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May 9, 2018 12:34 AM   Subscribe

An endless day in US politics included: withdrawl from the Iran nuclear deal; a trip to North Korea (start by learning their leader's name); jaw-dropping revelations about payments made to Michael Cohen's Essential Consultants LLC from a company tied to a Russian oligarch questioned by Mueller's team and corporations including AT&T (with a Twitter team that didn't handle the news so well) and Novartis (Avenatti says to follow where the money went); more on Michael Cohen's financial difficulties as he pledged his apartment as collateral; more ethics problems for Scott Pruitt (and Hugh Hewitt); reports that Trump ignored warnings from the State Department about deporting 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians currently in the country legally; bogus statistics used to justify separating families at the border; Russian hackers posed as IS to threaten military wives; a report from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian targeting of election infrastructure; fair-housing advocates sued HUD for suspending fair-housing rules; the Department of Labor sought to allow teenagers to work longer hours in hazardous jobs; Alex van der Zwaan reported to prison; and primaries in four states (results cheat sheet). Today: confirmation hearings for CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel, "a Referendum on (Un-)Accountability". Fatima Boudchar, who was tortured in a secret facility in Thailand, has A Few Questions for Gina Haspel.

Beyond the day's news (or, the list of articles that could be FPPs in and of themselves):
Jelani Cobb, William Barber Takes on Poverty and Race in the Age of Trump: "After the success of the Moral Monday protests, the pastor is attempting to revive Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s final—and most radical—campaign."
Just three months after Congress gave children's healthcare a 10-year lifeline, Trump reneges
Mari Uyehara, How Free Speech Warriors Mainstreamed White Supremacists
Greg Sargent, Trump is a disaster, and that’s helping Democrats. But not how you think. (Democrats are running on local issues and health care, not Trump scandals)
How The ACORN Scandal Seeded Today’s Nightmare Politics (more broadly, the danger in taking bad faith criticism seriously)
Death threats against abortion providers and patients nearly doubled in 2017
Here’s how ICE sent children seeking asylum to adult detention centers (featuring a dentist making sketchy age determinations)
Behind Erik Prince’s China venture: "The Blackwater founder has cut a lucrative security-training deal with Chinese insiders. But is it against U.S. interests?"
This is a really excellent @JedediahSPurdy essay arguing that the many authors warning about how democracy is in a period of global decline are not ambitious enough in offering solutions.
Vince McMahon’s WWE Is Pushing Anti-Iran Propaganda for Saudi Arabia
Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand Journalism
Facebook Does Not Understand the Conservative Grift
A beautifully done data journalism project from the Washington Post: America is more diverse than ever — but still segregated
posted by zachlipton (2152 comments total) 178 users marked this as a favorite
 
That Washington Post project is fantastic! (As is this incredibly detailed post.) Nicely done. Thanks!
posted by zarq at 12:44 AM on May 9 [19 favorites]


Not to mention that Erik Prince's deals will mostly likely be harmful against the Chinese people's interests.
posted by runcifex at 1:01 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


As someone who had at least three "noisy" quips deleted from the last thread: a reminder to be better than me. (Just think of me as the lowest bar.)

As was pointed out towards the end of the last thread, Trump and more importantly the Republicans in general are what happen when rich, white men don't have to suffer consequences for their (literal) crimes. I've been thinking about this constantly the last few days. Republican officials (and by proxy the people who voted for them) have killed more people directly through their policies in just the last year than all of their imagined hoodlums have in the past century!

I mean, take the latest Cohen thing. Honestly, what possible consequence will AT&T suffer? Will Cohen suffer? Will anyone directly involved suffer? I'm guessing nothing at all, at the end of the day. A token fine dwarfed by the profits reaped by their illegal activity, at best.

I have no idea how this gets fixed. Maybe it doesn't.
posted by maxwelton at 1:04 AM on May 9 [87 favorites]


That's what I keep coming back to, maxwelton. There are no consequences for bad behavior by Republicans, even when it involves running massive con jobs on the American people. The same people who brought us the Iraq War and the financial crisis have not only faced no accountability, they've been elevated to positions of even higher authority (see also: Gina Haspel). And GOP leadership in Congress is determined to let it happen (see also: Nunes trying to endanger an intelligence asset as Paul Ryan can't be bothered to stop this, which I can't believe I forgot to include in the FPP).

Jay Rosen's When the President’s own lawyer pictures him as a grifter (someone posted it in the last thread, thank you) has stuck with me. There's a strong case to be made that the daily madness we're experiencing is, not deliberate strategy because these people don't have strategy, but the inevitable consequence of the realization that exploding the news cycle on a daily basis is the only way to manage Trump, and everyone around him is figuring that out. Which means that the response to the Mueller investigation isn't the normal Presidential investigation playbook, but repeated deliberate efforts to crash into it at full speed. It's the endgame of Bannon's "flood the zone with shit" strategy.
posted by zachlipton at 1:17 AM on May 9 [56 favorites]


As was pointed out towards the end of the last thread, Trump and more importantly the Republicans in general are what happen when rich, white men don't have to suffer consequences for their (literal) crimes.

Yesterday on NPR, the host was desperately trying to draw equivalences with Republicans and Democrats in the Schneiderman case, pointing out several prominent Democrats accused of sexual misconduct and going so far as to ask if New York Democrats have a pattern. Nowhere did she point out that, from Franken to Weiner to Schniederman himself, all the Democrats have stepped down while Trump and Greitens cling to power and Roy Moore won his primary.

There's a problem here, but it isn't with Democrats.
posted by Gelatin at 2:07 AM on May 9 [185 favorites]


An endless day in US politics included
I'm a fan of Margin Call and its attempt to explain the financial crisis -that had occurred 3 years before the film's release- by covering a critical 24 hour period inside a bank. Some day, the challenge of summing up the fate of Trump's presidency in a similar way is going to be open to writers. It will be necessary because we either try to tell the whole gargantuan story (how many lines of MeFi threads on 45 so far I wonder?) in a sprawling drama/documentary - or we condense to a narrow time frame to get the essence.

So, I wonder when that critical 24 hours might be?
posted by rongorongo at 2:57 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


> Transactions adding up to at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants [Cohen's company] starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president and continuing to this January, the records show.

Just when you think you're inured to all this, something happens that still makes the jaw drop...
posted by humuhumu at 3:37 AM on May 9 [22 favorites]


Just when you think you're inured to all this, something happens that still makes the jaw drop...

One of my take-aways from elementary Chaos Theory learned through fictional and film sources, is that when the system loses control, it enters a feedback loop where the magnitude of the swings up and down get greater and greater until the structure can't support the stress anymore, and collapses.

Trump's lost control of this.

As Barlow and Wier wrote, "Well you know it's gonna get stranger; So let's get on with the show"

The only way out is through. Despair is a sin. We will emerge from this stronger for the test.
posted by mikelieman at 4:01 AM on May 9 [93 favorites]


It's worth noting that despite $4.4 million flowing through a company Cohen ostensibly owns and controls, he had to use his personal personal funds to pay Stormy Daniels. This implies that the money flowing through his company is already spoken for, and likely isn't his at all. I.e., that passing funds through his company is a way of concealing transactions that are more disreputable and/or illegal than hush money for his clients' mistresses.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:07 AM on May 9 [156 favorites]


Happy Comeyversary, everyone.
posted by eirias at 4:17 AM on May 9 [29 favorites]


hat passing funds through his company is a way of concealing

This is why we need Muller and the process to go methodically and carefully. There are may legit businesses with flow. Cohen is scum but there may be little or nothing he's done that's illegal.
posted by sammyo at 4:22 AM on May 9 [9 favorites]


It is going to take more than one term of a good US president serving to restore USA's standing in the world. You are not making it easy being your allies.
posted by bouvin at 4:29 AM on May 9 [52 favorites]


Thank you zachlipton though by the time I get through your thorough FPP links we will be into the next megathread.
posted by adamvasco at 4:30 AM on May 9 [23 favorites]


I feel like there's never going to be a bottom to this; it's just scandals all the way down.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on May 9 [23 favorites]


This is why we need Muller and the process to go methodically and carefully.

There are an awful lot of people in this country whose rights to due process I am more concerned over than Michael fucking Cohen. He'll be handled very carefully and professionally, I'm sure. Would that every American enjoyed the same level of treatment from the criminal justice system.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:41 AM on May 9 [97 favorites]


One of my take-aways from elementary Chaos Theory learned through fictional and film sources, is that when the system loses control, it enters a feedback loop where the magnitude of the swings up and down get greater and greater until the structure can't support the stress anymore, and collapses.

Trump's lost control of this.


I still can't believe that the twenty seconds starting here from Jim Jefferies's bit on Trump was ever intended to be taken as an actual action plan; and yet here we are.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


I keep in mind that while this is all new to us, that Mueller's team has been digging into this for months, and if there's corporations paying "consulting fees" or more settlements to Trumps benefit that were paid from Essential's account that we don't know about yet, Mueller's team has orders of magnitude more knowledge than we do.

I don't think the delays over Cohen are a "justice delayed/justice denied" issue, but rather "The depth of potential wrongdoing, spanning multinational companies and paid access to the administration ( AT&T/FCC Net Neutrality, for example ) then it's going to take more time to plumb those depths.
posted by mikelieman at 4:48 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


So, I wonder when that critical 24 hours might be?

No way to know until he’s out of office, of course. I just hope they don’t end with a nuke exploding.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:49 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Just one day: via John Brennan - Twitter
Today, Donald Trump simultaneously lied about the Iranian nuclear deal, undermined global confidence in US commitments, alienated our closest allies, strengthened Iranian hawks, & gave North Korea more reason to keep its nukes. This madness is a danger to our national security.
posted by adamvasco at 4:52 AM on May 9 [86 favorites]


This madness is a danger to our national security.

On the upside, any non-US actor with a genuine interest in seeing the US come undone would be well advised to do nothing at all rather than risk distracting Team Trump from the astonishingly effective measures already being taken toward that end.
posted by flabdablet at 5:02 AM on May 9 [17 favorites]


The other day I noticed that the Wikipedia article for an unusually homophobic local politician, which in past election cycles I'd added quotes from him to, was edited for the first time in years to add a minor biographical detail. At around the same time I got a notification from Wikipedia that there was an unsuccessful attempt to log in to my account from a new device.

My speculation is that the politician is planning to run for a new office and they or a PR agency hired by them was taking a shot at hijacking my account, to have an established account to do their edits with. Either way, Wikipedia evidently experienced an increase in hacking attempts in late 2016 and set up this failed-login notification system last year.

So, if you've ever edited a Wikipedia article on a political topic or political figure and haven't logged in recently, you might check to see if someone's been trying to guess your password.
posted by XMLicious at 5:03 AM on May 9 [93 favorites]


It is going to take more than one term of a good US president serving to restore USA's standing in the world.

Maybe. OTOH, Trump is so uniquely horrible that he quite easily stands out as an aberration. I can easily see the rest of the world breathing a huge sigh of relief and opening their doors again, once the US elects a proper president.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:05 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


> Transactions adding up to at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants [Cohen's company] starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president and continuing to this January, the records show.

As chris24 cited barely more than 12 hours ago in the previous thread, Chris Hayes points out that "the basic structure of the Watergate scandal was: illegal, unreported donations funnelled into a slush fund then used to pay for off-book dirty tricks operations."

The information in the public domain establishes that the same thing occurred involving Cohen, Trump, and likely much of the Republican Party campaign apparatus. Not to mention likely money laundering for the Russian mob. And if we know these things, Mueller does too, and likely has evidence to prove it.

Republicans will no doubt circle the wagons, but there's little doubt at this point that flagrantly illegal activities occurred and are occurring in the cover-up, which likely involves Republican members of Congress. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.
posted by Gelatin at 5:06 AM on May 9 [78 favorites]


I can easily see the rest of the world breathing a huge sigh of relief and opening their doors again, once the US elects a proper president.

posted by Thorzdad at 5:05 AM on May 9 [+] [!]


This is exactly why Obama did his "speedy tour of all the allies" after the election - and I think I remember reading as much in the news here. That Obama was going around saying, 'tighten the hatches, it's gonna get rough but it will only last 4 years.'
posted by From Bklyn at 5:11 AM on May 9 [39 favorites]


Republicans will no doubt circle the wagons, but there's little doubt at this point that flagrantly illegal activities occurred...

Josh Marshall
If you have much experience covering political scandals, it's hard to look at tonight's revelations and not realize that a bunch of people are going to be going to prison.
posted by chris24 at 5:13 AM on May 9 [72 favorites]


Did McConnell photoshopping himself as Cocaine Mitch in response to Blankenship's loss come up yet?
posted by clawsoon at 5:13 AM on May 9 [12 favorites]


Good thing he lost, because never say never. I just watched John Oliver's bit on Blankenship, and it's astonishing those campaign ads aren't self-parody. It's as if he's under control by brain slugs, but, y'know, he IS a Republican.
posted by adept256 at 5:30 AM on May 9 [20 favorites]


Stormy Daniels and Michael Avanetti are fucking heroes.
posted by Dashy at 5:31 AM on May 9 [70 favorites]


Stormy Daniels and Michael Avanetti are fucking heroes.

Yeah, it's hard to overstate Stormy's bravery. She and her child had already been threatened with harm. She was risking financial catastrophe. She's a woman who works in an industry that is mocked, denigrated and despised by many. Yet she went after the most powerful person in the world.
posted by chris24 at 5:34 AM on May 9 [250 favorites]


...it's astonishing those campaign ads aren't self-parody. It's as if he's under control by brain slugs, but, y'know, he IS a Republican.

Oh, hell, you should have seen the ads run by Todd Rokita here in Indiana. Real Timecube-level batshit insanity. I halfway hoped he would win, just so we could see just how insane his stuff would get. Who knows? Maybe he'll jump in as an independent? His non-congratulatory-congratulations to the winner certainly left the impression that he wouldn't give a single poop about splitting the republican vote in November.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:47 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Joe Donnelly could use all the help he can get, certainly. I hope that the nasty primary campaign at least dampens Republican enthusiasm. Donnelly is in the Senate because Dick Lugar was defeated in an ugly primary by an ultra-right-wing Tea Party figure who then got in trouble saying the quiet parts loud. That practice is now much more fashionable among Republicans, but I wonder if there are still, as there were six years ago, lines Indiana Republicans won't cross.

Then again, they went for Trump, so who knows?
posted by Gelatin at 5:51 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Nah, Indiana gave us Mike Pence
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:08 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


I'd like to offer zachlipton my congratulations on choosing the perfect title for this thread. And of course Michael Avenatti for the perfect answer to the question. Period.
posted by valetta at 6:17 AM on May 9 [17 favorites]


[A few deleted. Periodic reminder to keep the thread on track discussing the news rather than general chat, expressions of despair, how the dems are just as bad, long personal essays, etc.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:21 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Which means that the response to the Mueller investigation isn't the normal Presidential investigation playbook, but repeated deliberate efforts to crash into it at full speed. It's the endgame of Bannon's "flood the zone with shit" strategy.

Bannon is what passes for a strategic thinker on Team Trump, but the rest of them are like uncontrolled neural net learning processes, blindly searching for a winning tactic by trying everything. Giuliani, in his first week's disastrous media blitz, is like a concentrated dose of Ty Cobb or Jay Sekulow. Trump's first-season legal team made plenty of media gaffs themselves, only spread out over months (though of course never as incriminating). The problem is that Trump, in tune with his followers' worst impulses, will say things, then act on them when a sane politician/criminal defendant wouldn't touch them with a bargepole. (Speaking of which, Trump went on Twitter this morning to complain that despite everything going just swell for him, "91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake)" and contemplating taking away press credentials. While his supporters may or may not react to that enough for a follow-up, this is classic Trumpian lashing out after narcissistic injury and attempts to assert dominance.)

Compare this to Avenatti's in-your-face media strategy of constant TV appearances and continual Twitter updates, which have put Team Trump off balance and caused a lot of unforced errors. It incidentally also helps the crowdfunding efforts for Daniels's legal fees and, as we may be seeing with the leaks about Cohen's banking transactions, attracts evidence to bolster Daniels's lawsuit. While Mueller's official investigation necessarily has to work out of the public glare, Avenatti's leveraging the court of public opinion against Trump and COhen. Avenatti told Anderson Cooper last night, "Here's the bottom line, Anderson: It's working, OK? It's working in spades. And one of the reasons, one of the ways that it's working is because we're so out front on this, people send us information, people want to help our cause, people contact us with information."

Trump's just a bully abusing the bully pulpit of the presidency, but Daniels and Avenatti are publicly standing up to him. Because that's how you beat a bully.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:21 AM on May 9 [93 favorites]


Trump is so uniquely horrible that he quite easily stands out as an aberration.

I wish that were true; unfortunately 30-40% of the population thinks he's doing a good job. I would not be terribly surprised if he is re-elected in 2020. All it would take would be a major terrorist attack, good economic news, or some diplomatic success at just the right time, combined with a conservative supreme court upholding gerrymandering and voter suppression laws and there we are.

From the FPP: Fatima Boudchar, who was tortured in a secret facility in Thailand, has A Few Questions for Gina Haspel.
zachlipton did a great job assembling links for the FPP, but that one really stood out to me. If you can navigate the NYT paywall definitely read it. It makes the CIA's torture program personal in a way few other accounts have. This conclusion of hers is hard to argue with:
I also read that the C.I.A. says America’s foreign allies respect Ms. Haspel. Maybe so. But if America wants to persuade the Muslim world it means us no harm, if it wants to regain lost trust, the C.I.A. can’t ignore history in the hope that it will go away. People remember injustice for a long time. The only answer is to explain what happened.
posted by TedW at 6:21 AM on May 9 [44 favorites]


Pence was on his way to losing his re-election bid as governor in Indiana after his policies led to an HIV epidemic in Evansville; signing up with Trump was his long-shot chance to stay in politics. Donnelly's opponent in 2012, Richard Mourdock, said that God intended for women to be raped and any resulting pregnancies were a gift.

Indiana voters are able (or at least used to able) to find specific reasons to vote against a republican, but are unable to generalize. So really Donnelly's future depends on Braun saying or doing something nasty where someone can hear or see it. Also the bar for what qualifies as "nasty" has shifted considerably.
posted by logicpunk at 6:23 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


You know, the more I read about the taxi medallion collapse affecting Cohen, the more I wonder if we have it backwards- rather than him getting involved in Trump’s shadiness because he’s a shady guy, see, look at these taxi medallions, the more I wonder if he is a man who saw his finances collapsing and became vulnerable enough to see Trump as a lifeline.

There’s a reason security clearances check on financial stability, and it’s not about how much money you have, exactly, so much as the mismatch between how you live and the money you have. When people start to lose what they believe will be theirs or should be theirs, they are at their most dangerous.
posted by corb at 6:24 AM on May 9 [70 favorites]


There’s a reason security clearances check on financial stability, and it’s not about how much money you have, exactly, so much as the mismatch between how you live and the money you have.

If anyone had done due diligence on clearances, how could anyone in Cohen's circle have passed?

When people start to lose what they believe will be theirs or should be theirs, they are at their most dangerous.

Supported by the entire thread on entitled incel's terrorist attacks...
posted by mikelieman at 6:41 AM on May 9 [13 favorites]


The other day I noticed that the Wikipedia article for an unusually homophobic local politician, which in past election cycles I'd added quotes from him to, was edited for the first time in years to add a minor biographical detail. At around the same time I got a notification from Wikipedia that there was an unsuccessful attempt to log in to my account from a new device.

There was a large-scale attempt to break in to Wikipedia accounts last week thought to have been from a single disgruntled banned editor. PR editing can definitely be an issue on Wikipedia, but hacking into accounts would be a counterproductive way to do it.
posted by Tsuga at 6:42 AM on May 9 [9 favorites]


Some of the NYTimes comments on Haspel's nomination claim that detainee interrogation techniques never rose to the level of torture, were controlled, and stuck to approved methods. We'll never know. She destroyed the only historical record we had in defiance of a presidential order. We will never know what we did or didn't do. We will never be able to historically comes to terms with it. Putting her in charge of the C.I.A. confirms we don't care.
posted by xammerboy at 6:45 AM on May 9 [74 favorites]


Some of the NYTimes comments on Haspel's nomination claim that detainee interrogation techniques never rose to the level of torture, were controlled, and stuck to approved methods. We'll never know. She destroyed the only historical record we had in defiance of a presidential order.

NPR has done a considerable amount of coverage of Haspel's nomination, including interviewing politicians and subject matter experts both in favor of and opposed to her elevation to CIA head, and somehow they consistently fail to mention this fact. It alone is disqualifying.
posted by Gelatin at 6:47 AM on May 9 [29 favorites]


Destroying evidence is itself a goddamn crime.

The mind boggles.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:48 AM on May 9 [51 favorites]


Something tells me that if the Stormy Daniels NDA is thrown out, then that’s gonna be the beginning of the end for Trump. It’s not so much what Daniels might say out there, it’s what the other people covered by NDAs may be able to tell after they see the NDAs don’t hold up on court. We can only hope.
posted by azpenguin at 6:52 AM on May 9 [34 favorites]


I would have expected McConnell (or rather, his social media person) to own the turtle comparisons well before leaning into "Cocaine Mitch". Hell of an act, what do you call it, etc.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:59 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


In all of the news about Cohen, and the primaries, and Gina Haspel, and North Korea, and Iran and Melania's best, it seems we've missed a big piece of news.
A federal judge has rejected special counsel Robert Mueller’s request to delay the first court hearing in a criminal case charging three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with using social media and other means to foment strife among Americans in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mueller's team asked for the delay, because the American law firm's discovery included basically every act of espionage the U.S. government has engaged in against any foreign country since 1945.

Not sure how the Mueller team is going to fight this but they're in court today so we'll find out.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:00 AM on May 9 [13 favorites]




When people start to lose what they believe will be theirs or should be theirs, they are at their most dangerous.

See: Trump voters. Motivated not by economics, but by a sense of (racialized and gendered) grievance and loss to Uppity Women and Those People.

I know I'm not the only one nostalgic for the days of Obama, but...talk about a squeaky-clean administration! I wish all our elected officials and their cabinets could be like that. I've heard various whiners and malcontents say (usually in regard to sexual harassment, but also in regard to other crooked stuff) "whyyyyy should we Democrats care? After all, the Republicans don't! We need to just WIN at any price and stop being prudes and puritans!" I think most Democrats and liberals are like me and think that putting decent, scandal-free people in office and not putting up with harassment or financial shenanigans is a FEATURE, not a bug.

The Trump administration is not just a disgrace, it's a laughingstock, especially given our national self-image as a shining light of democracy etc. etc. I remember reading about Berlusconi and feeling sorry for the Italian people. Oh, silly naive me. Little did I know we would get a Berlusconi of our very own!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:06 AM on May 9 [48 favorites]


A beautifully done data journalism project from the Washington Post: America is more diverse than ever — but still segregated

I wonder how much segregation (by race, class or income) is "helped" by the need and desire to sell lots and houses in suburbs.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:08 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


the basic structure of the Watergate scandal was: illegal, unreported donations funnelled into a slush fund then used to pay for off-book dirty tricks operations.

What truly amazes me about the parallels between Watergate and Stupid Watergate is that Stupid Watergate all happened after Citizens United. The bar you have to clear to avoid having your activities described as "illegal unreported donations funneled into a slush fund then used to pay for off-book dirty tricks operations" is so low that it would make 20th-century mobsters blush. You just have to funnel it through PACs, you morons! It would take twenty minutes to set up the shell LLC in Delaware! The Supreme Court has given you carte blanche to use your money-expressing-itself-as-protected-speech, and do literally whatever the fuck you want with it, and it's all completely legal as long as you at least pretend to follow the rules! How do you mess up your political money laundering when it's this easy?!

I'm beginning to wonder if Trump has really hired the best people, guys.
posted by Mayor West at 7:14 AM on May 9 [91 favorites]


rather than him getting involved in Trump’s shadiness because he’s a shady guy, see, look at these taxi medallions, the more I wonder if he is a man who saw his finances collapsing and became vulnerable enough to see Trump as a lifeline.


That's basically what happened to Manafort, although I think Cohen has been closer to the Trumps for a lot longer.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:18 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Trump Admits He Calls All Negative News ‘Fake’

Not really surprising, the open admission of what any other politician would talk around or not talk about at all is a hallmark of Trump.
posted by sotonohito at 7:18 AM on May 9 [50 favorites]


Susmita Baral, Teen Vogue: California's Deserts Are at Risk for Resource Extraction Under Trump
Aside from Zinke’s recent announcement [opening up 1.3 million acres for mining], the Trump administration is reviewing 10.8 million acres of California desert, which has been called one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states, protected by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The review by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in response to a 2017 energy executive order that called on federal agencies to review all regulations that could “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy sources.”
...
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan was finalized in the last months of the Obama presidency, after years of work under that administration. The plan protects more than 22 million acres by directing energy development to regions where it would be least detrimental to the environment and local wildlife.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the conservation plan was righting a previous wrong, where the Obama administration dove into solar development without taking environmental impact into consideration earlier in the administration’s tenure. In addition to opening up swaths of land to indiscriminate renewable energy development, revoking the protection now could open up sensitive ecological areas to mining, grazing, and off-road vehicles.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:18 AM on May 9 [18 favorites]


What fantastic news that three Americans are returning home from their time in the North Korea gulag.
posted by lstanley at 7:22 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


What Went Down In The May 8 Primary Elections -- For Once, Republicans (And Democrats) Mostly Avoid Self-Inflicted Damage (Nate Silver for 538, May 8, 2018)
In West Virginia, Patrick Morrisey, the state’s attorney general, won the U.S. Senate primary over U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and Don Blankenship, the Trumpian former coal mining executive who was convicted on a charge related to the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster and recently spent a year in jail. The most important headline is that Morrisey has the potential to give incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin a tough race considering West Virginia’s increasingly Republican lean in national races. (Manchin easily won his primary, although the Democrat running to his left, Paula Jean Swearengin, performed respectably.)
...
In Ohio, Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine easily won their respective primaries, with the establishment-backed Cordray beating former presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich by a considerably wider margin than polls predicted. Ohio is increasingly red, but in a blue-leaning year with two experienced candidates — Cordray is the former Ohio attorney general and DeWine is the current one — the general election is likely to be competitive. As expected, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate; he’ll face incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was unopposed. As expected, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate; he’ll face incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was unopposed.

The night wasn’t entirely without success for upstart candidates. In Indiana, businessman and former state Rep. Mike Braun easily won the U.S. Senate primary over two U.S. representatives, Todd Rokita and Luke Messer. But Braun is much more in the mold of Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, a business owner turned conservative but fairly conventional U.S. senator, than he is of someone like Blankenship. Braun might make it ever-so-slightly harder for Republicans to knock off incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who was unopposed — but if there are major red flags in Braun’s general election candidacy, they haven’t been discovered yet.

Perhaps the worst news for Republicans came in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger was defeated by challenger Mark Harris. That will push the district, which was already expected to be competitive, further into toss-up status.

All in all, however, these are pretty minor wounds for a Republican Party that has done a lot of self-inflicted damage to itself in Senate and gubernatorial primaries in past years.
Bolded by me to emphasize the states in question. And there's further analysis and thoughts in the linked article.


4 Takeaways From The Big Primary Kickoff Night (NPR, May 9, 2018)
Midterms, especially primaries, are won and lost by activists.

And right now, if Tuesday night's primary results are any indication, Democrats appear to be in better shape structurally than the GOP. It's still very early in primary season to draw conclusions that are too sweeping, but here are four takeaways based on what's known from Tuesday night's elections in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and North Carolina:

1. Republicans dodge a bullet (with Blankenship's loss). Are they learning the lesson of Alabama?
...
Republicans over the past decade have lost roughly half a dozen Senate seats because of problematic candidates. That's something McConnell and his team have been throwing their hands up about for years.
...
2. McConnell isn't entirely off the hook.

Despite his team's gloating, the Republican Senate leader has become problematic for the party in some circles.

He remains the most unpopular senator (as of Oct. 31, 2017) in the country. And just 30 percent of even people in his home state (as of Dec. 22, 2017) of Kentucky approve of the job he is doing.
...
3. Republican voters continue to reject Washington.

To that point, there was ample evidence Tuesday night that there is quite a bit of angst in the GOP base toward Washington Republicans...

4. Democrats aren't facing primary headwinds yet — and might not.

While there have been signs of division on the Democratic side, it hasn't manifested very strongly.

Instead, the division so far has still mostly been on one side — with Republicans unhappy with Washington. There were opportunities Tuesday night for the more progressive wing of the party to flex its muscles, but it instead chose the pragmatic route.
...
Interesting thoughts, but no reasons for Dems to let up. We have a compromised president to impeach, as John Whitbeck, the chairman of Virginia's Republican Party, so helpfully reminded NPR listeners back on May 2nd. "If the Democrats take the House, they will impeach this president. And it's coming, if they have the majority." I realize that was an effort to excite the Republican base, but for anyone wondering about how to get rid of Trump, like independents who are upset at the current direction of the country under its mis-management, that's a pretty strong reason to vote for the Dems. Oh, and would you look at that -- Democratic, Republican Identification Near Historical Lows (Gallup polling, Jan. 11, 2018). It looks like there are fewer die-hard Republicans to rile up with threats of Democrats impeaching Trump.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:25 AM on May 9 [18 favorites]


@natewessler (ACLU): 4th Circuit rules that in light of the immense privacy concerns, forensic searches of electronic devices seized at the border must be justified by individualized suspicion. US v. Kolsuz [link to opinion]
posted by melissasaurus at 7:31 AM on May 9 [86 favorites]


Very Important Briefing on Iran from Thing One & Thing Two at State, both recent graduates of the SHS School of Press Briefings.

Background Briefing on President Trump's Decision To Withdraw From the JCPOA
MODERATOR: All right, thanks everybody. So we are glad to have with us today two folks to talk about the President’s decision today to withdraw from the JCPOA. This will be on background, embargoed until the end. Our two speakers with us today are [Senior State Department Official One], and next to him is [Senior State Department Official Two]. And so they’ll start with a few comments and then we’ll take some questions.

I think – you’d like to start?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Great, yeah. Hi.

MODERATOR: Senior State Department Official Number One.
posted by scalefree at 7:50 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


The most important headline is that Morrisey has the potential to give incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin a tough race considering West Virginia’s increasingly Republican lean in national races.

Pat's got his head up Trump's ass, and Manchin needs to seize on that. I know and like Pat. But I don't want him in the Senate.
posted by jgirl at 7:52 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Garrett M. Graff: This is the biggest story you're not paying attention to tonight—the CIA officer who appears to have given up the entire US intel operation in China
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:56 AM on May 9 [39 favorites]


Apparently November last year was when Mueller's team requested information from Novartis about their relationship and payments to Cohen. Seven months ahead of the news...
posted by Buntix at 8:02 AM on May 9 [49 favorites]


@MichaelAvenatti And now Novartis claims they hired Mr. Cohen for “healthcare” matters (they paid him approx $1 Million). Wow - he’s a doctor as well!! Very talented guy this Mr. Cohen. #basta
posted by scalefree at 8:06 AM on May 9 [72 favorites]


Feinstein to Haspel: This is probably most difficult confirmation I have had in the last 2 decades

Just like Pompeo, there’s no argument for any Democrat to vote for Haspel. None. Much less Feinstein. She has to go. If Rand Paul doesn’t flip back again*, Democrats can kill this nomination of a war criminal who covered up and destroyed evidence of war crimes, but there’s absolutely no universe in which they actually do.

* - he will
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:11 AM on May 9 [61 favorites]


I don't get how it can be a difficult decision either way.

If you think torture is great, then Haspel is an easy decision: you vote for her.

If you think the US shouldn't be engaging in torture then Haspel is also an easy decision: you vote against her.

I can't really wrap my mind around someone thinking this is a difficult decision. What, exactly, does Feinstein think is so amazing about Haspel that she believes her vote is difficult? And, again, especially for a California Democrat how is this a difficult decision?

Does she mean "it's going to be difficult justifying my pro-torture vote to my constituents"?
posted by sotonohito at 8:23 AM on May 9 [83 favorites]


Very Important Briefing on Iran from Thing One & Thing Two at State, both recent graduates of the SHS School of Press Briefings.

I'm sure I'll be embarrassed when I hear the answer, but: I don't understand what the issue is here? I'm assuming that the moderator used the person's actual name and "Senior State Department Official Number One" is just a redaction in the transcript, no?
posted by holborne at 8:25 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Thorzdad:
Maybe. OTOH, Trump is so uniquely horrible that he quite easily stands out as an aberration. I can easily see the rest of the world breathing a huge sigh of relief and opening their doors again, once the US elects a proper president.
The problem is that Trump has clearly established that any international treaty or deal with the USA has an expected expiry date at the end of the next election cycle, because that's when the American public is going to vote in the next yahoo regardless of (or rather in direct response to) the qualities of the incumbent.
posted by bouvin at 8:26 AM on May 9 [41 favorites]


Avenatti: Wow - he’s a doctor
Love the Michelle Wolf callback
posted by mabelstreet at 8:28 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


I'm sure I'll be embarrassed when I hear the answer, but: I don't understand what the issue is here? I'm assuming that the moderator used the person's actual name and "Senior State Department Official Number One" is just a redaction in the transcript, no?

Yes. This is actually a fairly standard practice to prevent undue attention on the briefer, it just tickled my funny bone to see it in action with two briefers. The briefing itself is fairly long, the questions get quite pointed at times & the answers get vague & repetitious in proportion to that.
posted by scalefree at 8:35 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Just in case you were curious like I was: no, Blankenship cannot run as a third-party candidate in WV due to their "sore loser" law.
posted by mhum at 8:36 AM on May 9 [15 favorites]


So...the president had unprotected sex with lots of random women, and then he/his thugs make them sign NDAs. How has he NOT paid for an abortion at some point? People in earlier threads have been calling this for awhile, but all the evidence that continues to come out about him suggests that something extra shady really is hidden there. There was the speculation about him having a kid out of wedlock by the doorman, but that was at least 3-5 scaramucci's ago. Hopefully that would be career ending, to say nothing of him knocking up women and then making them abort.

And if it comes out he did pay for an abortion, it honestly won't matter at all now. We used to think something like that would...it won't. If it was something in the 90's, "that was years ago. he was a democrat back then and since has come around to god."

Sigh...it won't matter. I'm trying to be hopeful for November and voting out all the assholes that support him, but right now this guy seems to survive pretty much anything in the court of public opinion. Here's to hoping the court of law can at last hold him accountable.
posted by andruwjones26 at 8:44 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


That sore loser law would've kept Joe Lieberman out of the Senate for his last term.

What could have been...
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:47 AM on May 9 [21 favorites]


I may very well have stolen this thought from someone here on the blue but,

If I were to write a cliche super villain story, with bumbling idiotic villains, they STILL wouldn't be this dumb. Because this is so dumb, it too powerful for suspension of disbelief. No one would believe it.

This shit makes some Venture Brother's villains seem like Lex Luthor.
posted by Twain Device at 8:48 AM on May 9 [24 favorites]


right now this guy seems to survive pretty much anything in the court of public opinion.

30% of the country would vote for Stalin if he ran on a white entitlement platform.
posted by benzenedream at 8:51 AM on May 9 [62 favorites]


There was the speculation about him having a kid out of wedlock.... Hopefully that would be career ending...

There's precedent otherwise, although "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!" was well before the time of anyone here.
posted by TedW at 8:52 AM on May 9 [24 favorites]


Thorzdad: "Oh, hell, you should have seen the ads run by Todd Rokita here in Indiana. Real Timecube-level batshit insanity. I halfway hoped he would win, just so we could see just how insane his stuff would get. Who knows? Maybe he'll jump in as an independent?"

I believe Indiana has a sore loser law, so he would be unable to run.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


right now this guy seems to survive pretty much anything in the court of public opinion.
As long as he can remind people that Barack Obama was black, about 30 percent of the populace will be on his side.
This is the un-adressed heritage of america.
posted by rc3spencer at 8:56 AM on May 9 [39 favorites]


I believe Indiana has a sore loser law, so he would be unable to run.

TIL Indiana does indeed have such a law. Waddayaknow? Thanks!
posted by Thorzdad at 8:59 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


There's precedent otherwise, although "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!" was well before the time of anyone here.

Holy shit. So Cleveland forced himself on a woman, she got pregnant, her child was taken from her, and she was committed to an insane asylum against her will.

Thanks for the reminder that our current troubles are not new.
posted by Melismata at 9:06 AM on May 9 [81 favorites]


andruwjones26: And if it comes out he did pay for an abortion, it honestly won't matter at all now. We used to think something like that would...it won't. If it was something in the 90's, "that was years ago. he was a democrat back then and since has come around to god."

I haven't been able to nail down a solid source for this, but I think the Broidy/Bechard affair (assuming the official story is correct) happened within the last two years, involving multiple encounters from 2016 to 2017. So, if the David Dennison of the Bechard NDA (not to be confused with the Dennison of the Daniels NDA) was actually Trump, per the wild speculation... then the affair, cover-up, and abortion all involved Candidate Trump and/or President Trump, and the "changed man" excuse loses most of its power.

Of course, by the time this is all over, we're going to find out that not only was it really Trump and not Broidy that slept with Bechard, but the Story Daniels affair was actually with Broidy and not Trump, and then everyone involved agreed for some very stupid/criminal reason to swap blame for their respective trysts. Strangers Under The Bus

(To be totally clear, I really don't think that's remotely a possibility, and I retract any implication that Daniels, Avenatti etc could belying. I was speaking more about our anything-is-possible timeline than about those people.)
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:12 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Sore loser laws like the one on West Virginia’s books are exactly what they sound like — and they’re fairly common. All states save for three, Connecticut, Iowa, and New York, have these laws on the books to make sure that when candidates have lost, they are truly out of the race, according to a 2011 Georgetown Law Review article by Emory associate law professor Michael Kang.
The near omnipresence of sore loser laws is typically assumed to be a stable feature of twentieth-century politics, but their spread across the United States is surprisingly recent. As late as 1985, about half the states had a sore loser law or a functional equivalent that prohibited losing candidates in a party primary from appearing on the ballot in the general election. By 2007, however, almost every state had enacted one.
No really guys, political parties are just private organizations. Private organizations which the government enforces your fealty and obeisance to.
posted by XMLicious at 9:16 AM on May 9 [9 favorites]


then the affair, cover-up, and abortion all involved Candidate Trump and/or President Trump, and the "changed man" excuse loses most of its power

Let's not forget Michael Wolfe quoting Steve Bannon in Fire and Fury about the "hundred" women they had to pay off or manage out of the way during the campaign.

Trump has been a sexual predator for half a century; he would not have stopped during the campaign.
posted by suelac at 9:20 AM on May 9 [19 favorites]


Politico: There were 20 open Democratic House primaries with women on the ballot Tuesday night, and voters selected a female nominee in 17 of them.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:20 AM on May 9 [97 favorites]


Btw, this list of federal political sex scandals in the U.S. is quite fascinating, rabbit-hole worthy for history buffs.
posted by Melismata at 9:22 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Reuters: AT&T payments Trump lawyer more than reported -- source familiar. That's really all there is to the story right now, that it was more than $200,000, but clearly this is going to keep getting worse.

I still want to know how and why AT&T knew to hire Essential Consultants for their "insights." How did Cohen market this scam?
posted by zachlipton at 9:23 AM on May 9 [39 favorites]


And now Novartis says their contract with Cohen was $100,000/mo for a year (via Eamon Javers, CNBC).
posted by pjenks at 9:30 AM on May 9 [27 favorites]




I still want to know how and why AT&T knew to hire Essential Consultants for their "insights." How did Cohen market this scam?

That name is good marketing in itself, these particular consultants really are essential if you want to pay to play in this administration.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:33 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Although it's not clear from that statement how much they actually paid.
@EamonJavers: Novartis: “In March 2017, Novartis had its first meeting with (Cohen)...Novartis determined that Michael Cohen + Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters,” decided not to engage further.
posted by pjenks at 9:33 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Where the hell did all this money go? With all of this cash flowing in, why the hell did he need to take out a gigantic mortgage?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:34 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Where the hell did all this money go? With all of this cash flowing in, why the hell did he need to take out a gigantic mortgage?

You've got to think that Robert Mueller and his team are really having a lot of fun at work every day.
posted by pjenks at 9:36 AM on May 9 [59 favorites]


AT&T payments Trump lawyer more than reported -- source familiar. That's really all there is to the story right now, that it was more than $200,000, but clearly this is going to keep getting worse.

It's going to turn out that they also gave him all those phones that got seized.
posted by srboisvert at 9:36 AM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Think your regional heatwave is bad? Sure, hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit in early May in Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ is unpleasant, but the arctic has its own heat spike, with temperatures 30 to 35 degrees F. above average (Weather.com video segment), and this is after a third winter of heat spikes.

That's totally normal, nothing to see here. *hops back in H2, guns it out of the parking lot, over the median, and nearly kills a bicyclist or two* Freedom!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on May 9 [31 favorites]


Talking Points Memo: When asked if he deserves the Nobel Prize, President Donald Trump said that “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it.”

OK, that was pretty funny, I'm going to give him a break on that one as long as he rots in jail
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:38 AM on May 9 [34 favorites]


Uhhh this looks suspicious as hell. Columbus Nova (which paid Michael Cohen) went on an at-right domain buying spree. They own CarlCuck.com (it's a 4chan thing, explained in the link), alt-right.co, alternate-rt.com [really, yes]), alt-rite.com, and others. And registered them in their own name and address during 2016-2017. None of them were actually used for anything, but "They were purchased in Columbus Nova's name by Frederick Intrater—the company's design manager, brother of CEO Andrew Intrater and cousin of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who owns parent company Renova—using Columbus Nova's NYC address."

Where the hell did all this money go? With all of this cash flowing in, why the hell did he need to take out a gigantic mortgage?

This is what I keep coming back to as well. There were two Michael Cohen stories yesterday. One that his loans are in trouble and the bank made him put his apartment up as collateral to refinance, and the other is that millions of dollars were pouring into his account from Fortune 500 companies. Avenatti clearly didn't have enough evidence on Lawrence O'Donnell last night on this, but he hinted pretty hard that the interesting story is the outflow of money from Essential Consultants and said it didn't all go to Cohen personally. Given everything we know about Donald Trump, does he strike you as the person to let Cohen profit off him without insisting on a cut?
posted by zachlipton at 9:39 AM on May 9 [46 favorites]


Thanks for the reminder that our current troubles are not new.

Oh, absolutely this - years ago, I was helping a theater company research past US political scandals for program notes for their latest play, and the comforting thing that I took away from that personally was that "there have always been scandals, and we as a country have still managed to muddle on."

The pessimist in me, however, is saying that "we've forgotten the past and were doomed to be repeating it now." or more accurately, we teach our history in a piss-poor way.

Trump has been reminding me a hell of a lot of Andrew Jackson - the populist appeal-to-the-common-man tone of his campaign and his administration, the wholesale scapegoating of an entire group of people, even the whispers of associations with a prostitute. And, i mean, we lived through it as a country, but many, many innocent people paid a terrible cost for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:40 AM on May 9 [25 favorites]


Where the hell did all this money go? With all of this cash flowing in, why the hell did he need to take out a gigantic mortgage?

He’s the bagman. The money isn’t his, it just flows through his LLC, and he probably gets a percentage, but it comes in and goes out. Who puts in and who receives are the fascinating questions, but Cohen is the fixer and the middleman who keeps it moving. To facilitate the Stormy payment, he took out a loan, knowing it would flow back to him as “consulting fees”.
posted by nubs at 9:40 AM on May 9 [27 favorites]


I don't even believe that Michael Cohen would be able to unilaterally persuade these companies to pay him without the President's involvement. Why should the companies trust that this lawyer among many would be able to achieve the aims of their bribery? They would only do so if Trump himself had pointed them in the direction of Cohen or Essential Consultants.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:42 AM on May 9 [24 favorites]


i'm starting to think that I would like to see this trump fellow's tax returns
posted by lazaruslong at 9:43 AM on May 9 [151 favorites]


Michael Cohen is (or was) a very rich man, and it's possible that his richness depends on the knowledge that withdrawals of his wealth can happen on demand at any moment, from his mob friends, and from his Trump friends, if those are indeed separate classes of friend.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:43 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


And if it comes out he did pay for an abortion, it honestly won't matter at all now.

And it shouldn't. Paying for an abortion is not something that should be considered shameful. In fact, you can pay for random strangers' abortions right now. Supporting anti-abortion laws is what is shameful, regardless of whether you have had or paid for the procedure yourself. Supporting a healthcare system that requires money to access it is what is shameful. Abortion, like all healthcare, should be free at the point of service. We already know that Republicans are hypocrites, but the problem - from our side - isn't that they pay for abortions (we all should, through our taxes), it's that they prevent others from accessing the procedure.

For example, a Dem could say: "I commend President Trump for ensuring that this woman could access the healthcare services that she needed. But women shouldn't have to depend on the benevolence of their paramours to access healthcare. We should repeal the Hyde Amendment and expand prenatal coverage to ensure that all women can access comprehensive reproductive health services, even if they haven't been intimate with the President."
posted by melissasaurus at 9:44 AM on May 9 [176 favorites]




East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: They would only do so if Trump himself had pointed them in the direction of Cohen or Essential Consultants.

Or if Cohen provided something in writing from Trump to them. You know, like a paper trail. Or an email trail, except Trump doesn't do email. So yeah, it's a paper trail.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]



Think your regional heatwave is bad? Sure, hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit in early May in Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ is unpleasant, but the arctic has its own heat spike, with temperatures 30 to 35 degrees F. above average (Weather.com video segment), and this is after a third winter of heat spikes.



I'm like a human weathervane, because I get migraines when there are sudden increases and drops in temperature and I also experience excruciating nerve pain. Don't cry for me friends, because I've got my medical marijuana. But I'll tell you this: I know very well when the weather is weird because I'm muffling my screams so I don't wake up the neighbors.

The last few weeks have been VERY weird. The neighbors must either think I'm being tortured or having some very intense sex.
posted by angrycat at 9:48 AM on May 9 [29 favorites]


I'm staying sane by focusing exclusively on local politics, mutual aid, and direct action -
build the society you want to see *heads to new school picket line*
posted by The Whelk at 9:48 AM on May 9 [51 favorites]


Treasury inspector general launches probe into possible leak of Michael Cohen’s banking records.

I mean, international confidence in the U.S. would plummet if people thought their hush money/bribery slush funds weren't private.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:54 AM on May 9 [45 favorites]


Hopefully it's the Inspector General that leaked them. The perfect crime.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:56 AM on May 9 [14 favorites]


From the new (third) Novartis statement:
With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain US healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act. The agreement was for a term of one year, and paid Essential Consultants 100,000 USD per month. In March 2017, Novartis had its first meeting with Michael Cohen under this agreement. Following this initial meeting, Novartis determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further. As the contract unfortunately could only be terminated for cause, payments continued to be made until the contract expired by its own terms in February 2018.
We're not even bothering to pretend anymore. They had one damn meeting and were all "oh nevermind, you're completely useless, we'll just pay you $100,000/month for the next year anyway?" No interview, no "hey is there actually anything you can do for us?" before you signed the contract?

There are so many legal forms of grift in this country. Cohen could have gone off and got himself a lobbying gig, sold the same access and "insights" to hungry corporations, and been fine. Nobody blinks twice at AT&T or Novartis paying Trump-connected lobbyists. But legitimate lobbying firms have a weird insistence on making profits rather than funneling money around in suspicious front companies, so here we are.
posted by zachlipton at 9:59 AM on May 9 [91 favorites]


One-million-two-hundred-thousand dollars. For, supposedly, nothing. Not worth reporting to your shareholders, eh?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:01 AM on May 9 [38 favorites]


Treasury inspector general launches probe into possible leak of Michael Cohen’s banking records.

Sounds good, how about a probe into Michael Cohen's banking activity while you are at it? It seems like a few financial institutions might have been flagging his activity, what happened with that?
posted by nubs at 10:02 AM on May 9 [13 favorites]


Melissasaurus, thanks for that link to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Just switched my Amazon smile recipient to them.
posted by mabelstreet at 10:02 AM on May 9 [42 favorites]


IANAL but I believe Federal courts claim jurisdiction over bribery all around the world, even if the executives involved in these payments were at Novartis HQ in Switzerland. Perhaps foreign residents will want to co-operate with any investigation in the hope that they can continue to travel the world without being extradited to the US.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:03 AM on May 9 [3 favorites]


In March 2017, Novartis had its first meeting with Michael Cohen under this agreement. Following this initial meeting, Novartis determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further. As the contract unfortunately could only be terminated for cause, payments continued to be made until the contract expired by its own terms in February 2018.
I suppose it's possible to draft a contract such that inability "to provide the services ... anticipated" does not constitute grounds for termination "for cause", but it seems implausible to me.

[Edited to correct a minor-yet-annoying typo]
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:08 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


May 2017: Novartis to sever 250 U.S. workers days after announcing 500 cuts in Switzerland

So the same quarter they had 1.2 million to pay Cohen for "services", they laid off 750 employees and moved their data operations to Hyderabad.
posted by mochapickle at 10:09 AM on May 9 [66 favorites]


Paying for an abortion is not something that should be considered shameful.

There's a huge, huge, difference between paying for an abortion out of the goodness of your heart because you think everyone should have access to abortions, and being a man who is paying for the abortion of your mistress because you're afraid everyone will find out you had sex with her if she has your baby, or who is who is paying for the abortion because it's cheaper than child support.
posted by corb at 10:15 AM on May 9 [56 favorites]


The Senate has forced a vote to restore net neutrality

And via Political Wire, several House Republicans have filed a discharge petition to force a vote on restoring DACA protections.
If every Democrat supports the idea, which sources said is likely, 20 Republicans would have to break ranks and join them to trigger the votes.”

Two sources intimately involved in the effort say at least 15 Republicans are ready to join.
posted by Gelatin at 10:15 AM on May 9 [38 favorites]


There's a huge, huge, difference between paying for an abortion out of the goodness of your heart because you think everyone should have access to abortions, and being a man who is paying for the abortion of your mistress because you're afraid everyone will find out you had sex with her if she has your baby, or who is who is paying for the abortion because it's cheaper than child support.

And if you're running for President as the nominee of a party that believes that all abortions should be illegal, it's at the very least extremely ironic.
posted by Gelatin at 10:16 AM on May 9 [61 favorites]


Treasury inspector general launches probe into possible leak of Michael Cohen’s banking records.

Erg. What's Avenatti's exposure here?
posted by notyou at 10:25 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I suppose it's possible to draft a contract such that inability "to provide the services ... anticipated" does not constitute grounds for termination "for cause", but it seems implausible to me.

Moreover, the very explanation that a company which has $50Bn in annual revenue would (intentionally) sign any consulting agreement without a termination for convenience clause is laughable on its face.
posted by Room 101 at 10:26 AM on May 9 [25 favorites]


If I'm shelling out $100K/month I better be getting something in return. I don't care if the most Cohen can do is sling hash browns in the Novartis cafeteria for 20 hours/week, he'll be the worlds best paid lunch lady and he'll be proud to do it!
posted by PenDevil at 10:29 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


There's a huge, huge, difference between paying for an abortion out of the goodness of your heart because you think everyone should have access to abortions, and being a man who is paying for the abortion of your mistress because you're afraid everyone will find out you had sex with her if she has your baby, or who is who is paying for the abortion because it's cheaper than child support.

There's a huge difference if you're paying for that abortion while stacking the courts to make sure that no one else can.
posted by Miss Cellania at 10:29 AM on May 9 [68 favorites]


(Avenatti says to follow where the money went)

So the porn star's lawyer is...Deep Throat? C'mon writers, you're not even trying to hide it anymore. We are truly living in a simulation.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:31 AM on May 9 [20 favorites]


Bernie Sanders introducing bill for major overhaul of labor law, let workers unionize via card check, ban “right to work,” legalize secondary boycotts, & expand labor law definition of employee. Co-sponsored by Warren, Harris, Gillibrand, Brown.

Not going anywhere now, of course, but this is about moving the window and laying groundwork.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:33 AM on May 9 [104 favorites]


Erg. What's Avenatti's exposure here?

Im guessing he is too smart to have taken anything illegally himself or to have asked about where any documents that found their way to him might have been procured. . . because at least he seems to smart to have done any of that.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:34 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I still want to know how and why AT&T knew to hire Essential Consultants for their "insights."

That is why corporations hire lobbyists. It's the lobbyist's job to tell you whose palm you have to grease to get your issues heard.

Michael Cohen had the title of National Deputy Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The job of the finance chairman is to collect money from lobbyists. That title indicates to the lobbyist that this is the person you need to talk to.

The lobbyist meets with Cohen and says "Who do I write the check out to?" and Cohen says "Make it out to Essential Consultants" and that is that. It ain't rocket science. It's a well established procedure.
posted by JackFlash at 10:34 AM on May 9 [30 favorites]


So the porn star's lawyer is...Deep Throat? C'mon writers, you're not even trying to hide it anymore. We are truly living in a simulation.

His (presumably) FinCEN source is Deep Throat. Avenetti's Woodward or Bernstein.
posted by scalefree at 10:38 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]


One thing I'm curious about in all of this is how cheap Trump is. If he was really a billionaire, why would he be satisfied with Novartis only paying him one million (+/-) for his services, a payment that carried a huge risk? Yes, I'm assuming the payment went directly to Trump with a small fee to Cohen.

Another thing I'm thinking about is that Obama was given the Nobel peace prize for not being Bush. What will the next Democratic president get? Sainthood while still living? Democrats should keep breathing and focus on the goal, not the drama. Whoever is not-Trump will receive all the love the world has to give.
posted by mumimor at 10:39 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]


Hours into his new job, Trump’s ambassador to Germany offends his hosts, in which we made a notorious Twitter troll an ambassador to a key ally, and they're relishing being offended on his first day of the job:
In a tweet following President Trump’s announcement to leave the Iran nuclear deal, Grenell wrote that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” Germany, alongside France and Britain, wants to stick to the deal Trump is seeking to scrap. And while Grenell’s post may not deviate from the official White House stance on future European business dealings with Iran, the timing and tone struck some German politicians, journalists and business executives as offensive and inappropriate.
...
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told Germany’s Der Spiegel newsmagazine that the tweet was an “impertinence.”

“This man was accredited as ambassador only yesterday. To give German businesses such orders … that’s just not how you can treat your allies,” Asselborn said.
Erg. What's Avenatti's exposure here?

My super super limited quite-possibly-inaccurate understanding of the law is that financial institutions are prohibited by law from disclosing the existence of a SAR and that government employees are prohibited by law from disclosing the existence of a SAR except in the performance of "official duties consistent with Title II of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)." If someone leaked SARs to Avenatti, they could be looking at prison time (perhaps they somehow came through Congress or something instead?), but I don't think Avenatti or anyone who received the information has a problem. As best I can tell, it's the leaking that's a crime, not possession.
posted by zachlipton at 10:40 AM on May 9 [21 favorites]


One thing I'm curious about in all of this is how cheap Trump is. If he was really a billionaire, why would he be satisfied with Novartis only paying him one million (+/-) for his services, a payment that carried a huge risk? Yes, I'm assuming the payment went directly to Trump with a small fee to Cohen.

Lex Luthor has been known to sell his consultant services as a billionaire businessman/supervillain. His fee is one million dollars per minute, with a ten-minute minimum, and this was back in the '80s. Trump is really undercutting himself here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:49 AM on May 9 [13 favorites]


But can't Avenatti be said to have leaked it, also?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:49 AM on May 9




One thing I'm curious about in all of this is how cheap Trump is. If he was really a billionaire, why would he be satisfied with Novartis only paying him one million (+/-) for his services, a payment that carried a huge risk?

