Comey's book got overtaken on Amazon. What by?

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

It's a book commissioned by Last Week Tonight which tells a story of Mike Pence's bunny, Marlo Bundo, and his struggle with his gay bunny relationship. There is also an audiobook version narrated by Jim Parsons.

Why would they do this? Because the Pence family are also releasing a book about Bundo and one of their promotional stops is at Focus on the Family, a bunch of professional homosexual haters and that pissed John off.
posted by Talez at 10:38 AM on March 19 [100 favorites]


The Mahleur lot walked... the rule of law is an extremely precarious thing in America right now.

They walked twice, both on the Bundy Ranch armed standoff, and on the armed takeover of federal land in Oregon.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:48 AM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Oh, this is marvelous -- lots of the 1-star ratings on the bunny book are actually positive reviews by fans but set as 1-star to drown out the 1-star haters. Haaaaaaaa.
posted by mochapickle at 10:54 AM on March 19 [30 favorites]


Federal district court rejects PA GOP's appeal of the redistricting, finds they have no standing.

The only legal avenue remaining is the request at SCOTUS for a stay, which we are still waiting to hear about.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:15 AM on March 19 [36 favorites]


Mr. diGenova is law partners with his wife, Victoria Toensing. Ms. Toensing has also represented Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign co-chairman, and Erik Prince.

And Toensing's name may ring a bell to MeFites for, among other matters, her appearances on Fox News to defame Valerie Plame during the Bush II Yellow Cake scandal. She and her husband are veteran TV legal bullshitters, media proteges of Geraldo Rivera.

If Team Trump does go through with hiring them, it's an indication Trump's legal strategy will be to go full-on Uranium One-style conspiracy theory–pushing against Mueller.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:17 AM on March 19 [23 favorites]


In a total Miranda move, Cynthia Nixon announces candidacy for governor of New York.

Initial polling has Gov Cuomo up on Nixon 66-19.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:19 AM on March 19 [15 favorites]


The first Bundy case was thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct. They won the second one mostly because the government tried to nail them for conspiracy rather than a more narrow charge, and the jury didn't buy it.

Hopefully any prosecution brought by Mueller would be handled more carefully.
posted by murphy slaw at 11:25 AM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Jpfed: “I think that Trump cannot conceive of Mueller as anything but a politically-motivated actor.”
This is a character defect shared by most soi-disant 'conservatives' and 'libertarians.' They simply cannot even imagine a world in which everyone else isn't just as big of a piece-of-shit as they are.

Cf. “Is America Governable?” Umair Haque, Eudaimonia & Co, 17 March 2018
posted by ob1quixote at 11:26 AM on March 19 [22 favorites]


In a total Miranda move, Cynthia Nixon announces candidacy for governor of New York.

Initial polling has Gov Cuomo up on Nixon 66-19.


I admit my initial reaction was a kind of puppy head tilt, but you know what? I’m here for this. You’d basically have to have celebrity power to launch a effective primary from the left in NYS against Cuomo, so, you know. Good. Hopefully it also opens the field to other left of Cuomo’s bullshit candidates, and the combination makes him sweat. Or takes him out. I can dream.

Seriously, fuck Cuomo.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:30 AM on March 19 [13 favorites]


Stormy Daniels hasn’t been mentioned in prime time on Fox News since March 8, Up to speed on the Stormy Daniels story? If you watch Fox, probably not. (WaPo)
posted by peeedro at 11:37 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]



It's a private agreement with Trump signed as a condition of employment with the Federal Government. That's highly irregular, and probably illegal...



I am confused as to how this is not transparently criminal extortion. I mean, Trump is making someone sign a side agreement to benefit him personally in exchange for giving them a government job? What am I missing?

That aside, imagine if instead of surrendering your free speech, the contract was, ok you can get a job but in exchange you had to permanently sign away your right to vote, or to bear arms, or to practice your religion...? We still in grey area territory?
posted by xigxag at 11:37 AM on March 19 [25 favorites]


schroedinger: it is a unacknowledged cruelty born of fear, not sociopathy, a cruelty that has swathed itself in the falsehood that it is Correct

Two Sundays ago after church, this old white guy tells me how much he and some visiting friends enjoyed our choir's music. He's married to a Japanese-American woman and in my interactions with him (small-talk only), he's always been a sweetheart. He says one of his friends is from North Korea, captured during the Korean War. The friend settled here in California. "What does your friend think of the increasing aggression between our two leaders?" says I.

"HOW can they say such horrible things about our President?" He's almost tearful. "He's the smartest man in the world! If he can solve North Korea, wouldn't that be wonderful!"

Me: "Ah.... Yes it would be wonderful! From what I've read, and my sources are probably different from yours, I'm worried about the details of his plan. The devil's in the details, right? I have to say, I don't actually agree with your opinion of our President."

Him: "Really? But look at everything he accomplished in his life! All his businesses! Look at what he's accomplished in the past year! He knows how to get things done. Not like that other guy...the one before...what's his name..."

Me: "Obama?"

Him: "Yes! That was THE scariest time in my life!"

Me: "Er... Again, I have to say, my opinion is different. Gosh, [name redacted], I really think our sources of information must be so different, cuz we're both intelligent, compassionate people who want to reduce suffering, right? So we should be able to sit down and talk about why we believe such different things, right?"

He agreed with that. Next conversation -- if he's still willing to talk to me -- it'll be time for Stage 2: "HOW do you check if your sources are wrong? Here's my process: check my source's sources and check THEIR sources; and, check the other side's reasons for saying what it does. What's yours?"
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:38 AM on March 19 [71 favorites]


I've got to say, his inability to remember the name of the first black President, who was President up until roughly 14 months ago, does not inspire a great deal of confidence in the eventual success of your approach. But godspeed and good luck.

(spoilers: its because Obama is black.)
posted by Justinian at 11:41 AM on March 19 [116 favorites]


And if he's a Fox News watcher, then he spent eight years being bombarded with fearmongering programming. Its business model is founded on frightening its audience, something that Trump participated in and instinctively incorporated into his 2016 campaign.

It occurs to me that I don't remember fearmongering being part of Trump's platform in his Reform Party 2000 campaign, though I paid little attention to it, regarding him as an opportunistic buffoon that would never, ever need to be taken seriously.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:52 AM on March 19 [16 favorites]


Jpfed: “I think that Trump cannot conceive of Mueller as anything but a politically-motivated actor.”

So, totally unrelated to anything else going on here, I was reading this local article about a central kitchen that both trains marginalized underskilled people to work in kitchens and provides several local schools with their school lunches and:
Flanagan has heard principals say they’re afraid to serve explicitly healthy food because it would be perceived as too political.
Healthy. food. is. too. political. Jesus fuck. We really have just decided that everything is a political opinion and nothing is actual fact.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:56 AM on March 19 [146 favorites]


All his businesses!

Ask him how difficult he thinks it is to bankrupt a casino.
posted by PenDevil at 11:59 AM on March 19 [20 favorites]


The crazy thing is, this is the City of Pittsburgh! We're like 2/3 Democrats, and Pittsburgh Public Schools are 60% non-white. Who are healthy lunches too political for? (Don't answer that. It's probably State-level politicians, most of whom are Republicans and hate cities and those who dwell in them and who are always looking for axes to grind.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:03 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]


Flanagan has heard principals say they’re afraid to serve explicitly healthy food because it would be perceived as too political.

This derives from Republicans' reluctance to openly condemn Michelle Obama for having dark skin, instead seizing upon her promotion of fruits and vegetables
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:06 PM on March 19 [63 favorites]


Flanagan has heard principals say they’re afraid to serve explicitly healthy food because it would be perceived as too political.

Flanagan is capitalizing on the President*'s ability to state his wishes as facts ("People say ... ", or "My friend told me ....") without fear of being checked.

Contagious, and no antibiotics in sight. We're fucked.
posted by Dashy at 12:10 PM on March 19 [6 favorites]




I've got to say, the thought of angering Republicans might just be what it takes to convince me to listen to my doctor and start eating healthier.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:12 PM on March 19 [23 favorites]


Er, Jennifer Flanagan is the director of Community Kitchen, the aforementioned nonprofit that trains marginalized and formerly incarcerated people for employment in the hospitality sector. I'm pretty sure she'd be quite happy if more school principals decided that the food her organization provides is appropriate to serve in their schools. She's just legit reporting what she's been told.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:14 PM on March 19 [12 favorites]


schadenfrau: "I admit my initial reaction was a kind of puppy head tilt, but you know what? I’m here for this. You’d basically have to have celebrity power to launch a effective primary from the left in NYS against Cuomo, so, you know. Good. "

Yeah, I know primarying is a hardy perennial debate in these parts, but this is like the Platonic ideal of when to go for it. Cuomo is no friend of the left, and at the same time, a Democrat is virtually certain to win the election (the NY GOP has had a hell of a time even finding a candidate for statewides).

If she wins, great. If she opens space for someone else on the left, great. But even running should a) force Cuomo to tack left a bit/move the Overton window, and b) help lefter candidates downballot.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:16 PM on March 19 [33 favorites]


Surely this latest Cambridge Analytica bombshell must be overstate…
In one exchange, when asked about digging up material on political opponents, Mr Nix said they could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house”, adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well”.

In another he said: “We’ll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet.”
uh

well surely this is a case of them telling the client what they want to hear, the company itself…
Mr Nix told our reporter: “…we’re used to operating through different vehicles, in the shadows, and I look forward to building a very long-term and secretive relationship with you.”
uh

this is good news for donald trump?
posted by murphy slaw at 12:17 PM on March 19 [48 favorites]


Not only did Cambridge Analytica work with Corey Lewandowski before he became Trump's campaign manager, they had Steve Bannon as a vice-president. And they have extensive links to Russia.