I realize that Trump is only recently and marginally a politician, but as a group, they're incredibly cheap. A million bucks is on the order of what Paul Ryan's been handed by the Kochs and other billionaires in the last year or so for giving them many, many times more than that in tax relief. Even with all of the money flooding into politics nowadays, they're still by and large penny ante crooks compared to the high rollers.
posted by Copronymus at 10:55 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]


But can't Avenatti be said to have leaked it, also?

It's (usually) legal to receive confidential documents and publish them. The famous case on this is NYT v United States, decided during Watergate (the real one, not Stupid Watergate). Avenatti isn't himself a newspaper, but he also has first amendment rights.

This isn't the first time SARs were leaked during Stupid Watergate. Buzzfeed got a look at Manafort's.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:56 AM on May 9 [11 favorites]






@AFP: #BREAKING Saudis will seek nuclear weapon if Iran does, minister says

First we got the bomb and that was good,
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.

posted by zachlipton at 11:01 AM on May 9 [26 favorites]


One thing I'm curious about in all of this is how cheap Trump is. If he was really a billionaire, why would he be satisfied with Novartis only paying him one million (+/-) for his services, a payment that carried a huge risk?

How many billionaires have your heard of who need to slap their names on steaks and get rich quick seminars because they don't really need the money?
posted by PenDevil at 11:06 AM on May 9 [64 favorites]


The blue wave is a trickle outside of large cities.
I'm guessing it's because people aren't paying attention. When the realities of the trade war and the the loss of immigrant labor reaches ordinary people, things will change. But it is obviously a big question wether that will happen before or after November.
posted by mumimor at 11:07 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Lex Luthor has been known to sell his consultant services as a billionaire businessman/supervillain. His fee is one million dollars per minute, with a ten-minute minimum, and this was back in the '80s. Trump is really undercutting himself here.

Reminder that supervillain analogies never work for Trump because supervillains usually have things they're actually good at.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:07 AM on May 9 [34 favorites]


Juan Cole : Trump Warmonger moves on Iran are from Iraq Playbook............
people like Bolton who were part of the original plot have reemerged, or that the People’s Jihadi Organization (MEK) is an Iranian cell that is playing the role of Chalabi and has Bolton, Pompeo, Giuliani and others in its back pocket (it also has strong connections to Israeli intelligence). I don’t need to point out that Iran is being maneuvered into expelling UN inspectors so that a propaganda campaign can be waged. The United Arab Emirates, part of the current plot, even had its house organ Alarabiya do a “documentary” monstrously alleging that Iran was behind 9/11.

The stage is set.
posted by adamvasco at 11:11 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Even on the left, grifters gonna grift.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:12 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


The blue wave is a trickle outside of large cities.

That only cites data up to 2016. The whole idea of the Blue Wave is that it is/will be a 2018 phenomenon, and the empirical support for it comes from recent polls and special elections. Be Skeptical Of Anyone Who Tells You They Know How Democrats Can Win In November.
posted by Jpfed at 11:13 AM on May 9 [42 favorites]



The blue wave is a trickle outside of large cities.

I'm going to hold my pessimism until something bigger than "The Daily Yonder" starts Debbie Downering. We got a very nice blue wave in the Virginia suburbs and in Alabama, of all places.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:13 AM on May 9 [27 favorites]


More details keep coming out. STAT News (yes, STAT news is doing exclusives on the President's lawyer now, and that somehow makes sense), Trump’s lawyer pitched himself as a fixer to Novartis and got paid $1.2 million
The curious relationship between one of the world’s biggest drug makers and President Trump’s personal lawyer began early last year when Michael Cohen, a longtime fixer for the president, reached out to Novartis’s then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new administration, according to an employee inside Novartis familiar with the matter.

Jimenez took the call and then instructed his team to reach a deal with Cohen. A one-year contract worth $1.2 million was signed with Cohen in February 2017. The company’s hope was that Cohen could help it navigate a bevy of uncertain issues facing the drug maker — from potential changes to the Affordable Care Act and tax reform to navigating reimbursement challenges for medicines.

“He reached out to us,” the Novartis employee said, providing STAT with the company’s version of events as it scrambles to contain the fallout from being entangled in the investigations surrounding Trump and his inner circle, including Cohen. “With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players. We were trying to find an inroad into the administration. Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him. It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist.”

The employee could not explain why Novartis would have agreed to a deal with a lawyer with no background in health care and without deep Washington ties. The extent to which Novartis conducted any due diligence into Cohen or his track record as a Trump insider and Washington player is uncertain. Cohen and Jimenez could not be reached for comment.

In March 2017, a group of Novartis employees, mostly from the government affairs and lobbying teams, met with Cohen in New York to discuss specific issues and strategies. But the meeting was a disappointment, the insider explained, and the Novartis squad left with the impression that Cohen and Essential Consultants — the firm controlled by Cohen that Novartis was making payments to — may not be able to deliver.

“At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was a probably a slippery slope to engage him. So they decided not to really engage Cohen for any activities after that,” the employee continued. Rather than attempt to cancel the contract, the company allowed it to lapse early in 2018 and not run the risk of ticking off the president. “It might have caused anger,” this person said.
That Cohen is the one who reached out to them, specifically selling access, is significant. Just how many companies was he marketing his services to? And that they're admitting they just paid for no services but kept paying anyway because they didn't want trouble with the president is a hell of a thing, seeing as they weren't paying the president.
posted by zachlipton at 11:22 AM on May 9 [67 favorites]


Oddly, this very afternoon I was in an initial meeting with a group of consultants/devs to get a project going. We're going to give them some money, they're going to give us some software.

What did the initial meeting consist of? Checking that we're all agreed on what's going to happen, and laying out the terms of the contract. That's right - we didn't decide to spend lots of money on people until we'd had that first meeting. Shocking, I know - and even more shocking, that's how it's always been.

So no, Novartis, your story is a lie (and a really poor one, at that). What are you hiding?
posted by Devonian at 11:24 AM on May 9 [44 favorites]


Stephen Colbert talked to Kamala Harris (last week?) and it certainly sounds like there is quite a bit the public doesn't know yet about the investigation.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:26 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


@AFP: #BREAKING Saudis will seek nuclear weapon if Iran does, minister says

And now we see a strategy.
posted by rhizome at 11:33 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Dear Novartis,

In light of recent news that you paid Michael Cohen $100,000 per month to not do anything for you, please be aware that I can provide the same level of unservice at a fraction of the cost. I will gladly do nothing at all for you for $10,000 per month--an incredible 90% less than what you've been paying Mr. Cohen.

Sincerely,

kirkaracha
posted by kirkaracha at 11:33 AM on May 9 [103 favorites]


If you're as childish as I am, you'll enjoy how the Twitterverse is offering its totally useless non-services to Novartis for various sums.

Way to get your company name in the news, guys! Oh how, their crisis PR firm must be enjoying this.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:35 AM on May 9 [28 favorites]


Hours into his new job, Trump’s ambassador to Germany offends his hosts

It is a measure of how utterly fucking batshit things are these days that I was at least 70% sure that it was going to be something like him goose-stepping around Berlin using a comb for a moustache and ranting in mock-German.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:36 AM on May 9 [53 favorites]


This is all very funny to joke about, but this is how the 1% operate. Someone drawing down a $100K salary for nothing just because no one wants to go through the awkwardness or legalities of terminating the contract is absolutely normal. Once you're in the door, windfalls like this are just part of the deal. The American media establishment has done a very good job of hiding just how good it is to live in that world, with all our thinkpieces about the poor old white rich men.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:39 AM on May 9 [38 favorites]


Just how many companies was he marketing his services to?

And were there others paying into other LLCs, either via Cohen, or direct to Trump via his dozens of LLC shell companies.
We don’t know the truth behind payments to the LLCs because these limited liability companies are what are known as “pass-through” entities. They do not pay corporate income tax; instead, their profits simply “pass through” to the owner — i.e., to Donald Trump — who then pays individual income tax on his taxable income.

If Trump disclosed his tax returns, as is customary for presidential candidates, then those returns would contain fairly detailed statements regarding the incomes of these various entities. It would, of course, still be possible to conceal the true source of income through the use of further shell companies. A firm that wanted to pay Trump could, for example, create an indirectly controlled intermediary shell company, give money to that shell entity, and then have the shell entity hire DT Aerospace (Bermuda) LLC or whichever other Trump-owned firm it likes. But if we saw Trump’s books, we would at least see clear evidence of him getting paid by mystery entities that could then be investigated by Congress or by journalists on their own terms.

Without the tax returns, however, we know nothing.
Oh, and in other Trump related massive stupids in international diplomacy: Trump angers Scots with ban on Irn-Bru at luxury golf resort
posted by Buntix at 11:42 AM on May 9 [19 favorites]


Someone drawing down a $100K salary for nothing just because no one wants to go through the awkwardness or legalities of terminating the contract is absolutely normal.

It's a bullshit cover story. Cohen was paid the year's worth of money because the money was intended to bribe the President. This is not comparable to everyday corporate behavior.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:42 AM on May 9 [52 favorites]


I’m pretty sure large corporations bribe pols, in one way or another, with alarming regularity.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:46 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]


"A no-show job is a paid position that ostensibly requires the holder to perform duties, but for which no work, or even attendance, is actually expected. The awarding of no-show jobs is a form of political or corporate corruption."

Just like the mob but much, much dumber. Just a bunch of Fredos.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:48 AM on May 9 [36 favorites]


@svdate:
NEW: Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says the revelations about all the money Michael Cohen received through the same dummy corp he created to pay Stormy Daniels have nothing to with Trump. "There’s not involvement of the president in any of that," he said. "We can’t be responsible for what Michael Cohen is doing.”

Giuliani did concede that if, as mayor of New York, his personal lawyer had been accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for access to the mayor's office, he wouldn't have liked it. "I wouldn’t be happy about it. But I wouldn’t be investigated for it.”
Trump last month:
Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.
Can't use Cohen to dodge questions in April and then say you have nothing to do with the guy in May.
posted by zachlipton at 11:50 AM on May 9 [55 favorites]


Trump angers Scots with ban on Irn-Bru at luxury golf resort

From the article, key details bolded by me:
Scotland’s favourite non-alcoholic drink banned from Turnberry resort over its carpet-staining properties

The combination of colourants that give the fizzy drink its distinctive luminous orange hue are believed to be responsible for its notorious indelibility.
Trump's Mirror: It never fails.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:51 AM on May 9 [62 favorites]


Novartis didn't ask Cohen to do anything because he could not deliver the access he promised. They continued to pay him because if they stopped, the person they were trying to get access to would be mad. Hmm.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:51 AM on May 9 [44 favorites]


Someone drawing down a $100K salary for nothing just because no one wants to go through the awkwardness or legalities of terminating the contract is absolutely normal

This is not my experience at all... Large corporations have entire departments devoted to not paying any contract they can possibly get out of. They will refuse entire bills if a single line item is out of order, and go back and forth for months negotiating it down. If Novartis' story were at all true they absolutely would have stopped paying after that first meeting went South. The only reason they would quietly keep paying is to avoid drawing attention to themselves (or because they were actually getting what they were paying for. Or both.)
posted by Roommate at 11:51 AM on May 9 [44 favorites]


@kasie: BREAKING: @Sen_JoeManchin will vote YES on Gina Haspel nomination, he tells me

If you happen to live in West Virginia, call, etc...
posted by zachlipton at 11:53 AM on May 9 [13 favorites]


@AFP: #BREAKING Saudis will seek nuclear weapon if Iran does, minister says

Last night, Syria said Israel carried out an attack on a military base south of Damascus, which was used by Iranian forces.

Ha'aretz: Syria Blames Israel for Strike Near Damascus; Target Was Iranian Missiles Aimed at Israel. (Eight Iranians killed, monitor says ■ Israel opens bomb shelters, bracing for imminent Iranian attack ■ Military calls up some reserves ■ U.S. embassy issues travel warning for Golan Heights )
Israel believes Iran is determined to take revenge for the April 9 airstrike on Syria’s T4 airbase, which killed seven Iranian military advisers and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran blames Israel for this attack.
Netanyahu is currently in Moscow, seeking Putin's support. Iran and Russia are allies, so it's hard to predict where this is all going.
posted by zarq at 11:53 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]


Someone drawing down a $100K salary for nothing just because no one wants to go through the awkwardness or legalities of terminating the contract is absolutely normal


I'm really curious about where this statement comes from. Is it just a general sort of supposition about what you think it must be like, or is it borne from research or personal experience?
posted by Jpfed at 11:55 AM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Sheesh, Cohen's jawdropping financial scandals keeping piling up and up and up, just like they did for Scott Pruitt. He's certain to suffer the same fate for it. There's a reason Donald's catchphrase is "You're Fired!", and this kind of swampiness is the last thing the president wants to associate himself with.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:56 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Mick Mulvaney takes aim at CFPB’s student protection unit
The student arm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is being folded into another office at the agency, a consolidation that some fear will limit its ability to stand up for student loan borrowers.

In a memo obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post, Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the CFPB, informed staffers of a reorganization that will tuck the office of students and young consumers into the bureau’s office of financial education. The memo offers no explicit details on how the consolidation will affect employees or their duties, other than to say that the bureau will coordinate with the union before implementation of changes. A CFPB spokesman said the bureau has no further information at this time.

Still, advocacy groups, liberal lawmakers and former employees at the bureau are interpreting the news as an intentional move to dismantle the only unit in the federal government solely dedicated to protecting student loan borrowers from predatory actors in the financial sector.
That Mulvaney views student loans as something people need to be educated about, rather than protected from, says it all.
posted by zachlipton at 11:57 AM on May 9 [21 favorites]


That Mulvaney views student loans as something people need to be educated about, rather than protected from, says it all.

He doesn't really care about educating people about them either. He's just shutting down the Bureau one department at a time.
posted by Etrigan at 12:02 PM on May 9 [24 favorites]


I called the DC office of my Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to ask whether she supported the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. I was told the Senator had not issued any statements regarding the bill.

I said I was disappointed because on April 15th, she told Chuck Todd that she "would like to see the final text of that before I state whether I would support it or not". Then on April 26th the final text was released when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, with the support of Ernst's colleague Senator Grassley (R-IA). Then on April 27th she told constituents that she would need to see the full text of the bill, apparently unaware that it had been released. Now, two weeks after the bill was released, she was remaining silent.

I asked the staffer whether she could suggest any reason that the Senator might be refusing to do her job, but the staffer could not. I suggested it might be because Senator Ernst was scared of the President, because of his mean tweets. I said I believed it was important that, since it turns out the President was running a slush fund to pay hush-money to his sexual partners in order to win an election and was then getting the payments reimbursed using million-dollar bribes from major corporations and thousands of dollars from a Russian oligarch sanctioned for election interference, the President should not be a King above the law and able to do anything he wants without facing justice.

I urged the Senator to follow the lead of Senator Grassley in supporting the bill, instead of remaining silent, like a coward. I was thanked and my comments will be passed along
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:02 PM on May 9 [91 favorites]


From the German story link comes this hidden gem: Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands just got caught lying about the Dutch

There's a pattern here.

The question is whether Europe will permit war in its backyard. Refugee flows will only increase. These lunatics just want war, they don't care if its an Un or an Iran.
posted by infini at 12:02 PM on May 9 [15 favorites]


It's a bullshit cover story. Cohen was paid the year's worth of money because the money was intended to bribe the President. This is not comparable to everyday corporate behavior.

Unfortunately it may be everyday corporate behavior specifically for Novartis. Novartis has been implicated in bribery scandals across the globe. It's their s.o.p.
posted by Justinian at 12:02 PM on May 9 [10 favorites]


Listen, yall. I've worked with Novartis. There are very few people at the company who could approve a $100k payment as the first of twelve payments on a contract.

Like, less than 10.

This is damning, blatantly corrupt attempt to bribe the President through a transparently corrupt deal. Journalists need to demand details, and track this down. That Novartis would either have been approached for such payment, and didn't go to the FBI, or alternatively, attempted to set up such a bribe on their own, is absolutely awful.
posted by odinsdream at 12:03 PM on May 9 [177 favorites]


I just. Can't overly express this. Entire phase III drug studies cost Novartis less, in terms of payment outlay per amount of time invested.

This is hideously corrupt.
posted by odinsdream at 12:05 PM on May 9 [93 favorites]


Sheesh, Cohen's jawdropping financial scandals keeping piling up and up and up, just like they did for Scott Pruitt. He's certain to suffer the same fate for it. There's a reason Donald's catchphrase is "You're Fired!", and this kind of swampiness is the last thing the president wants to associate himself with

We've really got to standardize on a /sarcasm tag.
posted by benzenedream at 12:08 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Fantastic thread. I'm going to do a perfunctory one next time just to lower the bar back down to a level most Mefites can achieve.
posted by msalt at 12:10 PM on May 9 [39 favorites]


Novartis didn't ask Cohen to do anything because he could not deliver the access he promised. They continued to pay him because if they stopped, the person they were trying to get access to would be mad.

I think this is closer to the truth. In a protection racket, you don't pay for someone to do something, you pay for them NOT to do something (burn down your shop, obstruct your merger, deny your clinical trial, etc.)
posted by sapere aude at 12:12 PM on May 9 [17 favorites]


Someone drawing down a $100K salary for nothing just because no one wants to go through the awkwardness or legalities of terminating the contract is absolutely normal.

People keep saying this, but salaries are usually expressed as annual totals, i.e., in this case, $1.2M, not $100K.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:12 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


That Novartis would either have been approached for such payment, and didn't go to the FBI, or alternatively, attempted to set up such a bribe on their own, is absolutely awful.

Novartis has escalated from bribing doctors with kickbacks to bribing politicians; it's awful but it's not really surprising. This is a thing that they do. The only shock would be if they truly got nothing for the money, this time around.
posted by halation at 12:14 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Like, to give you an idea of how SOP this is for Novartis:
The alleged bribery scheme in Greece goes back a decade and encompasses 10 former ministers. Among the allegations are that Greece’s health minister from 2006 to 2009 took €40 million ($49 million) in exchange for ordering “a huge amount” of Novartis products, while the health minister working between 2009 and 2010 allegedly accepted €120,000 ($147,000) from the company and laundered it through a computer hardware firm.
posted by halation at 12:17 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


[Couple deleted; let's not go down the road of open-ended "will they get away with it"/"surely this" competing cynical vs optimistic predictions.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:19 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


In March 2017, a group of Novartis employees, mostly from the government affairs and lobbying teams, met with Cohen in New York to discuss specific issues and strategies. But the meeting was a disappointment, the insider explained, and the Novartis squad left with the impression that Cohen and Essential Consultants — the firm controlled by Cohen that Novartis was making payments to — may not be able to deliver.

“At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was a probably a slippery slope to engage him. So they decided not to really engage Cohen for any activities after that,” the employee continued. Rather than attempt to cancel the contract, the company allowed it to lapse early in 2018 and not run the risk of ticking off the president. “It might have caused anger,” this person said.
This implies:
  • Novartis knew they were bribing the President.
  • The President knew he was being bribed by Novartis.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:21 PM on May 9 [68 favorites]


And were there others paying into other LLCs, either via Cohen, or direct to Trump via his dozens of LLC shell companies.

That's a bit of an understatement. Trump has 564 LLC shell entities (google doc spreadsheet). That is not normal, even for a so-called billionaire.

There is no public information indicating how much money any of these hundreds of LLCs make nor the sources of their income. Any of these hundreds of LLCs could be used as a vehicle to secretly funnel money to Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 12:22 PM on May 9 [23 favorites]


Someone drawing down a $100K salary for nothing just because no one wants to go through the awkwardness or legalities of terminating the contract is absolutely normal

This is not my experience at all... Large corporations have entire departments devoted to not paying any contract they can possibly get out of. They will refuse entire bills if a single line item is out of order, and go back and forth for months negotiating it down.


EXACTLY. Show me one contractor or freelancer who has ever gotten paid promptly by any corporate accounting department. They know contractors can't do shit about it, and every day delayed is basically an interest free loan for them. So they'll spend like 5 months "losing" your W-9 before they deny payment because you billed the federal mileage reimbursement rate and not the state one or whatever.

I just spent my entire morning re-billing a corporate gig for the umpeenth time. The job itself took 3 hours, I have been sending paperwork back and forth for 6 weeks.

"We'll just keep sending this guy checks, too much trouble dealing with it" bull fucking shit this is a bribe.
posted by bradbane at 12:26 PM on May 9 [74 favorites]


This is hideously corrupt.

No doubt.

And remember, folks, some of the same journalists, Republican legislators, conservatives -- including people you and I know personally -- and even Democrats who will view this with a shrug and say "They're just playing the game the way it's played" or, at best, will mumble that yeahitssortamaybebad absolutely will lose their shit at the thought that somewhere out there in America, a black woman is on welfare but also has a cell phone.

They will cry for thunder, fury, vengeance and punishment if they learn that a Latino family is lying about their address to get their child into a better school than the one they're zoned for.

They've already forgotten about the massive injustices caused by the Trump administration's immigration policies.

But this and other instances of white collar corruption? Meh.

I'm a 44 year old black man, and I've dealt with racism all the way back to the very beginnings of my memories in this life, and sometimes I still can't believe just how much racism factors into this country's approach to justice, fairness, charity, and public policy.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:28 PM on May 9 [248 favorites]


Has anyone been listening to Pro Publica's Trump Inc. podcast? I am curious if I am getting that info in Metafilter already, or if they have even more.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 12:30 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


The extent to which Novartis conducted any due diligence into Cohen or his track record as a Trump insider and Washington player is uncertain

Nor any due diligence on the contract it seems. I deal with contracts with foundations/other granting bodies fairly regularly and a constant boilerplate clause is one that allows for early termination of the agreement, with XX number of days of notice, no cause needed. It's in every fucking contract, never mind the amount, and we don't get to the contract stage without an awful lot of meetings and discussions about what, exactly, the contract is for in terms of deliverables and expected outcomes and so forth.

So for me to believe that Novartis issued a contract without such a clause, without even an initial meeting, means that either I believe their legal department is staggeringly inept in so far as crafting such agreements and doing any due diligence with regards to what the contract covers, or there is something else going on. I don't think Novartis got to where it is with staggeringly inept lawyers. This stinks of corruption more than week old fish wrap.
posted by nubs at 12:32 PM on May 9 [18 favorites]


People keep saying this, but salaries are usually expressed as annual totals, i.e., in this case, $1.2M, not $100K.

In California, it's often expressed as a monthly salary. It still weirds me out to hear it that way, though.
posted by The World Famous at 12:32 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I’m pretty sure large corporations bribe pols, in one way or another, with alarming regularity.

Then-Vice President Spiro Agnew pled no contest to tax evasion and resigned in 1973 based on bribes he accepted as a Maryland official.
posted by Gelatin at 12:37 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Nor any due diligence on the contract it seems. I deal with contracts with foundations/other granting bodies fairly regularly and a constant boilerplate clause is one that allows for early termination of the agreement, with XX number of days of notice, no cause needed.

Exactly. And here, it's not even something that needs that sophisticated an interpretation. Companies routinely bargain down the bills from firms that provide consulting or legal services and, if no services are performed, simply terminate the contract and don't pay. No company enters into a fixed-term service contract, discovers immediately that the contractor will not perform under the contract, but then just keeps paying the full contract amount for the full term anyway.

If they hired a big law firm with a monthly flat-fee agreement for a year and then discovered during the first month that the firm could not perform the services contemplated under the flat-fee agreement, they would immediately terminate the contract or simply refuse to pay. Do people think big companies never refuse to pay contractors who don't do their jobs? Do people think big companies never double dare those contractors to go ahead and sue for breach of contract if they really think a court will side with the contractor who failed to perform under the contract and, as a result didn't get paid?

The excuses these companies are making are, incredibly, even more transparent lies than what routinely comes from Trump himself.
posted by The World Famous at 12:39 PM on May 9 [9 favorites]


Cohen got paid $1.2 million to do nothing for a year, but the state of Michigan thinks a poor person being unemployed for three months should have to lose their health insurance for a year.
posted by zachlipton at 12:41 PM on May 9 [157 favorites]


I don't think Novartis got to where it is with staggeringly inept lawyers. This stinks of corruption more than week old fish wrap.

Beyond that, we'd also have to believe that:
- Novartis thought that Cohen would be so terribly offended by not getting paid that it would risk retribution from the President a year ago, but
- That coming out today and saying 'yeah this Cohen guy was an idiot and not worth the money' ...wouldn't offend Cohen and wouldn't risk retribution from the President today.

And also that Cohen would be not offended by never meeting with Novartis or being taken seriously by them, and also not offended when they declined to renew the contract. Sure, money can paper over a lot, but it's weirdly specific that Novartis would assume that Cohen would be exactly not annoyed by getting ~a million dollars to perfectly offset everything else they did, but

...not so pleased by getting paid a million dollars that he would positively lobby the President on their behalf.

That's an incredibly narrow line to walk.

This is so transparently a lie that it feels kind of silly to even engage in pointing it out, but.
posted by cjelli at 12:42 PM on May 9 [10 favorites]


odinsdream: Listen, yall. I've worked with Novartis. There are very few people at the company who could approve a $100k payment as the first of twelve payments on a contract.

Given one of their very first statements on the matter -- i.e.: "any agreements with Essential Consultants were entered before our current CEO taking office in February of this year and have expired," -- it sounds like they are all too aware of this also and may have decided to hang it on the previous CEO.
posted by mhum at 12:49 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


Teacher Pay Is So Low in Some U.S. School Districts (How Low Is It?) That They’re Recruiting Overseas (Dana Goldstein for New York Times, May 2, 2018)
The latest wave of foreign workers sweeping into American jobs brought Donato Soberano from the Philippines to Arizona two years ago. He had to pay thousands of dollars to a job broker and lived for a time in an apartment with five other Filipino workers. The lure is the pay — 10 times more than what he made doing the same work back home.

But Mr. Soberano is not a hospitality worker or a home health aide. He is in another line of work that increasingly pays too little to attract enough Americans: Mr. Soberano is a public school teacher.
...
Among the latest states hit by the protests is Arizona, where teacher pay is more than $10,000 below the national average of $59,000 per year. The Pendergast Elementary School District, where Mr. Soberano works, has recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. They hold J-1 visas, which allow them to work temporarily in the United States, like au pairs or camp counselors, but offer no path to citizenship. More than 2,800 foreign teachers arrived on American soil last year through the J-1, according to the State Department, up from about 1,200 in 2010.
...
Much like other foreign workers, he went into debt to find a job in the United States. He said he used savings and a bank loan to pay $12,500, about three years’ worth of his salary in the Philippines, to Petro-Fil Manpower Services. That is a Filipino company of Ligaya Avenida, a California-based consultant who recruits and screens teachers for the J-1.

The payment covered Mr. Soberano’s airfare and rent for his first few months in Arizona, as well as a $2,500 fee for Ms. Avenida and a fee of several thousand dollars to Alliance Abroad Group, a Texas-based company that is an official State Department sponsor for J-1 visa holders. The J-1 lasts three years, with the option for two one-year extensions. For each year he works in the United States, Mr. Soberano will owe Alliance Abroad an additional $1,000 visa renewal fee.
Emphasis mine, because what the fuck is wrong with my country? Oh right, this is the invisible hand of the global market at work, sorry for my out-of-place concern.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:49 PM on May 9 [89 favorites]


Do people think big companies never refuse to pay contractors who don't do their jobs? Do people think big companies never double dare those contractors to go ahead and sue for breach of contract if they really think a court will side with the contractor who failed to perform under the contract and, as a result didn't get paid?

I'm aware of at least one company that refuses to fully pay contractors who do perform their jobs.
posted by nubs at 12:51 PM on May 9 [18 favorites]


Teacher Pay Is So Low in Some U.S. School Districts because retired, old white people flat out don't want their tax money to pay for the education of non-white children. And if states have to import other non-white people who are willing to work for extremely low wages to teach the kids of POC, they are ok with that. Reason #504,672 America Sucks
posted by pjsky at 12:55 PM on May 9 [49 favorites]


Novartis is full of shit. One, as everyone else has mentioned, they have many people devoted to squeezing dimes out of every contract. Two, the contract is not for some hourly rate or itemized services provided, it is just a big round number with lots of zeroes that an idiot mobster would choose as the price for talking to his bagman. Someone with half a brain would choose a less conspicuous number, randomize the payments, and itemize the hours of work to make it less obvious.
posted by benzenedream at 12:55 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Has anyone been listening to Pro Publica's Trump Inc. podcast? I am curious if I am getting that info in Metafilter already, or if they have even more.
posted by obliquity of the ecliptic at 3:30 PM on May 9 [+] [!]


Some of the same information is covered but there is a lot of narrative details that make it a very interesting and easy listen. Quite a bit of the early episodes deal with the Trump Org's recent dealings in India which I don't think have been in these threads too much.
posted by mmascolino at 12:58 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


This is why we need Muller and the process to go methodically and carefully. There are may legit businesses with flow. Cohen is scum but there may be little or nothing he's done that's illegal.

As people have noted before, valid grounds for impeachment is whatever the House thinks are valid. Usually this is said despairingly, as in "even if Trump is blatantly illegal, Republicans don't have to impeach him."

But it cuts the other way, too. Despicable behavior is always impeachable, whether or not it violates any laws or not. And Trump may be the perfect case for the wisdom of this approach.
posted by msalt at 1:04 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Fox News: Oliver North: @realDonaldTrump Should Sanction Iran and Anybody Who Does Business With Them

I'm reporting live from the grave of Satire... but there is nothing to report. There is only silence here.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:07 PM on May 9 [156 favorites]


Late to the thread as usual. But I helped get the Senate to vote on net neutrality.
And by helped I mean I called both my senators and urged them to support the petition.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 1:08 PM on May 9 [44 favorites]


EU rushes to arrange crisis meeting with Iran over nuclear deal
The European Union is scrambling to arrange a crisis meeting with Iran after Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement, as the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Europe had a “very limited opportunity” to save the deal.

A day after the US president broke with the landmark 2015 agreement and warned he would seek to hit European businesses that continued to trade with Tehran, the EU vowed to take steps to immunise firms from any US sanctions.

Foreign ministers aim to reassure Tehran that the nuclear deal is salvageable at a meeting currently slated for Monday in London which they are expecting their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend.
The thing is that if EU governments stand up to the US on this, it will mean that they will get sanctioned by the US when they do it. Someone in the other thread noted that some EU countries already did this with regards to Cuba. But Spain making educational and even banking deals with Cuba is just nowhere near the big EU countries making energy and technology deals with Iran. If the EU is actually ready to run this risk, it either means they think Trump will be gone soon, or that deals with Iran are worth more than deals with the US. Or both.
posted by mumimor at 1:14 PM on May 9 [14 favorites]


Eric Geller of Politico: SCOOP: National Security Adviser John Bolton and his aides are considering eliminating the White House's top cybersecurity job.

Several sources say the situation is fluid, but one says it's a done deal.

The White House did not deny my story when I asked.


relevant image
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:15 PM on May 9 [19 favorites]


Guys, I don't think it's normal to talk about a President (or any public official) as having "bagmen" or "fixers"...and yet the discourse seems to be that it's just, you know, something that happens.
posted by maxwelton at 1:16 PM on May 9 [63 favorites]


What I didn't state clearly above: the article indicates that the EU is beginning to treat the US as an unreliable rogue state. It's wild.
posted by mumimor at 1:16 PM on May 9 [37 favorites]


Novartis is full of shit. One, as everyone else has mentioned, they have many people devoted to squeezing dimes out of every contract.

I have a client who is a very large pharmaceutical firm whose policy is a 90-day payment window and they wait every second of that period before transferring the money to the payee's account. In addition, they will pay you earlier, but for draconian penalties that, if they were interest rates, would violate laws in most states. This squeezing of contractors is baked into their system and to negotiate your way out of it would require some heavy ammunition in terms of lawyers, guns, and money.

Edited for a typo.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:18 PM on May 9 [17 favorites]


Guys, I don't think it's normal to talk about a President (or any public official) as having "bagmen" or "fixers"...and yet the discourse seems to be that it's just, you know, something that happens.

"Normal", like "Satire" and "irony" are dead words in 2018, with no meaning. They both want you to think that things being "not normal" is good, because politics and politicians, am I rite? as well as this is "normal" because "both sides do it." It's doublethink.

Reject the word. This is wrong, this is dangerous, this is corrupt, this is criminal. Demand justice be done, though the heavens fall. Now is the time to reclaim words like "integrity" and "consequence."
posted by nubs at 1:24 PM on May 9 [20 favorites]


As people have noted before, valid grounds for impeachment is whatever the House thinks are valid.

"bribery" is explicitly enumerated in the clause about impeachment
posted by thelonius at 1:25 PM on May 9 [41 favorites]


This was astonishing:
Q. Saudi Arabia said they would pursue a nuclear weapons program if Iran were to pursue one. Would they have the administration's support?
Sanders: I don't know that we have a specific policy on that front... but we are [very] committed to making sure Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons.
It did sound like she was more caught unprepared by the question than anything else, and I appreciate that this isn't an area where you can just wing it, but remember when the Untied States would speak out against nuclear proliferation even when it involved countries that let you touch their orb? Those were better times.
posted by zachlipton at 1:25 PM on May 9 [73 favorites]




It sure sounds like Mark Warner is voting yes on Haspel:
Warner, who has yet to announce whether he'll support Haspel, appeared more satisfied with her responses after the committee held a second, classified hearing with her in the afternoon. "We covered a lot of ground in the closed session this afternoon," he said, still reserving his decision. "I heard from the nominee more clarity than I heard this morning, particularly in terms of the kind of questions I asked about whether she believed that the interrogation techniques frankly aren't consistent with American values."
We’re probably going to see the flood gates open and substantial Democratic support for a known torturer who destroyed evidence of her war crimes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:42 PM on May 9 [25 favorites]


Re: Novartis: is it victim-blaming if I think they continued those payments out of fear of retaliation (i.e., extortion), and that the whole thing was sketchy as fuck from the start and they were clearly up to no good themselves?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:43 PM on May 9


Novartis is not a victim. Paying a politician because you think they'll be mean to you if you don't pay them is the definition of bribery. Society and the economy works best when everyone is prevented from paying bribes.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:46 PM on May 9 [23 favorites]


"I heard from the nominee more clarity than I heard this morning, particularly in terms of the kind of questions I asked about whether she believed that the interrogation techniques frankly aren't consistent with American values."

I'd be much more inclined to believe her if she said that before she agreed to oversee a program doing exactly that then destroying the evidence of it so the American people could see exactly what it was she did on our behalf rather than afterwards now that it's all over, nothing can be done & nothing can be known.
posted by scalefree at 1:49 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Re: Novartis: is it victim-blaming if I think they continued those payments out of fear of retaliation (i.e., extortion)

Here's what I don't understand with this line of thinking that I'm seeing in a few places - what retaliation would Novartis be afraid of, exactly? What kind of shady shit are they involved in that they would worry about Trump and his hustlers? Revealing the existence of the meeting and the money just makes everyone look like shit; I don't see how Trump could extort them without revealing himself as the extortioner. Especially since the first meeting was set up by Cohen, not by Novartis - they could rightly point out that the President's lawyer tried to shake them down. And if they try to use the US government to beat down on Novartis from a regulatory perspective, I would have to expect that every pharmaceutical giant is going to be bringing some muscle to that fight.
posted by nubs at 1:53 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Re: Novartis: is it victim-blaming if I think they continued those payments out of fear of retaliation (i.e., extortion), and that the whole thing was sketchy as fuck from the start and they were clearly up to no good themselves?

They were screwing us. Not each other.
posted by srboisvert at 1:55 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Are there support groups for people trying to quit hitting refresh on poll trackers? I don't think watching the polls come in every day is good for me. D+11 awww yisssss. D+3 OH GOD. D+9 yay! D+4 NO WHY. Send help.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


You make a deal with the devil you can expect to get burned. Fear of retaliation is part of the price of doing business with Trump. Anybody who doesn't know that by now deserves to be taken.
posted by scalefree at 1:56 PM on May 9


I think it's because we're looking at it backwards. The existence of the bribes becoming public caused them to need to come up with shitty rationales.

The way it was supposed to work was they bribe the president, he greases wheels for their lobbying goals, and that's the extent of it. The whole "if you tell you're in trouble" thing is just off-script for both parties.
posted by odinsdream at 1:57 PM on May 9 [15 favorites]


[Public Relations] editing can definitely be an issue on Wikipedia, but hacking into accounts would be a counterproductive way to do it.

Not sure I agree. When evaluating edits, the reputation of a user is a big factor. People look to see how long you've been on Wikipedia, how many edits you've made, etc.

I was one of the people attempted to be hacked, and would provide a perfect target -- someone on Wikipedia for many years, lots of edits, involved in two ArbCom hearings, no discipline against me, and most importantly, I don't log on very often these days so someone could do a lot of stuff in my name without me noticing.

Thank heavens for that notification of the failed login, though.
posted by msalt at 1:57 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


The question of whether Cohen got a kind of sweetheart deal from Novartis, in contrast to how a "normal" contractor would be treated, reminds me of the time Manafort was able to get a big loan after telling a bank that some huge credit-score-damaging credit card bills were the fault of Rick Gates... as though that excuse made sense even if it weren't a lie. (Just imagine telling your bank that an unpaid debt was racked up by your brother-in-law when you let him borrow your card, would they really be like "Oh, okay, I understand, we'll overlook that then, enjoy your new Toyota", or would they consider that itself an example of bad creditworthiness?)

It really is different rules for different classes (that's classes, not income levels -- Cohen's terrible with money, apparently a requirement for hanging out with this crowd, but he's well-connected). None of the people making these deals wants to be the one saying "no" to the sort of people you're not supposed to say "no" to. And just like with racism and sexism, it results in money being left on the table all the time.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:03 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Lex Luthor has been known to sell his consultant services as a billionaire businessman/supervillain. His fee is one million dollars per minute, with a ten-minute minimum, and this was back in the '80s. Trump is really undercutting himself here.


First off, let me say that this at best a gross oversimplification, and more likely to be the product of rumor and innuendo; not to mention the rather fantastical inventions of jealous competitors and certain media figures.

My consulting work in the '80s was structured on a client-by-client basis, sometimes for a specific rate determined on the basis of the work required, sometimes for a flat fee, or for goods and/or services in kind. I have never circulated a rate card, on either a public or private basis.

I will not comment on the scandalous implications of the "supervillain" remark for now, other than to say that those who do not wish to have dealings with my attorneys would do best not to repeat it.
posted by Alexander J. Luthor at 2:04 PM on May 9 [165 favorites]


Feinstein was signaling earlier that she'd vote yes. Warner is now saying he's going to vote yes.

I'm afraid I'm not seeing a lot of advantage to the Big Tent philosophy. It seems mostly to give our enemies victory and the still media precious label of bipartisanship on the very worst of their policies and people.

Does Warner think his re-election chances hinge on support for torture? Is torture really that popular among Democratic voters in Virginia?

For that matter, Warner isn't up for reelection until 2020, does he really think the voters in Virginia have such a hard on for torture that they'll remember his vote against Haspel and vote against him over three years later because of it?

And Feinstein is in California, not exactly a swing state where there's the argument to be made that the Democratic candidate must vote Republican in order to keep getting reelected.

If it was McCaskill or Manchin voting yes there'd be at least an excuse for it.

So are the people who have no electoral excuse indicating that they'd vote yes on torture because they're granting permission to all Democratic Senators to cast a pro-torture vote, or what?
posted by sotonohito at 2:06 PM on May 9 [37 favorites]


mumimor: What I didn't state clearly above: the article indicates that the EU is beginning to treat the US as an unreliable rogue state. It's wild.

Yup, it's pretty wild that it's taken over a year of Trump to get here.

East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: Eric Geller of Politico: SCOOP: National Security Adviser John Bolton and his aides are considering eliminating the White House's top cybersecurity job.

Yup, unreliable rogue state seems about right. "Vector for future attacks against democracies around the world" is another, wordier way of putting it.

Reminder: On Thursday, March 22nd, Atlanta, Georgia became the latest city to fall victim to ransomware attacks targeting city governments. Atlanta joins the likes of Sarasota, Florida; Englewood, Colorado; Hinesville, Georgia; Farmington, New Mexico; and Leeds, Alabama as cities that have recently been hit with ransomware attacks.

It's not just the theft of elections at stake - this is about the stability of governments large and small across the US.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on May 9 [38 favorites]




So are the people who have no electoral excuse indicating that they'd vote yes on torture because they're granting permission to all Democratic Senators to cast a pro-torture vote, or what?

They're playing stupid games where if they think if they vote yes on this horrible thing the Republicans will come to the table and vote for something on some future date.
posted by dilaudid at 2:09 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


They're playing stupid games where if they think if they vote yes on this horrible thing the Republicans will come to the table and vote for something on some future date.

They've had a decade plus to learn the futility of that gambit and at some point incompetence has to be judged as indistinguishable from malice.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:13 PM on May 9 [32 favorites]


@AFP: #BREAKING Saudis will seek nuclear weapon if Iran does, minister says


Translation: the Saudis have a nuclear weapon.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:14 PM on May 9 [25 favorites]


Or they just honestly support (or cheerfully tolerate) torture as a tool of American foreign policy. We don't need to invent some gambit to explain politician's actions.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:16 PM on May 9 [9 favorites]


Novartis is not a victim. Paying a politician because you think they'll be mean to you if you don't pay them is the definition of bribery. Society and the economy works best when everyone is prevented from paying bribes.

Bribery does not become okay just because the person you're bribing demanded it.

Though it does seem we've taken another step on the road to becoming a banana republic.
posted by Gelatin at 2:16 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


this is about the stability of governments large and small across the US.

To elaborate - many of these ransomware attacks are similar to the huge WannaCry ransomware attacks from a year ago, where systems are encrypted, potentially effecting every department in a jurisdiction or limiting impacts to more mundane yet still critical electronic bill-paying and records systems, but the successful attacks have been wide-spread (embedded map with links to additional news stories).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:17 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


Paying a politician because you think they'll be mean to you if you don't pay them is the definition of bribery.

No, they were approached, so it's extortion on the part of the politician. Bribery is if you volunteer to pay them to do or not do something for you
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:18 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Warner: "I heard from the nominee more clarity than I heard this morning, particularly in terms of the kind of questions I asked about whether she believed that the interrogation techniques frankly aren't consistent with American values."

So she's okay with saying it in private to get a vote but unwilling to say it in public? That's pretty screwed up. Nobody can go back to her public statements when she changes her mind once in office.
posted by JackFlash at 2:21 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


> [...] sometimes I still can't believe just how much racism factors into this country's approach to justice, fairness, charity, and public policy.

I almost wonder that if they called it anything other than white-collar crime, would half of Wall Street be in jail by now. Please forgive my delayed Whorfian realization that the mental shorthand of "white crime" could explain why it isn't prosecuted as heavily or demonized as much in the public discourse.

Also, this comment pairs well with maxwelton's earlier point regarding rich white men who fail to face consequences for their crimes that ultimately cause more devastation than the stereotyped and marginalized groups they wail about through their various mouthpieces.

There is certainly an educational component to this. That if people understood the degree to which these crimes damage the lives of others—even indirectly—they would treat them more traditionally as villains. However, I've already complained about the failure of America's public information systems plenty before and don't have any immediate solutions other than to shrug and remind people that no one is taller than the guillotine.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:23 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


Chris Hayes:
An anecdote from the 1990s that illustrates how Donald Trump thinks about money and his almost comical obsession with being cut in on profits he thinks he's entitled to. (Provided by someone who witnessed it)

Back in the 1990s, Tower Records had a store in Trump Tower, and in those stores were "listening stations," where you could listen to a bunch of new CDs. The store would also add local indie bands' CDs to listening station rotation if they paid $100. Somehow Trump gets wind of this, and someone from Trump Tower tells their contact at Tower Records that Trump *wants a cut of the $100* from each local band paying to be in the listening station! Donald Trump! The guy with his name on the building wants in on the $100!

It didn't go anywhere, because it was an absolutely absurd ask. But think of that in context of what we're learning about the money Cohen was bringing in off of his own proximity to Trump.
posted by zachlipton at 2:26 PM on May 9 [101 favorites]


Are there support groups for people trying to quit hitting refresh on poll trackers? I don't think watching the polls come in every day is good for me. D+11 awww yisssss. D+3 OH GOD. D+9 yay! D+4 NO WHY. Send help.

In all semi-seriousness you should watch Bob Newhart's "stop it" skit, so you will understand why I'm telling you to stop it or I'll bury you alive in a box.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:33 PM on May 9 [9 favorites]


So she's okay with saying it in private to get a vote but unwilling to say it in public?

And I think the reason for this is that Haspel's first loyalty is not to the Constitution, not to the American people, not even to Donald Trump. Her first loyalty is to her fellow spooks in the CIA. That is why she destroyed the tapes. That is why she is unwilling to say anything disparaging, even today, about their torture techniques.

That's a good reason you don't put someone from the rank and file in charge of the CIA. Incidentally, that's the same reason Congress put in a rule that you don't put a general in charge of the Defense Department.
posted by JackFlash at 2:39 PM on May 9 [62 favorites]


I am eagerly awaiting the revelation that specific dates of money flowing in and out of Michael Cohen's various LLC's lines up with the specific dates that Republicans had meetings w/Trump and or made announcements of resignations/retirements. Also, Michael Avenatti is beating Trump at his own game and I love it.
posted by pjsky at 2:47 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


It got worse. WSJ, Trump Lawyer Helped Recruit Corporate Client With Ties to Kushner Probe
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen helped a law and lobbying firm land a corporate client with ties to Kushner Cos., the family company of White House adviser Jared Kushner that is currently the subject of a federal probe.

Under a 2017 contract with Squire Patton Boggs, Mr. Cohen was paid $500,000 a year to help it drum up business, prosecutors said in a recent filing in federal court in New York, where Mr. Cohen is under investigation for potential bank fraud and campaign-finance violations. He also received a cut of any fees it collected from clients he referred.

Among five clients Mr. Cohen delivered to Squire Patton Boggs—before the firm terminated the contract with him in early March—was U.S. Immigration Fund LLC, according to court filings and Nicholas Mastroianni II, U.S. Immigration Fund’s chief executive. The Florida company connects businesses with foreign investors through a U.S. visa program.
...
U.S. Immigration Fund last year organized a trip to China for several Kushner Cos. officials, including Mr. Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer, to seek investors for commercial-and-residential towers in Jersey City, N.J., the Journal has reported. Ms. Meyer pitched potential investors on participating in a program known as EB-5, which provides permanent U.S. residency to immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in certain job-creating businesses.
...
Squire Patton Boggs has received $370,000 from U.S. Immigration Fund to lobby Congress and the administration on reforming the EB-5 visa system, according to lobbying reports. The firm hasn’t represented the company on any legal matters, according to a firm spokesman.

U.S. Immigration Fund and developers have beat back efforts by lawmakers to change EB-5 rules to ban the program’s use to finance projects in wealthier areas instead of in rural and high-unemployment areas
The whole excuse for this was that this had nothing to do with the administration and was just Kushner Co. folks freelancing (despite the use of a photo of Trump in the investor presentation). That they happen to have gone through Cohen is a sign that's not exactly true.
posted by zachlipton at 2:55 PM on May 9 [38 favorites]




Justinian: "Are there support groups for people trying to quit hitting refresh on poll trackers? I don't think watching the polls come in every day is good for me. "

I say this in all seriousness and with all kindness: please DO use your favorite ad blocker to block them from your screen. (For example, with UBlock Origin you can use the eyedropper tool to select the poll and block that div permanently. I have used this extensively for "Trending Stories" divs, which do ME no good.)

Those polls are causing you pain and in my opinion are worse than worthless to you (and, I would argue, to nearly everyone). Cut them right out of your life, and maybe replace them with something - anything! - inspiring, like this article about Rev. William Barber from the text of this post.
posted by kristi at 3:10 PM on May 9 [9 favorites]


she believed that the interrogation techniques frankly aren't consistent with American values.

Interrogation techniques? Fuck you, Senator. SAY IT or GTFO.
posted by petebest at 3:11 PM on May 9 [33 favorites]


@AAhronheim: #IDF says 20 projectiles were fired towards #Israel's forward defensive line in the #GolanHeights by troops belonging to #Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force. Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted several projectiles. No injuries or fatalities reported.

Also, Cohen's lawyers are disputing in court some of the random weird payments in Avenatti's report, such as the wire transfer from a Kenyan bank was actually for someone else named Michael Cohen. Which makes it all the more interesting where Avenatti got this information.
posted by zachlipton at 3:22 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Reminder: On Thursday, March 22nd, Atlanta, Georgia became the latest city to fall victim to ransomware attacks targeting city governments. Atlanta joins the likes of Sarasota, Florida; Englewood, Colorado; Hinesville, Georgia; Farmington, New Mexico; and Leeds, Alabama as cities that have recently been hit with ransomware attacks.

It's not just the theft of elections at stake - this is about the stability of governments large and small across the US.

posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on May 9 [17 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


These hackers are the 21st century pirates. Just as governments organized navies to combat piracy on the high seas, so they must organize to combat piratical hackers riding the Internet waves.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:27 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Watching Hari Kondabolu's Netflix special and at one point he fails into despair..and says

"Remember when Joe Biden was considered a loose cannon."
posted by srboisvert at 3:29 PM on May 9 [38 favorites]


These hackers are the 21st century pirates. Just as governments organized navies to combat piracy on the high seas, so they must organize to combat piratical hackers riding the Internet waves.

What makes you think these attacks aren't primarily promulgated by governments?
posted by dilaudid at 3:32 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


@annafifield: Did Kim Jong Un just call Trump the "supreme leader" of the U.S.? Yes he did. "He exchanged with Mike Pompeo the appraisal and view on the acute situation of the Korean peninsula... and the stance and opinions of the supreme leaderships of the DPRK and the U.S. on their summit."

Speaking of supreme leaders, Salem executives pressured radio hosts to cover Trump more positively, emails show
"What I have been hearing on TMA... has not been in the spirit of 'supporting the GOP nominee,'" one Salem executive, Terry Fahy, general manager at Salem, wrote in an email to Shapiro and Krauss on July 19, 2016. "In fact, it seems that the show gets into negative minutiae of the Trump campaign and the GOP convention (e.g. criticizing Trump for having his kids speak at the convention.) Do we really need a side by side audio comparison of Trump's wife's speech with Michelle Obama's? How is that ultimately relevant to the big picture and advance the cause?"
...
In his June 2016 email to Shapiro and Krauss, Boyce said that, at his suggestion, Atsinger had written to two other popular Salem hosts, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved, "a very well stated case for supporting the GOP nominee because we have to beat Hillary."

Boyce went on to assert that in the wake of Atsinger's message to him, Hewitt had begun to modify his position and had gone on to write an article for The Washington Post about why he found it necessary to vote for Trump. That prompted Atsinger to say, according to Boyce's email, "Wow he took a lot from my email to him and turned it into an article." (In the email, Boyce also said, "It should be noted that nobody put the hammer to Hugh or Michael. We simply reminded them that they are privileged to work for a company that actually HAS a political world view. ... And we reminded them that we have to focus on the ultimate goal, regardless of the circumstances facing us today.")
One exec suggested Ben Shapiro approach it like a trial lawyer: "You suspect your client is guilty, but you are paid to get him off. The jurors will ultimately decide his fate."
posted by zachlipton at 3:34 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


National Security Adviser John Bolton and his aides are considering eliminating the White House's top cybersecurity job.

What's the big deal? The Bush administration demoted the national coordinator for terrorism. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by kirkaracha at 3:35 PM on May 9 [9 favorites]


What makes you think these attacks aren't primarily promulgated by governments?

As were many pirates.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:46 PM on May 9 [39 favorites]


I just called Senator Feinstein, and her phone lines seem busier than usual. I had a shortish speech prepared for the voicemail system:
I am calling to ask the Senator to vote AGAINST Gina Haspel as head of the CIA. I greatly appreciate the Senator's consistent statements that torture is both morally wrong and illegal. I ask her to make clear that a person who has committed the crime of torturing someone is forever disqualified from heading a US government agency, as is anyone who has destroyed evidence, which is also illegal.

I have been happy to vote for Senator Feinstein in the past. I hope she will continue to earn my vote by voting against every disqualified nominee, and speaking out very publicly about their disqualifications.
... but I shortened it a bit when I finally got through so the staffer could move on to other calls.

During my prep for the call, I found a story that Feinstein's not impressed with Haspel today:
"If she were asked for the agency, by the president, to do something which was considered wrong and illegal, would she just refuse to do it?" Feinstein asked. "She didn’t answer that question directly."

Feinstein said that torture had always been outlawed, waving off legal justifications for the interrogation program cited by Haspel during her public hearing on Wednesday.
posted by kristi at 3:47 PM on May 9 [18 favorites]


Another day, another data survey... apparently by having an unblocked phone number registered with political orgs, I'm a prime candidate for polling. (Suggestions for how to skew the results in interesting or useful ways are welcome; so far, I've just been honest.)

This one was an "M.R.S. Public Opinion Poll." Of course, you can't Google for that. I got her to repeat the name, so I'm sure I didn't mis-hear it. It doesn't match any of 538's ratings list, but I know that doesn't mean anything.

Someone really, really wants to know about how the Superintendent race is going.

Starting questions
Are you registered to vote?
In what state?
What's your zip code?
What year were you born?

Questions about the upcoming California primary

1) Have you already voted in person, by absentee ballot or are you likely to vote?

2) How likely are you to vote in the primary?

3) How favorable an opinion (very fav, somewhat fav, no opn, somewhat unfav, very unfav) do you have for each of these people:
Gavin Newsom | Travis Allen | Antonio Villaraigosa | Amanda Renteria | Marshall Tuck | John Chiang | John Cox | Delain Eastin | Tony Thurmond

4) If the election were held today, which would you vote for Governor?
Gavin Newsom (D) | John Chiang (D) | Delain Eastin (D) | Travis Allen (R) | Antonio Villaraigosa (D) | John Cox (R) | Amanda Renteria (D)

5) If that person weren't running, which would you vote for?

6) Who would you vote for Superintendent of Public Instruction?
Lily Espinoza Ploski | Marshall Tuck | Tony Thurmond | Steven Ireland

7) If that person weren't running, which would you vote for?

8) How much have you heard about billionaires wanting to divert money from public to charter schools?
A great deal | Some | Not too much | Nothing at all

9) If you knew a candidate were backed by those people, would it make you more or less likely to support the candidate?

Statistics questions
What political party are you affiliated with? (R, D, I, other)
How Liberal-Conservative are you? (Very, Somewhat, Neither, Somewhat, Very)
Do you have children under 18?
What level of education have you completed?
Are you Latino or Hispanic?
Are you Black, White, Asian, Native American, or Other?
Do you or anyone in your houshold belong to a union?
Verify your first name.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:47 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players. We [i.e., Novartis] were trying to find an inroad into the administration. Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him. It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist.

I initially thought that the Trump administration's slow pace of appointments was just because they weren't prepared / didn't know / didn't care. The worst thing I imagined was that Trump was trying to get bribes from the appointees themselves.

I'm still sure there was a lot of incompetence and maybe some corruption over appointments, but the initial lack of officeholders meant that power was centralised and Cohen could shake companies down in exchange for access to the administration. That money had to be flowing to Trump some way, which means that the delays were policy, not happenstance. But Novartis probably represents an early version of the shakedown:
Among five clients Mr. Cohen delivered to Squire Patton Boggs—before the firm terminated the contract with him in early March—was U.S. Immigration Fund LLC, according to court filings and Nicholas Mastroianni II, U.S. Immigration Fund’s chief executive. The Florida company connects businesses with foreign investors through a U.S. visa program.


Here's the slightly-more sophisticated version: there's a program that can effectively allow wealthy people to buy US visas, but those visas are discretionary. Kushner's family have projects that they market to (predominantly Chinese IIUC) investors. The projects aren't attractive because they're profitable, but because of the implication that they're associated with the President's family and therefore offer a better path to a US visa. The problem is, how does Trump get his share? You can't give him the money directly, because that would be really blatant. Answer: the Kushners pay a "lobbyist" for "access" to the administration. The "lobbyist" hires Michael Cohen as an "advisor". Cohen has his own way of delivering the money to Trump. The reason we can know this is: why the hell would the Kushners need to pay anyone for access to Jared's father-in-law? Either he's willing to help them or he isn't; there's no way that Cohen can be giving them any more help.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:54 PM on May 9 [46 favorites]


I'm still sure there was a lot of incompetence and maybe some corruption over appointments, but the initial lack of officeholders meant that power was centralised and Cohen could shake companies down in exchange for access to the administration. That money had to be flowing to Trump some way, which means that the delays were policy, not happenstance.

We all laughed and laughed at the incompetence of the Transition Era Trump Team when they visited the West Wing and Kushner seemingly blurted out in surprise and dismay -- "We have to hire ALL these staffers?"

What WE didn't know is that Kushner wasn't dismayed by the size of the task of hiring all those staffers -- he was dismayed that there would be so many staffers in the room watching how TrumpCo worked. So they found a way not to hire so many staffers.
posted by notyou at 4:01 PM on May 9 [16 favorites]




ProPublica, Russian Oligarch-Linked Firm That Paid Michael Cohen Was Also Represented by Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz

Kasowitz happens to have represented Columbus Nova in a commercial matter. Cohen was working out of Kasowitz's office in February 2017 around when the payments began. A Columbus Nova spokesman says it's all a coincidence.
posted by zachlipton at 4:19 PM on May 9 [15 favorites]


A Columbus Nova spokesman says it's all a coincidence.

[narrator voice] It was not a coincidence.
posted by nonasuch at 4:24 PM on May 9 [20 favorites]


scalefree, I had to read that headline half a dozen times before I could even begin to parse it
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:24 PM on May 9 [54 favorites]


Melissa Repko, Dallas News: AT&T: We gave information to Mueller regarding payments to Trump lawyer

AT&T spoke with Mueller back in November and December 2017 regarding their payments to Cohen.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:24 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


It still sounds a little silly to say that Donald Trump is part of the Russian mob. It should sound no sillier than saying that German-Irish Tom Hagen was part of la Cosa Nostra.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:24 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


Steve Bannon was target of bribery plot by top Qatari who invested in Ice Cube's basketball league to get to Trump's strategist and boasted 'Mike Flynn took our money', rapper claims in court.

Has some headline writer been playing Mad Libs again?
posted by azpenguin at 4:26 PM on May 9 [50 favorites]


Man, after all these efforts to do some good faith bribery Qatar sure is getting screwed. Saudi bought a lot of favourite with that stupid-ass orb I guess. Learn to package your gifts nicely, Qatar!
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


Sitting on a Qatar Airways flight about to depart for Doha. We’ve been rerouted to fly over Paris, presumably to avoid... complications from the Syria-Iran-Israel airspace.
posted by Superplin at 4:32 PM on May 9 [33 favorites]


About once every 6 to 8 weeks Napolitano breaks the Fox Fourth Wall and issues astonishingly rational warnings to the president. The occasional Judge Nap Moment of Clarity might be his only decent legal counsel.

Fox News Judicial Analyst Issues Dark Warning To Trump Over Michael Cohen

“Why was a Russian billionaire giving a half-a-million dollars to the president’s lawyer at the time the lawyer was paying not only Stormy Daniels but, according to Rudy Giuliani, other women to remain silent about their relationships to the president?” Napolitano asked, adding that an indictment could be imminent. “The president’s lawyer getting indicted can’t be good for the president,” he said. Napolitano then directed his remarks at Trump: “When the government is attacking your lawyer, it’s attacking you. Mr. President, please be wary of all of this.”

posted by Rust Moranis at 4:33 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


Judge Napolitano appears to be accusing Trump of serious criminality, and his take-away is that the President needs to fire all the cops immediately. Now That's What I Call Jurisprudence™
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:47 PM on May 9 [55 favorites]


Steve Bannon was target of bribery plot by top Qatari who invested in Ice Cube's basketball league to get to Trump's strategist and boasted 'Mike Flynn took our money', rapper claims in court.

So, a Bannon associate was approached, promised money, given a little money, and did NOT setup a meeting with Bannon to get the rest of it?

Amateurs at grifting.

You approach Trump with anything, and he reflexively says, "Talk to Cohen, he's my lawyer", then Cohen launders the money through EC, LLC, , and sets up access. ( See AT&T / FCC / Net Neutrality Deregulation )
posted by mikelieman at 4:59 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


We’ll always have the many Infrastructure Weeks.
I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.
As it turned out, we have reprised much of the excitement of the 1930s — presidents demanding the imprisonment of journalists and members of the opposing party, Nazis holding torchlight parades — but no infrastructure bill has materialized. After months of inaction, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced today, “I don’t know that there will be one by the end of the year.” And so the once-fabled infrastructure bill has died a quiet death.
Another promise broken.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:01 PM on May 9 [17 favorites]


An anecdote from the 1990s that illustrates how Donald Trump thinks about money

It is known. (Spy Magazine, July 1990)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:05 PM on May 9 [18 favorites]


EXCLUSIVE: Steve Bannon was target of bribery plot by top Qatari who invested in Ice Cube's basketball league to get to Trump's strategist and boasted 'Mike Flynn took our money', rapper claims in court.


Well, that's it. That's the last fucking straw for me.

We are living in a god-damn computer simulation.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:17 PM on May 9 [32 favorites]


That didnt take long:
Iranian Force Launches Missiles at Golan; Syria Says Intercepted Rockets Launched by Israel
posted by adamvasco at 5:21 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Man, after all these efforts to do some good faith bribery Qatar sure is getting screwed.

One of the things that does lend credibility to Novartis's claim they kept paying in order not to offend Trump is that he is a sociopathic man-baby. If You Want to Understand Trump, Understand This: Revenge Is What He Cares About Most.

Not that that makes it more convincing, for $1.2 million they would have negotiated a compromise at the very least. They had reciprocal dirt on Cohen and Trump. Chances are all the currently known payments were just the upfront "commitment fee" favoured by scammers everywhere, anyway. The first yes and shared guilt on which many criminal enterprises are founded.

Wonder who paid how much to get Pruitt his job. That Trump hasn't just defenebused him already suggests it must be a lot.
posted by Buntix at 5:32 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Wonder who paid how much to get Pruitt his job.

Cohen was (is still?) the Deputy Finance Chair of the RNC though all of this too. I suspect if we could get a long look at the RNC's books that's where the real professional bribery from the Kochs and Adelson and Mercer is hiding. We're hearing about the low hanging fruit of clumsy approaches to Ice Cube and Cohen mixing the Stormy money with cold approaches from confused corporations who aren't sure who they need to bribe now after 2016.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:39 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


I really can’t wait to get back to work, y’all.
posted by dogheart at 5:56 PM on May 9 [17 favorites]


It hadn't occurred to me that the EB-5 visas would be another reason Trump wants to kick out all the foreigners and build a huge wall. He's scheming to take a cut from foreign EB-5 investors, and the harder it is to get into the country, the bigger the potential market for for EB-5 applicants.

Not that you can even draw the conclusion that fewer overall refugees and immigrants == more EB-5 investors, but I don't doubt that Trump would see it in such simplistic terms. Totally jives with his shithole country remarks.
posted by p3t3 at 5:59 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


It’s really only a matter of a few Scaramuccis before something gets leaked about Haspel starting up fresh CIA rendition sites on Trump properties around the world.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:02 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


WaPo, ‘I’m crushing it’: How Michael Cohen, touting his access to President Trump, convinced companies to pay millions
President Trump had been sworn into office, and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, saw a golden opportunity.

From his perch in a law office on the 23rd floor of New York’s Rockefeller Center, Cohen pitched potential clients on his close association with Trump, noting that he still was the president’s lawyer, according to associates. He showed photos of himself with Trump and mentioned how frequently they spoke, even asking people to share news articles describing him as the president’s “fixer.”

“I’m crushing it,” he said, according to an associate who spoke to him in the summer of 2017.
...
Cohen was able to sign up such lucrative clients because many companies at the time were anxious to hire Trump insiders. Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign aide who in January 2017 opened a consulting firm, Avenue Strategies, in partnership with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, said there was more potential business than they could handle.

“When we opened our doors, the phone just rang and rang and rang. . . . We turned a lot of business away. My guess is that anybody who was perceived as close to Trump, their phones were ringing like ours. It was like shooting fish in the barrel.”

A Cohen friend described the lawyer’s appeal to corporations: “Probably no one in the country who understands the mechanics of Trump world better than Michael Cohen.”
...
“This has destroyed him,” said one of Cohen’s closest friends, bemoaning the behavior of those who once courted but have now abandoned Cohen. “The whole thing is so horrible.”
----

Sen. McCain put out a statement opposing Haspel, citing her "refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality." More on today's hearing from Spencer Ackerman, Gina Haspel Stonewalls on Discussing Her Role in CIA Torture
posted by zachlipton at 6:03 PM on May 9 [48 favorites]




Novartis' explanation might be bullshit, but this takes the shit cake:

Korea Aerospace Industries confirmed to The Washington Post that it paid $150,000 to Cohen’s company, but spokesman Oh Sung-keon said that it was unaware of Essential Consultants’ connection to Trump. The company said it paid Cohen’s firm “to inform reorganization of our internal accounting system.”

FFS! Because Cohen is widely known as an expert in this?
posted by duoshao at 6:31 PM on May 9 [44 favorites]


JFC, I'm starting to understand why the lowest-paid workers in organizations have such an impossible time getting decent pay raises.
posted by Rykey at 6:36 PM on May 9 [38 favorites]


If their internal accounting system needs to manage a lot of money laundering I imagine Cohen's expertise would be invaluable.
posted by chiquitita at 6:56 PM on May 9 [23 favorites]


FFS! Because Cohen is widely known as an expert in this?

And the claim that they didn't know "Essential Consultants" had anything to do with Trump is just a mindbogglingly stupid lie. It's not like Essential Consultants had any employees! Who did they think was running the LLC?
posted by BungaDunga at 6:57 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


“This has destroyed him,” said one of Cohen’s closest friends, bemoaning the behavior of those who once courted but have now abandoned Cohen.

Opportunistic shitbags gonna be opportunistic shitbags. For $75,000 a month, I'll hang out with Michael and make him feel better. (Payment up front; may not actually show up).
posted by nubs at 7:00 PM on May 9 [22 favorites]


And the claim that they didn't know "Essential Consultants" had anything to do with Trump is just a mindbogglingly stupid lie. It's not like Essential Consultants had any employees! Who did they think was running the LLC?employees! Who did they think was running the LLC?

David Dennison, natch.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:00 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


If their internal accounting system needs to manage a lot of money laundering I imagine Cohen's expertise would be invaluable.

Actually, yeah, this is the same firm that just had a gigantic fraud/embezzlement scandal.
posted by rue72 at 7:07 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Just for kicks, I googled "Novartis," and they are based in Emeryville, California. Howdy, neighbors! There's this guy named Xavier Becerra who would love to know more about you, I'm sure! Speaking of crimes that states can prosecute...Trump has gone out of his way to antagonize California, and if that bites him in the butt bigtime, I will cheer.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:13 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


If their internal accounting system needs to manage a lot of money laundering I imagine Cohen's expertise would be invaluable.

Given that Mueller's team has apparently cut through their structuring and mixing like a hot knife through butter, I'm not sure "expertise" would how I would classify Cohen's skills.
posted by mikelieman at 7:13 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


Russia-linked company that hired Michael Cohen registered alt-right websites during election (WaPo):
A company at the center of widening questions involving President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is listed as the organization behind a string of websites targeted toward white nationalists and other members of the alt-right.

Columbus Nova, a company whose U.S. chief executive, Andrew Intrater, and Russian investment partner Viktor Vekselberg have both reportedly been interviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, is listed as the registrant behind a handful of domains for websites named after the alt-right that were created during the 2016 election.

It is unclear if any of these websites were launched or ever hosted content.

These sites include Alt-right.co, Alternate-right.com, Alternate-rt.com, Alt-rite.com, and other similar combinations, which were all registered in the two days following a speech given by then candidate Hillary Clinton in August 2016 in which she excoriated the far-right movement known for its extremist, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist viewpoints. The sites are not currently operational.
posted by peeedro at 7:20 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


How soon before the trump sycophant media thugs start blaming the Mueller probe for leaking Cohen’s bank records to Avenatti?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:30 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


Rosie M. Banks: "Just for kicks, I googled "Novartis," and they are based in Emeryville, California."

They're headquartered in Basel, Switzerland.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:27 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Grab-bag of ratings changes from Sabato:
TN Senate: Likely GOP => Leans GOP
WV Senate: Leans Dem => Toss-up

MA gov: Likely GOP => Safe GOP

NC-09: Leans GOP => Toss-up
OH-16: Likely GOP => Safe GOP
Meanwhile, Cook now rates the OH-12 special as Toss-up. And Gonzales moves NC-09 to Tilts GOP.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:36 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts

Republicans really do want to kill the planet. They're existential threats to humanity.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:52 PM on May 9 [88 favorites]


zachlipton: [Cohen:] We turned a lot of business away. My guess is that anybody who was perceived as close to Trump, their phones were ringing like ours.

This sounds like there are more "associates" of Trump who are likely points of access, and as such, illegal activities on various fronts.

As we're playing tiny violins for people whose day has past (or their day has come?), let us not forget James O'Keefe -- James O’Keefe Can’t Get No Respect -- The muckraking conservative just wanted journalists to take him seriously. They never did, and now he’s out for blood. (Tim Alberta for Politico)

Behold, the puff piece we didn't need -- "O’Keefe, the undercover sting artist and conservative folk hero, needed a new jacket and shirts to fit over the body armor recommended by his security consultants."
It was nearly a decade ago that O’Keefe snuck onto America’s political landscape with his takedown of ACORN, the liberal community organizing behemoth that was defunded after he and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute and secretly videotaped employees advising them how to shelter an off-the-books brothel. In the years since, nothing and everything has changed. O’Keefe, 33, is still a leper to the American left and a menace in the eyes of a media complex that frowns on his clandestine tactics. Yet gone is the young, emaciated, caffeine-and-adrenaline-fueled lone wolf whose maxed-out credit card financed the purchase of basic recording devices at Best Buy; in his place is a muscular man who has gained 60 pounds thanks to relentless diet and exercise, who built Project Veritas into a sprawling, high-tech operation, and who last year raised more than $7 million from an expectant donor base that sees O’Keefe as a guerrilla leader on the front lines of America’s culture war.
Barf barf barf. Oh, and if reading isn't your thing, you can spend an hour listening to Politico's cover article for May/June 2018.

That's right - it's ridiculously long. So you think there'd be space to cite the issues with what O'Keefe has done, right?
Journalism has a dark side, and James O’Keefe has embraced it. But as proven by the recent sting operation by a British TV channel on the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, undercover reporting has been, and still can be, a devastatingly effective tool for exposing wrongdoing. O’Keefe, the best-known sting artist this side of the Atlantic, has a chance to rehabilitate the practice—and himself. Perhaps he cannot change; perhaps he is destined to remain a fringe player whose bloodiest scalps—and there have been plenty—go unappreciated.
Yes, pretending to be a pimp to take down the most successful voter registration effort in recent times is totally the same as airing the filth of Cambridge Analytics.
“You have to understand,” said the voice on the phone. “Project Veritas is one-third CIA, one-third James Bond and one-third Mike Wallace.” O’Keefe had called to confirm his participation in this story, but he was struggling to reconcile his organization’s secretive approach with a reporter’s prying questions.
Prying questions into how awesome and ripped he is? Thanks, Timmy!
posted by filthy light thief at 8:52 PM on May 9 [41 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 House:
-- Major Dem donors planning to dump up to $10M into swing districts.

-- Friendly reminder not to pay attention to daily generic ballot drops, just watch the average. Current 538 average is D+6.8 (47.2/40.4).
** MS Senate special:
-- Tupelo mayor drops out of race , leaving Mike Espy as the sole Dem.

-- GS Strategy poll has interim Senator Hyde-Smith leading with 30, Espy 22, and nutball McDaniel 17 (Shelton got 4) [no MOE listed].
** 2018 Senate -- FL: FAU poll has Scott up 44-40 on Nelson [MOE: +/- 3.0%]. This is a bit of an outlier so far - there have been several recent polls with a narrow Nelson lead.

** Odds & ends:
-- Vox update on what happens next in the NY AG situation.

-- Interesting development in Missouri. MO GOP was afraid that initiatives on the ballot would drive up Dem turnout, so they wanted to move the date for voting on the initiatives to the primary date. Now embattled gov Greitens is planning to leave them in November, in what can only be seen as a middle finger towards GOP legislature planning to impeach him.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:22 PM on May 9 [20 favorites]


Masha Gessen, Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror
Another possible explanation is that Putin and the system he has created have consistently, if not necessarily with conscious intent, restored key mechanisms of Soviet control. The spectacle of children being arrested sends a stronger message than any amount of police violence against adults could do. The threat that children might be removed from their families is likely to compel parents to keep their kids at home next time—and to stay home themselves.

A few hours after Putin took his fourth oath of office, in Moscow, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a law-enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He pledged to separate families that are detained crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you,” Sessions said. The Attorney General did not appear to be unveiling a new policy so much as amplifying a practice that has been adopted by the Trump Administration, which has been separating parents who are in immigration detention from their children. The Times reported in December that the federal government was considering a policy of separating families in order to discourage asylum seekers from entering. By that time, nonprofit groups were already raising the alarm about the practice, which they said had affected a number of families. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of families that had been separated when they entered the country with the intention of seeking asylum.

The practice, and Sessions’s speech, are explicitly intended as messages to parents who may consider seeking asylum in the United States. The American government has unleashed terror on immigrants, and in doing so has naturally reached for the most effective tools.
posted by zachlipton at 10:14 PM on May 9 [65 favorites]


From the NY Post's Page Six: Don Jr. moving on from Vanessa with Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle. In other news, I just threw up a little in my mouth.
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:22 PM on May 9 [16 favorites]


Once again it's Conspiracy Theory time at the MetaFilter MegaThread. Get out your tinfoil hats & strap yourselves in, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Our entry point to this Conspiracy Theory is a tweet by President Trump:

@realDonaldTrump Candace Owens of Turning Point USA is having a big impact on politics in our Country. She represents an ever expanding group of very smart “thinkers,” and it is wonderful to watch and hear the dialogue going on...so good for our Country!

Seems harmless enough. So who is Candace Owens? Let's turn our Wayback Machine to Spring 2016, towards the end of the main action of the GamerGate madness. Candace Owens, a victim of online bullying unrelated to GamerGate, decides to strike back with a decisive move & announces that she's setting up a website called Social Autopsy to expose & name Internet trolls so those hurt by them can take vigilante justice. The original target of GamerGate, Zoe Quinn, tries to warn her off this obviously bad idea. The swamps of GamerGaters respond as well by attacking Candace because she is a woman, African American & in their eyes an SJW. Candace somehow combines these two, decides that Zoe is actually running GamerGate herself & launches a massive stream of consciousness attack on Zoe. It unfolds predictably badly & the KickStarter Candace hoped to fund Social Autopsy with is cancelled. Candace continues to strike out at various people who are not GamerGate trolls, for instance Washington Post writer Caitlin Dewey & Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. I'm sure there's much more drama involving Candace who is clearly now a confused & disturbed woman but that would probably double the length of this post for no discernible reason so I'll spare you. The only event that's really relevant to us is that Candace got appointed President of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that attacks college professors they feel are too liberal or something.

Which brings us (almost) up to present day & Trump's tweet. A few weeks ago confused celebrity Kanwe West posted this tweet:

@kanyewest I love the way Candace Owens thinks

Apparently he sees Candace as a fellow contrarian against the dominant narrative of African Americans as an abused underclass. Trump sees this, decides to double the number of African American friends he has & tweets his support of Candace & TPUSA.

And now here we are at the end of the post. It is now safe to unstrap your safety harnesses (which do not at all resemble straitjackets, I resent the implication), remove your tinfoil hats & dispose of them as you see best.
posted by scalefree at 10:38 PM on May 9 [50 favorites]


Somehow my reaction to that news is "Of course he did."
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:39 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


George Will, Trump is no longer the worst person in government
Hoosiers, of whom Pence is one, sometimes say that although Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky and flourished in Illinois, he spent his formative years — December 1816 to March 1830 — in Indiana, which he left at age 21. Be that as it may, on Jan. 27, 1838, Lincoln, then 28, delivered his first great speech, to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield. Less than three months earlier, Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist newspaper editor in Alton, Ill., 67 miles from Springfield, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob. Without mentioning Lovejoy — it would have been unnecessary — Lincoln lamented that throughout America, “so lately famed for love of law and order,” there was a “mobocratic spirit” among “the vicious portion of [the] population.” So, “let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation.” Pence, one of evangelical Christians’ favorite pin-ups, genuflects at various altars, as the mobocratic spirit and the vicious portion require.

It is said that one cannot blame people who applaud Arpaio and support his rehabilitators (Trump, Pence, et al.), because, well, globalization or health-care costs or something. Actually, one must either blame them or condescend to them as lacking moral agency. Republicans silent about Pence have no such excuse.

There will be negligible legislating by the next Congress, so ballots cast this November will be most important as validations or repudiations of the harmonizing voices of Trump, Pence, Arpaio and the like. Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.
posted by zachlipton at 10:41 PM on May 9 [49 favorites]


That was a straightforward telling of the Candace Owens origin story. It was even covered here. I'm seeing no lies, although the chronology of the kickstarter might be wrong, and I'm pretty sure she's head of ""urban outreach"" (how she sleeps at night is left as an exercise to the reader. I'm guessing in a pile of dark money.)
posted by Yowser at 10:46 PM on May 9 [8 favorites]


I might have got that detail wrong, apologies. It's perilous terrain to navigate out here in Conspiracy Corner what with all the mirrors.
posted by scalefree at 10:49 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


One last development in Conspiracy Corner; Candace posts a tweet that threatens to open up a new front in the war of Everybody vs Candace:

@RealCandaceO One email, one phone call, and I am now putting together a legal fund to go after publications that think they can smear and libel black conservatives who dare to think for themselves.

Do you guys remember Gawker?
Yeah, me neither.

Stay tuned.
posted by scalefree at 10:57 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


By now, I think most of you will be aware of Katy Tur, a journalist and victim of Trump's election campaign. She actually came to my hometown, in Brisbane, Australia. Really so close I could have walked to where she gave her interview to Australian public radio, in the form of her participation in one of our top podcasts, Conversations.

I caught it today, and a couple things that struck me were these:

Localization: She remarked that she did not vote, the interviewer took an audible intake of breath, which was echoed by the audience. Where I live, that's illegal, and in reflex towards the audience, Katy wished that voting was mandatory in the US too.

Also paraphrased, upon learning of the election win: I was ill. We were exhausted from facts and truth being unimportant. Instead of the relief expected from a loss, we realised this nausea would last four more years.

Katy Tur is promoting a book called Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History.
posted by adept256 at 11:38 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


I 100% have you beat in terms of Conspiracy Corner: specifically, Columbus Nova pointedly denies owning or controlling Daybreak, the company that runs EverQuest II and a few other MMOs. This is despite
  1. the CEO, Jason Epstein, being employed by Columbus Nova,
  2. the MMO community being well aware they're owned by Columbus Nova and thus Renova, because it's always good to understand from what direction the next inexplicable, devastating shutdown is coming from,
  3. the MMO community being very careful documenters, and
  4. the mysterious cancellation of EverQuest Next, an incredibly promising reinvention of the classic game, about a year after Columbus Nova bought it (which makes me think there's some classic private equity fuckery going here as well).
A reminder: Steve Bannon left finance to run a company that sold in-game currency to desperate losers in games like EverQuest, and was then inspired by the thick-headedness of some MMO players to start Breitbart. The fact that a company so tightly tied to Cohen went out of their way to buy the owners of EverQuest is an astonishing co-incidence.

(Buying the owners of World of Warcraft would have been even more astonishing but they are, as far as I am aware, not for sale.)
posted by Merus at 11:43 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


Who Ordered Black Cube’s Dirty Tricks?,
Trita Parsi, NYRB (Note: there’s no answer to this question in this opinion piece).
posted by AwkwardPause at 12:06 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


It's way, way, WAY past Trump's bedtime & boy does it show. He has to meet the released prisoners on the tarmac for the photo op. Can he make it through the event without a glitch?

@PressSec .@POTUS lands at JBA to welcome home the three returnees - incredible night for America.
posted by scalefree at 12:06 AM on May 10


@annafifield: Kim Dong-chul (front) was detained a year before the 2016 election so he probably didn’t know until yesterday that Donald Trump is president.

I'm thrilled they're home, and boy would that be a surprise to find Donald Trump greeting you at the airport.

So, uh, what's Trump's negotiating strategy now that Kim has handed him this?

Update: @annafifield: As these three men, one of whom just told us he'd been doing hard labor in North Korea, were kept on the tarmac, Donald Trump suggested he'd just broken the record for television ratings at 3am.

There's something very wrong with this man.
posted by zachlipton at 12:11 AM on May 10 [78 favorites]


Bill Clinton Goes Into North Korea to Rescue Two Captive Journalists

My recollection of that is that Bill went in on the downlow, made the deal, got the Americans back, and were home before anyone knew what was happening.

Dunno how Trump is gonna do it. Hillary was SoS at the time, and she had a state department. They've got Pompeo, and a frankly, naked diplomatic apparatus.
posted by adept256 at 12:16 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


My recollection of that is that Bill went in on the downlow, made the deal, got the Americans back, and were home before anyone knew what was happening.

CIA advised him not to smile as that's one of the biggest gets for Kim. I think he did pretty well. Of course the Orange Idiot will just give that away for free.
posted by scalefree at 12:26 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Dunno how Trump is gonna do it.

With an overtly disgusting photo-op, it turns out.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:28 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


I'm quite confused by the whole thing to be honest, I watched a bit of the live feed and it looked like Pompeo and the three detainees came down the stairs of the plane and into a bus that they said was taking them to see President Trump.... Now I'm seeing Trump come out of the plane with them...
posted by Wilder at 3:47 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Paying a politician because you think they'll be mean to you if you don't pay them is the definition of bribery.

No, they were approached, so it's extortion on the part of the politician. Bribery is if you volunteer to pay them to do or not do something for you


Can we just settle on "racketeering"?
posted by Gelatin at 4:27 AM on May 10 [15 favorites]


Judge Napolitano appears to be accusing Trump of serious criminality, and his take-away is that the President needs to fire all the cops immediately. Now That's What I Call Jurisprudence™

Josh Marshall said way back at the beginning that regardless of whether the Trump mob is guilty of various crimes, they sure act like they're guilty. As if there were other, more serious crimes at the core that Team Trump didn't date let anyone close to.

It's well worth noting that Trump's ostensible defenders seem not to even bother with the premise that the president is actually innocent of the bribery, corruption, money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice everyone is talking about, but rather proceeding with how to best shield our crook of a president from the consequences of his crimes. And that list includes many elected Republicans -- Devin Nunes springs readily to mind.
posted by Gelatin at 4:48 AM on May 10 [24 favorites]


The guerrilla warriors fighting for government health care (Christopher Wilson for Yahoo News, May 9, 2018) -- a look at Tim Faust and other DSA activists who are "spreading the gospel" of Medicare for All (the header image is of Faust captured in the pose of a preacher, arms outstretched). Living in NYC, Faust and others travel around the country to promote the radical idea that healthcare shouldn't bankrupt people.

The really radical thing is that DSA is getting good coverage for this "policy" point. Fuck yeah, DSA!
posted by filthy light thief at 4:48 AM on May 10 [45 favorites]


Greitens Declines to Block Liberal Ballot Measures (Washington Examiner via PoliticalWire)

“Greitens faces possible impeachment in the Republican-controlled state legislature over twin scandals involving an extramarital affair and mismanagement of a charity. But the governor is defiant, and in a move interpreted as a shot at Republicans demanding his resignation, he is choosing not to exercise his authority to shift a trio of popular Democratic initiatives to the August primary.”

“Republicans fret that the initiatives will supercharge Democratic turnout in the midterm, providing a lift to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).”


Republicans must cheat to win. Crime pays. 180 days left
posted by petebest at 5:03 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive and one of the front-runners in Maryland's crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary, died suddenly this morning. I walked past some of his staffers setting up a campaign office just three days ago. Obviously this is going to confuse the primary, but it's far too soon to say how.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:03 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


It's not a radical idea. It's the norm here and in other places. The real radicalism is supposing that your kidneys are fungible and can be traded. Your health is the first part in life, liberty and the pursuit of whatever. It's not capital, it's your right to be alive.
posted by adept256 at 5:04 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]


RIP Infrastructure Week, We hardly knew ye
*doffs cap*

Trump admits infrastructure promise isn't happening (Jonathan Chait, NYMag)

The tax cut probably dealt the fatal blow to infrastructure. Republican leaders convinced Trump that the tax cut would give them a popular accomplishment that they could tout in the midterm elections (it didn’t). . . .

Trump’s promise to “build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports and airports that our country deserves” appears destined to go unmet. We will always be able to look back on Trump’s first term and remember the many, many Infrastructure Weeks, which brought Americans of all walks of life together to appreciate the importance of transportation development. The real Infrastructure Week was not in any bill, it was in our hearts all along.

posted by petebest at 5:13 AM on May 10 [30 favorites]


It's not a radical idea. It's the norm here and in other places.

I SUSPECT he MAY have been speaking rhetorically.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:13 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Some good news for the Fall: Donald Trump Jr. plans big midterm role
posted by octothorpe at 5:14 AM on May 10 [13 favorites]


I thought he was off running the business.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:03 AM on May 10 [11 favorites]


Daily Beast: Special Counsel Mueller’s Team Questioned Blackwater Founder Erik Prince

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has spoken with Blackwater founder Erik Prince, two sources familiar with the matter tell The Daily Beast. It was not immediately clear what questions Mueller’s team had or what information Prince shared with the special counsel.
posted by stonepharisee at 6:06 AM on May 10 [15 favorites]


Daily Beast: Special Counsel Mueller’s Team Questioned Blackwater Founder Erik Prince

So, we have Cohen selling access, and Prince selling access. I was skeptical that we would ever hit the nirvana of a RICO prosecution, but reviewed the statutes after Gelatin's reference to racketeering, aaaand ( /me shrugs ), here we are. I take comfort in the thought ( however misplaced ) that this is coming to a head soon, and the boil will soon pop.

Hmm.. A boil is an apt analogy, I think. We COULD HAVE lanced it earlier ( House impeachment ), but they let it fester....
posted by mikelieman at 6:16 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


As possibly the only MeFite who's met Erik Prince (multiple times), may I just say, Please God I don't ask for much but please get him in prison just for a little bit please please please.
posted by Etrigan at 6:19 AM on May 10 [130 favorites]




As possibly the first of many MeFites to ask: tell us more about meeting Erik Prince!
posted by notyou at 6:24 AM on May 10 [16 favorites]


Eh, not much to tell.

But I will say that I've met a lot of people (famous, in- and non-) in my day. There are very few of them that more than a decade later, I still remember exactly how big a dickhead they are based on a few almost identically dickheaded interactions.
posted by Etrigan at 6:27 AM on May 10 [29 favorites]


Nunes and Gowdy are getting read into the classified Mueller source:

Given the state of the investigation, and that Nunes could be a suspect, I believe there is a non-zero chance that the DOJ will "honeypot" Nunes and Gowdy, and give them misleading information to see if it appears in the wild.
posted by mikelieman at 6:27 AM on May 10 [26 favorites]


Update: @annafifield: As these three men, one of whom just told us he'd been doing hard labor in North Korea, were kept on the tarmac, Donald Trump suggested he'd just broken the record for television ratings at 3am.

This is loathsome, but then it somehow manages to get worse:
But the feel-good moment from the prisoners’ release also contained these words from the president: “We want to thank Kim Jong-un, who really was excellent to these three incredible people." - NBC News

Uhhh.
posted by marshmallow peep at 6:27 AM on May 10 [107 favorites]


Essential Consulting, LLC

The name of Cohen's firm is a tip-off to anyone remotely schooled in the consulting world. I spent years providing land use economic consulting services to government agencies usually, but not always, after prevailing over my competition in rounds of proposals, interviews, and contract negotiations. Every now and then, either early before proposals were accepted or late during the contract negotiation stage, we would be made to understand that we needed to supplement our team with a specific local player. We would get nervous.

Most of the time it was fine, even if it seemed like the arrangements were a little hinky or reflected a favor granted; these people truly offered useful insider perspectives, could arrange meetings with elusive folks, etc. They ran their businesses under simple names like "Joe Blow Associates" or "The [CityName] Group" and were open about the extent of their contacts. They attended meetings and tracked their time and expenses in conventional ways, submitting invoices according to whatever the client's requirements dictated, etc.. They had stationery and domain names. In short, they were professional, even if they were trading in connections and influence more than any particular expertise.

And then there were the others. They had cute/stupid firm names--think "Kelly Konsultants"--or ones that strung a bunch of buzzwords together (e.g., "Strategic Advantage Advisors, LLC) or were simply grandiose like, um, Essential Consulting, LLC. They were often in love with their own names and sported crappy home-brewed logos with their initials on shields with crossed swords and the like. Their business cards were flimsy and featured Hotmail addresses. They lacked business basics, like EINs and DUNS/CAGE numbers, liability insurance, and audited financial statements. They couldn't ever meet in their offices because "Suite 175" actually meant Box 175 at whatever Mailboxes Etc. had the grandest street address. Or, if they did volunteer to host a meeting, it was always in the office of "another client" which would turn out to be their main employment, because the consulting operation was a side hustle.

But even these folks were better than some. The worst showed up to the interview and possibly the kick-off meeting, where they'd talk a big game, but never to be seen again (in truth, sometimes to our relief). They wanted to be paid up front or immediately upon invoicing, counter to standard industry practice (in which sub-contractors are paid after the prime receives payment from the client, which is often attempting to delay for as long as possible). If you tracked them down they were openly incredulous that you expected them to actually do any work, let alone whatever their sub-contract detailed as their tasks. Their purpose was obvious and they laughed at or were irritated by the out-of-town rubes who wouldn't just leave them alone to their scam.

I can tell you with absolute confidence that from its name alone Essential Consulting, LLC would set off alarm bells in all but the completely unsophisticated. Or the corrupt.
posted by carmicha at 6:41 AM on May 10 [129 favorites]


I believe there is a non-zero chance that the DOJ will "honeypot" Nunes and Gowdy

It's relatively certain that Nunes is dirty as fuck and will immediately hand information over to the most damaging possible recipients, but it's less clear what Gowdy's game is. There appear to be limits to exactly what sort of bullshit he's willing to do or endorse, and Nunes occasionally rubs up against them and Gowdy rebels.

On an unrelated note, goddamnit I could have been content the rest of my life never having to hear Candace Owens's name again. Why can't the second acts in American lives go to good, smart people?
posted by jackbishop at 6:45 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


Uhhh.

Trump has never met a strongman dictator he didn't envy and suck up to. Putin, Xi, Kim. There's a very obvious pattern.
posted by jaduncan at 6:47 AM on May 10 [18 favorites]


Oh, and covering up for Erdogan's bodyguards beating up American protestors.
posted by jaduncan at 6:51 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]


Don Jr. moving on from Vanessa with Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle. In other news, I just threw up a little in my mouth.

She also dated the Mooch! Girl knows how to pick 'em.
She was also linked to Anthony Scaramucci last year when he briefly separated from his wife, Deidre Ball, and was (even more briefly) White House comms director.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:56 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Trump has never met a strongman dictator he didn't envy and suck up to. Putin, Xi, Kim. There's a very obvious pattern.

It's his narcissism. It's a compulsion, he has no control over it. When he thinks of someone he's about to do business with he has to praise them so they'll like him, even if it's wildly inappropriate. It's an itch he has to scratch.
posted by scalefree at 6:57 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


In which Scott Pruitt contemplates the best way to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Scott Pruitt Is Trying to Fix His Ethical Nightmare With…Another Ethical Nightmare
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing investigations into his housing arrangements with a lobbyist, his travel expenses, and his security detail. He has authorized raises for staff in spite of being told not to by the White House, and allegedly retaliated against EPA whistleblowers. This adds up to at least 11 audits and investigations from the Office of Inspector General and Government Accountability Office, with more news of his ethical lapses seeming to break every day. In order to address these problems, according to the New York Times, the former Oklahoma attorney general has decided he is going to need extra help from a private legal defense fund.
[...]
One of the basic questions is where the money for this fund would come from. “The usual suspects [are] the people who shouldn’t donate, people with a stake before the EPA,” Clark added. “So who else is going to do this? There are restrictions on the ability of government officials to accept anything of value from people who are regulated by their agency. Especially in light of Pruitt’s history of getting things of value from those who have a fate in government action, there’s even more reason to be concerned about a legal defense fund set up for him.”

Pruitt’s base would likely be eager to help, but this presents another snag. His staunchest supporters hail from the fossil fuel industry, which would be considered a “prohibited source.” And the Office of Government Ethics decided last fall that anonymous donations aren’t allowed for funds set up for government employees.

“OGE has given some guidance on legal defense funds. Pruitt cannot accept gifts from prohibited sources (entities with business before the agency), and he should not accept gifts from anonymous sources,” Virginia Canter, executive branch counsel for Citizens for Responsibility Ethics in Washington (CREW), says. “He also should be reporting all donations received by his [legal defense fund], and gifts that exceed $375 are required to be reported as part of his public financial disclosure report.”
posted by scalefree at 7:05 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]


It's his narcissism. It's a compulsion, he has no control over it. When he thinks of someone he's about to do business with he has to praise them so they'll like him, even if it's wildly inappropriate.

Maybe. I've always just assumed that he's a barely hidden fascist who would love to have the amount of power they have. Because, yes, raging narcissism.
posted by jaduncan at 7:05 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


The very fact that the North Korean dictator could imprison these men, force them to work at labor camps, then free them in a big media event... that gives Donald tremendous, beautiful chills. If he could create an Apprentice revival without any legal or moral limits, it would be something like that.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:13 AM on May 10 [48 favorites]


Conservative MSNBC host Hugh Hewitt decides to take a cue from his friend Scott Pruitt & try out this whole "corruption" thing. It does not go well for him.

Hugh Hewitt used his MSNBC gig to praise efforts to weaken a law that his firm’s client is accused of violating.
Hugh Hewitt repeatedly used his employment at MSNBC to praise the Trump administration's efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act, calling it one of the “accomplishments” of President Donald Trump's first year in office. But Hewitt and MSNBC did not disclose that one of his law firm’s clients is an oil and gas company that is currently litigating allegations it violated the environmental law.
posted by scalefree at 7:15 AM on May 10 [23 favorites]


CNN: Mike Pence tells Mueller 'it's time to wrap it up'

"Our administration has provided more than a million documents; we've fully cooperated in it, and in the interest of the country, I think it's time to wrap it up," Pence said in an interview.

Translation: "Mueller probably has enough to put me in the Oval Office but doesn't yet have enough to put me in prison."
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:15 AM on May 10 [120 favorites]


If the press starts salivating over Trump being there for the prisoner release and Trump starts crowing about it then NK would be quick to realise that it would be easier to give up prisoners for concessions from the US than things like an actual wind down of their nuke program.
posted by PenDevil at 7:16 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Benghazi was four fucking years, they don’t get to tell anyone when an investigation is over.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:22 AM on May 10 [164 favorites]


The attack on Iranian military outposts and supplies in Syria by Israel is the most extensive strike they have undertaken in that country in decades. The largest since the disengagement agreement was signed in 1974. It reportedly hit every Iranian military installation in Syria.

It's also the first time Israel and Iran have gone head to head in a while. The Iranians usually prefer to operate remotely, to allow plausible deniability. They fund and supply weapons and other goods to Hezbollah in Lebanon, etc. They set up military installations in Syria. Both Lebanon and Syria border Israel, so this gives the Iranian regime a tactical advantage
There have been a few photos taken over the years by Israelis living in the Golan Heights of rocket casings launched from Lebanon with Iranian markings. But this is a significant escalation. Israel is now accusing them of launching a rocket attack on military installations in the Golan Heights.

Syria has been warned not to respond by Israel.

One of the targets of last night's attack was a former Russian base in central Syria, T-4 which was targeted in February after an Iranian drone (purportedly carrying explosives) entered Israeli airspace. The drone was reportedly launched from T-4.

This was expected, after Trump walked away from the nuclear agreement with Iran. Iran has been saber rattling about destroying Israel for months. (Well, years, but more frequently since February.) Israel has of course been loudly accusing Iran of nuclear shenanigans and worse to anyone who will listen. Business Insider (rather hyperbolically) seems to think Putin gave his blessing for this attack. Europe is scrambling to see if they can defuse the situation before an all-out war erupts.

The question now is whether Iran will push Hezbollah to attack.

The White House has condemned Iran and accused them of provoking a response. Suprisingly enough, both the UK and Germany are as well.
posted by zarq at 7:25 AM on May 10 [26 favorites]


Benghazi was four fucking years, they don’t get to tell anyone when an investigation is over.

I mean, sure, but if Mueller waits until all the crimes that he committed are out, he’s never going to be done, because Trump keeps committing crimes.
posted by corb at 7:26 AM on May 10 [27 favorites]


President Supervillain is back, after long hiatus. For those of you not familiar:
PSA to prevent confusion: I take real Trump quotes and photoshop them into comics.
posted by achrise at 7:32 AM on May 10 [36 favorites]


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Thursday encouraged Supreme Court justices flirting with retirement to immediately step down, saying he would like to push through a nominee before the midterm elections.

“I just hope that if there is going to be a nominee, I hope it’s now or within two or three weeks, because we’ve got to get this done before the election,“ he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “So my message to any one of the nine Supreme Court justices, if you’re thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday.“

The supposedly Trump-skeptic wing of the elected GOP is happy to keep a traitor in power if it gives them the opportunity to destroy the Judicial Branch forever.
posted by Rust Moranis at 7:40 AM on May 10 [43 favorites]




I would love to see Democrats use a variant of the same argument McConnell used -- since President Trump may not be in office much longer, we should leave any Supreme Court appointments to the next president.

(Yes, I know, Pence. But hey, one at a time, and there's a chance he'll be gone too.)
posted by martin q blank at 7:46 AM on May 10 [24 favorites]


This link: Robert Mueller Likely Knows How This All Ends was posted by filthy light thief in the previous thread. It's a good reminder of how Mueller operates. He is conservative, detailed and methodical.
1. Mueller always knows more than we think. Every single indictment has been deeper, broader, and more detailed than anyone anticipated. This “misunderestimating” of what Mueller knows has been true of both the public and media reports, and of his witnesses and targets: Both Rick Gates and Alex van der Zwaan were caught in lies by Mueller’s team, who have known far more specific information than their targets first realized. Presumably, Mueller’s questions to Trump are informed by even more evidence that we haven’t seen.

2. Mueller is building a bulletproof case. Paul Manafort spent the spring trying to argue that Mueller was a loose cannon, a reckless, out-of-control prosecutor straying far beyond his assignment. His court case, though, proved just the opposite: The release this spring in court of a previously classified memo by Rod Rosenstein makes clear just how cautiously and conservatively Mueller is proceeding legally. One of the key members of Mueller’s team, Michael Dreeben, specializes in looking down the road at potential legal pitfalls and how cases might appear not just at initial trials but in later appellate courts. And Dreeban’s work has paid obvious dividends: After reviewing the evidence in Manafort’s effort to dismiss the charges against him and Mueller’s highly detailed 282-page rebuttal, Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Manafort’s lawyers, “I don’t really understand what is left of your case.”

posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on May 10 [38 favorites]


“I just hope that if there is going to be a nominee, I hope it’s now or within two or three weeks, because we’ve got to get this done before the election,“ he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “So my message to any one of the nine Supreme Court justices, if you’re thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday.“

Which, once again, signals that Republicans themselves believe that holding onto the House is a lost cause and that their Senate majority is not long for this world. Good.

As for a potential Democratic Senate, it should follow the McConnell precedent.
posted by Gelatin at 7:48 AM on May 10 [33 favorites]


I would love to see Democrats use a variant of the same argument McConnell used -- since President Trump may not be in office much longer, we should leave any Supreme Court appointments to the next president.

They would probably argue that the McConnell "3/5" rule only applies to Black Presidents.
posted by zarq at 7:56 AM on May 10 [11 favorites]


btw, zarq, *terrific* comment above on the Israel/Iran conflict. hope someone with more ambition and time than I have can make that a FPP. It's worthy of its own discussion and elaboration. now back to my deadlines.
posted by martin q blank at 8:02 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


filthy light thief: Teacher Pay Is So Low in Some U.S. School Districts (How Low Is It?) That They’re Recruiting Overseas

Following up to my own comment/article link above - my wife told me that at her little, rural New Mexico high school, their new computer teacher is coming from the Phillipines, and they're interviewing four other individuales from the Philipines for the English teacher position. It's a beautiful location that's a short drive from a major metro area, but the pay's not great and it's a stressful job with decreasing job satisfaction (WaPo, 2015), which is even impacting "downstream" supply - there aren't enough people getting the education to become teachers to fill current vacancies.

But high turn-over is a good thing, says Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon -- speaking at a town hall on civil service today said he wants working for the government to be more like the private sector - more flexible, less permanent.
And that's a key component for updating the workforce. I don't believe that we should look at a federal job for 30 years and then retire and then have a, you know, lifetime retirement anymore.
That's right, Jeff T.H. Pon thinks that "lifetime retirement" 1) isn't realistic/ suitable/ something any more, and that working for 30 years isn't enough to permit you to stop working. Is he also talking about Social Security? Unclear. Oh, and Pon said this during Public Service Recognition Week, when Trump acknowledging the nation's civil servants for, quote, "their hard work and willingness to serve their fellow citizens." Yet at the same time, the administration wants to cut federal retirement benefits and freeze salaries next year.

Now, let's look to the loony left: Likely 2020 Democratic Candidates Want To Guarantee A Job To Every American (NPR, May 8, 2018) - the article highlights policy positions from Corey Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Elizabeth Warren and fellow Democatic Sens. Kamala Harris and Jeff Merkley, and these last four have co-sponsored S.2746 - Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act of 2018.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:02 AM on May 10 [52 favorites]


If the dirt on Mike Pence that surely exists (he was indictment recipient Manafort's pick for VP after all) finally comes to light, I look forward to finding out that he was a minor member of the administration, responsible only for the minor areas of domestic and foreign policy and hardly informed at all about the real business of MAGAing.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:04 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


Trump announced on Thursday that his meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will be held on June 12 in Singapore.
"We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!"
So stay tuned!
posted by monospace at 8:12 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I see it's "cops beating up on old men" time at the Senate today. Must be Thursday.

@LawyerRogelio Former 27-year CIA officer Ray McGovern just protested at the Senate confirmation hearing for torturer Gina Haspel.

Police responded by violently brutalizing the 78-year-old whistleblower, throwing him to the ground and dislocating his arm.
posted by scalefree at 8:16 AM on May 10 [66 favorites]




jesus fucking christ
nice how they get him entirely under control and take care to drag him out of view of the chamber before viciously throwing him on the ground. the man is lucky he didn't end up with worse than a dislocated arm, and lucky someone managed to film what happened to him.
posted by halation at 8:20 AM on May 10 [27 favorites]


he was a minor member of the administration, responsible only for the minor areas of domestic and foreign policy and hardly informed at all about the real business of MAGAing
...according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:22 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


lucky someone managed to film what happened to him.

Yep. Now he doesn't have a he said/police said resisting arrest charge to justify the dislocation.
posted by jaduncan at 8:23 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


Feinstein is a no(!) on confirming Haspel.

That's a reminder that pressure from constituents (and a primary candidate from the Left) works.
posted by notyou at 8:25 AM on May 10 [42 favorites]


...according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.


I remember that — but that didn't seem to happen for Pence?
posted by mumimor at 8:27 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Yep. Now he doesn't have a he said/police said resisting arrest charge to justify the dislocation.

Major props to Ray. Even as he's being thrown around to the ubiquitous cries of "stop resisting!" he keeps on message, explaining to whoever will listen why he's protesting.
posted by scalefree at 8:31 AM on May 10 [16 favorites]


I remember that — but that didn't seem to happen for Pence?

Neither did the Making America Great part.
posted by scalefree at 8:32 AM on May 10 [18 favorites]


Trump also signed the JUST Act yesterday, which stands for "Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today." It 'requires the State Department to report to Congress on the steps that dozens of European countries have taken to compensate Holocaust survivors or their heirs for assets seized under Nazi German and Communist rule.'

Poland is predictably freaking out about all of this, as they're the only country who have actively been trying to silence discussion of their potential culpability in WWII war crimes.

Perhaps their Żyd na szczęście tchotchkes will help them.
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on May 10 [15 favorites]


Feinstein is a no(!) on confirming Haspel.

I wonder if McCain being a no (for now, he’ll flip) cuts off the good bipartisan argument for many Dems who would otherwise sell out. You’ve got to assume Manchin and Jones are hard locks though, no way in hell are they going to let this opportunity slip by.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on May 10


I don’t think McCain will ever actually cast a vote in the Senate again, he’s against Haspel and speaking out against her, but it’s to influence others. He won’t be coming back to Washington.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:50 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


I assume McCain is stuck in Arizona and therefore is a non-vote, which amounts to a "no" in the context of a close confirmation battle. Let's be honest, McCain will probably never set foot in the Senate again - he's drawn up a list of preferred successors (including his wife, WTF), and may just be timing his departure to take advantage of that AZ law that says the governor makes an appointment rather than having a special election if it's late enough in the season.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:53 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


That’s exactly it. If he’s still with us, I’d expect him to resign June 1 when he can assure a Republican will fill his seat until 2020.

Because McCain is still party over country, like he’s been his whole life.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:55 AM on May 10 [29 favorites]


>Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

I remember that — but that didn't seem to happen for Pence?


No: not 'in charge of,' but Pence
was instrumental in bringing several traditionally hawkish Republicans into the top levels of the administration’s national security team, including Director of National Intelligence-designate Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
And since that was written, Pompeo now heads up the State Department. (This is just an example, not the totality of Pence's influence). I'd also note, in passing, that John Bolton (yes, that John Bolton) opined at length, prior to entering the White House, that Pence 'proved adept at navigating the complexities of Middle Eastern politics,' which is the kind of thing you write when you're looking for Pence to hire you I guess.

'In charge of' didn't quite happen, but Pence has had a significant and unusual degree of influence in helping to pick the President's cabinet and fill high-level positions, and has wielded a large degree of influence on policy. We don't exactly know how much because the influence Pence wields is all behind the scenes, and also because Trump loves to take credit for everything. It's also a bit hard to untangle because so many of Pence's policy positions (eg, abstinence only education) are supported by a lot of high-level Republicans so it's hard to tell what policies are really Pence policies and which ones are just 'any Republican who happened to be VP' policies.

Basically: this is the kind of thing where we can't fairly assess the impact Pence is having, or has had, at present, for all the same reasons that we couldn't fairly assess, two weeks ago, the impact that Michael Cohen might have had on the President's policies -- we know that there's a lot we don't know, and we know we're likely to know a lot more in the near future. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that Pence has been quietly helping to set a lot of policy agendas; it also wouldn't be surprising to learn that he's been trying to and been constantly overruled by Trump. We don't really know, but not knowing that Pence has had the freedom to set policy isn't quite the same thing as knowing that he hasn't set policy.

Kasich is awful and it's not really clear how different a Kasich Vice Presidency would have been, policy-wise, which is part of what it so difficult to determine what exact impact Pence has had.
posted by cjelli at 8:58 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]




Giuliani resigns from law firm amid legal work for Trump, Katelyn Polantz, CNN [contains autoplay video]
statement pdf via Courthouse News
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 9:01 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]


Like a bloated, portly fake billionaire rolling off a hooker after a hot 45 seconds of passionate sex, Donald Trump’s ardor for Rudy Giuliani seems to have cooled.

The analogies (like the above) that the author of this piece uses are gross and disgusting in every way. Wilson can find no other way to express such things without talking sleazily about high school cheerleaders, etc?
posted by zarq at 9:07 AM on May 10 [28 favorites]


Is the JUST Act an attempt by the Republican Trump administration to punish European countries in some way?
posted by Yowser at 9:08 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


You’ve got to assume Manchin and Jones are hard locks though, no way in hell are they going to let this opportunity slip by.

This will never make sense to me. Are there really lots of people in West Virginia that will look at that vote and say "well, I was on the fence about that Manchin fellow until he voted for the torturer, I guess he's alright!"? Are there more of those than there are people who will look at Manchin's capitulation and just give up on the whole mid-term in disgust? His opponent got 30% of the primary vote so there seem to be plenty of people in WV who would are tired of him and would like to see that seat move left, aren't they more likely to stay home the more he votes like a Republican? The Pod Save America guys are actual Dem operators and they were expressing confusion about this too, so I guess at least I'm in good company.
posted by contraption at 9:11 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


The analogies (like the above) that the author of this piece uses are gross and disgusting in every way. Wilson can find no other way to express such things without talking sleazily about high school cheerleaders, etc?

That whole piece is actually a paean for Giuliani, so what did you expect? But Trump is a bridge too far for the author, you see. Sadly, this is probably a good example of a nevertrump Republican.
posted by Behemoth at 9:14 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


"well, I was on the fence about that Manchin fellow until he voted for the torturer, I guess he's alright!"
I know otherwise rational and even socialist people who are strongly pro-torture. I blame it on Hollywood.
posted by mumimor at 9:15 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Is the JUST Act an attempt by the Republican Trump administration to punish European countries in some way?

Nope.

From ABC: "The law does not give the U.S. any powers to act against any country and does not single out Poland."
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I just assumed it was some bullshit act of whataboutism to deflect from oppressive actions by Trump regime allies.
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


‘#BeBest’: Schumer reminds Trump of the first lady’s initiative after mean tweet, John Wagner, WaPo
Trump took aim at Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) during a series of late-morning tweets [...]
Schumer did not take long to fire back and did so with just a seven-character response: “#BeBest.”
Schumer warns Trump against 'quick, bad' deal with North Korea, Reuters
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the release of three detained American citizens was “no great accomplishment” of North Korean President Kim Jong Un and that President Trump was weakening U.S. foreign policy by exalting the release.

The Americans should never have been detained in the first place, Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Their release should not be exalted, it should be expected. It is no great accomplishment of Kim Jong Un to do this.”
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 9:22 AM on May 10 [63 favorites]




Giuliani resigns from law firm amid legal work for Trump, Katelyn Polantz, CNN [contains autoplay video]
statement pdf via Courthouse News

I am going to laugh *so hard* when Trump sacks Rudy and Rudy has nowhere to go.
posted by jaduncan at 9:27 AM on May 10 [32 favorites]


Are there really lots of people in West Virginia that will look at that vote and say "well, I was on the fence about that Manchin fellow until he voted for the torturer, I guess he's alright!"?

In 2002, chickenhawk Saxby Chambliss decisively defeated war hero Max Cleland, who had lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, in part by running ads pairing Cleland with Osama bin Laden and "questioning the commitment to homeland security" of Cleland, as Wikipedia delicately puts it.

Misleading representations of legislative votes are common in politics, but I can well imagine that, while few West Virginia voters would be swayed in Manchin's favor by his confirmation vote, he wants to avoid the way a vote against her would be portrayed to low-information voters. Which doesn't at all excuse his vote, but may help explain it.

Trump didn't invent sleazy Republican politics; in many ways, he took advantage of the opportunities that decades of sleazy Republican politics prepared for him.
posted by Gelatin at 9:37 AM on May 10 [33 favorites]


Are there really lots of people in West Virginia that will look at that vote and say "well, I was on the fence about that Manchin fellow until he voted for the torturer, I guess he's alright!"?