In summary, NO COLLUSION
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:17 PM on March 19 [67 favorites]


[Please ease up on the riffing a bit, folks.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:19 PM on March 19


More:

EXCLUSIVE: Cambridge Analytica offers to “set up fake IDs and websites” or pose as students to hide their role in election campaigns.

“It has to happen without anyone thinking: ‘that’s propaganda.’
EXCLUSIVE: The art of disguising propaganda - Cambridge Analytica bosses discuss the subtle techniques behind hidden online political messaging.


Sounds like if not joined at the hip with the IRA these guys share a lot of their techniques.
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on March 19 [24 favorites]


soren_lorensen: "It's probably State-level politicians, most of whom are Republicans and hate cities and those who dwell in them and who are always looking for axes to grind"

The good news is there have been a ton of GOP retirements in the PA legislature (4 Senate, 19 House), and several of those were Clinton districts (2 Senate, 4 House). PA Dems are running for the most seats in recent memory. We have an opportunity for substantial gains this year.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:22 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


For the conservosphere's hot take on Cambridge Analytica, here's the current top story under the Foxnews.com "White House" tab:

Trump Bible heads to museum
posted by Rust Moranis at 12:26 PM on March 19 [8 favorites]


Who are healthy lunches too political for?

Trump voters. You would not believe the amount of hate they have for the school lunch regulations passed under Obama.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:28 PM on March 19 [28 favorites]


And SCOTUS has denied the stay request from the PA GOP. Unless I am missing something, there are no further legal avenues for them to pursue, and the redistricting goes forward.

Btw, full court agreed, no dissents (and the earlier district court ruling was 3-0, as well).
posted by Chrysostom at 12:28 PM on March 19 [69 favorites]


I assume Channel 4 has a good reputation for these sort of stings? It's not just a more sophisticated version of Project Veritas? Because damn.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:29 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Yes, very solid rep.
posted by Artw at 12:29 PM on March 19 [10 favorites]


Trump Bible heads to museum

For sale: trump bible, never read.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:29 PM on March 19 [122 favorites]


Let's not forget Michael Flynn. Vox from last year:
By itself, Harris’s reporting makes no connection to Cambridge Analytica. But in August the Associated Press published a report that helped connect the dots. In an amended public financial filing, Flynn was forced to disclose “a brief advisory role with a firm related to a controversial data analysis company that aided the Trump campaign.”

The “data analysis company” is none other than Cambridge Analytica. The precise amount of money Cambridge paid to Flynn is unknown, as are the details of Flynn’s role.
I feel like this is a turning point. We're no longer talking about Russian agents doing illegal things to help Trump. We're talking about Trump's campaign staff doing illegal things to help Trump. Possibly as Russian agents.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:31 PM on March 19 [55 favorites]


It's over in the PA gerrymandering case!

The SC has denied a stay. No dissents.
posted by Justinian at 12:36 PM on March 19 [36 favorites]


NYTimes: Trump to Hire Lawyer Who Has Pushed Theory That Justice Dept. Framed the President

News Update: The hiring announcement is official. '“Former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining our legal team later this week,” said Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers. “I have worked with Joe for many years and have full confidence that he will be a great asset in our representation of the President.”'
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:37 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Oh I got overly excited. I should have known Chrysostom would beat me to it.

I was overly cynical about the SC I guess. I thought they'd come up with some garbage rationale like in Bush-v-Gore to put their thumbs on the scale. But this is huge.

I hope other states are taking a hard look at whether their own state Constitutions forbid the practice of overly partisan gerrymander.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on March 19 [7 favorites]


So as he's sniffling and slurring his way through this opioid speech it sounds like we're bringing back Just Say No PSAs and now we're into a campaign speech about DACA and The Wall.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 12:38 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "I hope other states are taking a hard look at whether their own state Constitutions forbid the practice of overly partisan gerrymander."

Someone took a look at this earlier, and I think 48 states have similar language to the text in the PA constitution that the PA SC used as basis for the finding.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:42 PM on March 19 [12 favorites]


Note that under the new map Democrats seem poised to pick up around 4-5 seats in the PA delegation to the House of Representatives come November. That's roughly 1/5 to 1/6 of what they need to take the House over just from Pennsylvania.

That isn't a net gain of 4-5 from the new map over the old map since it is likely the Ds would have picked up a few seats in a wave under the old map as well but this probably nets an average of 2 new D reps even in a wave year.
posted by Justinian at 12:43 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]




From a Guardian reporter:

@carolecadwalla - Wow. Britain's Information Officer announces she is seeking a warranting to raid Cambridge Analytica and seize servers
posted by Existential Dread at 12:46 PM on March 19 [82 favorites]


no get the warrant first don't tell them about how you are intending to get the warrant thanks
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:48 PM on March 19 [125 favorites]


Trump says he wants a federal lawsuit against pharma com