There are a ton of people out there who have really gone hard with the following thought process:

1. There is gridlock in DC, no one is compromising or working together.
2. Both parties are to blame for this.
3. Therefore, bucking a party-line vote in any circumstance or for any reason is an unalloyed good.

Right now we're in the last week of a State House primary race* in my district between a Democrat who votes with Republicans constantly (and is frequently the ONLY PA Dem caucus to vote across the aisle) and a DSA-backed Progressive. A ton of conversations about this race devolve pretty much instantly into "The incumbent is good because he's an independent thinker who doesn't vote with his party a crapton!" The actual issues he's crossing the aisle to vote on are immaterial. All people are looking at are "does he cross the aisle: yes/no." These are low-info voters who like to think of themselves as also "independent thinkers". I am fairly certain WV is full of this same kind of thinking.

[*New scandal in this race, which has turned out to be way more high drama than anticipated, is that the GOP has no one on the ballot for their primary--they never do, this is a Dem-only district, so the incumbent has come out and asked Republicans to write him in on their ballot. That way, if he loses his primary, he can run as a Republican! To a really shocking number of people, this is further proof that he's an "independent thinker" and not a power-hunger old boy who doesn't know when it's time to pack it in and go home.]
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:44 AM on May 10 [24 favorites]


Politico: Sheldon Adelson kicks in $30M to stop Democratic House takeover
Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has cut a $30 million check to the House GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, a massive cash infusion that top Republicans hope will alter the party's electoral outlook six months before Election Day.

The long-sought donation was sealed last week when, according to two senior Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan flew to Las Vegas to meet with the billionaire at his Venetian Hotel. Also at the meeting with Adelson was his wife, Miriam; Norm Coleman, the former Minnesota senator who chairs the Republican Jewish Coalition; Corry Bliss, who oversees the super PAC; and Jake Kastan, Ryan's No. 2 political aide. They laid out a case to Adelson about how crucial it is to protect the House.

As a federally elected official, Ryan is not permitted to solicit seven-figure political donations. When Ryan (R-Wis.) left the room, Coleman made the ask and secured the $30 million contribution.
As Shane Goldmacher (NYT) puts it:
So Paul Ryan flew across the country to secure a $30 million check from Sheldon Adelson but then stepped out of the room for a couple minutes to avoid technically soliciting the money?
That feels a lot more #BeLegal that it does #BeBest.
posted by cjelli at 9:45 AM on May 10 [78 favorites]


Law360: EXCLUSIVE: Draft Bill Would Overhaul Immigration Courts
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is considering introducing sweeping legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration court system and establish independent tribunals with trial and appellate divisions, according to a draft of the bill obtained exclusively by Law360 on Thursday.

The bill proposes to establish an Article I tribunal, which is set up by Congress to review agency decisions, to deal with immigration cases. Trial immigration judges would hear cases involving removal, application for admission, cancellation of removal, rescission of adjustment of status, asylum applications, bonds, detention, parole, and assessment of certain civil penalties. Appellate immigration judges would review those decisions, as well as any that impose administrative fines and penalties and final orders of removal.

The Federal Circuit, rather than other circuit courts, would review further appeals of immigration cases, with the bill proposing expansions of the appeals court to accommodate the additional caseload.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:46 AM on May 10 [34 favorites]


@DSenFloor: The Senate confirmed Michael Brennan to be Judge for the 7th Circuit, 49-46.

@samstein: Fairly important moment here. Brennan did not have a blue slip from Tammy Baldwin, making him the first judge confirmed without one from his home state senator. (Franken didn’t return one on Stras but was not in the Senate when Stras was confirmed)

So that's another norm that applies only to Democrats but not to Republicans. And a complete victory for McConnell's court packing plan.

Zoe Tillman, Republicans Have A Plan To Push Through Trump’s Judicial Nominees, And There’s Little Democrats Can Do To Stop Them
The day before Bounds’ hearing, the Senate pressed ahead with a proposed rules change to speed up judicial confirmations. McConnell has moved this week for votes on six appeals judges, including 7th Circuit nominee Michael Brennan, over the objection of one of his home state senators, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin. And an influential conservative advocacy group announced last week that it is launching a million-dollar ad campaign to back those efforts.

There aren’t any signs the nominations will slow down. Since January, the White House has announced more than four dozen judicial nominees; the latest batch was sent to the Senate earlier this week. There are 148 current vacancies across the federal courts, and more than 30 upcoming vacancies have been announced. There are 81 nominees pending in the Senate, and the White House continues to vet candidates.

Democrats say Republicans are ceding too much power to the White House when it comes to nominations. During Wednesday’s hearing, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said that if blue slips no longer have the power to hold up a nomination, the White House will have no reason to defer to the historical practice of designating certain seats on the regional appeals courts to represent each of the states covered by that circuit. That could hurt Republicans as well as Democrats, he said.
There is a new campaign to fight this, not that there's really a fight to be had besides winning the Senate. Dem Groups Are Ratcheting Up the Judicial Wars—And They’re Targeting Fellow Democrats
In a rare political volley in the judicial wars, a trio of outside Democratic-aligned groups is going after members of its own party in a newly launched ad campaign.

The campaign, spearheaded by the new outfit Demand Justice, demands that Democratic senators commit to voting en masse against any of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees should Senate Republicans advance one without the formal sign-off of his or her home-state senator.
In case you're wondering why the position was open for Brennan, well, it's exactly as hypocritical as you'd expect from McConnell:
Brennan does not have a blue slip from one of his home-state senators, Tammy Baldwin. But what’s further enraged Democrats is the history of the post he is set to occupy. For years, that seat on the Seventh Circuit was held open because Wisconsin’s other senator, Republican Ron Johnson, refused to return his own blue slip for President Barack Obama’s nominee, Victoria Nourse. Brennan himself was quoted as applauding the resulting vacancy.
posted by zachlipton at 9:57 AM on May 10 [48 favorites]


Giuliani resigns from law firm amid legal work for Trump, Katelyn Polantz, CNN [contains autoplay video]

The NYT has a slightly differently gloss to this than Giuliani's positive spin about needing to commit more time to the Mueller probe: Giuliani Resigns From Law Firm Amid Tensions Over Comments About Trump
Firm partners had chafed over Mr. Giuliani’s public comments about payments that another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Michael D. Cohen, made to secure the silence of a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied her allegations. In interviews, Mr. Giuliani suggested that such payments were common at his firm.

“That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm funds,” he said on Fox News.
...
He added, “Michael would take care of things like this like I take care of this with my clients.”

The New York Times asked Greenberg Traurig several times to explain those remarks over the past week. On Tuesday, a firm spokeswoman asked for more time to provide answers.
And today, Giuliani left the firm, which has still not yet commented publicly on whether or not Cohen-like payments were, in fact, common.
posted by cjelli at 10:00 AM on May 10 [67 favorites]


“We know that this is an extremely complicated situation,” Merkel said. “The escalations of the past few hours show us that it is truly about war and peace. And I can only call on all sides to exercise restraint here.”

It's not that complicated. Iran's been threatening Israel and attacking them by proxy for years. At some point something was going to give, and they're finally getting their hands slapped for it.
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Mediaite, WATCH: Policy Advisor For Trump-Tied ‘America First’ Group Praises Nazis: They Should’ve Kept ‘Going’ (Exclusive)
Juan Pablo Andrade voiced his love for the Third Reich — in a video obtained by Mediaite — while attending a Turning Point USA conference, which is a youth conservative organization, endorsed by everyone from Trump to Senator Marco Rubio, known as much for racism as it is for diaper-wearing.
...
“The only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep fucking going!” Andrade exclaimed to Svbervi and several other fellow conference attendees in a hotel room that Mediaite learned was paid for by TPUSA.
The article also goes into detail on Svbervi, another TPUSA white supremacist and what he was doing there:
Several sources with knowledge of TPUSA’s operations, who spoke to Mediaite on the condition of anonymity, said Svbervi was added to a “blacklist” of activists that the nonprofit’s leadership wanted to keep away from their Student Action Summit to avoid controversy. The list was later scrapped in an effort to boost attendance numbers, sources said.
Andrade works for America First Policies, which Pence has done 20 events with. That's the dark money group that was running secret polls for Trump and employs Carl Higbie, who was fired from the Trump administration after KFILE discovered he was really really bigoted. Pence is in bed with these people.
posted by zachlipton at 10:06 AM on May 10 [52 favorites]


cjelli: That feels a lot more #BeLegal that it does #BeBest.

Sounds very Republican, just like Haspel's response to Feinstein:
DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Were you an advocate for destroying the tapes?

HASPEL: Senator, I absolutely was an advocate if we could within and conforming to U.S. law and if we could get policy concurrence to eliminate the security risk posed to our officers by those tapes and the consistent legal...

FEINSTEIN: And you were aware of what those tapes contained?

HASPEL: No, I never watched the tapes.
This is a different tale than Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, told NPR's Audie Cornish mere moments later:
She was the No. 2 person in that department. Her supervisor directed her to draft the cable that you're talking about. She did so. She gave the cable back to her boss. Her boss then made the decision as far as destroying the tape. So it's guilt by association. I mean, simply because she was there, to me, doesn't disqualify her at all.
Risch is your standard pivoting politician, who responds to questions about future use of torture by saying "Look, we have a law against that now," as if laws can't change, particularly when the president (as a mere nominee in 2016) said "waterboarding is just fine, but we should go much further, and I got a standing ovation, a standing ovation" (as the crowd cheers). Risch goes on to say "And so we need to quit talking about that and look forward not backward."

But then he pivots oh so well, looking back to the prior president when talking about the Iran nuclear deal, mentioning Obama by name four times in a few minutes, instead of talking about how Trump might be able to renegotiate anything.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:08 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


soren_lorensen

There are a ton of people out there who have really gone hard with the following thought process:

1. There is gridlock in DC, no one is compromising or working together.
2. Both parties are to blame for this.
3. Therefore, bucking a party-line vote in any circumstance or for any reason is an unalloyed good.


Yes. And it's crucial to recognize how much this view can coexist with actual (not strong, but genuine) beliefs about the subject. They're personally against torture, see. If they ran things, it would be illegal, for sure, but they don't run things so is it really their place to say?

According to this New Yorker article: In polls taken in 1968, only three per cent of voters who objected to Johnson’s policy in Vietnam were also sympathetic to antiwar protesters. Food for thought.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:14 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


The Brooklyn Comedian (Jake Flores) Whose Joke About ICE Got Him a Visit From Homeland Security
So I made this joke on Saturday. I went out that night, went to a concert, came back home, and was asleep on my couch. I woke up and heard someone banging on the door. I was feeling delirious. It’s loud, aggressive banging on this metal door, like BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. If I had recognized it for what it was, I probably wouldn’t have opened the door, but I thought it must be this repair guy and I wasn’t thinking.

I open the door and there are four guys, and they say “Homeland Security” and hold a badge up like they’re in a movie. I’ve been arrested a lot of times, and I didn’t get the feeling that’s what they were going for because cops are the ones that come in and immediately arrest you and want to assert all this dominance. These were nerds, lanyard guys. They sort of came in and made their statement pretty quickly, and I thought, “I’m either going to get arrested or not.”

posted by Atom Eyes at 10:17 AM on May 10 [41 favorites]


Atom Eyes, that interview is great, not least because he really talked to the ICE guys and they clearly were less informed than he was about a lot of the policy issues that drive their own agency priorities. Fascinating and horrifying. But at least he wasn't hurt or arrested.
posted by suelac at 10:23 AM on May 10 [24 favorites]


In case you're wondering why the position was open for Brennan, well, it's exactly as hypocritical as you'd expect from McConnell

Republicans did this dance with blue slips before during the Bush Administration, and we can thank Patrick Leahy for reinstating the practice to allow Republicans to block Obama nominees Trump is now appointing.

If Democrats retake the Senate, they’ll hand Republicans the same weapons back again, same as always. Because Democrats do not play the same game.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:28 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]


“The only thing the Nazis didn’t get right is they didn’t keep fucking going!” Andrade exclaimed to Svbervi and several other fellow conference attendees in a hotel room that Mediaite learned was paid for by TPUSA.

Right, because if they had kept going, they certainly would not have promptly obliterated the grandparents and great-grandparents of Juan Pablo Andrade and Cesar Subervi (the other alt-right goon I think the article is misspellingly referencing?).

Is it cognitive dissonance and denial, or are they actually this dumb?
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:32 AM on May 10 [18 favorites]


If Democrats retake the Senate, they’ll hand Republicans the same weapons back again, same as always. Because Democrats do not play the same game.

T.D. Strange, what is the point of this constant trashing of Democrats for things they might do in the future? Are you trying to kill all morale before a blue wave?

There’s obvious benefit to cataloging the mistakes of the past to make sure we don’t repeat them in the future, but that’s not what this is. This is fatalism and learned helplessness. I’m really not sure what you’re trying to accomplish.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:33 AM on May 10 [72 favorites]


Is it cognitive dissonance and denial, or are they actually this dumb?

Speaking from personal experience with a brother and uncle who are both alt-right shit stirrers and really do not like to be associated with being Jewish, it is a combination of toxic masculinity, anger and cognitive dissonance all wrapped up in a shit blintz.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:43 AM on May 10 [47 favorites]


There’s obvious benefit to cataloging the mistakes of the past to make sure we don’t repeat them in the future

It's certainly possible for politicians to misread the sentiments of their constituents, or just to ignore them, but Democratic voters right now do not seem to be in a forgiving mood at all. We had a SCOTUS seat and then arguably the Presidency itself stolen by the Republicans, and Trump and his despicable crew are actively and deliberately causing harm and suffering without the thin veneer of amiability the previous Republican president -- who also lost the popular vote the first time around -- would at times show.

More people protested Trump's inauguration than attended it. The Democrats held firm and prevented Obamacare's repeal, and while they didn't prevent the tax cut, they did prevent any claim of "bipartisanship." The message sent by candidates in the primary was not one of "let bygones be bygones." While "fecklessness" has for far too long naturally followed the word "Democratic," we're now at a point where Dianne Freaking Feinstein sees no upside in voting to confirm a tainted CIA nominee. We will be disappointed in them, yes -- especially red state Democrats like Manchin -- but in the midterms as in the past few special elections, Democrats seem to see their path to victory as appealing to other Democrats rather than some mythical "swing voter." Selling out their constituents time and again hardly seems to be a clever strategy for retaining a hard-won incumbency, and nor does helping Republicans install a bunch of hostile judges.
posted by Gelatin at 10:45 AM on May 10 [38 favorites]


In other news, there's a pretty good rundown of "Trumpism" over at NYMag today (by Eric Levitz). The takeaway paragraph for me:
You cannot expel immigrants who have been thriving in the U.S. for two decades, out of concern that they might prove unable to assimilate. You can’t deport a population that has a higher labor-force participation rate than native-born Americans on the grounds that it will be a burden on the U.S. economy. You cannot claim that your immigration policy is motivated by concern for public safety, when you move to deport law-abiding longtime residents — even though your diplomats warn that doing so will benefit criminal gangs and smugglers. And you certainly can’t claim that your hard-line immigration agenda puts the interests of all American citizens first, when you’re trying to separate hundreds of thousands of American citizens from their mothers and fathers. None of the polite restrictionist arguments apply.
It's damning, but it will make no difference.
posted by suelac at 10:45 AM on May 10 [90 favorites]


FWIW, it would be really cool if the Democrats could all vote in a bloc. I know that a Wyoming Democrat and a Massachusetts Democrat have different constituencies, but the appearance of unity would go a long way to mitigate my squeemishness. Having ANYONE support a torturer should be a show-stopper.
posted by mikelieman at 10:48 AM on May 10 [21 favorites]


There’s obvious benefit to cataloging the mistakes of the past to make sure we don’t repeat them in the future, but that’s not what this is. This is fatalism and learned helplessness. I’m really not sure what you’re trying to accomplish.

Maybe my tone is too fatalistic, but the point was it’s not just Manchins and McCaskills that allowed the staggering amount of judicial openings for Trump, it was the most liberal members of the party too. Assigning proper blame is critical to expressing enough anger that they never do it again. And the proper blame for the judicial failures should placed on the entire party, except maybe Harry Reid, who saw this coming.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:51 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


More people protested Trump's inauguration than attended it. The Democrats held firm and prevented Obamacare's repeal, and while they didn't prevent the tax cut, they did prevent any claim of "bipartisanship." The message sent by candidates in the primary was not one of "let bygones be bygones." While "fecklessness" has for far too long naturally followed the word "Democratic," we're now at a point where Dianne Freaking Feinstein sees no upside in voting to confirm a tainted CIA nominee. We will be disappointed in them, yes -- especially red state Democrats like Manchin -- but in the midterms as in the past few special elections, Democrats seem to see their path to victory as appealing to other Democrats rather than some mythical "swing voter.

I agree with this, and I think that pressure from constituents - "we're here, we vote, and we're watching you" - plays a huge part in how much more accountable and more spineful Democratic officeholders have become. Democratic voters (as a whole) have woken up and realized that it's not enough to vote for a President and then take a nice long nap and then complain when the President doesn't wave a magic wand and make it all better. Or stay home because "There's something about her I don't like and anyway I have principles" and find that there's now a dangerous out of control overgrown toddler in the White House.

Now that constituents are watching them, Democratic congresspeople have gone from "Third Way" to Jobs For All and Health Care For All and now, Unions For All.

And while senators from conservative states like Manchin are always going to be more conservative themselves - they have to represent their constituents - the important thing is that they vote along with the rest of the Democrats, as a bloc. Turncoats are more worrisome to me than conservative Democrats.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:59 AM on May 10 [27 favorites]


Is it cognitive dissonance and denial, or are they actually this

Intersectional nazism comes from a calculation that they will be last, that the Nazis will never get around to them, and a lack of caring about whoever the Nazis do get to while they enjoy whatever benefits being a Nazi from an unusual background gives them (extra cover, fawning media profiles for doing the work of normalization, etc...) I’m sure it works out for some of them, but even if it doesn’t they are Nazis regardless.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Turncoats are more worrisome to me than conservative Democrats.

New York's experience with the "IDC" (aka "Traitors") should be instructional.
posted by mikelieman at 11:01 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


I’d classify putting pressure on Democrats to be better as profound optimism - accepting and excusing bad behaviorist is the fatalistic attitude.
posted by Artw at 11:03 AM on May 10 [10 favorites]


I’d classify putting pressure on Democrats to be better as profound optimism

So would I. I don't think continually expressing the belief that Dems will fail us falls into that category, though. It is the main thing that drives me away from these threads despite how useful they are.
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:11 AM on May 10 [22 favorites]


In certain respects, Donald Trump has been a far more “normal” Republican president than many pundits had predicted (or are willing to admit).

I mean, most everyone knew he was a criminal corporatist who cheated with an enemy adversary to get elected, and who was going to hire a bunch of other criminals as soon as he got into office. Seems like a normal Republican to me.
posted by gucci mane at 11:11 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


I think CNN is perhaps slightly overselling the prisoner release story with their top headline right now: "Trump basks in global triumph"[real].
posted by contraption at 11:11 AM on May 10 [20 favorites]


And the proper blame for the judicial failures should placed on the entire party

As much as it's fun to blame the Democrats for standing by political norms and thus losing to the Republicans... It's kind of a losing game in itself. I don't really think there was a winning strategy against the GOP... they didn't care what happened in the game and their only goal was to destroy anything they could. Being the party that actually had goals means the Dems had to play a game, even if they knew it was rigged. This isn't going to change.

I really feel that the actual blame lies with the voters who consistently rewarded these assholes with more and more power the more they shit on the system.
posted by cirhosis at 11:14 AM on May 10 [14 favorites]




NRA President Oliver North Says Parkland Gun Control Activists Are Criminal Civil Terrorists.

It's utterly macabre that they've doubled down on attacking school children who are survivors of a mass shooting.

North also continues the NRA's attempt to brand itself as a "civil rights organization."
posted by zarq at 11:24 AM on May 10 [70 favorites]


I mean, there are a lot of valid reasons to not respect John McCain, but...imagine what kind of person you have to be to go on live TV and call a military veteran and a member of your own party - one who is probably literally on his deathbed - "Songbird" because he (allegedly?) gave up information while being tortured by the enemy during a war.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:24 AM on May 10 [76 favorites]


> Military analyst on Fox advocates for torture: "It worked on John [McCain]. That's why they call him 'Songbird John'"

More from the Fox Torture Apologia Desk: Hannity Explodes After Being Confronted By ThinkProgress About Previous Offer To Be Waterboarded For Charity

Brave Sir Hannity ran away...
posted by tonycpsu at 11:26 AM on May 10 [47 favorites]


because he (allegedly?) gave up information

No evidence McCain was a traitor [Politifact]
posted by Buntix at 11:26 AM on May 10 [19 favorites]


Military hat on: you are supposed to give up some information after a certain point, because once it is known you are captured everything that you know is supposed to be changed. One of the reasons that interrogation is focussed so much on the first couple of days after capture is that people talk when in shock, but the other is that the information given might be fresh enough to be useful. After that, you are explicitly instructed to give away the information that you feel might be enough to bargain for the welfare of yourself and others, because, again, it is entirely intended that nothing secure will now depend on that information.

It is fundamentally not up to the interrogated service member to ensure the safety of operations beyond that first period. So, uh, not that I love or even like McCain, but whoever is briefing this can go die in a fire.
posted by jaduncan at 11:29 AM on May 10 [139 favorites]


Vietnam POWs were tortured to make propaganda statements, for the most part, not to obtain information. They worked out a system where they could give a little when they reached the point where they were fucking dying, and then fall back and start resisting again.

That any armchair tough guy would criticize those men in public is beyond contemptible.
posted by thelonius at 11:36 AM on May 10 [78 favorites]


Score one more for loving the troops, btw.
posted by jaduncan at 11:40 AM on May 10 [28 favorites]


"Maybe my tone is too fatalistic, but the point was it’s not just Manchins and McCaskills that allowed the staggering amount of judicial openings for Trump, it was the most liberal members of the party too. Assigning proper blame is critical to expressing enough anger that they never do it again. And the proper blame for the judicial failures should placed on the entire party, except maybe Harry Reid, who saw this coming."

Can you explain how the most liberal members allowed judicial openings? I see the vote for Michael Brennan was 49-46. That's a lot of votes against. I'm not aware of liberal senators voting to open up more judicial seats. Can you clarify?

... a lot of times I feel like Democratic senators, including my own (Harris and Feinstein), are doing the best they can - voting against Trump nominees, voting AND speaking out against appalling legislation like the catastrophic tax bill and scrapping Obamacare - but they don't have the majority and they can't actually do much more than that. I'm happy to hold them accountable for bad positions and bad votes (Feinstein did vote for a few Trump nominees, after all), but when they're blamed for things they can't actually control, and especially when they're lumped in with, well, Manchin, as if all of them were as ready to vote with Trump on everything all the time, I think it's misleading and adds to the narrative that all Democrats are useless and spineless and sell-outs, which I think is really harmful to the narrative I work hard to keep telling myself: there is a way out, it's a lot of work, but there are a lot of people working on this with us, including our Democratic legislators, and we need to do everything we can to recognize and support good ideas, good actions, good votes, and good public servants, so we can grow MORE of all those things.
posted by kristi at 11:40 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


Military analyst on Fox advocates for torture: "It worked on John [McCain]. That's why they call him 'Songbird John'"

McInerney's a retired three-star Air Force general. He's also a birther.

Worth remembering:

Less than a year after McCain's Navy bomber was shot down he was offered an unconditional release by the North Vietnamese. His father had been named the commander of our Pacific forces. He had been injured in the crash and hadn't yet healed. The easy, sane option for him was obvious. McCain stayed. He refused release because the North Vietnamese were holding other American prisoners who had been there longer. And he was tortured and kept in solitary confinement for two years because of it.

Two years.

He hasn't always done the honorable thing as a Senator. He hasn't always made the right decisions. And he's broken some promises.

But John McCain chose to stay in hell on Earth because he had a sense of honor, duty and decency.

And that treasonous slimeball of a three star general should get down on his knees and thank him for his service, because if anyone on this planet deserves to be shown respect for what he endured at the hands of an enemy during wartime, it's John McCain.
posted by zarq at 11:41 AM on May 10 [112 favorites]


We've been seeing this for decades, where Republicans smear legitimate heroes. What I don't get is why service-people keep on voting for Republicans.
posted by mumimor at 11:42 AM on May 10 [68 favorites]


That's why they call him 'Songbird John'

Just out of curiosity, I googled the phrase "Songbird John" to see who "they" were and all I see are:

1) Media references to McInerney saying that just now on Fox
2) Posts on far-right/white supremacist blogs and message boards

So, the people McInerney is referring to as his source for this? They're Nazis. Fucking Nazis.

Whatever you think of John McCain or of the threats our country faces, we need to make absolutely clear that the people arguing for expanded torture are doing so while shaking hands with the all-time champion Worst Humans On Earth.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:45 AM on May 10 [87 favorites]


FWIW, it would be really cool if the Democrats could all vote in a bloc. I know that a Wyoming Democrat and a Massachusetts Democrat have different constituencies, but the appearance of unity would go a long way to mitigate my squeemishness. Having ANYONE support a torturer should be a show-stopper.

Yeah, and by the way, let's talk about "bipartisanship" for a minute. Before 2001, it used to be an unquestionably bipartisan position that the US was opposed to torture; the Bad Guys did it but we didn't was at least the official position that everybody agreed to.

Acceptance of torture only became a partisan issue as a reaction to the incompetence of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, whose incompetence let one massive terrorist attack occur on their watch already, and who were terrified of it happening again, lacked the competences to actually achieve that goal, and were hellbent on attacking Iraq. Torture was their answer, and Republicans suddenly had to pretend that not only was that okay, but only a traitor would think otherwise (see Chambliss, Saxby, mentioned above).

Now we have Trump and the Russians, and Republicans once again, steadily, defining deviancy down. And all the while appealing to their base that they, and only they, are Real Americans -- a sentiment whispered by Republicans all my life but loudly, if stupidly, asserted by Sarah Palin.

It's high time for Democrats to assert their patriotism -- by which I do not mean flag-waving, military-industrial-complex-funding, and ultimately hollow and cowardly style of the Republicans, but the belief shared by many Americans that we believe in values that are not to be discarded when the going gets rough. That America can be great because it can be good. That we are, in fact, stronger together.

And that the divisive politics of the Republicans, who seek to parlay a 50.1% majority into ruling as if they had 100% support, is tyrannical and inherently illegitimate. And for that reason, as much as for his sketchy election, so is Trump.
posted by Gelatin at 11:46 AM on May 10 [37 favorites]


"Trump basks in global triumph"[real]

There were 11 American hostages released from North Korea while Obama was president.
posted by chris24 at 11:48 AM on May 10 [80 favorites]


What I don't get is why service-people keep on voting for Republicans.

Racism and reactionary grievance, same as in town.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:52 AM on May 10 [45 favorites]


NRA President Oliver North Says Parkland Gun Control Activists Are Criminal Civil Terrorists.

Make no mistake about it, the rancid neologism "civil terrorists" means that the Parkland youth have been more effective at shaming the NRA and its supporters than the NRA has been at intimidating its opposition.
posted by Gelatin at 11:52 AM on May 10 [51 favorites]


I searched for "songbird john," or "songbird mccain," and I can second that it's absolutely white supremacist and white supremacist-adjacent sites. Unfortunately in the future sites like metafilter will be listed in google, so it's hard to prove this going forward.
posted by Yowser at 11:56 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


Military hat on: you are supposed to give up some information after a certain point, because once it is known you are captured everything that you know is supposed to be changed.

Several years ago my employer sent us to one of those corporate leadership seminars, and one of the motivational speakers was a former POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. He related that the captured Americans worked out a clandestine communication system because they were forbidden to talk to each other, and that one of the ways they used it was to encourage each other when one gave up information to the enemy -- because, he said, one always would, and then would be left alone with his shame. His fellow pilots would tell the torture victim that it was okay, that they had been there and done the same, that they understood and did not blame him.

But even though I have never been in the military, I know that a prisoner isn't supposed to always resist no matter what, but only to the best of their ability. Criticizing McCain this way would be a vile and disgusting insult to every POW who has ever been tortured even if it wasn't done purely as political grandstanding, as this was.
posted by Gelatin at 11:58 AM on May 10 [24 favorites]


Unfortunately in the future sites like metafilter will be listed in google, so it's hard to prove this going forward.

Which is why it's good that we're calling bullshit on it now. We're putting the pieces together right this minute, so future internet people don't have to.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:59 AM on May 10 [15 favorites]


The New York Times asked Greenberg Traurig several times to explain those remarks over the past week. On Tuesday, a firm spokeswoman asked for more time to provide answers.

That NYT article has now been updated with a response from Greenberg Traurig:
“We cannot speak for Mr. Giuliani with respect to what was intended by his remarks,” said a spokeswoman, Jill Perry. “Speaking for ourselves, we would not condone payments of the nature alleged to have been made or otherwise without the knowledge and direction of a client.”

Mr. Trump has publicly denied knowing about the payments as they were made. Mr. Giuliani said the president reimbursed Mr. Cohen for them, an arrangement he said was routine. Mr. Giuliani had to walk back many of his comments.
The multiple-day delay in putting out that response makes one wonder what kind of finessing they were doing over 'would not condone such payments...without the knowledge AND direction of a client.'

Whether or not Greenberg Traurig would condone handling hush-money, pseudonymous, hidden and NDA-protected payments with their client's knowledge, and at their client's direction, is left unanswered.
posted by cjelli at 11:59 AM on May 10 [22 favorites]


What I don't get is why service-people keep on voting for Republicans.

Racism and reactionary grievance, same as in town.


Some background on who enlists in the military.
In 2013, 44% of all military recruits came from the South region of the U.S. despite it having only 36% of the country's 18-24 year-old civilian population.

On the above map, some of the lowest rates of state-by-state enlistment are in New England and the Northeast, Maine notwithstanding. The Northeast of the U.S. was the most underrepresented region of the country for recruitment in 2013: Despite having 18% of the 18-24 year-old civilian population only 14% of new enlistments came from this area.
My take-away is that, given this background, white service people would be voting more Republican even if they weren't in the military - because white people in the South are a huge Republican bloc. And white people vote Republican because, yep, racism and reactionary grievance - which makes some people vote against their own best interests in the name of Yay Team.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:02 PM on May 10 [8 favorites]


This leaves only one question. Is it Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, USAF (ret) who hangs out on white supremacist websites, the writers of talking points that he uses to smear a retired US airman without researching the truth of them, or both?

But, future internet people, let it be known it would be one of these options. You know, since we are recording things for Google and the internet record.
posted by jaduncan at 12:05 PM on May 10 [14 favorites]


George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, whose incompetence let one massive terrorist attack occur on their watch already

Two terrorist attacks. "We face a second wave of terrorist attacks in the form of deadly anthrax that has been sent through the U.S. mail." -- George W. Bush.

George W. Bush: 0-2 on preventing terrorist attacks
posted by kirkaracha at 12:09 PM on May 10 [20 favorites]


Can you explain how the most liberal members allowed judicial openings?

Republicans changed the rules of blue slips to hurt Clinton and help Bush. Democrats led by Leahy changed them back, allowing McConnell to block many more nominees and stockpile openings for the next Republican president, Trump. It has nothing to do with the votes, and everything to do with manipulating the rules of the Senate to benefit Republican presidents and allow asymmetric Republican obstruction.

Brennan Center:
In 1998, under the Clinton Presidency, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R–UT) changed the official text of the blue slip to “No further proceedings on [a] nominee will be scheduled until both [affirmative] slips have been returned.”
In 2001, after President George W. Bush was elected, Chairman Hatch (R) reinstituted Biden’s policy: a withheld blue slip was significant, but did not halt nomination proceedings.
2001-2003: Chairman Leahy’s (D) blue slip policy was that two positive blue slips were necessary to consider a nominee.
2003-2005: Chairman Hatch’s (R) policy was that negative blue slips were significant but not dispositive.
2005-2007: Chairman Arlen Specter’s (R–PA, switched to D in 2009) policy was that a negative blue slip halted district court nominations, but not circuit court nominations.
2007-2015: Chairman Leahy’s (D) policy – throughout the Bush and Obama presidencies – was that a negative blue slip halted nomination proceedings.
The Unheralded Death of the Blue Slip

Former Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy never once deviated from the blue slip tradition, and 18 Obama appointees never got hearings. All but one was a woman or a minority, part of Obama’s commitment to bring more diversity to the courts. Leahy took heat for that from fellow Democrats, and had to fend off then Senate leader Harry Reid, who wanted him to suspend the blue slips so Obama could get more judges.

Leahy fiercely defends the blue slip as vital for the senate to advise and consent. He believes Grassley will honor his pledge, saying that in their 30-year relationship, Grassley has never broken his word.


Except it was obvious he would, and now has.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:10 PM on May 10 [47 favorites]


Trump administration to reconsider housing bias protections [Reuters]
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said it will reconsider the 2013 rule issued during the Obama administration that laid out when so-called disparate impact claims can be brought against lenders, insurers and other major players in housing under federal fair housing law.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:12 PM on May 10 [12 favorites]


The potential reduction of Iranian crude into the European market as result of renewed sanctions will likely benefit US crude exporters, which have enjoyed an increasingly large share of that market, an S&P Global Platts analysis showed.
– Iran Light, Iran Heavy offer European refiners best value
– WTI cracking margins increasingly profitable in ARA, Med
– US sour Mars delivering near parity with Iran Heavy


Oil prices also traded higher Tuesday amid a report from Bloomberg News, which said that Saudi Arabian officials were seeking $80 a barrel on Brent crude to support the valuation of its energy giant, Aramco, before its initial public offering. "We believe oil prices will get higher in this year and also get higher in 2019, so we are trying to pick the right time," the prince told Time in reference to the IPO.

Oil prices posted their biggest daily gains in a month, rising to fresh 3½ year highs Wednesday after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear pact, triggering renewed economic sanctions that could reduce the oil supply of an already increasingly tight market.

Dow jumps more than 150 points as energy shares rally after Iran deal fallout


Closing Bell Exchange: Unique opportunity to get into energy stocks

Local economist predicts South Texas oil boom with U.S. departure from Iran
posted by infini at 12:14 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Hang on, is that an orb I see there shining warmly in the distance, Samwell, my fren?
posted by infini at 12:15 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


What I don't get is why service-people keep on voting for Republicans.

Lifestyle, mostly. Military lifestyle is /very/ ideal-1950s American - because of the way housing works, you can have as many kids as you want and still afford to keep them. Military family housing is usually fairly spacious, with lawns and safe playgrounds, military schools are nice, military childcare is inexpensive. Patriotic holidays are well celebrated. People go hunting and fishing. Bases are basically small company towns.

Whether or not it’s necessary or fair, right now the stereotype is that the Democrats are the friends of urban living and the Republicans are the friends of the small town-lifestyle. And military members are usually living away from their home of record where they vote and don’t have time to research every candidate on their absentee ballot - so they tend to straight-ticket things more than most.
posted by corb at 12:19 PM on May 10 [35 favorites]


Military family housing is usually fairly spacious, with lawns and safe playgrounds, military schools are nice, military childcare is inexpensive.

Medicare and Military Housing for All?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:21 PM on May 10 [52 favorites]


NPR: FEC Says That Candidates Can Use Campaign Funds For Child Care
The Federal Election Commission has ruled that federal candidates can use campaign funds to pay for child care costs that result from time spent running for office.

On Thursday, the FEC ruled unanimously, 4-0, in favor of New York Democratic House candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley.
Link to opinion: pdf
posted by melissasaurus at 12:23 PM on May 10 [22 favorites]


Medicare and Military Housing for All?

previously on MetaFilter
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:28 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


What I don't get is why service-people keep on voting for Republicans.

Not disputing the other responses here, but I'd point first to that huge portion of servicepeople coming from the South. That's a big factor, particularly when you consider how much of this is driven by sheer volume of voices.

It's also worth noting which party is more willing to cut defense spending. To military people, that has huge implications of "They're Taking Our Jobs!" Even if it makes sense to cut defense spending, even if the defense budget is bloated and stupid and so much of it is wasted, it's easy to manipulate the messaging of that into "Hey, Sarge, they're gonna cut your job before you get to retirement." There's a huge legacy mindset effect there when you consider the ups and downs of Reagan & Bush the Elder vs. Clinton (who tried to wind down Cold War spending) vs. Bush the Dumber.

That said, there are definitely liberals and Democrats and left-leaning people in the service. We're not talking about a monoculture. The military probably has more conservative voters than liberal, but it's not an overwhelming split. It's just fairly consistent.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:30 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Medicare and Military Housing for All?

True story: joining the Army made my dad a radical, full-bore BETTER RED THAN DEAD socialist, because he saw so many marginalized people given at least somewhat equal resources relative to everybody else that served alongside them. And yet he seems to have been an extreme outlier, because so many seem drawn to the worst versions of conservatism and/or libertarianism during and after serving. The fact that the most taxpayer-subsidized population--to the tune of trillions of dollars per decade--is so rabidly anti-safety net never fails to enrage me. Every time some service member or veteran brings up TANSTAAFL after living on free lunches for years or even decades at a time, I'm reminded how insanely selfish they have become because that 50's-era American Dream™ bullshit hasn't been killed off.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:33 PM on May 10 [68 favorites]


Whether or not Greenberg Traurig would condone handling hush-money, pseudonymous, hidden and NDA-protected payments with their client's knowledge, and at their client's direction, is left unanswered.

IIRC one is a violation of the Bar's code of ethics, and the other is not. That IS a notable distinction, and I applaud the way Greenberg-Trauing navigated these shoals.
posted by mikelieman at 12:33 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Military family housing is usually fairly spacious, with lawns and safe playgrounds, military schools are nice, military childcare is inexpensive.

Medicare and Military Housing for All?


Military medical care is also totally covered, too (at least until you have PTSD or some other ongoing issue and they'd rather find a bullshit way to push you out of the service on something other than an honorable discharge so you don't get VA benefits). The entire rationale behind the removal of my wisdom teeth was, "Hey, you're getting out soon, if we do this for you now you won't have to pay for it."

I bring this up because there's a lot of blind ableism in our society--it's not just the military, but the whole problem sure intersects. A lot of conservative bullshit about college tuition and medical benefits and such will go to bullshit arguments like "Why don't you join the military and earn it?" In addition to ignoring the fact that you shouldn't have to, this also completely, blindly ignores the fact that the military really isn't for everyone. That's not a moral failure on anyone's part, and it's bullshit to judge people on that.

Yet when you have "earned" your benefits, it's easy to fall into a resentful argument of "Why didn't they earn it like I did?" without ever considering how many people literally can't "earn it" (again, acknowledging that it's bullshit to even expect this).
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:38 PM on May 10 [35 favorites]


Anyway, in happier news, the Louisiana House passed HB265, which would restore full voting rights to 70,000 people on probation or parole. It still has to make it through the Senate and the governor's desk, but it's a good start.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:42 PM on May 10 [55 favorites]


Lifestyle, mostly. Military lifestyle is /very/ ideal-1950s American - because of the way housing works, you can have as many kids as you want and still afford to keep them. Military family housing is usually fairly spacious, with lawns and safe playgrounds, military schools are nice, military childcare is inexpensive.
Indeed, growing up as a military dependent is one of the main reasons I am a Socialist to this day. I've seen how well socialism does actually work, AND it was my childhood.
posted by rc3spencer at 12:42 PM on May 10 [39 favorites]


AFP, US says Iran nuclear inspections must continue: officials
"We expect Iran will continue to implement the Additional Protocol and cooperate with the IAEA whether or not the JCPOA remains in place," one senior administration official said.
These would be the IAEA inspections Trump ridiculed. Our position is now that we can rip up the deal, but still expect Iran to comply with it. That is pretty Trumpian; same theory by which he didn't pay his creditors but expected them to uphold their end of the bargain.

I trust North Korea is taking notes on all of this.
posted by zachlipton at 12:45 PM on May 10 [57 favorites]


A lot of conservative bullshit about college tuition and medical benefits and such will go to bullshit arguments like "Why don't you join the military and earn it?" In addition to ignoring the fact that you shouldn't have to, this also completely, blindly ignores the fact that the military really isn't for everyone. That's not a moral failure on anyone's part, and it's bullshit to judge people on that.

I really, truly think that if we are ever to have a compromise on this kind of thing in this country, it will be something like the CCC - where in order for taking a job in public service, you are provided with a wage, healthcare, access to good housing, education for your kids, etc. Because while you're right - the military is not for everyone - everyone has a place in public service. Everyone has a place in serving their community. You can serve your community in so many ways. Even the most severely disabled can still serve. And then you get away from the 'people who don't want to work' narrative, because people will be working, just for good purposes. Teachers, social workers, firefighters, doctors, childcare workers. There are so, so many ways to do something good.
posted by corb at 12:47 PM on May 10 [23 favorites]


That is pretty Trumpian; same theory by which he didn't pay his creditors but expected them to uphold their end of the bargain. . . AND then sue them for more money. It's the always-be-a-bully defect of his mind. Not room for any actual ideas in that head, just knock everyone down, and then kick. Repeat.
posted by rc3spencer at 12:50 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Even the most severely disabled can still serve.

No. Some people can't. Some people literally take more out of the system than they can ever put back in, under any realistic metric. That's why we need to get away from a "Public service earns citizenship" outlook and just go with "Everyone deserves certain basic things because everyone just does."
posted by Etrigan at 12:55 PM on May 10 [190 favorites]


I really, truly think that if we are ever to have a compromise on this kind of thing in this country, it will be something like the CCC - where in order for taking a job in public service, you are provided with a wage, healthcare, access to good housing, education for your kids, etc.

That would be, respectfully, a horrific compromise in exactly the wrong ways. CCC was a work relief program: it provided jobs, and therefore money, in exchange for work. You didn't need to join the CCC in order to send your kids to school. You still don't.

The ACA was a huge step forward in freeing up healthcare from employment (if an insufficient one); tying healthcare back to your job would, likewise, be a step backwards. People should be free to take a job, or a start a business, without having to worry about what it means for their access to medical care, full stop.

I'd support a federal jobs guarantee, or a CCC-type program, but tying healthcare and other rights to such a program would be a step backwards for the country and not actually a meaningful 'compromise' of any kind: it would be a massive concession to the Republican party's attack on essential American rights, without getting much of anything back.

Everyone deserves basic rights. Full stop.
posted by cjelli at 1:02 PM on May 10 [75 favorites]


The Post dug into Hannity's real estate empire. Turns out he's as much of an asshole as a landlord as he is otherwise. At Sean Hannity properties in low-income areas, an aggressive approach to rent collection
But a Washington Post analysis shows that managers at Hannity’s four largest apartment complexes in Georgia have taken an unusually aggressive approach to rent collection. They have sought court-ordered evictions at twice the statewide rate — in a state known for high numbers of evictions and landlord-friendly laws — and frequently have done so less than two weeks after a missed payment.

Property managers at the complexes sought to evict tenants more than 230 times in 2017, court records show. At one, a 112-unit subdivision in a suburb west of Atlanta, 94 eviction actions were filed last year, records show.

Among the tenants Hannity’s property managers sought to evict, records show, were a former corrections officer and her wife, who fell behind while awaiting a disability determination; a double amputee who had lived in an apartment with her daughter for five years but did not pay on time after being hospitalized; and a single mother of three whose $980 rent check was rejected because she could not come up with a $1,050 cleaning fee for a bedbug infestation.
The amount of bad behavior that has come out because Trump slept with Stormy Daniels (and because she's has the incredible guts to come forward) is astonishing.
posted by zachlipton at 1:07 PM on May 10 [86 favorites]


I really, really look forward to the day a few years from now when the book is published that says "And then the mob people said 'oh, fuck!' when Trump was elected, because they knew that everything would be exposed then."
posted by Melismata at 1:10 PM on May 10 [11 favorites]




I think housing, health care, and other necessities ought to be provided for everyone. (I also think that the amount of bureaucratic hoops to jump through must be curtailed as well. I think that serves just to degrade recipients.) With the amount of food that gets wasted, I think that some kind of EBT card (aka food stamps, just not "stamps" anymore) can be provided for everyone as well.

But I'm also in favor of a jobs-for-everyone or modern day Works Progress Administration. I really do like the idea of a mincome, but I think it could be combined with a WPA because there is so much work to be done on our infrastructure, caring for our children and elderly, getting addicts clean and sober, and our arts, our written word, and our music. There's bunches and tons of work to do! And I think Corb has a point - joining the military shouldn't be a necessity for people who want to work (and have college funded for them) - a musician, for instance, could be part of a WPA, same with a writer, an addiction counselor, childcare provider, etc.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:12 PM on May 10 [14 favorites]


It looks like prescience, but it was probably a combination of basic research and educated guessing, when the Onion published this on Tuesday: Sean Hannity Informs Building Tenants About Deep-State Conspiracy Forcing Him To Triple Rent
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:15 PM on May 10 [14 favorites]


... the military really isn't for everyone.

Including the Commander in Chief, apparently.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:17 PM on May 10 [16 favorites]


I really, truly think that if we are ever to have a compromise on this kind of thing in this country, it will be something like the CCC - where in order for taking a job in public service, you are provided with a wage, healthcare, access to good housing, education for your kids, etc.

Other people have already touched on why this is a bad idea, but it's also really bad framing to call it a "compromise." We've already been down this road before, and as always it's been conservatives who undid any good work that has existed. To call it a compromise is just more of the same bothsides-ism and rightward pushing of the Overton Window that got us into the shitstorm we're in today. It's the same as trying to "compromise" on really awful proto-fascist stuff like blatantly racist voter suppression that so-called"moderates" supported and largely continue to (quietly) support.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:22 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


Fox Business host apologizes after analyst says torture 'worked on' McCain

Fox Business Network host Charles Payne apologized on Thursday, after an analyst who appeared on his show said that torture "worked on" Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"This morning on a show I was hosting, a guest made a very false and derogatory remark about Senator John McCain. At the time, I had the control room in my ear telling me to wrap the segment, and did not hear the comment," Payne tweeted. "I regret I did not catch this remark, as it should have been challenged. As a proud military veteran and son of a Vietnam Vet these words neither reflect my or the network's feelings about Senator McCain, or his remarkable service and sacrifice to this country."


Ah, the classic Spontaneous Ephemeral Deafness defense.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:22 PM on May 10 [55 favorites]


We have a lot of infrastructure deficiencies. This is the perfect time for a WPA type of program. Our national parks need a lot of work. This is the perfect time for a CCC type of program. In the older neighborhoods in Tucson, there's sidewalks here that still have the WPA stamp on them from when they were built (and the WPA sidewalks tend to still be in good shape.) In national parks all over the place, there are buildings and paths and trails and such that were built the the CCC that are still in use. Any Grand Canyon hiker who has hiked up Bright Angel trail has spent some time resting in one of the resthouses that were built 80-ish years ago, and River Trail, a trail that took a lot of complicated work, is in use every single day by hikers and by the mules that can't cross the Silver Bridge and need to use Black Bridge. Bring these types of programs back.
posted by azpenguin at 1:27 PM on May 10 [31 favorites]


I really, truly think that if we are ever to have a compromise on this kind of thing in this country, it will be something like the CCC - where in order for taking a job in public service, you are provided with a wage, healthcare, access to good housing, education for your kids, etc.

As of today, this country can't even do that much for active service members and their families.
The report found that about 23,000 active-duty service members received food stamps in 2013, according to U.S. Census data. Information from the Department of Defense Education Activity showed that in September 2015, 24 percent of 23,000 children in U.S. DoDEA schools were eligible for free meals, while 21 percent were eligible for reduced-price meals.
The VA's backlog for health care services and claims is well documented.

If a new CCC program were to be launched, the current system's problems would need to be fix first.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


Ah, the classic Spontaneous Ephemeral Deafness defense.

FWIW, as someone who has worked a job where I had to wear a radio earpiece while also juggling customers and phones, I believe Payne. When you have someone talking in your ear, your comprehension/perception of other speakers right in front of you goes straight to hell, and you can miss a lot. It's not out of the realm of possibility, and ultimately the responsibility for McInerney's comments lies with McInerney.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:31 PM on May 10 [22 favorites]


Bring these types of programs back.

It won't work without universal healthcare coverage. The WPA was founded and dissolved before the advent of public health insurance. Hell, penicillin didn't come into widespread use until the early 1940's. Most health insurance access today is provided by employers, not a state or a federal government. Medicare and Medicaid already creak along, and their range and depth of coverage aren't ideal.

To do this, we would have to expand the ranks of medicare and medicaid to cover everyone employed by a new WPA. Which Republicans do not want to do.
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Anybody else get the feeling that Trump is going to strike a "deal" with North Korea that basically mirrors the deal he just violated with Iran? Except that NK already has nukes? So basically a worse version of the Iran deal which he touts as a major achievement while simultaneously calling the Iran deal the worst deal in history?

I would put that at about 60% at this point. The odds of North Korea actually giving up nukes are less than 10%. The odds of them giving up nukes without requiring a complete withdrawal of US forces from South Korea are less than 1%.
posted by Justinian at 1:37 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


There's no reason to expect anything less than shitty results with trump.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:57 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


I just noticed a couple weeks ago that in the city park I run in, all of the stone bridges and steps (this is Pittsburgh, so there are a lot of both) have "WPA 1939" carved into them. Those bridges and steps have been there for nearly 100 years, they're solid and well-made, and have lasted infinitely better than the infrastructure put in in the 1970s-Present.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:58 PM on May 10 [56 favorites]


azpenguin: We have a lot of infrastructure deficiencies.

American Society of Civil Engineer's Infrastructure Report Card agrees: D+ in aggregate, with only rail scoring a B (which is by-and-large privately owned, so it's not really a fair comparison when the cost to move goods includes the cost to maintain the infrastructure), and similarly, ports score a C+ (though there's a mix of private and public ownership here), as does solid waste (ditto private ownership).

Bridges are the only outlier of public infrastructure, and that's because bridge failures are catastrophic, so bridge maintenance has been a priority at the state level, going so far that the state departments of transportation evaluate all public vehicular bridges in their state.

Otherwise, it's a sea of Ds for aviation, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, public parks, roads, schools, transit and wastewater.

Caveat: America’s infrastructure gets a D+. That’s not as bad as it sounds. (Washington Post, 2013 -- snarky URL reads "good news Americas infrastructure is now 5 percent less shoddy")
experts say we should approach this figure skeptically. The ASCE is very good at pointing out engineering deficiencies in our infrastructure — but not so good on whether it's actually beneficial to upgrade. "We need this report to point out problems," says Joshua Schank of the Eno Center on Transportation. "But if you're thinking about policy, you have to think more broadly than that."

Indeed, it's worth noting that the ASCE always gives U.S. infrastructure poor grades. From reading past reports, you'd get the impression that it's a miracle the United States is even a functioning country. And it's hardly surprising that an engineering group is in favor of trillions in additional spending on civil-engineering projects.
Still, with current funding levels, existing debt burdens, aging infrastructure and increasing use (due to increasing population), infrastructure nation-wide is definitely in need of improvement.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:11 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


... the military really isn't for everyone.

Including the Commander in Chief, apparently.


I was fine with that fact when it was Barack Obama and I'm basically fine with it when it's Donald Trump, up to the point when one starts using the military to burnish one's status as a tough guy and denigrating those who did serve -- or their parents -- because of political disagreements.
posted by Gelatin at 2:15 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


Sudden Departure Of White House Global Health Security Head Has Experts Worried. That's the guy on the National Security Council who coordinates global health situations, but we wouldn't need to worry about anything like that because it's not like there's a anything—*is handed piece of paper* fast moving Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

This is the kind of crisis not of Trump's own making that everyone has been worried about. The Obama administration took great care to coordinate a global response in 2014. It's unlikely the current inhabitants can do so, or even can be bothered to try.
posted by zachlipton at 2:16 PM on May 10 [31 favorites]


This is the perfect time for a WPA type of program.

A lot of reasons why these kinds of “compromises” aren’t really compromises in good faith. Conservatives nipped and bit at the WPA (like say limiting employment to one person per household) until it couldn’t get big enough to threaten the existing power structure and then instantly turned around to destroy whatever gains made.
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on May 10 [24 favorites]


Since we have a president who ran on a platform of rebuilding infrastructure and "making America great again," it sure seems like a great time for Democrats get on board with a retro-styled, FDR-referencing, Great-Society-reviving slate of reforms that makes taxing the plutocrats and using the proceeds to fix the infrastructure and build a new middle class their explicit top priority. Call it the WPA, call it something new, just fucking say it unashamedly and often. Wanna grab headlines away from Trump's spectacle? Talk about wealth redistribution and don't flinch when you say it. Tax the rich, restore America.
posted by contraption at 2:23 PM on May 10 [44 favorites]


Our position is now that we can rip up the deal, but still expect Iran to comply with it. That is pretty Trumpian

For those keeping score at home, this is also pretty much the grand plan of the Brexiteers - who are now whining mightily every time the EU says that the UK cannot in fact continue to play with all the nice things now that it's leaving the club. The argument was literally 'they need us more than we need them'; turns out this isn't the case. But the EU is now being blamed for everything, at least by the rancid side of the press and the Brexit wingnuts, so this is exactly what you should expect to happen as 45's bright ideas come home to roost - always, always, always the other side's fault for not kow-towing while being stiffed.
posted by Devonian at 2:24 PM on May 10 [31 favorites]


Report of the Senate Judiciary Committee Minority Members:Review of Republican Efforts to Stack Federal Courts (PDF; via @lawrencehurley)
posted by melissasaurus at 2:35 PM on May 10 [13 favorites]


Oh. More workplace bullying (and human rights abuses). NYT, Homeland Security Secretary Was Close to Resigning After Trump Berated Her
Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, told colleagues she was close to resigning after President Trump berated her on Wednesday in front of the entire cabinet for what he said was her failure to adequately secure the nation’s borders, according to several current and former officials familiar with the incident.

Ms. Nielsen, who is a protégée of John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has drafted a resignation letter but has not submitted it, according to two of the people. As the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Ms. Nielsen is in charge of the 20,000 border agents who work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Mr. Trump’s anger toward Ms. Nielsen at the cabinet meeting was part of a lengthy tirade in which the president railed at his entire cabinet about what he said was their lack of progress toward sealing the country’s borders against illegal immigrants, according to one person who was present at the meeting.
...
During the meeting, Mr. Trump yelled about the fact that the United States has a porous border and said that more needs to be done to fix that. When members of his cabinet pointed out that the country relies on day-laborers who cross the border each day, Mr. Trump said that is fine, but continued to complain, one person said.

Ms. Nielsen viewed the president’s rant as directed mostly at her and told associates after the meeting that she should not continue in the job if the president did not view her as effective. One person close to Ms. Nielsen said she is miserable in her job.
...
One persistent issue has been Mr. Trump’s belief that Ms. Nielsen and other officials in the department were resisting his direction that parents should be separated from their children when families cross illegally into the United States, the people said. The president and his aides in the White House had been pushing a family separation policy for weeks as a way of deterring families from trying to cross the border illegally.
posted by zachlipton at 2:35 PM on May 10 [38 favorites]


If I had a nickel for every time a member of the Trump regime was reportedly "close to resigning" I'd have a lot of nickels. You either have dignity, honor, and self-respect or you don't. You get no points for almost having a spine and standing up to the bully-in-chief.

Another way to word these headlines is "Kirstjen Nielsen abjectly fails major personal test."
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on May 10 [45 favorites]


@MarshallCohen: CNN can now confirm that AT&T paid Michael Cohen a total of $600,000 and that the payments were made throughout 2017, essentially all year. @brianstelter reports that Cohen got $50,000/month. A spokesman for AT&T declined to describe how the company struck the deal with Cohen.

We're just going to have one of these "found some more money" stories every day, aren't we?
posted by zachlipton at 2:40 PM on May 10 [21 favorites]


One person close to Ms. Nielsen said she is miserable in her job.

That sucks for anyone not directly supporting trump in word, thought, and deed. In this case, I'll allow it.
posted by petebest at 2:42 PM on May 10 [8 favorites]


One person close to Ms. Nielsen said she is miserable in her job.

She's in the process of transforming into a brilliantly translucent winged dignity wraith. Sure, the chrysalis stage involves some pain and misery, but the ability to float nearly unseen once she wriggles, damp and shiny, from the cocoon is well worth it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:53 PM on May 10 [30 favorites]


The Hill says this happened. White House official mocked ‘dying’ McCain at internal meeting
Special assistant Kelly Sadler made the derisive comments during a closed-door White House meeting of about two-dozen communications staffers on Thursday morning.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler said, according to a source familiar with the remarks at the meeting.

The White House did not deny the account of Sadler’s remarks, which came amid a discussion of Haspel’s nomination and McCain’s opposition to it.
Republicans should remember this is the reward for a lifetime of service to the party. And that the White House can't even be bothered to deny it is a hell of a thing.
posted by zachlipton at 2:55 PM on May 10 [78 favorites]


it sure seems like a great time for Democrats get on board with a retro-styled, FDR-referencing, Great-Society-reviving slate of reforms that makes taxing the plutocrats and using the proceeds to fix the infrastructure and build a new middle class their explicit top priority. Call it the WPA, call it something new, just fucking say it unashamedly and often.

I wanted Obama to do something like this when he took office. It was a great opportunity for it. Since Trump took positions all over the map, I agreed with him that we need to improve our infrastructure, but I never l believed he actually had a plan to do it.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:55 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]


Sure, the chrysalis stage involves some pain and misery, but the ability to float nearly unseen once she wriggles, damp and shiny, from the cocoon is well worth it.

They basically dissolve themselves into an amorphous mess of protein-rich goo during the chrysalis stage, which does sound like it could be painful.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:58 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Nielsen was the flunky who, in defense of Trump's "shithole countries" epithet, claimed with a straight face that she didn't know whether Norway was majority white. I will commence playing my sad song for her as soon as I can locate a violin small enough for the occasion.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:59 PM on May 10 [52 favorites]


It got worse again. Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T specified he would advise on Time Warner merger, internal company records show
The internal documents reveal for the first time that Cohen’s $600,000 deal with AT&T specified that he would provide advice on the $85 billion merger, which required the approval of federal antitrust regulators.

Trump had voiced opposition to the merger during the campaign and his administration ultimately sided against AT&T. The Department of Justice filed suit in November to block the deal, a case that is still pending.
...
It is unclear what insight Cohen — a longtime real estate attorney and former taxi cab operator — could have provided AT&T on complex telecom matters.
...
A “scope of work” describing Cohen’s contract in an internal AT&T document shows that he was hired to “focus on specific long-term planning initiatives as well as the immediate issue of corporate tax reform and the acquisition of Time Warner.”

He was also directed to “creatively address political and communications issues” facing the company and advise the company on matters before the Federal Communications Commission.
Again, Trump described Cohen as his lawyer in the present tense last month: "You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael."
posted by zachlipton at 3:01 PM on May 10 [49 favorites]


I totally get and agree with the pushback against a "Starship Troopers" style service-earns-citizenship scheme, but I wonder if that's what corb really intended to suggest? The benefits of the welfare state* should be universal, not contingent on work, but the right to do good and meaningful work that contributes to your society should itself be a guarantee of the welfare state. This is basically the idea behind a federal jobs guarantee, after all. The good society should provide for the basic needs of its members, including the need to feel that they have earned their place in that society.

* Note, welfare state in the original and legitimate sense of "a state having the goal of providing for the common welfare of its citizenry," not the later Republican boogeyman sense of "poor people who look and act different from you are mooching off you"
posted by biogeo at 3:14 PM on May 10 [14 favorites]


It's ok, tho:
The documents specified that Cohen, who was not a registered lobbyist, was to spend none of his time engaged in lobbying. They described his work as advising the company, not contacting federal officials.
posted by pjenks at 3:27 PM on May 10 [8 favorites]


Yes of course, Cohen is a well known subject matter expert when it comes to medicine, telecommunications, corporate mergers, and the military aircraft industries.
posted by rhizome at 3:38 PM on May 10 [43 favorites]


Just a reminder, Trump's infrastructure plan was to give huge tax breaks to companies, cross his fingers, and hope they build stuff. If Trump had a plan to solve homelessness, the details would include mass incarceration and forced manual labor. There are two things he cares about: Getting rid of anyone who isn't white, and enriching billionaires.
posted by xammerboy at 3:55 PM on May 10 [18 favorites]


Just a reminder, Trump's infrastructure plan was to give huge tax breaks to companies, cross his fingers, and hope they build stuff.

Of course, but he did campaign on how shitty our national infrastructure is and how he, as a Big Important Dealmaking Builder, was the guy to cut through the red tape and fix it all up. It's absolutely incumbent on Democrats challenging him to agree with the premise (which is largely true,) point out his abject failure to fix it and lack of any plan to do so, and lay out the obvious policy platform to do it for real. Hell, let's have a big media blitz on the topic and call it Infrastructure Week.
posted by contraption at 4:05 PM on May 10 [22 favorites]


I used to believe that conservatives were primarily driven by money. I found that wasn't true when I would explain that a lot of healthcare, housing solutions, food programs, etc. save money. There is a healthcare solution in place now. It's called go to the emergency room when your situation is life threatening and the costs to society will be enormous. Free, pro-active healthcare could save society a lot of money. Cheaper and better healthcare? There's no downside to this.

But they don't want healthcare because they don't want someone getting something for "free". They would rather pay more money, have less themselves, deny someone a basic necessity, than give away a "hand-out". It's hate and stupidity. If a community work program could change this, I would go for it.
posted by xammerboy at 4:09 PM on May 10 [64 favorites]


Uhhhh WHAT?

@kenvogel + @EricLiptonNYT + @LFFriedman: During trip to Italy, SCOTT PRUITT dined at a 5-star restaurant with a Cardinal who is a climate change skeptic, even though @EPA staff knew the Cardinal was under investigation for child sex abuse. But they omitted the Cardinal's name from schedules released under FOIA.
...
Documents show that there was also discussion of Cardinal Pell giving EPA's Scott Pruitt and senior members of his EPA team a private tour at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. This tour apparently did not take place. But it was planned. [a later tweet explains that the tour actually did take place] Here is a State Department Doc.

Agency staff had vetted the schedule--before the trip--and learned that Cardinal Pell was under investigation.
...
Bury the lead:: SCOTT PRUITT dined at a 5-star restaurant with a Cardinal who is a climate change skeptic, even though @EPA staff knew the Cardinal was under investigation for child sex abuse. The Cardinal's name is not included in schedules released at least so far under FOIA.
posted by zachlipton at 4:22 PM on May 10 [72 favorites]


ok starting to get more concerned about what's been going on inside Pruitt's sound-proof privacy booth
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:27 PM on May 10 [38 favorites]


@MattLaslo: INTERESTING: "We don't have to worry about [AG Jeff] Sessions," @ChuckGrassley tells me on his effort to pass criminal justice reform that, unlike a new House effort, includes changing mandatory minimums. "You don't have to know why. We just don't have to worry about him."

I have absolutely no idea what this means. All I know is that every single thing I've posted in this thread today has gotten increasingly weird.
posted by zachlipton at 4:27 PM on May 10 [61 favorites]


In most administrations you get fired because your scandal(s) are embarrassing or otherwise politically-inconvenient for your boss, but if Pruitt ever gets fired it'll be because Trump got worried that people might start thinking Pruitt is even more corrupt and venal than he is.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:45 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


During trip to Italy, SCOTT PRUITT dined at a 5-star restaurant with a Cardinal who is a climate change skeptic, even though @EPA staff knew the Cardinal was under investigation for child sex abuse. But they omitted the Cardinal's name from schedules released under FOIA.

It's impressive how many ethical breaches it's possible to fit into two sentences.
posted by octothorpe at 4:52 PM on May 10 [118 favorites]


SCOTT PRUITT dined at a 5-star restaurant with a Cardinal who is a climate change skeptic, even though @EPA staff knew the Cardinal was under investigation for child sex abuse.

That a covered-up gourmet dinner with a pedophile Cardinal doesn't register as even a blip on the Pizzagate/QAnon radar screen should tell you all you need to know about how deep the nation's brain worms have burrowed.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:05 PM on May 10 [109 favorites]


WaPo, In bid to reveal secret memo, GOP congressman plans to seek federal audit of Mueller probe
A prominent House Republican plans to ask a federal financial watchdog to audit the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, opening a new front of GOP attack on the secretive probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to President Trump’s campaign.

The pending request — from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), an outspoken Trump defender who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus as well as a House oversight subcommittee — appears to be mainly calibrated to force the disclosure of a three-page Justice Department memo spelling out the authorized scope of Mueller’s investigation.

Meadows, speaking Thursday during a taping of C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that is to air Sunday, said he believed the audit is required under federal law and could not be completed without an unredacted copy of the memo written in August 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.
The cravenness of these people is astonishing.

Meanwhile, Trump is in Indiana leading a crowd in chants of "drain the swamp" and decrying lobbyists and "corrupt Washington politics." Michael Cohen is laughing his ass off somewhere. He's moved on to explaining that people are "saying Merry Christmas again." It is May. May.

Now he's on a truly epic rant about embassy construction and real estate. It ends with him suggesting an "extension" for his Presidency to match how long he was originally told construction of a new Jerusalem embassy would take to build, but the media wouldn't like that, but "actually they would be happy, because when I'm not here, their ratings are going to sink, so they would be happy." [Clip]

And he teased a health care plan "coming out in the next four weeks," presumably this nonsense Pence has been working on.

----

Politico, previewing tomorrow's drug price speech Trump's drug plan to boost competition, aims to lower patient costs
President Donald Trump on Friday will unveil a sweeping strategy for lowering drug prices that aims to reshape Medicare, boost competition and pressure foreign governments that the White House believes are “freeloading” off of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, two senior administration officials said Thursday night
....
But what the administration officials pitched during a call with reporters as “the most comprehensive” drug price plan in presidential history will stop short of radically overhauling the health care system by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate with drug makers — a step that Trump once endorsed on the campaign trail but later backed off.

“We are talking about something different,” one senior administration official said. “We’re not calling for Medicare negotiation in the way Democrats have called for.”
So Trump's big idea to lower drug costs is not to use the government's buying power to negotiate lower prices, but rather to whine about "free ride" foreign countries that do negotiate and get lower prices. As far as what good that would do: "The officials did not detail how they planned to get higher prices overseas, nor how that would in turn lower the cost of drugs in the U.S." Even if foreign countries somehow paid more, it's hard for me to fathom how that could possibly cause drug companies to lower their prices in the US, seeing as that's not how markets work anywhere.
posted by zachlipton at 5:20 PM on May 10 [41 favorites]


That a covered-up gourmet dinner with a pedophile Cardinal doesn't register as even a blip on the Pizzagate/QAnon radar screen should tell you all you need to know about how deep the nation's brain worms have burrowed.

The conspiracy theory types are all absolutely uninterested in any kind of real word, actually verifiable conspiratorial behavior. In part it's because they are all right wing nuts so people on their "team" being up to no good doesn't suit them, but I think to extent it's because they like being part of a special secret club of special secret knowledge, and if you can just point at someone and say "oh yeah, that's guys a crook up to his neck in Russian mob money who is blatantly involved in a cover up of their abusive behavior towards women" or whatever it takes all the fun out of it for them.
posted by Artw at 5:23 PM on May 10 [28 favorites]


The conspiracy theory types are all absolutely uninterested in any kind of real word, actually verifiable conspiratorial behavior. In part it's because they are all right wing nuts so people on their "team" being up to no good doesn't suit them, but I think to extent it's because they like being part of a special secret club of special secret knowledge

I remember in High Weirdness By Mail the compiler noted that having what they think is "insider knowledge" and having special sooper-sekrit access that the sheeple out there don't, is what keeps cranks going. (And as I've said, we're now living in a world ruled by the High Weirdness kooks.)

It's a malign version of kids' clubhouses, or being part of a fandom. Talking in fanspeak with fellow Dr. Who or Harry Potter fans is harmless fun. The right-wing conspiracy version...not so much.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:35 PM on May 10 [21 favorites]


It ends with him suggesting an "extension" for his Presidency to match how long he was originally told construction of a new Jerusalem embassy would take to build

You know, just tossing a trial balloon out there, haha only serious. Forget Mueller and impeachment, this guy's not planning to leave office at all, he's just trying to figure out how to sell it.
posted by mrgoat at 5:35 PM on May 10 [30 favorites]


Totally normal thing for a grown man to say. Good to see Graydon Carter* is still living rent-free in Trump's head.

Aaron Rupar (ThinkProgress)
TRUMP: "We put our large beautiful hands (?) on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance."

VIDEO


Graydon Carter mocked Trump as a "short-fingered vulgarian" 30 years ago in Spy magazine.
posted by chris24 at 5:44 PM on May 10 [35 favorites]


One of Republicans’ top vote suppressors gets caught saying the quiet part out loud
As governor, Republican Pat McCrory signed the most comprehensive voter suppression law in the nation. Indeed, this law was arguably the most aggressive attempt any state made to keep black voters away from the polls since the Jim Crow era. As a federal appeals court that struck the law down explained, state lawmakers studied racial voting patterns within the state, and then “enacted legislation restricting all — and only — practices disproportionately used by African Americans.”
...
“We’ve become a very segregated political system in Charlotte-Mecklenburg,” an agitated McCrory claimed in the opening of his radio show Wednesday. “The Democratic Party controls every political body in Charlotte-Mecklenburg,” and “the Black Political Caucus has total control over the Democratic Party.”
...“All primaries,” McCrory claimed, are “determined by the Black Political Caucus,” and this group “totally abandoned the white male Democratic sheriff.” “And not only did the Black Political Caucus bail on him,” the ex-governor continued, “every political leader — the mayor, Lyles, did not peep a word during this election.”
...
In 2016, when the fate of North Carolina’s voter suppression law was pending before the Supreme Court, McCrory’s lawyers made the improbable claim that provisions of the voter suppression law would actually increase black turnout (this claim was severely undercut by new data gathered during the 2016 election). As governor, in other words, McCrory tried to sell his voter suppression law as good for black people.

Now that he’s no longer in public office, however, McCrory appears more comfortable telling people how he really feels about allowing black people to gain political power.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:10 PM on May 10 [39 favorites]


"We don't have to worry about [AG Jeff] Sessions," @ChuckGrassley tells me on his effort to pass criminal justice reform that, unlike a new House effort, includes changing mandatory minimums. "You don't have to know why. We just don't have to worry about him."

Cool; as a citizen of Iowa I regard myself as needing to know why and will be asking my Senator's office in the morning
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:39 PM on May 10 [43 favorites]


Loony Left Uodate: The DSA released two big websites today, THE NATIONAL DESIGN COMMITTEE with art and resciurces for people and chapters across the country and NYC TECH ACTION WORKING GROUP, a central location for tech related socialist actions and organizing - related The Internet We Want

I remember a year ago when something like the national design committee was just a big idea in a brainstorming chart and now it’s REAL
posted by The Whelk at 6:50 PM on May 10 [54 favorites]


*starts scanning things in to the national design committee while holding sheets of watercolor paper like bales of wheat and looking forward into the glorious tomorrow*
posted by The Whelk at 7:01 PM on May 10 [14 favorites]


Everyone who insisted John Kelly was a voice of reason should be shunned.
On the administration's recently announced "zero tolerance" policy that calls for separating families who cross the border illegally and prosecuting them

Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS13. ... But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English; obviously that's a big thing. ... They don't integrate well; they don't have skills. They're not bad people. They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. ... The big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.
posted by zachlipton at 7:27 PM on May 10 [26 favorites]


Here's the fact sheet on Trump's drug pricing plan, to be announced tomorrow. I think Novartis got what it paid for: "Other countries use socialized healthcare to command unfairly low prices from U.S. drug makers."

Telling other countries to spend more on drugs is a. not going to be well-received or result in them randomly paying more, and b. not going to magically make drug companies charge Americans less.

Even if I'm somehow successful in getting my neighbor's rent raised, my landlord isn't going to lower mine as a result.
posted by zachlipton at 7:37 PM on May 10 [39 favorites]


But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people.

Oh. Like Republicans?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:40 PM on May 10 [37 favorites]


Even if foreign countries somehow paid more, it's hard for me to fathom how that could possibly cause drug companies to lower their prices in the US, seeing as that's not how markets work anywhere.

I'm starting to think that if it weren't for the massive money laundering operation that kept him afloat, Trump would probably be broke and homeless somewhere, as he is a phenomenally shitty businessman.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:47 PM on May 10 [45 favorites]


Was Scott Pruitt Catholic? He was not. He is, Southern Baptist Evangelical. I went for information on his faithical views but got hypmotize by the picture at the top of the article. I am no closer to solving for his character.
posted by petebest at 7:52 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


The Post version of the Sec. Nielsen story, Trump unloads on Homeland Security secretary in lengthy immigration tirade, has a twist. it says her colleageus say she didn't threaten to quit, but:
Trump lashed out at his Cabinet, and Nielsen in particular, when told that the number of people arrested for illegally crossing the Mexico border topped 50,000 for the second consecutive month. The blowup lasted more than 30 minutes, according to a person with knowledge of what transpired, as Trump’s face reddened and he raised his voice, saying Nielsen needed to “close down” the border.

“Why don’t you have solutions? How is this still happening?” he said, adding later, “We need to shut it down. We’re closed.”
...
Trump’s tirade went on so long that many present began fidgeting in their seats and flashing grimaces, White House aides said. Eventually, the topic moved on to health care, bringing relief to many in the room.
This explains a somewhat odd sentence in the Times version of the story: "When members of his cabinet pointed out that the country relies on day-laborers who cross the border each day, Mr. Trump said that is fine, but continued to complain, one person said."

He really thinks we can close the border. And had to be told why that would be bad.

The numbers also aren't true. 50K combines total apprehensions by the border patrol and the total number of people found inadmissible at southern border crossings. The latter category (12-13K people/month) aren't trying to cross illegally. This continues the White House trend of conflating people entering illegally with asylum claimants who present themselves at border crossings (even as CBP is dreadfully slow to process asylum claims at the ports). This is fundamentally because they don't consider people coming to the border to legally claim asylum to be legitimate, so they lie and pretend the law doesn't exist.
posted by zachlipton at 7:54 PM on May 10 [54 favorites]


$12 lettuce, here we come!
posted by rhizome at 8:12 PM on May 10 [17 favorites]


People believe in conspiracy theories because all conspiracy theories are simple to understand. To regular folks, conspiracy theories are convoluted, arbitrary, dumb-on-it's-face, wacky-assed garbage. They might be complicated, but they're never complex. Conspiracy theory fans are comforted by having one or two easy explanations that explain everything. People with even the minimum of curiosity know there're lots of complex reasons underlying anything of consequence.

To just scratch the surface of how many factors go into e.g., the fluoridation of tap water as a municipal policy: there's science (chemistry, medicine, statistics, epidemiology, environmental considerations), there's economics (pricing, sourcing, hiring, testing at every stage), and of course there's the politics (speeches, white papers, newspaper columns, votes, appointments)... Each of those sub-factors having it's own fractal complexity to boot.

Do everyday folks think about all that when they turn on the tap? No. My point is this: only absolute fools think that their water was fluoridated so that the Soviets could use their TVs to shoot X-rays to peek at their undies. Or that you can't really go to real jail if the flag in your courtroom has a gold fringe. Or pizza basements. Or that Donald Trump is shrewd.

That kind of shit is only believed by people who won't think for more than one measly second. They don't consider nuance because nuance upsets them. They replace contemplation with feeling, and inquiry with conviction. Why? I don't think that their minds are cognitively incapable. I think it's because they can't stand to admit ignorance long enough to learn even one damn thing. It's a stark blinding fear of appearing foolish to anyone, ever, so they double down, over and over again. Then there's the malicious exploiters, like Bannon, who weaponize them.

These idjits are having their golden age with the current administration.
posted by wires at 8:15 PM on May 10 [45 favorites]


contraption: "Are there more of those than there are people who will look at Manchin's capitulation and just give up on the whole mid-term in disgust? His opponent got 30% of the primary vote so there seem to be plenty of people in WV who would are tired of him and would like to see that seat move left, aren't they more likely to stay home the more he votes like a Republican?"

Calling back to this - given the geographical distribution of the votes against Manchin in the primary, there's a strong chance that a lot of these were protest votes from people who actually think Manchin is too *liberal* (remember that, for historic reasons, WV has a lot of quite far right people registered as Democrats).

Additionally, there were a significant number of undervotes; i.e., people voted for other races, but did not vote for Senator. That's another indicator that people didn't like either the left or the centrist choice.

In short, the primary provided very little reason to think West Virginia is hungry for a leftist, and considerable reason to think that Manchin is the furthest left position electable.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:18 PM on May 10 [22 favorites]


I have no idea if Manchin would lose if he voted against Gina Haspel. There are probably aren't all that many single-votes that make or break a seat for a Senator. But Manchin has managed to hold on as a Democrat in the Trumpiest state in the country so he probably understands his constituents better than I do.

But there's literally no reason to think that what West Virginia is hungering for is a progressive Democrat. It's like the Republicans in California deciding that they could capture the Senate seat there if they only nominated somebody Trumpy enough. Maybe someone who has spent time in jail for beating up immigrants or something. That's just... not reading the state.
posted by Justinian at 8:29 PM on May 10 [24 favorites]


If only he's get the border closed for 2-3 weeks during peak harvest season. Nightly news with pictures of rotting lettuce and zero crime, but hey.

Are you seriously suggesting that undocumented immigrants commit 100% of the crime?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:33 PM on May 10 [7 favorites]


Kelly is evidence that people like Juan Pablo Andrade and Cesar Subervi aren't the only ones living with cognitive dissonance.

Hey, this sounds familiar:
Because [these] immigrants often came to industrial cities from rural, uneducated areas, they were only able to work low-skill jobs, which usually involved manual labor.

Who's being described here...Mexicans? Haitians? People from "shithole countries"? Whoops, nope -- that would be 19th Century Irish Immigrants, many of whom settled in Boston. Hey, John Kelly is from Boston! And Irish-American!

Assimilation is a hell of a drug, especially the aspirational assimilation that leads to that "I got mine; screw everyone else" attitude. (And as the child of an immigrant who had the equivalent of a 5th grade education and was raised on a farm, a hearty Fuck That Shit to John Kelly.)
posted by camyram at 8:34 PM on May 10 [74 favorites]


ELECTIONS NEWS

** 2018 Senate:
-- WV: Murderer Don Blankenship says he will be opposing GOP nominee Patrick Morrisey. If he actually takes some action to back this up, it would be a huge boon for Dems.

-- OH: Gov Kasich is declining to endorse GOP nominee DeWine until he gets a committment to support Medicaid expansion.
** 2018 House:
-- Politico: How gerrymandering could backfire on the GOP.

-- Sabato: Reminder that the House generic ballot has been pretty darn stable.
** Odds & ends:
-- Weigel: Myth-busting some hot takes on this week's primaries.

-- Looks like an initiative to establish an independent redistricting commission in Utah has qualified for the ballot in November. UT could easily support a blue district around SLC.

-- MD gov: Race left in flux after death of Kevin Kamenetz, who was a top three Dem candidate and leading in fundraising.

-- OH gov: PPP poll has Dem Cordray leading GOPer DeWine, 44-39 [MOE: +/- 3.9%]. Now, this is an internal, in the sense that the Ohio Democratic Party paid for it. But it's by a reputable pollster who has released all the crosstabs, and it has a pretty highTrump approval (48/47), so it's probably pretty fair.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:48 PM on May 10 [27 favorites]


NYT, Service Meant to Monitor Inmates’ Calls Could Track You, Too
Thousands of jails and prisons across the United States use a company called Securus Technologies to provide and monitor calls to inmates. But the former sheriff of Mississippi County, Mo., used a lesser-known Securus service to track people’s cellphones, including those of other officers, without court orders, according to charges filed against him in state and federal court.

The service can find the whereabouts of almost any cellphone in the country within seconds. It does this by going through a system typically used by marketers and other companies to get location data from major cellphone carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, documents show.

Between 2014 and 2017, the sheriff, Cory Hutcheson, used the service at least 11 times, prosecutors said. His alleged targets included a judge and members of the State Highway Patrol. Mr. Hutcheson, who was dismissed last year in an unrelated matter, has pleaded not guilty in the surveillance cases.
...
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, wrote in a letter this week to the Federal Communications Commission that Securus confirmed that it did not “conduct any review of surveillance requests.” The senator said relying on customers to provide documentation was inadequate. “Wireless carriers have an obligation to take affirmative steps to verify law enforcement requests,” he wrote, adding that Securus did not follow those procedures.
posted by zachlipton at 9:53 PM on May 10 [26 favorites]


Wait - did that article just say that marketers can track any cell phone within seconds, and this scandal comes from a corrupt sheriff horning in on that power?
posted by msalt at 10:26 PM on May 10 [40 favorites]


In the article, there's some stuff in there about easily abusable opt-in consent without any kind of audit mechanism being required for the marketing stuff, so basically yeah.
posted by zachlipton at 10:36 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


> Looks like an initiative to establish an independent redistricting commission in Utah has qualified for the ballot in November. UT could easily support a blue district around SLC.

FYI the Clean Missouri initiative petition just submitted 346K signatures (160K needed, so they should be comfortably over the minimum).

Clean Missouri proposes open records, limits on the politician/lobbyist revolving door, strict limits on lobbyist gifts, lower campaign contribution limits, and anti-gerrymandering restrictions.

Among other things, fairness and competitiveness as required criteria for new district maps--meaning that districts should be designed so that political parties can turn their vote percentage into a reasonably corresponding proportion of elected officials.

So right now in Missouri 6 of 8 Congressional districts are held by Republicans. By the fair/competitive criteria, that should become either 4/8 or 5/8 rather than 6/8. So in a really fair redistricting Republicans should lose AT LEAST one congressional seat, maybe two.

Republicans currently hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state General Assembly--so majorities of more than 67%.

It should be maybe 55%/45% rather than ie, 72%/28%--the current Missouri House split.

I predict that Clean Missouri is going to win overwhelmingly at the ballot box in November, and the subsequent redistricting and elections and going to be really, really interesting.

Stay tuned.

In related and baffling developments, the highly funded Right-to-Work (ie, anti-union) constitutional amendment somehow failed to obtain enough signatures to get on the ballot. And Governor Greitens is planning to leave all 4 proposed ballot initiatives on the November ballot. They are 3 marijuana initiatives & the Clean Missouri. His option is to move them to the August primaries rather than the November general election.

So leaving them on the November ballot simultaneously boosts their chances of passage by quite a bit and also is likely to drive Democratic turnout in November's General Election, boosting Ds & hurting Rs.

Greitens revenge on the General Assembly that is planning to impeach him is the leading theory for this move.
posted by flug at 10:46 PM on May 10 [51 favorites]


So Trump's big idea to lower drug costs is not to use the government's buying power to negotiate lower prices, but rather to whine about "free ride" foreign countries that do negotiate and get lower prices. As far as what good that would do: "The officials did not detail how they planned to get higher prices overseas, nor how that would in turn lower the cost of drugs in the U.S." Even if foreign countries somehow paid more, it's hard for me to fathom how that could possibly cause drug companies to lower their prices in the US, seeing as that's not how markets work anywhere.

This will be fun. It's hard to imagine America having enough leverage anywhere to force nationalised healthcare to buy pharmaceuticals at the price American companies would prefer, given that some countries have gone so far as to cancel patents on drugs they needed and couldn't get at a price they could accept.
posted by Merus at 12:06 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


In short, the primary provided very little reason to think West Virginia is hungry for a leftist

But there's literally no reason to think that what West Virginia is hungering for is a progressive Democrat.


I certainly wasn't saying Swearingen would have had a better shot than Manchin, just that her decent showing seems to indicate that there's a substantial slice of the electorate that want someone to his left, and that it seems pretty likely to me that he could get more votes trying to turn those people out than he could muster from the right by being the deciding vote for the torturer nominated by the openly corrupt rogue president. The people who would have voted R, but change their minds based on that seem like they must be a small demographic compared to left-leaning folks who can't be arsed because the Dem is acting more Republican than McCain.
posted by contraption at 12:16 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


This will be fun. It's hard to imagine America having enough leverage anywhere to force nationalised healthcare to buy pharmaceuticals at the price American companies would prefer, given that some countries have gone so far as to cancel patents on drugs they needed and couldn't get at a price they could accept.

I try to keep in mind that Trump has never been a leader. The only thing he brought to the table is his CAMPAIGN STYLE, and indeed, now that he's won everything he says and does is -- more campaigning.

In that context, this is exactly what you'd expect. A campaign promise, with no actual details, and it appears not even grounding in reality. IIRC, the half life of this stuff is like a week, so in 2 weeks it'll be undetectable, and in a month totally forgotten.
posted by mikelieman at 1:04 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


It's hard to imagine America having enough leverage anywhere to force nationalised healthcare to buy pharmaceuticals at the price American companies would prefer, given that some countries have gone so far as to cancel patents on drugs they needed and couldn't get at a price they could accept.

The UK is quite possibly going to need a trade deal with the US on fire sale terms. I'm not sure even we would take the hit of accepting a big increase in the NHS budget in return for literally no extra value at all.
posted by jaduncan at 1:06 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Trump here demonstrating his innovative "badly laid carpet" theory of pricing: push down a bump in one place, and it pops up in another.
posted by Buck Alec at 2:12 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]


Note, welfare state in the original and legitimate sense of "a state having the goal of providing for the common welfare of its citizenry," not the later Republican boogeyman sense of "poor people who look and act different from you are mooching off you"

Since Republicans claim to revere the Constitution, it's remarkable -- by which I mean, remarkably dishonest -- that they seem to overlook the Preamble specifying this very goal.
posted by Gelatin at 3:25 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


Republicans claim to revere the Constitution, but what people do means a whole lot more than what they say.

We focus on how they responded to Barack Obama's race, for legit and understandable reasons. But I think the reason that the people who really have their hands on the levers of power in the Republican party hated and feared him so much is that he is an actual, honest-to-God Constitutional scholar. They knew and know full well that their aims are directly contrary to those principles.
posted by Sublimity at 3:35 AM on May 11 [28 favorites]


But there's literally no reason to think that what West Virginia is hungering for is a progressive Democrat.

‘He’s JFK With Tattoos and a Bench Press’
Paratrooper Richard Ojeda is redefining what it means to be a Democrat in a deeply red state.

posted by nikodym at 4:41 AM on May 11 [16 favorites]


Trump here demonstrating his innovative "badly laid carpet" theory of pricing: push down a bump in one place, and it pops up in another.

Or in this case creating a bump somewhere else will cause this bump to shrink. His chess is one dimension higher than an incompetent carpet layer.
posted by duoshao at 4:41 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


just that her decent showing seems to indicate that there's a substantial slice of the electorate that want someone to his left

There's no way of knowing from the vote numbers how many people voted for Swearingen because she was to the left of Manchin and how many did so despite being to the left of Manchin or did so not knowing that she was to the left of Manchin. If a registered Democrat in WV is pissed because Manchin isn't supporting Trump enough, their only option to "say so" that day was to vote for Swearingen.

If there are surveys with likes/dislikes about the candidates you could pull the information you want from that, but I would be surprised if there were.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:03 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Nunes and Gowdy have gone somewhere to collectively change their underwear. <WaPost
Whatever they were told/saw yesterday has dramatically changed their tune on demanding and threatening the DOJ. LOL.
posted by rc3spencer at 5:26 AM on May 11 [37 favorites]


That kind of shit is only believed by people who won't think for more than one measly second. They don't consider nuance because nuance upsets them. They replace contemplation with feeling, and inquiry with conviction. Why? I don't think that their minds are cognitively incapable. I think it's because they can't stand to admit ignorance long enough to learn even one damn thing. It's a stark blinding fear of appearing foolish to anyone, ever, so they double down, over and over again. Then there's the malicious exploiters, like Bannon, who weaponize them.

These idjits are having their golden age with the current administration.


Except there actually is a very large very complex well documented conspiracy to allow lead and other toxins into drinking water almost everywhere in the United States.
posted by srboisvert at 5:33 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Even if I'm somehow successful in getting my neighbor's rent raised, my landlord isn't going to lower mine as a result.

The point of forcing Canada and Mexico to raise drug prices is not to save US citizens money, it's to get them to stop complaining about unfairly high drug prices. Also, of course, it benefits investors, but that's just a happy side effect, I'm sure.

The problem they're having though is that Canada is looking at socializing even more of the Pharma sector. We currently socialize in-hospital costs, which are very roughly 1/3 of all drug costs. There are several proposals out there to go to a national pharmacare program which would cover the rest. And that means single-bargaining on all drug prices for ~35m customers.

So part of this bluster is directed at Canada, but I don't think anyone is really listening. IP protection (and so drug pricing) was one of the articles under renegotiation during NAFTA, but the US seems to have given that up now too in their rush to get things done.
posted by bonehead at 5:42 AM on May 11 [14 favorites]


US acts against currency network it says has Iran links which is ironic since the president has been one of the more notorious sources of currency for the Iranian National Guard himself. < New Yorker on Ivanka's Azerbaijan project.
posted by rc3spencer at 6:00 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


In the latest instalment of Alexander Torshin and the NRA, NPR reports: Documents Reveal How Russian Official Courted Conservatives In U.S. Since 2009
Kremlin-linked Russian politician Alexander Torshin traveled frequently between Moscow and various destinations in the United States to build relationships with figures on the American right starting as early as 2009, beyond his previously known contacts with the National Rifle Association.

Documents newly obtained by NPR show how he traveled throughout the United States to cultivate ties in ways well beyond his formal role as a member of the Russian legislature and later as a top official at the Russian central bank. These are steps a former top CIA official believes Torshin took in order to advance Moscow's long-term objectives in the United States, in part by establishing common political interests with American conservatives.

"Putin and probably the Russian intelligence services saw [Torshin's connections] as something that they could leverage in the United States," said Steve Hall, a retired CIA chief of Russian operations. "They reach to reach out to guy like Torshin and say, 'Hey, can you make contact with the NRA and some other conservatives... so that we can have connectivity from Moscow into those conservative parts of American politics should we need them?' And that's basically just wiring the United States for sound, if you will, in preparation for whatever they might need down the road."

Torshin's trips took him to Alaska, where he requested a visit with former Gov. Sarah Palin; to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.; to Nashville, where he was an election observer for the 2012 presidential race; and to every NRA convention, in various American cities, between 2012 and 2016.
With Torshin now facing US sanctions, CNN reported last month that the NRA is quietly reviewing documents concerning their ties to him.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:14 AM on May 11 [30 favorites]


In the latest instalment of Alexander Torshin and the NRA, NPR reports: Documents Reveal How Russian Official Courted Conservatives In U.S. Since 2009

I've said it before, but I can remember when conservatives used to call liberals dupes of Moscow.
posted by Gelatin at 6:24 AM on May 11 [36 favorites]


Yeah but that was before Moscow was the capital of an ethnonationalist authoritarian state.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:31 AM on May 11 [34 favorites]




Or rather, a oligarchical ethnonationalist fascist right-wing authoritarian state rather than a socialist authoritarian state. You guys know what I'm trying to say.

I mean, none of this is that surprising to me given what I know about modern Russia and modern American conservatism. Two peas in a pod. Same goals, same tactics, same idols. I'm really just surprised it took this long for American conservatives to slough off the last of the "Russia Bad" feels left over from the Cold War.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:34 AM on May 11 [14 favorites]


But there's literally no reason to think that what West Virginia is hungering for is a progressive Democrat.

‘He’s JFK With Tattoos and a Bench Press’
Paratrooper Richard Ojeda is redefining what it means to be a Democrat in a deeply red state.


A Trump voter who is toxic masculinity personified with a class consciousness?

As a woman — you know, the core of the Democratic Party? — that is fucking terrifying, and I want no goddamn part of it.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:35 AM on May 11 [46 favorites]


Fox news host Charles V. Payne on Twitter:

My Apology to Senator McCain and his Family
“This morning on a show I was hosting, a guest made a very false and derogatory remark about Senator John McCain. At the time, I had the control room in my ear telling me to wrap the segment, and did not hear the comment.

I regret I did not catch this remark, as it should have been challenged. As a proud military veteran and son of a Vietnam Vet these words neither reflect my or the network’s feelings about Senator McCain, or his remarkable service and sacrifice to this country.”
Charles V. Payne


Bet they invite McInerney back for future segments/interviews, though.
posted by zarq at 6:41 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]


$12 lettuce, here we come!

Already happening with Maryland jumbo lump crab meat. From the Baltimore Sun, Crab crisis: Maryland seafood industry loses 40 percent of work force in visa lottery:
Maryland's seafood industry is in crisis: Nearly half of the Eastern Shore’s crab houses have no workers to pick the meat sold in restaurants and supermarkets.

They failed to get visas for their mostly Mexican workforce, including many women who have been coming north to Maryland for crab season for as long as two decades. The Trump administration for the first time awarded them this year in a lottery, instead of on a first-come, first-served basis.
From the WaPo, Many Maryland watermen deny the crab crisis is Trump’s fault. Except it is.
For the most part, though, the very folks in trouble on the Eastern Shore refuse to see the connection.

“There are different sides to it.”

“Finger-pointing won’t help.”

“Immigration has to be legal.”

“He’s the best president we’ve had in a long time.”

Those are all things that residents of this enclave said when I asked them about the anti-immigration policies damaging their livelihoods.
posted by peeedro at 6:47 AM on May 11 [75 favorites]


The only thing he brought to the table is his CAMPAIGN STYLE, and indeed, now that he's won everything he says and does is -- more campaigning.

To be fair, he started his re-election campaign on Inauguration Day, so he is campaigning.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:49 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Re: Trump's Middle-East businessmanning

“A couple of days ago, Trump wrote a letter to the leaders of the Arab world. We have that letter,” the ayatollah said. “In the letter, he says I have spent $7 trillion on you, you have to do [what I say]. You spent this money to rule over Iraq and Syria. You couldn’t. To hell with it. He says you should do it and says Iran 'should' do it, too.”

. . . The dollar figure is inaccurate: Trump is thought to be referring to a study from Brown University that included future costs not only for the wars in Iraq and Syria but also in Afghanistan and such expenses as veterans' care for nearly 40 more years. . . .

It is not clear how Iran's supreme leader found out about the letter, the official said. Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser with Washington-based Gulf State Analytics, said it was “significant because the content tells the supreme leader what Iran is about to face from the U.S.” and suggested that the letter could have been passed on by a regional power such as Kuwait, Qatar, Oman or Jordan or even an outside power like Russia.


There's that name again! Russia! Russia! Russia!
/Jan
posted by petebest at 6:53 AM on May 11 [18 favorites]


Bet they invite McInerney back for future segments/interviews, though.

CNN's Brian Stelter @brianstelter: "A Fox spokeswoman tells me that Thomas McInerney will no longer be invited on Fox Biz or Fox News as a guest... https://mailchi.mp/cnn/rs-may-10-2018 …"

We'll see if Fox makes an official statement (and if the ban sticks).
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:54 AM on May 11 [16 favorites]


Funny how insulting McCain is a bridge to far, but being a racist birther, which McInerney also is, wasn't.
posted by chris24 at 7:17 AM on May 11 [37 favorites]


It's telling that Trump sees America's military hegemony as basically a Mafia style protection racket and is upset that there isn't a flow of cash coming to the USA from the places it "protects".

Not only does it show Trump's inherently gangster view of the world, but also his incredibly limited understanding of macroeconomics. The US **IS** getting massive economic benefits from its military hegemony. Not in the form of kowtowing foreign dignitaries offering up bundles of cash while they praise America's might, but in the form of those trade deals that Trump keeps deriding.

Especially in the form of the trade imbalance he seems to hate. America getting more goods than it sends out. That trade imbalance is the US absorbing more of the world's resources than its neighbors. All in return for an export of cash, which in turn makes the US dollar the default world reserve currency and gives the US even more trade advantage.

All that is happening not because the other countries really like America, but because of America's military hegemony and as a sort of unspoken quid pro quo for the Pax Americana that exists. It's basically the Mafia shakedown Trump wants, just a lot less overt.

Which is why his kicking at the foundations of NATO and other alliances, his obsession with pulling American soldiers out of various countries, and his assault on various incredibly pro-America biased trade deals is so amazing. The man who has explicitly (and very foolishly) said he wants payment for America's military presence overseas is demolishing the means by which the payment already exists and is being made.

One consequence of this is that the PRC is expanding into the power and credibility vacuum the US is leaving, and by all appearances this is purely opportunistic rather than the result of any planning on Xi's part. He's simply exploiting the weaknesses that Putin created but which Russia is simply incapable of exploiting itself.

Trump breaks the Iran deal, thus demonstrating to the world that America's word is no good and that America is not going to hold up its end of any agreements, and there's Xi, presenting China as the stable rock the world needs.

Xi's recent ascension to President for Life (despite not being officially named as such) might not please the democratic sensibilities of some nations, but it does present a more stable alternative to the American system where every four years there's the chance of another Trump taking office and ripping up every trade deal that exists.

In this, if nothing else, Trump really is unique and different from prior Republicans. Junior may not have understood the intricacies of the US hegemony, but Real President Cheney did, and Junior obeyed Cheney. Trump though has no Real President, or rather he's got a whole shifting cast of wannabe Real Presidents who try to drag him in competing directions and as a result he mostly just lashes out with whatever drivel his rotting brain can produce.

Result is that Trump is simultaneously fucking up by saying the quiet part loud and humiliating world leaders by drawing attention to the way they're paying the US protection money, **AND** by demanding open protection money while destroying the mechanisms that deliver overt protection money. It's wrong and foolhardy on every level and every detail is as foolhardy and wrong as the whole. It's fractally stupid.
posted by sotonohito at 7:23 AM on May 11 [139 favorites]


West Virginians I've met have variety of political views. (I live in a neighboring state, so I've met quite a few of them.)

Claiming that West Virginia Democrats who voted for Swearengin must not have known she had progressive views, or that maybe it was some kind of protest vote against Manchin for not being Trumpy enough, seems like a really convoluted attempt to interpret the results in a way that's consistent with outsiders stereotypes about people from the state.

The most straightforward way to understand the primary results is that a majority of Democrats in WV were reasonably happy with the incumbent, Manchin, but a minority prefered Swearengin. Poking around the map a bit, it looks like Swearengin's strongest support was around Morganstown and in Jefferson County. Morganstown is the home of West Virginia University, and Jefferson County is an exurb of DC. These are precisely the parts of the state where you'd expect to find the highest density of liberal Democrats.
posted by nangar at 7:33 AM on May 11 [20 favorites]


Funny how insulting McCain is a bridge too far, but being a racist birther, which McInerney also is, wasn't.

Trump did both, and look how far that got him.
posted by zakur at 7:36 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]


Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance, Sam Levin, The Guardian
Investigators began monitoring Balogun, whose legal name is Christopher Daniels, after he participated in an Austin, Texas, rally in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement, special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court.

The FBI, Keighley said, learned of the protest from a video on Infowars, a far-right site run by the commentator Alex Jones, known for spreading false news and conspiracy theories.

The reference to Infowars stunned Balogun: “They’re using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult.”
posted by mcdoublewide at 7:40 AM on May 11 [55 favorites]


Crab crisis: Maryland seafood industry loses 40 percent of work force in visa lottery:

When an industry is made up of 40% people from a country with a far lower cost of living, coming for the jobs, while unemployment exists in many communities at extremely high rates, that is actually a huge, huge problem, aside from Trump's shenanigans.

What that says is that at least one industry - and probably more - have adapted to the fact that US citizens have a lot of workplace protections and costs associated, by simply not hiring US citizens so they can get away with paying the people involved in the work less. Or so they don't have to train the workers. Or provide them with benefits. Or they can't unionize. The H2B visa is supposed to pay the prevailing wage - but if the overwhelming majority of people in a certain job position are foreign workers, then the industry sets the prevailing wage, and the industry is able to set the wage at far under what it would be forced to pay American workers in order to do the "tedious manual labor".

It is quite possible - and I would say, even probable - that current food costs massively reflect these "shortcuts". That the labor-intensive and difficult business of crab actually should cost far more. Someone upthread was mentioning a 12$ lettuce - and maybe that's even right.

I don't think we should focus on the people who are coming here because our businesses rely on them. But I do think that we should take a hard look at businesses that can only operate because of visas.
posted by corb at 7:41 AM on May 11 [91 favorites]


Claiming that West Virginia Democrats who voted for Swearengin must not have known she had progressive views

Literally nobody has said this, and if you are referring to my previous comment you should read it again, because it does not say that.

seems like a really convoluted attempt

It's not an attempt at anything and is only a reflection of the fact that I've spent God-only-knows how many hours looking at elections-related surveys over my career and by this point have a decent sense for how weird and perverse voters can seem.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:42 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


It is quite possible - and I would say, even probable - that current food costs massively reflect these "shortcuts". That the labor-intensive and difficult business of crab actually should cost far more. Someone upthread was mentioning a 12$ lettuce - and maybe that's even right.

It is *absolutely* right. Our entire food production system right now relies on exploitative working conditions. This is *going* to crash.
posted by odinsdream at 7:49 AM on May 11 [75 favorites]


Our entire food production system right now relies on exploitative working conditions

...exploitative conditions that, if you think about it, extend all the way down into the soil microbiome.

But the system is economically efficient so I guess that's all right.
posted by flabdablet at 7:58 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]


I do think that we should take a hard look at businesses that can only operate because of visas.

No question about it. See also "Take Our Jobs, Please". Just a few months ago there was more reporting about California produce rotting in the fields.

It's always been about the employers. Certain employers have been thinking they'd have access to this vulnerable, pliable labor force forever, because their friends in the Chamber of Commerce have their back.

My disgust and aggravation, let me show you them.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:59 AM on May 11 [16 favorites]


...exploitative conditions that, if you think about it, extend all the way down into the soil microbiome.

Funnily enough(*), the current drought conditions in Nebraska and Iowa have been causing "brown-out" conditions recently, with the combination of high winds, spring tilling, and blowing dust.

The weather people are very careful to remind us that this is NOT "The Dust Bowl", but the first Dust Bowl wasn't a "Dust Bowl" at first either.




(*) Actual humor not guaranteed. Results may vary.

posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:13 AM on May 11 [24 favorites]


But the system is economically efficient so I guess that's all right.

This is only true if "efficiency" is measured in the rate at which capital is sapped from lower to higher income levels, though. McDonalds (to just pick a big-name brand) rips value from every step of the supply chain and funnels it towards people who seriously don't need more capital at all for absolutely no reason beyond perpetuating itself.
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 AM on May 11 [21 favorites]


Swearingen took a third of the vote among registered Dems, that showed up to the polls, for a primary, before a midterm. That's a relatively informed and engaged group to start with. I get that lots of registered Dems in WV are holdovers, and I can imagine that some would be uninformed or vindictive or meta-strategic enough to vote for the more progressive candidate when what they really want is someone more Republican than the moderate incumbent.

What's hard for me to imagine is that within that weird group, there is a large enough subset that will stick with Manchin in the general if only he votes with Trump a convincing amount of the time, such that it's worthwhile for him to pander to them while alienating any actual contemporary Democrats who might be on the fence about voting in the midterm at all.

Maybe it's true, I'm a neophyte here and certainly have no special knowledge of WV, and people more in the know than I seem to think so. It just continues to boggle me, and I have a nagging suspicion that people in the know continue to undervalue the "didn't bother voting last time" bloc.
posted by contraption at 8:22 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I do think that we should take a hard look at businesses that can only operate because of visas.

It's piecemeal of our whole economy. For the last 30 years or so lower and middle class wages have remained stagnant (while the upper 5% have seen a wage explosion). Quality of life hasn't suffered because prices for goods (e.g. food, clothes, etc.) have dropped dramatically. The price drop is because we are buying goods made from basically slave labor. It's not just a business or two. It's almost anything we buy. We're trapped in that if we bought goods made from workers making a living wage the prices of everything would be absurd.
posted by xammerboy at 8:28 AM on May 11 [31 favorites]


nangar: "Poking around the map a bit, it looks like Swearengin's strongest support was around Morganstown and in Jefferson County. Morganstown is the home of West Virginia University, and Jefferson County is an exurb of DC. These are precisely the parts of the state where you'd expect to find the highest density of liberal Democrats."

She did second best in Mingo County, which is where you might expect to find about the lowest concentration of liberal Democrats. That's also where you saw tons of blank ballots for Senate.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:32 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]


contraption: What's hard for me to imagine is that within that weird group, there is a large enough subset that will stick with Manchin in the general if only he votes with Trump a convincing amount of the time, such that it's worthwhile for him to pander to them while alienating any actual contemporary Democrats who might be on the fence about voting in the midterm at all.

I believe you're thinking about it at a more detailed level than a fair number of voters (all around the whole country, not just in WV) do. It's not an if-then logical structure whereby these voters expect Manchin to support X, reject Y, and stick with Trump at least Z% of the time. It's about Manchin's fears (possibly unfounded, I have no idea) that his actions can be fodder for attack ads. Regarding Haspel in particular, the ads would only touch on torture (oops, "enhanced interrogation") at the most superficial level possible; they'll just say Haspel was "tough" and kept us "safe", that stopping any nominee is "obstruction", and at least some low-information voters will be swayed.

But again, those voters might be very outnumbered. People do often persue the wrong constituencies out of tunnel vision.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:36 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


"What's the Matter With West Virginia?"
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


For the last 30 years or so lower and middle class wages have remained stagnant (while the upper 5% have seen a wage explosion). Quality of life hasn't suffered because prices for goods (e.g. food, clothes, etc.) have dropped dramatically. The price drop is because we are buying goods made from basically slave labor. It's not just a business or two. It's almost anything we buy. We're trapped in that if we bought goods made from workers making a living wage the prices of everything would be absurd.

Only if we don't correct for the top 1% siphoning off all the value added to the economy by everyone else's labor.
posted by Gelatin at 8:39 AM on May 11 [43 favorites]


Anyway, this is not to defend Manchin's Haspel vote. Maybe he's wrong that he needed to do it electorally, or maybe he's just a bad person who thinks torture is cool. But it's certain that a) he's still better than Morrisey would be, and b) he's won statewide election five times as a Democrat while the state has moved massively right.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]


'Keep America Great': After year in office, Trump unveils 2020 campaign slogan
Less than two years after Donald Trump promised to make America great, he seemed to declare mission accomplished on Saturday, revealing that his reelection slogan will be "Keep America Great!"
...
"We can't say 'Make America Great Again,' because I already did that," Trump said before thousands of supporters in an airplane hanger.
He leaked the slogan last year.
Halfway through his interview with The Washington Post, Trump shared a bit of news: He already has decided on his slogan for a reelection bid in 2020.

“Are you ready?” he said. “ ‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point.”

“Get me my lawyer!” the president-elect shouted.

Two minutes later, one arrived.

“Will you trademark and register, if you would, if you like it — I think I like it, right? Do this: ‘Keep America Great,’ with an exclamation point. With and without an exclamation. ‘Keep America Great,’ ” Trump said.

“Got it,” the lawyer replied.
I dispute the premise.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:48 AM on May 11 [26 favorites]


The Most Unlikely D.A. In America -- He’s a biker attorney who specialized in getting small-time defendants off. He’s considered a gang member by Texas police. And now he’s the county’s chief prosecutor. Can Mark Gonzalez change the system?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:51 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]


Less than two years after Donald Trump promised to make America great, he seemed to declare mission accomplished

It's been done, and it proved premature then, too.
posted by Gelatin at 8:53 AM on May 11


If you translate “great” as “pay constant, worshipful attention to the Orange Duce”, it all makes sense.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:56 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


FBI Warned of Spy Links To Oligarch Who Paid Cohen (NPR via PoliticalWire)

“The FBI warned four years ago that a foundation controlled by the Russian oligarch who allegedly reimbursed Donald Trump’s personal lawyer might have been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services,” NPR reports.

“FBI Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote an unusual column in the Boston Business Journal in April of 2014 to warn that a foundation controlled by Russian energy baron Viktor Vekselberg might be part of a Moscow spying campaign that sought to siphon up American science and technology.”


Guys I'm beginning to wonder if Russian mob money and the Russian state Intelligence apparatus played a decisive role in the election of a wholly unfit racist former reality-show host.*

*not wondering. Everybody knows it was the fnords.
posted by petebest at 8:58 AM on May 11 [37 favorites]


> “Finger-pointing won’t help.”

“Finger-pointing” in this context = “taking five minutes to use my almost non-existent critical thinking skills to examine the causes and effects pertinent to my current situation, which may cause me to question the wisdom of the racist policies of the president and party I support, and I can’t have that”
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:59 AM on May 11 [22 favorites]


Tweet: So apparently in regards to the whole Schneiderman deal, the reports were made years ago but never pursued and instead sent to Trump/Cohen to use as leverage over Schneiderman.
posted by localhuman at 9:01 AM on May 11 [33 favorites]


Yes, when someone decries "finger-pointing" (or "playing the blame game") they almost always obviously mean they just don't want to recognize their own side is at fault.

Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug.
posted by Gelatin at 9:02 AM on May 11 [13 favorites]


Loyalty, unease in Trump’s Midwest
In this region, the Trump presidency is viewed as both reassuring and exhausting, a welcome poke in the eye at elites and the Washington power structure coupled with endless and often self-inflicted distractions. What is also apparent is that, 16 months into Trump’s presidency, many voters here have recalibrated their feelings and intensity of support for the man they backed in 2016.

This report traces the long arc of those changing perceptions, from the initial recognition of Trump as an unforeseen political force to the expectations during the early weeks of his presidency, and then through various chapters of chaos, dysfunction and policy changes. The story is told through the voices of the voters — and the degree to which the reservations are now stated more explicitly than they were in early 2017.
It's a nice in-depth look from the Washington Post. I know, white Trump voters, yadda yadda yadda, but there are some interesting perspectives.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:08 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


I mentioned it upthread by my current state house race is turning out to be kind of a referendum on how far you can get with this kind of low-info-targeted non-issue feelgood buzz-phrase don't-point-fingers nonsense campaign.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:10 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


If the tweet referenced above is true, and Trump/Cohen have been collecting Kompromat on others since 2013, the whole idea that he and Russia have Kompromat on large portions of the Republican party becomes much less of a theory.
posted by localhuman at 9:11 AM on May 11 [42 favorites]


b) he's won statewide election five times as a Democrat while the state has moved massively right.

He's pro-life/anti-choice. Fought against gay marriage (and incidentally, was against gay people serving in the military.) He's sued the EPA and is known for being opposed to their regulations and other initiatives, for obvious reasons. He has been saying he'd like to repeal much of the ACA since it became law. He supports Trump's wall.

These were/are all Republican positions. He's held them (other than about the wall) for years. So while the state has shifted right he's gone on voting the way he always has. The state has shifted to the right to meet him. Note that Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller were not as conservative as Manchin.

He keeps getting voted into office because of those stances, and also because West Virginians aren't stupid. The state takes in more federal money than it pays in taxes and they know that they need someone with enough seniority in the Senate to fight for them in budget battles. They also know that Republicans and Democrats will have to woo Manchin if they want his support on close votes. That means a greater likelihood of concessions for WV.

On the good side: he used to have an "A" rating from the NRA, but it looks like they've stopped donating to him since 2012, when he supported background checks after Sandy Hook.

Surprisingly enough, he also came out against Trump's ban of trans servicemembers from the military.

But in any other state, and especially in any blue state, his positions would be held by a Republican, and he'd run as one.
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]


"We can't say 'Make America Great Again,' because I already did that," Trump said

Jonathan Chait: Trump Has Now Broken Every One of His Economic Populist Promises
Donald Trump ran for president as an economic populist. This fact has been largely forgotten, buried by the flurry of bizarre and outrageous actions, and activists on both sides have had little reason to bring it up. Conservatives have pushed the administration to forget its unorthodox gestures and follow Paul Ryan’s lead. Progressives have emphasized the racist and sexist nature of Trump’s appeal. But Trump’s ability to distance himself from his party’s economic brand formed a decisive element of his appeal. Voters actually saw Trump as more moderate than any Republican presidential candidate since 1972. And he has violated every one of his promises.
posted by monospace at 9:16 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times: Wow: A lawyer is claiming that 2 of Eric Schneiderman's alleged victims contacted him in 2013. He says he advised them not to call prosecutors. Instead he says he went to a journalist who then talked to... Donald Trump. And then, the lawyer says, Michael Cohen called him about it

@realDonaldTrump in 2013, while Trump University was being sued by the State of New York: Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone - next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner

Donald Trump has evaded justice not only with carrots, but with sticks. He has a kompromat operation of his very own.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:22 AM on May 11 [63 favorites]


Top AT&T executive forced out as company says it made a 'big mistake' hiring Michael Cohen

The CEO of AT&T on Friday told his employees that the company made a "big mistake" by hiring Michael Cohen to get insider insight into the Trump administration — a decision said to have cost a top exec his job.

In a memo to staff obtained by Reuters, Randall Stephenson said AT&T made a "serious misjudgment" by paying Cohen as much as $600,000 via Cohen's company Essential Consultants LLC.

Stephenson also said Bob Quinn, AT&T's chief lobbyist who oversaw Cohen's contract with the company, would retire. Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that Quinn was forced out.

posted by Twain Device at 9:23 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]


So apparently in regards to the whole Schneiderman deal, the reports were made years ago but never pursued and instead sent to Trump/Cohen to use as leverage over Schneiderman.

Bloomberg: Trump Was Told of Schneiderman Assaults Years Ago, Lawyer Says
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was informed about allegations of sexual misconduct by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman around 2013, according to a letter filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday.
posted by monospace at 9:24 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


“Get me my lawyer!” the president-elect shouted.

Seems like that might be a more appropriate campaign slogan.
posted by maurice at 9:27 AM on May 11 [85 favorites]


Donald Trump has evaded justice not only with carrots, but with sticks. He has a kompromat operation of his very own.

The other reason to be glad that D misconduct results in resignations: a newly uncompromised NY AG.
posted by jaduncan at 9:29 AM on May 11 [44 favorites]


(in that respect, at least)
posted by jaduncan at 9:30 AM on May 11


So apparently in regards to the whole Schneiderman deal, the reports were made years ago but never pursued and instead sent to Trump/Cohen to use as leverage over Schneiderman.

Ronan Farrow, one of the authors of the original New Yorker exposé, says no dice:
Nope. None of our leads came via Trump people, and we had no knowledge of Gleason. No surprise there were other investigations—legit ones and political smears—as allegations were so widespread. But ours didn’t flow from any of that. Women in the story were all Dems, incidentally.
And incidentally, this is your daily reminder that it doesn’t fucking matter if Trump or the Russians or Satan himself tipped off anyone to Schneiderman’s abuses, because Schneiderman is still an abuser and needed to fucking go. And that women aren’t going to forget who on the “left” keeps revealing that they don’t actually think women are people.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:30 AM on May 11 [64 favorites]




Tim Kaine is a No on Haspel.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:32 AM on May 11 [59 favorites]


Trump blackmailing Schneiderman does nothing to elevate Schneiderman, and Schneiderman's crimes do nothing to elevate Trump. They were both awful men committing serious crimes and undermining justice.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:34 AM on May 11 [11 favorites]


I didn't intend to mean that the allegations had no basis or that Schneiderman isn't a horrible future felon.

It is also very possible that Ronan and Jane had different sources from the ones that ended up having their complaints forwarded to Trump/Cohen.
posted by localhuman at 9:35 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


>So apparently in regards to the whole Schneiderman deal, the reports were made years ago but never pursued and instead sent to Trump/Cohen to use as leverage over Schneiderman.

Ronan Farrow, one of the authors of the original New Yorker exposé, says no dice:


To be clear, what seems to be happening here is that there were reports made years ago that ended up being sent to Trump/Cohen to use as leverage; per Farrow, those weren't the same reports that have already come out, and that Farrow wrote about.

This isn't remotely exculpatory of Schneiderman -- it's yet more evidence that he had a long history of abuse -- but it does raise the question of who else Trump & Cohen had dirt on and who else they might be trying to blackmail ('leverage over' is perhaps a bit polite).

This isn't the kind of thing you do by happenstance on one wild and crazy night. Odds are that this wasn't an isolated incident, and if the NYPost knew to bring this stuff to Trump, they also sent other stuff to Trump -- and odds are they weren't the only people Trump was getting blackmail material from.

It's profoundly not normal or okay for the President to be blackmailing people.
posted by cjelli at 9:39 AM on May 11 [73 favorites]


A lawyer is claiming that 2 of Eric Schneiderman's alleged victims contacted him in 2013. He says he advised them not to call prosecutors. Instead he says he went to a journalist who then talked to... Donald Trump. And then, the lawyer says, Michael Cohen called him about it.

The question is why would the lawyer advise ... that ... and the only possible answer (I think?) is Trump/Cohen paid the lawyer to bring them dirt.

He has a kompromat operation of his very own.

Yeah, surely there are other Trump informants. Lots probably.
posted by notyou at 9:39 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


A lawyer is claiming that 2 of Eric Schneiderman's alleged victims contacted him in 2013. He says he advised them not to call prosecutors. Instead he says he went to a journalist who then talked to... Donald Trump. And then, the lawyer says, Michael Cohen called him about it.

So could Cohen, if not Trump himself, be vulnerable to blackmail or extortion charges in New York State?
posted by Gelatin at 9:46 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]



He has a kompromat operation of his very own.

And it all lives (or lived) in Michael Cohen's file cabinets.

This shit is certifiably bananas.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:47 AM on May 11 [44 favorites]


It's a nice in-depth look from the Washington Post. I know, white Trump voters, yadda yadda yadda, but there are some interesting perspectives.

Jeebus Hux Christ, the lengths white dudes will go to to avoid considering anyone's perspectives but their own. The main thing I took away from that article is that it's a perfect case study in white male privilege. First guy totally perplexed why his gay friend would split from him over his Trump vote when Pence is the most virulently anti-gay politician out there. And a union guy! If he's really concerned about economic recovery, he should know better than to keep drinking the trickle-down Kool-Aid! When has management ever passed tax cuts on to the workers just out of the kindness of their hearts? Second guy who lived very comfortably as a teacher for 40 years, now voting for the party that makes sure current teachers will never have that option. He complains that his cohort are finding it harder to afford the basics, let alone any occasional indulgences, but that's the experience of like 90% of millennials all over the country, and an economic policy that focuses solely on improving life for his rural neighbors--most of which probably own real estate, which is more than a lot of urban and even suburban millennials can ever hope for--isn't going to solve those problems. The "young businessman" who claimed Trump ran on economics and avoided social issues? Cool. I guess relegating immigrants, non-Xtians, LGBTQ people, and women to second-class citizenship is purely economic, and really easy not to see with your white privilege blinders on. The other dude saying he hated Obama basically because he didn't feel adequately catered-to. That 60-year-old white men had been forgotten when the vast vast vast majority of positions of power are held by and for the benefit of 60-year-old white men who view the rest of us as instruments.

It's all so damn exhausting.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:50 AM on May 11 [88 favorites]


It's blackmail all the way down.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:50 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


He has a kompromat operation of his very own.

And it all lives (or lived) in Michael Cohen's file cabinets.


Which means Mueller has all of it.
posted by Gelatin at 9:51 AM on May 11 [31 favorites]


I'd like to know if Trump ever offered to drop the whole Birtherism thing in exchange for some Obama Administration goodies.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:54 AM on May 11


The "young businessman" who claimed Trump ran on economics and avoided social issues?

Economics like "Mexico will pay for the wall" and "American steel for American infrastructure" and healthcare being a "lot less expensive" for everyone?

Which economic issues does he think the president is doing so great on, that it's worth crushing everyone who's not a cis white Christian male?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:56 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Donald Trump having a journalist informant giving him dirt on the New York AG would be insane enough if it was something that happened since the Mueller investigation started, but 2013? Holy shit does that raise some questions.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:57 AM on May 11 [20 favorites]


I wonder what happens if Mueller's team comes across a trove of dossiers filled with information that can be used to smear other politicians. Do they have to ignore that? It's not related to the investigation. It's not a crime to have the information. On the other hand, it's not like this information should be protected as having to do with another client's interests. If you search someone's house and it's filled with evidence of unrelated crimes committed by other people, I would think you could act on that? If there's evidence that Cohen was blackmailing people on Trump's behalf is that actionable? Just curious about what we'll never know.
posted by xammerboy at 9:58 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]


Photo of the week: Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, leafs through a Persian-language translation of "Fire and Fury," the explosive campaign expose by @MichaelWolffNYC, at the Tehran book fair today, then posts a picture of it to his @Instagram page.
posted by monospace at 9:59 AM on May 11 [28 favorites]


If you search someone's house and it's filled with evidence of unrelated crimes committed by other people, I would think you could act on that?

Assuming it's not privileged, Mueller could direct other investigators to take a look at it. That's how he referred the Cohen case to the US Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:02 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]


One interesting fact from "Pod Save America" on the Cohen business. I didn't realize that the business payments to Cohen were larger, by far, than to any other lobbyist.

Someone really needs to write an article listing all the things one needs to believe in order to believe these payments weren't straight up bribes. I still don't think a large percentage of the country is getting it.
posted by xammerboy at 10:03 AM on May 11 [26 favorites]


Do they have to ignore that? It's not related to the investigation.

They're not allowed to leak it to the general public. They don't have to ignore it; it was turned up as potential evidence in relation to a legitimate case. They can probably turn it over to whatever authorities have the right to seek prosecution:
The legislative history indicates that “a court is not defined as an ‘agency’ nor is it intended to be a ‘person’ for purposes of [the Privacy Act],” and that the Act was “not designed to interfere with access to information by the courts.”
The Privacy Act is a complex law with nuanced exceptions; there's no simple answer beyond "they can't tell CNN what they found about people." But that info doesn't go away, and it can be requested in other court cases. Whether it's granted depends on those nuances.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:06 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


I still don't think a large percentage of the country is getting it.

Well so far there's no certain link between those payments and Trump himself. The story lately has been that Cohen, acting on his own, went out there and drummed up some consulting contracts, making promises he had no hope of keeping, 'cause that's the kind of grifter he is.

We'll see how long that survives.
posted by notyou at 10:08 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


There are not a ton of good explanations for why that journalist would think "Donald Trump needs to hear about this!" in 2013, and "He is an actual Russian intelligence asset" is one of them. Like, the Evgeny Buryakov spy ring was operating in NYC at that time and dirt on the AG would be super useful for that.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:10 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]


Every once in a while I get these epiphany moments where something happens and I think “holy shit are the Republicans fucked” and it feels brand new all over again

Like a brief flashback to a blissful trip, almost?

And then I immediately think, oh wait, if they’re this fucked they will absolutely try to take the republic down with them

Until the cycle repeats

Wheeee!
posted by schadenfrau at 10:14 AM on May 11 [30 favorites]


There are not a ton of good explanations for why that journalist would think "Donald Trump needs to hear about this!" in 2013, and "He is an actual Russian intelligence asset" is one of them.

No, there's actually a very good explanation: Schniederman was investigating and going after Trump University in 2013, which was open and public knowledge. That's a lot simpler than believing that Trump and a journalist and were both intelligence assets.

Trump's run-of-the-mill corruption is probably sufficient to explain this particular case without needing to bring in foreign interference.
posted by cjelli at 10:14 AM on May 11 [44 favorites]


A major part of Republican philosophy is reflected in Reagan's remark that "government is the problem". In electing Donald Trump, they have done more to promote this belief than they could ever have dreamed possible.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:16 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


What I wonder is this - does that lawyer have any potential trouble ahead of him for telling the victims not to call prosecutors, and not reporting it himself?
posted by azpenguin at 10:16 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Well so far there's no certain link between those payments and Trump himself. The story lately has been that Cohen, acting on his own, went out there and drummed up some consulting contracts, making promises he had no hope of keeping, 'cause that's the kind of grifter he is.

Counterpoint: "Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen."
posted by mikelieman at 10:22 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


No, there's actually a very good explanation: Schniederman was investigating and going after Trump University in 2013, which was open and public knowledge. That's a lot simpler than believing that Trump and a journalist and were both intelligence assets.

Also, it's the New York Post. They're a Republican rag with a very loyal Wall Street following and they haaaaaate Schneiderman. They've run a couple of dozen (usually breathless) stories since the news broke about him.

Considering the close relationship Trump had with them over the years, it's no surprise they kept him informed of goings-on that he could potentially use to his advantage.
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on May 11 [16 favorites]


And Trump has been a regular - often anonymous - source to the NY Post since the 80s. Of course they look out for one another. (Now consider how he could leverage his relationship with Maggie Haberman and Philip Rucker to receive insider tips on what they hear in D.C.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:27 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


It's piecemeal of our whole economy. For the last 30 years or so lower and middle class wages have remained stagnant (while the upper 5% have seen a wage explosion). Quality of life hasn't suffered because prices for goods (e.g. food, clothes, etc.) have dropped dramatically. The price drop is because we are buying goods made from basically slave labor. It's not just a business or two. It's almost anything we buy. We're trapped in that if we bought goods made from workers making a living wage the prices of everything would be absurd.

The stagnation of wages is the effect of deliberate anti-inflation monetary policy - which is a political issue of sorts though monetary policy is ostensibly independent. Inflation is basically workers being able demand more pay.

Anti-inflationary policy is a big giant gift to people who have money. It is a state promise that their money will retain its full current value even if they do nothing productive with it. It is also a promise that any return on investment will be profit rather than requiring active investing and productivity to maintain the value of savings. We have built a huge dependent system around this. Retirement benefits are based on it. State and local budgets are based on it.

It's a major reason why there is runaway wealth at the upper percentiles. Basically we incentivize Scrooge.
posted by srboisvert at 10:28 AM on May 11 [60 favorites]


A major part of Republican philosophy is reflected in Reagan's remark that "government is the problem". In electing Donald Trump, they have done more to promote this belief than they could ever have dreamed possible.

This is your semi-regular reminder that P. J. O'Rourke wrote that "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it" back in 1991.

(It's also interesting to note that while that sentence is arguably true, the first half of O'Rpourke's quip -- "The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn" -- is not a fair cop at all. Democrats simply assert that government can improve the lives of its citizens, which is both true -- as exemplified by Obamacare -- and a notion that Republicans work overtime to obscure -- again, as exemplified by Obamacare.)
posted by Gelatin at 10:45 AM on May 11 [38 favorites]


West Virginia Republican Said Teachers Won’t “Have Any Significant Effect” On Elections. Then They Voted Him Out

(the Intercept, but still of interest)
posted by Chrysostom at 11:08 AM on May 11 [32 favorites]


Based on the full letter, this Gleason guy seems of kind with Davidson, the lawyer who misdirected Daniels and other accusers. Gleason's reasons for funneling these complaints to a conservative reporter seem just as BS as Davidson's, notwithstanding it was a different era (2013!) and his valid points about the difficulties of prosecuting the prosectors. As far as I can tell, he submitted this letter in order to prevent further details of his discussions with Cohen from coming out, presumably to protect himself against all the nasty details of what he said to Cohen about how to contain these accusations (and he also attacks Avenatti as "reckless" along the way). So on first read, it seems like Gleason is probably just another player in the vast machine engineered to redirect these women from legal pathways towards lawyers and journalists who bottle it all up -- possibly to be used as kompromat later when circumstances permit.
posted by chortly at 11:12 AM on May 11 [6 favorites]


Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance, Sam Levin, The Guardian
Keighley made no mention of Balogun’s specific actions at the rally, but noted the marchers’ anti-police statements, such as “oink oink bang bang” and “the only good pig is a pig that’s dead”. The agent also mentioned Balogun’s Facebook posts calling a murder suspect in a police officer’s death a “hero” and expressing “solidarity” with the man who killed officers in Texas when he posted: “They deserve what they got.”

Keighley, however, later admitted the FBI had no evidence of Balogun making any specific threats about harming police.

[...]

But since his release one week ago, Balogun has also been forced to confront the harsh reality of life post-incarceration: he lost his vehicle, job and home; his son was forced to move and transfer schools and Balogun missed much of the first year of his newborn daughter’s life.
Meanwhile, the state representative and former Trump campaign official here in NH who in 2016 publicly called for Hillary Clinton to be “put in the firing line and shot for treason” not only hasn't been arrested, jailed, or even prosecuted, but is still in office, not only faced no repercussions from the Republican Party but rather ran (unsuccessfully) for Speaker of the House last year, and was of course invited to the White House.
posted by XMLicious at 11:13 AM on May 11 [52 favorites]


NPR posted the full transcript of their Kelly interview (why is Kelly doing an interview with NPR in the first place? Because it's the one thing Trump won't hear?).
Even though people say that's cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?

I wouldn't put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.
"Put into foster care or whatever." I remember when Republicans at least claimed to be compassionate. Similarly:
So did you disagree with the decision by your successor Secretary Nielsen that Salvadorans and Hondurans and Haitians who've been here a very long time should have been allowed a path to citizenship?

I did not talk to her about it. But let me go back to ... Duke, one more time. My phone call to her was I don't give a shit what you decide. Just make a decision. We were at the point we needed to make a decision on that particular group of people. She seemed to be incapable of making it. I just called and said I don't care what you do. Just do something. They stay or they go. ...

In fact, she was in the office here on her last day apologizing for however that story get out. But anyway.
"I don't give a shit" whether you throw these people who have been here for decades out of the country. Charming guy.

Also what the hell is this?
But after about six weeks in a job one of the reporters said to me, "Look you were our worst nightmare. This place was a clown show before you showed up. We didn't think this president would last a year [or] 18 months. Now that you're here, there's order to the place. The leaks all but went away. So, sorry but you got to go." So here I am, sitting, still here.
posted by zachlipton at 11:16 AM on May 11 [30 favorites]


So how do folks square the circle that on the one hand Manchin is necessary because WV wouldn't support a democrat with leftist policies while, on the other hand, teachers agitating for workers' rights managed to oust a right-wing incumbent?
posted by narwhal at 11:17 AM on May 11 [12 favorites]


I wouldn't put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States

Applying for asylum is a legal process, and yet Trump's INS still separated parents -- of refugees -- from their children.

Kelly is attempting to portray almost all immigration, at least by Those People, as inherently illegitimate. NPR let him get away with it. We shouldn't.
posted by Gelatin at 11:20 AM on May 11 [66 favorites]


They voted for a slightly more moderate pro-labor Republican in a district primary. I think that's pretty orthogonal to a statewide general.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:21 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


A major part of Republican philosophy is reflected in Reagan's remark that "government is the problem". In electing Donald Trump, they have done more to promote this belief than they could ever have dreamed possible.

It's all too easy for "government is the problem" to morph into "government is the enemy" in the wrong hands. And here we are.
posted by scalefree at 11:22 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


(why is Kelly doing an interview with NPR in the first place? Because it's the one thing Trump won't hear?).

Because NPR is unthreatening to the point of controlled opposition.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:26 AM on May 11 [16 favorites]


via @natemcdermott:

TPUSA's Charlie Kirk on the subject of joking about John McCain's brain cancer:
"I have worked with Kelly Sadler. She is a wonderful person, loyal to @realDonaldTrump, and a loving mother. Whether she said the joke or not is irrelevant. What matters more is the sanctimonious virtue signaling mob that demands firings. This has got to stop. Kelly should stay!"

TPUSA's Charlie Kirk on the subject of joking about Sarah Huckabee Sanders's smoky-eye look:
"The left pretends to be for woman's empowerment, then brutally attacks high ranking women for their looks and appearances if they happen to be conservatives."
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:27 AM on May 11 [26 favorites]


A Dusty Congressman Tried to Reclaim Rep. Maxine Waters' Time; It Didn't Go Well
Hello and welcome to another edition of America's favorite game show, They Really Tried It, with your host, Representative Maxine Waters. Today's contestant is Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania (R) who, on Tuesday, took it upon himself to point his finger at Rep. Waters, shake it like a Polaroid picture, and tell her to stop talking about discrimination.
...
Rep. Kelly...really thought that he could take it upon himself to tell Rep Waters, well, anything. Well, audience, we have the results and it turns out, he could not.
...
An unseen congressman tried to interrupt Rep. Waters. That was a mistake. Then the chair interrupted Waters, asking her to direct his remarks to him. "I respect the chair but don't stop me in the middle when you didn't stop him in the middle, and so I will continue."
...
Kelly, it seems, asked her if she would yield the rest of her time, which is both a parliamentary procedure and also completely laughable. Rep. Waters' response: "Having said that, I reserve the balance of my time. I do not yield. Not one second. Not one second to you. Not one second!"
Rep. Kelly even tried a little rhyming:
And we are trying to make sure we're making America great every day in every way and the best way to to that is to stop talking about discrimination and start talking about the nation. We're coming together as a people in spite of what you say.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:30 AM on May 11 [49 favorites]


Women can be horrible people too. Sadler isn't being attacked for being a woman, she's being exposed as a horrible person & held accountable for that. Being a woman isn't some kind of protection from accountability.
posted by scalefree at 11:31 AM on May 11 [24 favorites]


So how do folks square the circle that on the one hand Manchin is necessary because WV wouldn't support a democrat with leftist policies while, on the other hand, teachers agitating for workers' rights managed to oust a right-wing incumbent?

The vote was 5,787 to 3,749. Manchin won the last election 391,669 to 236,620.
posted by Candleman at 11:32 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


She is a wonderful person, loyal to @realDonaldTrump

I know what those words mean, but they don't make any sense when you use them together like that.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:32 AM on May 11 [19 favorites]


NPR is unthreatening to the point of controlled opposition.

It's really a sweet setup when you think about it. The de facto state media is independent enough to maintain deniability while spouting frothing propaganda obviously designed to support to the regime, while the official, actually-beholden-to-government-funding-and-influence state media postures as unbiased, is popularly understood to be liberal, yet somehow always ends up subtly supporting the regime in their coverage.
posted by contraption at 11:34 AM on May 11 [23 favorites]


The most shocking realization, however, is one that affects us directly: The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership. President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security policy even exists anymore. The answer: No. It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months. Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values. And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the U.S. stood by its side. And what will happen in the remaining two-and-a-half years (or six-and-a-half years) of Trump's leadership? There is plenty of time left for further escalation.
posted by infini at 11:35 AM on May 11 [34 favorites]


The Times has now talked to Gleason. Lawyer for 2 Women Who Say They Were Schneiderman Victims Talked to Michael Cohen
Mr. Gleason said in an interview that Mr. Cohen had told him that if Mr. Trump were to run for and be elected governor of New York, he would help bring to light the women’s accusations about Mr. Schneiderman. There had been deep animus between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schneiderman ever since Mr. Schneiderman filed a $40 million civil fraud lawsuit against Trump University in August 2013.

Mr. Gleason’s accusations came to light in the letter, filed to Kimba M. Wood, the Manhattan federal judge overseeing the Cohen investigation.

Mr. Gleason also said in the interview, without offering details or corroborating evidence, that he had told elected officials of his concerns about Mr. Schneiderman’s abusive behavior nearly five years ago, but was rebuffed.

Mr. Gleason refused to identify the officials, and said that the women were not among the four who came forward this week in an article in The New Yorker about Mr. Schneiderman’s physical assaults on his former companions.

“The highest levels of our state and city government were well aware of Eric Schneiderman,” he said.
...
Mr. Gleason said that Mr. Trump’s Twitter attack was directly prompted by his conversation with Mr. Cohen.

“That tweet that Trump sent out about Schneiderman,” Mr. Gleason said, “my conversation with Cohen happened shortly before that.”
To be clear, Schneiderman needs to be investigated and prosecuted for serious crimes regardless of what Cohen knew, and Jane Mayer is obviously not a shill for Trump. And I can certainly understand why the women may have wanted to talk to a lawyer but not come forward publicly in 2013. But this is messed up.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 AM on May 11 [21 favorites]


The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.

I'm a foster parent and in my county, at least, the number one state goal of foster care is reunifying kids and parents. It's not cryogenic storage for inconvenient children.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:37 AM on May 11 [99 favorites]


Mueller Probing Donors to Trump Inauguration

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned several witnesses about millions of dollars in donations to President Trump’s inauguration committee last year, including questions about donors with connections to Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar,” sources with direct knowledge told ABC News.

In Fire and Fury there's a little vignette about Inauguration . . . manager? Tom Barrack being offered a position in Trump's cabinet and giving it a hell-no because of the possibility of investigation into his finances. I believe there was a recent report that he, too, had danced with Mueller in the pale moonlight.

Probably coincidence.
posted by petebest at 11:37 AM on May 11 [29 favorites]


Chrysostom - thanks for linking to that great article about Texas D.A. Mark Gonzalez.

I've paid so little attention to public attorneys most of my life, but just this year I've seen San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filing the lawsuit over Trump's executive order to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities (along with Santa Clara's attorney), and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón proactively removing past marijuana convictions from people's records, and news from here and there about other things city attorneys (and state Attorneys General!) are doing to fight the good fight and stand up for what's right, and actively promote justice ... it just warms my heart, and reminds me so clearly about how important local politics are, especially in dark times. (And I'm reminded that CA Senator Kamala Harris was District Attorney in San Francisco! And did some good things when she held that office.)

Mark Gonzalez talks about a childhood where the bills sometimes went unpaid and taking cold showers on freezing mornings; needing a new direction when his plans to work at the refinery fell through because the refinery closed; getting inspired to become a lawyer when he pled guilty to DUI at 19, having no representation, and then saw a defense attorney get someone out of a similar charge; making good money as a defense attorney for minorities fighting marijuana charges ... and then deciding to run for D.A. because he wanted to make a difference.

I need to read things like this. Thank you, Chrysostom. (And P.S. to all U.S. voters - remember to pay attention to your state and city races, especially for Attorney General and District Attorney!)
posted by kristi at 11:39 AM on May 11 [18 favorites]


This isn't remotely exculpatory of Schneiderman -- it's yet more evidence that he had a long history of abuse -- but it does raise the question of who else Trump & Cohen had dirt on and who else they might be trying to blackmail ('leverage over' is perhaps a bit polite).

Just spitballing here, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. have both repeatedly acted in inexplicably conservative ways over the years since then.
posted by msalt at 11:41 AM on May 11 [13 favorites]


Let's check on the market's reaction to Trump's plan to lower drug prices:
Biotechs = way up
Pharma = way up
Yeah. Drug prices aren't going down. I guess Novartis got its money's worth.
posted by zachlipton at 11:41 AM on May 11 [38 favorites]


Mr. Gleason also said in the interview, without offering details or corroborating evidence, that he had told elected officials of his concerns about Mr. Schneiderman’s abusive behavior nearly five years ago, but was rebuffed.

Fucking Cuomo and BdB both. Count on it.

I want all of their heads.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:42 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


They voted for a slightly more moderate pro-labor Republican in a district primary. I think that's pretty orthogonal to a statewide general.

Basically that. But also, they ousted a right-wing Republican incumbent by voting a in a moderate, centrist Republican. I'm not sure that 'Republicans are willing to vote for a centrist' is evidence against Manchin's centrist approach (in terms of electoral chances), if we stipulate that they're worth comparing.

Seriously, read the whole Intercept piece: the stuff that voters were highlighting about the Republican primary winner is the basically the same stuff that voters like about Manchin (rightly or wrongly):
Howard-Jack described Hamilton as a more accommodating Republican who has listened to teachers.

“Bill Hamilton, he’s more bipartisan. He will listen to our concerns. He’s more personalized with us when we were trying to pass the medical marijuana bill last year. For instance, I called his office to talk to him to find out his position to see if I could convince him to support it. He spoke to me in person; he assured me that, yes, he was willing to support it and that he was doing all he could to make that happen,” she said. “So there are issues where he’s willing to cross party lines, and that’s really appealing to people here. Because teachers were really trying to be more issue-oriented, and teachers were looking for [someone who], No.1, had integrity, someone they could trust, someone who was part of the community.”
Those are all the things that people criticize Manchin for from the left, but it's a big part of why he's been reëlected so many times.

Hamilton -- the pro-teacher, union-backed centrist candidate -- advertises himself as '100% pro-life' and '100% pro-second amendment,' and is opposed to 'career welfare.' Although he's pro-recycling, he's not exactly a great example of someone that progressive Democrats would like to vote for. He may be the better candidate -- and good on the teacher's unions for backing him on that basis -- but sometimes support for centrism is just support for centrism.
posted by cjelli at 11:43 AM on May 11 [5 favorites]


And in fact, this summer I'll be taking classes for my foster care licensing on such topics as:
  • Attachment (included the grieving and trauma children experience after separation)
  • Maintaining family connectedness
  • "Partners in Permanency" - how to help achieve protection and permanence for children and their families
  • Effects of Fostering on the Family - learning how to handle the secondary trauma foster families experience when a child leaves their home
Perhaps Mr. Kelly would like an invite?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:45 AM on May 11 [28 favorites]


AND Cy Vance, as per msalt.

This is all so terrible, but again: if Donald fucking Trump ends up bringing down every asshole in NY by virtue of his singular, wheezing, bumbling incompetence, I will...

I don’t know what I’ll do. I literally cannot conceive of that feeling, or how I will cope with it.

But I want to.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:45 AM on May 11 [29 favorites]


The move to elect progressive DAs across the US in major cities -- which are heavily Democratic if not further left, and where racist law enforcement takes its biggest toll -- is one of the most under-reported stories in politics. HUGE implications, not just because of direct results, but because DAs are historically the most effective stepping stone to political office.
Larry Krasner in Philadelphia
Shaun King's nationwide campaign for reformer DAs
Longform: The New Reformer DAs

Elect one near you today!!
posted by msalt at 11:46 AM on May 11 [39 favorites]


Not an area of expertise for me but offhand this looks like a mixed bag of
good, bad & indifferent ideas. No idea where it lands on the balance.

President Donald J. Trump’s Blueprint To Lower Drug Prices
posted by scalefree at 11:49 AM on May 11


This is all so terrible, but again: if Donald fucking Trump ends up bringing down every asshole in NY by virtue of his singular, wheezing, bumbling incompetence, I will...

I don’t know what I’ll do. I literally cannot conceive of that feeling, or how I will cope with it.


What if we made the cake with some sort of unpleasant icing?
posted by Mayor West at 11:55 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]


Politico: Giuliani: Cohen not Trump’s lawyer anymore ‘as far as we know’

"If we don't look into the box to see if the radioactive element has randomly slipped him $10, the Michael Cohen can be said to be simultaneously in a state of lawyering and unlawyering."
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:57 AM on May 11 [68 favorites]


zachlipton: Here's the fact sheet on Trump's drug pricing plan, to be announced tomorrow. I think Novartis got what it paid for: "Other countries use socialized healthcare to command unfairly low prices from U.S. drug makers."

Telling other countries to spend more on drugs is a. not going to be well-received or result in them randomly paying more, and b. not going to magically make drug companies charge Americans less.

Even if I'm somehow successful in getting my neighbor's rent raised, my landlord isn't going to lower mine as a result.


Wow - Trump has crab mentality, and is trying to dictate national and international policy with that mindset.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:01 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.

I'm a foster parent and in my county, at least, the number one state goal of foster care is reunifying kids and parents. It's not cryogenic storage for inconvenient children.


It's not the foster care that is frightening. It is the "or whatever".

The man is completely blasé about his massive ignorance of the negatives of how a policy he is actively pushing will actually play out.

People should just append "or whatever?" to everything he ever says from now on.
posted by srboisvert at 12:04 PM on May 11 [55 favorites]


Politico: Giuliani: Cohen not Trump’s lawyer anymore ‘as far as we know’

This is interesting because of another thing that happened this morning. Avanatti posted the text of an email from Cohen to Davidson dated February 22, 2018. Cohen says he's heard that Clifford is looking for a new lawyer and makes it clear that the "side letter agreement" (the bit with the names) shouldn't be shared with anyone else without his permission.

Cohen signs his email:
Micahel D. Cohen, Esq.
Personal Attorney to
President Donald J. Trump
A couple months ago. That makes it clear that Cohen considered himself serving as Trump's personal attorney even as he was racking up payments from companies to advise them on Trump. The subject line is notable too:
And BTW, look at the subject line Mr. Cohen drafted. He has claimed in the case that DD was never a party to the NDA. But he specifically described it as the "PP vs DD NDA" in this email (his words).
posted by zachlipton at 12:05 PM on May 11 [22 favorites]


Giuliani: Cohen not Trump’s lawyer anymore ‘as far as we know’

In most states, the test for whether an attorney-client relationship exists depends either primarily or entirely on (1) whether the client thinks the attorney-client relationship exists, and (2) whether that belief is reasonable.

So, this carries some weight: "Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen."
posted by craven_morhead at 12:05 PM on May 11 [21 favorites]



So, this carries some weight: "Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen."


This is mentioned in the article:
You have to ask Michael Cohen,” the president said on Air Force One on April 5. “Michael’s my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael.”

Giuliani said the Trump-Cohen lawyer relationship was still going “probably up until then,” referring to that early April statement by the president to reporters. The president’s current legal team, which Giuliani joined in late April, has “never really determined” a precise day when Cohen stepped away.

“We’re going to have to for purposes of attorney-client privilege,” Giuliani said. “Once you are somebody’s attorney, even if you cease doing work you still remain bound by the privilege.”

Neither Cohen nor his attorney, Stephen Ryan, responded to a request for comment about Cohen’s current status as a lawyer for Trump.
posted by cjelli at 12:07 PM on May 11


Remember when the Schniederman news first broke, Don Jr immediately gloated "There is a tweet for everything!" and quoted his father's 2013 "Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner" tweet. He did this despite the fact that even before this newest info, it suggested apparent foreknowledge rather than a man with good hunches or whatever the hell Jr expected us to infer.

So it's not a good look, yet a frustrating aspect is knowing just how many people would see absolutely nothing wrong with keeping that kind of information to oneself for extortionist purposes. Aside from viewing politics as a team sport, that's because their whole attention is on the perpetrator, with the victims as basically props in the story. "Oh, I'm supposed to feel sorry for Schneiderman?" they'll say. "Well I don't -- if anything, what Trump did was merciful! He could have exposed him sooner!" Yeah, no shit. Meanwhile it's probable at least some women would have suffered less if Cohen or Trump had done something with the info. It's hard to imagine them doing so, but the unimaginability of non-scummy behavior is not an excuse for scummy people.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:11 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


Schneiderman is a piece of filth, and Trump is too for basically using knowledge of women’s suffering for his own greed and corruption.
posted by gucci mane at 12:18 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]


He just can't help himself. It's a compulsion with him. He has to throw in that taunt.

@atrupar Trump, without any sense of irony, just denounced the "middle men" who "became very, very rich" off prescription drugs. #EssentialConsultantsLLC
posted by scalefree at 12:24 PM on May 11 [17 favorites]


their whole attention is on the perpetrator, with the victims as basically props in the story.

There's a saying something like, "In the game of patriarchy, women aren't the opposing team, we're the ball."
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:28 PM on May 11 [77 favorites]


Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values. And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the U.S. stood by its side. And what will happen in the remaining two-and-a-half years (or six-and-a-half years) of Trump's leadership? There is plenty of time left for further escalation.

posted by infini at 11:35 AM on May 11 [7 favorites +] [!]


We watched the slow-motion trainwreck happen over time, flowing logically from the steps taken in plain sight. Back in the dusty old days, conservatives/right wingers were staunchly pro-Europe and supported NATO and generally warmly approved of our strongest allies there. Then it became clear that Europe was routinely putting the lie to the evolving story that conservatives were telling: that public schools couldn't be good, that healthcare couldn't be provided to everyone, that universal safety nets were a drain on society and high worker wages dragged the economy down. They had no choice but to start the demonization of all things European, by sneering at their culture and telling horror stories about their government programs and high taxes. Shortly thereafter, we began to see some on the right oddly admiring of this new president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. It was subtle at first, but during the Obama presidency, Putin began to be lionized as a counterexample to the tentativeness and political correctness that the right wing ascribed to our first black, foreign-born president. It's not clear when Putin himself decided to jump in and accelerate this process, but I suspect it didn't take him too long to notice the phenomenon and, like a good spy who can recognize an asset, quickly mount an attack to that would take advantage of these trends by encouraging the adulation of Trump and disparaging all things European. I'm not sure Putin expected to be as successful as he has been in taking over the QEII that is US foreign policy any more than the 9/11 highjackers expected to be able to topple the World Trade Center towers.

But he was and here we are.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:29 PM on May 11 [45 favorites]


Courthouse News: Manafort Attorney Seeks to Keep Documents Under Seal "An attorney for Paul Manafort asked a federal judge Friday to keep several documents under seal while he considered whether to toss criminal charges against the former Trump campaign chairman. The request was entered in a federal court in Virginia, one of two venues where Manafort will stand trial later this year, by Manafort attorney Kevin Downing. The documents Downing would like kept under seal include warrants, affidavits, return slips, inventory lists and lease agreements, are already redacted in part, that were filed along with an April 30 memorandum." (Maybe after Judge Ellis dressed down Mueller's team, Manafort's lawyers are hoping for more favorable rulings over their defense tactics.)

Incidentally, after the D.C. judge's rejection of Mueller's request for a delay in the Internet Research Agency/Concord Management trial last Friday, the lawyers for "Putin's Cook" entered a not-guilty plea on Wednesday (Politico).

Oh, and Giuliani told AP that Trump probably won't decide whether he will sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller until after the president's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month. "He said that the demands on Trump's time meant that his legal team had 'not done a lot' in terms of preparing the president for a possible in-person interview."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:30 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Re Schneiderman, Trump and blackmail: Not just corrupt, but corrupt and stupid. Like something out of a Jackie Collins novel with the corrupt gangster blackmailing the equally corrupt movie producer. And this is now our government. We've gone from upstanding no-drama Obama to...this. "Drain The Swamp" lolsob.

Thankfully, Barbara Underwood, the new AG, doesn't seem the type to be a blackmailable scumbag. I hope she, and/or whoever succeeds her, will keep up the good work on investigating this merry crew of scum and villainy. (And, as mentioned above, there's plenty more AG's in other states and cities who could also bring charges to bear against Trump.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:30 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Does anyone know why Barbara Underwood has not been mentioned as a permanent replacement for Schneiderman?
posted by msalt at 12:34 PM on May 11


Does anyone know why Barbara Underwood has not been mentioned as a permanent replacement for Schneiderman?

Preet Bharara on his podcast Thursday said Underwood should be the appointment until the election. He specifically said he would not accept an appointment, although he left the door open to running in November for the full term.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:37 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Foreign Policy, Top State Department Nuclear Expert Announces Resignation After Trump Iran Deal Exit. I mean, it's not like we need any proliferation experts at this particular point in time.

@lachlan: Tom Steyer's super PAC is out with a cheery new ad for Mother's Day warning moms that their conservative kids are turning into Nazis

I'm far from convinced it's an effective ad at all, but it's a hell of a thing.

Meanwhile, Sanders is refusing to apologize to McCain or say anything about Sadler's comments at all, though she eventually acknowledges Sadler still has a job.

And this is a hell of a spin job. @atrupar: OMG -- Sanders says payments AT&T made to Michael Cohen's shell company is actually "evidence that Trump is draining the swamp" because AT&T's merger hasn't been approved yet
posted by zachlipton at 12:38 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]


President Donald J. Trump’s Blueprint To Lower Drug Prices
Not an area of expertise for me but offhand this looks like a mixed bag of
good, bad & indifferent ideas. No idea where it lands on the balance.


This plan was written by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, former president of Eli Lilly and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Gottlieb has received millions of dollars working for over 20 pharmaceutical companies, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals which charges over $250,000 per year for a cystic fibrosis drug.

Trump's "Blueprint" will be about as effective at reducing drug prices as BE BEST.
posted by JackFlash at 12:40 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]


Foreign Policy, Top State Department Nuclear Expert Announces Resignation After Trump Iran Deal Exit. I mean, it's not like we need any proliferation experts at this particular point in time.

Speaking of which...

The U.S. military wants more plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is concerned that the government isn’t moving quickly enough to ramp up American production of the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear warheads, as the Trump administration proceeds with a $1 trillion overhaul of the nation’s nuclear force.

Questioning about production of the warhead cores is likely to figure into a testimony that Energy Secretary Rick Perry was slated to give Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, a rare appearance by the top energy official at the Senate body that oversees the military.

Plutonium cores are often called plutonium pits because they rest inside nuclear bombs like pits inside stone fruits.

At issue is the Pentagon’s demand that the National Nuclear Security Administration — overseen by the Department of Energy — be able to produce 80 plutonium pits a year by 2030 to sustain the military’s nuclear weapons. Roughly the size of a grapefruit, plutonium pits that trigger warheads sometimes need to be replaced as they degrade or end up destroyed during evaluation.
posted by scalefree at 12:48 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


I've talked before about the racism baked into Michigan's Medicaid work requirement plan. The Post crunched the numbers, and it's even worse than I thought. Michigan’s GOP has a plan to shield some people from Medicaid work requirements. They’re overwhelmingly white.

The graph in the article makes it clear:
Group facing work requirements [706K people] is:
-- 57% white
-- 23% black

Group that'd be exempted [29K people] is:
-- 85% white
-- 1.2% (!) black
The plan operates at a county level, so even if you live in Detroit or Flint, where the unemployment rate is above 8.5%, you're not exempt because the county you live in has an overall lower unemployment rate, whether not not you could possibly get to a job in another part of the county.
posted by zachlipton at 12:52 PM on May 11 [60 favorites]


Gonna give you a precise transcript of this because it's spectacular:
Q: This week the CEOs of AT&T and Novartis both said that they thought it was a mistake for their companies to work with the President's lawyer. Does the President think it was a mistake for his lawyer to work with them?
Sarah Sanders, boldly declining to use the standard "I'll have to refer you to outside counsel" line: I think this further proves that the President's not going to be influenced by special interests. This is actually the definition of 'Draining the Swamp', something the President talked about repeatedly during the campaign, and for anything beyond that I would direct you to the President's outside counsel.
Q: Uh... explain in what way this is the definition of 'Draining the Swamp'.
Sarah Sanders: I think it's pretty clear that the Department of Justice opposed the merger and certainly the President or his Administration has not been influenced by any outside special interest.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:03 PM on May 11 [10 favorites]


msalt: "Does anyone know why Barbara Underwood has not been mentioned as a permanent replacement for Schneiderman?"

I have seen her mentioned. Obviously, there are other interested folks, too.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:03 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


So if I'm following the SHS argment correctly, it's that the executive branch obviously resisted being influenced in any way, or else Novartis and AT&T would be telling the world that paying Cohen was the best investment they'd ever made, rather than a mistake.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:10 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I've talked before about the racism baked into Michigan's Medicaid work requirement plan. The Post crunched the numbers, and it's even worse than I thought. Michigan’s GOP has a plan to shield some people from Medicaid work requirements. They’re overwhelmingly white.

That would seem to be a sure-fire case for seeking to stay that law based on equal protection grounds? Though with this SCOTUS, who knows?
posted by Gelatin at 1:11 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Hah, SHS' comments re: Cohen's fees from AT&T and Novartis. Everyone knows Trump never delivers on his end of the deal.
posted by notyou at 1:15 PM on May 11 [15 favorites]


It's within the realm of possibility that the Executive Branch simply asked for more money than AT&T and Novartis were willing to pay.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:21 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Help me out here. Is there any evidence that the money given to Cohen by these companies ended up in the hands of Trump, his family, or his company in some fashion? Not speculation, but some reliable report or evidence.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:23 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


OK, guys, I figured it out. I fell and bumped my head after drinking too much celebrating Hillary's win on election night and I've been in a coma nightmare ever since. Can I please wake up now?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:24 PM on May 11 [28 favorites]


In case you needed something to get you fired up to get you through this Friday afternoon: Counties In Southern Illinois Declare That They Are Gun Sanctuaries (NPR, May 11, 2018)
Bryan Kibler, state's attorney for Effingham County, which passed a resolution stating objections to certain proposed gun-related legislation [and] It went further, declaring sanctuary status for firearms. It was Kibler's idea to use the sanctuary terminology.

KIBLER: It kind of became kind of an aspect of a larger culture war that we're just playing our little part with it.
Bryan Kibler, Illinois Crisis Actor.
Mony Ruiz-Velasco has long worked on immigrants' rights issues in the Chicago area. She says the resolutions being passed stand in stark contrast to other sanctuary efforts.

MONY RUIZ-VELASCO: The policies that we work on with the community have a very different focus and a very different intent. In some ways, I think it is a twisted version of it. We are disappointed to see that adoption of our language and co-opting of our language.
Emphasis mine, to highlight the toxic conservative double-speak used here.

This is all because "those liberals" want to take away country folks' bump stocks, and require that anyone who buys an assault weapon is at least 21 years old, and force gun dealers to get a state license. You know, stuff that really impinges on their rights to defend their homes, and hunt turkeys and deer and such. Because younger people need assault weapons, and everyone needs bump stocks, which they should be able to purchase from anyone at any time.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:25 PM on May 11 [28 favorites]


Is there any evidence that the money given to Cohen by these companies ended up in the hands of Trump, his family, or his company in some fashion?

The money was paid to the same Cohen-owned LLC which paid hush money to Stormy Daniels right before the election. The money benefited Trump even if it was never transferred to the Trump Organization.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:27 PM on May 11 [16 favorites]


Of course, it's obvious to me that the the word "mistake" was used by Novartis with regard to legality/ethics, not accomplishment or lack of it. (Whether the deal paid off is only tangentially relevant, in the same way that the electoral success of Russian collusion is only tangentially relevant to that wrongness.) And I think that's obvious to Sanders also, she's just lying as usual.

A genuine drain-the-swamp president would have fired Cohen the instant he learned about this (if we want to pretend he learned it the same day everyone else did). In fact, considering how he's made a show of "returning" his presidential paycheck to the government... pretending to "catch" Cohen and AT&T would have been a darkly brilliant way for him to pick up the credibility so many are eager to grant him. Lucky thing he's too craven/etc for that kind of chess move.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:29 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Bryan Kibler, state's attorney for Effingham County,...

Please, writers, just stop it. I can't take it anymore.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:29 PM on May 11 [17 favorites]


Please, writers, just stop it. I can't take it anymore.

Effingham is, of course, mere miles away from the Embarras River (though locals will make sure to tell you it's pronounced EM-bra).
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:37 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]


Is there any evidence that the money given to Cohen by these companies ended up in the hands of Trump, his family, or his company in some fashion?

Not yet -- they're going with Cohen just thought it up and did it, Colonel Kurtz-style.

But it's early days.
posted by notyou at 1:39 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Effingham IL is home to one of if not the largest cross in America, so it's not surprising to see some culture-warrior crap flowing from there.

Also there is or was a Ramada Express there right next to a Steak n Shake so one could pull in after a hard day's drive from D/FW or Toronto, get the dog settled, and then walk over to Steak n Shake to get some Steak to go, possibly n some Shake for afters.

Also also one time we had stopped there or possibly Vandalia and I think we were checking in and there was a trucker talking about the storms in the area and how there had been -- because he seriously sounded like the guy in Sling Blade -- tornaders and now we occasionally mention them french-fried tornaders.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:40 PM on May 11 [20 favorites]



Is there any evidence that the money given to Cohen by these companies ended up in the hands of Trump, his family, or his company in some fashion?

Not yet -- they're going with Cohen just thought it up and did it, Colonel Kurtz-style.

But it's early days.

posted by notyou at 1:39 PM on May 11 [+] [!]


It's not direct proof, but the reason I suspect that money went largely to Trump is that Cohen took out a personal loan to pay off Stephanie Clifford. If that money was still in EC LLC's bank account or invested on its behalf, just paying it from that account, or, alternatively, the LLC taking out a loan based on solid assets, would make more sense. I assume that the LLC is simply a passthrough to the Trump organization.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: french-fried tornaders
posted by reductiondesign at 1:45 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


It's within the realm of possibility that the Executive Branch simply asked for more money than AT&T and Novartis were willing to pay.

AT&T maybe, but it seems like Novartis got what they were looking for what with Trump's plan to reduce [the difference in] drug prices [between the US and other countries].
posted by duoshao at 1:52 PM on May 11


>Speaking of which...

The U.S. military wants more plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads.


If you want to read about why they're having problems manufacturing plutonium cores here's an FPP for you.
posted by edeezy at 1:53 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


It's not direct proof, but the reason I suspect that money went largely to Trump is that Cohen took out a personal loan to pay off Stephanie Clifford. If that money was still in EC LLC's bank account or invested on its behalf, just paying it from that account, or, alternatively, the LLC taking out a loan based on solid assets, would make more sense. I assume that the LLC is simply a passthrough to the Trump organization.

Also, you have to look at a timeline (bring out the red string!). The signed contracts (and payments?) to Stormy Daniels happened mid Oct 2016, but Cohen was contracting with Novartis (and ATT?) in Spring 2017, right? It makes sense to me that Essential Consultants was really cash poor prior to the election, and then used to collect bribe money once the election occurred, possibly to pay off the "incurred debts" from other payoffs.

I'm going off on memory here, but it would be nice to to have a timeline of the inflow/outflows of EC LLC. I bet Mueller's string board(s) is AMAZING
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 1:59 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]


Counties In Southern Illinois Declare That They Are Gun Sanctuaries

Cool, let's just send all the country's guns there to let them safely roam free away from everybody.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:06 PM on May 11 [67 favorites]


Of course I'll never forget that day I got home from school and my Mom sat me down to tell me they'd brought my gun to a nice farm upstate where it could play with all the other guns all day
posted by saturday_morning at 2:13 PM on May 11 [83 favorites]


It turns out "Drain" the swamp was meant in the same way a financial dom means it.
posted by goHermGO at 2:25 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


FFS, can they just choose something other than guns to have their culture war over? There's plenty of things less dangerous than guns to rally around in this stupid symbolic tribalism. Pick truck nutz. I promise, I will personally oppose, cry about, and act triggered (their version, not the real thing) and upset about truck nutz. I will support legislation banning tuck nutz that they can all get heated up about. I promise I will play my part in the performance.

That's right: gun-loving conservatives, just reach-around and give it up on the guns, and we can still make this work. I promise, we can still argue about something. I know that's all you really want. I will Come For Your Nutz.
posted by mrgoat at 2:39 PM on May 11 [38 favorites]


Help me out here. Is there any evidence that the money given to Cohen by these companies ended up in the hands of Trump, his family, or his company in some fashion? Not speculation, but some reliable report or evidence.

I think we only know that Cohen deposited payments for his consultancy work to the same account he used to make payments on Trump's behalf to Stormy Daniels.

Now, is it normal to use the same account for your personal lawyer business and your consultancy's? No. Is it normal to "funnel" payments through a third party? No. Is it believable that Novartis was getting healthcare expertise from Cohen? Aerospace? Communications? No. Is it believable these businesses coincidentally hired Cohen just when major decisions affecting their companies were before the government? No. Is it believable this was a consultancy fee when it's much bigger than any other consultancy's fees? No.

Suppose we do come to know. Mueller may know. There are still 3.4 million dollars worth of payments we know nothing about. Will Trump's goose be cooked then? No. There's nothing illegal about this. Companies giving money to a politician is free speech.
posted by xammerboy at 2:48 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]


I called the DC office of my Senator, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to ask what he meant when he was quoted by journalist Matt Laslo as saying "We don't have to worry about [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions... You don't have to know why. We just don't have to worry about him." The staffer said that the Senator had not made any clarifying remarks regarding the statement. I said that I would like to know what he meant because, since the Attorney General had recused himself from the Special Counsel's Russia investigation, the President might be trying to replace him with someone who could undermine or end the Special Counsel's investigation, and that, since this might determine whether the country is governed by a President or a King above the law, whether we live in a Democracy or an Autocracy in which the leader has free rein to engage in criminality, it would be best if the Senator chose not to drop playfully coquettish hints about the matter as if he is playing a marvelously fun game. I was thanked and my message will be passed along
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:59 PM on May 11 [64 favorites]


Suppose we do come to know. Mueller may know. There are still 3.4 million dollars worth of payments we know nothing about. Will Trump's goose be cooked then? No. There's nothing illegal about this. Companies giving money to a politician is free speech.

Citation needed. As mentioned upthread, though Citizens United equated money with speech, it didn't entirely gut campaign finance law. Just mostly.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:02 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


It's true I don't know for sure if it would be legal. I am not a lawyer. I'll look into it.
posted by xammerboy at 3:11 PM on May 11


I bet Mueller's string board(s) is AMAZING

This is Mueller's string board.
posted by eclectist at 3:16 PM on May 11 [12 favorites]


Of course I'll never forget that day I got home from school and my Mom sat me down to tell me they'd brought my gun to a nice farm upstate where it could play with all the other guns all day


I've got bad news. They flushed your gun down the toilet.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:23 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]


Bryan Kibler, state's attorney for Effingham County,...

It's named after Thomas Howard, 3rd Earl of Effingham. He was a British officer who resigned his commission in protest against the war against the colonies. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon for "what the fuck?"
posted by kirkaracha at 3:25 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]


Wouldn’t it be nice if progressives would stop minimizing this pay Cohen for access scandal as political business as usual? Here’s a chance to get the fuckers on a stake and shift business as usual.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:27 PM on May 11 [35 favorites]


BuzzFeed, The Trump Administration Just Rolled Back Rules That Protect Transgender Prisoners
The Trump administration on Friday rolled back rules that allowed transgender inmates to use facilities that match their gender identity, including cell blocks and bathrooms, thereby reversing course on an Obama administration effort to protect transgender prisoners from sexual abuse and assault.

The Bureau of Prisons now “will use biological sex” to make initial determinations in the type of housing transgender inmates are assigned, according to a notice posted Friday evening that modifies the previous policy.

“The designation to a facility of the inmate’s identified gender would be appropriate only in rare cases,” the new Transgender Offender Manual now says.
posted by zachlipton at 3:42 PM on May 11 [17 favorites]


Does anyone know why Barbara Underwood has not been mentioned as a permanent replacement for Schneiderman?

My opinion is that Underwood is overqualified and should be on the Supreme Court.
posted by mikelieman at 3:50 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Wouldn’t it be nice if progressives would stop minimizing this pay Cohen for access scandal as political business as usual?

And of course the New York Times
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:50 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Wouldn’t it be nice if progressives would stop minimizing this pay Cohen for access scandal as political business as usual? Here’s a chance to get the fuckers on a stake and shift business as usual.

Politico Playbook Can Fuck Right Off
posted by contraption at 3:53 PM on May 11 [10 favorites]


The transgender rules in prison are going to lead to rapes and deaths, and their blood is on the hands of this administration.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 3:55 PM on May 11 [49 favorites]


Totally normal behavior for the head of a federal watchdog agency, This man runs a federal agency near Washington — from his home in Dallas (WaPo). Of course there's excessive spending on an office he never uses, and here's how conducted himself before he was running the agency:
Concerns about McWatters’s teleworking surfaced during a board meeting in February 2016, almost a year before he became the agency’s leader.

McWatters was complaining that his colleagues had not adopted a wording change he had proposed, at 6 p.m. the night before, to a rule they were considering. He suggested they should be more flexible, particularly because “from the perspective of a practicing lawyer, 6 o’clock is practically the middle of the day,” a transcript and video of the meeting show.

Deborah Matz, then the chair, and Rick Metsger, then the vice chairman, bridled at the criticism.

“Perhaps if you came to the office more than three days a month and got your briefing more than two days in advance of our meeting, we’d be able to have discussions about issues in a timely fashion,” Matz, a Democrat, told McWatters.
posted by peeedro at 3:57 PM on May 11 [23 favorites]


There may be no infrastructure bill coming this year, but that's not stopping us from having Infrastructure Week next week. Trump has proclaimed National Transportation Week (as is typical) and there will be infrastructure events across the country.

Be sure to have your cake vendors on standby.
posted by zachlipton at 4:11 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


I assume that the LLC is simply a passthrough to the Trump organization.

The Trump Organization is the name of a loosely-affiliated network of over 500 separate corporate entities. It seems apparent that Essential Consultants LLC is part of the Trump Organization.
posted by The World Famous at 4:16 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


The Trump Organization: a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires and baby
posted by kirkaracha at 4:36 PM on May 11 [21 favorites]


It appears Trump is ramping up cruelty as a political play. There is no reason to rip families, some fleeing oppressive regimes or gangs, apart at the border. There is no reason to force a transgender person in prison to use a men's bathroom. This is pointless, traumatizing, cruelty. This moves Trump up from possible buffoon to definite evil.
posted by xammerboy at 4:44 PM on May 11 [25 favorites]


Forcing a transgender person in prison to use a men's bathroom would be fantastic if that person were a transgender man.
posted by medusa at 4:59 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


...they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English; obviously that's a big thing. ... They don't integrate well; they don't have skills.

Jennifer Mendelsohn
Deep dive tk, but here is the 1910 census showing Kelly's great-grandfather Giuseppe Pedalino and his second wife Concetta. (Kelly's great-grandma died in 1898.)
He was a wagon driver. She was illiterate and could not speak English 10 years after arrival.
CENSUS REPORT

- Here's John Kelly's maternal grandmother Teresa as a child in the 1900 census.
Her father, a day laborer named John DeMarco had been here for 18 years.
He had not become a citizen. He could not read, write, or speak English.
CENSUS REPORT

- The 1930 census shows those great-grandparents living with their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, one of whom was Kelly's mother.
John DeMarco had been here for 47 years and was not an American citizen ("AL"). Crescenza had been here for 37 years and spoke no English.
CENSUS REPORT

---

Rural, illiterate, no skills, didn't speak English, didn't learn English, didn't assimilate, and came via chain migration complete with anchor baby.
posted by chris24 at 5:02 PM on May 11 [149 favorites]


This moves Trump up from possible buffoon to definite evil.

(1) Buffoonery and definite evil are far from mutually exclusive. To the contrary, they're very typically comorbid: Himmler as a failed chicken farmer with a telepathic connection to hollow-earth gnomes, etc etc etc.

(2) Sadism has always, always been central to Trumps policy fantasies and he's been pushing cruelty forever. As some definitely-not-prophetic writer might have said, the only emotions he's capable of recognizing are fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. There's no change here, it's just a particularly good day for him.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:03 PM on May 11 [17 favorites]


> It appears Trump is ramping up cruelty as a political play.
I've been thinking about that a lot recently; along with conspirational thinking, I think it's central to his appeal to a particular voting bloc. Zakariah Johnson said it very well yesterday:
Trump's power is based on performative cruelty. That is what his supporters voted for: not for any policy, and not for any other principle than to do the worst thing to people outside the fold at every opportunity. He is loathsome, but he's also keeping his promises.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 5:04 PM on May 11 [54 favorites]


It appears Trump is ramping up cruelty as a political play.

No doubt. He needs to keep the base motivated and distracted from his crimes.
posted by duoshao at 5:08 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


If you want to read about why they're having problems manufacturing plutonium cores here's an FPP for you.

It's not just the cores. Apparently we just plain forgot how to make certain components of nuclear weapons, for instance an exotic material called FOGBANK, which may or may not be a super light aerogel that turns into a plasma under the right conditions. Yeah there's an FPP for that too. Go figure.
posted by scalefree at 5:14 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


I'm going off on memory here, but it would be nice to to have a timeline of the inflow/outflows of EC LLC. I bet Mueller's string board(s) is AMAZING

He probably uses something like i2 Analyst's Notebook.
posted by scalefree at 5:18 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Is there any evidence that the money given to Cohen by these companies ended up in the hands of Trump, his family, or his company in some fashion?

Welp, maybe it's coming.

Michael Avenatti
In 2017-18 - Why was Mr. Cohen paying Demeter Direct Inc. in Los Angeles large sums of money from his Essential Consultants LLC account? Keep attacking me Mr. Giuliani and @foxnews. Please. #Basta


Kyle Griffin (MSNBC)
The first Google hit for Demeter Direct Inc. brings you to a website that says "site under construction....please come back later."
posted by chris24 at 5:19 PM on May 11 [12 favorites]


Rural, illiterate, no skills, didn't speak English, didn't learn English, didn't assimilate, and came via chain migration complete with anchor baby.

This is like when Tomi Lehren's great-grandfather was revealed to be an illegal immigrant who literally forged his immigration paper. There's no such thing as a "pure" or "original" American story*, and no "right" kind of immigrant, everyone has these instances in their tree. We didn't even have immigration laws for 200+ years. When they pretend like today's immigrants are somehow coming the "wrong" way, or unworthy, it's not about legality, it's about maintaining white supremacy and political control. That's it.

*- except, you know, actual Native Americans.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:20 PM on May 11 [60 favorites]


Rural, illiterate, no skills, didn't speak English, didn't learn English, didn't assimilate, and came via chain migration complete with anchor baby.

The WaPo has the same info in an article if anyone doesn't do tweets, How John Kelly's family history compares to the immigrants he wants to keep from entering.
posted by peeedro at 5:23 PM on May 11 [30 favorites]


The Cybersecurity 202: The Facebook ad dump shows the true sophistication of Russia’s influence operation (WaPo):
The 3,500 ads purchased by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, or IRA, were funneled with laser precision to narrow categories of social media users. 

My colleague Tony Romm reports that the troll farm used Facebook's targeting tools to deliver the Russian-fed propaganda to a range of specific user groups, from black or gay users to fans of Fox News. He writes: “In many cases, the Kremlin-tied ads took multiple sides of the same issue. Accounts like United Muslims of America urged viewers in New York in March 2016 to ‘stop Islamophobia and the fear of Muslims.’ That same account, days later, crafted an open letter in another ad that accused [Hillary] Clinton of failing to support Muslims before the election."
Also interesting, from Michael McFaul, US Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014, The smear that killed the ‘reset’: Putin needed an American enemy. He picked me.
Long before most Americans learned of Russia’s campaign to influence our 2016 presidential election, I personally experienced the power of the Kremlin’s techniques. The hallmarks of its new style were already evident: There could be no such thing as win-win outcomes with the United States; Russia’s domestic agenda (not NATO expansion, missile defense disputes or Syria) would drive its policy. Putin reversed the progress we’d made over three years almost overnight, because it was convenient for him to do so.

I had become ambassador to advance the reset, and instead I presided over its demise. But it was not because we changed our policy. It was because Putin changed Russia’s.
Fake news, bogus Twitter accounts, edited tapes, accusations of pedophilia.
posted by peeedro at 5:37 PM on May 11 [20 favorites]


Maybe Demeter Direct Inc. is DD?
posted by vac2003 at 5:41 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


Demeter Direct's website was definitely active as recently as September.
posted by waitingtoderail at 5:43 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


I'd put betting money on Demeter Direct being Keith Davidson. Hypothetical conjecture time. They had a racket going with playing both sides of settling hush-hush cases. Cohen wanting to get an updated contact list from him after he got raided is... something. Trump being a mark of such cases, or just taking advantage of his help, and probably getting in on it, or being the ring-leader of a blackmail/extortion racket is his thing. Casinos, hotels, wired for such occasions.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 5:56 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Demeter Direct's web site said the site was maintained by a company named Alkatek. Alkatek's domain name is registered to an organization in Seoul.
posted by duoshao at 5:59 PM on May 11


The incredibly vague copy on Alkatek's website is good for a laugh.
(Edited to correct alkatek spelling)
posted by mabelstreet at 6:02 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


waitingtoderail's link to the archive.org archive of Demeter Direct's site shows them touting a client list including Chrysler, Dodge, FedEx, Verizon, Walmart, Sony, Jeep, and Union Bank. (Sorry, I've never heard of Drink Blocks.)

Plus a whole slew of social media accounts: Facebook, Twotter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram. (None of them seem to work, but that may just be something that broke in the archiving process.)
Demeter Direct Inc. is a privately held, U.S.-based corporation headquartered in Los Angeles, California and a network of consulting partners in over 15 countries across the globe. Demeter will be your gateway and bridge to doing business in international markets.
Although the 2012 archive says "Demeter Direct is a supplier of products from all over the world, including Australia. We specialise in providing products to daily deals websites across Australia."

Huh.
posted by kristi at 6:05 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


And according to Whois, the demeterdirect.com domain is registered to Bella Destinee. Though interestingly, the contact information is different than the registration information for Bella Destinee's domain.
posted by duoshao at 6:05 PM on May 11


Alkatech is on the twitter. It says they are in Irvine, CA. They also promote this book.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:06 PM on May 11


Avanetti, this morning:
Let this serve as formal notice - there is significantly more evidence and facts to come relating to Mr. Cohen's dealings and Mr. Trump's knowledge and involvement. You can come clean now or wait to be outed. Your choice. We have only just begun...#Basta

His legal skills paired with her award-winning adult film directing is a pretty powerful combination. I'd like this to be over faster, but she's in control, and ... I think I like it. #teamStormy
posted by Dashy at 6:08 PM on May 11 [30 favorites]


Bella Destinee looks like a legit event/wedding planning company.
posted by duoshao at 6:11 PM on May 11


And the California Business Search (sorry, that's just the search, I think, but enter "demeter direct" and you should get it) gets us 3 PDFs - 2009 Articles of Incorporation, and Statement of Information from 2016 and 2017; the last two say Demeter Direct's business is "Retail - Korean Food".
posted by kristi at 6:11 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


via @Ryan Reilly, I guess Giuliani decided to go ahead and tell HuffPost that Trump was indeed personaly involved in the AT&T/Time Warner merger discussion (emphasis mine):
“Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president,” Giuliani said, offering as proof the fact that AT&T’s proposed merger with Time-Warner has not gone through. “He did drain the swamp ... The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
brilliant legal strategy or idiotic verbal diarrhea?? is the big question I am not actually asking myself
posted by lalex at 6:16 PM on May 11 [22 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: Why doesn’t the Fake News Media state that the Trump Administration’s Anti-Trust Division has been, and is, opposed to the AT&T purchase of Time Warner in a currently ongoing Trial. Such a disgrace in reporting!

So AT&T and Time Warner are in the middle of litigation with the government (a ruling is expected next month) over the merger, and they repeatedly sought to argue that the administration had political motives for blocking it, arguments largely disallowed by the judge. Trump tweeting in the middle of that is an interesting choice, as is describing an independent agency that is supposed to make these decisions without political interference in such terms.

And on preview, I guess Giuliani's taking this strategy to 11.
posted by zachlipton at 6:17 PM on May 11 [26 favorites]


According to the California Business Search website posted by kristi, Demeter Direct's business registration lists the same address on Wilshire Blvd as Bella Destinee lists on it's website.

[edited to add that that building on Wilshire is pretty big, so this is not maybe very meaningful]
posted by duoshao at 6:23 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


NYT, Trump Tirade Is Culmination of Immigration Frustration
Mr. Trump’s fury at Ms. Nielsen was a long time coming, White House officials said. They described it as part of the president’s longstanding desire to close the United States’ borders and part of his increasing belief that his administration is moving too slowly to make good on the central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

The courts and Congress have resisted his demands, and even his own staff keeps telling him no. As a result, the president brings up the issue constantly, in private and public, as if the power of persuasion can change the reality on the ground.
...
Hard-liners on immigration say Mr. Trump’s anger is partly explained by a suspicion inside the West Wing that Ms. Nielsen, who served on the Homeland Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, is not sufficiently committed to Mr. Trump’s agenda of tougher immigration policies.

In testimony to a congressional committee on Tuesday, the day before the president’s tirade at the cabinet meeting, Ms. Nielsen urged people seeking asylum to present themselves at United States ports of entry rather than trying to sneak into the country.

Aides say she was trying to send a strong message about not breaking the law. But many hard-line conservatives viewed her statement as an invitation to asylum seekers, many of whom end up living in the United States for years while their claims are adjudicated.
It's quite clear that Trump considers asylum, which is international and domestic law, to be one of the "loopholes" in immigration law he rails against. He wants a wall and insists everyone must enter legally, yet is furious at the people who legally present themselves at the border for admission. It's almost like his objection is to the people and not the process.
posted by zachlipton at 6:29 PM on May 11 [59 favorites]


This has been making the rounds and is quite the story, not least because it comes from the unlikely source of NJ Advance Media. It seems there are multiple Seychelles meetings. Erin Banco, The Trump Russia probe is expanding, as Mueller looks into new meetings in Seychelles: exclusive
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is examining a series of previously unreported meetings that took place in 2017 in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, as part of its broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to two sources briefed on the investigation.

The sources said several of those meetings took place around the same time as another meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater, Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia's sovereign wealth funds, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates (also known as "MBZ"). Details of that earlier meeting were first reported by the Washington Post last year.
...
Flight records and financial documents obtained by this reporter over twelve months, as well as interviews with parliamentary and aviation officials in the Seychelles, paint a scene out of a Hollywood thriller.

Wealthy and politically-connected individuals from across the globe -- from Russia, France, Saudi Arabia and South Africa -- land in the Seychelles for meetings that take place as a part of a larger gathering hosted by MBZ, according to an individual briefed on the matter, who also requested anonymity. Many of them fly in on private jets and several do not clear customs. Some check into the Four Seasons Hotel while others arrive and stay on their yachts.
It's certainly more in the "raises questions" category than proof of anything specific, but the bit that Mueller is specifically investigating these is notable.
posted by zachlipton at 7:02 PM on May 11 [18 favorites]


Jon Swaine (Guardian):
Company is registered with CA regulators as a Korean food retailer. Now-offline website says it’s a business consultancy. Woman on the site registration info first denied any knowledge when I called, then said she couldn’t talk to me. Seems legit!
posted by chris24 at 7:30 PM on May 11 [23 favorites]


Please let Demeter Direct lead back to Devin Nunes. I don't ask for much from the cake deity, but give us this one.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:36 PM on May 11 [34 favorites]




I assume that the LLC is simply a passthrough to the Trump organization.

It might have been even more useful to Trump if it took in illegal funds and then used them for illegal ends, without touching Trump Org on paper.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:50 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]


Mueller Asked Ford for Record of Conversations with Cohen (PoliticalWire)

Special counsel Robert Mueller has requested records from Ford Motor Company about a conversation the company had with Michael Cohen in January 2017 during which Cohen offered his consulting services — which the automaker swiftly rejected, the Wall Street Journal reports. (CNN link)

I'm sure Mr. Sez Who was the only Trump, er, as-oh-she-it, to uh, y'know put the friggin screws to uh big, like, companies an shit. *sniff* Guy's a friggin geenyus.
posted by petebest at 8:01 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


Ah ha ha, so they're going to get his pitch!
posted by rhizome at 8:09 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]




Korea Aerospace Industries (and Foods, I guess) say they hired Cohen to help them conform to global accounting standards.

"The payment was all legal based on the contract. KAI is doing its best to comply with accounting regulations that are up to global standards," the company said in a statement earlier this week.

A spokesperson clarified that KAI did not have direct contact with Cohen at the time, and that the company had worked with several firms in the US and South Korea to ensure compliance with global accounting standards.


Hired Cohen. To help be in compliance with global. accounting. standards.

Okay. In a probably-somehow-related story, Real Swell Guy Jason Chaffetz transferred $270,000 from his defunct Congressional campaign account to his PAC. Which is illegal. "Paperwork error" his lawyer says. Sure, whynot.
posted by petebest at 8:45 PM on May 11 [31 favorites]


MeFi fave Maggie Haberman on Trump

I also think that some of this is about the personal, right? I do think that a) Cohen has insisted that the affair claim was false, and b) he has insisted that just because a story is false doesn’t mean it’s not damaging. I do think he was operating from the perspective that this was harmful to Melania Trump and harmful to the president, then the candidate, and he wanted to try to spare [them]. That’s actually the lens that I look at this from, that Cohen was trying to spare Trump embarrassment and Melania Trump pain, because if we are being honest, most people at that point did not think Trump was going to win in October of 2016, including Trump.
posted by benzenedream at 9:17 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


That’s actually the lens that I look at this from

Extry extry, Maggie Haberman selects most unimaginably charitable and forgiving lens in order to see no evil, read all about it.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:25 PM on May 11 [71 favorites]




growabrain, I've often said that the Internet is as close as computers have ever got to justifying their own existence.

That monologue is as close as Bill Maher has ever got to justifying his.
posted by flabdablet at 10:57 PM on May 11 [12 favorites]




The more that comes out about the NK summit the more it sounds like NK is on board for a deal very similar to the Iran deal. There is no way for TrumpCo to sell one as a triumph of diplomacy which the US should ratify through Congress and the other as the worst deal of all time which the US has violated for no good reason without being completely hypocritical.

But being hypocritical has never been a thing they care about so it appears to be exactly what they will do. They're gonna scratch out the name "Iran" and write "North Korea" over it on the treaty and ask anyone who points out the hypocrisy why they hate Trump so much they aren't applauding his success. That's what is about to happen!

The last bunch of NK tests appeared to fizzle without the full warheads triggering properly. Maybe NK determined that constructing truly thermonuclear devices with any consistent success is beyond their capabilities and really are going to give up something they can't actually do? Because there's no way even TrumpCo would accept a "deal" where NK doesn't fully disarm rather than simply cease working on further advancement? Right? Right?!?
posted by Justinian at 11:37 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Make anyone a bet, if it hasn’t already been explicitly made (it was suggested upthread but I wanna put money on it) Cohen’s consulting firm is, genuinely, a pass-through directly
To Trump’s pockets. This is the obvious conclusion once you apply Because Occam’s Stupid Razor.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:19 AM on May 12 [8 favorites]


Trump and Kim will make a very public and smiling deal because that’s a huge political victory for each of them. Kim: am a nuclear power backed by China! Trump: am a nuclear power backed by Russia!
posted by SakuraK at 12:38 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


The whole NK cool-down could be just bribery, too.

I’ve basically been wondering how much of that missing Iraq war billions of dollars is sitting in a CIA black ops account somewhere, waiting for Pompeo to go offer some of it to Kim on Trump’s behalf in exchange for a summit meeting and a few months of good PR.

I suspect Kim is like most dictators dealing with sanctions, and would be happy to make nice for a while in exchange for a billion in hard currency, funneled through a Grand Caymans bank, all nice and off the books.
posted by darkstar at 12:55 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Mr. Trump’s fury at Ms. Nielsen was a long time coming, White House officials said. They described it as part of the president’s longstanding desire to close the United States’ borders and part of his increasing belief that his administration is moving too slowly to make good on the central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

This is something I think we have yet to confront. For an authoritarian regime to succeed its control has to be as much about preventing its people from leaving as it is about outsiders entering. When Trump says he wants to close the borders I have to believe he ultimately means in both directions.
posted by scalefree at 1:15 AM on May 12 [34 favorites]


That’s actually the lens that I look at this from, that Cohen was trying to spare Trump embarrassment and Melania Trump pain, because if we are being honest, most people at that point did not think Trump was going to win in October of 2016, including Trump.

Yes, noted hothouse flower Donald Trump, a man famous for being easily embarrassed. Can anyone name a single incident in this entire sordid Gordian knot of an affair where Trump has exhibited the slightest degree of embarrassment or shame? Ever? Maggie's really misreading the room on this one.
posted by scalefree at 1:20 AM on May 12 [17 favorites]


T.D. Strange: Please let Demeter Direct lead back to Devin Nunes. I don't ask for much from the cake deity, but give us this one.

That's not how it works. You don't ask things from the cake deity. You publicly make a statement such as 'There is no connection between Demeter Direct and Devin Nunes, and if I'm wrong, I'll eat my words on a cake.' Then when the connection comes to light, you bake a cake and write your incorrect statement on it, and eat it to celebrate your wrongness.
Sorry to be a rulemonger, but in order for these things to be even remotely effective, proper protocol must be observed.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:23 AM on May 12 [123 favorites]


This is something I think we have yet to confront. For an authoritarian regime to succeed its control has to be as much about preventing its people from leaving as it is about outsiders entering. When Trump says he wants to close the borders I have to believe he ultimately means in both directions.

Or that right now he doesn't want the "wrong kind" of people coming in. But then later he'd get off on not letting anyone leave, even if that wasn't his end game.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:11 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Yeah I don't think he's capable of that kind of long term strategic thinking. But it's more or less an inevitable progression. It's an intrinsic element of authoritarian control. Sooner or later he will get there.
posted by scalefree at 2:26 AM on May 12 [8 favorites]


This is adorable.
@MartynMcL (The Scotsman): EXCLUSIVE: @realDonaldTrump's Scottish firm is directly profiting from his administration - Trump Turnberry received thousands of pounds last month from the US State Dept to host a 'VIP' trip at the Ayrshire resort. My @TheScotsman story:
The payment, sanctioned last month by the US State Department, represents the first time one of Mr Trump’s Scottish businesses has received direct federal funding from his own government.
posted by pjenks at 4:17 AM on May 12 [45 favorites]


In news for conspiracy theorists, PK2 Entertainment, the website also linked to the same address and person (Mark Ko) as Demeter...

Anthony Citrano
This is probably nothing, but front-loading a Cyrillic subset of the site's fonts is EXTREMELY unusual for a monolingual US-based site.
CODE SCREENSHOT

---

And Alkatek, who built both sites, tweeted this last year. The only time they've ever tweeted MAGA or mentioned Trump.

alkatek
A financial svc biz in #SoCal just signed up for our #DigitalMarketing services. Now, that's how you handle #TROPICALSTORMDON! #MAGA
posted by chris24 at 5:07 AM on May 12 [19 favorites]


Stephenson also said Bob Quinn, AT&T's chief lobbyist who oversaw Cohen's contract with the company, would retire. Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that Quinn was forced out.

American Oversight
AT&T Exec Bob Quinn just retired this morning following the Cohen payments scandal. Documents we uncovered show Quinn had a private dinner with Trump FCC Chair Ajit Pai just one month after AT&T hired Cohen. We are demanding answers. https://www.americanoversight.org/document/fcc-calendars-communications-isps-regarding-net-neutrality
SCREENSHOT OF FOIA'D SCHEDULE
posted by chris24 at 5:37 AM on May 12 [52 favorites]


A Tiny State-Legislature Race That Represents the Future of the Democratic Party
Here in this tiny race is the larger, existential battle over the future of the Democratic Party that is taking place across the country. Will it be centrist, establishment candidates who lead the much-anticipated “blue wave,” or will progressive insurgents sweep them aside? In Texas, Tennessee, California, and Hawaii, a Democratic electorate is pushing back against the Democratic machine’s support of the old guard. Many, like Lee, see the Democratic Party’s faith in centrists, like Costa, as having already failed; the increasingly radical right means that there’s no meaningful middle in which to meet.
posted by octothorpe at 6:05 AM on May 12 [10 favorites]




Yeah I don't think he's capable of that kind of long term strategic thinking. But it's more or less an inevitable progression. It's an intrinsic element of authoritarian control. Sooner or later he will get there.

And what makes me furious is how easy it would be for him to do so. All it would take is an administrative expansion of the no-fly list--pursuant to standards adopted by the Obama administration that failed to attract much attention outside of the ACLU. Right now, the standard to put someone on the no-fly list is that there must be a "reasonable suspicion" that they are a "suspected terrorist." Not a reasonable suspicion that they are an ACTUAL terrorist, which might require real evidence, but a reasonable suspicion someone else (who? dunno--the rule is written passively) suspects them of being a terrorist. And worse yet, in the ACLU litigation the Obama administration claimed the right to use First-Amendment-protected activity (speech and religious practice) as evidence to support that "reasonable suspicion." And no one gets notified up front that they are on the list (it used to be that they didn't get notified at all, but the ACLU won the right to get notification upon demand from their client who had been denied boarding). More on the ACLU litigation here.

But yeah, all it would take to selectively close the border is to put your political enemies on the no-fly list,
posted by Emera Gratia at 6:19 AM on May 12 [11 favorites]


Pat Davis: "F*ck the NRA"

It's interesting that the TV company says they aren't legally allowed to censor the ad. Are TV companies allowed to refuse to air the ad, or are there rules about allowing equal time for candidates regardless of content?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:22 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


Pat Davis: "F*ck the NRA"

One of the suggested videos after was George Carlin riffing on Wayne LaPierre's name as inappropriate for a NRA spokesMAN. While I understand that that vein of humor is problematical today, he *IS* punching down on performative masculinity, so I find it appropriate.
posted by mikelieman at 6:40 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]


alkatek
A financial svc biz in #SoCal just signed up for our #DigitalMarketing services. Now, that's how you handle #TROPICALSTORMDON! #MAGA


Spit-balling here, but I believe that one of the Mueller team's issues is dealing with the fact that after the election, EVERY TWO-BIT GRIFTER bought the RNC's mailing list of suckers and **EVERYONE** was pitching Donald Trump. I think this is going to be the point where Mueller decides that following up on the exponential explosion of subjects, means he pulls back and goes deeper on the targets. As this continues, every two-bit grifter is going to get connected, but I'm skeptical that they're material.
posted by mikelieman at 6:45 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


They described it as part of the president’s longstanding desire to close the United States’ borders and part of his increasing belief that his administration is moving too slowly to make good on the central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

This is, frankly, insane, even for an authoritarian. It's like saying a sea-captain has a "longstanding desire to capsize the boat."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:51 AM on May 12 [15 favorites]


On the other hand, the sea captain in question was elevated because a bunch of mutineers liked his "capsize the boat" policy.
posted by biogeo at 6:57 AM on May 12 [30 favorites]


When even the king of both sides/access/horserace journalism begins to state the obvious...

Axios (Mike Allen): The public case against Trump
One thing is true of all major political scandals: What we know in the moment is but a tiny, obscured, partial view of the full story later revealed by investigators.

Why it matters: That’s what makes the Trump-Russia drama all the more remarkable. Forget all we don’t know. The known facts that even Trump’s closest friends don’t deny tell a damning tale that would sink most leaders.

Here's a guide that Jim VandeHei and I put together to the known knowns of Russia:

- We know Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chair, has been indicted on 32 counts, including conspiracy and money laundering. We know he made millions off shady Russians and changed the Republican platform to the benefit of Russia.
- We know that the U.S. intelligence community concluded, in a report released in January 2017, that Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton and with “a clear preference for ... Trump.”
- We know that in May 2016, Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat Russia had political dirt on Hillary. "About three weeks earlier," according to the N.Y. Times, "Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton."
- We know that in June 2016, Trump’s closest aides and family members met at Trump Tower with a shady group of Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary. The meeting was billed as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
- We know the Russian lawyer who helped set it up concealed her close ties to Putin government.
- We know that in July 2016, Trump said: "“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary] emails that are missing,” and urged their publication.
- We know that on Air Force One a year later, Trump helped his son, Don Jr., prepare a misleading statement about the meeting. We know top aides freaked out about this.
- We know Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting.
- We know Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and close campaign aide, lied to Vice President Pence and FBI about his Russia-related chats. We know he’s now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. We know Trump initially tried to protect Flynn with loyalty and fervency rarely shown by Trump to others.
- We know that during the transition, Jared Kushner spoke with the Russian ambassador "about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow." We know Kushner omitted previous contacts with Russians on his disclosure forms.
- We know Trump initially lied about why he fired James Comey, later admitting he was canned because of the “Russia thing.”
- We know Michael Cohen was a close adviser and lawyer, the fixer and secret-keeper. We know Trump seethed when the FBI raided Cohen's office.
- We know that in January 2016, just before Republicans began voting, Michael Cohen tried to restart a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
- We know Mueller questioned a Russian oligarch who made payments to Cohen who used the money to pay off a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Trump.
- We know that oligarch was a bad enough dude that the Trump administration sanctioned him.
posted by chris24 at 7:11 AM on May 12 [93 favorites]


Here's a guide that Jim VandeHei and I put together to the known knowns of Russia

What's needed is a version of this with about half the word count and disseminated where the Fox News/Infowars followers will see it.... As a way of counteracting Kelly and Pence's recent "let's wrap it up" bit where they imply that nothing's been found.
posted by duoshao at 7:28 AM on May 12 [7 favorites]


all it would take to selectively close the border is to put your political enemies on the no-fly list

English-language coverage of China's social credit system says that it's used to restrict travel by train as well as air travel.
posted by XMLicious at 7:46 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


What's needed is a version of this with about half the word count and disseminated where the Fox News/Infowars followers will see it.... As a way of counteracting Kelly and Pence's recent "let's wrap it up" bit where they imply that nothing's been found.

I don't disagree, but for my reading, that IS the short version!
posted by mikelieman at 7:47 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I don't disagree, but for my reading, that IS the short version!

The target audience has an um... shorter attention span.

I really wonder why I don't see major media organizations posting this kind of "here's where we are" briefing sheet and keeping them updated.
posted by duoshao at 7:53 AM on May 12 [12 favorites]


This is probably nothing, but front-loading a Cyrillic subset of the site's fonts is EXTREMELY unusual for a monolingual US-based site.

Extremely suspicious, yes. The thread goes on to quibble if the loading of a theoretically-unused font was just the detritus of lazy copy/pasting from a google fonts template. Possibly.

Okay, let's see . . . unusual system configuration associated with both Russia and Trump . . 2017 timefraaaame . . Ah. That's 2d20 +10 hp credibility damage. Oh, plus the Cohen modifier.
*rolls*
Ooohhhh. Sssssssth. Tough luck, low-level criminal enterprise.
posted by petebest at 7:54 AM on May 12 [11 favorites]


Russian Ads Focused Mainly on Race (USA Today via PoliticalWire)

USA Today: “The Russian company charged with orchestrating a wide-ranging effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election overwhelmingly focused its barrage of social media advertising on what is arguably America’s rawest political division: race.”

“While some ads focused on topics as banal as business promotion or Pokémon, the company consistently promoted ads designed to inflame race-related tensions.


The chickens of the past coming home for extreme roosting.
posted by petebest at 8:06 AM on May 12 [28 favorites]


None of what follows may be new to you, but I was intrigued by this excerpt from the article linked by Jason_Steakums above about Russian spies operating in NYC:
The complaint said Buryakov was also monitored by the FBI agents in conversations with a confidential source who "posed as the representative of a wealthy investor." This source allegedly told Buryakov their employer wanted to work with his bank "to develop casinos in Russia."
This snippet sent me down a rabbit hole of reading the original complaint (the one that detailed Burykov's efforts to turn someone later identified as Carter Page, of whom he said, "I think he is an idiot who forgot who I am" in a conversation recorded by the FBI). The gambit mentioned above included taking Burykov on a tour of Atlantic City casinos on August 8, 2014 and then meeting in the confidential source's office so he could present a PowerPoint show detailing the proposed Russian casino venture. Since Burykov's cover was a position with Vnesheconombank (whose executives met with Jared Kushner in December, 2016 but I digress) the investment angle made sense for both his overt and covert jobs. The confidential source also offered Burykov US government documents detailing planned sanctions target, which he delivered two weeks later on August 28, 2014.

Of course I began to wonder if Trump was the would-be operator of Moscow casinos and Felix Sater, native Russian speaker also known for cooperating with IC operations and champion of Trump-branded projects worldwide via Bayrock, might be the confidential source. Per Wikipedia, in early August, 2014 Trump Plaza was on the brink of closure and Trump sued to have his name taken off the building because of its rundown condition; it closed on September 16th and Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy for the fourth time. The Trump Taj Mahal was also still open; it would not close until October 10, 2016.

If it was Sater, he may have pulled off the neat trick of simultaneously cooperating with the FBI while also sending a message to Putin that Trump was willing to deal, perhaps continuing communications established during the Miss Universe trip the previous November. Of course if the casinos were already laundering Russian money (recall that in 2015 the Trump Taj was fined $10 million for Bank Secrecy Act violations by FinCEN), explaining why they inexplicably lost money, having Trump run casinos in Russia would make no sense. And the FBI tapes include Burykov saying the notion was "some sort of fucking nonsense," to which his codependent replied, "It's unclear... Casino, Russia, like, some sort of setup. Trap of some sort. I can't understand what the point is."

Burykov was released from prison on March 31, 2017 after serving 26 months (sentenced to 30 months) and was conveniently promptly deported by ICE.
posted by carmicha at 8:31 AM on May 12 [10 favorites]


Loony leftist events report: tonight! Come to the Bingo for Books Though Bars In Brooklyn! There’s beer! There’s fabulous prizes! There’s De-alienation caused by capital! Friday! It’s the DSA Teacher Happy hour! Mingle and commiserate with other education workers!
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on May 12 [8 favorites]


octothorpe: "A Tiny State-Legislature Race That Represents the Future of the Democratic Party"

Yeah, the primaries in PA this week will be interesting. Pittsburgh has a long tradition of ethnic-based political families that are usually Democrats in name only, and several of the current ones could be turfed out by progressives.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 AM on May 12 [6 favorites]


A lot of friends and comrades are working in that Pittsburgh race. PA is punching above its weight these days. Strong potential for change.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on May 12 [13 favorites]


Daily Beast: Don’t Mess With This Muslim From Texas—He Just Got Elected! | In a north Texas city of 50,000, a Pakistani immigrant just won a seat on the City Council. Not that there weren’t those trying to block him.

tl;dr: Muslim Dem wins in face of bigoted rhetoric from Tea Party types.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:04 AM on May 12 [53 favorites]


Greetings from PA 21. Dom Costa seems to have inflicted a series of self-owns past two weeks and Innamorato signs are proliferating at a rapid clip here in the 21st district (we've got ours out!). I live in Costa's actual neighborhood and the only people with Costa signs are the Democratic committee people, the first responders (of which there are several), and the people who two years ago had Trump signs out. Which are all Costa's prime demo, so no surprises there. I canvassed for Innamorato last month and it was rough going, but Costa has been demonstrating that he's literally never had to run a campaign since he won his first primary 8 years ago. His campaign office is staffed by the scions of other old school Pittsburgh political families and it's clearly not a brain trust. I'm not counting any chickens because this district is not accustomed to competitive races and the vast majority just don't pay attention, but it's been nice to see that jagoff sweat a bit.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:16 AM on May 12 [26 favorites]


Of course I began to wonder if Trump was the would-be operator of Moscow casinos and Felix Sater, native Russian speaker also known for cooperating with IC operations and champion of Trump-branded projects worldwide via Bayrock, might be the confidential source.

I'm kinda wondering if Felix Sater has been stringing Trump and the Russians along the whole time as part of an investigation into Russian mob money laundering and he just happened to already be in place as an FBI asset when the presidential campaign started so he kept on doing his thing and reporting back to DOJ the whole time. I think what makes me skeptical about it is that Sater's work as an informant is so totally out in the open so why would anybody involved in shady business let him in, but I mean... the Trump team are idiots. So it's totally possible. Trump just needs to think he's the one pulling one over on the Feds by coopting their guy, and Donald Trump is convinced he's the kind of charismatic genius who could do that.

Maybe he's the source that DOJ was protecting from Nunes and Gowdy and learning about that is why they immediately backed off after that recent meeting. Not a whole hell of a lot that Nunes-level meddling can do in the face of years of evidence predating the campaign from a source right in the inner circle.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:20 AM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Sarah Sanders was angry not at the gloating at McCain's approaching death but by the fact that it leaked, and was also angered in her expectation that this anger would leak. We know this because it leaked.

Axios: Inside the room: White House flare-up over McCain leak

At yesterday’s meeting of the White House communications team — in the wake of a leak from the prior meeting of a callous remark about John McCain’s brain cancer — a visibly upset and furious Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the group: “I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that’s just disgusting,” according to a source in the room.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:20 AM on May 12 [81 favorites]


a visibly upset and furious Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the group: “I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that’s just disgusting,” according to a source in the room who spoke to us on condition of anonymity us not mentioning their peals of laughter.
posted by fullerine at 9:30 AM on May 12 [42 favorites]


A little summing up on Mr Cohen´s recent shenanigans.
“So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting,” he told the reporter. “You understand me?”
For past criminal behaviour see Rolling Stone
posted by adamvasco at 9:34 AM on May 12 [11 favorites]



English-language coverage of China's social credit system says that it's used to restrict travel by train as well as air travel.


Meanwhile, over here in Brexitland, Liam Fox - who is running around the globe putting together those great trade deals for which we are paying in blood - has signed an MoU with Tencent for 'cultural and digital' cooperation. The knitting together has begun.
posted by Devonian at 9:34 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


I'm kinda wondering if Felix Sater has been stringing Trump and the Russians along the whole time as part of an investigation into Russian mob money laundering and he just happened to already be in place as an FBI asset when the presidential campaign started so he kept on doing his thing and reporting back to DOJ the whole time.

If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.
posted by carmicha at 9:35 AM on May 12 [33 favorites]


Meanwhile, over here in Brexitland, Liam Fox - who is running around the globe putting together those great trade deals for which we are paying in blood - has signed an MoU with Tencent for 'cultural and digital' cooperation. The knitting together has begun.

Wow. This is actually worse than I'd imagined his deals would be. I'd envisioned merely uselessly low value replacements for the single market, but he's actually delivering massively unhelpful totalitarian engagement in the lives of UK nationals.
posted by jaduncan at 9:41 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]


I was just thinking its been too long since we had a reminder that Chaffetz was a garbage human who deliberately wheeled in on a government-paid scooter paid for by government health care in order to deny everyone else government-paid helath care.
posted by Yowser at 10:08 AM on May 12 [20 favorites]


Joe Donnelly says he’ll support Gina Haspel for CIA director.

That's plenty of Democratic votes to confirm a war criminal.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:19 AM on May 12 [11 favorites]


Not that we need more proof of Kelly's vileness, but...

Manu Raju (CNN)
NPR: Do the president's inaccurate statements ... from the number of people he believes voted illegally, to the size of the inauguration crowd, or to the payments to the lawyer regarding Stormy Daniels — make your job harder?
Kelly: "You know, I'm not so sure they're inaccurate."
posted by chris24 at 10:40 AM on May 12 [51 favorites]


On AI technology, Tencent and Babylon Health, a leading UK-based AI healthcare provider, signed a collaboration agreement to offer AI health consultation service on WeChat

yeah there's literally zero chance this will end up being an absolute privacy-invading fiasco that somehow manages to worsen the functionality of the NHS while also underserving patients in the name of austerity, this is an entirely totally great idea
posted by halation at 10:42 AM on May 12 [8 favorites]




Giuliani Opens His Mouth Again, Says Trump Denied AT&T-Time Warner Merger
In an interview with HuffPost, Giuliani implied that Trump personally intervened to block the merger between Time Warner and AT&T, which the White House has vociferously denied. The comment was meant as a defense of the president in the wake of revelations, first brought to light by Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti, that Trump fixer Michael Cohen had been paid by AT&T for consulting work after Trump’s election.

“Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president,” Giuliani said. “He did drain the swamp … The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.”
So...AT&T paid our fixer a bribe but we didn't do what they bribed us for? #drainTheSwamp
posted by kirkaracha at 11:38 AM on May 12 [18 favorites]


AT&T paid our fixer a bribe but we didn't do what they bribed us for?

Well, AT&T paid their bribe, but Time Warner refused to sell CNN so...

From the Hill, back in February...
In November, conflicting reports suggested AT&T and Time Warner were being asked to sell CNN as part of their proposed merger, in order to avoid monopoly regulations. Speculation that Trump sought to influence negotiations by zeroing in on CNN hammered the ongoing talks between the government and the companies.

The White House and Makan Delrahim, the DOJ's antitrust chief, denied that the administration took a position in the merger review.

However, the DOJ ultimately sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal under antitrust law.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:01 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]




NYT, Suspicions, Demands and Threats: Devin Nunes vs. the Justice Dept.
Yet Mr. Trump seized on its findings to declare that he had been vindicated. And now, department officials said they were fearful that Mr. Nunes and his allies were seeking a repeat performance. More troubling, the officials said, is that Mr. Nunes’s actions suggest that he is more interested in courting conflict than understanding the case.

In the middle of another records dispute last month, Mr. Nunes threatened to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt or even try to impeach him if the Justice Department did not grant access to a nearly complete copy of a document used to open the Russia investigation in the summer of 2016, as well as material related to the wiretap of the Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Mr. Rosenstein acquiesced and handed over the documents, but despite Mr. Nunes’s repeated demands, he never read them, according to an official familiar with the matter.

In another meeting, Mr. Rosenstein felt he was outright misled by Mr. Nunes’s staff. Mr. Rosenstein wanted to know whether Kashyap Patel, an investigator working for Mr. Nunes who was the primary author of the disputed memo, had traveled to London the previous summer to interview a former British spy who had compiled a salacious dossier about Mr. Trump, according to a former federal law enforcement official familiar with the interaction.

Mr. Patel was not forthcoming during the contentious meeting, the official said, and the conversation helped solidify Mr. Rosenstein’s belief that Mr. Nunes and other allies in Congress were not operating in good faith.
As the article notes, Paul Ryan could stop this anytime he wants.
posted by zachlipton at 12:26 PM on May 12 [31 favorites]


Axios: Inside the room: White House flare-up over McCain leak

Jonathan Swan (Axios):
At one point, per a source in the room, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp interjected with a word of support for Sadler:

“You can put this on the record... I stand with Kelly Sadler.”

STORY LINK

---

You might be old enough to remember Schlapp and her CPAC head husband "storming" out of the WHCD because of Wolf's lack of decorum.

On their way to the after party.
posted by chris24 at 1:49 PM on May 12 [52 favorites]




Thanks for posting that (After decades of ‘gay panic defence’ in court, US states slowly begin to ban tactic), XMLicious.

I actually had to reread it a couple of times to find out which states:
California became the first state to outlaw the gay panic defence in 2014 and a prohibition in Illinois went into effect at the start of this year. Bans have been advocated or formally proposed in states including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Georgia, Washington, New Jersey and New York.
I just learned, just this week, that CA Senator Kamala Harris took this on in 2006, when she was San Francisco District Attorney, as described in The Advocate, Prosecutors call for end to "gay panic" legal defenses:
Prosecutors in San Francisco on Thursday called for limiting the use of "gay panic" defenses in criminal trials. On the second day of a two-day national conference devoted to debate of the legal strategy, in which defense attorneys claim their clients' crimes are justified because of fear or anger toward their victims' sexual orientation, prosecutors said such a rationale is no longer acceptable, the Associated Press reports. "The suggestion that criminal conduct is mitigated by bias or prejudice is inappropriate," San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris, who organized the conference, told the AP. "We can't outlaw it, but we can combat it." Bills designed to counter "gay panic" defenses are currently pending in both California and New York. They would require judges to instruct juries that a defendant's prejudice against his victim cannot affect their deliberations.
That 2014 bill passed in California was co-sponsored by Harris when she was a state legislator.

Progress is possible.
posted by kristi at 2:30 PM on May 12 [38 favorites]


Why are Pharma stocks soaring after Trump announces plans to lower drug costs? Gee, it's almost like they heard he has no plan at all...



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/11/us/politics/trump-prescription-drugs-plan.html

President Trump vowed on Friday to “bring soaring drug prices back down to earth” by promoting competition among pharmaceutical companies, and he suggested that the government could require drugmakers to disclose prices in their ubiquitous television advertising.

But he dropped the popular and populist proposals of his presidential campaign, opting not to have the federal government directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare. And he chose not to allow American consumers to import low-cost medicines from abroad.

He would instead give private entities more tools to negotiate better deals on behalf of consumers, insurers and employers.

-------

His proposals hardly put a scare into the system he criticized.

Ronny Gal, a securities analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, said the president’s speech was “very, very positive to pharma,” and he added, “We have not seen anything about that speech which should concern investors” in the pharmaceutical industry.

Shares of several major drug and biotech companies rose immediately after the speech, as did the stocks of pharmacy benefit managers, the “middlemen” who Mr. Trump said had gotten “very, very rich.” The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index rose 2.7 percent on Friday. CVS Health, which manages pharmacy benefits for many insurers and employers, finished up 3.2 percent.
posted by xammerboy at 2:39 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


[One deleted. These threads don't need to be a place to give airtime to every shitty horrible random bigot.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:40 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


So....regardless of what President Trump does, whether trying to lower drug prices for Americans or opening a much needed dialogue with N. Korea, he will be trashed on here. I'm not sure what he could possibly do to earn some respect from the NYTimes and the Democratic party. I watched his speech yesterday, and he seemed genuinely determined to use his power to lower drug prices. Not sure how that could be construed in a negative way. I feel less and less aligned with the Democratic Party. Enough already.

NYTimes comment in response to Trump announcing he will NOT fulfill his campaign promise of allowing Medicare to negotiate drug pricing, instead making vague claims that prices will drop by making companies more competitive. This is why we have Trump.
posted by xammerboy at 2:52 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]


"Our administration has provided more than a million documents; we've fully cooperated in it, and in the interest of the country, I think it's time to wrap it up," Pence said in an interview.

MSNBC has a devastating mash-up of Pence's interview and Nixon saying almost exactly the same things during Watergate.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:55 PM on May 12 [89 favorites]


Stupid Watergate: now with lines straight from Nixon!

Pence: It's been about a year since this investigation began.
Nixon: One year of Watergate is enough.

Pence: Our administration has been fully cooperating.
Nixon: I have provided to the special prosecutor voluntarily a great deal of material.

Pence: Our administration's provided over a million documents.
Nixon: I believe that I have provided all the material that he needs to conclude his investigation.

Pence: In the interest of the country I think it's time to wrap it up.
Nixon: I believe the time has come.

Pence: I would very respectfully encourage--
Nixon: That investigation--
Pence: To bring their work to conclusion.
Nixon: To an end.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:14 PM on May 12 [72 favorites]


Atlantic: Iran Hawks Are the New Iraq Hawks
The parallels between that moment and this one are uncanny. In both cases, American leaders feared that a longtime Middle Eastern adversary was breaking free of the fetters that had previously restrained it. In both cases, American leaders pursued a more confrontational policy, which they buttressed with frightening statements about the regime’s nuclear program. In both cases, international inspectors contradicted those alarmist claims. In both cases, America’s European allies defended the inspectors and warned of the chaos America’s confrontational policy might bring. In both cases, hawks in America and Israel responded by trying to discredit the inspection regime. And in both cases, two leaders of that effort were John Bolton and Benjamin Netanyahu.
@PeterBeinart I supported the Iraq War. A mentor died in it. My sister-in-law left her toddler to serve in it. I wrote 2 books grappling w/ how I got it so wrong. I never thought people like Bolton + Netanyahu could pull off a campaign of lies like that again. They have.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:41 PM on May 12 [50 favorites]


Arlington VA Delegate and Democratic House Whip Alfonso Lopez appears to have threatened and called the cops on latino activists for asking him about his consulting work for ICE at an Arlington County Indivisible meeting tonight.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:20 PM on May 12 [21 favorites]


"At yesterday’s meeting of the White House communications team — in the wake of a leak from the prior meeting of a callous remark about John McCain’s brain cancer — a visibly upset and furious Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the group: “I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that’s just disgusting,” according to a source in the room."

Later, Jonathan Swan said "five sources in the room" leaked the details of this meeting.

I don't know that this means anything in the long run: I trust Uncle Mueller for long run analysis and illegality behavior retribution.

But, oh, goddess, do I love these leaking staffers: I want to buy them all the beers. These are good Americans who see some shit is wrong and are telling the rest of us. As they should.

Five, FIVE, sources?! You ain't no CJ Gregg, SHS! That's for damn sure!
posted by blessedlyndie at 7:37 PM on May 12 [22 favorites]


These are good Americans who see some shit is wrong and are telling the rest of us.

These are the same racists and authoritarians who just don’t like the fact that people are saying the quiet parts loudly. None of them deserve anything except their own day in court.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 7:53 PM on May 12 [25 favorites]


[Please don't keep reposting the same chatty comments over and over; we moderate these politics threads more strictly to keep chatter and metacommentary out. Please see this thread if you need more information.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:26 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


Donald Trump, Biblical Prophet.

@joshtpm Judge Jeanine: Trump fulfilled biblical prophecy by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
posted by scalefree at 10:35 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]


There are very few references to embassies in the Bible. I couldn't find a relevant one in the Hebrew scriptures, but on reflection I believe Judge Jeanine must be referring to Jesus' Parable of the Talents (Luke 19), which begins:
‘A certain man of birth went on to a far country, to take to himself a kingdom, and to return, 13 and having called ten servants of his own, he gave to them ten pounds, and said unto them, Do business — till I come; 14 and his citizens were hating him, and did send an embassy after him, saying, We do not wish this one to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, on his coming back, having taken the kingdom, that he commanded these servants to be called to him, to whom he gave the money, that he might know what any one had done in business[…]
I'm not sure that this could fairly be described as a prophecy, but it certainly describes Trump pretty accurately.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:17 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Delaware Becomes First State to Ban Child Marriage

"Child Marriage" in this context referring to a marriage involving anyone who is a minor. Evidently both chambers of the New Jersey legislature passed a similar bill last year but Chris Christie vetoed it.

It's an interesting bit of historical symmetry here, since according to this 1895 New York Times article in the late 19th century Delaware was the last state where the age of consent for intercourse was below 10, at 7.
posted by XMLicious at 12:59 AM on May 13 [14 favorites]


XMLicious, thanks for those links. As for the first one, good for Delaware:
Delaware’s laws governing child marriage were last updated in 2007 to remove a so-called “pregnancy exception.” The law previously compelled court clerks to issue a marriage license if a minor was pregnant.
Ken Boulden, a clerk of the peace in Delaware, fought to change the law more than a decade ago after he was asked to approve a marriage between a pregnant 14-year-old girl and a 27-year-old man.
“What I was statutorily required to do was — since the mother was there to sign and give the permission — I was supposed to grant them a marriage license and perform the ceremony,” he said in an interview with the FRONTLINE Dispatch.*
Boulden, who says he has performed more than 15,000 marriages throughout his career, said he couldn’t bring himself to marry the couple. So, he asked them to return a few days later. By then, he had alerted the police, who were on hand to arrest the man for statutory rape.


From the 2nd:
He declared, further, that this society had urgent need to pronounce itself on the subject of the so-called age of consent laws. Girls are deemed capable of controlling property only at their majority, but States decide not so with their persons. In four States the age of consent is fixed at the shockingly low age of ten years, in four others at twelve, in three at thirteen, and so on, increasing, except in Delaware, where the original statute pertaining to the crime of rape is still unrepealed, fixing the age at seven years. These so-called age of consent statutes, which discriminate against girlhood and favor immoral men, are a disgrace to the several States of the Union. (1895)

Favoring immoral men has been a known issue for quite a while now.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:04 AM on May 13 [34 favorites]


When Spies Hack Journalism, Scott Shane, Washington reporter for the NYTimes, reflects on the new reality.
This quandary is raised with emotional force by my colleague Amy Chozick in her new book about covering Hillary Clinton. She recounts reading a New York Times story about the Russian hack of the Democrats that said The Times and other outlets, by publishing stories based on the hacked material, became “a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.” She felt terrible, she reports, because she thought she was guilty as charged.

Others hurried to reassure Ms. Chozick that she and hundreds of other reporters who covered the leaked emails were simply doing their jobs. “The primary question a journalist must ask himself is whether or not the information is true and relevant,” wrote Jack Shafer, the media critic for Politico, “and certainly not whether it might make Moscow happy.”

I happened to have written the sentence that distressed Ms. Chozick, and I don’t find either her mea culpa or Mr. Shafer’s championing of the old rules fully satisfying. For reporters, withholding valuable information from the public is anathema. But in a world in which foreign intelligence services hack, leak and fabricate, journalists will have to use extreme caution and extra transparency.
posted by mumimor at 2:37 AM on May 13 [19 favorites]


Hypothetically, a public hack/leak of a political party's data could have revealed some extremely horrific stuff. I'm not sure I'd consider it the media's job to keep quiet if someone had hacked RNC emails and it explicitly showed, like, an extensive money-laundering operation for the mob, or Actual Pizzagate. (Although in that case reporters wouldn't be the only ones on the job; some sort of criminal justice response would also happen, one hopes.)

So in some ways it seems like I care about the issue in proportion to the newsworthiness of the hacked data itself, and thus the handling of the DNC material was frustrating because there was next-to-no "there" there while media acted otherwise. At the same time, law enforcement is supposed to follow standard procedures for uncovering even the most damning evidence. Yes, the apologists for Russia-Lago may have twisted the meaning of "fruit of the poisoned tree" beyond anything reasonable, but it is still a valuable doctrine in general.

Basically, for me at least, it's a true dilemma.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:55 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


In theory, it's a dilemma, but in practice, less so.
Someone did hack the RNC and didn't release them, which IMO begged more than one question. But none of those journalists who spend endless words on "her emails" and the DNC hack asked any questions about the RNC hack and why it wasn't released by the Russians who released the DNC mails. They didn't question their sources or how those sources might have an agenda. That's not a dilemma, it's just bad journalism.
The NYTimes especially seems to have totally abandoned all pretense of a critical and analytical journalistic practice during the election, and they have a huge responsibility for how that went. The contributed to the sense even among educated people that Clinton is a typical lying and corrupt politician, which she truly isn't. And they continue to contribute to the normalization of Trump which is specially damning because of their status as one of the world's most important newspapers, which is quoted far and wide.

Yesterday, I heard a radio show about the Iran situation. The journalist who was hosting the show was clearly following the lead of the Times, but luckily he had brought in two experts, who started out politely, but in the end both said directly that it makes no sense treating the Trump administration like a normal administration since there is no method or idea or even consistency from day to day. One could hear the journo gasping at this breach of good taste and "fairness", but they were adamant. Such a relief.
posted by mumimor at 5:58 AM on May 13 [58 favorites]


Regarding the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem, and how some people might cheer that on: centering the world on Jerusalem is part of Dispensationalism, and anything that is a step in that direction is hastening the return of Christ to rule over the Earth for 1000 years.

In other words this a foghorn, not a dog whistle, for many Evangelicals, and one reason they cheer Trump on.
posted by snortasprocket at 6:08 AM on May 13 [25 favorites]


The NYTimes especially seems to have totally abandoned all pretense...

Oh look, it's another NYT article blaming the left for the awfulness of the right.

Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web

Oops. That's Wednesday's.

Here's the new NYT article correctly criticizing the left... for the right's issues?

How the Online Left Fuels the Right

Oh sorry, that's yesterday's.

Ah, here's today's article saying Trump is really the left's fault.

Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think You Are
posted by chris24 at 6:20 AM on May 13 [112 favorites]


The NYT concluded that the only problem with their 2016 election coverage was that they weren’t Brietbart.

Cancel your subscriptions.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:40 AM on May 13 [44 favorites]


Ah, yes, in that final link, we see the old "you're pushing the Right away by telling them they're wrong". As a rhetorical strategy, I understand the time and place for the language of deference--when, indeed, you should let things slide, when there are too many small arguments to get in the way of the larger one.

This is not one of those times. At this moment the Right in this country is not just wrong, they're Fucking Wrong. And they need to hear it.

Alexander argues liberals are causing too much "resentment." Who are the true snowflakes here?
posted by Room 101 at 6:43 AM on May 13 [31 favorites]


Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think You Are

Even better, Alexander wrote basically the same article in 2015.

Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness

And 2010.

Why are liberals so condescending?
posted by chris24 at 6:45 AM on May 13 [35 favorites]


Who are the true snowflakes here?

Adam Serwer (Atlantic)
Liberals are too sensitive. Also, if a liberal says something I don’t like I’m going to become a nazi.
posted by chris24 at 6:47 AM on May 13 [109 favorites]


“The primary question a journalist must ask himself is whether or not the information is true and relevant,” wrote Jack Shafer, the media critic for Politico, “and certainly not whether it might make Moscow happy."

Wow.

I've often reflected upon how different professions value truth in different ways (to lie in science is a cardinal sin, for example), but perhaps the most important word here is relevant. The DNC emails were perhaps true, but, compared to the Moscow hack, they were not even remotely relevant. That is the choice that the NYTimes made, and they chose poorly.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:47 AM on May 13 [31 favorites]


From his 2010 version of the article:
Race doubtless played a significant role in the shift of Deep South whites to the Republican Party during and after the 1960s. But the liberal narrative has gone essentially unchanged since then -- recall former president Carter's recent assertion that opposition to Obama reflects racism -- even though survey research has shown a dramatic decline in prejudiced attitudes among white Americans in the intervening decades.
This hasn't really aged well, has it?
posted by octothorpe at 6:59 AM on May 13 [37 favorites]


Ah, yes, in that final link, we see the old "you're pushing the Right away by telling them they're wrong".

Meanwhile, Alexander is a professor at UVa in Charlottesville, where Nazis murdered one, tried to kill dozens more, and attacked scores with clubs, fired guns, etc. just nine months ago.

But the left with their mean words is the real issue.
posted by chris24 at 7:02 AM on May 13 [56 favorites]


I just really can't grok why "please be decent, people" makes one out to be an eggshell plaintiff, is a signifier of weakness.
posted by angrycat at 7:14 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Is there literally anything that the right says (consistently, systematically, as a veritable op-ed chorus) about the left that isn’t 100 percent projection?
posted by Etrigan at 7:18 AM on May 13 [38 favorites]


Sometimes, when a right-winger accuses the left of the exact same things they do, they’re consciously aware of what they’re doing. In which case, it’s technically not projection, but rather an abuse tactic.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:34 AM on May 13 [49 favorites]


To be fair, opinion pieces aren't reporting, and I actually like to be able to read conservative opinion pieces without having to pay for a conservative newspaper. (I do keep a conservative weekly, but it is driving me crazy and I think I have to end that subscription).
But, I think many journalists and editors are obsessed with "the news" to the point of detriment. The way journalism is taught and discussed and organized, news reporting is at the top of the journalistic hierarchy. And since the emergence of CNN and other 24 hour news channels, reporting the news has not really been a viable business model for printed media, something they somehow seem to find very difficult to accept. In theory, the internets should be a way those old media could get back on the news-track, but there are reasons it doesn't work that way. One of them is that in normal times (not the time we are at now), there is just not that much news. But in order to be able to serve 24h news, you need a 24h news staff, who cost a lot and will have little to do most of the time. So the "news" are often not very newsworthy. And anyway, the news in any form or shape won't get anyone buying subscriptions or ads. Look, even CNN has all sorts of features and other programming, including editorials.
This identity and economic crisis of the old media doesn't directly explain why the editors at the NYTimes and thousands of other media around the world preferred "butter emails" to "the Manchurian candidate" as newsworthy headlines. Or back in the day that those same media uncritically accepted the Bush lies about Iraq. But in a way it does: access journalism is far cheaper than investigative journalism, it's easier, and it feels cool while you are at it, meeting important people and being friendly with them on their planes. You get to go on TV shows, too.
Finally, there is a huge misunderstanding of the term "critical" — even some smart people, and certainly a lot of journalists think that being critical is the same as being negative. And that misunderstanding seeps into and poisons the concept of "fairness", so the political reporter will feel obliged by "fairness" to be more negative about a better candidate and less negative about an obvious crook and demagogue, even though that is rubbish. Or "we must remember to report on the negative aspects of immigration lest we could be blamed of bias" (actual words from the idiot editor of a far-left publication I once worked at). This misunderstanding of a very basic rule of reporting leads to failure all the way down, not just in terms of reporting, and political discourse, but also — again — to loss of readers and advertisers.
posted by mumimor at 7:37 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Stop saying the Trump era is ‘not normal’ or ‘not who we are.’ We’ve been here before. (Carlos Lozada, WaPo)

Review of The Soul of America by Jon Meacham and Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows
The horror with which many citizens regard the Trump presidency is premised, in part, on the notion that its challenges are unprecedented and its morality antithetical to long-standing national values. So “normalizing” President Trump has become a mortal sin, and “that’s not who we are” a rallying cry for those who view today’s anti-democratic and nativist compulsions as aberrations along that long arc toward justice.

Except this is normal. And it is who we are.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:42 AM on May 13 [17 favorites]


Meanwhile, Alexander is a professor at UVa in Charlottesville, where Nazis murdered one, tried to kill dozens more, and attacked scores with clubs, fired guns, etc. just nine months ago.

Looks like the Nazi connection is deeper:
@lagadoprojector: Congrats on the New York Times for publishing the ravings of a low-key "just-asking-questions" Holocaust-denier. This will surely own the libs.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:51 AM on May 13 [63 favorites]




Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think You Are

See. A right-wing conservative got you to waste five minutes of your life reading his click bait, thereby proving his point.

The only way to win is not to play. The New York Times is garbage and the Washington Post isn't much better.
posted by JackFlash at 9:05 AM on May 13 [24 favorites]




@realDonaldTrump: President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!

The Commerce Dept imposed the ban (on purchases of components/tech made by US companies) last month after determining that ZTE had violated both the Iran and NK sanctions regimes, and lied about it during the settlement discussions that began in 2016.

Your transactionalist chief executive at work.
posted by notyou at 9:30 AM on May 13 [72 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!

I thought ZTE phones were banned at military bases because of fears the Chinese government was forcing backdoors into the chipsets?
posted by bluecore at 9:41 AM on May 13 [23 favorites]


In addition to the intentional violations of NK-Iran sanctions and lying about it, just three months ago Trump's own FBI Director and the heads of other intelligence agencies said hell no to ZTE. And Tom Cotton, R senator from Arkansas and rabid Trumpette, introduced a new bill to ban the government from working with any companies that use them.
U.S. intelligence agencies have issued a stern warning to Americans: Do not buy smartphones made by Chinese tech companies Huawei or ZTE. Top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that the Chinese smartphone makers posed a security threat to American customers.

FBI Director Chris Wray explained why it is an issue for companies and local governments to use Huawei or ZTE products and services. There is a risk of letting any company "beholden to foreign governments" inside the country's telecommunications infrastructure, he said. Huawei is a global leader in networking equipment, and the government has previously blocked it from selling technology to some federal agencies. "It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information," Wray said. "And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage." [...]

Cotton introduced a bill last week that would prohibit the government from contracting with companies that use Huawei or ZTE products. It's a companion bill to the "Defending U.S. Government Communications Act" put forth in the House last month. In 2013, Congress passed a law that prevented some federal agencies from buying tech from these firms without approval.
But America First.
posted by chris24 at 9:41 AM on May 13 [39 favorites]


The only way to win is not to play. The New York Times is garbage and the Washington Post isn't much better.
posted by JackFlash at 9:05 AM on May 13 [7 favorites +] [!]


The bulk of right-wingers long ago abandoned news outlets like the NYT and WaPo as hopelessly biased against them. The NYT, especially, has responded by becoming more "friendly" to their viewpoints. Those not on the right have doggedly clung to these mainstream outlets as the right abandoned them, but we will eventually abandon them, too, as they no longer can function as sentinels of agreed-upon common wisdom about the facts that underpin reality, because they deprecate that very function in their op-ed policies. The garbage opinions that they allow to appear on their pages besmirch us all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:04 AM on May 13 [15 favorites]


Politics Twitter has basically two possible explanations for the ZTE insanity:

1) Trump blew past a "Do Not C̶o̶n̶g̶r̶a̶t̶u̶l̶a̶t̶e̶ Agree On ZTE" cheat sheet on his call with Xi.

or

2) Trump accidentally revealed some influence peddling because he's too stupid not to be obvious, because he definitely didn't get this idea from Fox.


@emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, NatSec expert)
So yeah, Trump said something crazy abt ZTE. But unlike his normal ranting this one is interesting bc it suggests an info channel that shouldn't be there. It's not, I assume, Fox and Friends. Right, @MattGertz?

@RayRedacted (InfoSec expert)
To suddenly be concerned about Chinese jobs being lost because of US enforcement protecting our national secrets is bewilderingly bizarre. What prompted this sudden 180 degree change?

@emptywheel
Yup, we agree. Bc Trump has no filter, this is actually a data point that may reveal direct influence peddling Trump doesn't know enough to keep hidden.
posted by chris24 at 10:09 AM on May 13 [82 favorites]


Thank $OrganizingPrinciple our Predisent has finally focused on saving Chinese jobs. #MCGA!
posted by petebest at 10:18 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


Why does the media keep using "Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford" every time they mention her name?
posted by growabrain at 10:20 AM on May 13


Why does the media keep using "Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford" every time they mention her name?

Maybe because "Stormy" is such a cornball name that they can't help themselves
posted by thelonius at 10:30 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Remember, Kushner is selling investor visas to the Chinese party elite, and there's no way Trump isn't getting a cut of that. TrumpOrg has an obvious payoff for restoring ZTE's ability to do business with the US government.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:32 AM on May 13 [16 favorites]


Hurting from low sales and Trump tariffs, Harley Davidson will close its Kansas City plant (Rebekah Entralgo, ThinkProgress)

Harley-Davidson claims there is no connection between the shuttering of the Kansas City factory and the opening of an assembly plant in Thailand. . . .

Just over a year ago, President Donald Trump met with Harley-Davidson executives and union representatives to ensure them that he would make it easier to create more jobs and factories in the United States. . . . Trump’s tariffs, ironically enough, are only hurting Harley-Davidson even more.


Soybeans, Corn, Boeing, Ag Labor, Newspapers, Harley-Davidson . . . Those darned librul tarriffs.
posted by petebest at 10:33 AM on May 13 [37 favorites]


Avenatti's tweeting riddles again...
@MichaelAvenatti: Warning ignored. So here it goes.
December 12, 2016 - Trump Tower. Details to follow...
[images of Cohen, Flynn, ??? from Trump Tower lobby]
@nycsouthpaw: What kind of odds can I get for Gulen kidnapping meeting?
posted by pjenks at 10:34 AM on May 13 [26 favorites]


Remember, Kushner is selling investor visas to the Chinese party elite, and there's no way Trump isn't getting a cut of that.

China also greenlit a bunch of Trademarks for Ill Toupée, that they had previously rejected, last year.

A criminal Predisent can make a boatload of money with these penny-ante crooked deals.
posted by petebest at 10:38 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


For all the bluster of the Trump administration, the sanctions against ZTE might be the only bombastic move that's actually been justified. I don't necessarily agree with the stance that we should ban all foreign telecommunications equipment (given that we export a ton of the stuff ourselves, it puts us in an awkward position), but they were also flagrantly dishonest in their dealings with the US (again, an awkward position given our current reality, but nevertheless this is one situation where the US easily had the moral high-ground).

Reversing course on this one is beyond bizarre.
posted by schmod at 10:48 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Could ZTE be China’s request in exchange for ensuring the NK summit is successful? Trump seems keen to say and do whatever it takes to get a win there.
posted by SakuraK at 11:00 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Reversing course on this one is beyond bizarre.

Unless, of course, there's some quid pro quo involved. It might be a financial kickback, or it might just be a few hours of telling our addlepated TV president what a brave, smart, handsome leader he is.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:03 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


I don’t know if I’ve seen it spelled out in so many words, but the NK developments must be China trying to prop up a wounded, ineffectual Trump while they advance their agenda on all fronts?
posted by Rumple at 11:30 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Harley-Davidson claims there is no connection between the shuttering of the Kansas City factory and the opening of an assembly plant in Thailand.

Harley's big problem is that the bikes they manufacture are only desired by the shrinking American baby boomer market, tariffs aren't stopping them from designing a globally competitive product. However, many of the large motorcycle manufacturers are investing big in Thailand because of favorable tax incentives and better access to Thailand and the rest of the rapidly growing ASEAN market. What could have really helped H-D was the TPP, but TPP Pullout Spurred Harley’s ‘Plan B’ Factory in Thailand.
posted by peeedro at 11:41 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]






Not sure what to make of this but it's there so we should get to discussing it.

CNN poll: Democrats' 2018 advantage is nearly gone.
Washington (CNN)The generic congressional ballot has continued to tighten, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, with the Democrats' edge over Republicans within the poll's margin of sampling error for the first time this cycle.

About six months out from Election Day, 47% of registered voters say they back the Democratic candidate in their district, 44% back the Republican. Voters also are divided almost evenly over whether the country would be better off with the Democrats in control of Congress (31%) or with the GOP in charge (30%). A sizable 34% -- including nearly half of independent voters (48%) -- say it doesn't matter which party controls Congress.

The Democrats' advantage in the generic ballot dipped from 16 points in February to six points in March to just three points now. The party's advantage has waned among enthusiastic voters as Republican enthusiasm has grown (in March, 36% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters said they were very enthusiastic about voting; that's up to 44% in the new poll), but the Democrats still have a double-digit lead among those most excited to vote this fall (53% of those who are very enthusiastic about voting say they'd back the Democrat in their district vs. 41% who say they favor the GOP candidate). Those enthusiastic voters also say by a 10-point margin that the nation would be better off with Democrats in control of Congress than Republicans.
posted by scalefree at 2:14 PM on May 13 [6 favorites]


@jaketapper A source familiar with the phone call tells me that after @kellysadler45 apologized to @MeghanMcCain for the “joke” about @SenJohnMcCain dying of brain cancer, Meghan told her she needed to apologize publicly and asked her if she would do so. Sadler said she would.

She has not.
posted by scalefree at 2:20 PM on May 13 [20 favorites]


I still don't understand how we are supposed to square this supposedly tightening generic ballot with the special election results that, if anything, have been moving toward Democrats, plus the fact that Paul Ryan and so many others have been spooked into retirement during the period of "tightening".
posted by saturday_morning at 2:21 PM on May 13 [17 favorites]


I thought that we'd know by now not to trust one poll. The RCP average is still at +6.1 Democrats.
posted by octothorpe at 2:26 PM on May 13 [26 favorites]


@scalzi
It's interesting to me that almost exactly six years after its publication, there are *still* dudes willfully misreading my "Lowest Difficulty Setting" piece as a) an attack on straight white dudes, b) suggesting their lives can't be difficult.

I say "willfully misreading" because the piece itself explicitly says that life can still be difficult, even on the lowest difficulty setting. You have to really work at not reading that part, or to think it doesn't mean what it says. But I suppose some dudes are determined.

This is why, honestly, the most cogent disagreements to and criticisms of that piece have come from the left, not the right -- the critics from the left have been (generally) more apt to engage with what the piece says, rather than what they want it to say to be aggrieved.

(Also, on the off chance you've not actually read the piece I'm discussing: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/15/straight-white-male-the-lowest-difficulty-setting-there-is/ …. Perhaps more relevant now under the current US administration than when it was written.)
posted by scalefree at 2:28 PM on May 13 [41 favorites]


The most important factor is the enthusiasm gap. We haven't seen anything like it (favoring Dems) in my long lifetime. And as I've said multiple times before, what the Democratic Party and all its factions have to do to take back the country is to make voting easier and bullet-proof and ratfuck-proof for their voters.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:29 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


I thought that we'd know by now not too trust one poll. The RCP average is still at +6.1 Democrats.

Didn't say we should trust it. Just it's a thing to discuss, CNN being a major poller & all.
posted by scalefree at 2:32 PM on May 13


This article is from 4 days ago and the poll is from 8 days ago. Since then an Economist poll has come out with a 9 point D lead and a Morning Consult poll with a 7 point lead. RCP average is still 6 points as is the 538 average.

@Nate_Cohn (NYT)
There's nothing weird about the volatility in individual generic ballot polls. The MoE on the 'margin' is quite large--generally +/- 6, even more.
The generic ballot average, on the other hand, has been pretty stable for months and still seems stable today.

---

Two things I've seen on Twitter regarding the huge advantage Ds have in the specials and the perhaps tightening lead in the generic:

1) Generic is national measure and as we found out in 2016 painfully, national polls don't always reflect the realities of specific states or districts which are polled much less frequently and generally not as accurately (not the large, premier firms, etc.).

2) We may be returning to a pre-2012 election model where there's less of a tie between presidential vote and House.

@Nate_Cohn
Over the 1000+ special/general House elections in Dem-held seats in the Obama era, Republicans ran >20 pts ahead of district partisanship in a Dem-held seat just 4 times.
Democrats have pulled it off 3 times in 7 shots in '17/18
- On the other hand, it happened 31 times in 06/08. And in a way, that's really the big question right now: is this an Obama-era election year, with a very strong relationship between congressional and presidential vote choice? Or is it more like a pre-Obama election?
- House elections before 2012 had a much larger incumbency bonus and a weaker relationship w/pres vote. If '17 is more like that, it would reconcile much of the apparent genballot v. special election gap
- In fact, in '06 Dems did just as well in GOP-held open seats as Dems have in specials in '18 (14 pts ahead of partisanship), but won the PV by 8 points and only flipped 31 seats. So there's potentially no contradiction at all
- A pre-12 incumbency bonus and weaker pvi-congressional vote relationship would also make it much easier to imagine Democratic holds in WV/IN/MO-SEN, etc.
posted by chris24 at 2:32 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Those not on the right have doggedly clung to these mainstream outlets as the right abandoned them, but we will eventually abandon them, too, as they no longer can function as sentinels of agreed-upon common wisdom about the facts that underpin reality, because they deprecate that very function in their op-ed policies.

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan
posted by kirkaracha at 2:38 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Speaking of voting, Texas early voting for the May 22 runoffs, starts tomorrow. Not all counties have run off elections. If you haven't been inundated with flyers, and you're not sure if your area is having elections, you can visit the Texas Secretary of state website.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 2:41 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I used to believe that conservatives were primarily driven by money. I found that wasn't true when I would explain that a lot of healthcare, housing solutions, food programs, etc. save money. There is a healthcare solution in place now. It's called go to the emergency room when your situation is life threatening and the costs to society will be enormous. Free, pro-active healthcare could save society a lot of money. Cheaper and better healthcare? There's no downside to this.

But they don't want healthcare because they don't want someone getting something for "free". They would rather pay more money, have less themselves, deny someone a basic necessity, than give away a "hand-out". It's hate and stupidity. If a community work program could change this, I would go for it.


You have missed the key motivation.

Republicans really want people to beg them for help. They love it.

Then they can buy their way into heaven by dropping a few singles into a bowl and feel big.
posted by srboisvert at 2:46 PM on May 13 [31 favorites]


White House leakers leak about leaking
This White House leaks like there’s no tomorrow.
The big picture: The leaks come in all shapes and sizes: small leaks, real-time leaks, weaponized leaks, historical leaks. Sensitive Oval Office conversations have leaked, and so have talks in cabinet meetings and the Situation Room. You name it, they leak it.
My colleague Mike Allen, who has spent nearly 20 years covering the White House, says we learn more about what's going on inside the Trump White House in a week than we did in a year of the George W. Bush presidency.
This White House leaks so much that meetings called to bemoan leaks begin with acknowledgement the bemoaning will be leaked, which is promptly leaked...by several leakers in a smallish room.
Why does this White House leak like it’s going out of style? I reached out to some of the Trump administration’s most prolific leakers — people who have been wonderful sources to me (and, I assume, plenty of other reporters) — to get them to explain the draw.
posted by scalefree at 2:52 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


The thing about saying "The RCP/538 average is still D+6" or whatever is that it is simultaneously true and a bit misleading. Because "still" implies there hasn't been a change. That D+5.8 average on 538 represents a real tightening over the last few months. Which matters. The difference between D+5.8 and D+8 is "only" a touch over 2 points but, historically, would be the difference between flipping the House and not flipping the House. Plus the trendline is going the wrong way and has been for 3 months. 5.8 today was 6.8 two weeks ago and 7.8 several months ago.

This isn't to imply doom and gloom. The specials, which is where the rubber has met the road, have been much more Democratic than the generic ballot. That's why we keep seeing tweets/articles trying to reconcile the two. But let's not kid ourselves. Trump is at his strongest approval since just after the inauguration and it's still trending upwards. The generic is as low as its been in ages and still trending downwards.

Still 6 months to go, specials are looking strong (though we haven't seen any since the most current round of approval rise and generic tightening), work our asses off, etc. But facts are facts and the polling is weak for Democrats right now compared to what it used to be and has been trending weaker for months.
posted by Justinian at 2:52 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]


No, it's not an Onion/Clickhole story:
Israeli football club renames itself Beitar Trump Jerusalem after 'courageous' president (The Guardian)

...It is unsurprising that the club has supported Trump’s divisive move. It is the only club in the Israeli Premier League never to have signed an Arab player and some sections of its fanbase have a reputation for racism.

When the club signed two Chechen Muslims in 2013, the players were verbally abused and spat at by fans. The club’s offices were later set on fire, by fans apparently angry at the Chechens’ arrival.
posted by hangashore at 2:54 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


My own interpretation on the generic is that we've seen the Democratic support remain fairly constant since January while the Republican has been slooooowly creeping upward. To me that obviously means that some Republicans are coming home rather than Democrats switching. And that's what we saw in the Presidential election too. Republicans might not be huge fans of Trump and they might flirt with supporting someone else.... but they don't. So Republicans coming home is inevitable.

I really want to see the switch from Registered Voter models to Likely Voter models as it may start picking up the up-until-now apparent enthusiasm gap. Does anyone know when the generic ballots tend to switch to LV? Chrysostom?
posted by Justinian at 2:56 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


@bendreyfuss (MoJo)
If they don’t win the House back this November, I think it might be more of a gut punch to Democrats than when Trump actually won. Not to say the expectation of winning the House that Gerrymandering Built is irrational, but it’s sooo baked in at this point
-- NYMag (Ed Kilgore): Is the 2018 Democratic Wave Receding? --

@gelliottmorris (Crosstab)
Retweeted Ben Dreyfuss
This is the right take (if I’m reading it correctly), but let’s talk about that article claiming the Democratic wave is receding. Oh boy...
- Best evidence of REAL change in the wave is in actual voter behavior. If Democrats stop posting gains in special elections over time, they should worry more. Of course, they haven’t (yet?). These claims are almost all based on declining D margin in the generic ballot, which...
- ... is mostly an artifact of how wide you take your averages. Monthly Democratic margin in generic ballot polling has been between 7 and 9 percentage points since October of 2017. Combine with special elections, the wave looks nearly as tall as it did in March.
- I think this has less to do with the actual data and more with media conventional wisdom — which (as time has told) settles on outcomes with more blind certainty and spins the wheel 180° when they perceive the winds as shifting.
- Nevertheless, Dems have been between 52 and 65% to take the House majority since January. A lot of this has to do with predicting what the national environment will be in Nov, not where it is today. Too many ppl overlooking very important transformation. http://2018.thecrosstab.com
- Kilgore’s subtly acknowledges that there’s wide uncertainty in the House forecasts. Heck yeah there is! If only he realized that that very uncertainty prevents him from making claims about the wave oscillating wildly. The range of outcomes has barely changed since last year.
- Read more about combining special elections and the generic ballot here: http://www.thecrosstab.com/2018/05/01/generic-vs-specials/
posted by chris24 at 3:11 PM on May 13 [9 favorites]


A followup to Avenatti's cryptic earlier tweet.

Michael Avenatti
Why was Ahmed Al-Rumaihi meeting with Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn in December 2016 and why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials according to a sworn declaration filed in court?

---

Ahmed Al-Rumaihi runs a division of the Qatar investment fund that bought the 19% stake in Rosneft. And is a former Qatari diplomat/spy.
posted by chris24 at 3:18 PM on May 13 [42 favorites]


And this Mother Jones article from Dan Friedman, who figured it out earlier today, but wonders what Avenatti is suggesting.
posted by pjenks at 3:26 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


RCP average is still 6 points as is the 538 average

A new report says Democrats need to win the popular vote by 11 points to retake the House
“The Brennan Center’s conclusion that Democrats would need to win 11 percent more votes than Republicans is flawed,” said Dave Wasserman, an elections analyst and the US House editor of the Cook Political Report. Wasserman estimates Democrats need to win the popular vote by about 7 percent to clinch a slim majority.
why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials

Dan Friedman, Mother Jones: Qatari Investor Accused in Bribery Plot Appears With Michael Cohen in Picture Posted by Stormy Daniel’s Lawyer
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:27 PM on May 13 [11 favorites]


Mr Al-Rumaihi sounds like a very nice man and he should get on well with Mr Cohen and the US president.
Al-Rumaihi became incensed and loudly screamed at Mr. Kwatinetz and threatened his life and his family noting ‘You don’t know who I know in L.A. and what they’re capable of. You should think of your safety and the safety of you and your family,'” the suit, filed by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, said.
The lawsuit alleges that exchange came after Qatari investors failed to pay $4 million of an agreed-upon $11.5 million investment into 15 percent of the Big3 (which values the league at $76.7 million.)
Big3 Quagmire Includes Everyone From Trump And Ice Cube To Qatari Royals And Bannon.
posted by adamvasco at 3:44 PM on May 13 [17 favorites]


For reporters, withholding valuable information from the public is anathema. But in a world in which foreign intelligence services hack, leak and fabricate, journalists will have to use extreme caution and extra transparency.

“Withholding from the voters” is an aggressively stupid framing, if not deliberatey deceitful. This was reporting about bulk emails that wikileaks had already made publicly available, for free. No US media had the ability to withhold them from voters.

But news is as much editorial selection, emphasis and analysis as reprinting data. What the NYT was withholding was reporting on Trump’s denials of his sex scandals.

There were, what, 14 separate and credible accusations of sexual abuse against Trump. Reporters should have been fact checking all of the women’s stories and Trump’s denials, looking for corroborating or contradictory witnesses and evidence, and looking for more allegations. It was a HUGE story, or should have been.

Instead, their lead stories every day were often dull and inconsequential details from the latest batch of emails which were clearly leaked to dominate the news cycle. Every editor in Washington should have been fired before the election even arrived.
posted by msalt at 4:02 PM on May 13 [36 favorites]


On the "Stormy Daniels whose real name is Stephanie Clifford" naming thing, sex workers on Twitter are irritated
Lorelei Lee: actors frequently have professional names that aren't their birth names. The media never feels the need to say "Reginald Kenneth Dwight, better known as Elton John" - for example

Maggie McNeill: This right here. Nobody ever said "John Wayne, whose real name is Marion Morrison..."
Also, the phrase "real name" is a backhanded slur. Nobody implies OTHER performers' stage names are "fake".
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:05 PM on May 13 [82 favorites]


The WaPo looks at Mueller investigation, ‘Buckle up’: As Mueller probe enters second year, Trump and allies go on war footing; there's not much new in there but some details are lol-worthy:
The president vents to associates about the FBI raids on his personal attorney Michael Cohen — as often as “20 times a day,” in the estimation of one confidant — and they frequently listen in silence, knowing little they say will soothe him. Trump gripes that he needs better “TV lawyers” to defend him on cable news and is impatient to halt the “witch hunt” that he says undermines his legitimacy as president. And he plots his battle plans with former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, his new legal consigliere. 
[...]
The two men huddled for five hours May 6 at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, Giuliani said, eating a Cobb salad (Giuliani) and a well-done burger (Trump) with half a bun in service to his health.

“I do that, too, sometimes,” Giuliani said about the half-bun. “It’s a good way to do it.”
posted by peeedro at 4:08 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]


Pro-Trump Pastor Who Claims Islam Is a “Cult” Picked to Lead Prayer at Opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem
An anti-gay, pro-Trump pastor from Dallas will give the opening prayer Monday night at the introduction ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. Pastor Robert Jeffress, a Fox News contributor and supporter of President Donald Trump, will add to the controversy surrounding the diplomatically awkward event.

Jeffress, who serves as an informal faith adviser to Trump, has maligned most world religions and condemned homosexuality, while on Fox he spouts biblical justifications for Trump’s agenda. Jeffress told Fox News that he would be giving the opening prayer at the ceremony Monday. It’s unsurprising, because when it comes to picking people for important jobs, Trump tends to go with people who are both loyal and appear frequently on television.
...
Jeffress also provides religious cover for Trump’s policies and views. On immigration, where other Christian leaders have called for compassion toward immigrants, particularly undocumented people brought here as children, Jeffress has defended Trump. “The Bible also says that God’s the one who established nations and its borders,” Jeffress said on “Fox & Friends” last September. God “is not necessarily an open borders guy.” When Trump said he didn’t want immigrants from “shithole” countries coming to the United States, Jeffress said he disagreed with the president’s “vocabulary” but that Trump was “right on target in his sentiment.”
Sounds like a great pick for opening an embassy in the city with the third holiest site in Islam.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:15 PM on May 13 [23 favorites]


Also, the phrase "real name" is a backhanded slur. Nobody implies OTHER performers' stage names are "fake".

I sympathize on this front, but the assertion here isn't remotely true. Check out a New York Times Google search for proof. Everyone from Buckwheat Zydeco and Jay Z to Pelé and Black Panther gets the "whose real name is" treatment sooner or later in the Times.

That said, I've been railing against this practice for years. Especially in The New York Times, it has come off as a way to look down one's spectacles at rap artists. Should be "whose legal name is" when required. But it's not new, and not something they bring out solely to humiliate sex workers.
posted by Mothlight at 4:43 PM on May 13 [11 favorites]


That said, I've been railing against this practice for years. Especially in The New York Times, it has come off as a way to look down one's spectacles at rap artist

I knew someone being lightly profiled in the Times who goes by a stage name and didn’t want thier legal name used (cause the internet is awful) and argued a lot with the writer, hitting the argument “Well you couldn’t refer to Angela Jolie as Ann Voight would you?” And apparently they did find the one time they referred to her that way so the issue was dropped.

It still sucks, let people use what name they want.
posted by The Whelk at 4:55 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


There’s a very valid reason newspapers are very careful about citing identities and including ages in typical stories. Concerns about misidentification and the various libel-proximate issues make it essential that when stories quote or identify people they’re sure they’re accurate such that someone doesn’t get mistakenly identified. But being jerkwads about insisting on this when writing about celebrities is just dopey. Nobody is going to think that the Stormy Daniels down the block in Boisie who bags groceries in the Wawa is the one being quoted about the President’s penis. There’s no chance that some other Jay-Z is going to file suit against you because you mentioned a past drug deal in your huge profile about his joint tour with Beyoncé.
posted by phearlez at 5:25 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


For reporters, withholding valuable information from the public is anathema. But in a world in which foreign intelligence services hack, leak and fabricate, journalists will have to use extreme caution and extra transparency.

Or when a president's legal team leaks Mueller's questions and you can't be bothered to ask why or determine their authenticity? If you want to hold yourself to a higher standard, fine, but that's not the problem. How about just thinking twice before you publish something? How about brushing up on basic journalism skills and ethics?
posted by xammerboy at 5:26 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Trump Tweet: So sad to see the Terror Attack in Paris. At some point countries will have to open their eyes & see what is really going on. This kind of sickness & hatred is not compatible with a loving, peaceful, & successful country! Changes to our thought process on terror must be made.
8:03 PM - 13 May 2018

Of course he is completely blind to the White terrorists in this country.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:49 PM on May 13 [11 favorites]




> I really want to see the switch from Registered Voter models to Likely Voter models as it may start picking up the up-until-now apparent enthusiasm gap.

Most pollsters screen likely voters based on past voting behavior. This means that most of them will only count people who voted in the last midterm elections in 2014. Pollsters that use more complex screening methods will weight responses from people who voted in 2014 higher than those from other people.

We're going to have to look carefully at how specific pollsters are screening likely voters in the run up to the 2018 midterms. Pay particularly close attention to Quinnipiac and anything Ann Selzer releases. Quinnipiac seems to give a lot of weight to intention to vote in weighting their responses. (Though I wish they were more transparent about this.) They accurately predicted the outcome of the Virginia governor's race last November when most other pollsters were showing a really close race. Selzer, somewhat famously, doesn't believe in turnout modeling and just asks voters what they're planning to do. She's also really scrupulous in making sure she calls enough cell-phone users. She's regarded as one of the best pollsters in the country. Bloomberg usually contracts with her to do polling in the run-up to major elections.

The higher Democratic turnout we've been seeing in recent elections messes with most pollsters likely voter models. We need to keep a close eye on how different pollsters are screening for likely voters and whether those methods of screening make sense.
posted by nangar at 6:06 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


@michaelavenatti: Why was Ahmed Al-Rumaihi meeting with Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn in December 2016 and why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials according to a sworn declaration filed in court?

Sounds like Qatar hired Essential Consultants LLC?
posted by xammerboy at 6:14 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


There's an ongoing schism in the QAnon community. Alex Jones and Jerome Corsi are now claiming that Q is either a Clinton cutout/Deep State mole (Carter Page is floated as a possible culprit) or has been compromised (presumably being held in the basement of a pizzeria). There are now pro and anti QAnon camps, with the Infowars loyalists tearing away. The infighting that has lately been consuming the alt-right, with all the top Nazis now hating each other, has reached the conspiracist wing of the crankosphere. It's pretty great.
posted by Rust Moranis at 6:20 PM on May 13 [58 favorites]


Why Mueller Has to Expose Trump’s Crooked Business Empire

All this shit was known before 2016 too, its been semi-public for decades. The NYT could've run 600 straight days of front page stories on Trump's mountain of business corruption. They made the editorial decision not to.

But in a world in which foreign intelligence services hack, leak and fabricate, journalists will have to use extreme caution and extra transparency.

They inarguably do not even try to do this. They quote the president himself daily as "a source close to the president", reprinting his lies without challenge or disclosure. They wake up each and every day and quote Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a credible source both on and off the record, with no mention or regard for the truth value of any of her statements from the previous day. They rush over to soothe her fee fees when Michelle Wolfe made her mascara run and leap to her defense on twitter. We need a world where our journalists show "extreme caution and extra transparency". The vast majority of journalists we actually have show neither, and routinely cast all caution and any semblance of transparency aside to maintain access to the people in power who treat us all with utter contempt.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:21 PM on May 13 [53 favorites]


All this shit was known before 2016 too, its been semi-public for decades.
This is why I canceled my NYT subscription recently. This is their hometown beat where they have access to major players and people in the know. So where is the investigative reporting from NYT?
posted by duoshao at 6:28 PM on May 13 [24 favorites]


Donald Trump and Sean Hannity Like to Talk Before Bedtime
The call to the White House comes after ten o’clock most weeknights, when Hannity is over. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Sean Hannity broadcasts live at 9 p.m. on Fox News.
...
Trump and Hannity don’t usually speak in the morning, which the president spends alone, watching TV and tweeting. During the first months of the administration in particular, the tweets launched at the beginning of the day landed like bitchy little grenades directed at the programming and personalities that angered him on MSNBC and CNN. “Early on, usually we could count on the president watching Morning Joe first thing, at 6 a.m.,” one White House official told me. “He’d watch an hour of that. Then he’d move on to New Day for a segment or two. Then he’d move on to Fox.”

Senior staffers worried about this pattern of behavior: By the time his day was formally under way with the daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office — scheduled as late as 11 a.m. — the whole world was often thrown off course, wondering whether there were “tapes” of his conversations with a fired FBI director (May 12, 2017, 8:26 a.m.) or if a TV host had been “bleeding badly from a face-lift” at Mar-a-Lago (June 29, 2017, 8:58 a.m.).

With the hope of calming him down, then–chief of staff Reince Priebus and then–press secretary Sean Spicer began a subtle campaign. “It got to the point that they were just like, ‘We need to get him off these channels and onto Fox & Friends or else we’re going to be chasing down this crazy-train bullshit from MSNBC and CNN all day,’ ” one former White House official said.
...
More than most politicians, Trump abides by the Groucho Marx law of fraternization. He inherently distrusts anyone who chooses to work for him, seeking outside affirmation as often as possible from as vast and varied a group as he can muster — but Hannity is at the center. Generally, the feeling is that Sean is the leader of the outside kitchen cabinet,” one White House official said, echoing other staffers (current and removed). I was told by one person that Hannity “fills the political void” left by Steve Bannon, a statement Bannon seemed to agree with: “Sean Hannity understands the basic issues of economic nationalism and ‘America First’ foreign policy at a deeper level than the august staff of Jonathan Chait and the fuckin’ clowns at New York Magazine,” he said. The White House official assessed the influence of White House officials and other administration personnel as exactly equal to that of Fox News.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]


The NYT could've run 600 straight days of front page stories on Trump's mountain of business corruption. They made the editorial decision not to.

QFMFT but they're not alone; corporate news across the spectrum, the GOP in its entirety, and those government officials who aid and abet this man have sold us all out to a crime-infested, incompetent "leader". In part, no doubt, because they are implicated somehow - even if it's just as an indefensibly crude public relations arm of this oleaginous regime. (Hi Maggie!)
posted by petebest at 6:49 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


There's an ongoing schism in the QAnon community. Alex Jones and Jerome Corsi are now claiming that Q is either a Clinton cutout/Deep State mole (Carter Page is floated as a possible culprit) or has been compromised (presumably being held in the basement of a pizzeria).

I suppose it's too much to hope for that this is some kind of way for the cranks to fit the possibility of a reality where Trump goes down on charges into their worldview. "We were right, but QAnon failed us, also who's QAnon and what's a pizzeria, anyways have you heard how the Deep State is going after President Pence?"
posted by jason_steakums at 7:04 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


It disturbs me how much we've (that's the national we not the Metafilter we) normalized the fact that it would take a 6+ percent Democratic popular vote victory to capture a simple majority in the House.

Can you imagine if the situation were the opposite? Can you imagine the constant and extremely loud drumbeat of outrage on FOX and AM radio if the Democrats had so gerrymandered the House that the only way the Republicans could win is by getting a 6 point or bigger margin of victory? There'd probably be actual, genuine, armed revolution going on if that was the case.

I don't really believe the claim that the Democrats wouldn't benefit from or watch a left leaning version of FOX News. It seems to be centered around a sort of snooty belief that we're just better and more intellectual than the Republicans and I suspect that's not really true.

We've got billionaires theoretically on our side, maybe we could convince them to fund a left wing version of FOX as an experiment? Just to see if it changes anything?
posted by sotonohito at 7:04 PM on May 13 [27 favorites]


I don't really believe the claim that the Democrats wouldn't benefit from or watch a left leaning version of FOX News. It seems to be centered around a sort of snooty belief that we're just better and more intellectual than the Republicans and I suspect that's not really true.

Nicole Hemmer, Vox: Breitbart of the Left destined to fail:
Why has the fight for liberal broadcasting been such a struggle? Because liberal innovators have reverse-engineered conservative media without addressing the underlying need that those right-wing outlets meet. Right-wing media thrives in large part because conservatives do not trust other news sources. They have been trained for generations, stretching back to the 1950s, to view news media as inherently ideological, and to reject nonconservative sources.

...

The habit of consuming right-wing media has long been part of conservatives’ political identity. There is no real analogue to this phenomenon on the left. Yes, critics on the left have attacked mainstream media as being too conservative, too corporate — Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s 1988 book, is a model of the genre. But that has never been a core liberal belief. Setting aside debates about why that is the case, it is the key difference between how the right and the left understand media, and why left-wing media has struggled so much. Liberals simply haven’t cultivated the same appetite for ideological news.
Hemmer's article talks about Air America, which was supposed to be a left-wing Fox and failed. Liberals and Democrats don't distrust the mainstream media, which means you can pry the New York Times and Washington Post out of their cold dead hands. It's really hard to herd liberals into news enclaves. Sorta kinda seriously, tell 'em to bring $5 and join Metafilter!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:17 PM on May 13 [21 favorites]


I don't really believe the claim that the Democrats wouldn't benefit from or watch a left leaning version of FOX News. It seems to be centered around a sort of snooty belief that we're just better and more intellectual than the Republicans and I suspect that's not really true.

We've got billionaires theoretically on our side, maybe we could convince them to fund a left wing version of FOX as an experiment? Just to see if it changes anything?


The enemy's training camps make the enemy's soldiers, I think. We don't want a populace desperately tearing itself apart out of terror. We don't want to hollow out the vulnerable or gullible and fill them with hatred just so they'll be motivated. I agree that we'd likely get more engagement out of the people who fell into that stuff, but the price is unacceptable. One of the primary things that makes the left different from and better than the right is that the left gives a shit about people, even if they aren't currently voting left.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:54 PM on May 13 [23 favorites]


I think a popular left alternative to Fox News would probably push a version of Democratic policy that benefits the owners of the platform and end up being kind of an own goal.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:00 PM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Unless we're talking building a media empire from the ground up as a co-op or something, which, I'm very much on board with that idea. But media companies very much speak with the voice of the company, so you'd have to be so very careful in how that's set up.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:03 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


It reminds me of the attempts to replicate The Daily Show, only conservative. Just didn't work.

I guess, in a way, late night comedy TV is the Fox News of the left. It only really works from one side of the political spectrum, in ways that are tied up in the fundamentals of the worldview.
posted by DebetEsse at 8:30 PM on May 13 [54 favorites]


Max Fisher, reading between the lines on Pompeo's comments on North Korea today:
Deal taking shape:
• "Getting rid of chem/bio" to mean dismantling whatever stockpile DPRK declares
• Dismantle ICBMs; keep nukes & intermediate-range missiles
• Partial USFK withdrawal
• Little or no inspections/monitoring/verification
• US + UNSC sanction relief

In plain English:
• North Korea as a permanent nuclear power that can strike its neighbors, but not the mainland US
• NK can always break back out to an ICBM that can reach the US
• NK gives up most chem/bio weapons (sorta like Syria)
• Little or no way to know if NK cheats

This is probably where we'll end up with Iran, maybe sometime in the early 2020s, if the Trump admin succeeds in blowing up the JCPOA. Iran breaks out, we spend a decade pretending we can wish their program away, then we accept it as reality. Just like we did with North Korea. Whatever North Korea deal gets reached, the things that'll get the attention are USFK reduction and NK dismantlement pledges. The things that really matter – but will get ignored — are inspections and monitoring. That's what we got from JCPOA before we threw it in the toilet.

Much of the US political system and foreign policy community, as a way to oppose the JCPOA, spent the last five years arguing that arms control verification is meaningless or outright bad. So now there'll be little pressure for including it in any North Korea deal. Good job team!

I know nobody wants to hear this but North Korea is not giving up its nuclear deterrent — it's just not — so any viable deal will need to accept that deterrent. That's just reality. Expectations need to be set waaaaaaaaay lower than they were going into talks on the Iran deal.

Perhaps more concerning, we may need to accept that the United States no longer has a sufficiently functioning political system to uphold any agreement as complex as the JCPOA, particularly if it is negotiated by a Democratic administration, as any such agreement is likely to be. Honestly, the American partisan dynamics that make the world's lone superpower seemingly incapable of forging long-term agreements — particularly arms control agreements — worries me a lot more than whatever painful compromises might get made for a North Korea deal.
posted by zachlipton at 8:33 PM on May 13 [41 favorites]


It's looking increasingly like the chickenhawks took a good long look at Iran and North Korea and decided on which one would probably be a more fun war to throw other people's kids into. And they're handling everything else about both situations with the same amount of care and thought, too.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:45 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Everything's up for grabs so the president can get a win, Penalties against China telecom giant ZTE become a bargaining chip as White House, Chinese officials discuss potential trade deal (WaPo):
The White House and senior Chinese officials are discussing a targeted economic deal that would relax severe penalties on ZTE, a major Chinese telecom company, in exchange for unspecified demands from President Trump, two people briefed on the discussions said Sunday.

The talks are fluid, and President Trump has shown a willingness to veer between extremes in how he interacts with Beijing. But Trump said Sunday on Twitter that he wanted federal regulators to take the unusual step of relaxing penalties on ZTE, even though the Chinese company has been accused of illicitly shipping goods to North Korea and Iran.

What Trump didn’t reveal publicly is how much the company has become a bargaining chip as the White House tries to extract trade-related concessions from China while pushing for cooperation on sanctions against Iran and North Korea, the people said.
posted by peeedro at 8:48 PM on May 13 [8 favorites]


“I do that, too, sometimes,” Giuliani said about the half-bun. “It’s a good way to do it.”

I think we seriously have to consider that masochism and self-abasement might now be key parts of GOP ideology
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:08 PM on May 13 [12 favorites]


WSJ, Michael Cohen’s D.C. Consulting Career: Scattershot, With Mixed Success
Mr. Cohen’s pitch was blunt. He would tell prospective clients—large corporations worried about their lack of connections to President Donald Trump’s administration—that he didn’t know who was advising them, but that the companies “should fire them all,” a person familiar with Mr. Cohen’s approach said. “I have the best relationship with the president on the outside, and you need to hire me,” Mr. Cohen told them, according to this person.

Mr. Cohen repeatedly pitched Uber, which said no, citing Mr. Cohen’s ownership of New York taxi medallions as a potential conflict of interest with the ride-hailing firm, a person close to the company said. He modified his pitch in response those objections, reminding the company he was “the president’s lawyer,” this person said.

The company, this person said, was “bemused.”

Severe losses on his New York City taxi investments had, in fact, fueled Mr. Cohen’s desire to make money from his ties to the president. A friend described his financial situation as “precarious” and said Mr. Cohen was having trouble maintaining his family’s upscale Manhattan lifestyle.
...
In January, Mr. Cohen signed two of the wealthy donors to the president’s inaugural committee as his clients: AT&T and the investment management firm Columbus Nova. AT&T had donated $2 million to the inauguration; Columbus Nova CEO Andrew Intrater had donated $250,000. Mr. Cohen solicited Mr. Intrater’s donation, according to a person involved in the inauguration.
...
Less than a month after the inauguration, Felix Sater, who had worked with Mr. Cohen on a failed plan for a Trump-branded tower in Moscow, introduced Mr. Cohen to Robert Armao, a consultant and businessman with connections in Washington and in foreign governments, Mr. Armao recalled.

Mr. Armao had previously discussed with Mr. Sater a deal involving refurbishing Ukrainian nuclear power plants. Mr. Sater also hoped to ship excess energy to former Soviet bloc countries. Mr. Sater had considered bringing in Mr. Cohen because of his connections to the president.
...
A friend of Mr. Cohen said that Squire Patton Boggs worked “hand in hand” with Mr. Cohen, and the firm’s leaders “paraded him around like a model” for many of their clients.
...
In March, Mr. Cohen confided in friends he felt undervalued by Mr. Trump and questioned whether he should continue his work as lawyer for the president, said a person familiar with the matter. About a week later, Mr. Cohen’s ambivalence seemed to have vanished. He called associates seeking contributions for a legal-defense fund for White House aides who had been subpoenaed by investigators, the person said. A person familiar with the fund said Mr. Cohen was never asked to raise money for it, and didn’t do so.
Cohen went on to whine that Squire Patton Boggs wasn't paying him enough and about his own lack of access to Trump.
posted by zachlipton at 9:33 PM on May 13 [18 favorites]


If you want a left wing Breitbart, there’s garbage like Salon and Counterpunch. However, like Breitbart, they are clickbaity garbage.
posted by chrchr at 9:58 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Justinian: "I really want to see the switch from Registered Voter models to Likely Voter models as it may start picking up the up-until-now apparent enthusiasm gap. Does anyone know when the generic ballots tend to switch to LV? Chrysostom?"

That's a great question, and I don't know the answer. I'll try and find out.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:47 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


we may need to accept that the United States no longer has a sufficiently functioning political system to uphold any agreement as complex as the JCPOA, particularly if it is negotiated by a Democratic administration, as any such agreement is likely to be

I've deleted multiple responses to this because I get angry and start ranting. It's absolutely true. But it's not just true about foreign policy. I ranted about it before, but note that Democrats let... hell, encouraged... Republicans to pass a spending bill that was bigger than the one that Obama passed trying to stop the second Great Depression. While we're at full employment! While the economy is booming!

Republicans do everything they can to sabotage the country while Democrats are in power but Democrats do what they can to help the country when Republicans are in power. The perverse incentive that creates for voters should be obvious. If Trump weren't a narcissistic asshole with the brainpower of a sponge the Republicans could take advantage of this disparity and cement power for years.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 PM on May 13 [21 favorites]


FYI, on the calendar for tomorrow:

* State legislative specials in AL (2) and PA (3)

* Primaries in ID, NE, OR, PA.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:51 PM on May 13 [11 favorites]


This is your regular reminder when discussing Michael Cohen that he is the lawyer who went to law school, where they presumably teach you about laws, subsequently passed the bar, where they presumably ask you about laws, and, in furtherance of his law career, where he is paid money to know about laws, went on national television and told everyone that it’s not against the law to rape your wife.

Narrator voice: it is.

Also, this whole Fox and Friends presidency really freaks me out. I’ve only made three FPPs here. The very first one was an article in Mother Jones, written by Kevin Drum, entitled Daniel Ellsberg on the Limits of Knowledge. It’s basically an excerpt from Ellsberg’s book, Secrets. I think about that article a lot lately. Relevant quote (Ellsburg’s advice to Kissinger in 1968 about the many security clearances Kissinger was about to get):

“First, you’ll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all — so much! incredible! — suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn’t, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn’t even guess.”

So what I think about all the time lately is that Fox and Friends don’t have those security clearances. Sean Hannity doesn’t have those security clearances. The president doesn’t read briefings without pictures or his name in them. So... who exactly is getting this important information? Shouldn’t whatever this data is be used in making important decisions? Ideally before the decisions are tweeted out to the world by the president?

(As far as the Chinese telecom business, I really don’t understand that tweet, by the way. Like, since when did your rabid followers suddenly care about creating jobs in China? Why are you bragging about that like it’s MAGA? I do not understand.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:34 AM on May 14 [48 favorites]


Sounds like a great pick for opening an embassy in the city with the third holiest site in Islam.

You don't think the anti-gay, pro-Trump Fox News evangelical has some interesting views on Jews too? Let's see how good a pick this is.

Five seconds of searching later:
I think part of the problem is we’re in this consumer mentality as a church where we have the idea that our job is to build as big of a church as we possible can. And if we get into that idea and fall into that trap, then we say then we can’t say anything that’s going to offend people, why, if we preach that homosexuality is an abomination to God we better not preach that because that’s going to offend the gays or people who know gay people, if we tell people what the Bible says that every other religion in the world is wrong: Islam is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of Hell; Mormonism is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of Hell; Judaism, you can’t be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won’t do it, it’s faith in Jesus Christ."
So that's nice.

Also:
“Jerusalem has been the object of the affection of both Jews and Christians down through history and the touchstone of prophecy, but most importantly, God gave Jerusalem — and the rest of the Holy Land — to the Jewish people."
I'm not going to go further down this rabbit hole, because the belief that Jews are essentially heathens that are cannon fodder for Biblical prophesy is a depressingly common source of a mixture of evangelical support for Israel and anti-Semitism in one exciting bundle.

Not even surprised.
posted by jaduncan at 12:38 AM on May 14 [36 favorites]


(As far as the Chinese telecom business, I really don’t understand that tweet, by the way. Like, since when did your rabid followers suddenly care about creating jobs in China? Why are you bragging about that like it’s MAGA? I do not understand.)

This is a thing everybody is very reluctant to accept, that despite his slogan Trump has no loyalty, not even a twisted one, to America. What he has is a loyalty to money & its sources. If those sources are Russian or Chinese, that is where his loyalties lie for as long as their money is streaming towards him. As a narcissist who can only comprehend atomic (as in unitary not nuclear) transactions, as soon as the transaction (the side directed at him at least) is complete he loses loyalty to its source. He is the personification of greed.
posted by scalefree at 1:10 AM on May 14 [37 favorites]


So what I think about all the time lately is that Fox and Friends don’t have those security clearances. Sean Hannity doesn’t have those security clearances. The president doesn’t read briefings without pictures or his name in them. So... who exactly is getting this important information?

Putin is. (Only half joking).

And on this side of the Atlantic, May and Merkel and Macron are looking at their security briefings and feeling more and more like Benjamin's Angel of History.
posted by mumimor at 2:25 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]



“First, you’ll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all — so much! incredible! — suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn’t, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn’t even guess.”

So what I think about all the time lately is that Fox and Friends don’t have those security clearances.

I also find it a grim contrast in that everyone involved understood that the new officeholder would naturally have intellectual curiosity and, I guess, some ability for introspective self-assessment.
posted by jaduncan at 2:36 AM on May 14 [13 favorites]


Sounds like a great pick for opening an embassy in the city with the third holiest site in Islam.

Mitt Romney
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
posted by chris24 at 3:21 AM on May 14 [57 favorites]


Jeffress has history with Mitt, having apparently refused to apologise to him for the Mormonism comment when he originally made it.
posted by jaduncan at 3:33 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


And the other pastor who will be at the embassy opening? John Hagee.

You may remember him from 2008 when John McCain rejected his endorsement when it came out that he'd called Hitler a "half-breed Jew" sent by God as a "hunter" to drive all Jews to “the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have. Israel.”
posted by chris24 at 3:37 AM on May 14 [48 favorites]


Before Obama was elected in 2008 it came out that his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was both a fervent critic of the US and arguably an antisemite. Obama repudiated him, which was both politically necessary and, I think, the right thing to do. But this this isn't a matter of someone's old pastor being racist; these are current members of presidentially-appointed bodies being called upon to speak at official ceremonies. Of course there won't be any outrage from the people who criticised Obama; it was all performative nonsense for the benefit of the rubes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:23 AM on May 14 [46 favorites]


The U.S. ambassador to Israel was just on npr. Transcript not up yet, but it was full pants on head crazy.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 4:59 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Like, since when did your rabid followers suddenly care about creating jobs in China? Why are you bragging about that like it’s MAGA? I do not understand.

Everything he does is MAGA, by default. Over on T_D, they've taken to calling him 'GEOTUS,' not POTUS, since he is God-Emperor, not just a President; if every place on earth is owned and ruled by GEOTUS, everywhere is America, and anything he does is Making It Great. So great is his job-creating omnipotence that it reaches beyond the boundaries of the US, and other nations are both envious and needy, requiring his favour and grace. If Trump can Make China Great, it's evidence he's more powerful than Xi, since obviously Xi can't do it on his own.

Maybe eventually they'll ask where the jobs in America are, but they're currently at a point where pictures of Trump looking unhinged and unwell are being praised as evidence of his virility, because they're pictures of Trump, and Trump is great, so it's probably gonna be a while.
posted by halation at 5:06 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Where did this whole "God-Emperor" thing start? It's a disturbing/fascinating/confusing title to put on anybody, much less the President of the USA.
posted by baltimoretim at 5:09 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Has the actual embassy moved yet? I would think the security concerns and actually finding a building big enough in Jerusalem would take years to sort out?
posted by PenDevil at 5:12 AM on May 14


Where did this whole "God-Emperor" thing start?

I mean, it's the internet, so GEOTUS is the kind of thing that's just an ironic jokey meme... right up until the point where it's not. It's probably either a Dune reference or a Warhammer 40K reference.
posted by halation at 5:14 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


It's happening Monday evening local time. The Guardian is live blogging the event. 25 Palestinian protesters have already been killed by the IDF. One Israeli solder injured.

This is shaping up to be a sickening event.
posted by michswiss at 5:18 AM on May 14 [33 favorites]


Perhaps more concerning, we may need to accept that the United States no longer has a sufficiently functioning political system to uphold any agreement as complex as the JCPOA, particularly if it is negotiated by a Democratic administration, as any such agreement is likely to be. Honestly, the American partisan dynamics that make the world's lone superpower seemingly incapable of forging long-term agreements — particularly arms control agreements — worries me a lot more than whatever painful compromises might get made for a North Korea deal.

Fisher correctly diagnoses the problem, then refuses to take the final step. Republicans have now blown up two nuclear arms control agreements, Bush pulled out of the Agreed Framework just like Trump pulled out of the JCPOA. It's never been Democrats reneging on Republican international agreements. This is not "American partisan dynamics", that's "both sides do it" in the fogen policy thesaurus. Both sides don't. Republicans have allowed both North Korea, and now likely Iran, to become nuclear powers that threaten the US mainland. When and if one or both of them nuke Los Angeles, it won't be because a Democratic administration reimposed sanctions out of spite for its domestic political opponents.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:40 AM on May 14 [